As we say goodbye to the single digit years, there’s no more fitting way to pay our respects to the decade than by compiling a list of the movies that made it so epic. Some of these movies were the first of their kind, others the last. They traverse every genre, from action to comedy, and include movies that have won Oscars, along with some that deserved more attention.
So, upon request, I have compiled a list of movies released in the last 10 years (2000-2009), that are certainly worth honoring, seeing, and owning.
A little user guide:
1. This list does NOT include movies that open from this week and on (i.e. -Avatar, Sherlock Holmes, Invictus). I’ll consider them 2010 since they’ll run into it.
2. This list is NOT in any order. Picking 35 “best” movies was hard enough, I wouldn’t even know how/where to start numbering.
3. If I didn’t add your favorite movie, that’s probably because it’s not good. (Kidding) Remember, one woman’s trash is another man’s treasure. There are thousands of movies out there, too many deserving of our time and attention. After reading, feel free to compile your own top 35 if you don’t agree with mine.
The Best Movies of the Decade (2000-2009).
Hotel Rwanda (2004) -The mass genocide in Rwanda barely broke news in most other countries around the world, but this movie tells the true story of one courageous man who gave shelter to thousands of refugees by taking them in to his hotel during the country’s people war. Award worthy performances by Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)- A serious Jim Carrey and a spunky Kate Winslet deliver steller performances in this story about how memories of love are just as precious and fragile as love itself.
The Dark Knight (2008)- Why So Serious? Because Heath Ledger’s epic performance, joined by Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, and Gary Oldman, made up one of the most financially and cinematically successful movies of all time.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)- An unbelievable and unforgettable story about a man whose genius mind is questioned and compromised by his schizophrenic tendencies. Starring Russell Crowe, and including Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer. From director Ron Howard.
The Departed (2006)- Scorsese and DiCaprio’s bromance at its best. An amazing cast, epic performances from several of Hollywood’s leading men DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Jack Nicholson and Martin Sheen.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)- This movie is godfather of an entire sub-genre of comedy, including movies like The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, and many more with cast members that stemmed from writer Will Ferrell’s afternoon delight.
The Last King of Scotland (2006)- when a Scottish doctor moves to Uganda to do mission work, he soon finds himself in the company, and testing the loyalty of despotic President Idi Amin. Forrest Whitaker and James McAvoy, along with Kerry Washington, are unbelievable in this true story of the corrupt Ugandan government.
Remember The Titans (2000)- Possibly the greatest sports story ever set to screen. Denzel Washington is Herman Boone, a head football coach set on uniting his team in the midst of segregated Virginia.
Crash (2004)- Racial stereotypes are confronted head on in this interweaving movie about everyday people emotionally crashing into each other. A genius concept with an even bigger cast including Don Cheadle, Jennifer Esposito, Sandra Bullock, Terrence Howard, Thandie Newton, Matt Dillon, and Ludacris.
Chicago (2002) – This movie adaptation of the award winning Broadway musical couldn’t have had a more fine tuned cast. Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta Jones, Renee Zelleweger, Queen Latifah…all at career highs during and after Chicago hit the screen.
Gladiator (2000)- The Greek and Roman thing has been done several times, in more ways than necessary. But Ridley Scott did it best. With outstanding performances from Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix and another breakthrough role for Djimon Hounsou
Shrek (2001)- Come on, everybody knows at least one quote and/or song from this movie. (singing) “Shine your shoes, wipe your…face”. Mike Myers and the big green guy revolutionized the meaning of “fairy tale”.
Scary Movie 1 & 2 (2000/2001)- I’ll just say it. The Scary Movie franchise just wasn’t as funny without the Wayans Brothers.
August Rush (2007)- The tagline says it best: “An incredible journey, moving at the speed of sound”. Freddy Highmore, Robin Williams, Terrence Howard, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Keri Russell all showcase their talent in this melodic movie.
Spiderman 3 (2007) – Second highest grossing film. Most successful Spiderman film. Tobey McGuire. ‘Nuff said.
Babel (2006)- A movie about challenging language barriers, full of emotion, simply captivating. Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt lead an equally notable cast of unknown actors.
Ray (2004)- Jamie Foxx’s award winning performance as the music legend Ray Charles in this movie catapulted him from sitcoms to screen busters.
Wall-E (2008) -Disney and Pixar’s creation of a robot romance is more than just an animated fun time, it’s a heart warming, finger-waving (at humans and their disregard for the Earth), incredibly good movie for all ages.
X-Men (2000) – the beginning of Marvel’s movie reign, second to only Blade. X-Men is one of the longest running successful comic book movie franchises, with 3 X-Men movies, and the Origins series still going.
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)- Here comes The Bride! One of the bloodiest movies ever, with a relentless Uma Thurman looking for revenge. Tarantino struck gold with this one.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)- It’s not about sexual preference. And if you can get past that, you’ll see the movie for what it truly is. It’s a movie about love- the tragedy, the reality and the complexity of it. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal both give a performance beyond words in Ang Lee’s drama.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001/2002/2003)- Peter Jackson’s gripping trilogy that was, and still is, larger than life.
Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle (2004)- an underrated, hilarious and free-spirited stoner comedy, complete with White Castle burgers and Neil Patrick Harris. Kal Penn and John Cho are perfect.
The Incredibles (2004)- Because I’ve never met a person that didn’t like this movie. If it’s not the best Disney/Pixar collaboration film overall, it is their best animated action movie.
Love & Basketball (2000)- Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps are the perfect couple in this romantic sports story. One of the most quiet screen successes, but a DVD hit (accompanied by an amazing soundtrack), and certainly the turning point in Lathan’s stand-out career.
Children of Men (2006)- One of Clive Owen’s best performances. A race against time, a look into the future, a well done award winner by Alfonso Cuaron.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)- If you haven’t heard about this movie, you’ve been living under a rock. Slumdog Millionaire was the 2008 Little Engine That Could.
The Reader (2008)- Kate Winslet is perhaps the most versatile actress in all of Hollywood. She does it again in this award winning movie about a woman in post World War II Germany whose love affair with a teenager changes both of their lives.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)- an amazing movie adaptation of the first book from the cherished C.S. Lewis 7 story classic. With four leading young actors, and supporting strength from Tilda Swinton and James McAvoy.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)- A career defining performance by Brad Pitt, a breakout performance by Taraji Henson. A romance for any age.
Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire (2005)- Out of all of the Harry Potter movies to date, Goblet of Fire was the most exciting and adventurous movie adaptation of the beloved book series.
Pursuit of Happyness (2006)- Will Smith is flawless in this movie. This is the one that justifies his talent and versatility as an actor. It’s emotional, dramatic, and inspiring. Pursuit of Happyness also introduces Will’s son Jaden Syre Smith as an actor, who does exceptionally well in his first film role.
Closer (2004)- An intense look at the lives of two couples, whose lives become complicated when the man from one couple gets involved with the woman from the other. Exceptional cast of Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Natalie Portman and Jude Law.
The Hangover (2009)- I don’t think anyone expected it to be that funny. Shotgun weddings, tigers, and babies named Carlos…The Hangover is the ultimate bachelor film. Career highlight for Bradley Cooper, launch pad for Zach Galifianakis.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)- Wes Anderson’s most succesful film to date, with an amazing cast including Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Danny Glover, Bill Murray, and all 3 Wilson brothers. The Royal Tenenbaums defines the phrase ‘dysfunctional family’.
And the best movie year of the decade is….. 2004! With hits like Eternal Sunshine, Closer, The Incredibles, Crash and Anchorman, 2004- we salute you for being the year that kept on giving. Closely followed by 2006.
Let’s hope that 2010-2019 produces enough quality films to fill another top 35.