The Best and Worst Movies of 2010

  • Publish Date: January 7, 2011
  • Comments: ↓ 54 user comments

The Social Network is the best-reviewed movie of 2010

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High Scoring Movies by Year
(Minimum 7 Reviews)
2010 The Social Network 95
2009 The Hurt Locker 94
2008 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days 97
2007 Ratatouille 96
2006 Pan's Labyrinth 98

For the first time since 2007, a wide-release movie -- one that has played nationwide on hundreds of screens, rather than an independent, foreign, or "arthouse" film -- has captured the title of best-reviewed movie of the year. The Social Network 95, David Fincher's chronicle of the founding of Facebook, is also just the fourth movie since 2000 to achieve a Metascore of 95 or higher.

That high level of acclaim is also manifesting itself on the awards circuit, where The Social Network is dominating the awards and nominations on its way to scoring what is sure to be a large number of Oscar nominations later this month. Unsurprisingly, the film is also turning up on more critics' year-end top 10 lists than any other 2010 release.

However, what was a good year for The Social Network wasn't necessarily a good year for Hollywood as a whole, at least by one measure. In 2010, just 30 films met or exceeded the 81 Metascore threshold that indicates "universal acclaim" from critics. That is well below 2009's total of 37 highly-acclaimed films, and you have to go back to 2006 to find a year with fewer great movies. On the bright side, only three 2010 releases were awful enough to drop below a Metascore of 20; compare that figure with nine terrible films in 2009 and 12 the year before that.

Overall, 45% of 2010 films received positive reviews from critics, a hair shy of the previous year's mark of 46% and a few percentage points short of the decade's best mark, 49%, set in 2007. Yet the average Metascore for all 2010 films ticked up from the year before, from 56.4 to 57.2. If we consider only those films that received a wide release, 26% received positive reviews (the same figure as in 2009), and the average Metascore of all wide release films was 50.2.

Over the next few pages, we'll explore the best and worst wide releases and limited releases of 2010. First, let's look at some of the best overall movies of the year in various categories.

2010's Best-Reviewed Comedies (English-Language, Live Action)
1 2 3 4 5
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The Kids Are All Right Please Give Greenberg Cyrus Easy A
Critics: 86 Critics: 78 Critics: 76 Critics: 74 Critics: 72
2010's Best-Reviewed Dramas (English-Language)
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
The Social Network Winter's Bone The King's Speech Animal Kingdom 127 Hours
Critics: 95 Critics: 90 Critics: 88 Critics: 83 Critics: 82
2010's Best-Reviewed Documentaries
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
Inside Job A Film Unfinished 45365 The Tillman Story Last Train Home
Critics: 88 Critics: 88 Critics: 88 Critics: 86 Critics: 86
2010's Best-Reviewed Foreign-Language Films (Dramatic Films Only)
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
Carlos A Prophet Lebanon Vincere Mademoiselle Chambon
Critics: 94 Critics: 90 Critics: 85 Critics: 85 Critics: 83
2010's Best-Reviewed Animated Films
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
Toy Story 3 The Secret of Kells The Illusionist How to Train Your Dragon Despicable Me
Critics: 92 Critics: 81 Critics: 81 Critics: 74 Critics: 72
Other Top 2010 Releases by Category
Category Best-Reviewed Film in Category Metascore
Overall The Social Network 95
Winter Release A Prophet 90
Winter Wide Release The Ghost Writer 77
Spring Release (tie) Exit Through the Gift Shop and Vincere 85
Spring Wide Release Oceans 75
Summer Release Toy Story 3 92
Summer Wide Release Toy Story 3 92
Fall Release The Social Network 95
Fall Wide Release The Social Network 95
Holiday Release The King's Speech 88
Holiday Wide Release The King's Speech 88
Blockbuster (>$100 million box office) Toy Story 3 92
Action-Adventure Inception 74
Family/Kids (Live Action) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I 65
Fantasy Bluebeard 73
Horror Let Me In 79
Musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench 84
Sci-Fi Inception 74
Western True Grit 80

For this and all tables in this article, only movies with seven or more reviews released between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010 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.

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Comments (54)

  • Chris  

    My top films of the year have to be (in no order)

    Inception
    Machete
    The Kings Speech
    The Town
    Toy Story 3
    True Grit
    Shutter Island
    The American
    Kick Ass Knight and Day

  • Robert  

    Out of the movies I saw in 2010, my favorites were:

    Black Swan
    Let Me In
    Inception
    A Prophet
    Toy Story 3
    Never Let Me Go
    Kick Ass
    Exit Through the Gift Shop
    True Grit
    127 Hours

  • Anonymous  

    Favorite movies:
    TOY STORY 3!!!!!!
    The Social Network
    Inception
    Black Swan

  • Anonymous  

    Favorite movies:
    TOY STORY 3!!!!!!
    The Social Network
    Inception
    Black Swan
    How To Train Your Dragon
    Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
    Tangled
    The Kids are All Right
    The Town
    Note: I have yet to see The King's Speech, The Fighter, 127 Hours, and True Grit, which I know will be on this list once I see them.

  • delduque  

    The King's Speech
    Somewhere
    Os famosos e os duendes da morte (a adorable brazilian picture)

  • Kat  

    My top 10 movies of the year...
    Toy Story 3
    The Social Network
    Let Me In
    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    The King's Speech
    Blue Valentine
    Black Swan
    The Ghost Writer
    How to Train Your Dragon
    The Kids Are All Right

  • Kyle  

    My top 10 (in no particular order) are:
    The Social Network
    Let Me In
    Inception
    The Kids are All Right
    Winter's Bone
    Restrepo
    Black Swan
    True Grit
    Toy Story 3
    The Fighter

    Thanks to sites like Metacritic, I don't think I've seen a bad film released this year. My biggest films still to see are the King's Speech and 127 Hours.

  • Comeback Johnny  

    Movies I enjoyed in 2010:
    Inception
    Get Him to the Greek
    Tron Legacy
    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    Black Swan

  • Will  

    I've never understood why limited releases are almost always better than the widely released ones.

  • john_galactus  

    My top 10 movies of 2010 :
    1. Toy Story 3
    2. Inception
    3. Buried
    4. The Social Network
    5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
    6. Despicable Me
    7. How to Train Your Dragon
    8. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
    9. The Ghost Writer
    10. Kick-Ass

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