20 Most Controversial Movies Since 2000

21st century movies that kicked up a storm by pushing things as far as possible.

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In one sense, the history of cinema can be viewed as a constant tug of war between the artist and the censor. The former strives to push the boundaries of acceptability and push forward with new and daring modes of expression, while the latter seeks to impose limitations, setting the boundaries of acceptability and "decency", acting as an arbiter of what is deemed morally permissible.

Battling the censors is as present today as it was decades ago - and it's not just the ratings board filmmakers have to contend with; the studios also often seek to impose a lower rating in order to maximize their profit margin. But nevertheless, we've certainly come a long way from the stringent censorship of the past, where uttering the word "damn" caused a stir and actors were only allowed to kiss for a few seconds before it was deemed lewd and inappropriate. And while the boundaries have clearly been pushed way back, movies continue to emerge which challenge our notions of what is acceptable, depicting acts of sex and violence in increasingly graphic style and often offending the sensibilities of the prudish and conservative.

This dynamic has been present in the new millennia just as it has through history - here are 20 of the most controversial movies since 2000 which have kicked up a storm by pushing things as far as possible.

20. The Pornographer

Le Pornographe The Pornographer
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Porn actress Ovidie stars as Jenny in The Pornographer, written and directed by Bertrand Bonello. Jacques (Jean-Pierre Leaud) is at a career impasse - after a number of huge successes in the 1970s making pornographic movies, he suddenly finds himself struggling to make the transition to more artistic productions, but his efforts to make pornography with a more sensual flavour aren't going down well with his investors.

The explicit, unsimulated sex scenes in The Pornographer, released in 2001, ensured that the 21st century was kick-started with a touch of cinematic controversy. Using real life porn stars Ovidie and Titof, the controversial scene which had some up in arms, as Jacques films a sex scene for his film within a film, certainly raised questions about the point at which art and pornography converge. Unfortunately, The Pornographer itself fails to live up to its potential, and what could have been an interesting exercise in the nature of transgressive cinema ends up a long-winded borefest in which uninteresting characters deliver dry, uninspired dialogue. Skip to the sex scene and ignore the rest.

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