Although some hardened cinephiles may argue that the true film masterpieces exist primarily in the movies of the 20th century, the past two decades have brought with them enduring cinema staples that arguably earned their place among the very best in the genre. With directors of the prestigious “New Hollywood” film-making movement of the ’60s and ’70s still alive and creating as good of work as ever, alongside modern and older auteurs and up-and-comers around the world carving their own distinct paths in the film industry, there is enough groundwork laid out between 2000 and 2020 to distinguish this century’s own classic canon.

The best films of the 21st century span genre and style, from art films like Béla Tarr’s Werckmeister Harmonies and Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, to the animated superhero film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, to the epic fantasy trilogy of The Lord of the Rings, to the modern musical La La Land. While many of these films went on to be Academy Award-nominated (and winning), others—such as Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset or Don Hertzfeldt’s It’s Such a Beautiful Day—maintain enduring critical and audience acclaim regardless of accolades.

For this list, Stacker compiled data on the top 21st-century films to come up with a Flixed score—a weighted index split evenly between IMDb and Metacritic scores as of Dec. 28, 2020. To qualify, the film had to have a Metascore and at least 10,000 IMDb user votes. Ties were broken by Metascore and further ties were broken by IMDb user rating and vote count. Movies are ranked from 50 down, with the best in the #1 slot. Five of these films are only available to rent online, and two are not available to rent or stream anywhere.

The 50 Best Films Available to Stream (in 2021)