When Film Critics and Movie Fans Disagree

  • Publish Date: August 10, 2011
  • Comments: ↓ 21 user comments

Critics can't be right all the time. (Please hold your snarky response until the end.) A few months ago, we examined the videogames with the biggest discrepancies between critic scores and the Metacritic user consensus. Today, we do the same thing for movies. The following pages include three lists of movies with the biggest point differential between professional reviewers and our site visitors, beginning with a look at the films rated more highly by critics than by users.

Movies that critics liked much more than Metacritic users

Listed below are films that received positive (and often phenomenal) reviews from professional critics but were liked far less by Metacritic users. Movies are ranked by the difference between critic score and user score (calculated as if the user score were on the same 100-point scale as the critic score—in other words, we multiplied the user scores by 10 first). Films must have at least 15 critic reviews and at least 30 user reviews to be eligible.

1. 35 Shots of Rum (2009) Add to Netflix Queue
Critics: 92 | Users: 6.0 | Difference: 32

"35 Shots of Rum is visual poetry, but poetry that examines the human condition with insight and illumination."

—Steven Rea,
Philadelphia Inquirer

"I don´t mind the silence nor the simplicity of the movie. What bothers me about this movie is [Claire] Denis' total lack of imagination when it comes to depicting the strong bond between father and daughter."

—User DT

2. Sideways (2004) Add to Netflix Queue
Critics: 94 | Users: 6.3 | Difference: 31

"In Sideways, Payne has created four of the most lived-in, indelible characters in recent American movies. This deliciously bittersweet movie makes magic out of the quotidian."

—David Ansen,
Newsweek

"What a letdown. The characters were so totally lacking in appeal I didn't care what happened to them. The 'wine as metaphor for life' was laid on so thick that not a single laugh escaped."

—User christianb.

(tie) 3. Flight of the Red Balloon (2008)Add to Netflix Queue
Critics: 86 | Users: 5.6 | Difference: 30

"The camera is so unobtrusive and the acting so naturalistic that it takes a while for a narrative to emerge. When it finally does, you're surprised to find you're deeply invested in the characters."

—Carina Chocano,
Los Angeles Times

"In a word, Dull. Two hours of watching a frazzled mother, a quiet child and his equally quiet nanny go through their day to day. The most dramatic part of the film is when a tenant who is on screen for all of five minutes is to be evicted. A film for film students, and only them, with it's cracking of the fourth wall and subtle meta commentary."

—User DanB

(tie) 3. Cold Mountain (2003) Add to Netflix Queue
Critics: 73 | Users: 4.3 | Difference: 30

"An exquisitely crafted Civil War epic that combines the epic romantic sweep of "Gone With the Wind" with a more intimate voice that speaks eloquently to the war-weary nation of today. "

—Lou Lumenick,
New York Post

"The most unbelievable, boring and uninspired love story I have seen in a long time. The fact that most of the non-American cast struggled through the entire movie with their laughable southern accents was a source of constant irritation. That, coupled with a far-fetched and silly love story between Kidman and Law, who shared not one drop of chemistry, made this the most disappointing movie of the year."

—User Stef

5. The Queen (2006) Add to Netflix Queue
Critics: 91 | Users: 6.2 | Difference: 29

"The Queen is the kind of thought-provoking, well-written and savvy film that discerning filmgoers long for but rarely get."

—Claudia Puig,
USA Today

"The only reason to see this film is to watch Helen Mirren's performance. Other than that it might just as well have been made for a TV audience."

—User JohnO.

6. Rachel Getting Married (2008) Add to Netflix Queue
Critics: 82 | Users: 5.4 | Difference: 28

"The longer it goes on, the more you're swept up into the jet stream of good feeling. "

—Marc Mohan,
Portland Oregonian

"Some of the most authentic dysfunctional family dynamics and dialogue ever, but also some of the most overlong, pretentious, contrived scenes ever. The wedding was excruciating. Why did we need 8 or 9 different musical groups at a wedding. It was 2 movies, one that worked, and one that looked like a college music dept review."

—User John

(tie) 7. Gosford Park (2001) Add to Netflix Queue
Critics: 90 | Users: 6.3 | Difference: 27

"Gosford Park abounds in scenes to savor. It's a feast, and one of Altman's best."

—Peter Travers,
Rolling Stone

"No character is boring or soulless out of the plethora of them. However, not a single character was exciting and that's exactly what this movie lacked. Afterwards you will have a lot to ruminate on, but getting through a majority of it can be tedious."

—User GaborA.

(tie) 7. Mystic River (2003) Add to Netflix Queue
Critics: 84 | Users: 5.7 | Difference: 27

"Moves along its course and overflows at its climax with that indefinable but unmistakable assurance of a master filmmaker who knows just what he wants to say, is in total command of his medium and is in no mood to make any compromises."

—William Arnold,
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Interesting premise - poor execution. Given it does have some nice cinematography and acting from the main characters, but numerous aspects of the plot seem either irrelevant or poorly executed. The ending is about as subtle as whacking you over the head with the screenplay."

—User RobH.

(tie) 7. Old Joy (2006) Add to Netflix Queue
Critics: 84 | Users: 5.7 | Difference: 27

"A spare, trembling lyric poem of a movie that uses stillness and facial blips the way melodramas use showdowns and action films big bangs."

—Michael Sragow,
Baltimore Sun

"This is the dullest piece of arty nothing to receive such a high rating! Yes the scenery is beautiful, the reunited friends somehow endearing, and the melancholy mood creates a soft tension. All that does not make up for the lack of plot, pacing, and dialogue."

—User JW

10. About Schmidt (2002) Add to Netflix Queue
Critics: 85 | Users: 5.9 | Difference: 26

"A comedy poised on the knife's edge of tragedy, the film is a gutsy, truthful, deeply rooted vision of contemporary American life, scaled to the size of an ordinary man. It's a humanist triumph strip-mined of bathos and confirmation that, after directing just three features, Payne has become the most gifted comic social satirist to hit our movies since Preston Sturges."

—Manohla Dargis,
Los Angeles Times

"Not awful, but not Oscar worthy either. Nicholson was just okay. The characters were rich and the cynicism at times hilarious, but overall, the pace of the film is its fatal flaw."

—User JasonZ.

More Movies Liked by Critics More than Users
Movie Year Metascore User Score Difference
11 Greenberg 2010 76 5.1 25

"Loathsome characters, unfunny dialog, a really jaundiced look at Los Angeles which I'm sure many people who don't live here will think is true. It's not."

—User Catherine

  Open Water 2004 63 3.8 25

"Open Water has no drama at all. It's like watching an ocean-based Before Sunrise (which I also enjoyed, a lot). Too much talking and nothing ever happens."

—User EricG.

13 The Hurt Locker 2009 94 7.0 24

"Please, oh please, stop shaking the camera. I don't mind it in an action scene, but what you guys are doing to films today is making me sick."

—User FrankM.

  Gomorrah 2009 87 6.3 24

"Vastly overrated. Other than the two young hoodlums it is difficult to tell who is who, what they are doing and why."

—User desmondP.

  The Tree of Life 2011 85 6.1 24

"The movie is visually stunning, as promised by the gives-you-shivers trailer. The acting is superb. Brad Pitt is flawless. So why the low score? Well, although all of the separate components of this movie are, in theory, good and sometimes excellent; when combined they become... confusing. I wish Malick had organized the movie a little more logically, so we could all appreciate the beautiful cinematography, the solid acting, and the wonderful story. As it is; it'll leave you frustrated and scratching your head"

— User harlanpepper

  Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World 2003 81 5.7 24

"Nice visuals, good acting, but dramatically flat. The characters hold little interest, as does the very thin storyline. Prepare to glance at your watch several times."

—User JeffS.

  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 2005 75 5.1 24

"Narnia stumbles on many areas, but most of all simply on presentation. Everything is too mundane to be impressive as a fantasy, and too childish to be impressive as a legitimate work of fiction that strives for allegories."

—User BrianF.

18 Lost in Translation 2003 89 6.6 23

"While the film proves once again that Miss Coppola is a brilliant director, it also proves that she falls short when it comes to the task of writing."

—User JacksonP.

  Drag Me to Hell 2009 83 6.0 23

"It's a reflection of the sad state of horror films when B-grade mediocrity is rewarded with critical acclaim. Interesting story but so poorly written and acted that it quickly becomes a yawnfest as you kill time waiting for the inevitable 'twist' at the end."

—User JasonC.

20 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2000 93 7.1 22

"This wasn't a bad film, but as anyone who's watched other martial arts and Chinese cinema knows, it is FAR from the best. The 'revolutionary' fight scenes? Hong Kong directors have been doing that for years!"

—User MatthieuR.

  Winter's Bone 2010 90 6.8 22

"It's not a terrible film, but critics wildly overrated it perhaps due to its gritty realism and honest depiction of its subjects. Only the performances of Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes keep the whole thing from sinking under the weight of its own sense of self importance."

—User BKM

  Hidden (Caché) 2005 83 6.1 22

"Like the main tease of Lemming, another recently overrated French movie, the mystery device covers for the movie's stunted visual imagination and somnolent pacing. Meaning in movies should ultimately arise from the connecting sense of the images, not from social-science textbooks or specious plot-tricks."

—User Stephen

  Broken Flowers 2005 79 5.7 22

"Mediocre at best. Murray has moved way beyond the subtle, introspection of his work in "Lost in Translation" to deadpan, expressionless, non-acting. How did this guy with the personality of a doorhandle attract so many intelligent, quirky women?"

—User JulieR.

On the next page ...

Continue reading for a look at films that our users liked but critics hated.

Comments (21)

  • natedc  

    Rat race has a critic rating 52 but a user rating of 8.8 (111 reviews as of this writing). That's a spread of 35! It is easily the funniest movie I've ever seen and gets funnier the more you watch it.

  • DanBurrito  

    Do you not realise that critics loved T2: Judgement Day, The Green Mile and Fight Club just as much as the users? Just because the average scores you calculated were merely decent doesn't mean that they aren't considered classics by movie fans and critics alike.

  • AndrewUltimate  

    @rixbitz Go on Google Translate.

  • 89iajo  

    Bio-dome has a 60 difference.

  • rixbitz  

    Okay, I get it. No quotation marks. Now that I know that, I can tell you that I agree with the reader who called Gomorrah - and I quote - vastly overrated.

  • rixbitz  

    Just saw "The Flight of the Red Balloon". What's the French equivalent of WTF?

  • BKTan  

    Not dissing this site, but if you check IMDB, only films here that rank above 7.0 are A Walk to Remember, Digimon, Equilibrium and I Am Sam. Most of the rest are below 6.0 and some are even below 5.0 so I think this list isn't exactly really insightful. I think Son of the Mask has a 2.0 average so the people giving it a 7.7 average here are in the extreme.

  • XTrapnel  

    Alas, the fantastic -- and slowly being rediscovered -- Gentleman Broncos amassed only 26 user reviews. Four more and, with a differential of 35, it would have topped the list (unless those four hated it, of course). Seek out this fine film.

  • XTrapnel  

    I expected to be really angry when looking at this list. Good grief, punters are morons! That sort of thing. But the lumpen public have got it right once or twice. Cold Mountain is dire. Mystic River is overheated. The Queen is unspeakably middle-brow. But what on earth is up with the dissing of Master and Commander and Drag Me To Hell? It's not as if either is particularly "difficult". Anybody who hated Hidden should be taken out and shot. Oh, it seems I am annoyed after all.

  • metametareview  

    one of the things that drives this is users are likely more extreme in their reviews---- very high or very low--- i'd be interested to see the distribution of scores for reviewers and users

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