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The 13 best movies of the 2000s you should watch (or rewatch)

From Kill Bill to Zodiac, these are the best movies you should watch from the 2000s

Kill Bill
Miramax

The aughts mark an era of great art. Indie rock, for example, started to gain momentum in the music realm while movies exploded with the kind of fresh innovation and creativity that can only come from the dawn of a new millennium. There were duds, for sure. Most people just use Snakes on a Plane as anything but a joke, and seemingly interesting releases such as Garden State are boring when rewatched today. And while there were plenty of great action movies, there were some duds as well.

We’ve had an additional decade to see which movies struck a chord, whether it’s as a result of phenomenal acting, clever editing, or an intoxicating script. The first decade of the 21st century was blessed with many iconic films. Below, we rounded up the best movies of the 2000s to watch. If you are looking for more films to stream from other eras, check out our list of the best Amazon Prime movies or the best movies on Netflix.

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Punch-Drunk Love
78 %
7.3/10
r 96m
Genre Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
This 2002 release from the revered Paul Thomas Anderson painted Adam Sandler in a shade none of us really thought possible. He plays Barry Egan, a role that asked the actor to be serious and introspective instead of offering his usual silly demeanor. And he knocked it out of the park, becoming the focal point of a complex movie that’s beautifully shot and has brilliant moments of dark humor.

Gangs of New York (2002)

Gangs of New York
72 %
7.5/10
168m
Genre Drama, History, Crime
Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz
Directed by Martin Scorsese
This vintage flick has all of the hallmarks of director Martin Scorsese, from violence and betrayal to racism and the American immigrant perspective. With blistering performances from both Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis, the movie has zero dull moments, remarkable set and costume design, and offers a faction-filled look at the American experiment that seems eerily applicable to today.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

The Royal Tenenbaums
76 %
7.6/10
r 110m
Genre Comedy, Drama
Stars Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller
Directed by Wes Anderson
One of Wes Anderson’s greatest films hit theaters in 2001. The Royal Tenenbaums boasts an all-star cast including the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Gene Hackman as well as a fantastic soundtrack and Anderson’s impressive attention to detail. Family drama has long been the inspiration for all kinds of artwork but this Alec Baldwin-narrated movie is truly unique in its ability to weave together so many emotions and distinctive characters.

Sideways (2004)

Sideways
94 %
7.5/10
r 127m
Genre Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars Thomas Haden Church, Sandra Oh, Marylouise Burke
Directed by Alexander Payne
The greatness of this 2004 movie is that it’s a brooding comedy masquerading as a wine-fueled adventure. Sure, there are scenes of tasting room debauchery and the glorification of Pinot Noir, but the Sideways really excels because of its darker, more honest moments that focus ideas like infidelity and death. Paul Giamatti is nothing short of brilliant in the lead role, a perfect blend of cerebral and self-deprecating.

Up (2009)

Up
88 %
8.3/10
pg 96m
Genre Animation, Comedy, Family, Adventure
Stars Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai
Directed by Pete Docter
Arguably one of the best animated film of the aughts if not the last 20 years, Up is a gorgeous ride that ebbs and flows beautifully between youthful joy and the emotional weight of aging. It is wildly creative and accented with montages so touching that you can’t help but weep at least a little bit. The movie cemented Pixar as king of the animated realm thanks to its razor-sharp animation and surprising skill at telling moving stories.

No Country for Old Men (2007)

No Country for Old Men
92 %
8.2/10
r 122m
Genre Crime, Drama, Thriller
Stars Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin
Directed by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
This Coen Brothers classic took home the Best Picture award in 2007. Since then, we’ve never looked at a cattle gun in quite the same way. Commanded by an outstanding Javier Bardem performance, the film is haunting and twisted in a fashion that’s so authentic it feels like the most beautiful, haunting documentary you’ve ever seen.

Bowling for Columbine (2002)

Bowling for Columbine
72 %
8/10
r 120m
Genre Documentary
Stars Michael Moore, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush
Directed by Michael Moore
Michael Moore’s most famous documentary deals with school shootings, a topic our country knows all too well. Made in 2002, the movie takes a deep dive into gun culture, offering pointed takes on its history and how it interacts with big business. It’s hard to watch at times but required viewing nonetheless. The movie set a new standard for popular documentaries, paving the way for future great ones like An Inconvenient Truth and the countless dramatic docs that continue to come out of the Netflix movie pipeline.

Adaptation. (2002)

Adaptation.
83 %
7.7/10
r 115m
Genre Comedy, Crime, Drama
Stars Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper
Directed by Spike Jonze
The year 2002 was clearly a great ope for film. This Spike Jonze joint, written by the incomparable Charlie Kaufman, features stunning performances by Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, and Chris Cooper. The intersection of the many characters is immensely thoughtful and the way it portrays rural Florida is both romantic and near-mystical.

Memento (2000)

Memento
80 %
8.4/10
r 113m
Genre Mystery, Thriller
Stars Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
Directed by Christopher Nolan
This Christopher Nolan classic is an elongated think piece, full of head-scratching wonder. It’s a lesson in discontinuity, with time pretty much thrown out the window from the start. As such, it’s engaging throughout, requiring your close attention as the story unravels its many, many threads.

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

Kill Bill: Vol. 1
69 %
8.2/10
r 111m
Genre Action, Crime
Stars Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Kill Bill almost instantly brought samurai culture back to the fore, in a rock star style built around the one and only Uma Thurman. The movie has pizazz, excellent fight scenes, and director Quentin Tarantino’s signature stylishness throughout. The late David Carradine shines here, as does some unrivaled choreography, and a prevailing coolness.

Ray (2004)

Ray
73 %
7.7/10
pg-13 152m
Genre Drama, Music
Stars Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Regina King
Directed by Taylor Hackford
This 2004 biopic highlights the remarkable life of Ray Charles, with deft acting by Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington, especially. Covering three decades of the iconic piano man’s life is no small task but the film does it rather effortlessly. It was almost ahead of its time, given the recent trend of musician-based films (Rocketman, Bohemian Rhapsody, etc.).

Amélie (2001)

Amélie
69 %
8.3/10
r 122m
Genre Comedy, Romance
Stars Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
One of the most imaginative popular films of the decade, Amélie is a French rom-com that resonates even more today, given the closed-off nature of the pandemic. The eponymous protagonist lives a life of solitude, prescribed early by her parents for health reasons. But she compensates for the loneliness by letting her mind wander into some wondrous, dream-like territory.

Zodiac (2007)

Zodiac
157m
Genre Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards
Directed by David Fincher
David Fincher is one of the great directors working today, and Zodiac may go down as his magnum opus. The film tells the story of the Zodiac killings in the 1970s, and the way those killings reverberated out to the many men who became obsessed with uncovering who the killer was. For all of its extended runtime, Zodiac is both unsettling and smart about the way that obsession can drive someone mad. The Zodiac killings were never solved, and that unsatisfying ending is part of what makes the movie so appealing whether you’ve seen it before or not.

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Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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