Top 10 Films of the Decade: The 2000's -

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Top 10 Films of the Decade: The 2000's

The 10 Best Movies of the Naughties

By Rob Worley     January 01, 2010


As the ‘00s (Are we calling them "the oh-ohs?" The "zeroes?" The "naughties?") come to a close it's time to look back on 10 films and franchises that launched movies into the 21st century. This was the decade of CGI, motion capture and 3-D, where the amazing and invincible worlds of comic books, science fiction and fantasy could be realized like never before. But with great power comes great responsibility for today's filmmakers and just because you can bring stunning visuals, you still gotta bring your "A" game with regards to story. With that in mind we find our first selection:

10. Let the Right One In

An international sleeper from Sweden, this 2008 movie is squarely a horror film, dealing with a lonely young boy named Oscar who falls for the girl next door, who also happens to be a vampire ("...I've been 12 for a very long time"). While it definitely delivers some inventive visuals the movie succeeds on the emotional subtleties of a love story between two kids who need each other.

9. Shrek

When it comes to the new wave of CG cartoons, Pixar gets all the love, and deserves most of it. But let's not forget that DreamWorks has flexed plenty of fun-loving muscle in their animated efforts with the centerpiece being the Shrek franchise. Launched in 2001, the film blended classics storybook fables with a modern pop-culture vibe and a strong message about self-esteem. As a result, it won the hearts of audiences everywhere. Nine years later, DreamWorks is set to release the fourth installment of the still-bankable franchise.


8. Iron Man 

The first of many great super hero shows on our list, Iron Man is significant for many reasons. It's the movie that rocketed Jon Favreau into the stratosphere of A-list directors. It's the movie that marks Robert Downey Jr.'s return as an A-list movie star. It's the first movie produced by Marvel and established the once-troubled comics publisher as an A-list studio. And it's just a freakin' blast to watch. Not too bad for a B-list super hero.

7. Pirates of the Caribbean

"Lame!" That's what we thought when we saw the teaser trailer a 2003 movie based on a Disney World theme park attraction. How wrong we were. Pirates of the Caribbean turned out to be one of the most fun movies of the summer, showcasing witty characters, amazing effects and huge set pieces. Hats off to Johnny Depp's swaggering performance as Captain Jack Sparrow. After years of top-lining Oscar-bait art movies, Depp finally got his first academy nod for a Jerry Bruckheimer popcorn blockbuster.


6. The Incredibles

Riding the wave of the comics-to-film phenomenon is a Pixar's 2004 movie The Incredibles. While it isn't actually based on any comics, it may stand as the movie that's been the most true to the spirit of the comic book super heroes we all know and love. It proved that powered crime-fighters don't have to be watered down to find acceptance among the broader movie-going audiences. Colorful costumes, super powers, giant robots, secret headquarters, a shared universe of heroes and a rich back story are now undeniably part of the nomenclature, built-in audiences be damned!

5. Star Trek

The 21st century easily could have started with the death of the one of the most iconic science fiction franchises of all time. The Star Trek movie franchise fizzled out with 2002s Nemesis. The last Star Trek TV series, "Enterprise" ended with whimper in 2005. Then producer/director J.J. Abrams hatched a plan to breathe new life, not by looking backwards or carrying the ball forward, but rather by starting anew. Call it "Crisis on Infinite Enterprises" but team Abrams' novel reinvention caught fire with a wide audience of newly-discovered Trekkies without disrespecting the staunchly loyal core fans. That is a feat for the decade to be sure.

4. Children of Men

They say the best special effects are the ones you don't notice. Witness then Alfonso Cuarón's wildly innovative 2006 film Children of Men. It excels at conjuring up the illusion that star Clive Owen must have risked his life every day to film hair-raising action scenes on an ever-exploding battle field. Even more subtle is Cuarón's ability to capture impossible camera moves, seamlessly stitched together as continuous takes made possible by today's technology, all the while keeping the grungy, gritty mood of the film's tattered world intact.

3. Spider-Man 2

Marvel was already gaining cred as a bankable intellectual property house when Sam Raimi hit a grand-slam with the first Spider-Man. Then he upped the ante with 2004's Spider-Man 2. More intense action, a better realized villain, and evolved characters that actually moved forward, Raimi pushed all the levers to 10. The result is a movie about love, commitment and the enduring human spirit dressed up with all the color, action and F/X fans demand.

2. The Dark Knight

The struggle for comics to be taken seriously as an art form is perhaps encapsulated best by Hollywood's treatment of Batman. The 1966 TV show ridiculed the character because they just didn't know how to take it serious. Comparatively, the Tim Burton run seemed like an art-house masterpieces, before descending back into camp and spoof. What a revelation then, was Christopher Nolan's uncompromising, relentlessly bleak 2008 movie The Dark Knight. The movie threw away the rule-book for super heroes and turned the conflict between Batman and the Joker into a study into the sociopathic mind and terrorist tactics, told in a dead-serious narrative. The result was non-stop buzz, a box office explosion, numerous accolades (including two Oscars) and the best performance of Heath Ledger's tragically short career.

1- Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Peter Jackson was certainly a respected director with a growing fan base before the zero-zeroes. And New Line Cinema had carved out a reputation as a mini-major who made edgy, lower-budget films. So most of us were caught off guard by 2001's Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings. The movie yielded enough Oscar trophies to fill a stadium and enough bank to keep the Shire stocked up with pipe-weed for the next decade. It also presented the richest fantasy world ever seen in a live-action movie. From snow-pummeled mountain passes of Caradhras to the volcanic depths of Mount Doom, Jackson's vision of Middle Earth dazzled us every step of the way. The franchise also gave us Gollum, perhaps the first fully-convincing mo-cap character interacting with real-world co-stars.
After three outings the Lord of the Rings movies stand as a fantastic film epic that feels just as classic and ancient as J.R.R. Tolkein's imagined lands and they indisputably mark Peter Jackson as the greatest filmmaker of the first decade of the 21st century.


Top 10 Movies of the 1990's

Top 10 Movies of the 1980's

Top 10 Movies of the 1970's

Top 10 Movies of the 1960's

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Showing items 1 - 10 of 85
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karas1 1/1/2010 3:52:02 AM

So, you want to start the Star Trek debate.  Again.

The movie sucked.

While it boasted credible acting, exciting action and awesome visuals the plot was paper thin and full of  holes big enough to fly the Enterprise through.  And the characters were so "reimagined" as to be unrecognizable.   It turned a franchise that was known for it's scientific plausibility and deep philosophical foundations into just another brainless action flick, no deeper or better written than GI Joe or Transformers  2.

STAR TREK SHOULD BE MORE THAN THAT!  It should be more intelligent and adult than a movie based on a cartoon meant to sell toys.  It wasn't.  Roddenberry is spinning in his grave.

I have no real arguements with the rest of your choices but Star Trek should be on a list of the most disappointing movies of the decade, not the best.

Kara S

cjclifford 1/1/2010 4:48:15 AM

Shrek, Star Trek, Spider-Man 2?  These are movies worthy of a top 10 list?  Out all the movies that were released in the last decade?  Really?

Wiseguy 1/1/2010 5:13:42 AM




Spiderman (the first, much better than the talkie second)

King Kong (what can I say, I think I love Kong as much as PJ does)

X-Men 2

Blade 2

Inc. Hulk

The Incredibles

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (love the retro sci/fi stuff, very underrated IMO)

Honorable mention,Pan's Labyrinth, 300, Daredevil, Unbreakable, TDK, D-9, X-Men, Spidey 2, Shrek, Star Trek, 28 Days Later, Star Wars Episode 3, Hulk and Pitch Black. I know I'm missing some

madmanic999 1/1/2010 5:35:38 AM

Unlike the other decade lists, I really agree with this one, I would have liked to see one of the Hulk movies on here but get why they weren't.  Mr issue however is with Let the Right One In.  I agree it is a very good piece of filmaking, but if a foreign genre film was going to be included I am really surprised that this is the choice over films like Night Watch and The Host.  I don't want to be a band wagon jumper either, but anyone who looks at this list and feels that Avatar does not belong among the top genre films of this decade is just hating for the sake of hating.

kwsupes 1/1/2010 5:55:05 AM

Yeah Avatar derserves a spot on this list I know its true impact hasn't been fully realized yet, but it needs the number 10 spot. As for the rest of the list I think it is solid. The LOTR trilogy was about as good as it could have been. It was everthying every fantasy nerd ever hoped for and more. TDK in my mind is the best comic book movie of all time and Spidey 2 is a close second so I am glad to see them on the list. And yes Star Trek does derserve to be on the list it was great. I am shocked though that Karas1 hated it, I have never heard her say that on any other post before or have we? Look Kara we get it, yout hated it, a lot of us didn't, let it go. You want intelligent Star Trek and the new movie has to live up to your high standards of which include deep thinkers like Star Trek V, Star trek the Motion picture, and Star Trek: Insurection, sorry that the new movie failed to live up to those "high" standards.

Overall great list Rob. And happy new year.

shadowprime 1/1/2010 5:55:07 AM


I am way too under-caffeinated to go back over all the "2000's" movies in my head just yet, so...  ;-) No way I can begin to assemble "my" top ten list without at least two or three more big cups of coffee.

That being said, I think I would have to give WATCHMEN at least honorable mention. And when did REVENGE OF THE SITH come out? None of the POTTER movies on here? And (prepare the flames, everyone) I MIGHT even have to consider TRANSFORMERS (the first) for a spot (explosions and all).

DEFINITELY agree that the LOTR films were just amazing. I mean, astonishing. What a fantastic experience, seeing those three on the big screen.

And I DO think TREK has to be considered. Look, I love TREK, loved the original series way back when, but I think some have SO elevated TREK that they would have you believe that every episode was a doctorl dissertation. The movie was fun, smart, clever, and IMHO respectful of the franchise and the fans without being shackled by them... it was (again, IMHO) an inspired reboot which offers hope for more TREK adventures, for a lot of NEW fans, for years to come.

Will have to revisit when the brain cells are more fully firing, but a fun list!



tiberiuscan 1/1/2010 5:57:16 AM

What makes any film a top 10, genre or not? The two strongest criteria in the above list seem to be Audience impact and Technical prowess as it relates to State of the Art Special Effects. In most cases I would agree that the ten films mentioned fit the bill for the reasons mentioned. I am reminded of the scene in 'Elf' where Wille Ferrell's Buddy congradulates a coffee bar as having the "Best Coffee in the World". Of course this was utter nonsense and pure hype. 'Best' certainly does not always describe box-office success. It can conceivably describe any film, book, movie, TV show or music that leaves you with a sense that you have been entertained, challenged and perhaps enlightened. As we all know though Transformers 2 was a box office success it was critically panned. So special effects aren't going to make a movie great no matter how beautiful it looks. Do we care about the people on screen? Thereby hangs the tale. In this the list is quite accurate. Even the animated characters of The Incredibles and Shrek reach out to us on an emotional level. When we actually care about what is happening on the screen, then we are seeing the true art of the 'Best of'. The last three Star Wars films lacked the depth of character to sustain interest. Technically dazzeling, yes, but best film. Same with the Hulk, in both it's incarnations. Even the TV series had more emotional depth than both the Hulk and the Incredible Hulk films. Hence neither was successful. Best too as we have seen is also entirely subjective.

jppintar326 1/1/2010 6:01:41 AM

Star Trek?  Seriously?  The film that sacrificed everything that Star Trek was about for greater box office.  Over either Hellboy movie, X-Men, Batman Begins (a close call but I would go with this one over TDK), King Kong, any Harry Potter movie, Wall-E, Revenge of the Sith, Chronices of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, etc.  Somebody has a short term memory.  All of these were much better than Star Trek.  The underrated Nemesis was better than this.

The overrated Pirates of the Caribbean on the list?  Captain Jack Sparrow is silly, not funny.  I never found him someone to root for.  When thought to be dead at the end of the second one, I didn't want him to come back.  Good riddance to him.  All of the movies are fatally overlong and the changing alliances the characters (and the audience) have get really confusing after a while. 

The rest of the list is okay, though I still don't like Julianne Moore's role in Children of Men being a glorified cameo.

ThemanG01 1/1/2010 6:07:37 AM

I'm glad Star Trek shed the goofy space communism and heavy-handed humanism.  Do I think it deserves a spot on this list?  No clue.  The 00's were far too difficult a decade to properly make a top 10 genre movie list out of.  Numbers 1 and 2 are definitely a lock. But the rest of them, wow, I do not envy what you had to do.

obsidian 1/1/2010 6:08:19 AM

As  someone who reads this site as much for the comments as the articles, I can't wait to read the controversy over this list.  Having said that, I enjoyed Star Trek as much as the next guy, but I don't see it as one of the ten best genre films of the last decade.  I  would put  Spiderman in the place of Star Trek.  Spiderman was the first movie to show the billion dollar potential behind the Marvel library of  characters and stories.   Spiderman was the game changer that made the Hollywood  suits start to clamor for other superhero franchises for the rest of the decade.  In fact, I would submit that the initial success of Spiderman is the primary reason we have the promise of a live action Marvel Universe and will no doubt someday soon have a movie-based DC Universe as well.  Not too bad for one movie IMHO. 

Besides, I kinda  thought the first Spiderman movie was pretty good.

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