20 Best Movies of 2001

Let’s dig into the archives and find out what were the best movies of 2001. The millennium brought to us some of the best movies that were going to become franchises and achieve the status of cult-classics in the near future. On a commercial level, Tolkien and Rowling ruled the charts with ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Harry Potter’ films performing well on the box-office. On a critical level, films like ‘Donnie Darko’ and ‘K-PAX’ with stellar performances from the cast didn’t perform well commercially but were immensely appreciated by critics and film-viewers alike. Here is the list of top movies of 2001. You can watch several of these best 2001 movies on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.

20. Pearl Harbor (2001)

Based on the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, this film aims to strike the right balance between a love story and a war story. During the bombings, two childhood friends are caught up in the events that draw the US into the WWII. They both start to have feelings for the same woman after enlisting themselves into the army.

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19. The Fast and the Furious (2001)

With the eighth installment of the F&F series out in 2017,  it is notable that it was this movie in 2001 that started the franchise. With adrenaline-pumping racing scenes, high-speed robberies, undercover agents, this movie had everything to attract audiences and even had the firepower in its script to be a critical success as well. In the cheesiest way, this was probably the most fun to be had at the multiplex that year.

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18. K-PAX (2001)

K-PAX is the story of a mental patient at an asylum who tries to use his conviction ability to convince the authorities that he’s from a planet called K-PAX. With Kevin Spacey delving deep into the character’s psyche, he is able to baffle the doctors with his abilities. This movie is along the lines of ’12 Monkeys’ that came out in the year 1996. Although K-PAX couldn’t garner commercial success, it created a huge following in the world of movie-lovers.

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17. Black Hawk Down (2001)

Directed by Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down is a fast-paced trip down the history lane. Based on the true story of the US mission in Mogadishu to capture the key lieutenants of Somali warlord which turned to a disaster, it was a commercial success as well as a critical one with key performances from Tom Hardy and Ewan McGregor as one of the 100 US Army Rangers lead by Captain Mike Steele.

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16. AI (2001)


Steven Spielberg’s vision of an artificial future was portrayed in this story of David, a highly advanced android boy, who longs to become a human child so that he can regain the love of his foster mother who abandoned him. It was one of the best science-fictions of its time, after E.T, with the boy from ‘Sixth Sense’ playing David.

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15. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

This movie is regarded as one of the best heist movies made till date and has inspired so many other movies that have themselves become successful. Featuring a stellar cast of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and so many others and with the direction of Steven Soderberg, this film conveys the story of Danny Ocean who assembles a gang of thugs to loot three casinos held by Terry Benedict. This was the first film of the Ocean’s franchise.

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14. Shrek (2001)

Shrek won the Academy Award for the Best Animated Feature Film in 2001. This movie portrays the story of Shrek, an ogre who embarks on a journey to rescue Princess Fiona to regain his swamp. In the process, he starts to fall in love with the princess and soon discovers a shocking secret about her. It stars the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and others. This turned out to be another Spielberg classic.

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13. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

JK Rowling’s best-selling novel’s film adaptation was one of the most anticipated fantasy adventures of the year. People had already fallen in love with the characters of the novel. The film adaptation, at no point, demeans that status and introduced to the world of cinema, actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, etc. It started the Harry Potter franchise that would later include seven more films based on the books.

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12. Amelie (2001)

One of the best movies to come out in the year 2001, Amelie is the story of a young waitress who, despite being overtly imaginative, tries to help people find joy in their lives. The film is charming to the core and captures the viewers’ attention and makes them fall in love with the character of Amelie, played by young Audrey Tautou.

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11. Zoolander (2001)

Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander, with the funniest of his looks in this whimsical flick with just the right comic timing and sassy jokes that makes for a carefree watch of this drama. It is the story of Derek who loses his calm when his rival Hansel wins the pageant competition. He is again hired for a film part, but the turn of events lands him in utmost trouble that is fun to watch, with even the action sequences given a quirky touch.

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10. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

This family-drama directed by Wes Anderson is the story of siblings and family reunions and funny moments between the three estranged and gifted siblings who reunite when their father announces that he is near to death. It is an offbeat comedy that makes for a good watch and the IMDb ratings tell the same. Bill Murray and Gwyneth Paltrow are hilarious in their roles.

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9. Monsters Inc. (2001)

The fourth feature film from Pixar, this movie is the story of the life of monsters and their interaction with the fellow humans. The contrast between the stereotypical concept of monsters and the one shown in the movie makes for a rich viewing experience. The smart and imaginative storytelling with the best voicing done does the trick since the sales of this movie sky-rocketed, with even critical acclaim being huge.

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8. Lagaan (2001)

To be nominated for an Oscar despite the fact that Americans hardly understand cricket, speaks volumes about ‘Lagaan’ — and its connect with audiences. It tells you that “triumph of undying human spirit over all odds and discrimination” is a theme that’s universally resonant. ‘Lagaan’, with its epic and grand scale, and technical and musical brilliance, represents Indian cinema in its finest form. I think noted critic Roger Ebert summed up the best when he wrote this about ‘Lagaan’:“an enormously entertaining epic, like nothing we’ve ever seen before, and yet completely familiar ”. We only wish India could produce more of such films that is so Bollywood and yet so universal.

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7. Donnie Darko (2001)

Although this movie performed badly at the box-office but years after its release, it is still considered a must-watch by any movie-buff, the reason being the connection it creates with the viewers, the ideas it conveys in the most satirical way and opened up new concepts. It is considered by top critics as a timeless piece of cinema, with applause for the portrayal of the protagonist by Jake Gyllenhaal.

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6. The Others (2001)

The Others

A woman named Grace is living with her two children Anne and Nicholas on an almost empty island in their huge mansion. Grace’s husband is a soldier in WWII and Grace has given her husband up for dead. Everything seems peaceful for her, but when three mysterious servants are given jobs at the house, terrifying secrets are unlocked that even Grace cannot handle. The film is atmospheric. It’s creepy. And above all it is awesome. But it is at the top of the list simply because of its climax that completely knocks your socks off.

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5. Spirited Away (2001)

‘Spirited Away’ is a feature that excels in both character writing and development. Featuring some of the most memorable characters in all of cinema, Miyazaki’s best known endeavor is alluring, to say the least. Featuring a creative story executed with the astute perfection that the director has become recognized for, the film presents a world filled with as much ugliness as there is beauty. Having to do with a girl who wanders away from her parents and lands upon a bathhouse subject to fantasy, the film follows her many adventures within the monstrous building. There are moments of comedy in there, along with moments of fear, magic, and beauty. The subtlety in its realization is probably the best thing about this masterpiece of cinema, which remains even more popular today than it was at the time of its release.

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4. The Piano Teacher (2001)

A deeply disturbing examination — what else can you expect out of Michael Haneke — of desire and desperation in love, ‘The Piano Teacher’ may leave you shaken by the time it ends. Not an easy watch by any means, the film will be richly rewarding to only those who patiently and thoughtfully strive to absorb its subtle nuances — after having gotten through the initial shock. In the end, and if you look closely, Haneke’s message with this film is: Love has many shades, and not all of them are beautiful.

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3. Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

The best road trip movie ever made. Period. Having said that, ‘Y Tu Mamá También’ is also so much more. It is sexy and funny and hip and stylish, but above all, it is affecting and melancholic. In the end, you will be surprised by how a single film could manage to evoke so many emotions. But the ultimate shock will come when you will realize how can the guy who directed this can go on to direct an awe-inspiring space movie.

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2. Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring (2001)

Based on JRR Tolkien’s novel the first of the three movies of the LOTR saga is considered as the biggest and most ambitious film projects undertaken. The film was well-received with overwhelming praise and commercial success, making it the highest grossing film series of all time. Set in Middle Earth, this is the story of Frodo who carries the ring of Sauron on his journey to Mount Doom, the only place where the ring can be destroyed. “One Ring to rule them all.”

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1. Mulholland Drive (2001)

Directed by David Lynch, this movie is a psychological thriller featuring Naomi Watts that is often regarded as the most complex and twisted film on the lines of Lync’s previous works like ‘Eraserhead’. It draws the viewers into the surreal world of imagination, where a fascinating crime story is unfolding, gives the viewers subtle clues to decipher what exactly is going on. It can easily be regarded as the best film of the decade and perhaps the best work of Lynch too.

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