10 Movie Events That Shaped the Decade (For Movie Fans)

Published 5 years ago by , Updated January 7th, 2010 at 10:28 pm,

ScreenRant Header 10 Movie Events That Shaped the Decade (For Movie Fans)

We’ve come to the end of 2009, so we thought we’d weigh in with a look back at the first 10 years of the 21st century in the movie world and discuss the various different “events” which shaped the decade. Obviously we can’t cover absolutely everything, but sticking true to our core movie genres on the site, we’re just going to concentrate on the comic-book, sci-fi, action (and so forth) types of movies and take a look at what films had the maximum impact over this decade.

It’s amazing to think that it’s been 10 years since movies like The Matrix, American Beauty and Fight Club (to name but a few) came out in 1999 (check out our 1999 decade highlight, if you haven’t already). A LOT of movies – somewhere in the vicinity of 5,000-6,000 – have been released since then. We’ve had the good, the bad and ugly in that time (much like every other decade, to be fair) – some we’ll look back on as classics in decades to come, and others we’ll probably look back on and wish we could forget about them (most video game adaptations, I’m looking at you).

Behind the scenes we fervently debated which areas we should discuss in this article, and eventually we came up with 10 big ones that will hopefully bring out strong thoughts and opinions from you, our loyal readers.

So without any further ado, here are the 10 events (trends, franchises – call it what you will) that we believe have shaped the decade for the types of movies we all like to revel in around here:


10. The Rise of “The Apatow Comedy”

The 40 Year Old Virgin 570x378 10 Movie Events That Shaped the Decade (For Movie Fans)

Judd Apatow is a producer who’s actually been working since the 90s (did you know he produced the Jim Carrey dark comedy, The Cable Guy, for instance?) but it was in 2005 that we started to see the emergence of “the Apatow comedy,” thanks in large part to The 40 Year Old Virgin. It was a truly hilarious film (I can’t remember ever laughing that much in a theater) but also one with a lot of heart and relatability. Sure, you had your crude sex jokes, but you also had a sweet story at the center, brought to life particularly well by stars Steve Carell and Catherine Keener.

The 40 Year Old Virgin was a smash hit, and it led to a slew of comedies from the Apatow camp, even if (as some people often forget) Apatow himself didn’t direct most of them. Superbad, Knocked Up, Funny People, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Pineapple Express, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – all big hits with audiences. I don’t personally find all of his movies as hilarious as most people do, but there’s no denying the impact his style has had on the comedy genre. For instance, you’ll often hear people say, “It wasn’t as funny as [insert Apatow comedy here].” And I don’t see any sign of the Apatow comedy train slowing down anytime soon.


9. “Torture-Porn” Horror Takes Over

Saw 570x320 10 Movie Events That Shaped the Decade (For Movie Fans)

In 2004 a fresh horror movie appeared on the scene called: Saw. It was a small, very low budget film that would shape the horror genre from thereafter. It effectively started a genre that we now know as “Torture-Porn.” That is horror films that consist of people being tortured, and we, the audience, get to see it in all its bloody, gory, detail. It’s just ironic that the original Saw has very little actual on-screen gore in it, and is actually a very smart, well-made film for what it is (it’s one I still revisit from time to time).

Unfortunately, it was the torture element that was latched onto by other filmmakers, and all of a sudden we were plagued with torture films; from Eli Roth’s Hostel and Hostel: Part II to the Elisha Cuthbert film Captivity (which was changed half-way through, with entirely new scenes shot in order to heighten the gore factor, out of fear it wouldn’t sell well to audiences otherwise – a weak box office of under $2 million opening weekend showed how bad that idea was). Saw has spawned a franchise consisting of 5 sequels already (with more coming – in 3D no less!) and is really the only torture property (with a heart of gold?) that still makes decent money. How much longer can this trend that we’ve seen grow wildly go on? Will it still be as prolific – if around at all - in a decade’s time?

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  1. DrSam

    Return of the King is one of the most widely praised movies. It has better ratings than the 2nd movie on most sites and is an incredible movie.

  2. @ M-Cat

    Widely praised it may be, but it is poor compared to the first two parts.
    While Fellowship and Towers kept honest to the books, King deviated on several points. It made the mistake of adding parts that didn’t need to be there. Gandalf and the Witchking for example.

    The battle sequences that looked so CG and fake, like a computer game.

    What about the lime green glowing Slimers? Oh I mean the army of the dead! Really stupid! 

    Or what about the ending? The part in Frodo’s room, the slow motion, and when Frodo speaks slowly for the rest of the film! 

    The ridiculous Legolas taking down the ollyphant and subsequent Fred Flinstone antics!

    Elijah Woods shocking acting, which was propped up by the amazing cast, is let loose in King. He is terrible!

    And if you want to use the Oscar argument, they weren’t for that one film not really. The Oscars were for the entire trilogy, for the grand achievement of the whole thing.

    It’s by no means a bad movie, but it is the weakest in the trilogy by a long long way.

  3. Well the MASSIVE program they used for ROTK they also used for FOTR and TT Sam..so to say the CGI was lame for one is to say it was lame for them all..the battle sequences I mean..Gollum was revolutionary in how he was brought to life..Woods acting was good. Are you still upset that he wasn’t an English actor(you have stated inother posts that the Hobbits should have/be English actors..How then should they have done the Army of the Dead?

  4. @ SamBeckett: nothing was in Return of the King that was not somewhere in the book. So nothing was “added” to the film that should not have been there.

  5. Sam Beckett,,, says!
    “The Matrix sequels are terrible! They’re not deep or clever, they are pretentious nonsense from a pair of Directors who have a much higher opinion of themselves as story tellers than the rest of the world.”
    Within a few hours Sam Beckett, says:
    “I dont hate the sequels, there are lots of stuff in there to enjoy,”
    W ,,, T ,,, F!!!
    Man,,,,? Bi-polar much?

  6. @Mike E

    Gandalf and the WitchKing on the battlements of Minas Tirith? That sure wasnt in the book!


    They may have used the same program for all three films, but it looked like a CGI battle, in Towers it looked like a fluid and realistic battle.
    As for the Army of the dead, they should have been more like zombies, dead and decaying soldiers, not looking like Slimer.

    But can we agree the scene in Frodo’s room is just awful?

    Also, I had no problem with Wood being American, I thought Sean Astin deserved an oscar for his performance as Sam!!!


    I think, I got a little carried away with the first matrix post. but I think it is because my disappointment at what those films could of been is still in my brain somewhere.

    They arent great films, but I do enjoy parts of them.

  7. To be fair, The Return of the King did add some things that were not in the book, if taken in a literal sense.

    1. The WitchKing breaking Gandalf’s staff (extended edition).
    2. Legolas killing Wormtongue at Orthanc (extended edition).
    3. The Dead Men in the Pelennor Fields.
    4. All the Arwen-related things.
    5. Frodo telling Sam to go.
    6. Aragorn -killing- the Mouth of Sauron (extended edition).

    And it did not include a few things.

    1. The unveiling of Aragorn’s standard when he arrives at Minas Tirith. Also? The southern army of Gondor, the Dunedain of the North and the sons of Elrond arriving with him.
    2. The Scouring of the Shire.
    3. The discovery of a sapling of the White Tree of Gondor.
    4. Prince Imrahil and the Knights of Dol Amroth (okay, these -might- have been included if certain people are to be beleived, but by no means like they were in the books).

    However, it’s easy to understand those changes. Some things that work great in books just don’t in adaptations. It would’ve taken too much time to introduce new characters, factions, battles, etc. It’s not fair to judge the movie based on what did or did not make it.

    As a passionate fan of the books, I found it to be a very well made adaptation, considering the layout of the previous two movies. I was a bit disappointed with the extended edition, since the added scenes were quite character-breaking.

    Also? The DeadMen were kinda described as shades, not really corporeal. Green was an odd choice; I would’ve thought blue-ish might’ve been better.

  8. @ ricB

    ROTK was always my favourite book, and I was just disappointed with a lot of the film version. But as a whole, the trilogy is an amazing piece of work and will never be forgotten.

    Also, the scene where Elrond gives Aragorn the reforged Narsil, that isnt in the book is it???

  9. I would like to say, I really enjoyed Crystal Skull, and I dont care what everyone says about it! On the subject of big franchises making a return, surely Die Hard 4 deserves an honourable mention. What a great film that was, should have been terrible but was one of the greatest surprises of the decade!

    And in the reboot camp, surely Casino Royale deserves some kudos too!

  10. Army of the dead were green in the movie..a toxic waste, sickly colour….appropriate I think

  11. To me the Matrix sequels were only good because of the special effects and the action, nothing more to them.

  12. You know, the whole going back and forth on the LOTR Trilogy brings to light something interesting. It appears that more often then not people who are more into the human drama side of movies then the action or visuals tend to like the parts of movie franchises like LOTR that are less action packed while those who are more into action films are just the reverse.

    For example of the 3 LOTR films I felt that the last one, ROTK was by far better then the other 2 and that of the first & second parts, part 1, FOTR, was the least entertaining over all. I felt like part 1 moved way too slow. I admit I have not read the books and so I am speaking from the perspective of one who has only seen the films and i think that gives me a better erspective because I can judge the films on their own without comparing them to the book, a comparison that seldom is good for any book(s) series.

    When I go to the movie and pay $10-$15(IMax) to watch the big screen for 2-2.5 hours I don’t want to see human drama or anyhthing else very close to reality. If I wanted to be depressed I need only watch the news. I got to the movies to see what is not reailty; that whcih is fantasy. And so the more action or CGI, good CGI, the better. I was dissapointed by the Matrix sequsl because it felt like they tried to hard to be some kind of new/age message conveyiung thought provoking story instead of just being more of what the first one was.

    I’m not saying a movie shouldn’t be thought provoking or complex but that if the movie is going to focus solely on that then why pay $10-$15 to see it on the big screen?

  13. The discovery of the white tree would have been an easy thing to slip into the movie.

    Gandalf and Aragorn walking alone in the mountains behind Minas Tirith.

    Aragorn: When those now in the womb grow old, I too will grow old, and what promise have I that my line will continue.

    Gandalf: Turn your eyes away from the green lands, look to where the earth seems dark and still.

    Among an outcrop of rocks we see a small sapling, about 5 feet high.

    Aragorn: This is a sapling of (Elvish name here) the white tree. But it is not yet ten years old. How came it here?

    Gandalf: When sown the seed of (ENH) do not spring up, except in hope. Take it in your hand, it is not deep rooted, and let it be a sign that your age has come.”

    Cut to scene of them planting the tree in the courtyard.

    Movie continues.

    For what it’s worth I didn’t like the Matrix sequels that much. Pretentious is the word I’d use to describe them.

  14. Surprising that the Prequel Star Wars franchise does not make the list. More people waited for those movies than any super hero movie.

  15. One of the best articles I’ve read here on Screenrant. Well done.

  16. @Dr Beckett,,,


  17. @Scallop,

    Thanks, glad you liked it :)

  18. Without a doubt this list is spot on. Superhero movies took the world by storm this decade, some good (Iron Man, Spider-Man 1 & 2, Batman Begins, TDK, X-Men 1 & 2), and some bad (not going to say which). LOTR definitely became extraordinarily popular (hard to believe it was so early in the decade), and needless to say, Pixar grew in popularity. Honestly, Pixar has been my favorite thing this decade relating to film, because that studio consistently puts out some very good movies. None of their movies are bad, and some are VERY good (both Toy Stories, Nemo, Incredibles, Up, Wall-E).

  19. I really don’t think Avatar should be on this list. I think it’s going to do more to shape movies in the next decade (and onward) than it did anything in the 2000′s. Yes, there was ALOT of anticipation for it, but I really don’t think it had a huge influence on anything in the decade (except for box office numbers). I think I am going to agree with Rob that the Star Wars movies, for better or worse, had more impact on the decade. Yes, the first 2 were pretty poor, but ROTS was an entertaining film (although I nominate Hayden Christensen as the worst actor of the 2000′s).

  20. I was very surprised that the Harry Potter movies didn’t make the list! Surely this series was one of the most influential (not to mention profitable!) movie franchises of the decade

  21. The reboot trend is ok with me. Just as long as they do it right and dont spoil my memories of the original. Since they are remaking Red Dawn im going to be very upset if it sucks. I have a stockpile of survival gear because of that movie. CGI has become the standard and i feel like the future of movies will be nothing but CGI. It is ok to use for those insane shots. I’m just hoping that stunts will remain non CGI. As a sub category of stunts. Free Running is all the rage nowadays. You can’t watch anything without seeing someone bounce off a wall and do a backflip into a car. I never see anyone free run in real life. So im guessing the next ten years will be dominated with free running. It’s the new martial arts in movies. Didn’t mean to ramble on. Time to go free run my way to work.

  22. Yeah, why the hell werent the Star Wars movies on this list???

    Without the inclusion of them, and missing Casino Royale from the reboot section, I declare this list null and void.

  23. @BlueCollarCritic

    Im in shock at your LOTR comments. Fellowship the worst of the three, sorry dude, but I cant imagine many other people share that paticular critique. The first part of a trilogy is to set up the characters and the worlds they live in, as for it being slow, no it really isnt. There are battles, many better than than ridiculous CGI battles that take place in ROTK.

    I would say read the books, but if you found the film a struggle…

  24. Regarding reboots: Just because Casino Royale wasn’t mentioned that doesn’t mean it doesn’t “count.” The point is that reboots were significant in the last 10 years, and Royale was one of them and further evidence.

    As far as the Star Wars prequels, what, pray tell, about those helped “shape the decade” (other than showing that once great directors/storytellers can lose their mojo)?


  25. @Vic

    Well for a start the Star Wars prequels were the most anticipated movies of all time, way more than the live action Fern Gully (I have seen it now!), think of the way those movies used special effects! Not always in a good way, but they were highly advanced, even today Revenge Of The Sith looks better than some new blockbusters.

    And it’s Star Wars!

    To use an argument used on here far too often to describe how good a movie is, look at how much money those movies made!

    I dont care what people say, Revenge Of The Sith is a great movie, with a proper story, some great acting moments, fantastic battles, and it finished off a story 30 years in the making.

  26. Sith is just about one of the absolute God-awful movies I have ever watched in my life..In fact I gave my copy of it away because there is no need for me to ever watch Darth Frankenstein ham it up again…and Sith is only 4 years old..the CGI medium hasn’t improved that much in the last 4 years

  27. @greenknight333

    The GCI medium changes with every special effects driven movie, ROTS will still look great in 30 years. Effects have moved on since then, look at Avatar, a movie easily compared to Star Wars. Both use tried and tested story stereotypes, weaving them into their own unique mythology.

    Star Wars continues to capture the immagination of children and adults all over the world, the prequels could have been better in places, but I would get rid of them for anything. They kept Star Wars alive, its still going from strength to strength, tv shows, books and comics, video games, and a new movie will happen eventually.

    George Lucas captured something unattainable to most filmakers, and the prequels not deride from that in my eyes, viewing Star Wars as one huge twelve hour movie set over thirty years, it all makes sense. Perfect sense. What other movies continue to impact in this way? Very few indeed.

  28. I agree 100% with what you guys covered…

  29. Fellowship is the best of the LOTR trilogy.