The 100 Best Movies of the 2000’s: 30-21

22. Ratatouille (Brad Bird, 2007)


Lots. Of. Pixar.  In many ways, Ratatouille strikes me as one of the most grown up Disney/Pixar films, with a focus on large themes like purpose, talent, and family.   And yet, it’s still a movie about a rat that expresses his desire to cook by controlling a human by pulling on his hair.  It’s awesome.

Ratatouille builds to a climax so emotionally satisfying that I don’t dare spoil it here.  While many people were sketched out by the idea of a movie about a rat in a kitchen, I find it full of joy, beauty, and hope.  Also, Peter O’Toole kicks serious ass as the voice of Anton Ego, a terrifying food critic.

21. Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007)

Hot Fuzz

Much like he did with Shan of the Dead, in Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright crafts a loving ode to the genre he is lampooning, in this case the buddy-cop film.  Hot Fuzz has the tightest comedic script I’ve ever seen, with not a single line or moment wasted, and almost every single thing that is planted paying off in a supremely satisfying way.  It also climaxes in one of the most ridiculous extended shoot-outs you’ve ever seen, made all the better by the idyllic English country setting.  

We’re getting so close!  Check back soon for 20-11!

24. Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)

Punchdrunk love

Paul Thomas Anderson happens to be my favorite director of all time, and Adam Sandler happens to be one of my least favorite actors of all time, so I wasn’t sure how this one was gonna work out.  Turns out, I had nothing to be worried about.  Sandler is brilliant in this movie as a socially awkward man named Barry Egan, who figures out how to exploit a loophole in a pudding sales giveaway.  He also meets his soul mate and stands up to a psycho phone-sex operator.  It sounds strange, and it is, but Punch-Drunk Love is the ultimate misfit love story.  If there’s someone out there for Barry, there’s someone out there for anyone.

23. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006)

Pan's Labyrinth

A dark, twisted Spanish fairy-tale, Pan’s Labyrinth bounces seamlessly between a dark, surreal, but still kinda whimsical fantasy story about a little girl destined to be a Princess, and a brutally real and violent story of the Spanish Civil War.  Nacho Vidal stars as the main girl’s stepfather, a man so frightening that he’s the scariest thing in a movie full of literal monsters.  

Guillermo Del Toro is a master of creature and world design, and no where is that more evident than in Pan’s Labyrinth.  It doesn’t hurt that he has the brilliant Doug Jones portraying both Pan, the faun of the title, and the Pale Man, a creepy, horrific figure with eyes on his hands.

26. Oldboy (Park Chan-Wook, 2003)


The decidedly twisted story of a man who has been released after fifteen years of unexplained imprisonment, Oldboy is one of the best films ever made about the perils of revenge.  Two men are locked in a cycle of vengeance, and when it’s over, absolutely no one is better off.  

Oldboy, while not an action film, is also notable for having one of the coolest action scenes ever, a single-shot fight down a long hallway full of henchman, and our protagonist armed only with a hammer.  Seriously.  It’s awesome.  

25. The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004)


Like I said, lots of Pixar.  Look, I’m a HUGE superhero and comic book nerd.  I have a stack of comic books next to me as we speak, so when I saw that Incredibles is one of the best superhero films ever made, you gotta believe me.  It hits all of the beats, while also transferring them into a compelling family adventure formula.

What really sets The Incredibles apart is that it’s not afraid bring up big questions about what it means to be hero, while still making having powers look like tons of fun.  The comedy works, the action works, and the drama works, all because Pixar understands what it truly means to be a special.

28. Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring (Peter Jackson, 2001)


Here.  I’m gonna say it..  Fellowship is the best Lord of the Rings film.  Two Towers and Return of the King may have all of the crazy huge battle sequences, but by playing out on a smaller (although still huge) scale, Fellowship is more affecting.  Like, when Gandalf falls in the Mines of Moria, we feel it.  When Boromir has his big moment at the battle by the river, it’s totally earned, and it affects every single character in the film.  The story in Fellowship is smaller, but more streamlined, and as a result the big moments just feel bigger, because they aren’t surrounded by other huge moments.

27. Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton, 2003)

Finding Nemo

This chunk of the list has a lot of Pixar films on it, because as I mentioned before, they are quite simply some of the best storytellers in Hollywood.  Finding Nemo is an underwater adventure built around a father’s deep love and concern for his son, which means that even though it’s a film about talking fish, it is utterly grounded in reality.  It also doesn’t hurt that it’s really, really funny, due in large part to Ellen DeGeneres’s great work as Dory, the memory-impaired fish.  Finding Nemo hits perfect beat after perfect beat, exploring the craziness of the ocean floor in a way that no one ever has.

Oh man, we’re getting closer and closer to the end.  Here’s numbers 30-21! 

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30. Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004)

When parodying a genre, it helps to have immense affection for that genre.  Fortunately, that sort of affection for zombie films pours through in every frame of Shaun of the Dead. Billed as a ZomRomCom (Zombie Romantic Comedy), this film was America’s first introduction to Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, playing roommates/slackers Shaun and Ed.  Shaun somehow manages to be sweet, funny, gross, and scary all at the same time, showing that the best way to make a Zombie parody is to also have it be a really good zombie movie.  Imagine that.

Shaun of the Dead

29. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)

Marking the beginning of a major director/actor relationship between David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen, A History of Violence is a family drama punctuated by moments of intense, graphic violence.  Viggo stars as a man whose past has come back to haunt him, and is putting his family at risk in the process.

History of Violence is also noteworthy for featuring an incredible four-minute performance by William Hurt that earned him an Oscar nomination.  Seriously.  The guy is onscreen for four minutes, near the very end of the film, and he pretty much manages to steal the movie.  It’s absurd.

History of Violence