What follows is a list of, in this blogger’s opinion, the Top 50 films released between the years 2000 and 2010. Here are numbers 20 through 6:
#20(T) The Lives of Others (2006) (dir: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)
The sort of psychological thriller which has all but vanished from cinema, and a portal to the recent past of the notorious Stasi — otherwise erased from popular memory. Simply, a must-see. Obligatory warning: it’s in German.
#20(T) Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) (dir: Gore Verbinski)
Believe it or not, Gore Verbinski once made a good Pirates of the Caribeean movie — chock full of swashbuckling fun and adventure, while also coherent and well-paced. Sadly, this one triumph spawned three of the worst big budget sequels in film history.
#19 The King of Kong (2007) (dir: Seth Gordon)
Perhaps the most entertaining documentary ever, it’s nearly impossible to recommend the movie more. If you haven’t seen it, order it now. You’ll be happy you did. It breaks every rule you thought you knew about documentaries.
#18 Memento 2000 (dir: Christopher Nolan)
Chris Nolan’s breakthrough into popular culture codified the non-linear narrative — developed by indy classics Pulp Fiction and The Usual Suspects — into perhaps the most ubiquitous cinematic convention of the 21st Century, and laid the groundwork for Nolan’s bigger budget projects Insomnia, The Prestige, Inception, and the Batman reboots.
#17 Finding Nemo (2003) (dir: Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich)
From the opening frames, perhaps the most engaging of all Pixar films. A nearly perfect combination of visual brilliance, high-brow comedy and honest, emotional melodrama.
#16 Slumdog Millionaire (2008) (dir: Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan)
The Oscar winner for Best Picture speaks for itself. A roller coaster ride of tragedy, suspense, comedy and redemption.
#15 Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) (dir: Larry Charles)
It may not be funniest movie ever, as some critics speculated when it was released in 2006, but Borat was certainly the funniest and most comically clever movie of the 2000s. Ironically, however, it probably isn’t as funny as the better episodes of the TV program which launched it: The Da Ali G Show.
#14 Catch Me If You Can (2002) (dir: Steven Spielberg)
Entering what are truly the elite films of the 2000s, Catch Me if You Can received more critical praise of the last two great films Spielberg directed — both released in 2002 — and relaunched the career of Leonard diCaprio, which had really been on the decline since Titanic.
#13 Juno (2007) (dir: Jason Reitman)
An utterly honest, believable film that pulls no punches, but is devoid of cynicism. It’s as funny as it is authentic.
#12 Zodiac (2007) (dir: David Fincher)
The best mystery flick of the 2000s is also the spookiest. Fincher brings to us an exacting whodunit which transforms into a case study in obsession.
#11 Minority Report (2002) (dir: Steven Spielberg)
Spielberg finally found the sophisticated peek into the future he was looking for in A.I. in this complex suspense thriller.
#10 Inglourious Basterds (2009) (dir: Quentin Tarantino)
It’s rather pointless to extol of the virtues of Inglourious Basterds in a 3-line blurb; better to just say it’s Taratino’s finest work since Pulp Fiction and a film that won’t soon be forgotten.
#9 Iron Man (2008) (dir: Jon Favreau)
It’s already hard to remember the time when Robert Downey, Jr. was just a tragic what-could-have-been actor and not the international superstar he is now. After nearly 25 years as an acting journeyman and a decade of substance abuse, Downey rocketed to the top of the blockbuster leading actor lists with the wildly entertaining Iron Man. While the film is great for a host of reasons, Downey simply is the movie — one of the best Hollywood comeback stories ever.
#8 The Incredibles (2004) (dir: Brad Bird)
If you’re in the mood for a character-driven action adventure, look no further than this (perhaps the best) Pixar offering. With a near-perfect story arc, brilliant writing, amazing visuals, and second-to-none voiceover work, it’s hard to imagine a better animated film.
#7 Casino Royale (2006) (dir: Martin Campbell)
In any other decade, it would have been the reboot of all reboots — transforming James Bond into highly flawed, violent, emotional, vengeance-thirsty zealot — liberated from the gimmicks and gadgetry which had so bogged-down the 007 series.
#6 Gladiator (2000) (dir: Ridley Scott)
By the time Gladiator was handed the Oscar for Best Picture in early 2001, the speculation was that it would be remembered as the final film of the decade. Instead, it has been largely forgotten — swamped by the comic book revolution of the 2000s. More ironic still, Russell Crowe — who was launched into mega-star status by the film — has struggled to find cinematic vehicles as the same quality, appearing in no other films on this List. That being said, it’s impossible to argue the impact Gladiator left on the imagination of the public. It will be remembered as a classic, though perhaps not the classic originally forecast.