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The 25 Most Controversial Movies of The 2000s

08 April 2015 | Features, Film Lists | by Emiliano Serrano Lara

irreversible_2002-1024x576 (1)

This list comprises 25 of the most controversial movies of the 2000s. Some are openly controversial, others are a mere reflex of their time, but each of the movies listed here pushed the boundaries of transgression by elaborating on older or current uncomfortable subjects.


25. Visitor Q (Takashi Miike, 2001)

Visitor Q (2001)

“Visitor Q” is a highly experimental movie about a perverted family and a stranger who seems to offer them the balance no one else is looking to fulfill. Incest, necrophilia, child prostitution and fetishisms are just some of the issues this movie cheerfully plays with.

This provokative film is the final part of the “Love Cinema” series, a project consisting of six straight-to-video independent releases via a brief projection at the Shimokitazawa cinema in Tokyo.

Made by the controversial and highly skilled Takashi Miike, “Visitor Q” somehow manages to carry humor in its widely disturbing story.


24. August Underground (Fred Vogel, 2001)

August Underground

The opening sequence of “August Underground” is enough of a glimpse of what awaits its viewer: a home shooting of two serial killers having fun with two mutilated people.

Generally speaking, the reason most people are convinced that “August Underground” is fake is due to the movie’s description on Amateurish and disorientating, it takes advantage of its low quality production value to unveil its cheap special effects with disturbing and pointless realism.


23. The Pornographer (Bertrand Bonello, 2001)

The Pornographer

“The Pornographer” follows Jacques Laurent, a man responsible for many commercially successful porn flicks during the 70s and 80s. After 20 years of silence, Jacques finds himself in the middle of an impasse as he tries to carry on the artistic side of his career that he could not explore in the past.

Overall, it is a widely reflexive movie. It explores the nature of the debate regarding the boundaries of transgression, sometimes excessively.

Associated with the so-called New French Extremity, “The Pornographer” became a promising but ultimately disappointing instance of the aforementioned debate, due to its recurring un-simulated sex scenes.


22. Kinsey (Bill Condon, 2004)

Lynn Redgrave in Kinsey

“Kinsey” is a biographic portrayal of Alfred Kinsey, a groundbreaking figure of the sexual revolution. A widely non-exploitative film, “Kinsey” focuses on how several issues of Kinsey’s life influenced his revolutionary investigations.

Several groups were outraged by the movie. They accused it of unfairly glorifying a man who encouraged atrocities in the name of science, and of being another Hollywood attempt to impose what they consider to be perversion over morality.


21. United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006)


Paul Greengrass’ account of the events of the United 93 flight during the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 was one of the most critically acclaimed films of 2006. It was, nevertheless, also one of the most controversial films of the decade.

Based on a heroic but tragic story, “United 93” included people involved in that event as cast members. Most of the controversy surrounding “United 93” was caused by its trailer, which presented the movie as a disgusting exploitation thriller.

Though “United 93” is actually very sensitive with its story, it raised certain concerns about whether it was being produced too soon after the actual event.


20. Hostel (Eli Roth, 2005)


“Hostel” tells the nightmarish story of an idyllic backpacking holiday in Europe.

Responsible for the boom of the torture “porn” exploitation label, “Hostel” unsurprisingly outraged several people in Slovakia and the Czech Republic for what they regarded as the film’s unfair depictions of Slovakia. Also, they feared that director Eli Roth was somehow seeking to divulge fear toward those wishing to visit the country.

Roth’s response to those accusations was overshadowed by his affirmation: “Americans do not even know that this country exists. My film is not a geographical work but aims to show Americans’ ignorance of the world around them.”


19. Team America: World Police (Trey Parker, 2004)


An extravagance of stereotypes and clichés, “Team America: World Police” follows the adventures of a paramilitary anti-terrorism force as it destroys the world it tries to protect against terrorists, chaos, and liberal celebrities.
The film mocks everything; national stereotypes, movie stars, and cultural issues are just a few elements the movie exploited in the convoluted mid-2000s.

“Team America: World Police” met generally positive reviews. Critics and the public approved of the movie’s “Thunderbirds” style and its satirical rhythm. The movie, nevertheless, found some opposition in people who regarded it as openly conservative and a mockery of the War on Terror. The film’s most open detractor was, unsurprisingly, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il.


18. Inside (Alexandre Bustillo, 2007)


One of the most memorable gems of the home invasion horror subgenre and a constant reference to the New French Extremity, “Inside” takes place on a fateful Christmas Eve for Sarah (Allysson Paradis), a pregnant widow, as she tries to survive an invader (the always amazing Béatrice Dalle) who wants to take her baby in any way possible.

The film’s association with New French Extremity is not fortuitous. Its raw recurrences to brutality, bodies, and broken psyches made it one of the most debated films of the decade. Some people even regard it as one of the best horror films of the last 25 years.



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  • FAS

    Good list, but I expected you to mention “Ichi the Killer”.

  • Nacho Mancilla

    Perhaps also Battle in Heaven (Batalla en el Cielo) by Carlos Reygadas, it was almost like lapidated here in Mexico, because it’s also very sexually explicit.

  • Vinashak

    C’mon Brokeback Mountain was controversial?
    Where is A Serbian Film?

  • Jon

    Interesting list of movies, but I would’ve liked to have seen it accompanied by better writing. It seems like maybe English isn’t the writer’s first language, but was there no editor around?

  • Alice

    Where’s “A Serbian Film”? 😉

    • Joel Zachariah

      i dont think its falls under a controversial movie category … its just plain disturbing

    • Joel Zachariah

      but yes considering hostel on this list think it should have been there as well

  • A serbian film could easily replace hostel, especially considering hostel and other torture porn movies don’t phase anyone anymore. ASF ruins lives

    Do like the list overall though!

  • JesterRaiin

    Nekromantik 2?

  • Tarun Raj

    what about The Interview… sure it was one of the most controversial film…
    it was even banned from releasing.. sony mails were hacked just because of this film…

  • Pippi Långstrump

    I really really disliked irreversible

  • Brandon Thompson

    How did Farenheit 9/11 win the plam d’or over movies like Oldboy and Tropical Malady

  • Rafael Rivera Rodriguez

    Dogtooth? Nymphomaniac?

    • Glaconius Smith

      Nymphomaniac was released in 2013, I think the author intended to list movies from 2000 to 2009.

  • ttt

    Im still here

  • Neil Boreland

    Hostel wasn’t even shot in Slovakia, it was shot in the Czech Republic the majority of it in the town of Cesky Krumlov