2004 was a fantastic year for films across all genres. The ten highest-grossing films in the world that year include Shrek 2, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Spider-Man 2, The Incredibles, The Passion of the Christ, The Day After Tomorrow, Meet the Fockers, Troy, Shark Tale, and Ocean’s Twelve. Though the majority of the films selected below didn’t make the top ten world box office, we included hits that are either long-forgotten or classic gems.

The Best of 2004

In 2004, there were a lot of films in the romantic genre that have set a precedent in its category. The Notebook, 13 Going on 30, and 50 First Dates all premiered this year. The early 2000s would be nothing without apocalyptic movies about the future, with films like The Day After Tomorrow and I, Robot. Family-fun films also were in abundance in 2004, with The Polar Express, Napoleon Dynamite, National Treasure, and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.

Wes Anderson, Hayao Miyazaki, Peter Segal, Sam Raimi, and Steven Soderbergh all had amazing offerings this year. Anderson released his fourth film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Hayao Miyazaki’s seventh Studio Ghibli film, Howl’s Moving Castle, remains one of our top three films of all time by the director. Segal directed the Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler romantic comedy 50 First Dates this year, with another Sandler film the year before: Anger Management. Meanwhile, Sam Raimi made his last good Spider-Man film with the sequel. Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Twelve wasn’t nearly as awesome as the first installment, but we found ourselves thoroughly entertained when the heist flick came out twenty years ago. No matter what type of movie is your go-to, 2004 has a movie out there for every walk of life that we find ourselves going back to today.

Take a look below at our top eight picks of the best movies that came out in 2004:

  • 13 Going on 30

    This movie taught us how to do Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance! We fell in love with Mark Ruffalo with his role in the film as Garner’s long-lost love interest, and it is just one of those feel-good movies that’ll get a couple tears out of you with every re-watch.

  • Howl's Moving Castle

    Christian Bale stars as our beloved wizard, Howl. The actor agreed to play any role in the Miyazaki film after watching 2001’s Spirited Away. During the recording, Bale was preparing for his role as Batman in 2005’s Batman Begins.

  • White Chicks

    We couldn’t tell you how many times we watched this hilarious film starring the Wayans Brothers, but when we can recite almost the entire movie, it has to be a lot of times. You either hate or love this movie, but Terry Crews reciting Vanessa Carlton’s “1000 Miles” has got to be one of many pop culture moments captured in the film. He even did that scene in just one take!

  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

    Bill Murray stars as the titular character, Steve Zissou, who is based on real-life underwater filmmaker, Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Murray was so invested in his role, he became a certified diver, logging over forty hours during filming. Life Aquatic remains one of our top three favorite Wes Anderson films of all time.

  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

    Though this movie is beautiful, funny, and heart-wrenching, it is one that you watch just once. Seeing Jim Carrey in a serious role alongside Kate Winslet was a perfect match. The film explores the idea of someone erasing you completely from their memories.

  • National Treasure

    Nicolas Cage became our national treasure after this action-adventure flick came out. Watching this movie as a kid filled us with wonder about our country, with Cage stealing the Declaration of Independence. Cage is a self-proclaimed history buff and acquired a 70-million-year-old dinosaur skull in an auction that cost him $276,000. The artifact turned out to be stolen in 2015 and had to return it to the Mongolian government.

  • 50 First Dates

    Upon our first watch of 50 First Dates, we had no idea how much it would tug on our heartstrings and make us cry every time we’d hear “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys. Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler gave The Notebook a run for its money this year, and we’d have to pick this film over the Nicholas Sparks story.

  • Spider-Man 2

    After Spider-Man 2, Sam Raimi dropped the ball with the third installment. However, we got much enjoyment out of this sequel which sees Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man face off between a new villain, Doc Ock, played by Alfred Molina.

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