They may not have been around long enough to be considered classics, but there is still no denying the importance and stature of these modern works of brilliance. Here are my top films from the 2000s:
10. The Pianist: While it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Schindler’s List, the Pianist is still a brutally realistic and elegantly crafted Holocaust film that vividly portrays the fall and eventual rise of a Jewish piano player in the 1940’s.
9. Casino Royale: The film that gave the Bond franchise a full makeover and recovery from the average Pierce Brosnan saga, Casino Royale is complex and intelligent while containing classic Bond film action sequences, charm, and smooth dialogue.
8. No Country for Old Men: With the Coen Brothers’ at the peak of their powers, No Country for Old Men is a tense and darkly executed thriller with one of the most amazing villains ever conceived in Javier Bardem’s ruthless coin-flipping murderer.
7. The Hurt Locker: The pinnacle of movies about the Iraq war, this film made Kathryn Bigelow a legend in 2000s movie history by combining great action and brilliant acting with some of the tensest scenes ever captured on camera.
6. Pan’s Labyrinth: A fairy tale for grown ups, this brilliantly executed foreign language film portrays the horrors of war in such a way that you begin to question what is more terrifying: the little girl’s reality or what is seemingly going on in her imagination.
5. Wall-e: My favorite Pixar film besides the Toy Story franchise due to its lovable characters and brilliant storytelling, this gorgeously animated futuristic adventure is entertainment at its purest with the timely subtext about the exponential effect we are having on the environment.
4. The Departed: With one of the best ensemble casts ever assembled, this intricate crime drama of cat and mouse between the Irish Mob and the Boston State Police Department is as brilliant as it is violent and contains all the classic Scorsese elements we have come to adore over the years.
3. There Will Be Blood: With heavy metaphors relating to religion, this film about a greedy and uncompromising oil tycoon is one of those deeply layered creations that only gets better the more you see it. The decent into insanity of the main character Daniel Plainview, played by Daniel Day-Lewis in an Oscar winning performance, is followed perfectly by Paul Thomas Anderson as the film catapulted him into the history books.
2. The Dark Knight: Changing what the definition of a superhero movie could be, this Christopher Nolan epic improved upon the first by showing that superhero movies could be so much more than simple box office hits by creating a dark, chaotic, crime noir.
1. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King: By combining the elegant storytelling of the first movie and the epic battle sequences of the second, the third installment of this Peter Jackson directed trilogy stands as the best of them all and garnered a record 11 Oscar wins.
Honorable Mentions: Up, Finding Nemo, Gladiator, Into the Wild, Spirited Away, Mystic River, Letters From Iwo Jima, Inglorious Bastards, City of God, Children of Men, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind