Richard Roeper Blog

The 100 best movies of the decade.

The 100 best movies I saw in the 2000s:

1. “The Departed” (2006). A cop goes undercover as a gangster, a gangster goes undercover as a cop, and from that point on we’re dealing with Shakespearean issues of identity and true self while the blood splatters the wall at every turn. Martin Scorsese’s masterful interpretation of the 2002 Hong Kong classic “Infernal Affairs” is an exceedingly violent, profane, grim, darkly funny and thrilling gangster epic, filled with juicy performances from perhaps the best ensemble cast in a crime pic since the “Godfather” movies, including Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin. Great, juicy performances, a brilliant screenplay and enough twists and turns to leave you breathless.


2. “In America” (2003). In this beautiful, heart-wrenching, fictionalized version of his own story, director Jim Sheridan explores the theme of “aliens” in America while continually referencing another alien: “E.T.” There are at least two scenes in this that will make you cry, unless you’re dead. And maybe even then. “In America” is the equal of Frank Capra’s best work.

3. “Traffic” (2000). Stephen Soderberg’s sprawling masterpiece about the myriad ways in which drugs have invaded our culture is a triumph of style and content. Soderbergh changes filters on his camera as he traverses back and forth between three equally compelling stories about the war on drugs, told from perspectives ranging from the most powerful corridors of Washington to the seediest back alleys. One of the best ensemble casts of the decade (Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Benicio del Toro in an Oscar-winning role) in a film that defines the drug culture on a grand scale and on a very personal, family level.

4. “Memento” (2001). Ingeniously inverted puzzle that goes from finish to start, like Hitchcock walking backwards. The only thing better than the first time you see it is the second time you see it.


5. “House of Flying Daggers” (2004). The most beautiful film of the decade. Set in 9th century China, Zhang Yimou’s martial arts opera stars the achingly beautiful Ziyi Zhang in a gorgeous explosion of action, romance, music and breathtaking action sequences. The plot becomes insanely complicated, but who cares?


6. “Mystic River” (2003). If Clint Eastwood had never acted in a single frame of film in his life, he’d be an American treasure for his work behind the camera. This is a profound, authentic, devastatingly honest piece of work.

7. “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008). “The Usual Suspects” meets “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with a whole lot of 21st century Charles Dickens as well. Danny Boyle directs with kinetic style as he jumps about chronologically and tells the story of an 18-year-old from the ghettos of Mumbai who somehow knows all the answers on the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” At times excruciatingly realistic, at other times venturing into pure fable territory, “Slumdog” survived all the hype and scored all those Oscars, every one of them well deserved. One of the most exhilarating viewing experiences I’ve ever had.

8. “25th Hour” (2002). 8. “25th Hour.” Spike Lee’s overlooked masterpiece stands as the definitive time capsule of New York in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Works as a social commentary, a crime story, a buddy film and a story about the bond between father and son.


9. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000). Ang Lee’s most accomplished film. Epic, exotic, romantic, gorgeous—and filled with breathtaking fight sequences.

10. “Hotel Rwanda” (2004). One of the most heartbreaking and inspirational movies I’ve ever seen, based on a true story. Don Cheadle deserved an Oscar for his portrayal of a good man catapulted to perform great deeds during a time of horrific genocide.

11. “Minority Report” (2002)


12. “Gangs of New York” (2002)

13. “Syriana” (2005)

14. “Michael Clayton” (2007)

15. “Zodiac” (2007)


16. “No Country for Old Men” (2007)

17. “The Dark Knight” (2008)

18. “Brothers” (2009)

19. “Million Dollar Baby” (2004)

20. “Gone Baby Gone” (2007)

21. “21 Grams” (2003).

22. “Up in the Air” (2009)


23. “The Lookout” (2007)

24. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)

25. “Munich” (2005)

26. “In the Bedroom” (2001).

27. “The New World” (2005)

28. “The Queen” (2006)

29. “Love, Actually” (2003)

30. “The Claim” (2000)

31. “The Hurt Locker” (2009)

32. “Babel” (2006)

33. “Lost in Translation” (2003)

34.  “Finding Nemo” (2003)


35. “The Aviator” (2004)

36. “Crash” (2005)

37. “Y tu Mama Tambien” (2002)

38. “Donnie Darko” (2001)


39. “Flags of our Fathers”/”Letters from Iwo Jima” (2006)

40. “The Wrestler” (2008)

41.“Vanilla Sky” (2001)

42. “Sideways” (2004)

43. “Eastern Promises” (2007)

44. “The Contender” (2000)

45. “A Beautiful Mind” (2001)

46. “United 93” (2006)


47. “In Bruges” (2008)

48. “Nine Lives” (2005)

49. “(500) Days of Summer” (2009)

50. “Best in Show” (2000)

51. “Wonder Boys” (2000)


52. “Adaptation” (2002)

53. “Elephant” (2003)

54. “A History of Violence” (2005)


55. “I’ve Loved You So Long” (2008)

56. “Brokeback Mountain” (2005)

57. “Almost Famous” (2000)


58. “Rabbit-Proof Fence” (2002)

59. “Inglourious Basterds” (2009)

60. “One Hour Photo” (2002)

61. “Amores Perros” (2001)

62. “The Barbarian Invasions” (2003)

63.“Mulholland Drive” (2001)


64. “Finding Forrester” (2000)

65. “Capote” (2005)

66. “The Terminal” (2004)

67. “City of God” (2002)

68. “Notes on a Scandal” (2006)

69. “Gran Torino” (2008)

70. “Kill Bill Vol. 2” (2004)


71. “Cast Away” (2000)

72. “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” (2003)

73. “Breach” (2007)

74. “You Can Count on Me” (2000)

75.  “The Visitor” (2008)

76. “Monsoon Wedding” (2002)


77. “Good Night, and Good Luck” (2005)

78. “The Lives of Others” (2006)

79. “Up” (2009)

80. “Monster” (2003)


81. “Avatar” (2009)

82. “The Good Shepherd” (2006)

83. “Milk” (2008)

84. “Juno” (2007)


85. “Collateral” (2004)

86. “Sunshine” (2000)

87. “Happy Accidents” (2001)

88. “About Schmidt” (2002)

89. “Snow Angels” (2007)


90. “Whale Rider” (2003)

91. “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006)

92. “Dinner Rush” (2001)

93. “Frozen River” (2008)

94. “Frost/Nixon” (2008)


95. “The Deep End” (2001)

96. “Walk the Line” (2005)

97. “Blood Diamond” (2006)


98. “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (2008)

99. “Signs” (2002)

100. “About a Boy” (2002)

47 Responses to “The 100 best movies of the decade.”

  1. Ben Says:

    No Iron Man?

  2. JRM Says:

    My personal favorites from your list (in no particular order):

    Kill Bill
    The Terminal
    Little Miss Sunshine
    United 93
    Donnie Darko
    Y Tu Mama Tambien
    Finding Nemo
    The Dark Knight
    Minority Report
    House of Flying Daggers
    The Departed

    But I’ve gotta say, I’m absolutely shocked you didn’t put Pan’s Labyrinth in your top 100.

  3. Justin Says:

    No There Will Be Blood???

  4. Sean Says:

    so arbitrary. avatar is too far down on the list, top 50 at least.

    you can count on me should be about 20 spots above than gangs of new york (why is this so high, the scenery is gorgeous and one of my favorite performances of all time in DDL but really… 12?).

    all good movies, but the ranking in my opinion was just thrown together and not thought out.

  5. richard Says:

    JRM and Ben: Those films would have been in my second 100–and that list would be nearly on a par with the first 100. After all, we’d still be talking about the top 10 percent of all movies released in the decade.


    “Just thrown together and not thought out?” You gotta be kidding me. I spent the last 10 years of my life seeing these movies, writing about them, talking about them on TV with Roger–and ranking them. Of course it’s arbitrary, and of course nobody should be in perfect agreement with anyone else’s top 100. But when you tell me I threw this together…that rankles, my friend. I reviewed my Top 10 (in some cases, Top 20 or Top 25) lists from each year, added some darkhorse candidates that have grown on me over the years, considered which films still resonate, re-evaluated some previous favorites and did a lot of juggling over the last two months before I released this list. It was hardly compiled on a whim.

    And I spent nearly as much time working on the list of the 100 worst films of the decade.



  6. Robert Says:

    I’m disappointed that Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” didn’t make one of your lists.

  7. Angel Says:

    Thank God there’s no Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, yes that one where Mr. Spielberg shows us the culmination of his “I Love E.T.” work, by placing an Aztec Calendar in the middle of Peru, where the predominant culture where The Inca people, certainly he does not have the slightest idea of what he is talking about, I was shocked at how cheesy that movie is, I would put it at the same level as “Hell Comes to Frogtown” starring Roddy Pipper, and please somebody let me know how is it that Shia LeBeouf keeps getting those movie contracts everywhere? he’s a bad actor.

    The Departed is a remake… is not a good movie, is just another part of that oriental movie remake wave and the worst is that Scorsese got the Oscar for this crap and not for Cape Fear (that was a good remake), Taxi Driver and a lot more movies that were really great.

    The New World? you’re kidding right?

    Please don’t mention Finding Nemo, is a bad movie, you guys know it but won’t accept it because your children loved it.

    Vanilla Sky? I don’t know why but I had deja vú while watching that one… oh wait, yes is that remake of a movie from Spain called “Abre los ojos”, and it has Penelope Cruz too! wow! the best of the 2000s.

    One Hour Photo, is it that one where Robin Williams pretends that he is and old…? oh wait! he is an old man! and a truly unfunny one, I’m sorry but he performs exactly the same character in every movie he stars into, he actually tried to be an actor in this one, well, he failed, Mr. Williams, please put your Mrs. Doubtfire costume on again and make a sequel, that would be a lot better.

    The Terminal… does anybody truly believes that Tom Hanks was that guy from “an Eastern European country”? Please…

    Cast Away… oh.. the “Wilson” one…

    About a Boy… hmmm Hugh Grant, well at least the director was right, he needed a little kid to show him how to grow up.

    I don’t like George CLOWNey’s movies at all.

    Those were my comments, where is The Pianist? What about Iron Man? Downey’s performance is way better than more than a half of the people that starred in the movies on the list.

    Thanks again for reading my comments and for not including Chicago.

  8. tom joad Says:

    Iron Man top 100 of decade???. I dont think so. Paint by numbers just like TDK. Never understood what people saw in the Departed, but to each his own. Surprised nothing by Sokurov or Kiarostami. As for American, how about Quiet City by Aaron Katz.

    Just saw Bruce Dern in Silent Running, another nice performance in a decent film. Hilarious, great, great underrated actor. Has nothing to do with this decade or list, but still.

  9. Lugh Says:

    Disregarded list when I saw Avatar on it. Sorry, Richard, I like you but really? That white guilt marathon?

  10. David Cochrane Says:

    Very nice lists – I like that you placed The Departed at #1 (it’s probably in my top five for the decade), but I wished that City of God (my #1 pick, no contest) had been a little higher.
    I suppose my biggest disagreement with your very top films is In America; I liked the ET reference you made as both films had the same effect on me – trying a little too hard to be heart-warming and -wrenching so that they both felt rather manipulative and irritating. Still, I think most would agree with you on those two movies.


  11. Jan J Says:

    Angel: I’ve seen both The Departed and the movie it was based on – The Departed was a good American adaptation with some excellent performances – Cape Fear on the other hand….well, the remake wasn’t nearly as good as the original – largely because Mitchum’s performance was so much better than DeNiro’s.


    Sorry not to see Star Trek there – very well made, escapist fun with wonderful echoes of the original series. Lightweight, yes, but very good nonetheless.

  12. Shaun M. Says:

    The Departed at the top of your list makes me wanna cry. Departed was nothing but Hollywood, once again, anaesthetising a vastly superior foreign film (HK in this instance) and harvesting its organs for transplant into a focus-grouped, massively bankrolled Frankenstein with expensive clothes… No soul – No character shining through – The Departed is one of the laziest movies in Hollywood history. Fail a thousand times. You have some good stuff in the teens and twenties, but come on! The Departed?!?

  13. Sean Says:

    Richard, if that’s the case, then explain to me the in-depth analysis that allowed you to rank cast away above “just about any movie below it,” especially you can count on me or good night and good luck.

    and seriously, like the first guy said. you really believe forgetting sarah marshall to be a better film than iron man?

    and no pan’s either? That’s all i meant, no rankle intended. but come on, there are some huge gaps here, and it pains me to think that a man with your caliber of critical analysis would put together a list with obvious flaws and stand by it so steadfastly. anyway, peace and can’t wait to argue about the next 100!

  14. Angel Says:

    Jan J:

    I have a different point of view regarding The Departed, for me, The Ring is a better remake, but I completely agree with you in Star Trek, nice movie, JJ Abrams is a very good filmmaker and he seems to have great writers surrounding him, those “Bad Robot” guys are bringing back the magic I used to feel in the 80s and 90s little by little.


    I agree Pan’s Labyrinth should have been there.., Del Toro is a fantasy genius.

  15. Skippy20009 Says:

    Wow…The Departed? Really? I’m not sure I’d have it in my top 100. Zodiac was my no-questions-about-it choice for number 1.

  16. Nelson Says:

    RICHARD….WHERE IS MATCHSTICK MEN????????????? That is in my top 10 of the decade. And where is Bad Lieutenant:Port of Call New Orleans??? That is another phenomenal movie. I am very glad that you have The Lookout in your top 25, as it was my 2nd favorite movie of the decade.

  17. Joe Pigpen Says:

    Glad to see The Hurt Locker on the list. Best movie of 2009. Most suspenseful movie — ever.

    Also add the Darjeeling Limited and V for Vendetta.

  18. Melissa M.R. Says:

    The Passion of the Christ & There Will Be Blood are seriously missing from your list Mr. Roeper…

  19. Abby Says:

    Whoops meant to post my comment here. I had just said: This seems a little inconsistent. Why are the 2009 films on here not in the same order they were on your best of 2009 list? For example, you have (500) Days of Summer at #4 and Inglourious Basterds at #5 for the year, but here you flip flopped them around. Also, Up was ranked higher than Avatar in your best films of the year, and it is nowhere to be seen here (though Avatar is). So…I’m kind of confused.

  20. Ebenezer Says:

    “Flags Of Our Fathers” makes the cut but a much better “Letters From Iwo Jima” doesn’t? Seriously? Unbelievable. That movie is better than more than half the films on this list.

  21. richard Says:


    That was an inadvertent omission on my part. As I did in 2006 when I put both of Eastwood films on my Top 10 lists, I meant to combine the two, as I believe they should be seen as a double feature. I’ve added “Letters” to the list.



  22. Micah Says:

    I’m happy to see Signs made the cut. I felt like the last person on the planet who appriciated it as much as myself but (hallejuah) turns out I’m not alone. Also agree with The Dark Knight, Finding Nemo, Love Actually and Minority Report. Haven’t watched Hurt Locker, Up in the Air or 500 Days of Summer yet but desperately want to (I bought the latter yesterday). I’d probably add Casino Royale, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, King Kong and the Prestige.

    Good list.

  23. Skippy20009 Says:

    Where’s The Hangover? That was the funniest comedy since Kingpin!

  24. AndrewM Says:

    I was interested to see “Eastern Promises” on the list. When it first came out, a lot of critics (including Roeper) seemed to suggest it was a good, not great crime film and a little too cold and remote to really engage. Why the change of opinion?

  25. Infamoushug0 Says:

    Funny to see how some people think their opinion is the only opinion worth anything.
    I like this list. I dont always agree with it, but Im not going to despise Richard just for that. Good job.

  26. sammy Says:

    “The Hangover was the funniest comedy since Kingpin”. Makes me glad I didn’t see Kingpin as I would put The Hangover on the (s)hit list.

  27. Buddy Acker Says:

    Hey Richard,
    I liked your list of the Top 100 worst movies of the decade and agreed with it for the most part. But I have one movie that should nearly top your list that wasn’t on it: “Repo: The Genetic Opera.” If you thought “The Hottie and the Nottie” was a bad Paris Hilton movie, you haven’t seen this grotesque, stupid, and brutally bad musical in which the music sounds like shit if shit was music.

  28. Neil Says:

    Wow, I am surprised Mr. Roeper actually had the time to churn out this list…

  29. Craig Says:

    Where is Requiem For A Dream?? Top 50 for sure!!

  30. Chris Says:

    Great list Richard, probably one of the best ‘top films of the decade list’ i have seen. But i have to agree with Justin and Melissa, where is There Will Be Blood? I personally would put it at least top 20, possibly top 10. I was surprised it did not even make your top 100 though… Regardless, very glad to see you are getting back to reviewing movies more often again. Looking forward to all your future reviews.

  31. Linda Says:

    Very good to see Up in the Air above The Hurt Locker and Crash above Brokeback Mountain.

  32. Jim Says:

    What about 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days…. A dark and difficult topic to tackle, it had guts and made me squeamish at times but a terrific film

  33. Ben Says:

    You know what? I’m glad that The Departed is number one. Great movie.

  34. Bob Says:

    THANK YOU for including Memento in the Top 5, as it was my personal fave of the 2000s.
    But no WALL-E?

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  36. Caleb Says:

    Mostly agree the picks on this list (though not the order). The ones that are missing are definetly “There Will Be Blood” and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” though many will disagree with me on that one. My personal number 1 would be Lord of the Rings. The Departed atleast certainly isn’t a bad choice (def one the top ten of the decade though not number 1 in my opinion). All around very good list.

  37. Sarah Says:

    I like the list that you made for the Top 100 movies of the 2000s. Kill Bill 2, The House of Flying Daggers, Finding Nemo and Juno are my top personal favorites.

  38. Zev Says:

    This is a great list, the Departed is really an amazing film. However, I would have put the Dark Knight somewhere in the top 3. In my opinion (though I’m ashamed that I didn’t see it in theaters, I saw it for the first time last summer), it’s one of the best films of the decade. I would have also put Inglourious Basterds and the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King higher, but great list.

  39. Joe Says:

    Excellent list. I was going through the comments and saw someone criticize “Finding Nemo” and I’d like to say that even though it was a kids movie, it’s something that everyone can watch and enjoy. Great movies need not be filled with violence and sex to capture the attention of the adult audience.

  40. Shane Says:

    So “AVATAR” is on here but not “DISTRICT 9”? District 9 accomplished so much more than Avatar even without conveniently sexualized characters and all that 3D crap. Avatar was just cinematic trickery, people were fooled into liking it. All the 3D special effects are just in place to distract people from the fact that they are watching a cinematic train wreck of cheesy plot devices that they have seen thousands of times before. I have literally hurt my brain trying to understand why people like this movie so much…the only conclusion I can draw is that most people are stupid, but I would hate that to be true.

    So maybe someone could convince me otherwise? Even though I doubt they can.

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  43. Marc Richter Says:

    What? You don’t have “There will be Blood” on the list? What’s up with that? It’s definately better than sleepers like Castaway (worst show of all time…)

  44. Mike Meyers Says:

    Hi Richard,

    Nice list!!!

    Here are my top 10 in no particular order:

    1. Avatar (2009)
    2. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
    3. Gran Torino (2008)
    4. Mulholland Drive (2001)
    5. Donnie Darko (2001)
    6. Crash (2005)
    7. Lost in Translation (2003)
    8. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
    9. The Departed (2006)
    10. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

    What are your favorite films of all-time?


  45. shobhit bhatnagar Says:

    why the hell is mulholland drive on 63#?it can be easily in top 5 movies of decade. Although it spins your mind and force you to deal with reality and dreams, it is one of the most intresting plots i have ever seen. I enjoyed “Mulholland Drive more than Inception or Lords of the ring this list should go to hell
    My top 10 are
    1. Mulholland Drive
    2. There will be blood
    3. No Country for old man
    4. The Departed
    5. Brokeback Mountain
    6. Lords of the rings
    7. The Dark Knight
    8. Incredibles
    9. The Hurt Locker
    10. Artificial Intelligence

  46. M Says:

    Don’t get out of yr native tongue much, do you, pal? This is the most insular list I’ve ever seen. There’s a world beyond Hollywood.

  47. richard Says:

    Don’t do much research before you fire off a smart-ass email, do you ‘pal’? I review films for American television stations and an American newspaper. I don’t review movies that aren’t available to my audience. I’m aware there’s a world beyond Hollywood. I see my share of foreign films. But I confine my list to the movies I’ve seen AND REVIEWED for my audience.

    Fairly simple concept to grasp. For most people.

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