The 2000s marked the beginning of the true golden age of comic book films but it was also the decade in which people started to depict the Iraq War. New techniques were used to make the very best films of the decade, and the Academy Awards chose to truly accept fantasy into their hearts.
Do note that this is my personal top 10 list of the 2000s. Your favorite film may be missing, and I may have loved that film, but, ultimately, this is just a top 10. These decade lists are the very hardest lists to write, for there are so many films that I had to leave out. If there are films on this list that you’ve never seen, then I would suggest that you check them out post-haste.
H.M. – Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Punch-Drunk Love is easily the best Adam Sandler movie. It also happens to be my favorite Paul Thomas Anderson film. I couldn’t find a spot for it in my top ten favorites of the decade, but I do think it is a masterpiece.
#10 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
While Star Wars might be the essential motion picture franchise of western pop culture, The Lord of the Rings has a special place as well, and The Return of the King is its very best film. This film is not just about the culmination of the journey, we also see the potential of our main characters finally unveiled. It is a beautiful film about friendship, faith, and one’s fate. It is definitely not a perfect film, but it deserved every single Academy Award it got (11 wins!).
#9 – Memento (2000)
You can definitely argue that Christopher Nolan has never made a better film than his second, Memento. Nolan’s non-linear story can be quite confusing, but it is astounding that Nolan – with only his second film – was able to make something masterful out of it, as confusing as it is.
On another note, Guy Pearce definitely doesn’t get enough credit for this performance. It is definitely his best, but somehow he did not receive a nomination for best actor by the Academy Awards.
#8 – Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Sam Raimi is known for a lot of things, but he doesn’t get enough credit for making one of the very best superhero films ever made. Without Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 people wouldn’t have been ready for the superhero franchises of the late 2000s and the films of the 2010s. Raimi gave us a story about choosing who you want to be and gave us one of the best superhero villains ever put to screen.
#7 – The Dark Knight (2008)
Perhaps the greatest comic book movie of them all; The Dark Knight is a terrific film, which is driven by not one, not two, not three, but four legendary acting performances – Gary Oldman, Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, and Heath Ledger are all brilliant. Heath Ledger gave the best performance of his short career, but, sadly, did not live to see the praise.
You can go on and on about how brilliantly this film is crafted from a directing or writing perspective, but this film really is spectacular because of the acting performances. It should be studied by all actors and actresses.
#6 – The Prestige (2006)
The 2000s was an excellent decade for Christopher Nolan. Nolan directed five films in the 2000s, with The Dark Knight probably being the most popular of them all. And while I loved both the Dark Knight trilogy and Insomnia, this was the first film that felt like a real Nolan-project since Memento. I feel that it was tragically underrated by the Academy.
#5 – No Country For Old Men (2007)
I’m ashamed to admit that I saw this film way too late. But I have to say this. Anton Chigurh made my blood run cold. Fantastic film, and, honestly, even though it sucks to have to update this list – this one really deserves to be on the list.
#4 – Requiem For A Dream (2000)
At number four, I have Requiem For A Dream – one of the toughest films to watch. Darren Aronofsky’s masterpiece was robbed at the Academy Awards. They only got one nomination (for Best Actress), and Ellen Burstyn didn’t even win it. Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connolly perfectly capture the ways in which you can be addicted – and their performances are magnificent.
#3 – The Pianist (2002)
The Pianist is a historical drama based on a memoir of the same name by Władysław Szpilman. It follows Szpilman (played by Adrien Brody), a Polish-Jewish pianist, during the Second World War and the holocaust. It is, in my humble opinion, Roman Polanski’s best film ever – and Adrien Brody’s best performance as well. Szpilman’s true story is, frankly, quite unbelievable, and Polanski does a great job with his story.
The Pianist won Cannes’ Golden Palm (Palme d’Or), deservedly so, but somehow missed out on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Best Picture award. Somehow Chicago took the award instead, while The Pianist won the awards for Best Actor, Director, and Adapted Screenplay.
#2 – Zodiac (2007)
Zodiac is a mystery-horror film starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Chloe Sevigny, and Mark Ruffalo. David Fincher directed this film, which was written by James Vanderbilt and based on Robert Graysmith’s Zodiac. The film follows Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal), a cartoonist, as he tries to solve the mystery of the infamous, and very real, Zodiac Killer. Zodiac is not just one of my favorite thrillers of all-time, it is one of my favorite films of all-time. It is a film that absolutely will haunt you.
#1 – The Departed (2006)
Finally, we’re at number one. I am, going, to be honest, Martin Scorsese is probably my favorite director. Scorsese has made a lot of legendary films, and I honestly do think that this is a masterpiece in the crime drama genre. I find it absolutely absurd that some critics say that Scorsese’s Best Director award for The Departed was basically an honorary award.
The Departed is a special movie, full of homages, legendary performances, and more swear words than you’ve ever spoken yourself. It is the best film of the decade.
– I’m Jeffrey Rex