Avatar, Paranormal Activity, Twilight and The Dark Knight close out the list.


2009: Avatar

With an $800 million worldwide haul to date, Avatar is a certified phenomenon.

2009: Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity captures every guy’s worse nightmare: You meet a girl who is funny, intelligent, sexy and totally into you. The only glitch is that she has a demon following her around and it thinks you suck.

2008: The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was bound to be a big movie. His Batman Begins opened to $48 million—a fine excuse for champagne. But The Dark Knight opened to $158 million, and went on to scare up $1 billion worldwide. In the hands of Nolan, the world that Batman inhabits has an unshakable reality.

2008: Twilight

A new (undead) franchise was born in November 2008 when it stunned box office prognosticators by opening in first place against Bolt, Quantum of Solace and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. Twilight ended its domestic run with more than $190 million in the bank and another $160 million internationally—and more importantly, a craze that hit Hollywood with more force than teen classics like The Breakfast Club. (You can even buy hand-painted Bella and Edward shoes.) The premise is so simple that writers across the world slapped their foreheads and groaned, “I wish I had thought of that.” An awkward teenage girl falls in love with a mysterious guy crushed on by every single girl at school. The good news is that the feelings are mutual. The bad news is that he’s a vampire who has to constantly restrain himself from sucking her blood. While teenage girls melted over the budding romance, their moms picked up on the abstinence undertones, assuaged that their daughters were mooning over a romance scripted by a married Mormon.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Now it seems like a no-brainer. But when Peter Jackson first started muttering that he wanted to shoot J.R.R. Tolkien’s seemingly unfilmable trilogy, Hollywood was convinced he’d gone nuts. Until then, Jackson was best known for a slapstick horror flick (Dead Alive) and a chiller about two teen girls (Heavenly Creatures).

2003: Finding Nemo

Every Pixar release suffers from a blessed curse: the studio’s product is so good, it’s constantly topping itself. The studio is clearly the animation giant of the decade.

2002: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Is our kids learning? Thanks to J.K. Rowling’s phenomenally popular novels, kids across the globe were eager to stick their noses in a book. (And unlike the candy floss of Stephenie Meyer’s series, Rowling was even priming them to learn Latin.) Warner Bros. snatched up the film rights within months of the first printing and two years later kicked off the studio’s great decade with 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (translated from the much more staid worldwide title, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone).

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There are a lot of great films on the list. LOTR, HP and The Dark Knight, I fully agree.

While I agree with Twilight being influential, it wasn’t that great of a movie. It made so much money because of fans on the series, not because the movie was good.

What do you think of the list? Do you agree? What movies would you add?