Wide releases: The best
|Good (Metascore ≥ 61)||46 films|
|Mixed (40-60)||58 films|
|Bad (≤ 39)||40 films|
|2014 Average Metascore||51.5|
|vs. 2013 average||52.4|
Despite Boyhood's record-setting 100 score, the average Metascore for films in wide release declined for the second consecutive year, but the news wasn't all bad in 2014. The percentage of films receiving positive reviews (a score of 61 or higher) last year actually increased to nearly 32% (from less than 31% in 2013).
However, only six different wide releases met or exceeded the 81 cutoff denoting "universal acclaim" from critics in 2014, well below 2013's total of 10 great films. Just two of those films scored 90 or higher last year, compared to five such films in 2013 (though that mark was a record for a single year). And one of those two films, the civil rights drama Selma, wasn't technically a wide release in 2014, though it expands nationwide this Friday. (Its Metascore, however, could conceivably drop below the 90 mark when critics in additional cities review the film.)
This was the second year in a row that director Richard Linklater has cracked the top three, by the way. His 2013 release Before Midnight finished third that year.
When was the best time to catch a good movie at the cineplex? Unsurprisingly, 21 of the year's 46 positively reviewed wide releases (over 45%) arrived after Labor Day, while the next-biggest chunk (16, or almost 35%) were summer releases..
|3||Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)||Dramedy||89||7.9|
|4||The Grand Budapest Hotel||Dramedy||88||8.3|
|5||The LEGO Movie||Animation||83||8.2|
|8||Dawn of the Planet of the Apes||Sci-fi/Action||79||8.2|
|9||How to Train Your Dragon 2||Animation||76||8.4|
|11||Guardians of the Galaxy||Sci-fi/Action||76||8.6|
|13||X-Men: Days of Future Past||Sci-fi/Action||74||8.3|
|14||American Sniper *||Action/Drama||74||8.2|
|16||Big Hero 6||Animation||74||8.0|
|17||A Most Wanted Man||Thriller||73||7.1|
|18||Beyond the Lights||Drama||73||7.4|
|19||The Imitation Game||Drama||72||8.5|
|20||The Theory of Everything||Drama||72||7.1|
|21||The Raid 2||Action||71||8.6|
|22||22 Jump Street||Action/Comedy||71||7.3|
|23||Edge of Tomorrow||Sci-fi/Action||71||8.4|
|24||Get On Up||Drama||71||6.5|
|25||Captain America: The Winter Soldier||Sci-fi/Action||70||8.2|
Wide releases: The worst
The worst-reviewed nationwide release of 2014 is Persecuted, a Christian-themed thriller starring Dexter's James Remar. In fact, the two lowest-scoring films (including a remake of the apocalyptic thriller Left Behind starring bottom-10 regular Nicolas Cage) each had a religious bent, while the third-lowest (Dinesh D'Souza's political "documentary" America: Imagine a World Without Her) was, like Persecuted, also designed to appeal to a right-wing audience. Our bottom-10 list does not include an Adam Sandler film this year, though he just missed—twice—with Blended and Men, Women & Children, while his next feature The Cobbler picked up a few lousy reviews on the festival circuit in the fall but won't hit theaters until 2015.
|4||A Haunted House 2||Horror/Comedy||17||3.7|
|5||The Legend of Hercules||Action/Fantasy||22||2.0|
|7||Moms' Night Out||Comedy||25||5.1|
|8||Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return||Animation||25||5.6|
|10||No Good Deed||Thriller||26||3.9|
On the next page, we reveal the best and worst limited release films of the past year, including many of the year's best documentaries and foreign films as well as some additional Oscar best picture contenders.