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Best-Reviewed Summer Blockbusters by Year Since 1975

by | August 2, 2016 | Comments

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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

#2000

Chicken Run (2000)
97%

#2000
Adjusted Score: 103371%
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: This engaging stop-motion, claymation adventure tells the story of an American rooster who falls in love with a gorgeous hen... [More]
Directed By: Peter Lord, Nick Park

#2001

Shrek (2001)
88%

#2001
Adjusted Score: 96644%
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 ogre named Shrek (Mike Myers) whose precious solitude... [More]

#2002

About a Boy (2002)
93%

#2002
Adjusted Score: 98321%
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: A comedy-drama starring Hugh Grant as Will, a rich, child-free and irresponsible Londoner in his thirties who, in search of... [More]
Directed By: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz

#2003

Finding Nemo (2003)
99%

#2003
Adjusted Score: 109304%
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: Marlin (Albert Brooks), a clown fish, is overly cautious with his son, Nemo (Alexander Gould), who has a foreshortened fin.... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Stanton

#2004

Hero (2002)
94%

#2004
Adjusted Score: 102653%
Critics Consensus: With death-defying action sequences and epic historic sweep, Hero offers everything a martial arts fan could ask for.
Synopsis: In this visually arresting martial arts epic set in ancient China, an unnamed fighter (Jet Li) is being honored for... [More]
Directed By: Zhang Yimou

#2005

Batman Begins (2005)
84%

#2005
Adjusted Score: 96876%
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: A young Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) travels to the Far East, where he's trained in the martial arts by Henri... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#2006

The Descent (2005)
86%

#2006
Adjusted Score: 94133%
Critics Consensus: Deft direction and strong performances from its all-female cast guide The Descent, a riveting, claustrophobic horror film.
Synopsis: A year after a severe emotional trauma, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) goes to North Carolina to spend some time exploring caves... [More]
Directed By: Neil Marshall

#2007

Ratatouille (2007)
96%

#2007
Adjusted Score: 106577%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced and stunningly animated, Ratatouille adds another delightfully entertaining entry -- and a rather unlikely hero -- to the Pixar canon.
Synopsis: Remy (Patton Oswalt), a resident of Paris, appreciates good food and has quite a sophisticated palate. He would love to... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird

#2008

The Dark Knight (2008)
94%

#2008
Adjusted Score: 108252%
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: With the help of allies Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman (Christian Bale) has... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#2009

Up (2009)
98%

#2009
Adjusted Score: 110089%
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: Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner), a 78-year-old balloon salesman, is about to fulfill a lifelong dream. Tying thousands of balloons to... [More]
Directed By: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson

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