Here’s the perfect illustration of how critics and mainstream audiences don’t always coincide. The site Metacritic has posted a list of the top-reviewed films of the past decade, and according to their data, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth is No. 1 with a score of 98. Just below it is the Romanian drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (97). It’s a great list, packed with terrific movies like The Hurt Locker (No. 5), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (No. 9), No Country for Old Men (No. 23) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (No. 42). But with the exception of a few titles — Pixar (duh) and The Lord of the Rings trilogy — the list is pretty slim on massive box office hits. Pan’s, for instance, grossed just $37.6 million. Compare that to the most-seen movie of the decade, The Dark Knight, which got a Metacritic score of 82.
Personally, I’m thrilled that Pan’s gets this honor — it’s definitely one of the best movies I saw in the last 10 years. Still, I had more fun looking over Metacritic’s worst-reviewed list, which is topped off with The Singing Forest, a movie I consider myself lucky for having missed, ’cause it’s about reincarnated lovers killed in the Holocaust. (Think about it: Some exec, somewhere heard that pitch and thought, “That’ll make a great film!”) It gets a pathetic score of 1, while the director, Jorge Ameer, earns the dubious distinction of being responsible for two entries on the list: His 2000 flick Strippers is No. 3, with a score of 5. They’re joined by dreck like Battlefield Earth (No. 15), The Adventures of Pluto Nash (No. 22), Glitter (No. 33), and The Cookout (No. 48).
I’m proud to say that of those 50 bottom-dwellers, I’ve only seen three (four if you count the random snippets of Battlefield Earth I’ve caught on cable over the years). But I should get some kind of badge of honor shame for paying to sit through both Glitter and Strange Wilderness in the theater. (I have my brother to thank for dragging me to the latter. Man, that movie is AWFUL!) Click on over to Metacritic and tell me: How many from each list have you seen? And if you haven’t seen Pan’s, you must see it now! Do not pass go!