15 Movies Turning 20 in 2021

15 Movies Turning 20 in 2021

You know you’re starting to feel old when movies you loved — even went out to buy them on DVD — are turning 20. From cult classics like Donnie Darko to what was just the first chapter of the wildly successful The Fast and Furious franchise, each film defines a cultural moment in its own way. We can’t forget comedies that really don’t make any sense like Zoolander, but are just as respected all these years later. Revisiting these films will bring back all the nostalgia from simpler, more youthful times in our lives. Here are 18 movies that are turning 20 this year…


The Fast and the Furious

Who knew illegal street racing could be so much fun to watch. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is a pro at street racing and takes Brian (Paul Walker) under his watch to become one too. The problem? He’s an undercover cop. Released on June 22, 2001, the franchise has seen great success but is supposedly coming to an end with the upcoming 11th film.


Donnie Darko

This cult classic is just as good with every watch. Released on January 19, 2001, fresh face Jake Gyllenhaal plays Donnie Darko who sleepwalks and sees an ominous rabbit named Frank. He tells Donnie that the world will end in 28 days. Is it an alternate universe or a perspective of mental illness? Whatever it is, it’s cinema that was ahead of its time.


Pearl Harbor

Actors Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale along with Director Michael Bay brought this drama of two young Americans’ journey as pilots in World War II. Based on actual events and released on May 25, 2001, this story of war from the perspective on the ground and home front remains just as heavy two decades after its release.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

It’s hard to imagine a world without Harry Potter Weekend on TV. J.K. Rowling’s debut, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the fantastical world she created hit the big screen on November 14, 2001 with unknowns Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson who were just 11 and 10 years-old at the time. After 8 movies in total, the tale of Harry and his friends attending Hogwarts for the first time as naive wizards will forever remain a classic.


Ocean’s Eleven

This heist comedy is just as exciting to watch now as it was then — especially with a cast led by George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Matt Damon. Smashing the box office and released on December 7, 2001, Danny (George Clooney) calculates an action-packed yet sophisticated casino robbery even we didn’t see coming.


Training Day

Released on October 5, 2001, Training Day’s depiction of a rookie cop in the LAPD is far too relevant today. Denzel Washington won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role. He was supported in good company by Ethan Hawke and Eva Mendes.


Shallow Hal

Just as campy as the 2000s, Shallow Hal with peak Jack Black tells a story that goes beyond looks. Hal (Black) gets hypnotized into seeing beauty even in the type of women that he wouldn’t consider attractive. Released on November 1, 2001, this one saw a lot of extended success upon its DVD release.



Loosely based on the book Shrek! by William Steig, this runaway hit premiered on April 22, 2001 and fairy tales haven’t been the same since. Who could have guessed that an Ogre (voiced by Mike Meyers), a donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy) and a Princess (voiced by Cameron Diaz) would turn into an entire franchise? A new installment is rumored to be coming out next year.


A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind was — simply beautiful. Released on December 21, 2001, the film took home Oscars for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Connelly), Best Director (Ron Howard) and Best Adapted Screenplay. John Forbes Nash Jr. (Russell Crowe) is a mathematical genius who found himself on the cusp of worldwide acclaim from one of his discoveries. His story is inspired by events in the biography A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar.



The inventor of the “Blue Steel”, Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is a veteran fashion model who loses the title of Male Model of the Year to none other than Hansel (Owen Wilson). In a crazy turn of events, Derek is brainwashed by fashion designer Jacobim (Will Ferrell) to assassinate Malaysia’s prime minister. We know it sounds crazy, but it’s the type of movie that will have you laughing every time, no matter how many times you’ve seen it. Stiller also directed this cult classic, which was released on September 28, 2001.


The Royal Tenenbaums

One of Wes Anderson’s most celebrated works, The Royal Tenenbaums was released on December 14, 2001. The story follows a family patriarch (Gene Hackman) as he attempts to reunite his estranged family and tries to make amends. With an all-star cast including Bill Murray, the Wilson brothers, and Gwyneth Paltrow, it’s definitely an original storyline and still a must-see.



Guy Pearce stars as a man struggling to find the man who murdered his wife because he can’t retain memories for more than fifteen minutes. Released on March 16, 2001, the twists in Memento will keep your mind swirling far after the closing credits.


Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Angelina Jolie isn’t playing around in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Released on June 11, 2001, she’s off to save the world in this film adaptation of the popular video game franchise. It was big box office draw and spawned a sequel released two years later.



It’s not a small feat to follow up the 1991 film Silence of the Lambs, but Hannibal does just that. Released on February 9, 2001, this installment follows Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) who is at large in Europe. Directed by Ridley Scott, Julianne Moore assumed the role of Clarice Starling vacated by Jodie Foster.


The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring

Released on December 19, 2001, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring was the first installment of the wildly successful franchise. Based on the books by J.R.R. Tolkien, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) is the unlikely hero tasked with the responsibility of destroying the One Ring that rules them all.

James is a journalist covering everything from travel, interviews, personal essays to lifestyle and entertainment.

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