The Best and Worst Movies of 2009

  • Comments: ↓ 19 user comments
  • Publish Date: January 4, 2010

Limited releases: Seriously good movies

58.5,28.6,12.9
Breakdown of 2009 Limited Releases (Min. 7 Reviews)
Good (Metascore ≥ 61) 145 films
Mixed (40-60) 71 films
Bad (≤ 40) 32 films

On the previous page, we listed the 25 best-reviewed wide release films of the past year, and there weren't many dramas among them. The story is different for limited release films, however: 15 of the top 25 limited releases in 2009 were dramas. The other category that impressed critics the most was foreign-language films: about half (12 out of of the top 25) of the best-reviewed movies were not in English.

Although it took place overseas (in Iraq, to be exact), top-ranked The Hurt Locker is not a foreign-language film, but it is one of 29 limited release movies that received "universal acclaim" (or a Metascore of 81 or higher) from critics in 2009. In general, scores seemed to go up as the number of theaters went down: critics gave mostly positive reviews to over 58% of limited release films, while they liked just 25% of wide releases.

Below is the full distribution of limited release Metascores for the year, by season, and by month. Perhaps counterintuitively, summer proved to be the best season for limited releases, and fall the worst.

Metascore Distribution for Limited Releases, 2009
  Median Low / High Scores Score Distribution
All 2009 Limited Releases 64 13 / 94 13,49,64,74,94
Winter Limited Releases (1/1 - 3/5) 63.5 17 / 87 17,44.25,63.5,75.75,87
Spring Limited Releases (3/6 - 4/30) 63 20 / 89 20,52,63,75.5,89
Summer Limited Releases (5/1 - 9/7) 66 17 / 94 17,55,66,74,94
Fall Limited Releases (9/8 - 11/5) 61 13 / 91 13,44.5,61,70.5,91
Holiday Limited Releases (11/6 - 12/31) 62 24 / 84 24,44.75,62,73.25,84

In the score distribution charts, half of all scores (from the 25th percentile to the 75th percentile) fall within the shaded box, with the vertical line in the middle of the box representing the median.

Limited Releases by Month, 2009

In the chart above, Green represents the number of positively-reviewed movies (Metascore of 61 or higher). Yellow represents movies receiving mixed or average reviews (40-60). Red represents negatively-reviewed movies (0-39).

The Best Limited Releases of 2009
  Title Netflix Genre(s) Metascore Users
1Hurt Locker, The Drama947.6
235 Shots of Rum Foreign, Drama916.5
3Still Walking Foreign, Drama899.1
4Goodbye Solo Drama, Comedy897.6
5Tulpan Foreign, Comedy885.7
6Gomorrah Foreign, Drama876.1
7Beaches of Agnes, The Foreign, Documentary868.2
8Education, An Drama858.4
9Forbidden Lie$ Documentary858.9
10Passing Strange Comedy85 10.0
11Crazy Heart Drama845.6
12Seraphine Foreign, Drama846.5
13Summer Hours Foreign, Drama84 7.0
14Revanche Foreign, Drama838.5
15In the Loop Comedy83 8.0
16Maid, The Foreign, Drama839.3
17Taxidermia Foreign, Horror, Comedy83n/a
18Tyson Documentary838.5
19Cove, The Documentary828.7
20Sugar Drama829.1
21Anvil! The Story of Anvil Documentary828.3
22Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country Foreign, Documentary82 9.0
23Damned United, The Drama819.5
24Katyn Foreign, Drama818.3
25Bright Star Drama, Romance816.7

Only movies with seven or more reviews released between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009 were considered. Re-releases are excluded. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). Although scores have been rounded to the nearest whole number, movies are ranked prior to rounding. User scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good).

The Worst Limited Releases of 2009
  Title Netflix Genre(s) Metascore Users
1Beautiful Life, A Drama13 3.0
2Lodger, The Thriller173.5
3I Hate Valentine's Day Comedy, Romance174.8
4Downloading Nancy Thriller197.3
5Informers, The Drama204.8
6Spinning Into Butter Drama20 7.0
7What Goes Up Drama227.7
8Breaking Point Thriller24n/a
9Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, The Action-Adventure, Drama246.2
10Strip, The Comedy24n/a

On the next page, we'll see which movies are turning up on film critic Best of 2009 lists.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (19)

  • Trekking  

    I have to agree with A Guy. Star Trek and District 9 should be there ahead of Avatar

  • shadow  

    however Avatar was the real madness of that year, in my case I revive my old fears with Zombieland, this movie was like a TNT cartridge blow up my mind and send me back in time.

  • A Guy  

    Where is district 9? Where is Star Trek? Where is Public Enemies? All those movies where the best of 2009! People liked Avatar becasue of it's visual effects when really it had no real story line or anything like that, just visual afffects.

  • Hun Chung  

    i agree with skopq1 inglorious basterds are overrated & plain boring.
    Distirict 9 is very good

  • skopq1  

    worst movie : inglorious bastards. it´s soo overrated

  • Bad News for Bad Mov  

    [...] around the turn of the decade, Metacritic published an article talking about the quality of movies in 2009. Regarding wide releases of movies – the ones you don’t have to live in LA to see [...]

  • Jah Rastafari  

    Inglourious Basterds should have won fall wide release. Zombieland was great but it was simply america's version of Shaun of the dead. It doesn't beat the great acting and orginality of Inglourious Basterds.

  • Wolfmaster  

    no one even likes kathryn bigelowe or however you spell her name is stupid and honestly before this I'd never even heard of her no one likes you kathryn go away

  • Wolfmaster  

    The hurt locker was a disgrace to military men all around the world

  • okuroryu  

    district 9 was a way more interesting movie than avatar and had more action than the hurt locker
    if the academy had half a brain they will pick it but miracles don't happen

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