The 10 best thrillers of the 2000s, according to Letterboxd

One of the most difficult genres to define in cinema is the thriller. Movies in this category can cover almost anything, as there are some that lean more towards horror, some are action-packed, and a few others may be closer to mystery movies than any other genre.

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The 2000s presented great films of the thriller genre, a few of which were even nominated for Oscars. When looking for the best newsworthy thrillers of the decade, Letterboxd’s movie-obsessed user ratings are a good place to check.

ten Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) – 3.91

Stream on Tubi & Kanopy

Lee Geum-ja in Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

Known simply as Lady Vengeance in some countries, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is a South Korean psychological thriller. This is actually the third installment in a trilogy by director Park Chan-wook, preceded by 2002 Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and the classic from 2003 Old boy.

Every movie received high praise and this latest entry was no different. The plot centers on a woman who is released from prison after a stint there for a crime she did not commit and she sets out on a quest for revenge against the real murderer. Most of the reviews on Letterboxd gave it four stars (36%).

9 Hidden (2005) – 3.96

Rent on Vudu

Another psychological thriller from a country outside the United States, Hidden is a French film that focuses on an upper middle class couple who are starting to receive anonymous tapes. Each of these tapes features footage of them under surveillance, which adds to the spooky factor to it all.

Clues found in the tapes point to the childhood of a couple member, which also gives it an element of mystery. Hidden was praised for Michael Haneke’s curvy plot and directorial effort. Most reviews have it at four stars (33%) overall.


8 Common Safety Zone (2000) – 3.98

Stream on Tubi

Opposing Parties Point Their Guns At Each Other In The Common Security Zone (2000)

Continuing the trend of films from countries other than America, Common security zone is another South Korean image. Directed again by Park Chan-wook, it shows how impressive he is as a filmmaker and why he stood out in a crowded field in the early 2000s.

At the time of its release, Common security zone was the highest grossing film in Korean history and it won several awards. The plot tells the story of the investigation into a fatal shooting near the border between North Korea and South Korea. On Letterboxd, the ratings were sparkling, with four stars (39%) being the most common rating.

seven Mother (2009) – 4.06

Stream on Amazon Prime, Hulu, Hoopla, Tubi, and FXNow

Not to be confused with Darren Aronofsky mother! in 2017, this 2009 version is yet another from South Korea. They really seemed to have a stranglehold on the genre over the decade. Mother is yet another revenge thriller, but it takes a slightly different approach than some of the genre.

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It focuses on a woman who seeks revenge on her silent son wrongly accused of murder and she tries to bring down the real killer. A success at the Cannes Film Festival, it was praised for almost every aspect and received numerous four-star ratings (41%) on the website.

6 Dogville (2003) – 4.06

Rent on Apple TV

Directed by the famous filmmaker Lars von Trier, Dogville is the first American film to be ranked in the top ten. This one immediately stands out for the formidable cast which includes Nicole Kidman, Paul Bettany, Chloë Sevigny, James Caan and many more.

Dogville tells the story of a woman seeking refuge from the crowds when she finds her in titular small town Colorado in exchange for work. He actually has a mixed response in many ways, with some seeing him as something special and others finding him pretentious. Letterboxd users fall into the first category, often giving it four stars (29%).

5 Firefly (2005) – 4.09

Stream on Amazon Prime

A man looks at a wall of papers in Firefly

While the cult classic TV series of the same name is arguably more well-known and iconic, the 2005s Firefly the film is not associated with it. Released the same year as the film in the series Serenity, it was a much smaller independent film made on a budget of just $ 6,000.

This movie follows three different people who all go through something serious on Halloween night and on Christmas Eve things start to happen with no real explanation, which connects them all. Reviews are sparkling, with four and a half stars (26%) most viewed, although five stars (25%) follow closely behind.

4 The Lives of Others (2006) – 4.13

Rent on Vudu

Ulrich Mühe in The Lives of Others

Released in 2006, The lives of others (Das Leben der Anderen) is a German film that won the coveted Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Directed by first-time filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, it was one of the most impressive debuts imaginable.

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The lives of others focuses on the Stasi Secret Police in East Germany and how they kept tabs on the people of East Berlin by spying on them. The film was mainly praised for its authenticity and realism, adding to the gripping nature. Most reviewers gave it four stars (34%).

3 The Missing (2006) – 4.19

Stream on HBO Max

A remake of a 2002 Hong Kong film known as Internal affairs, it is the film which allowed Martin Scorcese to win the Oscar for the long-awaited best director. The dead also won the Best Picture award and focuses on an exciting cat and mouse game between a cop undercover in the mafia and the mole of the mafia police on the opposite side.

The film boasts one of the most notable actors ever to reunite, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Vera Farmiga, and more. It has received widespread acclaim, won tons of accolades, and is considered one of the best films of the decade. It’s no wonder that four stars (33%) is the most consistent rating given.

2 No Country for the Old People (2007) – 4.27

Stream on HBO Max

Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men

One year later The dead won the crown for best film, There is no country for old people do the same. Arguably the greatest work of the Coen brothers’ career, this film quickly became iconic and a staple of pop culture while creating a legendary villain.

That antagonist was Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) and every scene with him is frightening. The story centers on a welder who discovers a large sum of money at a crime scene, the hitman stalking the money, and the sheriff investigating it all. The perfect five-star rating (33%) is what you see most often.

1 Memories of Murder (2003) – 4.29

Stream on Hulu

Memories of Murder Song Kang-ho Kim Sang-kyung

Back to South Korea for Top Rated Thriller, Murder memories knocked a bit too close to the house for a handful of people. The film is based on the true and poignant story of the first confirmed serial murders in the country of Korea.

These murders took place between 1986 and 1991 and the film centers on two detectives investigating them. Even if you don’t know what it’s based on, Murder memories worth a visit as this is a first film directed by Bong Joon-ho, which won an Oscar for his work on Parasite.

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