Golden Tomatoes: The 10 Best Movies for each of the Last 10 Years

RT highlights the best reviewed movie for each year we've been around.

by | July 16, 2008 | Comments

What better way to celebrate RT’s 10th
birthday than with a film retrospective that focuses on the very basis of our
existence? Take a look back, all the way through our
formative years, to see which movies had garnered the best critical responses.
Those of you who have been with us for a while now are already familiar with
our Golden Tomato Awards, and the memory of last year’s winner might
still be fresh on your mind. But between a handful of animated features, a
political satire, and a sentimental turn from a wild comedian, you might find
one or two surprises in our list of each year’s best-reviewed film.

more info…

1998’s Best-Reviewed:
The Truman Show

Media appropriation, voyeurism, ditching our jobs and sailing to Fiji — these
are issues we mull over every day at Rotten Tomatoes. So it’s fitting that The
Truman Show
, Peter Weir’s gentle treatise on pop culture and art, is the movie
to inaugurate the site. The movie stars Jim Carrey as meek Truman Burbank, an
insurance adjustor slowly realizing his hometown a giant set, his life nothing
more than televised pap. But just like everyone else, critics loved tuning in to
The Truman Show: “Adventurous, provocative, even daring,” wrote Kenneth Turan.
And the movie demonstrated Carrey need not resort to falling out of a rhino’s
ass to make the audiences laugh and take home the box office; The Truman Show
has heart, hijinks, and, according to Owen Glieberman, it turns “Carrey…into a
postmodern Capra hero.”

Shakespeare in Love
Saving Private


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1999’s Best-Reviewed:
Toy Story 2

Rarely does a sequel outshine its predecessor, especially when the first
installment has been universally hailed as a triumph; if there is a film for
which this case can be made, however, it’s Toy Story 2. After Pixar wowed
audiences worldwide with its feature-length debut, Toy Story, people wondered
how TS2 would measure up. So how did it fare? “The storytelling is so tight,
urgent and inventive there doesn’t seem to be a wasted moment,” says David Ansen
of Newsweek. “Not only is it just as visually stunning and witty as the first,”
writes Janelle Brown of, “but it’s funnier, more thoughtful and more
grown-up.” With a 100% Fresh rating based on 121 reviews, the continuing
adventure of Woody, Buzz, and their crew of new and old friends is not only the
best reviewed movie of 1999, it’s the best ever featured on RT.


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,

The Iron Giant
The Insider
Chill Factor

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2000’s Best-Reviewed:
Chicken Run

Even we were surprised this is 2000’s best-reviewed movie, beating out tough
competitors like Traffic, You Can Count on Me, High Fidelity, and
Almost Famous.
But then we cleared our heads: why not Chicken Run? It’s fresh, it’s funny, it’s
action-packed, and it’s (as rumor has it) the movie that prompted the Academy to
create the Best Animated Feature Oscar. As a story of chickens planning escape
from a farm coop, critics found nothing to cluck at. “Before our disbelieving
eyes, a pageant of jeopardy, romance and rescue unfolds,” Kenneth Turan said,
while David Ansen agreed: “There is something wonderfully improbable,
anachronistic and quixotic about Chicken Run.”

Best in Show
You Can Count
on Me

Battlefield Earth

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2001’s Best-Reviewed:
Monster’s Inc.

What’s the deal with some vocal weirdos crying foul about Wall-E‘s
environmentalism when Pixar did it seven years earlier with Monster’s Inc? Like
Wall-E, Monster’s Inc. is an odd love story (a father/daughter relationship
between a monster a girl) with sharp commentary on human consumption and moral
corruption (this time, the California energy crisis). And Monster’s Inc. is the
best-reviewed movie of its release year — again, just like Wall-E (though
Dark Knight
is poised to deliver some Tomatometer justice). So remember, Pixar
naysayers, to heed Lisa Alspector’s call: “The analogy to our dependence on,
say, oil is soon abandoned, the better to blur the distinction between abstract
and concrete — something older viewers…may appreciate more than younger


The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
In the Bedroom
Corky Romano

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2002’s Best-Reviewed:

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Ironic, isn’t it? The worst of The Lord of the Rings series is the only one to
claim the best-reviewed title of its release year. Of course, when you’re part of one of the
greatest movie trilogies ever, being worst is a relative term. It simply suffers
from being the middle child: The Two Towers doesn’t have the charming
innocence of the
first nor the sweeping closure of the last, but it’s still full of the epic
grandeur and small character intimacies that distinguishes Peter Jackson’s
movies. As Carrie Rickey puts it, Jackson “is an imaginative filmmaker who can
see the forest for the trees.”

Catch Me If You Can
Spirited Away
for Columbine

Ecks vs. Sever

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2003’s Best-Reviewed:
Finding Nemo

Yep, Pixar strikes again! The unstoppable animation studio scored their fifth
consecutive hit (and highest U.S. grosser to date) with Finding Nemo, the story
of a neurotic clownfish traveling the ocean for his son. “A thing of beauty,”
gushes reviewer of the people Peter Travers, “Hugely entertaining and way cool.”
Finding Nemo was also Pixar’s first effort to leave the Best Animated Feature
ghetto and into more “prestigious” territory with a nomination for Best

The Fog of War
the Friedmans

Worst-Reviewed: Gigli

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2004’s Best-Reviewed:
The Incredibles

Nobody likes a worn-out pun, but sometimes they’re so apt, you can’t resist.
The Incredibles is…really, really good. Like, “Pixar’s best movie” good. An ode to
superheroes that’s also fearless in raising the action stakes in American
animation, critics responded in kind. “Exemplary mixture of top-notch
storytelling, visual razzle-dazzle, accessible humor, and involving action,”
said James Berardinelli. “[Feels] modern and classic at the same time,” cheered
Salon’s Stephanie Zacharek. “The often wry and pointed dialogue reminded me of
the glory days of radio,” wrote Andrew Sarris. Modern and classic sensibilities?
Visual razzle-dazzle combined with radio-reminiscent dialogue? No wonder both
the young and old come out of the woodwork for Pixar.

Runners-Up: Sideways,
Maria Full of

Worst-Reviewed: Twisted

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2005’s Best-Reviewed:

Reflecting back just a few years, one wouldn’t have thought that a small,
independent documentary about a little-known sport could have streaked to the
top of most critical lists. But that’s exactly what happened when Murderball was
released and people began to take notice. A gripping portrayal of competitive
spirit and an insightful look into the lives of the sport’s lively
personalities, Murderball earned wide acclaim and secured its place as the best
reviewed film of 2005. Jean Lowerison of San Diego Metropolitan wrote of it,
Murderball is a sports film, an inspirational piece and a portrait of people
who face unusual challenges.”


Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Good Night, And Good Luck

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Alone in the Dark

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2006’s Best-Reviewed:
The Queen

Not only did Helen Mirren earn herself a slew of top awards, including a Best
Actress Oscar, when she owned the screen as Queen Elizabeth II in 2006’s The
, but the film itself won several awards of its own all across the board.
It was a stunning accomplishment for director Stephen Frears, who utilized
elements of drama, humor, and social commentary to bring audiences a glimpse,
albeit fictional, of royal life in the wake of Princess Diana’s tragic passing.
It’s not surprising, then, to find out that The Queen was the best reviewed film
of 2006, with a 97% Fresh rating based on an impressive 177 reviews. As Michael
Booth of the Denver Post writes, “This imperial mix of wit, humor, and
compassion manages to humanize at once the prickly worlds of royalty, politics,
and popular culture.”

Runners-Up: Pan’s
Casino Royale
The Departed
Basic Instinct 2

more info…

2007’s Best-Reviewed:

Pixar caps a decade of reviews domination with Ratatouille, the studio’s
unusual picture about a kitchen, a rat, and cross-species harmony and
understanding. Production was the most troubled out of all Pixar’s efforts
(original director Jan Pinkava was replaced by animation guru Brad Bird), but
effort was paid off in spades with major box office, a nomination for Best
Screenplay and a win for Best Picture. Pixar takes a cheeky poke at
professional critics with the Anton Ego character, but writers took the joke
in stride: “Ratatouille never overwhelms, even though it’s stocked with
action, romance, historical content, family drama and serious statements about
the creation of art,” praised the San Francisco Chronicle.

No Country
for Old Men
, Once,
The Band’s Visit
Because I Said So