Special Report

The Best Movies of the 2000s, According to Film Critics

The 2000s proved that animated movies aren’t just for children. With computer generated imagery (CGI) effects improving, animated films like “Finding Nemo” and the Shrek series brought family-friendly entertainment to the forefront, leading the Academy Awards to add a category for Best Animated Feature in 2001.

The highest grossing movie of the decade was the CGI film “Avatar.” It grossed over 2.7 billion dollars worldwide, making it one of the biggest worldwide box office hits of the last 20 years.

The 2000s also saw Studio Ghibli, a Japanese Animation studio, release two cult classics including the Oscar-winning “Spirited Away.”

Using ratings from Internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes, 24/7 Tempo has compiled the best movies you’ll remember if you grew up in the 2000s, and a surprising number of them are animated.

The 2000s were also a huge decade for fantasy lovers. The biggest box office successes from 2000-2009 were sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero themed, including all three films from director Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings series, which each grossed over 300 million dollars in the U.S. Here are the best movie franchises to marathon from home.

Christopher Nolan’s Batman film “The Dark Knight” grossed over 500 million, making it the biggest superhero movie of the decade. These are the biggest box office hits since 2000.

Click here for the best movies of the 2000s

Methodology

To identify the best movies you’ll remember from the 2000’s, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the 3,912 movies that had at least 50,000 reviews on IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes. For the 1,147 of these movies that were released in the 2000s, we calculated an index of each movie’s IMDb rating, Rotten Tomatoes audience score, and Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score. All ratings were weighted equally. Supplemental data on domestic box office came from industry data site The Numbers. Data was collected in April 2021. Each movie’s stars and directors came from IMDb. Box office gross was ranked out of the 1,350 movies released in the 2000s for which we had box office data.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

50. The Bourne Identity (2002)
> Director: Doug Liman
> Starring: Franka Potente, Matt Damon, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen
> Domestic box office gross: $121.5 million — #179 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of Miramax

49. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
> Director: Ben Affleck
> Starring: Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan
> Domestic box office gross: $20.3 million — #944 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Distribution

48. Shrek (2001)
> Director: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
> Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow
> Domestic box office gross: $267.7 million — #33 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

47. Children of Men (2006)
> Director: Alfonso Cuarón
> Starring: Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Caine
> Domestic box office gross: $35.6 million — #712 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

46. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
> Director: Clint Eastwood
> Starring: Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryô Kase
> Domestic box office gross: $13.8 million — #1062 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

45. Mystic River (2003)
> Director: Clint Eastwood
> Starring: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Emmy Rossum
> Domestic box office gross: $90.1 million — #275 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

44. Milk (2008)
> Director: Gus Van Sant
> Starring: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna
> Domestic box office gross: $31.8 million — #781 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Artisan Entertainment

43. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
> Director: Darren Aronofsky
> Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans
> Domestic box office gross: $3.6 million — #1236 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

42. Lost in Translation (2003)
> Director: Sofia Coppola
> Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris
> Domestic box office gross: $44.6 million — #590 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

41. Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
> Director: Stephen Chow
> Starring: Stephen Chow, Wah Yuen, Qiu Yuen, Siu-Lung Leung
> Domestic box office gross: $17.1 million — #995 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

40. Bowling for Columbine (2002)
> Director: Michael Moore
> Starring: Michael Moore, Charlton Heston, Marilyn Manson
> Domestic box office gross: No data available

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

39. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
> Director: Wes Anderson
> Starring: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman
> Domestic box office gross: $21.0 million — #935 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Lionsgate

38. Sicko (2007)
> Director: Michael Moore
> Starring: Michael Moore, Tucker Albrizzi, Tony Benn
> Domestic box office gross: No data available

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

37. Frost/Nixon (2008)
> Director: Ron Howard
> Starring: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell
> Domestic box office gross: $18.6 million — #968 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

36. Moon (2009)
> Director: Duncan Jones
> Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott, Rosie Shaw
> Domestic box office gross: $5.0 million — #1205 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Vantage

35. There Will Be Blood (2007)
> Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
> Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciarán Hinds, Martin Stringer
> Domestic box office gross: $40.2 million — #641 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

34. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
> Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
> Starring: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Abigail Breslin
> Domestic box office gross: $59.9 million — #452 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Distribution

33. Almost Famous (2000)
> Director: Cameron Crowe
> Starring: Billy Crudup, Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand
> Domestic box office gross: $32.5 million — #767 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Hispanic Education And Media Group

32. No Country for Old Men (2007)
> Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
> Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson
> Domestic box office gross: $74.3 million — #353 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

31. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
> Director: Ang Lee
> Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang, Chen Chang
> Domestic box office gross: $128.1 million — #163 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

30. Batman Begins (2005)
> Director: Christopher Nolan
> Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe, Liam Neeson
> Domestic box office gross: $205.3 million — #67 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

29. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
> Director: Quentin Tarantino
> Starring: Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth, Mélanie Laurent
> Domestic box office gross: $120.8 million — #182 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

28. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
> Director: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan
> Starring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Saurabh Shukla, Anil Kapoor
> Domestic box office gross: $141.3 million — #134 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

27. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
> Director: Clint Eastwood
> Starring: Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel
> Domestic box office gross: $100.5 million — #242 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

26. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
> Director: Hayao Miyazaki
> Starring: Chieko Baishô, Takuya Kimura, Tatsuya Gashûin, Akihiro Miwa
> Domestic box office gross: $4.7 million — #1214 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

25. Ratatouille (2007)
> Director: Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava
> Starring: Brad Garrett, Lou Romano, Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm
> Domestic box office gross: $206.4 million — #66 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

24. Casino Royale (2006)
> Director: Martin Campbell
> Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright
> Domestic box office gross: $167.4 million — #100 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

23. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
> Director: Paul Greengrass
> Starring: Matt Damon, Edgar Ramírez, Joan Allen, Julia Stiles
> Domestic box office gross: $227.5 million — #50 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Teleview International

22. The Man from Earth (2007)
> Director: Richard Schenkman
> Starring: David Lee Smith, Tony Todd, John Billingsley, Ellen Crawford
> Domestic box office gross: No data available

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

21. Star Trek (2009)
> Director: J.J. Abrams
> Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Leonard Nimoy
> Domestic box office gross: $257.7 million — #37 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

20. Iron Man (2008)
> Director: Jon Favreau
> Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges
> Domestic box office gross: $318.6 million — #16 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

19. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
> Director: Edgar Wright
> Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis
> Domestic box office gross: $13.5 million — #1067 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of ACME

18. The Wrestler (2008)
> Director: Darren Aronofsky
> Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Mark Margolis
> Domestic box office gross: $26.2 million — #862 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

17. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
> Director: Julian Schnabel, Laura Obiols
> Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze, Anne Consigny
> Domestic box office gross: $6.0 million — #1191 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

16. Finding Nemo (2003)
> Director: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
> Starring: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe
> Domestic box office gross: $380.5 million — #7 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Distribution

15. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
> Director: Steven Spielberg
> Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen
> Domestic box office gross: $164.6 million — #104 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of United Artists

14. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
> Director: Terry George
> Starring: Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Joaquin Phoenix, Xolani Mali
> Domestic box office gross: $23.5 million — #903 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

13. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
> Director: Pete Docter, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich
> Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Mary Gibbs, Steve Buscemi
> Domestic box office gross: $290.1 million — #29 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Warner Independent Pictures

12. Before Sunset (2004)
> Director: Richard Linklater
> Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Vernon Dobtcheff, Louise Lemoine Torrès
> Domestic box office gross: $5.8 million — #1195 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of IFC Films

11. Mary and Max (2009)
> Director: Adam Elliot
> Starring: Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Eric Bana, Barry Humphries
> Domestic box office gross: No data available

Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
> Director: Michel Gondry
> Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Gerry Robert Byrne
> Domestic box office gross: $34.4 million — #729 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

9. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
> Director: Peter Jackson
> Starring: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom
> Domestic box office gross: $377.8 million — #9 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

8. The Departed (2006)
> Director: Martin Scorsese
> Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg
> Domestic box office gross: $132.4 million — #153 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

7. Up (2009)
> Director: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
> Starring: Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, John Ratzenberger, Christopher Plummer
> Domestic box office gross: $293.0 million — #25 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of Newmarket Films

6. Memento (2000)
> Director: Christopher Nolan
> Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Mark Boone Junior
> Domestic box office gross: $25.5 million — #872 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

5. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
> Director: Peter Jackson
> Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean
> Domestic box office gross: $315.5 million — #20 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

4. The Pianist (2002)
> Director: Roman Polanski
> Starring: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay, Emilia Fox
> Domestic box office gross: $32.5 million — #768 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

3. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
> Director: Peter Jackson
> Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom
> Domestic box office gross: $342.5 million — #12 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

2. The Dark Knight (2008)
> Director: Christopher Nolan
> Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine
> Domestic box office gross: $533.7 million — #2 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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Source: Courtesy of Fathom Events

1. Spirited Away (2001)
> Director: Hayao Miyazaki
> Starring: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Miyu Irino, Rumi Hiiragi
> Domestic box office gross: $10.0 million — #1123 out of 1,350 movies released in the 2000’s

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