Rotten Tomatoes is an imperfect review aggregator. The best movies don’t necessarily receive the best scores and the worst movies don’t necessarily receive the worst scores. Rather than assign a score based on merit, the site reduces reviews to either a thumbs up or a thumbs down.
Critics of the site have claimed that the best scores simply go to the least offensive movies with movies that the fewest people find objectionable beating great movies that a handful of people dislike. In addition, the site’s results are often skewed toward recent and artistic movies because only the opinions of professional critics are recorded.
Whether you’re a fan or a critic, the results can be surprising. Some of the greatest and most beloved movies of all time have sub-par scores on Rotten Tomatoes. Home Alone has a score of 62%, Hook has a score of 29%, and Vertigo, the number 1 movie on Sight & Sound’s 50 Greatest Films of All Time list, fell short of universal praise with 97%.
Over a thousand movies hold perfect scores on Rotten Tomatoes. The vast majority of these films have this honor because they have only been reviewed by a handful of critics, but some have earned the love of dozens or even hundreds of critics on their way. There are movies, like Citizen Kane, that you would expect to have perfect scores, but there are also quite a few movies that will shock you.
Here is Every Movie You Didn’t Know Had 100% On Rotten Tomatoes.
20. Paddington 2
Paddington 2 became the best reviewed movie of all time earlier this year. 176 reviews have been collected by Rotten Tomatoes, all of them positive. Paddington 2 broke the record set in 2017 by the Oscar-nominated Lady Bird that was able to collect 164 positive reviews before receiving its first rotten score.
Critics have praised the movie’s visuals as well as its heartwarming characters and its bold camerawork.
Katie Walsh of The Tribune News Services called the movies, “a dash of Wes Anderson and a sprinkle of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, swirled around with a wonderfully fluid sense of airiness and light. It’s mannered, yet carefree, colorful, and evocative.” Joe Morgenstern wrote for The Wall Street Journal, “‘’Paddington 2’ is “The Godfather Part II” of Peruvian bear movies, a sequel that surpasses the superb original.”
19. O.J.: Made in America
With a 7 hour and 47-minute runtime, there is some debate about whether or not O.J. Made in America ought to qualify as a movie or a television mini-series. It debuted at Sundance in 2016 before airing in five parts on ESPN.
Despite controversy over its runtime and distribution, O.J. Made in America won the Oscar for best documentary in 2017 and holds a perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics praised the movie’s ability to take its original premise and apply it to larger themes.
Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly said the movie was, “Extraordinary on so many levels, O.J.: Made In America transcends its stated subjects and themes. It’s a withering critique of self-creation, culture making, and idolatry that speaks to everyone, regardless of race.”
18. The Terminator
There are a lot of classic movies with imperfect ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, Die Hard, The Shawshank Redemption, and even Star Wars all fall short. The Terminator, however, has managed to keep a spotless record. It may seem like a strange movie to make the grade. It’s not considered “important” nor is it a completely perfect movie. Instead, it seems to be better than the sum of its parts.
Hank Gallo of The New York Daily News wrote in his 1984 review, “you almost forget the film’s flaws. Here, the most absurd excursion is believable and we go along willingly – stopping now and then for a breath or a laugh.” Kirk Ellis of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “The havoc makes for a genuine steel metal trap of a movie that may very well be the best picture of its kind since The Road Warrior.”
17. How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
The live-action remake of How The Grinch Stole Christmas bombed with critics and audiences alike, perhaps because of how adored the original cartoon version, and the book it was closely adapted from, were.
Even among its fellow classic Christmas specials, the Grinch stands out. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has a 92% rating while Frost The Snowman sits at only 60%.
Jame Poniewozik wrote for Time in 2007, “Bringing a brilliant book to life is often regrettable — let’s agree to forget that the 2000 movie adaptation ever existed — but this lusty, garishly colored, good-hearted cartoon was a wonderful, awful idea.” Felix Vasquez Jr. of Cinema Crazed wrote in a 2015 revisit, “it’s such a wonderful combination of talents and rich enthusiasm for the source material, that it’s tough to not like it.”
16. For the Love of Spock
To commemorate Star Trek: The Original Series 50th anniversary, Adam Nimoy, Leonard Nimoy’s son, started working on a documentary with his father about Spock. After his father’s death in 2015, Adam decided to expand the scope of the movie to include the rest of his father’s life.
The result was a documentary that received universal acclaim and still holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 29 reviews.
Lance Ulanoff of Mashable said in his review that, “there’s no way to fit 83 years into a rather fast-paced 100 minutes. As a consequence, huge swaths of Nimoy’s life and career are mentioned all-too-briefly … This doesn’t diminish For the Love of Spock. Instead, it keeps the narrative more firmly focused on Spock himself, and Nimoy’s emotional connection to his craft and those around him.”
15. Before Sunrise
Before Sunrise is the story of two strangers who meet on a train before spending a night together in Vienna. Nine years later a sequel, Before Sunset, was released that followed the two characters after they meet again in Paris. Nine years after that a third movie, Before Midnight, checks in on the characters again in Greece.
Before Sunset and Before Midnight both received Oscar nominations for their screenplays, but Before Sunrise holds a perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Josh Larson of LarsonOnFilm and Filmspotting called the movie, “a bittersweet celebration of romantic frisson – the notion that our most precious moments of connection are often the fleeting ones.” Roger Ebert wrote, “Before Sunrise is so much like real life – like a documentary with an invisible camera – that I found myself remembering real conversations I had experienced with more or less the same words.”
14. Man On Wire
Behind Paddington 2 and Toy Story 2, the best-reviewed movie on Rotten Tomatoes is Man on Wire. Not to be confused with the 2015 live-action drama The Walk, Man On Wire is a 2008 documentary about Philippe Petit’s illegal and thrilling high wire routine between the World Trade Center in 1974. The movie received universal acclaim when it was released and went on to win the Oscar for best documentary in 2008.
Critics praised the movies thrilling recreations and light touch around the topic of the twin towers.
Roger Ebert said the documentary was, “constructed like a first-rate thriller.” Christopher Orr of The New Republic wrote, “It’s a rare tale of dangerous obsession rapturously fulfilled, a reminder that even the most quixotic of undertakings can knock over a windmill now and then.”
13. The Square
The Square (Al Midan) is an American-Egyptian documentary that captured the events of the 2013 Egyptian revolution as they were happening. It was nominated for best documentary at the 2014 academy awards. It was also one of the first movies to be distributed by Netflix.
The movie received universal acclaim with 61 positive reviews. Critics praised the filmmaker’s courage and the movies ability to put a personal spin on stories only told from a distance.
A.O. Scott from The New York Times wrote about the movie, “The Square, while it records the gruesome collision of utopian aspirations with cold political realities, is not a despairing film. It concludes on a note of resolve grounded in the acknowledgment that historical change can be a long, slow process.”
12. The Tale of Princess Kaguya
The best-animated feature category at the Oscars has a knack for nominating and highlighting at least one hidden gem of a movie. In 2016 it was My Life As A Zucchini, in 2015 it was Boy and The World, and in 2014 it was The Tale of Princess Kaguya. Directed by Grave of the Fireflies creator Isao Takahata and produced by Studio Ghibli, The Tale of Princess Kaguya received overwhelming praise for its hand-drawn art style and narrative depth.
Peter Rainer of The Christian Science Monitor wrote about the movie, “This delicate, hand-drawn marvel is lyrical and heartbreaking in ways that most live-action movies never approach.” Michael Phillips of The Chicago Tribune wrote, “What makes Princess Kaguya stick in emotional terms? Its depiction of an extraordinary girl, learning for herself that a life without real joy and spontaneity is only a shadow of a life.”
11. Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
Debuting at the Cannes Film Festival before their deaths in 2016, the impact of Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds wasn’t felt until after their deaths when it first aired on HBO in 2017.
Critics praised the movie for its portrayal of the complicated relationship between the two stars.
Melanie McFarland of Salon.com wrote that “Bright Lights plucks [Fisher’s] star and that of her mother down from distant heights and lets us gently hold them for a time, reassuring us that their brilliance and humanity was real, their mutual endearment unbreakable.” While David Ehrlich of IndieWire wrote “Bright Lights outlines the mutual resentments between Fisher and Reynolds, but is also happy to let sleeping dogs lie. If anything, Stevens and Bloom are fascinated by how well-adjusted their relationship appears to be, mother and daughter living next door to each other without ever tipping into ‘Grey Gardens’ territory.”
10. Psych: The Movie
Immediately after the beloved USA series ended, Psych creator Steve Franks started work on Psych: The Movie. Picking up in San Francisco, the movie returns all of the show’s main cast members including Timothy Omundson, Detective Carlton Lassiter, who suffered a stroke just before the movie was shot in 2017.
The movie debuted on USA in December is now available to stream on USANetwork.com.
When writing about the movie David Wiegand said, “in truth, the movie isn’t quite up there with some of the more memorable episodes from the show, but whether you’re a veteran pineapple-head or a newcomer to the silliness, Psych: The Movie is welcome comic relief.” Maureen Ryan of Variety wrote, “exactly what I thought it would be. That is a good thing.”
9. Scarface (1932)
Now living in the shadow of Brian De Palma’s 1983 remake starring Al Pacino, the original Scarface, which was directed by Howard Hawks and came out in 1932, holds a significantly higher score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Despite issues with sensors when it was produced, the movie holds a still perfect rating online with critics praising its grittiness and influence.
Dave Kehr of The Chicago Reader wrote about the movie, “Howard Hawks’s 1932 masterpiece is a dark, brutal, exhilaratingly violent film, blending comedy and horror in a manner that suggests Chico Marx let loose with a live machine gun.” Paul Taylor of Time Out wrote that “Its seminal importance in the early gangster movie cycle outweighed only by its still exhilarating brilliance, this Howard Hughes production was the one unflawed classic the tycoon was involved with.”
8. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse
Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now is at least one of the most ambitious movies of all time, if not one of the best, but it’s the movie about the movie that holds a perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Coming out over a decade after the release of Apocalypse Now, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse uses behind the scenes footage and narration from Coppola’s wife to portray how production problems almost destroyed the life of Apocalypse Now’s director.
Geoff Andrew of Time Out wrote about the movie, “at once anecdotal and revealing, this excellent film both illuminates the catastrophes that beset one particular project, and shows, by way of comparison, exactly what American film has foregone since the ’70s.” Hal Hinson of The Washington Post wrote, “as the portrait of an artist in crisis, Hearts of Darkness is unparalleled.”
7. Wake in Fright
Wake in Fright originally debuted at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival. After releases in Paris, Sydney, and New York, the movie was lost. For quite some time the only known print wasn’t considered high enough quality to transfer to DVD so the film’s original editor started looking for copies of the uncut version. In 2002 he found the negatives for the movie in Pittsburgh in a box labeled “For Destruction” and was able to recreate the movie.
Wake in Fright was released in 2009 to universal acclaim and still holds a perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Roger Ebert called the movie, “powerful, genuinely shocking and rather amazing” while Tirdad Derakhshani of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that the movie was, “essential viewing for anyone interested in the roots of male violence.”
6. The Thin Blue Line
Well before Making A Murderer or Amanda Knox, filmmaker Errol Morris was exploring a wrongful conviction in The Thin Blue Line. The movie depicts the story of Randall Dale Adams who was convicted and sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. As a result, Adams sentence was commuted to life in prison before the conviction was overturned in 1989.
Writing about the movie Roger Ebert said, “The result is a movie that is documentary and drama, investigation and reverie, a meditation on the fact that Adams was plucked from the center of his life and locked up forever for a crime that no reasonable person could seriously believe he committed.” Josh Larson from Larson On Film and Filmspotting said the Thin Blue Line was, “engaging as a procedural and compelling as a meditation on the nature of truth.”
5. Creep 2
When the low-budget found footage movie Creep came out in 2015, it received overwhelming praise and found a cult audience. Its sequel Creep 2 was released online in October of 2017 and, despite still only having a cult following, has received nothing but positive reviews.
With Mark Duplass reprising his role as Aaron, Creep 2 has won over fans of the original and seems to have improved on its success.
Alex McLevy of The AV Club wrote about the movie, “For fans of the original who don’t mind the loss of scares, Creep 2 improves on the first film in nearly every way, from tone to dialogue to plot.” Jonathon Barkan of Dread Central wrote, “From impeccably timed comedy to white-knuckle, anxiety-inducing tension, Creep 2 delivers all the goods.”
4. The Age of Shadows
If the average person had to guess the best reviewed Korean movie, you would probably assume it was Oldboy (80%), The Host (93%), or The Handmaiden (95%). The Man From Nowhere holds a perfect 100% rating but has only collected 6 reviews. Instead, the best-reviewed movie from a country with a thriving film community is The Age of Shadows.
The 2016 movie from Kim Jee-Woon (director of I Saw The Devil and The Good, The Bad, and The Weird) has collected 41 reviews, all of them positive.
Colin Covert of The Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote about the movie, “It’s a rich stew of a tale, with Korean resistance fighters, Hungarian revolutionaries, Japanese police officials and double agents. Running at 140 minutes, The Age of Shadows is worth every moment.”
The winner of the best documentary feature award at the South By Southwest film festival was an instant crowd and critic favorite. Telling the story of the 1966 shooting at the University of Texas, the movie was praised for its combination of animation, personal testimony and archival footage to make a historic tragedy impactful for modern audiences.
J.R. Jones of The Chicago Reader wrote about the movie, “Despite the grim topic, Tower offers moments of genuine hope in the acts of bravery and kindness that took place during the siege.” Keven P. Sullivan of Entertainment Weekly wrote, “Tower allies itself with the heroes on the ground and the immeasurable courage they displayed, risking everything for the sake of strangers. That’s a story worth telling, one worth remembering, and what makes Tower a must-see.”
2. The Birth of a Nation
Despite its influence on film history, it will come as a surprise to most that The Birth of a Nation (originally called The Clansman) still holds it’s 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. With over a 3-hour runtime, the 1915 silent epic has a very controversial portrayal of American history and is credited with starting the “second era” of the group that is depicts. Despite the controversy and the movie’s offensive racial depictions, it is still adored by critics.
Richard Brody wrote about the film in a 2013 revisit, “problematically, Birth of a Nation wasn’t just a seminal commercial spectacle but also a decisively original work of art — in effect, the founding work of cinematic realism, albeit a work that was developed to pass lies off as reality.”
1. Toy Story 1 & 2
Prior to Lady Bird and Paddington 2, the record for the best-reviewed movie on Rotten Tomatoes was held by Toy Story 2. It’s collected 163 positive reviews on the site. In addition, the original Toy Story also holds a perfect rating with 78 positive reviews.
The two animated movies hold better scores than other notable duos such as The Godfather (99%) and The Godfather, Part II (97%) or Batman Begins (84%) and The Dark Knight (94%).
Derek Adams from Time Out said that Toy Story is, “so ingenious in concept, design, and execution that you could watch it on a postage stamp-sized screen and still be engulfed by its charm.” Writing about the sequel Paul Clinton of CNN said, “Toy Story 2 is a brilliant example of that rarest of Hollywood phenomena a sequel to a major hit film that’s as good, if not better, than the original.”
Are there any movies you think didn’t deserve a perfect rating? Let us know in the comments!
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