The Best and Worst Movies of 2009

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

Limited releases: Seriously good movies

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 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)

  • Jack  

    The Hurt Locker gets what it deserves

  • bitenuker  

    i'm disappointed to see avatar named best sci-fi. take out the stunning visuals and you're left with a boring mediocre story. not only that, but the acting was not worthy of note. where's district 9 and star trek in all of this? however, i am happy about "up" being mentioned. when has pixar ever done wrong.....

  • 2010 Movie Preview -  

    [...] The Best and Worst Movies of 2009January 4, 2010 [...]

  • richard head  

    omg were is mega shark vs giant octopus?

  • The Best Reviewed Fi  

    [...] For all the lists and ratings (and extensive graphs) surveyed by Metacritic, click here. [...]

  • Ben  

    IGN can do what they like.
    Metacritic averages out a range of review scores. Why would IGN carry any more weight?

  • Matthew C. Kriner  

    I simply wanted to add a comment here to say thanks for you very nice ideas. Blogs are troublesome to run and time consuming therefore I appreciate when I see well written material. Your time isn't going to waste with your posts. Thanks so much and carry on You'll defintely reach your goals! have a great day!

  • ‘Avatar’  

    [...] that “The Hurt Locker,” the film about bombs over, in and around Baghdad, has been named the year’s best by Metacritic, the online review aggregator. Kathryn Bigelow’s gutsy feature has won kudos from nearly every [...]

  • surafel  

    what about ign ign gave district 9 movie of the year

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