2006 - The Queen
Historical films and period dramas that depict real-life events in a fictionalized manner, if done properly, tend to earn substantial praise, and Stephen Frear's The Queen is a prime example. The film - starring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II from a script by Peter Morgan (who later went on to create Netflix's The Crown) - recounts the British Royal Family's response to the death of Princess Diana in 1997.
As one can imagine, The Queen earned unanimous praise, with critics hailing the film for being "full of wit, humor, and pathos." Mirren eventually won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role. But what's more interesting is that Queen Elizabeth II herself loved the movie enough to invite Mirren to dinner at Buckingham Palace.
2007 - Ratatouille
Ratatouille is the second Pixar film and third animated film from director Brad Bird, who took over for co-director Jan Pinkava in 2005 following the overwhelming success of The Incredibles. In addition to penning the screenplay, Bird also reworked the story - about an anthropomorphic rat aiding a restaurant's garbage boy (and rightful heir) in becoming a chef and saving the restaurant from imminent closure - alongside Pinkava and Jim Capobianco.
That the film was such a hit with critics is particularly humorous given how the subplot involving a vicious restaurant critic (played by Peter O'Toole) humbled by the titular dish.
2008 - The Dark Knight
The second installment in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight shook the superhero movie genre to its core and became the gold standard for all comic book movies in the years since. Written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan and starring Christian Bale as Batman, the film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, of which it won for two. Most famously, Heath Ledger posthumously won for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the Joker, following his death in January 2008. The fact that The Dark Knight wasn't nominated for Best Picture, however, caused quite an uproar and even forced the Academy to alter their rules the following year, increasing the number of nominees from five to 10.
What's more, the film became the first superhero movie ever to gross more than $1 billion globally. In fact, it's still the only non-team-up superhero film to gross more than $500 million at the domestic box office (with the only other comic book outing being Joss Whedon's The Avengers).
2009 - Up
Up's opening sequence is often credited as being one of the best opening scenes of all-time - and one of the saddest. But that's only a small part of what makes the animated feature so special, which presents a joyous, uplifting look at life, death and moving on.
Up became the second animated movie ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards - the first being 1991's Beauty and the Beast - in addition to receiving a further four nominations. Plus, it garnered over $735 million at the worldwide box office. Suffice to say, Up was yet another resounding success for Pixar.
2010 - Toy Story 3
Pixar Animation burst onto the scene with Toy Story in 1995, which not only became a resounding success but also cemented them as a staunch contender in the animated field. A sequel, Toy Story 2, released in 1999, with the third installment, Toy Story 3, hitting theaters in 2010. That film earned unanimous praise from critics and audiences alike, and it topped Shrek 2 to become the highest-grossing animated film ever released (until 2013's Frozen).
Film critics hailed Toy Story 3 as a "deftly blending comedy" with "adventure and honest emotion." The only mar on its legacy is that while Toy Story 3 was meant to be the concluding chapter in Pixar's flagship series, but they're bringing back Buzz and Woody for another go-around, Toy Story 4, coming in 2019.
2011 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
The release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - directed by David Yates from a script by Steve Kloves based on the novel of the same name by J.K. Rowling, and starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint - was an event of a lifetime that broke virtually every major box office record. After all, it was the final installment in Warner Bros.' Harry Potter series that began a decade prior, which itself became one of the most beloved and commercially successful franchises in cinema history.
Critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes praises the cast's superb acting and the film's outstanding visuals, while also calling it "a satisfying - and suitably magical - conclusion" to the Harry Potter series. What's interesting is that the series also popularized the concept of splitting a final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, into two films - although considering how much material needed to be covered, Harry Potter got away with doing it... properly.