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

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In the Mood for Love (dir. Wong Kar-wai)

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.

View the full list of ballots from all participants.

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. View the full list of ballots from all participants.

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:

, 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 Searching 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, Xu Xin 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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