2000s The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked  

Ranker Film
237 votes 28 voters 50 items

List Rules Only feature film directorial debuts.

The best directorial debuts of the 2000s may have come and gone, but many of the films themselves have become mainstays of popular movies and fan favorites today. In other words, these directors' first films were all box-office hits—so much so that you may have been unaware these movies were their first attempts at directing. Well, believe it or not, they were! And while all the films on this list are great, it's up to you to decide what was the best first movie from directors in the 2000s. Could some even be considered the best directorial debuts of all time?

Of all the 2000s directorial debuts, Adam McKay's Anchor Man: The Legend of Ron Burgundy has got to be one of the best, as it's long been considered one of the top comedies of its time. The same could be said about Judd Apatow and his first film, The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Comedies aside, you also have to consider the awesome supernatural flick Donnie Darko by Richard Kelly, as well as the animated classic, Monsters, Inc. from Pete Docter (along with David Silverman and Lee Unkrich). Of course, these are just a glimpse of the many debuts from the 2000s. 

Check out the list of best directorial debut movies below and cast your votes for your favorites. 

1
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Moon is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Moon Duncan Jones Moon is a 2009 British science fiction drama film co-written and directed by Duncan Jones. The film follows Sam Bell, a man who experiences a personal crisis as he nears the end of a three-year ...more

2
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Zombieland is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Zombieland Ruben Fleischer Zombieland is a 2009 American zombie comedy film directed by Ruben Fleischer from a screenplay written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. The film stars Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma ...more

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A Single Man is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
A Single Man Tom Ford A Single Man is a 2009 American drama film based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood. It is directed by Tom Ford in his directorial debut and stars Colin Firth, who was ...more

4
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Hunger is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Hunger Steve McQueen Hunger is a 2008 film directed by Steve McQueen.

5
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Monsters, Inc. is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Monsters, Inc. David Silverman, Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich Monsters, Inc. is a 2001 American computer-animated comedy film directed by Pete Docter, produced by Pixar Animation Studios, and released by Walt Disney Pictures. John Lasseter and Andrew ...more

6
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The 40-Year-Old Virgin is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
The 40-Year-Old Virgin Judd Apatow The 40-Year-Old Virgin is a 2005 American romantic comedy film written, produced and directed by Judd Apatow, about a middle-aged man's journey to finally have sex. It was co-written by its ...more

7
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(500) Days of Summer is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
(500) Days of Summer Marc Webb "The freshness of Marc Webb’s love-me/love-me-not love story is epitomized by its perfectly framed tag lines…Boy meets Girl—Boy falls in love—Girl doesn’t. What else can you say about a ...more

8
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Donnie Darko is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Donnie Darko Richard Kelly Donnie Darko is a 2001 American supernatural drama film written and directed by Richard Kelly and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Noah Wyle, Jena ...more

9
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Anchorman: The Legend of Ron B... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy Adam McKay Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, or simply Anchorman, is a 2004 comedy film directed by Adam McKay, produced by Judd Apatow, starring Will Ferrell, and written by McKay and Ferrell. The ...more

10
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Up is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Up Pete Docter Up is a 2009 American 3D computer-animated adventure comedy-drama film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Pete Docter, the film centers on an ...more

11
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Wet Hot American Summer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Wet Hot American Summer David Wain Wet Hot American Summer is a 2001 satirical comedy film directed by David Wain from a screenplay written by David Wain and Michael Showalter, starring Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, ...more

12
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Napoleon Dynamite is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Napoleon Dynamite Jared Hess Napoleon Dynamite is a 2004 American independent art-house comedy film written by Jared and Jerusha Hess and directed by Jared. The film stars Jon Heder in the role of the title character, for ...more

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Shrek is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Shrek Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson Shrek is a 2001 American computer-animated fantasy-comedy film produced by PDI/DreamWorks, released by DreamWorks Pictures, directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, featuring the voices of ...more

14
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Bring It On is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Bring It On Peyton Reed Bring It On is a 2000 American teen comedy film that was directed by Peyton Reed and written by Jessica Bendinger. It was followed by four direct-to-video sequels, none of which contain any of ...more

15
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Mission: Impossible III is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Mission: Impossible III J.J. Abrams Mission: Impossible III (stylized as M:i:III) is a 2006 American action spy film directed by J. J. Abrams, and the third film in the Mission: Impossible series. Retired from field work, IMF ...more

16
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Legally Blonde is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Legally Blonde Robert Luketic Legally Blonde is a 2001 American comedy film directed by Robert Luketic, written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, and produced by Marc E. Platt. It is based on the novel Legally Blonde ...more

17
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District 9 is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
District 9 Neill Blomkamp District 9 is a 2009 science fiction film directed by Neill Blomkamp, released August 13, 2009. It takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa. District 9 is based on Alive in Joburg, a short film ...more

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Serenity is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Serenity Joss Whedon Serenity is a 2005 American space western film written and directed by Joss Whedon. It is a continuation of Whedon's short-lived 2002 Fox science fiction television series Firefly and stars the ...more

19
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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatba... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Phil Lord, Chris Miller Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a 2009 American computer-animated science fiction comedy film produced by Sony Pictures Animation, distributed by Columbia Pictures, and released on ...more

20
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Lilo & Stitch is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Lilo & Stitch Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders Lilo & Stitch is a 2002 American animated action-adventure comedy-drama film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures on June 21, 2002. The 42nd ...more

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Brick is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Brick Rian Johnson Brick is a 2005 American neo-noir thriller film written and directed by Rian Johnson, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It was Johnson's directorial debut and won the Special Jury Prize for ...more

22
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Layer Cake is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Layer Cake Matthew Vaughn Layer Cake is a 2004 British crime thriller film directed by Matthew Vaughn, in his directorial debut. The screenplay was adapted by J. J. Connolly from his novel of the same name. The film was ...more

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Shane Black Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a 2005 American neo-noir dark comedy crime film written and directed by Shane Black, and starring Robert Downey, Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan and Corbin Bernsen. The ...more

24
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I Love You Phillip Morris is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
I Love You Phillip Morris John Requa, Glenn Ficarra I Love You Phillip Morris is a 2009 comedy film based on the 1980s and '90s real-life story of con artist, impostor, and multiple prison escapee Steven Jay Russell, as played by Jim Carrey. ...more

25
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Love & Basketball is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Love & Basketball Gina Prince-Bythewood Love & Basketball is a 2000 American romantic drama film starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan. The film tells the story of Quincy McCall and Monica Wright, two next-door neighbors in Los ...more

26
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Sin City is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Sin City Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller Sin City is a 2005 American neo-noir crime thriller anthology film written, produced, and directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez. It is based on Miller's eponymous graphic novel Sin City. ...more

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Synecdoche, New York is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Synecdoche, New York Charlie Kaufman Synecdoche, New York is a 2008 American postmodern drama film written and directed by Charlie Kaufman, and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. It is Kaufman's directorial debut. The plot follows an ...more

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Whip It is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Whip It Drew Barrymore Whip It is a 2009 comedy-drama film written by Shauna Cross, based on her novel Derby Girl. The film is directed and co-produced by Drew Barrymore in her directorial debut. It stars Ellen Page ...more

29
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Little Miss Sunshine is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Little Miss Sunshine Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton Little Miss Sunshine is a 2006 American comedy-drama road film and the directorial film debut of the husband-wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The screenplay was written by ...more

30
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Thank You for Smoking is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Thank You for Smoking Jason Reitman Thank You for Smoking is a 2005 comedy-drama film written and directed by Jason Reitman and starring Aaron Eckhart, based on the 1994 satirical novel of the same name by Christopher Buckley. It ...more

31
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Hot Rod is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Hot Rod Akiva Schaffer Hot Rod is a 2007 American comedy film co-written, directed, and starring members of The Lonely Island. The film stars Samberg as an amateur stuntman whose abusive step-father, Frank ...more

32
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In Bruges is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
In Bruges Martin McDonagh In Bruges is a 2008 British-American crime-black comedy film written and directed by Martin McDonagh. The film stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two Irish hitmen in hiding, with Ralph ...more

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Chicago is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Chicago Rob Marshall Chicago is a 2002 American musical comedy crime film adapted from the satirical stage musical of the same name, exploring the themes of celebrity, scandal, and corruption in Jazz Age Chicago. ...more

34
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Love Actually is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Love Actually Richard Curtis Love Actually is a 2003 British Christmas-themed romantic comedy film written and directed by Richard Curtis. The screenplay delves into different aspects of love as shown through ten separate ...more

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Michael Clayton is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Michael Clayton Tony Gilroy Michael Clayton is a 2007 American legal thriller film written and directed by Tony Gilroy, starring George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton and Sydney Pollack. The film chronicles the ...more

36
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Chicken Run is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Chicken Run Peter Lord, Nick Park Chicken Run is a 2000 British-French-American stop-motion animated comedy film made by the Aardman Animations studios and directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park. It was the first feature-length ...more

37
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Antwone Fisher is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Antwone Fisher Denzel Washington Antwone Fisher is a 2002 American biographical drama film directed by Denzel Washington, marking his directorial debut. He also stars in the film as the psychiatrist Jerome Davenport, alongside ...more

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Final Destination is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Final Destination James Wong Final Destination is a 2000 American horror film directed by James Wong. It is the first installment of the Final Destination series. The screenplay was written by James Wong, Glen Morgan, and ...more

39
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Slither is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Slither James Gunn Slither is a 2006 American science fiction-comedy horror film written and directed by James Gunn in his directorial debut, and starring Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Gregg Henry, and Michael ...more

40
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Made is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Made Jon Favreau filmography Made is a 2001 American comedy/crime film written and directed by Jon Favreau. It stars Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Peter Falk, and Sean Combs. It was Favreau's directorial debut.

41
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Saw is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Saw James Wan Saw is a 2004 horror film written by Leigh Whannell and directed by James Wan, in Wan's directorial debut. In the film, Adam (Whannell) and Lawrence (Cary Elwes) awaken chained in a large ...more

42
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Gone Baby Gone is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Gone Baby Gone Ben Affleck Gone Baby Gone is a 2007 American neo-noir mystery film directed by Ben Affleck and starring his brother Casey Affleck. The screenplay by Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard is based on the novel of ...more

43
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Garden State is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Garden State Zach Braff Garden State is a 2004 comedy-drama film written and directed by Zach Braff and starring Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Ian Holm and Braff himself. The film centers on Andrew Largeman, a ...more

44
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Joe Dirt is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Joe Dirt Dennie Gordon Joe Dirt is a 2001 American adventure comedy film starring David Spade, Dennis Miller, Christopher Walken, Brian Thompson, Brittany Daniel, Jaime Pressly, Erik Per Sullivan, and Kid Rock. The ...more

45
1 1
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the ... is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Garth Jennings The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a 2005 British-American comic science fiction film directed by Garth Jennings, based upon previous works in the media franchise of the same name, created ...more

46
1 1
9 is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
9 Shane Acker 9 is a 2005 computer animated short film created by Shane Acker as a student project at the UCLA Animation Workshop. Tim Burton saw the film and was so impressed by its artistic vision that he ...more

47
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Monster is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Monster Patty Jenkins Monster is a 2003 crime drama film about serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a former prostitute who was executed in Florida in 2002 for killing six men in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Wuornos was ...more

48
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Primer is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Primer Shane Carruth Primer is a 2004 American science fiction drama film about the accidental discovery of a means of time travel. The film was written, directed, produced, edited and scored by Shane Carruth, who ...more

49
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Guy and Madeline on a Park Ben... is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench Damien Chazelle Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench is a 2009 American jazz musical film written and directed by Damien Chazelle, that recasts the MGM musical tradition in a gritty, vérité style. The ...more

50
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Charlie's Angels is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Of The 2000s, Ranked
Charlie's Angels Joseph McGinty Nichol Charlie's Angels is a 2000 American action comedy film directed by McG, starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu as three women working for a private investigation agency. The film is ...more