Officially 18: The 10 Best Movies That "Became Adults" in 2022 – Collider

10 of the best films “born” in 2004
The march of time ensures that more and more movies released since the turn of the millennium are starting to feel old. The year 2000 once sounded like such a futuristic number, yet now it's far in the past, and it's certainly not getting any closer. There's no hard and fast and rule about how old something "has" to be before it can be considered eligible for timeless classic status, but surely a couple of decades or so is at least getting there.
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It's rare to celebrate a film's anniversary that's not divisible by 10, but as the early 2000s start to become nostalgic, it can be nice to look back and see what still endures. The following 10 films were all released in 2004, and all celebrate their 18th anniversary this year, effectively making them "adults." All are getting on in years, and yet all still hold up, being among the very best films that have officially turned 18 in the year 2022.
One of Pixar's undeniable classics that remains as entertaining today as it was in 2004, The Incredibles is about a superhero family who has to fit in with the normal world after superpowers are effectively outlawed. It's about families and suitable for families, but in no way does its child-friendly nature mean it's only for kids.
The Incredibles focuses on Bob Parr – the father of the family – growing old and looking back on the past, just as it's now possible to do for the film he's a part of. Age hasn't worn The Incredibles down, though, as it's still a great story with fun characters and stylish animation that still looks pretty good overall.
It's not often that a parody of a genre also emerges as one of the best films within said genre, but that's the case with Shaun of the Dead and the zombie sub-genre. It spoofs zombie films whilst also being a great zombie film, telling the story of one very ordinary man – Shaun – and his efforts to turn his life around, which also happen to coincide with a viral outbreak that's making the dead walk.
Shaun of the Dead wasn't Edgar Wright's very first film, but it was the one that established him as a beloved filmmaker who's worth keeping an eye on. Gory, funny, and heartfelt, this zombie film is a great time, regardless of whether you usually enjoy zombie films or not.
Quentin Tarantino may have intended for Kill Bill to be one long film, but with a four-hour runtime, it ended up being split into two. Whilst Vol. 1 from 2003 serves to establish The Bride and her mission of revenge, Vol. 2 slows the pace down and fleshes her out as a character, as well as helping us understand who the previously mysterious Bill was, and why he chose to do the things he did.
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Kill Bill Vol. 1 ends up containing the bulk of the saga's martial arts/action sequences, whilst Kill Bill Vol. 2 features more verbal sparring than swordplay. It's just as riveting, and also stands out from the first volume by heavily referencing visuals and tropes from the western genre throughout (with a detour back into martial arts for an entertaining flashback that shows The Bride's training).
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a trippy and heartbreaking film about the pains of love and how the human mind copes with loss. Story-wise, it utilizes a science-fiction concept to explain these very human and relatable emotions: a device that allows broken-hearted people to delete memories of their ex-partners.
It's the kind of movie that's likely to make your head spin in parts, but it's just restrained enough to the point where you'll ever get lost, or be unable to follow the main narrative. It explains its science-fiction concepts well without over-using blatant exposition. By the end, most viewers will likely find themselves emotionally and maybe even psychologically exhausted by what they've just seen (in a good way, though).
Exploring the passage of time is a core part of Before Sunset, so it makes sense to commemorate the fact that if it was a person, it would not be old enough to vote (in most places in the world). The film takes place nine years after Before Sunrise, and was filmed nine years after, too.
In it, Céline and Jesse reunite by chance after life got in the way of them ever seeing each other again, after falling for each other nine years earlier, while they were in their 20s. Before Sunset follows them around in real-time as they discuss regret and where their lives have subsequently taken them, before making a decision at the end of the film that could change things for them forever, going forward.
Howl's Moving Castle is one of many classic Hayao Miyazaki films, bringing a strange, fantastical story to life with typically stunning hand-drawn animation. The story involves a castle that, you know, moves, and the wizard who lives inside it, who may be the only person who can break a young woman's curse.
Age does not seem to impact Miyazaki's films, as the animation today is just as beautiful as it was some 18 years ago. The passage of time continually shows how fantastic this style of animation is, because while it's time-consuming and definitely not something all animators could do, the results have been speaking for themselves throughout Miyazaki's entire filmmaking career.
Million Dollar Baby is one of Clint Eastwood's most successful movies, winning four Oscars after achieving critical acclaim and being a solid earner at the box office. The plot follows a female boxer (Hilary Swank) who's determined to become a professional boxer, and her training under Eastwood's character.
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It may be an underdog story of sorts, but it differs from Rocky by feeling a little more gritty and a little less uplifting. It's a heavy and sometimes brutally real film, but it's worth watching for its solid technical aspects, good screenplay, and excellent performances all around.
Considered perhaps the greatest superhero film ever made at the time of its release – and remaining among the best in 2022 – Spider-Man 2 is the second film following Tobey Maguire as the young web-slinger, Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and featuring Sam Raimi as director.
It's an exceptional sequel – as well as the high point of its trilogy – owing to the way it takes everything that worked about the first film and makes them better. It's got an (arguably) villain, much-improved special effects, perfect pacing, and a seamless blend of comedy and surprisingly emotional drama. It's everything you could want out of a comic book movie and then some.
One of the goofiest and most quotable movies of the 2000s, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy remains a funny and absurd ride to this day, even if its prevalence in pop culture may have worn some people out.
As far as the plot goes? There's not much of one, really. News anchor Ron Burgundy and his team react badly to the hiring of a female anchor joining the station they work at, but the film takes frequent detours into weird areas, and features bizarre dialogue (much of it feels improvised) that has never truly been replicated; not even in the film's 2013 sequel.
As a series, Godzilla isn't lacking when it comes to wild adventures. But perhaps the wildest film in the franchise's nearly 70-year history is 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars, which sees Godzilla battling almost every foe he's already fought before, all the while aliens aim to destroy the human race.
Final Warsaims to be every genre all at once, given it pays tribute to most of the monsters – and the variety of tones – found throughout the series. It's campy and very silly, but an absolute blast, with some early 2000s aesthetics that feel very nostalgic, when viewed during the 2020s.
NEXT: Movies From The 2000s Everyone Should See At Least Once
Jeremy is an omnivore when it comes to movies. He’ll gladly watch and write about almost anything, from old Godzilla films to gangster flicks to samurai movies to classic musicals to the French New Wave to the MCU. When he’s not writing lists for Collider, he also likes to upload film reviews to his Letterboxd profile and Instagram account.
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