Best Chinese-Language Films of the 2000s: Poll results

In the Mood for Love by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai topped the results of an international poll of the best Chinese-language films of the past decade, conducted by dGenerate Films. The poll included ballots from forty-seven filmmakers, critics, programmers and scholars from around the world. A total of 152 Chinese-language films were cited.

In the Mood for Love outpaced a field dominated by mainland Chinese titles, led by Wang Bing’s seven-hour documentary West of the Tracks and Jia Zhangke’s historical epic Platform. The two mainland titles are both independent productions made outside the official Chinese state system and have never officially screened in China. Yi Yi, by the late Taiwanese master Edward Yang finished fourth.

The top four titles were each mentioned in at least half of the forty-six ballots submitted by participants. Rounding out the top ten were Jia Zhangke’s Still Life at #5, Jiang Wen’s Devils on the Doorstep at #6, Liu Jiayin’s Oxhide, Lou Ye’s Summer Palace, and Jia Zhangke’s The World tied at #7, and Li Yang’s Blind Shaft and Ang Lee’s transnational blockbuster Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon tied at #9.

Jia Zhangke dominated among directors with seven films mentioned in the poll, three of which finished in the top ten. His films received nearly twice as many mentions as those of the second most-mentioned director, Wong Kar-wai. Works by Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang and Chinese director Lou Ye (who is officially banned from making films in China) also featured prominently in the results.

The results suggest a changing of the guard among mainland Chinese filmmakers over the past decade. The highest placing title by a Fifth Generation director was Zhang Yimou’s Hero at #22. The eight mainland productions placing in the top eleven are from Sixth Generation directors such as Jia Zhangke or Lou Ye, or the post-Generational wave of digital filmmakers such as Wang Bing and Liu Jiayin. And yet, among these mainland films, only The World was approved by the state censors and released theatrically in mainland China.

Three of the top four films – In the Mood for Love, Yi Yi and Platform – have also placed prominently in polls conducted for all cinema of the past decade. The three films placed in the top ten of the Best of Decade Critics’ Poll run by IndieWire and in the top 11 of the poll run by Film Comment. But aside from Jia Zhangke’s films, the remaining titles on the list have fared poorly in these polls (West of the Tracks, #2 in this poll, places at #49 in IndieWire and #85 in Film Comment).

Oxhide, distributed non-theatrically in the U.S. by dGenerate Films, is the top ranking title by a female director. In addition to Oxhide, nine other dGenerate Films titles received mentions in the poll: Before the Flood (Li Yifan and Yan Yu); Betelnut (dir. Yang Heng); Crime and Punishment (Zhao Liang); Ghost Town (Zhao Dayong); Little Moth (Peng Tao); The Other Half (Ying Liang); Taking Father Home (Ying Liang); Timber Gang aka Last Lumberjacks (Yu Guangyi) and Using (Zhou Hao).

The full list of films, as well as top-ranking Chinese-language directors, can be found after the break. A full list of ballots from all participants will be posted tomorrow.

1. In the Mood for Love, Wong Kar-wai (28 mentions)
2. Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks, Wang Bing (25)
3. Platform, Jia Zhangke (24)
4. Yi Yi, Edward Yang(23)
5. Still Life, Jia Zhangke (18)
6. Devils on the Doorstep, Jiang Wen (12)
7. Oxhide, Liu Jiayin (11)
(tie) Summer Palace, Lou Ye (11)
(tie) The World, Jia Zhangke (11)
10. Blind Shaft, Li Yang (10)
(tie) Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Ang Lee (10)

Top Directors (based on mentions of their films among all top ten ballots):
1. Jia Zhangke (63 mentions)
2. Wong Kar Wai (34)
3. Tsai Ming-liang (28)
4. Wang Bing (26)
5. Lou Ye (25)
6. Edward Yang (23)
7. Ang Lee (17)
8. Liu Jiayin (15)
9. Hou Hsiao-hsien (14)
10 Jiang Wen (13)

The rest of the results from the poll of Chinese-language films:

12. Goodbye Dragon Inn, Tsai Ming-liang (9)

13. Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien (8)
(tie) Suzhou River, Lou Ye (8)
(tie) What Time Is It There? Tsai Ming-liang (8)

16. Infernal Affairs, Andrew Lau & Alan Mak (7)
(tie) Lust, Caution Ang Lee (7)
(tie) Petition, Zhao Liang (7)
(tie) Unknown Pleasures Jia Zhangke (7)

20. Millennium Mambo, Hou Hsiao-hsien (6)
(tie) Spring Fever, Lou Ye (6)

22. Bing Ai, Feng Yan (5)
Hero, Zhang Yimou (5)
(tie) Wayward Cloud, The Tsai Ming-liang (5)

25. Nine films tied with four mentions:

Kung Fu Hustle, Steven Chow
Peacock, Gu Changwei
Oxhide 2, Liu Jiayin
Kekexili: Mountain Patrol, Lu Chuan
I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, Tsai Ming-liang
Orphan of Anyang, The Wang Chao
2046, Wong Kar-wai
Other Half, The, Ying Liang
Survival Song, Yu Guangyi

34. Nine films tied with three mentions:

Along the Railway, Du Haibin
Crime and Punishment, Zhao Liang
Dr. Ma’s Country Clinic, Cong Feng
Though I Am Gone, Hu Jie
Delamu, Tian Zhuangzhuang
Looking for Lin Zhao’s Soul, Hu Jie
My Life as McDull, Toe Yuen
Beijing Bicycle, Wang Xiaoshuai
Timber Gang aka Last Lumberjacks, Yu Guangyi

43. 26 films tied with two mentions:

1428,Du Haibin
Before the Flood, Li Yifan and Yan Yu
Blind Mountain
, Li Yang
Blue Gate Crossing, Yee Chin-yen
Buried, Wang Libo
Chinese Villagers’ Documentary Project, Wu Wenguang
Classmates, Lin Xin
Durian, Durian, Fruit Chan
Face, Tsai Ming-liang
Fuck Cinema, Wu Wenguang
Ghost Town, Zhao Dayong
Good Cats, Ying Liang
Grain in Ear, Zhang Lu
Jalainur, Zhao Ye
Little Moth, Peng Tao
Night Train, Diao Yi’nan
Outside, Wang Wo
PTU, Johnnie To
Quitting, Zhang Yang
Search, The,Wanma Caidan
Seafood, Zhu Wen
Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest, Yang Fudong
Springtime in a Small Town, Tian Zhuangzhuang
Taking Father Home, Ying Liang
Uniform, Diao Yinan
Wheat Harvest, Xu Tong

69. 84 films tied with 1 mention:

24 City, Jia Zhangke
And the Spring Comes, Gu Changwei
Aoluguya, Gu Tao
Ashes of Time Redux, Wong Kar-wai
Assembly, Feng Xiaogang
Bamboo Shoots, Jian Yi
Baober in Love, Li Shaohong
Betelnut, Yang Heng
Big Shot’s Funeral, Feng Xiaogang
Bimo Records, The, Yang Rui
Black and White Milk Cow, Yang Jin
Bodyguards and Assassins, Chen Desen
Breaking News, Johnnie To
Butterfly, Yan Yan Mak
Cape No. 7, Wei Desheng
Chicken Poets, Meng Jinghui
Chinese Odyssey 2002, Jeff Lau
Chongqing, Zhang Lu
City of Life and Death, Lu Chuan
Condolences, Ying Liang
Conjugation, Emily Tang
Cry Woman, Liu Bingjian
Dam Street, Li Yu
Destination Shanghai, Andrew Y-S Cheng
Disorder, Huang Weikai
Dong, Jia Zhangke
Dr. Zhang, Huang Ruxiang
Dumplings, Fruit Chan
DV China, Zheng Desheng
Everlasting Regret, Stanley Kwan
Exiled, Johnnie To
Extras, Zhu Chuanming
Fengming: A Chinese Memoir, Wang Bing
Floating Dust, Huang Wenhai
Fortune Teller, Xu Tong
Green Hat, Liu Fendou
History of Chemistry 2, Lu Chunsheng
How Are You, Gongliao, Cui Suxin
How Is Your Fish Today, Guo Xiaolu
I Love Beijing, Ning Ying
In Public, Jia Zhangke
Incense, Ning Hao
Infernal Affairs Trilogy, Andrew Lau and Alan Mak
Iri, Zhang Lu
Isabella, Pang Ho-Cheung
Juliet in Love, Wilson Yip
Karamay, Anonymous
KJ, Cheung King-wai
Lan Yu, Stanley Kwan
McDull, Prince de la Bun, Toe Yuen
Mid-Afternoon Barks, Zhang Yuedong
My Blueberry Nights, Wong Kar-Wai
Narrow Path, The, Cui Zi’en
Novel, Lu Le
Pangyau, Amir Muhammad
Perfect Life, Emily Tang
Perpetual Motion, Ning Ying
Pirated Copy, He Jianjun
Raised from Dust, Gan Xiao’er
Red Cliff, John Woo
Red Flag Files, The, Zhou Hongxiang
Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, Zhang Yimou
River People, He Jianjun
Road, The, Zhang Jiarui
Rumination, Xu Ruotao
San Li Dong, Lin Xin
Shanghai Panic, Andrew Y.S. Cheng
Shaolin Soccer, Stephen Chow
Silent Holy Stones, Wanma Caidan
Sparrow, Johnnie To
Strange Heaven, Yang Fudong
Sun Also Rises, The, Jiang Wen
Sweet Food City, Gao Wendong
Tang Poetry, Zhang Lu
This Happy Life, Jiang Yue
Three Guns / A Simple Noodle Story, Zhang Yimou
To Live Is Better Than to Die, Chen Weijun
Trivial Matters, Peng Haoxiang
Triangle, Johnnie To, Tsui hark, Ringo Lam
Two Seasons, Zhou Xun
Us Two, Ma Liwen
Using, Zhou Hao
Warlords, The, Peter Chan
You Shoot, I Shoot, Pang Ho-cheung

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