Film critics typically rate films more, well, critically than general audiences do. Occasionally, however, a film is lauded by the professionals but seems to fall flat with the majority of viewers. This can be true of animated family films, action blockbusters, and independent dramas alike. R-rated films, which tend to offer directors more creative leeway than those with more family-friendly ratings, are not immune to being underappreciated by fans despite receiving critical acclaim. (Here are 20 R-rated movies with a perfect critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes.)
To assemble a list of R-rated movies loved by critics but hated by audiences, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on both audience and critical reception according to Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator. R-rated movies were ranked based on the difference between their Rotten Tomatoes audience score and Tomatometer (critics) score. Only movies with at least 500 audience reviews, a Tomatometer score of 75% or higher. and an audience score of less than 50% as of April 2023 were considered. Documentaries were not considered. Cast and director credits are from IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon.
The list features many independent films, like actress Joey Lauren Adams’s moving directorial debut “Come Early Morning,” starring Ashley Judd as a bar regular who has a habit of quietly sneaking out after one-night-stands, and Michael Lichtenstein’s cult classic “Teeth,” about a teenage girl who discovers that she has a mutation that serves as a natural defense against sexual assaults.
Award-winning directors like Kathryn Bigelow, Brian DePalma, Noah Baumbach, Claire Denis, and Steven Soderbergh are on the list, as are actors-turned-directors Jason Bateman and Nick Cassavetes. Horror masters Ti West and Mike Flanagan have also contributed films to the list. In fact, many of the films featured are horror films. (These are the best R-rated movies of all time.)
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