The 30 Greatest Movies of the 2000s, Ranked
The very best of the decade that just was.
The turn of the millennium brought us some absolute garbage in the cinemas. The Adventures of Pluto Nash assaulted our intelligence on every level, Nicolas Cage turned from action star to wig aficionado, and films with no rewatchability started getting nominated (and winning) Oscars—we’re looking at you, Million Dollar Baby and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
That’s not to say there isn’t greatness to be found in this decade, and we’re here to help you wade through the dumpster-fire of 2000s movies. We’ve cherry-picked the 30 best movies of the decade (with trailers!) so you can find the ones you missed… or revisit the ones you love.
30. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
Ultimately cool and darkly funny, The Life Aquatic is easily our favorite Wes Anderson movie, and that’s mostly because of Bill Murray. A great ensemble cast, killer soundtrack and stunning visuals don’t hurt either.
29. Children of Men (2006)
A bleak look a the near future, Children of Men is an adventure for salvation amidst humanity’s closing chapter. It’s a movie that hits hard on all levels, from visceral scenes of urban warfare to its gut-punch morality lesson.
28. Unfaithful (2002)
This one makes the list for a single sex scene. The rest of the movie is pretty good too. Diane Lane, we’ll love you forever.
27. Cloverfield (2008)
Cloverfield was a phenomenon. Mysterious marketing pumped up its premiere, and the movie actually delivered. The perfect mix of handycam with high production quality, it took the monster movie in an excellent new direction. Fun fact; this is TJ Miller‘s (Silicon Valley, Deadpool) first movie. He’s the dude holding the camera the whole time.
26. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
Steve Carrell‘s breakout movie remains funny over a decade later. It also gave us the phrase Man-o-lantern, for which we’ll be forever grateful.
25. The Incredibles (2004)
Is it just us, or is it complete bullshit that it’s 2017 and we haven’t gotten an Incredibles sequel yet but, by July, there will be three fucking Cars movies? We’ll wait patiently for the planned 2018 release of Incredibles 2, but until then we’ll continue loving the hell out of the original and marvel at how good a job Pixar did taking on superheroes.
24. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
You can’t ignore the fact that Curse of the Black Pearl single-handedly revived the pirate-movie genre that had been dormant for ages. And ignoring the incredible stunts, set-pieces, and performance by Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow would also be a mistake.
23. Mean Girls (2004)
We’ll openly proclaim our love for this comedy disguised as a chick flick and all of its weird high school quirkiness, but Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, Lacey Chabert, a pre-wreck Lindsay Lohan and an awesome supporting cast earn it a spot on this list.
22. The Prestige (2006)
Wolverine fights Batman… with magic! Christopher Nolan’s artful storytelling makes this tale of deception and one-upsmanship truly captivating.
21. District 9 (2009)
The dystopian faux-documentary about aliens living on Earth was a great movie on its own. When you realize it’s an allegory for apartheid? Mind. Blown.
20. Almost Famous (2000)
Good luck watching this movie and not wanting to be a rockstar. Cameron Crowe’s story of a journey to manhood at the back of a tour bus is the kind of movie you’ll never stop appreciating.
19. Training Day (2001)
Training Day’s in-your-face look at street justice still catches us off guard with the menace that Denzel brought to the character. It’s one of the best cop movies we got in the 2000s.
18. The Hangover (2009)
The Hangover probably would have been higher on this list if they hadn’t run the franchise into the ground by making it a trilogy of rehashed jokes. We laughed our balls off the first time the boys visited Vegas though, and we’ll stand by it now no matter what poor choices were made for the sequels.
17. V for Vendetta (2005)
V’s story of rebellion against a government that’s more interested in serving itself than its people is one that feels even more poignant now than it did when it was released. Great actions scenes and a whole lot of flipping off Big Brother have made V stick with us.
16. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
Tarantino‘s kung fu homage was good as a whole, but Volume 1 was great on its own, with extraordinary fight sequences and the style and flair that you’d expect from one of the best filmmakers out there.
15. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Simon Pegg’s take on the zombie flick skewers the entire genre in every scene, and we love it. Buddy shenanigans, lots of gore and some hilarious close-encounters with the undead make this one a comedic high point in the 2000s.
14. Superbad (2007)
At some point or another, most of us were trying to get our underage hands on some booze. Never did that ever end in befriending cops, singing for cokeheads, or making out with Emma Stone. Superbad, we salute you.
13. 25th Hour (2002)
Spike Lee’s post 9/11 swan song takes the shape of a man’s final night of freedom before doing hard time. It’s simultaneously an ode to the city of New York and a hard look at the thoughts that go through your head as you stand on the precipice of your own doom.
12. Snatch (2000)
Before Guy Ritchie started making Sherlock Holmes movies, he made gritty, madcap crime stories with huge casts and twisted plots. Snatch brought together wannabe gangsters with real gangsters from across the globe for a hellzapoppin caper that ends with a diamond, an illegal boxing match, and a whole lot of bodies.
11. American Psycho (2000)
Thank heavens that American Psycho got made, because it almost didn’t. We could see why the studio might be hesitant about making a movie about a bum-killing, M&A banker, yuppie nutjob. Bale’s iconic performance as the insane Patrick Bateman didn’t just springboard him into his role as Bruce Wayne, it forever gave him an edginess as an actor. (It also insured we’ll never think about Phil Collins the same way.)
10. The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
Look, we’re not going to choose a single LotR movie for this list because they all came out in the 2000s and they all rely on each other too heavily. So we’ll clump them together as if they were a single, nine-hour movie, and just say that movie was totally fucking epic.
9. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
The movie that set off the billion-dollar franchise is still tops in our book. Cars, girls, guns, the first Fast and Furious movie was just a taste of what would come but we love going back to the original, if only to see its humble beginnings and remember how hot Jordana Brewster is.
8. Gladiator (2000)
One man’s quest for revenge almost topples an empire and has captivated us for the majority of this millennium. Yes, Russell Crowe, we are entertained.
7. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
The true story of con-man Frank Abagnale is perfectly brought to the screen by Leo and Tom Hanks. The cat and mouse game displayed by these two is one for the ages, and it doesn’t hurt that Frank’s masterminding is still an inspiration to con-men everywhere.
6. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
If you didn’t think we’d rank a movie where Hilter gets gunned down in a flaming movie theater in the top ten, think again. Tarantino’s closing film of the decade is a thrill to watch every time with excellent performances all around and just the right amount of humor tossed in to make killing Nazis legitimately fun to watch.
5. Iron Man (2008)
The movie that launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe also served as a reminder that Robert Downey Jr. is the fucking man. Huge movies in the MCU, like The Avengers, may overshadow some of the earlier accomplishments, but we’ll never forget our introduction to RDJ’s Tony Stark.
4. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
The perfectly cast remake of the Rat Pack original overflows with cool like only a brilliant Vegas heist can. We wish Clooney and co. had stopped after this one but, unlike The Hangover, none of the other entries from this series can detract from how great the original was.
3. Casino Royale (2006)
When Bond was most in need of a remake, Daniel Craig arrived to save the day. Taking 007 all the way back to his first days on the job, Casino Royale delivers something of an origin story for James while also marking a tidal shift for the franchise, away from the utter nonsense of puns and invisible cars to grittiness where bruises and batterings were the norm.
2. The Departed (2006)
Scorsese’s double-agent masterpiece has high-watermark performances from everyone involved, but Jack Nicholson‘s last great role firmly plants this one at No. 2 on the list.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
Credit where credit is due, Batman Begins set the stage, but The Dark Knight is the crown jewel of Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Ledger‘s Joker performance is the icing on the cake of a fully realized Gotham City and a long, hard look at the caped crusader, his motivations and the consequences of his heroic ways.
No movie has taken an American icon and fleshed it out in such a serious, thoroughly-satisfying way, and that’s why The Dark Knight tops our list.