The 25 Most Controversial Movies of The 2000s

17. The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci, 2003)

“The Dreamers” is a look at the obsessions of Paris in 1968 through the semi-incestuous friendship of two siblings and an American student.

Evocative of the 60’s French New Wave, “The Dreamers” has been regarded as a charming, paused fusion of sexual discoveries and political tumult. Its frequent sequences of frontal nudity, as well as its infamous post-coital blood-on-the-face scene, made it more incendiary than originally intended.


16. Hard Candy (David Slade, 2004)

Hard Candy

Perhaps the last decade’s most memorable female revenge thriller, “Hard Candy” follows the trap a 14-year-old girl (astonishingly portrayed by Ellen Page) sets on a 32-year-old photographer, who she claims is a pedophile.

“Hard Candy” is a disturbing approximation of pedophilia in the boom of the chat room era. The addition of torture sequences to the already controversial subject matter made the movie unavoidably uncomfortable for many viewers.

Regarded as sharp, effective and openly challenging, “Hard Candy” is an intelligent alternative to the many popular sadistic horror flicks that abounded in the mid-2000s.


15. Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell, 2006)


“Shortbus” is a look at sexual diversity in a post 9-11 New York, as its instances happen to convey in the setting of the same name.

One of the most sexually graphic American movies ever released in non-pornographic theaters at the time, “Shortbus” was labeled by some audiences as pornographic, a notion that John Cameron Mitchell strongly denied as he described the movie as a cinematic experimentation with sex because “it is too interesting to leave to porn”.

Among the most infamous sequences in “Shortbus” includes one of two men singing the American national anthem, while pretending their penises are microphones.

“Shortbus”, nevertheless, has been regarded as a look at the necessity of empathy in a monstrously accelerated urban world.


14. The Da Vinci Code (Ron Howard, 2006)


The film adaptation of “The Da Vinci Code” was an obligated consequence of Dan Brown’s homonymous novel about a religious mystery that could shake Christianity forever.

The movie, a disappointing and tedious thriller, was regarded as blasphemy and as an open offense toward Christianity by several conservative groups, who even called for a boycott during its production and initial releases. In spite of being based on a fictional book, the film’s appeal to history was also widely criticized.


13. Ken Park (Larry Clark, 2002)

Another openly incendiary, sui generis, title from Larry Clark, “Ken Park” covers the problematic relationships held between a group of California teenagers and their guardians.

“Ken Park” was widely panned. Clark was even accused of exploiting teenagers and sequences of un-simulated sex, something that added even more negative responses to the already controversial movie that explored themes like family dysfunction, sexual experimentation, alienation, incest, and teenage suicide.


12. Fahrenheit 9/11 (Michael Moore, 2004)

Fahrenheit 9-11

Michael Moore’s view of the Bush administration’s grasp on terrorism was both a financial and critical success. Alas, Moore’s characteristic humor and openly incendiary questions around an already delicate subject made “Fahrenheit 9/11” perhaps the previous decade’s most controversial documentary film as well.

Moore’s cheerful but ambiguous approximation to the subject made some critics regard “Fahrenheit 9/11” as disorientating and manipulative. It also outraged several conservative groups, as Moore may have planned, who called it propagandistic and even called on theaters to not screen it.


11. Hounddog (Deborah Kampmeier, 2007)


“Hounddog” explores the psyche of a troubled pubescent girl who finds comfort in music, specifically the music of Elvis Presley. Although today it’s sadly regarded as the “Dakota Fanning rape movie”, the film’s pre-release publicity is mainly responsible for that reductionist label.

The scandal surrounding its infamous rape scene was similar to the ones arisen by titles in previous decades, such as Adrian Lyne’s “Lolita” and Louis Malle’s “Pretty Baby”. Several groups were outraged about the use of Fanning in the movie and some even called for the detention of her agent.


10. 9 Songs (Michael Winterbottom, 2004)

9 songs

British film “9 Songs” is the previous decade’s instance of the debate surrounding the distinction between pornography and art. It intends to depict the stages of romance through nine sequences of un-simulated sex.

“9 Songs” polarized critics around the world. Some openly called it pornography, and others depicted it as a sensitive love story. Today, it is regarded as one of the most sexually explicit mainstream films ever made.


9. Battle Royale (Kinji Fukasaku, 2000)

Battle Royale (2000)

Arguably the original Hunger Games, “Battle Royale”, an increasingly hailed movie, follows the competition of a selection of ninth grade students in a post-apocalyptic, fascist-like Japan.

The pioneer of the implementation of children forced to perpetrate a slaughter, “Battle Royale” was one of the 21st century’s first titles to suffer banning impositions across the globe.

Labeled as “crude and tasteless” by the Japanese parliament, the movie reactivated the old-fashioned debate about the relationship between the government and media violence in Japan.

Though those labels gave the movie free publicity, they developed the reputation the movie held in several countries.

Interestingly, despite the increase of media violence in the 2000s, for 11 years “Battle Royale” was never officially released in North America.