The Best and Worst Movies of 2009

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

CORRECTION: The critic Top 10 list summary table on page 4 has been updated slightly (although the results appear in the same order as before) to correct critic Peter Hartlaub's list, which ran in the incorrect order on the SF Chronicle's website. [1/6/2010]

The Hurt Locker is the best-reviewed movie of 2009

Image
High Scoring Movies by Year
(Minimum 7 Reviews)
2009 The Hurt Locker 94
2008 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days 97
2007 Ratatouille 96
2006 Pan's Labyrinth 98
2005 The Best of Youth 89

Although 2009 may not have had a movie scoring as high as the top films in recent years, the past 12 months in film compare favorably to the prior year. We can see this by looking at the extremes of both years. In 2008, a total of 33 movies surpassed the 81 Metascore threshold to land in "universal acclaim" territory. This year, 37 movies received such acclaim from critics. Similarly, last year, 12 movies fell into truly terrible territory (with a Metascore below 20). This year? Just nine films. Overall, 46% of 2009 releases received generally positive reviews, compared to 42% in 2008.

A limited-release film has earned top honors in three of the past five years, including this year's best-reviewed movie, The Hurt Locker. Kathryn Bigelow's action-packed drama, perhaps the most decorated film of 2009, follows a U.S. Army bomb squad in the middle of the Iraq War. Bigelow is not exactly a prolific filmmaker; Locker is just her first film in seven years, and her previous two entries this decade -- The Weight of Water 45 and K-19: The Widowmaker 58 -- were underwhelming. But in addition to the glowing reviews, her new film has been named the best film of the year by several organizations, and is a sure thing for a Best Picture nomination at this year's Academy Awards.

Over the next few pages, we'll explore the best and worst wide releases and limited releases of 2009, and determine which films are finding their way onto critic Top 10 lists at the end of the year. First, let's look at some of the best overall movies of the year.

High-Scoring 2009 Releases by Category
Category Best-Reviewed Film in Category Metascore
Overall The Hurt Locker 94
Winter Release Gomorrah 87
Winter Wide Release Coraline 80
Spring Release Goodbye Solo 89
Spring Wide Release Adventureland 76
Summer Release The Hurt Locker 94
Summer Wide Release Up 88
Fall Release 35 Shots of Rum 91
Fall Wide Release Zombieland 73
Holiday Release Crazy Heart 84
Holiday Wide Release Avatar 84
Blockbuster (>$100 million box office) Up 88
Action-Adventure Avatar 84
Animated Up 88
Comedy (Wide Release, Live Action) Adventureland 76
Documentary The Beaches of Agnes 86
Drama (Wide Release) Up in the Air 83
Family/Kids (Live Action) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 78
Fantasy Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 78
Foreign Language 35 Shots of Rum 91
Horror Drag Me to Hell 83
Sci-Fi Avatar 84
Suspense/Thriller The Headless Woman 81

For this and all tables in this article, 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.

On the next page, we take a deeper look at the past year's biggest films.

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

Comments (19)

  • surafel  

    what about ign ign gave district 9 movie of the year

  • ‘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 [...]

  • 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!

  • Ben  

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

  • The Best Reviewed Fi  

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

  • richard head  

    omg were is mega shark vs giant octopus?

  • 2010 Movie Preview -  

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

  • 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.....

  • Jack  

    The Hurt Locker gets what it deserves

  • 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

What Our Users Are Talking About

  1. /feature/best-albums-of-2015-at-midyear Image
    The Best Albums of 2015 So Far
    July 2, 2015 - 3 comments
    1. LoRevisor : I think that Muse,album Drones deserves a score better than 65% Read »
    2. LoRevisor : I think that Muse,album Drones deserves a score better than 65% Read »
    3. Snoekie : Why isn't the album The Fade In Time by Sam Lee featured? It scored 89??? Read »
  2. /feature/best-movies-of-2015-at-midyear Image
    The Best (and Worst) Movies of 2015 So Far
    June 30, 2015 - 3 comments
    1. SupahDoges : I just saw Inside Out yesterday and it was a very good film. Made me cry sometimes ;3 Read »
    2. AGN : I haven't seen many of these films but Inside Out easily takes the trophy in my opinion. Read »
    3. stevenjameshyde : Amazed to see Taken 3, Mortdecai and Unfinished Business miss out on the bottom 10; it must have been an abnormally... Read »
  3. /feature/july-2015-movie-preview Image
    Movie Preview: 10 Films to See in July
    June 30, 2015 - 3 comments
    1. askmebingo : Yup, I am looking forward to all of these films (with the possible exception of Ant Man). Read »
    2. LamontRaymond : I'll be seeing most of these as well, but I'm most excited for Amy and The Stanford Prison Experiment (after having... Read »
    3. JoshFriesen : Yup, I am looking forward to all of these films (with the possible exception of Ant Man). Read »
  4. /feature/best-ios-games-april-2015 Image
    10 Best iPhone/iPad Games for April 2015
    April 30, 2015 - 1 comment
    1. faiz2x : See for clash of clans builders hack here Read »