EconomicsFederal spending: $1,864 billion
Federal debt: $5,807 billion
Consumer Price Index: 177.1
Unemployment: 4.8 %
Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.34
Terrorists attack United States. Hijackers ram jetliners into twin towers of New York City's World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked plane crashes 80 mi outside of Pittsburgh (Sept. 11). Toll of dead and injured in thousands. Within days, Islamic militant Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda terrorist network are identified as the parties behind the attacks.
George W. Bush is sworn in as 43rd president (Jan. 20).
Anthrax scare rivets nation, as anthrax-laced letters are sent to various media and government officials. Several postal workers die after handling the letters (throughout October).
- Gladiator takes five Oscars, including those for Best Picture and Best Actor (Russell Crowe). Julia Roberts finally wins her gold statue for her performance in Erin Brockovich. Double nominee Steven Soderbergh defies expectations with his Best Director win for Traffic; many had expected his nominations for Traffic and Erin Brockovich to cancel each other out. For a full list of winners see Academy Awards (March 25).
- A.I. Artificial Intelligence
- A Beautiful Mind
- Bridget Jones's Diary
- The Fellowship of the Ring
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
- The Majestic
- Monsters, Inc.
- Ocean's 11
- Pearl Harbor
- Vanilla Sky