It seems odd to be ranking or considering movie lists having to do with “the 21st century”, but indeed a lot has changed over the past 16 years. The highest grossing film of the year 2000 was The Grinch, a live-action family movie, followed by Cast Away, a largely dialogue-less drama fronted by Tom Hanks. The superhero genre was just starting to become a thing, and visual effects hadn’t yet advanced to the point that every major blockbuster involved wholly CG-created environments. The rare drama can crack the end-of-year box office Top 10 nowadays, and in the case of 2014’s American Sniper can even land the #1 spot, but for the most part, the movies that make the most money are the movies that cost the most money.
With this in mind, we thought it might be interesting to go back and look at the highest grossing film of each year in the 21st century so far, then rank the entire list according to quality. This list is, by design, subjective, but it’s a fun way to look back on the films that the American public became enamored of over the past decade and a half.
Note: This list was crafted according to the highest grossing film at the domestic box office of each year since 2000, not total worldwide box office.
For additional curated recommendations from the Collider staff, check out our lists for the best comedy films of the 21st century, best documentaries of the 21st century, and best war movies of the 21st century so far.