The catalog of movies currently available on HBO Max is among the best a subscriber can find anywhere. That’s especially true when it comes to the content from the 2000s. The decade was filled with some critically acclaimed and popular blockbusters that HBO Max ultimately offers up.
These include billion-dollar franchises, animated classics, Oscar nominees, and hidden gems. Picking out which one to watch can be extremely difficult, especially with so many quality films as possibilities. The ratings over at IMDb give a clearer picture of which of these movies are the best ones to check out above the rest.
10 Something The Lord Made (8.2)
With only just over 12,000 reviews on IMDb, this easily has the fewest of any entry on the list. That kind of makes it the ultimate hidden gem. It’s possible that’s the case because this wasn’t a theatrical release and was instead made for television.
Originally airing on HBO in 2004, Something the Lord Made boasts a talented cast of Mos Def, Alan Rickman, and Gabrielle Union. It tells the true story of the relationship between Vivien Thomas and Alfred Blalock, two heart surgeons of different races who formed a bond between the 1930s and 1960s.
9 Howl’s Moving Castle (8.2)
Based on a 1986 novel of the same name, Howl’s Moving Castle is yet another acclaimed work by writer/director Hayao Miyazaki. Released in 2004, it follows a young woman, cursed to resemble an old witch, who befriends an arrogant wizard and lives in his walking castle.
Grossing $236 million worldwide, it became one of the most successful Japanese films of all time and was also nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. The English version features a voice cast of Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer, and Billy Crystal.
8 Batman Begins (8.2)
Speaking of Christian Bale, he scored the biggest role of his career in this decade. That would be portraying Bruce Wayne/Batman in a new series of movies based on the popular DC superhero. The first of those arrived in 2005 with Batman Begins.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, it delivers a somewhat unique take on Batman’s origin story. His earliest training, rise as a vigilante in Gotham, and battles against the Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul are all part of it. Batman Begins was praised for its score, action, performances, and more.
7 Requiem For A Dream (8.3)
Along with the aforementioned Christopher Nolan, one of the most creative visionary directors of the decade was Darren Aronofsky. Although he helmed major works like Black Swan and The Wrestler, his most iconic project might be 2000’s Requiem for a Dream.
The story is based on a novel of the same name from 1978. It focuses on four interconnected people who have their lives ruined by drug addiction. While it’s a phenomenal movie, it’s not one that audiences watch multiple times due to how depressing and unflinching it is.
6 Spirited Away (8.6)
A few years before Howl’s Moving Castle, Hayao Miyazaki delivered what might’ve been his greatest work ever. That’s saying something considering how well all of his films have been received. 2001’s Spirited Away is everything that makes Miyazaki so good.
It’s imaginative, gorgeously animated, and filled with wonder. Spirited Away centers on a girl who, as her family moves to a new town, stumbles into a hidden world of spirits. This won Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, making history as the first hand-drawn and non-English movie to do so.
5 City Of God (8.6)
City of God is yet another non-English film from the decade available on HBO Max. Released in 2002, this Brazilian picture is adapted from a 1997 novel of the same name and is loosely based on the real rise of organized crime in Rio de Janeiro from the ’60s to the ’80s.
This film helped introduce the likes of Alice Braga to Hollywood. City of God was nominated for four Academy Awards and went to spawn a television spinoff (City of Men) and a 2007 installment with a similar cast also called City of Men.
4 The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (8.7)
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series of books were not only critically-acclaimed but they are also wildly popular, having sold over 150 million copies in history. When it came time to adapt that to the big screen, it would prove to be a huge undertaking.
After the first film was a massive success, The Two Towers followed in 2002 and went on to gross $951.2 million. This installment sees the characters split into different storylines on their quest to destroy the One Ring. The special effects used for Gollum were heavily praised, as was the Battle of Helm’s Deep, which is the largest fight ever filmed for a movie.
3 The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (8.8)
This is where it all began for The Lord of the Rings saga. Arriving at the tail end of 2001, The Fellowship of the Ring started the journey and introduced audiences to iconic characters like Frodo, Samwise, Gandalf, and the rest of the group that became the Fellowship.
This story sees Frodo end up in possession of the One Ring. With the Dark Lord Sauron also after it, Frodo joins forces with other hobbits, elves, wizards, dwarves, and more on the journey to destroy it. Raking in $887.9 million, it helped prove that fantasy epics could work in theaters.
2 The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (8.9)
With two installments that were met with the highest of praise, there was serious pressure to end the trilogy on a high note in 2003. Thankfully, The Return of the King more than lived up to the hype. It expertly wraps up the story that spanned all three movies for a satisfying conclusion.
The Return of the King made $1.142 billion, making it the highest-grossing film of the year and the second-highest of all-time at that point. It also set a record at the Academy Awards, sweeping all eleven categories it was nominated in, including Best Picture and Best Director for Peter Jackson.
1 The Dark Knight (9.0)
Long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight marked a changing of the guard for superhero films. Released in 2008, it was unlike any other movie in the genre that came before it. The things that made Batman Begins work returned and were built upon.
This time around, Batman deals with the chaos caused by The Joker and the emotional turn to the dark side for Harvey Dent, who was meant to by the city’s white light. It grossed $1.005 billion and earned Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
NEXT: The Dark Knight: 10 Fascinating Insights From The Filmmakers Themselves
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