Ten Years of Metacritic: The Best (and Worst) Movies of the Decade

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  • Publish Date: December 17, 2009

Our top movies from 2000-09

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Earlier this week, we published our list of the best music of the decade. Now, it's time to do the same for movies.

Our film staff has been collecting reviews for each week's new theatrical releases since the fall of 1999, and, as a result, we have a nearly complete database of films from the past decade: certainly every major release from 2000-09, and virtually all minor releases, including obscure titles that barely made an appearance on the big screen.

As a result, the various lists below represent the best the decade had to offer -- at least in the eyes of top professional film critics. Below, we look at the best and worst overall movies from the past ten years. On the next page, we break down the results by genre, with lists of top comedies, documentaries, blockbusters, comic book adaptations, horror films, musicals, and many other categories.

Our top overall movie: Pan's Labyrinth

ImageThe eyes have it

Guillermo del Toro's gothic fairytale Pan's Labyrinth may not have been the most seen movie of the past ten years (that honor goes to The Dark Knight, which led all films with over $533 million in domestic box office receipts) but it was the one most praised by critics. With a Metascore of 98, it tops our list of best-reviewed movies of the past decade.

What won't you see on the list below? Some of the most commercially successful movies of the decade. Shrek 2 (#2 on the decade's list of top-grossing films, and a Metascore of 75), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (#3 box office, 53), and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (#4 box office, 35) were among many box office successes that didn't score big with critics. In fact, just two of the ten highest-grossing films of the decade appear in the Top 100 list below: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

The Best-Reviewed Movies of the Decade, 2000-09
  Title Year Metascore Users
1Pan's Labyrinth 2006988.3
24 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days 200897 8.0
3Ratatouille 2007968.6
4Spirited Away 2002949.3
5Hurt Locker, The 2009947.6
6Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The 2003948.6
The best-reviewed of all Best Picture winners of the decade
7Sideways 2004946.1
8WALL-E 2008938.9
9Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 200093 7.0
1035 Shots of Rum 2009937.3
11Yi Yi (A One and a Two) 2000928.2
12Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The 2007928.1
13Class, The 2008926.9
14There Will Be Blood 2007927.1
15Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The 2001928.4
16Werckmeister Harmonies 200192 7.0
17Moolaadé 2004917.9
18Fast Runner, The 2002917.8
19Triplets of Belleville, The 2003917.8
20Queen, The 200691 6.0
21Beau Travail 2000917.8
22Waltz with Bashir 2008918.1
23No Country for Old Men 2007916.9
24My Voyage to Italy 200190 7.0
25Bloody Sunday 2002908.4
26Incredibles, The 2004908.7
27Before Sunset 2004908.2
28Almost Famous 2000908.3
29American Splendor 200390 8.0
30Gosford Park 2001906.1
31United 93 2006907.5
32Capturing the Friedmans 2003908.5
33Persepolis 2007908.1
34Lost in Translation 2003896.3
35Best of Youth, The 2005899.1
36Lives of Others, The 200689 9.0
37Still Walking 2009899.1
38House of Flying Daggers 2004897.7
39Man on Wire 2008898.1
40Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan 2006896.9
41Finding Nemo 2003898.5
42Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 2004898.6
43No End in Sight 2007898.2
44Goodbye Solo 2009897.5
45Letters from Iwo Jima 2006898.1
46Once 200788 8.0
47Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The 2002888.9
48Ghost World 2001888.4
49Capote 2005887.9
50Tulpan 2009885.7
51Time Out 2002887.2
52Away from Her 200788 8.0
53Chicken Run 2000887.1
54Up 200988 9.0
55Y Tu Mamá También 2002887.8
56Nobody Knows 200588 9.0
57L'Enfant (The Child) 2006878.4
58Gomorrah 2009876.1
59Fog of War, The 2003878.7
60Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit 2005878.2
61Maria Full of Grace 2004878.4
62Fateless 2006878.4
63Brokeback Mountain 2005878.2
64Tarnation 2004877.3
65Murderball 200587 9.0
66Grizzly Man 2005876.7
67Marooned in Iraq 2003867.3
68Wind Will Carry Us, The 2000868.2
69Slumdog Millionaire 2008867.9
70Million Dollar Baby 2004867.8
71To Be and to Have 200386 10.0
72In the Bedroom 2001867.4
73I'm Going Home 200286 7.0
74Ten 2003868.3
75Russian Ark 2002867.1
76Deliver Us from Evil 2006868.5
77Beaches of Agnes, The 2009868.2
78Traffic 200086 8.0
79Under the Sand 2001868.7
80Talk to Her 2002868.4
81Our Daily Bread 2006867.7
82This Is England 2007867.4
83Son, The 2003867.5
84Sweet Sixteen 2003868.5
85Departed, The 2006867.7
86Ponyo 2009867.6
87Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film 200686 8.0
88Flight of the Red Balloon, The 2008865.5
89Before Night Falls 200085 9.0
90Bourne Ultimatum, The 2007857.7
91Pianist, The 2002858.6
92You Can Count On Me 2000858.5
93Children Underground 2001859.8
94Edge of Heaven, The 2008858.7
95Savages, The 2007857.4
96Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition, The 2001858.2
97Offside 2007858.6
98Los Angeles Plays Itself 2004857.8
99Knocked Up 2007856.4
100Turtles Can Fly 2005859.4

Movies released between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2009 and having 7 or more reviews in Metacritic's database were eligible for the above list as well as all other lists in this report. Re-releases and alternate versions (e.g., director's cuts) are excluded. All Metascore data is from December 16, 2009, and all data on this page will be updated at the end of the year (if necessary) to reflect any late 2009 releases. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). User scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors.

But where are the real movies?

Unless you are a cinema aficionado, you probably noticed something else about the list above: you haven't heard of many of those movies. Indeed, a large portion of that Top 100 is occupied by foreign films and less-publicized art house films -- films that played in few theaters (especially outside of Los Angeles and New York). A full 43% of the films listed above are foreign-language films, and many of those that are in English are obscure gems, like the documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself (which isn't even available on DVD) and the unconventional buddy drama Goodbye Solo.

What if we filtered out those limited release movies, and compiled a list of the Top 100 wide releases from the past ten years? It would look a lot like this ...

The Best-Reviewed Wide-Release Films of the Decade, 2000-09
  Title Year Metascore Users
1Pan's Labyrinth 2006988.3
2Ratatouille 2007968.6
3Spirited Away 2002949.3
4Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The 2003948.6
The first of four films in the Top 100 for director Peter Jackson
5Sideways 2004946.1
6WALL-E 2008938.9
7Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 200093 7.0
8There Will Be Blood 2007927.1
9Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The 2001928.4
10Queen, The 200691 6.0
11No Country for Old Men 2007916.9
12Incredibles, The 2004908.7
13Almost Famous 2000908.3
14Gosford Park 2001906.1
15United 93 2006907.5
16Lost in Translation 2003896.3
17House of Flying Daggers 2004897.7
18Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan 2006896.9
19Finding Nemo 2003898.5
20Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 2004898.6
21Letters from Iwo Jima 2006898.1
22Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The 2002888.9
23Capote 2005887.9
24Chicken Run 2000887.1
25Up 200988 9.0
The decade of Steve Jobs? "Up" is the fifth Pixar movie in the Top 25
26Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit 2005878.2
27Brokeback Mountain 2005878.2
28Slumdog Millionaire 2008867.9
29Million Dollar Baby 2004867.8
30In the Bedroom 2001867.4
31Traffic 200086 8.0
32Departed, The 2006867.7
33Ponyo 2009867.6
34Bourne Ultimatum, The 2007857.7
35Pianist, The 2002858.6
36Knocked Up 2007856.4
37About Schmidt 2002855.4
38Atonement 2007857.2
39Children of Men 2006847.6
40Milk 2008847.4
41Mystic River 2003845.4
42Shrek 2001848.7
43Volver 2006848.8
44Dave Chappelle's Block Party 2006847.3
45Hero 200484 7.0
46Adaptation 2002837.4
47Avatar200983n/a
48Fantastic Mr. Fox 2009838.2
49Star Trek 2009837.9
50Tim Burton's Corpse Bride 200583 7.0
51Up in the Air 2009837.9
52Spider-Man 2 2004837.7
53Drag Me to Hell 2009836.1
54U2 3D 2008837.8
55Kill Bill: Volume 2 2004837.3
56Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street 2007837.4
57Constant Gardener, The 2005826.9
58School of Rock 2003829.3
59Pride & Prejudice 2005828.9
60Chicago 2002827.9
61Michael Clayton 200782 7.0
62Dark Knight, The 2008828.8
The decade's highest-grossing film, with a total domestic take of $533,345,358
63Eastern Promises 2007827.2
64Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 2004816.6
65Mighty Wind, A 2003817.5
66History of Violence, A 2005816.8
67Juno 2007818.5
68Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World 2003815.6
All the good reviews in the world couldn't save this big budget adventure from disappointing at the box office
69Hot Fuzz 2007818.5
70Wrestler, The 2008818.2
71Hours, The 2002818.5
72Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 2005817.8
73Hairspray [2007]2007817.7
74King Kong [2005]200581 7.0
75Casino Royale 2006817.7
76District 9 2009817.9
77Simpsons Movie, The 2007807.2
78Coraline 2009807.8
79Good Night, and Good Luck 2005807.4
80Little Miss Sunshine 2006807.4
81Minority Report 2002807.5
82Frost/Nixon 2008807.5
83March of the Penguins 2005798.2
84Hotel Rwanda 2004798.5
85High Fidelity 2000798.5
86Flags of Our Fathers 200679 7.0
87Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire 2009798.1
88Iron Monkey 2001798.2
89Iron Man 2008798.3
90Monsters, Inc. 2001788.7
9128 Weeks Later... 200778 7.0
92Hellboy II: The Golden Army 2008787.2
93Punch-Drunk Love 200278 6.0
94Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 2009786.6
95Insomnia 2002786.6
96Zodiac 2007787.7
97Kung Fu Hustle 2005788.9
98Aviator, The 2004776.8
99Happy Feet 2006775.8
1008 Mile 2002778.3

And now for something terrible

But enough with all the good movies. Let's get to the important list: the worst films from the past ten years. Just over half of the 50 films below are comedies, although several others might also fall into that category if you have an open mind.

The Worst Movies of the Decade, 2000-09
  Title Year Metascore Users
1Singing Forest, The 200313.1
The next time you make a romance movie, maybe you should skip the Holocaust footage
2Chaos 200532.5
3Strippers 200055.1
Congratulations go out to writer-director Jorge Ameer, for landing two of the bottom three films
4Vulgar 200254.1
5National Lampoon's Gold Diggers 200462.7
6Hottie and the Nottie, The 200872.1
7Screwed 200077.2
8Miss March 200973.9
9Transylmania 200982.7
10State Property 200295.6
11Dirty Love 20059 3.0
12Meet the Spartans 200892.7
13Alone in the Dark 200591.7
14Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 200492.3
We'd call this a "rare misfire" for the director of A Christmas Story and Porky's, but then how do you explain Baby Geniuses 1?
15Battlefield Earth 200092.6
16Whipped 2000105.8
17 Pinocchio [2002] 2002112.3
18Date Movie 2006113.1
193 Strikes 2000114.8
20King's Ransom 2005111.2
21Master of Disguise, The 200212 4.0
Remember when Dana Carvey was funny? It wasn't in this decade
22Adventures of Pluto Nash, The 2002124.9
Ditto for Eddie Murphy
23Slackers 200212 6.0
24Strange Wilderness 2008124.7
25New Best Friend 2002137.2
26Down To You 2000137.7
27Beautiful Life, A 2009133.3
28Freddy Got Fingered 2001136.4
29Fascination 2005135.1
30Daddy Day Camp 2007131.4
31In Crowd, The 2000142.5
32Dungeons & Dragons 2000145.3
33Glitter 2001145.7
34From Justin to Kelly 200314 4.0
It was a dominant decade for "American Idol," but not on the big screen
35Sculptress, The 2000144.5
36Kung Pow!: Enter the Fist 2002148.9
37Rollerball 2002142.5
38Dischord 200314n/a
39What Love Is 2007148.7
40House of the Dead 2003151.6
41College 2008152.5
42Disaster Movie 2008151.4
43Yu-Gi-Oh! 2004155.2
44Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 2000153.3
45Darkness 2004152.9
46In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale 2008158.1
47Tomcats 2001156.2
48Cookout, The 2004155.6
49Kangaroo Jack 2003164.5
50Deuces Wild 2001167.4

On the next page, we return to examining good movies, as we reveal the top films of the decade in over a dozen different genres and categories ...

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

Comments (112)

  • john  

    shouldn't there be Alice in the wonderland?? That is awesome weird movie i would give it a 95-94

  • SOUP  

    NOOOOO AVATAR. THAT MAKES NO SENSE IT WAS MADE IT 2009.

  • Collin  

    it appears as though Wall-E should now be a 94....

  • "The Hobbit&quo  

    [...] of this decade, yup, beating all the LOTRO movies. I think he has potential to do a damn fine job. The Best Movies of the Decade - Metacritic __________________ =Synth= Gaming [...]

  • Nasim  

    what about the asian cinema films like oldboy, my sassy girl, internal offairs. audition and much much more. Plus theres no requiem for a dream & moon (sam rockwell)???

  • A formula for creati  

    [...] movie, so who the hell cares about it. A great example of this is Date Movie, which is listed as one of the worst movies of the decade on MetaCritic. For movie lovers, the studio did us a huge favor with that [...]

  • Lin D.  

    I think Ratatouille was good but I admit that I did get bored after a while. Nemo and WALL-E are definitely better in my opinion. Anyway, Spirited Away owns them all - not that you can compare them directly but still, animation and story-wise it's more complex and enchanting.

    +1 for the Mulholland Drive nagging, I would have loved to see it (high) the list.

  • Chad S.  

    As a film critic wanna-be, I've come to realize that being an actual film critic is not a whole lot of fun. There are weeks where every studio film with a wide release could be a candidate for the worst film of the decade. The only truly great wide release film to come out of a major studio this year was, I think, Sam Raimi's "Drag Me to Hell". The worst film was, without a doubt(and this isn't film snobbery, it's just common sense), "Transformers 2", which brings me back to the point of this blog entry: What is the worst film of the decade? Yes, it's another title from Michael Bay's filmography, and that title is "Bad Boys 2".

  • ray weller  

    No Donnie Darko??!!

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    [...] Ten Years of Metacritic: The Best (and Worst) Movies of the Decade(92) [...]

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