The 10 Best Movie Trilogies of The 21st Century

5. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson

In the beginning of this century, the Lord of the Rings trilogy definitely brought fantasy to a level the genre had never seen before. This is not talking specifically about quality – even though it is a great trilogy – but about how big of a production it was and especially the recognition it got from fans and critics at the time of its release.

Winning 17 Oscars – especially for “The Return of the King” which won all 11 categories for which it was nominated, including Best Picture and Best Director – and having 30 nominations in the trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings” is one of the landmarks in fantasy blockbusters and has great work by director Peter Jackson.

Adapted from the famous trilogy written by J. R. R. Tolkien, this story that follows the hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) on a journey with a fellowship to destroy a ring that belongs to the Dark Lord Sauron (Sala Baker) is a trilogy of films that is definitely worth watching and which surely deserves to be among the greatest of the 21st century.


4. The Salta Trilogy, directed by Lucrecia Martel

The Headless Woman

Lucrecia Martel is one of the greatest filmmakers working today. Born in 1966 in Salta, a region in the north part of Argentina, Martel started her career directing short films in the late 1980s, and in the 1990s, she worked on television with documentaries and also a children’s programme that had a curious touch of dark humor.

Starting her career in feature films with the masterpiece “The Swamp”, released in 2001, this film was the beginning of Lucrecia Martel’s Salta Trilogy, with movies that take place in the region where she grew up.

Although not connected, the three stories are proof of the brilliant and distinctive style Martel has in approaching the somber and quiet moments that hide other secrets or thoughts behind them. The seemingly normal appearance of the relationship between the characters in her films always seems to disguise the misty aspects of their own humanity.

The Salta Trilogy definitely deserves a place among the greatest trilogies from the 21st century so far, and “The Swamp”, “The Holy Girl” and “The Headless Woman” are three mandatory movies for any cinephile.


3. The Arabian Nights Trilogy, directed by Miguel Gomes

Arabian Nights

Directed by one of the greatest contemporary Portuguese filmmakers, the Arabian Nights Trilogy is an epic about the situation in Portugal by the time of its release. Mixing many genres, from the documentary form to staging stories, and with a structure based on the collection of the Middle Eastern fantasy tales called “One Thousand and One Nights”, this is surely among the most remarkable trilogies of this century.

Incorporating these tales and themes that go from comedy to a very tough approach on the economic situation of Portugal, the Arabian Nights Trilogy is without a doubt Miguel Gomes’ masterpiece – and that means a lot when we talk about the director of “Tabu” (2012).

With a very unique approach while borrowing the format of one of the most famous collections of tales ever made, this trilogy shows the extreme virtuosity of one of the best European directors working today. That makes the Arabian Nights Trilogy number three on our list.


2. The Depression Trilogy, directed by Lars von Trier

This very somber trilogy directed by one of the most interesting auteurs working today is mandatory in an article like this. “Antichrist”, “Melancholia” and “Nymphomaniac” are proof of Lars von Trier’s interest in exploring the deepest and most intimate aspects of the human nature.

From a grieving couple going to a cabin in the woods after losing their child in “Antichrist”, to a woman trying to find happiness on what’s supposed to be the happiest day of her life while a planet threatens to collide with Earth in “Melancholia”, to a woman telling her erotic experiences to a man who saved her after she was beaten up in “Nymphomaniac”, von Trier is definitely not afraid to explore ominous aspects of humanity in his work.

Having amazing performances in all three films, specially by Kirsten Dunst in “Melancholia” and Charlotte Gainsbourg in all of them, the Depression Trilogy should definitely be watched by any cinephile and is without a doubt one of the best trilogies of the 21st century so far.


1. The Vengeance Trilogy, directed by Park Chan-wook


The three tales centered on revenge directed by Park Chan-wook definitely deserve a mention, not only among the best trilogies of this century, but also in cinema history. Using great long shots, with a powerful mise en scène and amazing performances by actors such as Min-sik Choi, Yeong-ae Lee and Kang-ho Song, the Vengeance Trilogy is mandatory for anyone who loves cinema.

Using violence in a very explicit way and exploring with different stories this dreadful theme of vengeance, Park was able to access deeply a very complex motif while delivering movies full of action and masterfully developing characters.

In “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance”, a laid-off factory worker kidnaps the daughter of his former employer to pay for his sister’s kidney transplant; in “Oldboy”, a man is imprisoned for 15 years without knowing the reasons and then leaves, wanting to find who did this to him; and in “Lady Vengeance”, after being imprisoned for 13 years for the kidnapping and murder of a boy, a woman goes after the man responsible for the boy’s death, wanting revenge.

These stories, which always lead to an unstoppable spiral of violence, have so many layers and, allied with the precise and virtuous directing of Park Chan-wook, are as brilliant as they are complex. That makes the Vengeance Trilogy, without a doubt, number one on our list.

Author bio: Vítor Guima is a filmmaker, writer and musician from São Paulo, Brazil. Every day he watches a movie, reads a few pages from a book, listens to an album and freaks out with the feeling of not having enough time to see everything. You can follow him on Instagram on @ovitorguima.