Today, our friends over at the Criterion Collection are giving the Blu-ray upgrade treatment to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Wes Anderson’s 2004 comedy/drama — a film that arrived with sky-high expectations (it was Anderson’s first film after the acclaimed Royal Tenenbaums, and star Bill Murray’s first since his Oscar-nominated turn in Lost in Translation) that it didn’t quite meet. But few films could have, frankly, and seen from this distance, Life Aquatic holds up quite well; in fact, it’s one of many films from the first decade of the 21st Century that doesn’t seem to have the reputation they deserve. In the spirit of celebrating such overlooked gems, we’ve assembled this list of the most underrated pictures of the 2000s.
When Steven Soderbergh released this low-key drama back in 2005, far more ink was spilled on its release strategy than the film itself (it was released — get ready for a shocker — simultaneously in theaters, on DVD, and on demand. Can you imagine such a thing?). But it’s a remarkable little film, shot in found locations, mostly improvised, with a cast of non-actors. Its aims and style are modest, but few films have ever taken such an accurate snapshot of small town ennui.