Special Report

Movies With a 100% Rating on Rotten Tomatoes

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Film directors and actors probably always set out to make the perfect movies, but perfection is in the eyes of the viewer.

24/7 Tempo reviewed data from Rotten Tomatoes to determine the movies that earned a 100% rating. We listed films that had a 100% Tomatometer rating as of Jan. 19, 2021. To be included the movies also had to have Certified Fresh status from Rotten Tomatoes and have at least 2,000 user ratings.

The movies on this list vary from masterpieces of the silent era to more recent innovative documentaries and animated feature films. Some of these 44 films with a perfect score have been nominated for an Academy Award, and some have won the prestigious statue.

Many of the movies have not been a commercial success. Hollywood has a long history of producing hugely successful movies that draw audiences to theaters nationwide and even globally, even if critics widely pan the plot, acting, or writing — here are 25 movies critics hate but audiences love.

Several of the movies on this list are highly regarded by critics and film reviewers but are less well known to the general public as they may appeal to a specific group of film aficionados — here are the 40 best movies you have probably never seen.

Click here to see the movies that earned a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Methodology

To determine the movies that earned a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from Rotten Tomatoes. We listed films that had a 100% Tomatometer rating as of Jan. 19, 2021, have Certified Fresh status from Rotten Tomatoes, and have at least 2,000 user ratings. 

The Tomatometer score is the percentage of positive reviews by critics approved by Rotten Tomatoes. Films are Certified Fresh if they have always maintained a Tomatometer score of 75% or higher and have at least five reviews from top tier critics as designated by Rotten Tomatoes. 

Wide release films must also have at least 80 critic reviews to be considered Certified Fresh, and limited release films must have at least 40. 

We only considered feature films, and excluded standup comedy specials and short films. All data was collected on Jan. 19, 2021. The movies on the list are ranked from oldest to newest.

The Kid (1921)
> Audience approval: 95% (15,449 user ratings)
> Starring: Charles Chaplin, Jackie Coogan

Charlie Chaplin acted, directed, and produced “The Kid,” his first full length feature film. A century after its making, the movie is still considered a silent masterpiece. The Tramp (Chaplin) finds an abandoned newborn and takes care of the orphan for five years until his mother reclaims him.

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Battleship Potemkin (1925)
> Audience approval: 86% (18,929 user ratings)
> Starring: Alexander Antonov, Vladimir Barsky

“Battleship Potemkin” tells the story of a battleship’s crew who rise against the brutal officers commanding the vessel and the harsh conditions the sailors are forced to live in. Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus hails the movie as “Soviet cinema at its finest,” adding that “its montage editing techniques remain influential to this day.”

The Gold Rush (1925)
> Audience approval: 93% (20,562 user ratings)
> Starring: Charles Chaplin, Mack Swain

“The Gold Rush” follows the story of a young man’s adventures on his quest to find gold. The film, which was written and directed by Charlie Chaplin who stars in the main role, was nominated for two Oscars. James Agee of Time Magazine describes the film as “a sight for sore eyes, for old-style Chaplin fans and novitiates alike.”

Frankenstein (1931)
> Audience approval: 87% (5,661 user ratings)
> Starring: Colin Clive, Boris Karloff

Mary Shelley’s novel has been the basis for many Hollywood movies. “Frankenstein,” starring Colin Clive in the titular role, is one of the first adaptations of the book and still one of the best. The film follows Dr. Frankenstein, who tries to create life by assembling a human monster out of dead body parts. The legendary Boris Karloff played the monster.

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M (1931)
> Audience approval: 95% (36,195 user ratings)
> Starring: Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann

“M” is a German psychological thriller that follows a serial child killer who is the target not only of the entire Berlin police force but also other criminals. Carrie Rickey of the Philadelphia Inquirer describes the movie as “that rare thing, a nail-biting soul-searcher.”

Top Hat (1935)
> Audience approval: 91% (9,853 user ratings)
> Starring: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers starred in 10 movies together, and some critics call “Top Hat” one of their best. The musicomedy is about mistaken identity and the subsequent fallout. A dancer (Rogers) thinks an entertainer (Astaire) is her friend’s husband. But the husband is actually the entertainer’s business manager. The movie was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture.

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Modern Times (1936)
> Audience approval: 95% (40,262 user ratings)
> Starring: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard

Charlie Chaplin acted, directed, and wrote “Modern Times.” In the movies, Chaplin reprises his iconic Little Tramp role who struggles to adapt to life in an industrial town. A girl orphan tries to help him — when he is not in jail. “Chaplin finally relates his character to the actual world, and rises from funny-man to supreme satirist,” writes Meyer Levin of Esquire Magazine.

Pinocchio (1940)
> Audience approval: 73% (279,440 user ratings)
> Starring: Dick Jones, Dickie Jones

One of three animated movies on this list, “Pinnochio” is “the pinnacle of Disney’s collected works,” according to Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus. The film, which tells the story of a naive and trusting puppet-turned-human, is described by Kate Cameron of New York Daily News as “the most enchanting film ever brought to the screen.”

The Grapes Of Wrath (1940)
> Audience approval: 88% (24,316 user ratings)
> Starring: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell

The movie based on John Steinbeck’s classic novel tells the story of a poor family who lost everything during the Great Depression and is looking for a better life in California. Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus calls the movie “a potent drama that is as socially important today as when it was made.” Otis Ferguson of The New Republic describes the Oscar-winning film as “the most mature picture story that has ever been made.”

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The Philadelphia Story (1940)
> Audience approval: 93% (47,206 user ratings)
> Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant

“The Philadelphia Story” is a fun adventure of self-discovery. The romantic comedy is about a socialite (Katherine Hepburn), her soon-to-be husband (John Howard), her ex-husband (Cary Grant), and a tabloid reporter (James Stewart). The socialie has feelings for all three men and can’t pick her true love.

The Lady Eve (1941)
> Audience approval: 87% (7,557 user ratings)
> Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda

Another romantic comedy on our list, “The Lady Eve” follows a con artist (Barbara Stanwyck) who starts to fall in love with her mark, a socially awkward millionaire (Henry Fonda). “It has a style and wit rarely seen today, while having all the slapstick you could ask for in a screwball comedy,” writes Allen Almachar for The MacGuffin.

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Laura (1944)
> Audience approval: 90% (10,789 user ratings)
> Starring: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews

“Laura” is a “psychologically complex portrait of obsession” but also a “well-crafted murder mystery,” according to Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus. The film tells the story of a detective who investigates a murder and falls in love with the murdered woman. “Laura” is “elegance incarnate in a genre known for its hard edge, the sleekest, silkiest noir of all,” writes Sean Alexander of Seanax.com.

Open City (1945)
> Audience approval: 92% (6,247 user ratings)
> Starring: Vito Annicchiarico, Anna Magnani

The story in “Open City” takes place in Rome in 1944 during the Nazi occupation of the city. The movie follows one of the Resistance’s leaders who tries to escape from the Nazis. “Open City” was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Writing, Screenplay category.

The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948)
> Audience approval: 93% (26,136 user ratings)
> Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt

“The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre” is a Western that tells the story of three men — two wanderers and a prosecutor — who search for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains. The film was nominated for four Oscars and won three, for Best Actor in Supporting Role (Walter Huston, the prosecutor), for Best Director, and for Best Writing, Screenplay.

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Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949)
> Audience approval: 94% (9,145 user ratings)
> Starring: Dennis Price, Alec Guinness

Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus calls “Kind Heart and Coronets” a “triumphant farce.” The film is a comedy about a man who plans to murder the eight people standing ahead of him to inherit the fortune of the family his mother married into but from which he was cut off.

The Wages Of Fear (1953)
> Audience approval: 95% (8,738 user ratings)
> Starring: Yves Montand, Charles Vanel

“The Wages of Fear” is a thriller that follows four people — two sets of drivers — who transport urgently needed nitroglycerine to a South American remote oil field in the jungle. “This is filmmaking at its very best and rarely does a film grip with such intensity,” writes Robert Martin of Starburst.

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Tokyo Story (1953)
> Audience approval: 93% (11,760 user ratings)
> Starring: Chishu Ryu, Chieko Higashiyama

Japanese drama “Tokyo Story” follows an old married couple as they visit their children, who lead very busy lives and who don’t set much time aside to spend with their parents. “This remains one of the most approachable and moving of all cinema’s masterpieces,” according to Wally Hammond of Time Out.

12 Angry Men (1957)
> Audience approval: 97% (105,443 user ratings)
> Starring: Martin Balsam, John Fiedler

After the closing arguments in a murder trial, the jury must decide whether to sentence a teenager to death. Reaching a unanimous decision proves to be very difficult, especially when one of the 12 jurors casts doubt on the case. The movie was nominated for three Oscars — Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Writing, Screenplays Based on Material from Another Medium.

The 400 Blows (1959)
> Audience approval: 94% (38,771 user ratings)
> Starring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Patrick Auffay

Oscar-nominated French drama “The 400 Blows” is the story of a neglected boy living in Paris who is trying to make his life better by committing petty crimes but runs into trouble with the police. “It’s a cornerstone of the French New Wave, and one of the greatest movies about childhood, from anywhere, ever,” according to Anthony Quinn of the Independent (UK).

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Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)
> Audience approval: 86% (6,978 user ratings)
> Starring: Anne Wiazemsky, François Lafarge

Canadian drama “Au Hasard Balthazar” follows a young woman and her donkey, her favorite companion as a little girl, and their encounters as they navigate life on their own. The film “uses one animal’s lifelong journey to trace a soberly compelling — and ultimately heartbreaking — outline of the human experience,” according to Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus.

Cool Hand Luke (1967)
> Audience approval: 95% (63,718 user ratings)
> Starring: Paul Newman, George Kennedy

The film tells the story of a petty criminal (Paul Newman) who refuses to conform to life in the prison farm he is supposed to work. Newman was nominated for Best Actor for his performance as Luke, and George Kennedy won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Dragline, a man who grows to respect the anti-hero Luke.

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The Last Picture Show (1971)
> Audience approval: 90% (14,157 user ratings)
> Starring: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges

“The Last Picture Show” is about a group of high school students coming of age in a dying small Texas town. The movie was nominated for eight Oscars (including Jeff Bridge’s first ever Academy Award nomination) and won two — for best supporting actor and actress.

Stalker (1979)
> Audience approval: 93% (25,361 user ratings)
> Starring: Alexander Kaidanovsky, Alisa Freindlikh

Russian sci-fi drama “Stalker” follows an illegal guide of a post-apocalyptic wasteland who escorts two men in their search for a room that grants wishes. The film is a “complex, oblique parable that draws unforgettable images and philosophical musings,” according to Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus.

Stop Making Sense (1984)
> Audience approval: 97% (7,277 user ratings)
> Starring: Bernie Worrell, Alex Weir

“Stop Making Sense” is a concert movie — the only movie of this kind on our list — of the rock band Talking Heads. According to Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times, what sets the movie apart is “the intimate look at that brilliant talking head, lead singer David Byrne.”

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Tampopo (1985)
> Audience approval: 93% (9,206 user ratings)
> Starring: Nobuko Miyamoto, Tsutomu Yamazaki

“Tampopo” is a Japanese comedy not just about how two men teach a restaurant owner how to cook noodles but also about people’s relationship to and love of food. The movie is described as a “biting satire of Japanese culture and its uneasy incorporation of Western influences,” according to Serena Donadoni of Village Voice.

Grave Of The Fireflies (1988)
> Audience approval: 95% (68,977 user ratings)
> Starring: J. Robert Spencer, Tsutomu Tatsumi

“Grave Of The Fireflies” is a Japanese animated war movie that follows a teenage boy taking care of his little sister after a U.S. bombing of their house during the final months of World War II separates them from their parents. Glenn Kenny of The New York Times has described the film as “one of the most startling and moving animated films ever.”

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Searching For Bobby Fischer (1993)
> Audience approval: 86% (22,656 user ratings)
> Starring: Max Pomeranc, Joe Mantegna

“Searching For Bobby Fischer,” which is based on a true story, follows 7-year-old chess prodigy Joshua Waitzkin who doesn’t want his talent to consume his life. The movie “uses a prodigy’s struggle to find personal balance as the background for a powerfully moving drama,” according to Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus.

Three Colors: Red (1994)
> Audience approval: 95% (35,585 user ratings)
> Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Irène Jacob

“Three Colors: Red” is the last installment of the Three Colors trilogy directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski. In “Red,” a model forms a bond with a retired judge who is invading people’s privacy by listening in on their phone conversations. The film earned Kieślowski’s two Oscar nominations — for best directing and best writing.

Before Sunrise (1995)
> Audience approval: 93% (73,566 user ratings)
> Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy

“Before Sunrise” is the first of three romantic dramas — all of which are critically acclaimed — about two people with strong feelings for each other who spend just a day together before having to go their separate ways. The film offers “an intelligent, unabashedly romantic look at modern love,” according to Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus.

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Deliver Us From Evil (2006)
> Audience approval: 89% (19,398 user ratings)
> Starring: Bob Jyono, Ann Jyono

“Deliver Us From Evil” is a documentary about a Catholic priest whose crimes of molesting children in the 1970s have been covered up by his superiors and the Catholic Church. The movie, which includes interviews with the priest, has been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Documentary, Features category. Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus calls the documentary “a searing look at an institution protecting its leaders at the expense of its followers.”

Taxi To The Dark Side (2007)
> Audience approval: 90% (7,425 user ratings)
> Starring: Moazzam Begg, Willie Brand

One of 10 documentaries on this list, Oscar-winning “Taxi to the Dark Side” exposes the torture practices used by the U.S. military during the Afghanistan War. The movie is an “intelligent, powerful look into the dark corners of the War on Terror,” according to Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus.

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Man On Wire (2008)
> Audience approval: 87% (30,134 user ratings)
> Starring: Philippe Petit, Alan Welner

“Man On Wire” is an Oscar-winning documentary about tightrope walker Philippe Petit who illegally walked on a high rope between the Twin Towers of New York City’s World Trade Center in 1974. Using real footage and reenactments, the movie shows the meticulous planning behind the so-called “artistic crime of the century.”

Afghan Star (2009)
> Audience approval: 77% (7,885 user ratings)
> Starring: Rafi Nabzaada, Rafi Naabzada

“Afghan Star” takes a look at the risks two female contestants on the popular program “Pop Idol” in Afghanistan — the local version of American Idol — take, including to their lives, to compete on the show. Marc Savlov of Austin Chronicle calls the documentary “one of the more surreal docs to come down the pike in some time.”

Temple Grandin (2010)
> Audience approval: 94% (5,279 user ratings)
> Starring: Claire Danes, Julia Ormond

“Temple Grandin” is a biopic about a woman on the autism spectrum who becomes among the most respected scientists in the field of animal care, advocating for humane slaughtering practices. Claire Danes won her second Golden Globe for her performance of the titular role. The movie “serves as an important reminder that people with autism spectrum disorders are individuals rather than collections of tics,” according to Alyssa Rosenberg of The Atlantic.

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Waste Land (2010)
> Audience approval: 90% (8,036 user ratings)
> Starring: Vik Muniz, Fabio Ghivelder

Oscar-nominated documentary “Waste Land” follows several people who go through the garbage in Jardim Gramacho — the world’s largest landfill, outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — and create art from the pieces they pick up. Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus calls the film an “uplifting portrait of the power of art and the dignity of the human spirit.”

More Than Honey (2013)
> Audience approval: 79% (2,443 user ratings)
> Starring: Fred Jaggi, Liane Singer

“More Than Honey” takes an in-depth look at the world’s declining bee population and the potential consequences on life as we know it. “For patient science-minded kids and adults, it should find the sweet spot between environmental advocacy and visual pleasure,” writes Liam Lacey of the Globe and Mail.

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Sound City (2013)
> Audience approval: 90% (6,917 user ratings)
> Starring: Dave Grohl, Joe Barresi

Directed by Dave Grohl, the frontman of Foo Fighters and former drummer for Nirvana, “Sound City” is about the recording studio of the same name in Van Nuys, California, told through various artists and producers. “In Sound City, a raucous yet sweetly romantic documentary, dinosaurs do indeed rock the Earth again,” writes Michael O’Sullivan of The Washington Post.

The Square (2013)
> Audience approval: 90% (6,140 user ratings)
> Starring: Khalid Abdalla, Ahmed Hassan

Oscar-nominated “The Square” is a documentary about the power of people to bring political change. The film depicts the Egyptian Revolution that started in 2011 at Tahrir Square and the harsh day-to-day realities revolutionaries faced in its aftermath. “The camera becomes a revolutionary: running, chasing, breathlessly jittery, up in the face of interrogators,” writes Moira MacDonald of the Seattle Times.

Ilo Ilo (2013)
> Audience approval: 78% (3,586 user ratings)
> Starring: Angeli Bayani, Koh Jia Ler

“Ilo Ilo” follows a family during the Asian recession of the late 1990s. As the overstressed parents are working, a nanny takes care of their son and the two form a close bond. The film’s Chinese title translates to “Mom and Dad Are Not Home.” The movie won the Caméra d’Or award,, the first Singaporean feature film to win an award at the Cannes Film Festival.

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The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya (2014)
> Audience approval: 90% (13,997 user ratings)
> Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Mary Steenburgen

“The tale of Princess Kaguya” — directed and written by Isao Takahata (“Grave of the Fireflies,” which is also on this list) — is the story of a miniature girl who, as she grows to become a beautiful young woman, enthralls everyone around her and tasks her potential suitors with almost impossible jobs. The movie was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Animated Feature Film category.

GETT: The Trial Of Viviane Amsalem (2014)
> Audience approval: 81% (4,824 user ratings)
> Starring: Ronit Elkabetz, Menashe Noy

“GETT: The Trial Of Viviane Amsalem” tells the story of a woman’s three-year-long struggle to get a divorce from her devout Jewish husband. The Israeli drama was nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Foreign Feature Film category. Joel Mayward of Cinemayard describes the film as “heart-warming, painful, saddening, tense, contemplative, and cathartic.”

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Seymour: An Introduction (2015)
> Audience approval: 78% (5,295 user ratings)
> Starring: Seymour Bernstein, Kimball Gallagher

Directed by Ethan Hawke (“Training Day”), “Seymour: An Introduction” documents the career and life of legendary classical pianist Seymour Bernstein who retired from performing to teach. Dan Scully of Cinema76 compares watching the movie to “receiving a motivational speech from someone who is not just the best at what they do, but also the best person they can possible be.”

Leave No Trace (2018)
> Audience approval: 81% (4,857 user ratings)
> Starring: Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie

“Leave No Trace” follows a veteran father who suffers from PTSD and his young daughter living a seemingly perfect and isolated life near Portland, Oregon, until a small mistake changes their lives forever. “Leave No Trace, in the biggest of ironies, leaves the greatest of traces upon us,” writes Robert Daniels of 812filmreviews.

Paddington 2 (2018)
> Audience approval: 88% (8,201 user ratings)
> Starring: Hugh Grant, Ben Whishaw

British live-action comedy “Paddington 2” tells the story of the sweet-natured bear Paddington, now happily settled in the community, who embarks on an adventure to retrieve the gift he picked for his aunt’s 100th birthday. “The thing about the Paddington movies is that they are perfect,” according to Karen Han of Polygon.

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