Best-Reviewed Summer Blockbusters by Year Since 1975

by | August 2, 2016 | Comments

When it comes to big summer movies, the opinions of critics and audiences are always out of sync. Right? Not so fast. Using our weighted formula, we at Rotten Tomatoes decided to spotlight the best-reviewed wide releases from each summer since 1975 — the year Jaws kicked off the blockbuster era — and it turns out that many of the big winners with the pundits have become perennial favorites with regular moviegoers as well.

1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s


Chicken Run (2000)

Adjusted Score: 103.126%
Critics Consensus: Chicken Run has all the charm of Nick Park's Wallace & Gromit, and something for everybody. The voice acting is fabulous, the slapstick is brilliant, and the action sequences are spectacular.
Synopsis: A comedy drama set on a Yorkshire chicken farm in 1950s England, the story follows the turbulent romance between Rocky... [More]
Directed By: Peter Lord, Nick Park


Shrek (2001)

Adjusted Score: 94.94%
Critics Consensus: While simultaneously embracing and subverting fairy tales, the irreverent Shrek also manages to tweak Disney's nose, provide a moral message to children, and offer viewers a funny, fast-paced ride.
Synopsis: Once upon a time, in a far away swamp, there lived an ornery ogre named Shrek whose precious solitude is... [More]


About a Boy (2002)

Adjusted Score: 98.217%
Critics Consensus: About a Boy benefits tremendously from Hugh Grant's layered performance, as well as a funny, moving story that tugs at the heartstrings without tilting into treacle.
Synopsis: Will is a 36-year-old underachiever with a fear of commitment that leads him to seek out relationships with single mothers,... [More]
Directed By: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz


Finding Nemo (2003)

Adjusted Score: 106.916%
Critics Consensus: Breathtakingly lovely and grounded by the stellar efforts of a well-chosen cast, Finding Nemo adds another beautifully crafted gem to Pixar's crown.
Synopsis: In this stunning underwater adventure, with memorable characters, humor and heartfelt emotion, Finding Nemo follows the comedic and momentous journey... [More]


Hero (2004)

Adjusted Score: 100.864%
Critics Consensus: With death-defying action sequences and epic historic sweep, Hero offers everything a martial arts fan could ask for.
Synopsis: Hero is two-time Academy Award nominee Zhang Yimou's directorial attempt at exploring the concept of a Chinese hero. During the... [More]
Directed By: Zhang Yimou


Batman Begins (2005)

Adjusted Score: 94.016%
Critics Consensus: Brooding and dark, but also exciting and smart, Batman Begins is a film that understands the essence of one of the definitive superheroes.
Synopsis: The origins of the Caped Crusader of Gotham City are finally brought to the big screen in this new adaptation... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan


The Descent (2006)

Adjusted Score: 92.1%
Critics Consensus: Deft direction and strong performances from its all-female cast guide The Descent, a riveting, claustrophobic horror film.
Synopsis: A group of close female friends on a yearly adventure vacation find themselves trapped and hunted in a series of... [More]
Directed By: Neil Marshall


Ratatouille (2007)

Adjusted Score: 104.594%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced and stunningly animated, Ratatouille adds another delightfully entertaining entry -- and a rather unlikely hero -- to the Pixar canon.
Synopsis: In the hilarious new animated-adventure, Ratatouille, a rat named Remy dreams of becoming a great chef despite his family's wishes... [More]
Directed By: Jan Pinkava, Brad Bird


The Dark Knight (2008)

Adjusted Score: 107.569%
Critics Consensus: Dark, complex, and unforgettable, The Dark Knight succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling crime saga.
Synopsis: Christopher Nolan steps back into the director's chair for this sequel to Batman Begins, which finds the titular superhero coming... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan


Up (2009)

Adjusted Score: 107.96%
Critics Consensus: An exciting, funny, and poignant adventure, Up offers an impeccably crafted story told with wit and arranged with depth, as well as yet another visual Pixar treat.
Synopsis: A feisty septuagenarian teams with a fearless wilderness ranger to do battle with a vicious band of beasts and villains... [More]

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