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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
Watch on Amazon
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
Watch on Hulu
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
Watch on Amazon
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
Watch on Amazon
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.

The Hangover (2009)

The Hangover
100m
Genre
Comedy
Stars
Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis
Directed by
Todd Phillips
Watch on Amazon
The Hangover is one of best movies of the 2000s, as the amnesia-fueled mystery surrounding a lost groom and a bachelor party gone wrong offered a fresh comedic concept. The cast, particularly Zach Galifianakis as the unpredictable Alan, delivered laugh-out-loud moments with their impeccable comedic timing and chemistry (with Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms). The film keeps a good pace, juggling the mystery element with outrageous situations and witty dialogue. The Hangover tapped into the “Vegas bachelor party” trope, a concept familiar to many viewers, and took it to an absurd extreme. The humor pushed boundaries with its raunchy jokes, appealing to a specific audience.

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
Watch on Amazon
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
Watch on Amazon
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
Watch on Amazon
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
Watch on Amazon
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
Watch on Amazon
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
152m
Genre
Drama, Music
Stars
Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Regina King
Directed by
Taylor Hackford
Watch on Amazon
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
Watch on Amazon
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
Watch on Amazon
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.
Zodiac (2007) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
Movie images and data from:
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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