The 15 Weirdest Movies of the 21st Century Worth Watching

Cinema is art... and art can be pretty bizarre at times. Here are some of the most unconventional films since 2000 that are really good.
The 15 Weirdest Movies of the 21st Century Worth Watching

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For as long as cinema has been around, all kinds of bizarre films have been made. Sure, viewers in the 1920s didn't have films like The Human Centipede, but they still had their own forms of strangeness to contend with (like the Dada art movement).

In cinema, "weird" doesn't mean fantasy or science fiction, although those elements can often come into play. Weird means nonsensical, surreal, trippy, dreamlike, and random.

Weird films challenge our logic and often make us feel uncomfortable or confused (in a good way). They range from Freudian fever dreams you wouldn't watch with your parents to outlandish concepts that make conservative moviegoers shudder in disgust and recoil in fear.

Here are my picks for the best modern movies that are weird, absurd, surreal, experimental, and just all-around strange.

15. Mr. Nobody (2009)

Directed by Jaco Van Dormael

Starring Jared Leto, Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger

Drama, Fantasy, Romance (2h 21m)

7.7 on IMDb68% on RT

Many films involve an "alternate timelines" plot device, where every decision generates a split between possible life trajectories. Parallel paths shoot off into different branches of the same life, and those pathways often lead to unpredictable outcomes.

In Mr. Nobody, Jaco Van Dormael traces these different pathways in a twisty sci-fi narrative, starring Jared Leto as an 118-year-old man who's reflecting on his experiences.

What's that thing all the hippies say about multiple realities existing at once? Well, Mr. Nobody turns that theory into a tangible movie.

14. Under the Silver Lake (2018)

Directed by David Robert Mitchell

Starring Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace

Crime, Drama, Mystery (2h 19m)

6.5 on IMDb59% on RT

Under the Silver Lake still has viewers scratching their heads to this day, especially those who went in expecting an A24 comedy-drama about a guy simply searching for his crush.

Boy-next-door Andrew Garfield plays 30-something stoner Sam who floats about Los Angeles with a vague interest in conspiracy theories. This pastime steamrolls into a time-consuming activity when Sam's next-door neighbor goes missing.

Sam starts to believe every signpost, number, and photograph means something important. He blindly follows both symbols and strangers towards a complex conclusion, and the whole film plays out like a hypnotic neo-noir that's never fully explained.

13. I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

Directed by Charlie Kaufman

Starring Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette

Drama, Thriller (2h 14m)

6.6 on IMDb82% on RT

From the title and the dewy-feeling posters, I'm Thinking of Ending Things makes you think it's going to be a melancholic, nostalgic indie drama. But once you see that it's dubbed a surrealist horror, you suddenly realize things aren't so predictable with this one.

An exercise in the existential, I'm Thinking of Ending Things is about a woman who's meeting her boyfriend's in-laws. But soon enough, there's also an old janitor and rehearsals for Oklahoma! that interrupt the story—and it only gets weirder.

Critics use adjectives like "unhinged," "perplexing," and "idiosyncratic" when describing I'm Thinking of Ending Things. I personally recommend watching twice to fully grasp it.

12. Enter the Void (2009)

Directed by Gaspar Noé

Starring Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta, Cyril Roy

Drama, Fantasy (2h 41m)

7.2 on IMDb72% on RT

A masterclass in psychedelic filmmaking, Enter the Void is more out-of-this-world than even most space movies.

In it, director Gaspar Noé constructs an urban jungle of neon lights, loneliness, bad drug trips, and policing huntsmen. It's all very luminous and abstract and quite unlike anything you've ever seen in cinema, and yet there's still some semblance of a plot to it.

When drug-dealing junkie Oscar (played by Nathaniel Brown) is accidentally killed in Tokyo, we're given a peek into his life after death. Noé contorts time like a warped disc, with Oscar traversing past, present, and future as if he were Ebenezer Scrooge high on DMT.

And much like Oscar, we too feel as if we're locked into a metropolitan purgatory while watching Enter the Void.

11. Titane (2021)

Directed by Julia Ducournau

Starring Vincent Lindon, Agathe Rousselle, Garance Marillier

Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi (1h 48m)

6.5 on IMDb90% on RT

Julia Ducournau's Raw could have easily squeezed onto this list, but I'm highlighting her other film Titane for its French absurdism. If you think a woman having sex with a car is strange, wait 'til she ends up giving birth to a metallic car baby! But first, let's rewind.

In Titane, Alexia (played by Agathe Rousselle) is a serial-killing showgirl who had a titanium plate fitted into her skull as a kid due to being in a car crash. Wanted for murder, Alexia then poses as a man's missing son (an oddball who injects himself with steroids to stay young).

Titane won the Palme d'Or in 2021 and swiftly established itself as one of the greatest body horror movies of all time.

10. Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Directed by Charlie Kaufman

Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams

Drama (2h 4m)

7.5 on IMDb69% on RT

Despite its gray color palette that speaks of realism, Synecdoche, New York grows increasingly confused between fiction and reality.

Caden Cotard (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) is directing a "theater piece" that slowing begins to reflect, mimic, and blur with the outside world—and Caden's health is deteriorating with no explanation.

The film's assumed tone of realism makes the nonsensical elements stick out that much more, with doppelgangers taking over the stage as Caden's obsessive-artist brain gradually unfurls.

From the mind of Charlie Kaufman comes this absurdist meditation much like his other iconic films: Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I'm Thinking of Ending Things.

9. Being John Malkovich (1999)

Directed by Spike Jonze

Starring John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener

Comedy, Drama, Fantasy (1h 53m)

7.7 on IMDb94% on RT

Being John Malkovich was released right on the cusp of 2000, so while not technically released in the 21st century, I'm going to include it because it's such an important entry in surrealist cinema.

Fan service usually teeters between fun and lazy, but actor cameos are lots of fun and easy to appreciate. (Think Bill Murray in Zombieland or Neil Patrick Harris in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.)

But in Being John Malkovich, it's more than just a cameo. The whole movie revolves around a portal that transports people—namely one loser puppeteer, played by John Cusack—into the body of John Malkovich.

Creepy toys and portals aside, the real weirdness comes when Malkovich crawls through the tunnel himself and lands in a world where everyone has his face and can only say the word "Malkovich."

8. Beau Is Afraid (2023)

Directed by Ari Aster

Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Patti LuPone, Amy Ryan

Comedy, Drama, Horror (2h 59m)

7.0 on IMDb67% on RT

Lots of people went into Beau Is Afraid expecting an entertaining psychological drama like Joker, with both films led by Joaquin Phoenix. But Beau Is Afraid is leagues away from Joker, unraveling in a dystopian Purge-like city where the socially anxious Beau Wasserman lives.

Beau is the most passive protagonist you'll ever see. Even as the most insane, unexplained things happen to him, he simply bumbles along in a constant state of bewildered panic.

The only thing Ari Aster's A24 horror has in common with Joker is that Joaquin Phoenix is having a mental breakdown. I won't even attempt to explain the plot, which will evoke gasps from you multiple times. It's basically three straight hours of horrifying tragicomedy.

7. Sorry to Bother You (2018)

Directed by Boots Riley

Starring LaKeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler

Comedy, Drama, Fantasy (1h 52m)

6.9 on IMDb93% on RT

Sorry to Bother You starts off with a fairly normal tone, with LaKeith Stanfield playing a newbie telemarketer in Oakland. When Cash is told to use his "white voice" to secure sales, it's funny at first—especially when David Cross's voice comes out of his mouth.

But then it all gets a little... well, ludicrous. At an extravagant party for his coked-out CEO (played by Armie Hammer), Cash stumbles upon a half-man, half-horse prisoner while looking for the bathroom.

Live-action BoJack Horsemans start rampaging across the screen, but not in a ha-ha way. Men are being turned into muscular "Equisapien" slaves, held captive in the name of capitalism. If that isn't weird...

6. The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

Directed by Martin McDonagh

Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon

Comedy, Drama (1h 54m)

7.7 on IMDb96% on RT

With so many movies released every year, all screaming for their voices to be heard, it can be tempting to think there are no new stories left to tell. Every historical event, relationship dynamic, and superhero power has already been milked and wrung out. Right?

Well, not quite. In 2022, Martin McDonagh came along and reminded us that people can literally make films about anything—and that includes this film about a guy who threatens to cut off all his fingers if his best friend doesn't stop yapping at him.

The premise is random and simplistic yet surprisingly heartwarming, and it's all brought together with remarkable skill through the talented performances of Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, and Barry Keoghan.

5. Midsommar (2019)

Directed by Ari Aster

Starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren

Drama, Horror, Mystery (2h 28m)

7.1 on IMDb83% on RT

Ari Aster and A24 go together like bread and butter, first surprising us with the success of Hereditary in 2018, which pulled the rug out from under us with its disturbing horror. A year later, the director delivered yet another horror that used weirdness to instill fear.

In Midsommar, Florence Pugh plays an unassuming, grieving sister who accompanies her boyfriend to a Swedish midsummer festival. The flower crowns and blue skies turn sinister when the petals start to melt and human sacrifices are made in broad daylight.

If Midsommar feels familiar, it's because it's an even stranger, more modernized version of the cult classic Wicker Man, in which Scandinavian paganism is cut with a dose of magic mushrooms.

4. Inland Empire (2006)

Directed by David Lynch

Starring Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons, Justin Theroux

Drama, Fantasy, Mystery (3h)

6.8 on IMDb72% on RT

David Lynch is known for being an advocate of transcendental meditation. He uses it regularly to develop all of his movie ideas... and it really shows. His films are seriously weird.

Using various mantras to delve into his imagination, David Lynch has set himself apart as one of the zaniest filmmakers of all time. Since the 1970s, he's been wowing viewers with dream logic, satire, and unnatural dialogue in films like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive.

But Inland Empire is the most incomprehensible entry in a filmography full of incomprehensible entries. For starters, expect to encounter anthropomorphic rabbits speaking in tongues, Salvador Dalí style.

Not only is Inland Empire an experiment in narrative, but also in cinematography. It feels unnatural to be watching these famous actors in low resolution, as Lynch filmed using a digital Sony camcorder.

3. Poor Things (2023)

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

Starring Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe

Comedy, Drama, Romance (2h 21m)

8.1 on IMDb92% on RT

Charlie Kaufman, David Lynch, and Ari Aster are recurring names in 21st century surrealism, but they aren't the only ones. You also have Yorgos Lanthimos, who headlines the Greek Weird Wave over in Europe.

His films—including The Favourite, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and The Lobster—elbowed their way into mainstream cinema with mainstream casts, paving the path for his Poor Things Oscar wins this year.

Emma Stone (who won Best Actress for this role) takes the lead in Poor Things, playing a woman who has the implanted brain of a baby.

Even kookier than this setup is the world that surrounds her, which is a crossover of past and future where Victorian London feels dystopian, Gothic, and wrapped in a backdrop of Vanilla Sky-looking clouds.

2. Donnie Darko (2001)

Directed by Richard Kelly

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell

Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi (1h 53m)

8.0 on IMDb87% on RT

Hallucinations are common plot devices in movies. They're used to explain plot twists, fill narrative holes, and merge the lines between what's real and what's imagined.

Donnie Darko isn't just a case of a schizophrenic protagonist who's learning to cope with mental illness. Donnie's (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) hallucinations are arguably real as energies dictate people's actions while time itself is molded into a circle.

The conclusion to Richard Kelly's cult classic is ambiguous, and that's what makes it so interesting to look into and discuss. Freakiest of all is the terrifying rabbit-man that Donnie sees throughout the movie, who counts down the days until the end of the world.

1. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly

Drama (1h 42m)

8.3 on IMDb78% on RT

Darren Aronofsky rang in the new millennium in the most uncomfortable way possible, releasing Requiem for a Dream in January 2000. Cited as one of the hardest films to watch, getting into the mind of a character isn't so fun when they're having a psychotic breakdown.

First, you have Sara (played by Ellen Burstyn), whose diet pills turn out to be amphetamines that make her crazy and malnourished. Then, you have her heroin-addicted son (played by Jared Leto), who sweats through withdrawal while losing his arm to infection.

The psychosis scenes in Requiem for a Dream aren't just peculiar—they're intense, deranged, and utterly depressing. It's not just one of the weirdest films ever made, but also one of the most depressing.