20 films turning 20 in 2020
- Credit: Twentieth Century Fox/IMDB
From Billy Elliot to Cast Away, how many of these instant classics have you watched?
It seems hard to remember a time where films came out on VHS, streaming services were non-existent and cinema tickets were on average only £4.40. From action-packed blockbusters to Academy Award winners, and everything in between, here’s 20 films that came out in the year 2000.
Directed by Ridley Scott, this epic action film stars Russell Crowe as Maximus Decimus Meridius, a former Roman general who seeks revenge against the emperor who murdered his family and sends him into a life of slavery, and follows Maximus as he becomes an arena fighter who rises through the ranks. Gladiator also stars Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Dijmon Hounsou, and Oliver Reed in his final role.
Winning multiple accolades at the 2001 Academy Awards, Gladiator was nominated a whopping 12 times and managed to scoop five of those gongs - Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Costume Design, Best Sound and Best Visual Effects.
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As well as becoming an iconic film, Gladiator has also largely been credited with introducing a whole new audience to ancient Greco-Roman history and culture, with many developing an interest in classical antiquity after watching this sword-and-sandal blockbuster.
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Making his starring debut is a young Jamie Bell, who plays 11-year-old Billy Elliot, the titular character in this moving dance drama film. Set in 1980s County Durham during the miners’ strike, the film follows Billy, a working-class boy who falls in love with ballet – much to his father’s chagrin, who tries to push him towards boxing. Adapted from Lee Hall’s play entitled ‘Dancer’, the film also stars Gary Lewis, Jamie Draven and Julie Walters who portrays Billy’s ballet teacher.
Premiering at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, Billy Elliot was met with rave reviews and saw a 14-year-old Jamie Bell win the 2001 BAFTA for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The film took home an additional two awards at that year’s ceremony, and received a number of nominations across the board, including three nods at the Academy Awards.
Since its release and subsequent worldwide success, Billy Elliot has gone on to inspire a number of stage adaptions around the world, including one on London’s West End which ran for 16 years.
Robert Zemeckis’ Cast Away was released in the December of 2000 and went on to become perhaps the biggest film on this list. Starring Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland, the FedEx employee finds himself stranded on an island in the South Pacific after his plane crashes – and spends the next four years surviving and adapting to life on island.
Grossing an incredible $429.6 million globally, Cast Away received outstanding reviews and won a number of awards, including Tom Hanks for Best Actor (Motion Picture Drama) at the 58th Golden Globe Awards and Best Inanimate Object for Wilson at the 6th Critics’ Choice Awards.
Cast Away later went on to inspire ABC Studios executive, who wanted to create a television series loosely based around the film. While it never transpired, a concept was eventually later developed which ended up becoming the highly-successful drama series Lost.
Requiem for a Dream
Darren Aronofsky’s 2000 release Requiem for a Dream is one of the grittier films on this list - and follows four characters living in New York as they slowly lose their grip on reality after spiralling into various drug addictions.
Starring Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Ellen Burstyn and Marlon Wayans, the film is based on Hubert Selby Jr’s 1978 novel of the same name. Requiem for a Dream ends with one of cinema’s most harrowing final scenes – set to the haunting Lux Aeterna by Clint Mansell.
Premiering at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, Requiem for a Dream garnered a generally positive reception from critics. While it didn’t take home any Oscars, the film did win the AFI Award for Movie of the Year in 2001. Since its release, it has gone on to score relatively high on film review sites such as IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, gaining an 8.3 out of 10, and a 93% audience score respectively.
Based on a true story, Julia Roberts stars as Erin Brockovich, a lawyer who fought and successfully won a case against Pacific Gas and Electric Company, an energy corporation which was polluting a town’s water with high levels of hexavalent chromium. Representing over 600 of the town’s residents, Brockovich ends up winning her case, and the direct-action lawsuit is settled for $333 million – the largest in American history for a case of its kind.
Well-received by both audiences and critics, Erin Brockovich won a number of awards at that year’s awards season, including Julia Roberts for Best Actress at both the Academy Awards and BAFTAs, as well as Best Actress (Drama) at the Golden Globes.
For any eagle-eyed viewers out there, be sure to look out for the real Erin Brockovich’s cameo – as a waitress named Julia early on in the film.
Mary Harron’s American Psycho poked fun at the materialistic ‘yuppie’ culture of the 80s and 90s in this part-black comedy, part-psychological thriller. Based on Bret Easton Ellis’ book of the same name, Christian Bale stars as Patrick Bateman, an unhinged New York City investment banker who balances his work life with his hedonistic, murderous fantasies as he goes on a relentless killing spree.
The film’s most memorable murder has to be Paul’s (played by Jared Leto), when he meets his demise in Patrick’s apartment. Slain by Patrick, who is wearing a clear raincoat, his murder is soundtracked by ‘It’s Hip to be Square’ by Huey Lewis and the News.
American Psycho debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2000 before its April cinematic release, and while many praised the film for its writing and Bale’s acting, others were less than impressed with its strong violent themes throughout. Regardless of that, Patrick Bateman has gone on to become a staple 21st century horror film villain.
The first installment in this eponymous franchise, Final Destination paved the way for what was to become a classic, albeit fairly cheesy, horror film saga in the 21st century.
Final Destination sees high school student Alex Browning (played by Devon Sawa) ready to depart on a school trip to Paris with his classmates. However, he has a premonition of the plane exploding during take-off. Getting off the plane before the chain of events unfolds, Alex and his classmates think they’ve managed to escape death. How wrong they were. The rest of the film follows Alex and six of his classmates as one-by-one, death picks them off in a series of bizarre and freak accidents.
What sets the Final Destination films apart from other horrors is that you can’t actually see the villain, which in itself leaves the audience perpetually on the edge of its seat. Death comes in many forms – and there’s no escaping.
Kickstarting the 21st century’s love affair with superhero blockbuster franchises, X-Men brought together some of cinema’s biggest and best to see this Stan Lee comic come to life on the silver screen. Comprised of an ensemble cast, X-Men stars Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, James Marsden, Anna Paquin and Hugh Jackman making his Hollywood debut.
Directed by Bryan Singer, the film depicts a group of people who are mutants with superhuman powers, and introduces Logan and Rogue into the conflict between the X-Men, led by Professor Xavier, and Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants.
Grossing over $296.3 million worldwide, X-Men has been followed by 11 more films including a range of sequels and spin-offs, and is the eighth highest-grossing film series of all time. Films within the franchise include 2017’s Logan, Deadpool and Dark Phoenix. Fun fact for you - Hugh Jackman, who plays Wolverine/Logan, and Patrick Stewart, who portrays Magneto, both jointly hold the Guinness World Record for ‘longest career as a live-action Marvel superhero’.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Martial arts masterpiece Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is perhaps director Ang Lee’s most well-known work – and for good reason. The two-hour long film is expertly shot and features stunning cinematography throughout.
Based on Wang Dulu’s novel of the same name, its cast is comprised of some of the best international Chinese-speaking actors of all time, including Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen.
Set in 19th century China, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was filmed on a budget of $17 million and went on to gross $213.5 million globally, and is the biggest award winner on this list – after taking home an incredible 40 awards. This includes four BAFTAs, two Golden Globes and five Academy Awards, to name just a few.
Based on Joanne Harris’ 1999 novel of the same name, Chocolat was 2000’s romcom of the year, and stars Juliette Binoche alongside Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin and Carrie-Anne Moss.
Set in the fictional French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, Vianne (played by Binoche) moves there with her daughter Anouk to open up a chocolate shop. While her shop is first met with skepticism by the townspeople, they soon warm up to her and her sweet treats. Who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate?
Well-received, Chocolat went on to win over audiences and critics alike, and won a number of awards, including Best Picture at the 2001 Academy Awards, where it was up for five gongs. Judi Dench took home Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role at the 7th Screen Actors Guild Awards for her role as Armande Voizin, and Juliette Binoche was awarded the People’s Choice Award for Best Actress at the 2001 European Film Awards.
Guy Ritchie’s directorial debut may have been in 1998 with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels - but it was his second film, Snatch, that made him a household name, quickly becoming a worldwide commercial success and one of Hollywood’s most sought-after directors.
Set in London’s criminal underworld, Snatch features an ensemble cast and revolves around two intertwining stories involving boxing, and the search for a stolen diamond. Featuring many of the same actors who appeared in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels such as Vinnie Jones, Jason Statham, Jason Flemyng and Alan Ford – they’re joined alongside some of acting elite’s biggest and best including Brad Pitt as Irish Traveller Mickey O’Neil, Stephen Graham and Benicio Del Toro.
Gritty and intense, Snatch grossed a total of $83.6 million worldwide and helped Ritchie cement his status as king of British gangster films.
Rolling Stone journalist Cameron Crowe both wrote and directed Almost Famous, a tale of how a budding young writer got his start in the world of music journalism, and the subsequent events that followed. Following fictitious rock band Stillwater on tour, the film sees protagonist William Miller as he vies to get his first cover story published.
Starring Patrick Fugit as William, Almost Famous is semi-biographical in relation to Crowe’s own experiences, as he toured with bands such as the Allman Brothers Band, Led Zepplin, Eagles, Poco and Lynyrd Skynyrd back in the 1970s. With Kate Hudson portraying band promoter Pennie Lane, Almost Famous is a real nostalgia trip for anyone who wants to relive the rock music and pop culture of yesteryear
The film went on to receive critical acclaim – with Crowe taking home the award for Best Screenplay (Original) at 73rd Academy Awards, after receiving a total of four nominations at that year’s ceremony. In addition, Almost Famous won two Golden Globes at the 2001 awards – one for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), and one for Kate Hudson who won Best Supporting Actress (Motion Picture).
The 21st century has seen an influx of iconic TV shows from the 80s and 90s being rebooted in the form of films - with Charlie’s Angels providing the blueprint for this. An adaptation of the 80s television series of the same name, this action-packed blockbuster starred Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore as the angels, alongside Bill Murray as Bosley.
Masters of espionage, the four of them work for Charlie – the mysterious, millionaire boss whom they communicate with through via speaker. In this first installment, the four of them work together in order to rescue kidnapped software creator Eric Knox – but not everything is as it seems.
Filmed on a budget of $93 million, Charlie’s Angels went on to gross $264.1 million globally – making it the 12th highest-grossing film of the year. Three years later, it was followed by a sequel, Charlie’s Angel: Full Throttle, and a 2019 film starring, written and directed by Elizabeth Banks.
Meet the Parents
Everyone’s had that fear when it comes to meeting their partner’s family for the first time – but what could possibly go wrong? A lot, apparently, if you’re Gaylord ‘Greg’ Focker.
Ben Stiller stars as Greg in 2000’s Meet the Parents, which follows a series of highly-unfortunate events that could only happen to someone who is unlucky enough to have the surname ‘Focker’.
The film’s standout performance however has to be from Robert De Niro, who nailed role of retired CIA agent/overprotective dad Jack Byrnes. With Teri Polo, Blythe Danner and Owen Wilson also starring, the film is filled to the brim with incredibly awkward, albeit hilarious incidents. Things couldn’t have been so disastrous though, as just three years later, Pam and her family head down to Florida to visit Greg’s family in 2003’s follow-up, Meet the Fockers.
Budding songwriter Violet (played by Piper Perabo) leave her hometown in New Jersey to pursue her dreams of working in the music industry in New York City.
Struggling to pay her bills, Violet eventually finds herself working as a table-dancing bartender at Coyote Ugly – a bar which is based on a real-life saloon of the same name.
Starring alongside Perabo is Adam Garcia, John Goodman, Izabella Miko, Bridget Moynahan and supermodel Tyra Banks. Also making an appearance is a then 17-year-old LeAnn Rimes – who sings a number of songs on the film’s soundtrack, most notably ‘Can’t Fight the Moonlight’, which peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart.
Gone in 60 Seconds
Nicholas Cage stars alongside Angelina Jolie in action-packed Gone in 60 Seconds – a heist film that follows a group of expert car jackers who come together to steal fifty cars in one night in order to save Randall ‘Memphis’ Raines’ brother’s life.
Starring alongside Cage and Jolie are Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Duvall and Will Paton, as well as Brit exports Christopher Ecclestone and Vinnie Jones.
While it wasn’t the critics’ favourite film of the year, Gone in 60 Seconds is still a high-octane and fast-paced watch – perfect for any car lovers out there. With a budget of $90 million, the film managed to gross $237 million.
Donald Petrie’s 2000 release Miss Congeniality is one of that year’s favourite feel-good films – and still holds up as an entertaining and light-hearted watch, 20 years later.
Sandra Bullock, who is joined alongside acting prestige Michael Caine and William Shatner, portrays Gracie Hart, an FBI Special Agent who goes undercover at the Miss United States beauty pageant in order to thwart an attack.
Miss Congeniality was a box office hit, taking in over $212 million worldwide and also led to a 2005 sequel – Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous.
Following on from his global success after starring as the lead in James Cameron’s Titanic just three years prior, Leonardo DiCaprio is back again - this time in The Beach, directed by critically-acclaimed director Danny Boyle.
Based on Alex Garland’s novel of the same name, Leo plays Richard, a young traveller who finds himself in Thailand. Shortly into the film, Richard is given a map which supposedly leads to a tropical, solitary bliss - which he sets out to find. Tilda Swinton, Virginie Ledoyen, Guillaume Canet and Robert Carlyle also star.
Featuring a soundtrack that was co-produced by Pete Tong, The Beach was a moderate box office hit, taking in $144 million worldwide, and has since gone to become a cult classic.
Christopher Nolan’s 2000 psychological thriller Memento captivated audiences around the world – and is often regarded as his best work.
Based on a pitch by Nolan’s brother Jonathan, Guy Pearce stars as protagonist Leonard Shelby, who after suffering an injury, is unable to create new memories and has short-term memory loss. Searching for those who attacked him and killed his wife, he uses tattoos and Polaroid pictures to help him remember what happened.
Premiering at the 57th Venice International Film Festival in September 2000, Memento was immediately met with instant critical acclaim and went on to receive over 30 awards, including Story of the Year at the AFI Awards and Best Foreign Independent Film at the British Independent Film Awards.
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Written, directed, produced and co-edited by the Coen Brothers, Joel and Ethan’s 2000 crime comedy/drama O Brother, Where Art Thou? is set in rural Mississippi during the Great Depression and stars George Clooney alongside John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, Chris Thoman King, Holly Hunter, John Goodman and Charles Durning.
Loosely based on Greek epic poem The Odyssey, three escaped convicts (played by Clooney, Turturro and Nelson) are on the hunt for hidden treasure, all while trying to evade a relentless sheriff.
With blues music used extensively throughout, the film’s soundtrack went on to win Album of the Year at the 2002 Grammy Awards, and featured artists such as Virginia bluegrass singer Ralph Stanley, The Stanley Brothers and country singer Alison Krauss.