The Best Movie of the Year: 'Toy Story 3' or 'The Social Network'?

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With one day left in 2010, the web's two biggest film review aggregators, Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, both released their Best-Reviewed Movies of the Year lists. Not only are the respective rundowns different—the summer animated hit How to Train Your Dragon is a surprise number two on Rotten Tomatoes' list, but does not even appear on Metacritic's—but each site has named a different film the Best-Reviewed of the Year.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, critics liked Toy Story 3 the best, while Metacritic gives the distinction to The Social Network (Toy Story 3 ranks second with them). Neither site is wrong--their rankings are based on different mathematical ratings systems, which, though both accurate, yield different results. Slashfilm's Peter Sciretta breaks it down:

Rotten Tomatoes includes a larger sample of reviews, while Metacritic features a smaller more-selected grouping of film critics. Rotten Tomatoes calculates critic scores using a positive or negative score for each review. One movie could be 100% fresh with all the critics giving the movie a 7/10 grade. Metacritic attempts to gauge the score of each critic's review (not just a positive or negative, but a number 0 to 100) averaged together, giving you a better indication of what the response is to any given film, and not just a percentage of positive reviews.

For example, How To Train Your Dragon is ranked #2 for the year on Rotten Tomatoes with a 98% fresh rating based on 146 reviews. But on Metacritic, Dragon has a 74% average with 33 reviews. Honestly, I like how Metacritic calculates the numbers, but their refusal to incorporate a larger sample of film critics puts them behind Rotten Tomatoes in my mind.


Read the full story at Slashfilm.

For comparison's sake, here's Rotten Tomatoes' Top 15 films (counting only those with a critical mass of 60 reviews):

  • Toy Story 3 - 99% with 247 reviews
  • How to Train Your Dragon - 98% with 156 reviews
  • Exit Through the Gift Shop - 98% with 94 reviews
  • The Social Network - 97% with 258 reviews
  • Restrepo - 97% with 101 reviews
  • Inside Job - 97% with 91 reviews
  • A Prophet (Une Prophete) - 97% with 142 reviews
  • The King's Speech - 96% with 142 reviews
  • Animal Kingdom - 96% with 108 reviews
  • True Grit - 95% with 173 reviews
  • The Town - 94% with 201 reviews
  • The Kids Are All Right - 94% with 192 reviews
  • Winter's Bone - 94% with 142 reviews
  • Blue Valentine - 94% with 64 reviews
  • 127 Hours - 93% with 146 reviews
  • The Tillman Story - 93% with 80 reviews

And here's Metacritic's list (critical mass of 25 reviews required):

  • The Social Network - 95% with 42 reviews
  • Toy Story 3 - 92% with 39 reviews
  • A Prophet - 90% with 30 reviews
  • Winter's Bone - 90% with 38 reviews
  • Inside Job - 88% with 26 reviews
  • The King's Speech - 88% with 41 reviews
  • The Tillman Story - 86% with 28 reviews
  • The Kids Are All Right - 86% with 39 reviews
  • Lebanon - 85% with 28 reviews
  • Exit Through The Gift Shop - 85% with 27 reviews
  • Restrepo - 85% with 33 reviews
  • Animal Kingdom - 83% with 32 reviews
  • 127 Hours - 82% with 37 reviews
  • The Secret In Their Eyes - 81% with 34 reviews
  • Fish Tank - 81% with 31 reivews


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Kevin Fallon is a reporter for the Daily Beast. He's a former entertainment editor at TheWeek.com and former writer and producer for The Atlantic's entertainment channel.

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