|Good (Metascore ≥ 61)||245 films|
|Mixed (40-60)||180 films|
|Bad (≤ 39)||86 films|
Most of 2014's very best films—the ones that met or surpassed the 90 mark—played in fewer than 600 theaters, qualifying them as limited releases. This group includes Mike Leigh's biopic about British painter J. M. W. Turner, Mr. Turner, the year's top foreign-language films in the form of Russian drama Leviathan, the Marion Cotillard-starring French drama Two Days, One Night, and Ida, about a Polish nun dealing with the repercussions of WWII, and energy-related documentaries Big Men (about corruption in Africa's oil industry) and The Overnighters (which looks at the local, personal effects of North Dakota's recent shale oil boom).
In fact, foreign-language films and documentaries make up much of our list of 2014's highest-scoring limited releases, much as they do every year. The most notable films not falling into those categories (and not already mentioned) are Damien Chazelle's charged Sundance hit Whiplash, which has been very active on the awards circuit and could be on the verge of major Oscar consideration, and The Babadook (assuming that you don't consider Australian to be a foreign language), the year's highest-scoring horror film.
Nearly 48% of 2014's limited releases received positive reviews from critics. That's better than 2013's success rate of 46%, putting a halt to four straight years of declines in that percentage (though still far below 2009's stellar 58% rate of positive reviews). The increase in the percentage of films with positive reviews is especially noteworthy given that more films are being released than ever before. We tracked 511 limited releases (with at least 7 reviews from critics) in 2014, which was up by nearly 40 compared to the year before, and represented a 90-film increase vs. 2012.
|3||Two Days, One Night||Foreign/Drama||91||8.1|
|8||The Tale of The Princess Kaguya||Animation/Fantasy||89||8.3|
|10||Last Days in Vietnam||Documentary||88||7.8|
|13||We Are the Best!||Foreign/Drama||87||7.8|
|14||Night Will Fall||Documentary||87||n/a|
|19||Stand Clear of the Closing Doors||Drama||86||n/a|
|20||Manuscripts Don't Burn||Foreign/Drama||86||5.0|
|21||Ernest & Célestine||Foreign/Animation||86||7.1|
|22||Tales of the Grim Sleeper||Documentary||86||n/a|
|25||Watchers of the Sky||Documentary||85||n/a|
The past year's worst-reviewed movie, period, was Septic Man, a truly stinky (and not very scary) horror tale about a sewage worker who turns into a mutant. In something of a positive development, however, the truly awful directorial duo of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, who usually stick to spoofs like Date Movie, had one of their "best" releases in the past eight years with their first non-spoof comedy Best Night Ever, which was somehow better than five other limited releases last year.
|3||Atlas Shrugged III: Who Is John Galt?||Drama||9||2.6|
|6||Best Night Ever||Comedy||17||5.7|
|8||Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas||Comedy/Drama||18||1.5|
What are your favorites?
What are your selections for the best and worst movies of last year? Let us know in the comments section below. If you are looking for even more of 2014's best movies, be sure to check out our compilation of nearly 200 film critic top 10 lists as well as our 2014 Film Awards Scorecard.