Where once a Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down ruled the world of film criticism, now we have a subtler scale: The Tomatometer. This handy measuring tool from Rotten Tomatoes compiles all the opinions from critics and audiences everywhere, translating them into a simple splat for poor reception or plump fruit for a ripe pick, with additional details and percentages right next to it. So next time you're overwhelmed by options and thinking "I just want to watch something
good", here are 21 movies with near-perfect Rotten Tomatoes scores you can stream immediately.
The Tomatometer isn't perfect. For one thing,
The Atlantic repots that as of 2015, fewer than 20 percent of Rotten Tomatoes critics were women. And critics tend to favor films they relate to, skewing results towards films that mirror who's doing the reviewing. For another, you might notice that the movies on this list mostly fall into two categories: those released in the last five years, or pre-1960s. That's not because there weren't any good films for two decades, but it's an example of unintentional skewing. Newer films haven't had years to tarnish, with public or critical opinion changing and viewing them in another light. Older films have the distance to be judged on their own merit, and the snowballing factor of critical approval — if a film's taught as a "classic", it's likely to be thought of as one by the next generation of reviewers. Whether the newer films will stand the longer test of time remains to be seen, but as of now, these tomatoes are fresh and ready for viewing. 1 'Get Out'
This "comedy" (according to the Golden Globes) makes the assimilation of black culture without the acceptance of black people frighteningly, literally real in Jordan Peele's feature.
Available on HBO Go 2 'The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari'
A highly stylized tale of horror and metaphor for a country at war, the evil Dr. Caligari uses somnambulist Cesare to kill on his behalf, and kidnap young woman Jane. Her fiancé Francis follows Cesare into an asylum, where he begins to learn the truth.
Available on Amazon Prime 3 'The Godfather'
This movie gets referenced frequently in politics, reviews, short stories, and television shows, so we're all familiar with Don Corleone's family troubles, and his young son Michael's slow assumption of the crown.
Available on Netflix 4 'Moonlight'
A gorgeous coming-of-age tale in three stages, following Chiron as he struggles to find his place in the world and come to terms with his sexuality and life.
Available on Amazon Prime 5 'Spotlight'
The Boston Globe's "spotlight" team, a group of investigative journalists, dig into and eventually uncover the widespread, systematic child sexual abuse and cover-ups in Boston's Catholic churches. Available on Netflix 6 'The Big Sick'
Emily and Kumail break up, believing their relationship can't survive the strain of cultural differences. But when Emily falls ill, Kumail's willing to at least try. As he grows closer to Emily's family as she remains in a coma, there's still the matter of breaking the news to his own parents.
Available on Amazon Prime 7 'Nosferatu' (1922)
The granddaddy of all vampire films still has the power to creep you out, as bat-like Count Orlok stalks the land. A prime example of German expressionism, the story was a little
too similar to Dracula — Bram Stoker's widow had nearly all copies of the film destroyed. Lucky for us she missed one. Available on Amazon Prime 8 'Boyhood'
A film about growing up that took the time to actually document the process,
Boyhood was filmed over 11 years. It's an evolving work in progress following the fictional life of Mason as he grows into a young man. Available on Netflix 9 'Sunset Boulevard'
"I am big; it's the
pictures that got small!" Aging star Norma Desmond lives in the bubble of her decaying mansion, until failed screenwriter Joe shows up and gets drawn into her delusion. He's willing to be Norma's kept man for even a small taste of that Hollywood dream, but everything comes at a price. Available on Netflix 10 'Zootopia'
Judy Hopps finds it hard enough being taken seriously as a police officer when you're a rabbit, but when she realizes someone's disappearing the city's larger predators, she teams up with another underdog (a fox con-man, actually), to solve the case.
Available on Netflix 11 'Logan'
Wolverine leaves the X-Men behind for this solo outing, where Logan protects a young mutant from other, vicious mutants who want to use her.
Available on HBO Go 12 'Arrival'
A worldwide encounter with aliens leads a linguist, played by Amy Adams, working on two fronts — figuring out how to communicate with a different species, and figuring out how to communicate with her own, as other countries' squabbles threaten everything.
Available on Amazon Prime and Hulu 13 'La La Land'
This throwback to the charm and chutzpah of '40s musicals won over critics. A road-rage meet-cute between an aspiring actor and musician leads to a relationship that mirrors the highs and lows of Hollywood aspirations.
Available on HBO Go 14 'The Babadook'
A horror movie rooted in the real-life terrors of of loss and unexpected single motherhood only gets more frightening when you add in a menacing storybook character who may or may not be a figment of a stressed mother's resentment towards her own child.
Available on Netflix 15 'Lawrence Of Arabia'
This epic (and at nearly 3.5 hours, it really is
epic) film tells the outlandish sort-of true life story of the British Lieutenant who helped unite the Arabic desert tribes against their mutual Turkish enemies. That may sound dry but for a film set in the desert it's anything but — crammed with amazing performances and capturing the desert's vast beauty, this is one film you'll want to watch on as large a screen as possible. Available on Amazon Prime 16 'The Jungle Book' (2016)
Disney's live-action remake of the story of Mowgli follows the young man raised in the jungle who slowly discovers who and what he really is.
Available on Netflix 17 'The African Queen'
Perfectly combining wartime adventure, jungle terror, and a blooming late-in-life romance. After a missionary village is attacked, lone survivor and uptight marm Katherine Hepburn insists river trawler Humphrey Bogart help her get to the mainland.
Available on Netflix 18 'The 39 Steps'
An early Alfred Hitchcock film, this tense thriller remains the inspiration for pretty much every movie with a chase scene. When a civilian gets caught up in an international conspiracy and mistaken for a spy, he goes on the run, trying to figure out what exactly are the 39 Steps, and how to stop them.
Available on Amazon Prime 19 'It Follows'
A horror movie that neatly inverts the '80s trope of Sex = Death by having the terror pass on to someone else via sexual transmission. Not just any terror, but a shapeshifting
thing that will never stop hunting you down. Available on Netflix 20 'Jaws'
still afraid to go into the water thanks to Spielberg's now-classic story of man vs. nature. Originally there was going to be a lot more shark, but the mechanical creature kept breaking down, proving that the best terror lurks in the imaginations of the audience. Available on Netflix
Whether or not
the "Tomatometer Effect" is real, these films are rated highly for a reason. If for some perverse reason you're curious about the worst of the Tomatometer, that would be the film Ballistics: Ecks vs. Sever at 116 reviews and 0 percent freshness. And if you'd like the worst you can stream, be sure to check out 2002's Pinocchio, 84 reviews and 0 percent freshness, available on Hulu.