Shut Up Zach! Presents: The Best of the Decade – The 2000s

2000 – 2009

After doing my previous “Best of the Decade” list for the 2010s, I was inspired to give other decades their due. The 2000s is the only other decade that I have been alive for its entirety, even if only turned 5 in 2000. I had to do a decent amount of research to fill in some gaps of my memories, but I am confident in my selections.


What I love about the 2000s is the eclectic pallet of films that were created. Genres like Animation, Science-Fiction, and Comedy, among others, flourished in this era where we were given some of the best of those offerings to date.

Honorable Mentions:

A Knight’s Tale (2001)
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2000)
Almost Famous (2000)
Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
Avatar (2009)
Battle Royale (2000)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Casino Royale (2006)
Cast Away (2000)
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Collateral (2004)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)
Donnie Darko (2001)
Elf (2003)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Finding Nemo (2003)
Gladiator (2000)
Gran Torino (2008)
Idiocracy (2006)
Iron Man (2008)
Juno (2007)
Kill Bill: Vol 1 (2003)
Kill Bill: Vol 2 (2004)
Mean Girls (2004)
Memento (2000)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Minority Report (2004)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Precious (2009)
Remember the Titans (2000)
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Serenity (2005)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Shrek (2001)
Step Brothers (2008)
Team America: World Police (2004)
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
The Incredibles (2004)
The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
The Prestige (2006)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Training Day (2001)
Tropic Thunder (2008)
Up (2009)
Walk the Line (2005)
Zodiac (2007)

10th Place
“District 9” (2009)

9th Place
“No Country For Old Men” (2007)

8th Place
“WALL-E” (2008)

7th Place
“Children of Men” (2006)

6th Place
“Lost in Translation” (2003)

5th Place
“V for Vendetta” (2005)

4th Place
“Inglourious Basterds” (2009)

3rd Place
“Spirited Away” (2001)

2nd Place
“The Departed” (2005)

Winner – Best Film of the Decade
“The Dark Knight” (2008)


I find it amazing that the 2000s were a more ripe environment for female director to thrive than most of the 2010s. It still was not a friendly terrain but a few managed to earn Oscar glory for their work which is notable. As a whole, it seems even the best directors were likely to produce at least one stinker over the years, which is a nice reminder that nobody is perfect. I always judge quality over quantity, but in some cases quantity helps.

Honorable Mentions:

Danny Boyle
Darren Aronofsky
David Fincher
David Lynch
Jason Reitman
Michael Mann
Paul Thomas Anderson 
Peter Jackson
Ridley Scott
Ron Howard
Wes Anderson 

10th Place
Kathryn Bigelow – “The Weight of Water”, “K-19: The Widowmaker”, “The Hurt Locker”

9th Place
Steven Soderbergh – “Erin Brockovich” , “Traffic” , “Ocean’s Eleven” , “Full Frontal” , “Solaris” , “Ocean’s Twelve” , “Bubble” , “The Good German” , “Ocean’s Thirteen” , “Che: Part I” , “Che: Part II” , “The Girlfriend Experience” , “The Informant!”

8th Place
Ang Lee – “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” , “Hulk” , “Brokeback Mountain” , “Lust, Caution” , “Taking Woodstock”

7th place
Sofia Coppola – “Lost In Translation” , “Marie Antionette”

6th Place
Christopher Nolan – “Memento” , “Insomnia” , “Batman Begins” , “The Prestige” , “The Dark Knight”

5th Place
Quentin Tarantino – “Kill Bill: Vol 1” , “Kill Bill: Vol 2” , “Death Proof” , “Inglourious Basterds”

4th Place
Steven Spielberg – “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” , “Minority Report” , “Catch Me If You Can” , “The Terminal” , “War of the Worlds” , “Munich” , “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”

3rd Place
Clint Eastwood – “Space Cowboys” , “Blood Work” , “Mystic River” , “Million Dollar Baby” , “Flags of Our Fathers” , “Letters From Iwo Jima” , “Challenging” , “Gran Torino” , “Invictus”

2nd Place
Joel and Ethan Coen – “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” , “The Man Who Wasn’t There” , “Intolerable Cruelty” , “The Ladykillers” , “No Country For Old Men” , “Burn After Reading” , “A Serious Man”

Winner – Best Director of the Decade
Martin Scorsese – “Gangs of New York” , “The Aviator” , “The Departed”


There were some truly outstanding actresses in the 2000s that have compiled resumes full of notable performances. Having said that, I was really caught off-guard that I had a true runaway winner. I will say, it doesn’t seem like any of these actresses were short on work, as seemingly everyone racked up 15+ feature films over a 10 year span, so I only listed the films that were noteworthy to not overwhelm you.

Honorable Mentions

Amy Adams
Angelina Jolie
Ellen Page
Frances McDormand
Halle Berry
Judi Dench
Julia Roberts
Kate Beckinsale
Marion Cotillard
Natalie Portman
Penelope Cruz
Reese Witherspoon
Scarlett Johansson
Salma Hayek
Sandra Bullock
Uma Thurman
Viola Davis

10th Place
Michelle Williams – 18 films including: “Me Without You” , “The United States of Leland” , “The Station Agent” , “Imaginary Heroes” , “Brokeback Mountain” , “I’m Not There” , “Wendy and Lucy” , “Synecdoche, New York”

Image result for michelle williams 2005

9th Place
Naomi Watts – 21 films including: “Mulholland Drive” , “The Ring” , “21 Grams” , “The Assassination of Richard Nixon” , “Stay” , “King Kong” , “Inland Empire” , “The Painted Veil” , “Eastern Promises” , “Mother and Child”

Image result for naomi watts

8th Place
Julianne Moore – 22 films including: “Hannibal” , “The Hours” , “Far From Heaven” , “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio” , “Children of Men” , “I’m Not There” , “A Single Man”

Image result for julianne moore

7th Place
Charlize Theron – 21 films including: “Men of Honor” , “Monster” , “The Italian Job” , “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers” , “North Country” , “In the Valley of Elah” , “The Road”

Image result for charlize theron 2003

6th Place
Renée Zellweger – 19 films including: “Bridget Jones’s Diary” , “White Oleander” , “Chicago” , “Cold Mountain” , “Cinderella Man” , “Miss Potter”

Image result for renee zellweger

5th Place
Meryl Streep – 19 films including: “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” , “The Hours” , “Adaptation” , “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” , “The Devil Wears Prada” , “Doubt” , “Mamma Mia” , “Julia and Julia” , “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

Image result for meryl streep

4th Place
Nicole Kidman – 19 films including: “Moulin Rouge!” , “The Others” , “The Hours” , “Dogville” , “Cold Mountain” , “Birth” , “Happy Feet” , “Australia”

Image result for nicole kidman 2000

3rd Place
Tilda Swinton – 21 films including: “Possible Worlds” , “Vanilla Sky” , “Adaptation” , “Constantine” , “Broken Flowers” , “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” , “The Man From London” , “Michael Clayton” , “Julia” , “Burn After Reading” , “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” , “I Am Love”

Image result for tilda swinton 2008

2nd Place
Kate Winslet – 14 films including: “Quills” , “Iris” , “The Life of David Gale” , “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” , “Finding Neverland” , “Little Children” , “The Holiday” , “The Reader” , “Revolutionary Road”

Image result for kate winslet

Winner – Best Actress of the Decade
Cate Blanchett – 23 films including: “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” , “Heaven” , “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” , “Coffee and Cigarettes” , “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” , “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” , “The Aviator” , “Babel” , “Notes on a Scandal” , “I’m Not There” , “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” , “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Image result for cate blanchett


Before I started, I did not really have a clear idea who would make it to the top of the list. A few times, I was genuinely surprised when I had to leave some off. Like the actresses, most of these actors starred in a large number of films (though not nearly as much) so I only listed the significant ones. Quality will always reign supreme over quantity (e.i. 10th place) but having a large quantity of quality is how you win.

Honorable Mentions:

Adrian Brody
Benicio Del Toro
Bill Murray
Brad Pitt
Christian Bale
Christoph Waltz
Denzel Washington
Don Cheadle
Ethan Hawke
Forest Whitaker
Hugo Weaving
Ian McKellen
Javier Bardem
Jim Carrey
Johnny Depp
Michael Caine
Morgan Freeman
Ralph Finnes
Vigo Mortensen
Will Ferrell
Will Smith
Willem Dafoe

10th Place
Daniel Day-Lewis – 4 films including: “Gangs of New York” , “There Will Be Blood”

Image result for daniel day lewis

9th Place
Tom Cruise – 10 films including: “Mission Impossible: II” , “Vanilla Sky” , “Minority Report” , “The Last Samurai” , “Collateral” , “Mission Impossible: III” , “Tropic Thunder” , “Valkyrie “

Image result for tom cruise

8th Place
Jamie Foxx – 13 films including: “Ali” , “Collateral” , “Ray” , “Jarhead” , “Dreamgirls” , “The Soloist” , “The Kingdom” , “Law Abiding Citizen”

See the source image

7th Place
Sean Penn – 13 films including: “Before Night Falls” , “I am Sam” , “Mystic River” , “21 grams” , “The Assassination of Richard Nixon” , “Milk”

Image result for sean penn

6th Place
Russell Crowe – 10 films including: “Gladiator” , “A Beautiful Mind” , “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” , “Cinderella Man” , A Good Year” , “3:10 to Yuma” , “Body of Lies” , “State of Play”

Image result for russell crowe

5th Place
Heath Ledger – 14 films including: “The Patriot” , “A Knight’s Tale” , “Monster’s Ball” , “Lords of Dogtown” , “Brokeback Mountain” , “Candy” , “I’m Not There” , “The Dark Knight” , “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”

Image result for heath ledger

4th Place
Leonardo DiCaprio – 9 films including: “Gangs of New York” , “Catch Me If You Can” , “The Aviator” , “The Departed” , “Blood Diamond” , “Body of Lies” , “Revolutionary Road”

Image result for leonardo dicaprio

3rd Place
Matt Damon – 24 films including: “Finding Forrester” , “Ocean’s Eleven” , “Spirit: The Stallion of Cimarron” , “The Bourne Identity” , “The Bourne Supremacy” , “Ocean’s Twelve” , “Syriana” , “The Departed” , “Ocean’s Thirteen” , “The Bourne Ultimatum” , “Ponyo” , “Invictus”

Image result for matt damon

2nd Place
George Clooney – 21 films including: “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” , “The Perfect Storm” , “Ocean’s Eleven” , “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” , “Solaris” , “Ocean’s Twelve” , “Good Night, and Good Luck” , “Syriana” , “Ocean’s Thirteen” , “Michael Clayton” , “Burn After Reading” , “Up in the Air” , “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

Image result for george clooney

Winner – Best Actor of the Decade
Philip Seymour Hoffman – 20 films including: “Almost Famous” , “Love Liza” , “Punch-Drunk Love” , “Red Dragon” , “25th Hour” , “Owning Mahowny” , “Cold Mountain” , “Along Came Polly” , “Capote” , “Mission Impossible: III” , “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” , “Charlie Wilson’s War” , “Synecdoche, New York” , “Doubt” , “Mary and Max” , “Pirate Radio”

Image result for philip seymour hoffman


The 2000s may have arguably produced the most truly legendary acting performances of any decade in cinema history. I was expecting this to be difficult to narrow down but I was wholly unprepared for the difficulty of the task before me. I have a different champion than I expected and I could have easily switched around the order or even swapped in several other performances.

Honorable Mentions:

Amy Adams – Junebug
Ben Stiller – Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
Benicio Del Toro – Traffic
Björk – Dancer in the Dark
Christian Bale – American Psycho
Denzel Washington – Training Day
Djimon Hounsou – Blood Diamond
Don Cheadle – Hotel Rwanda
Ellen Page – Juno
Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland
George Clooney – Syriana
Halle Berry – Monster’s Ball
Hillary Swank – Million Dollar Baby
Hugo Weaving – V for Vendetta
Jack Nicholson – The Departed
Jamie Foxx – Ray
Jennifer Hudson – Dreamgirls
Johnny Depp – Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Departed
Marion Cotillard  – La vie en Rose
Matt Damon – The Bourne Identity
Meryl Streep – The Devil Wears Prada
Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler
Natalie Portman – V for Vendetta
Penelope Cruz – Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Capote
Reese Witherspoon – Legally Blonde
Robert Downey Jr. – Iron Man
Russell Crowe – Gladiator
Sacha Baron Cohen – Borat
Scarlett Johansson – Lost in Translation
Sean Penn – Milk
Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton
Tim Robbins – Mystic River
Tom Cruise – Collateral
Tom Hanks – Castaway
Uma Thurman – Kill Bill Series
Will Ferrell – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

10th Place
Kate Winslet – “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)

9th Place
Naomi Watts – “Mulholland Drive” (2001)

8th Place
Cate Blanchett – “The Aviator” (2004)

7th Place
Christoph Waltz – “Inglourious Basterds” (2009)

6th Place
Javier Bardem – “No Country for Old Men” (2007)

5th Place
Ellen Burstyn – “Requiem for a Dream” (2000)

4th Place
Mo’Nique – “Precious” (2009)

3rd Place
Charlize Theron – “Monster” (2003)

2nd Place
Heath Ledger – “The Dark Knight” (2008)

Winner – Best Performance of the Decade
Daniel Day-Lewis – “There Will Be Blood” (2007)

And there we have it! The winners and losers from the 2nd ever Shut Up Zach! Best of the Decades Awards! This is a fun exercise for me. I really enjoy revisiting eras of film that may have not always been on forefront of discussions or that may have slipped into the background over the years. It is also really interesting to see how films changed over the course of time! I hope to continue to do this for other decades going forward!

Published by Zach Vecker

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