Wide releases: An animated bunch
|Good (Metascore ≥ 61)||38 films|
|Mixed (40-60)||67 films|
|Bad (≤ 40)||45 films|
Perhaps the typical film critic is really a child at heart. Three and a half of the four best-reviewed wide release films from the past year were animated (the unique Avatar blends CGI with live action), including the top-ranked film of the year: Pixar's Up. The films could not be more different from one another, however. While Up blends computer animation with a storyline that appeals as much to adults as children, the second-ranked Ponyo utilizes Hayao Miyazaki's masterful hand-drawn animation. And the Roald Dahl adaptation Fantastic Mr. Fox uses old-fashioned stop-motion animation to create a movie that is more Wes Anderson comedy than children's film.
In all, eight wide releases exceeded our cutoff to be considered as having "universal acclaim" from critics (with a Metascore of 81 or higher), including two science-fiction films (Star Trek and District 9) and a horror film (Drag Me to Hell). The only drama-like movie to fall in that group was the George Clooney dramedy Up in the Air.
However, while there were 38 wide releases receiving positive reviews from critics (with a Metascore of 61 or higher), 75% of wide releases received middling to poor reviews. Here is the full distribution of scores, for the year, by season, and by month:
|Median||Low / High Scores||Score Distribution|
|All 2009 Wide Releases||47.5||7 / 88||7,36.25,47.5,60.75,88|
|Winter Wide Releases (1/1 - 3/5)||43||17 / 80||17,35,43,50,80|
|Spring Wide Releases (3/6 - 4/30)||52||7 / 76||7,41.5,52,61,76|
|Summer Wide Releases (5/1 - 9/7)||48||17 / 88||17,36,48,62.5,88|
|Fall Wide Releases (9/8 - 11/5)||46||23 / 73||23,33,46,64.75,73|
|Holiday Wide Releases (11/6 - 12/31)||51.5||8 / 84||8,43.25,51.5,60.5,84|
Wide Releases by Month, 2009Next, let's see which movies received the most acclaim from critics during the past year.
|4||Fantastic Mr. Fox||Animated, Comedy||83||8.3|
|6||Drag Me to Hell||Horror||83||6.1|
|7||Up in the Air||Comedy/Drama||83||6.3|
|10||Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire||Drama||79||8.3|
|11||Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince||Fantasy, Family||78||6.6|
|13||(500) Days of Summer||Comedy, Romance||76||7.6|
|15||Princess & the Frog, The||Animated, Family||73||8.4|
|18||Earth ||Documentary, Family||72||5.4|
|19||Where the Wild Things Are||Family, Fantasy||71||6.6|
|20||I Love You, Man||Comedy||70||7.6|
|24||Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The||Fantasy||68||6.4|
On the other end of the spectrum, the worst wide releases of 2009 tend to fall in the comedy genre -- make that the "comedy" genre. Out of all of these terrible films, only Couples Retreat generated over $100 million in box office revenue, although Bride Wars and Obsessed performed well relative to their budgets.
|3||All About Steve||Comedy||17||3.6|
|4||Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li||Action-Adventure||17||2.7|
|10||I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell||Comedy||26||4.8|
On the next page, we examine the best and worst limited release films of the past year.