The 99% Club: An Ode to the Almost-Perfect Movie
The 99% Club: You’ll find it, way past 98% on the Tomatometer, but just before 100%. Inside, a coterie of cinema’s practically-finest, movies promising an experience beyond most others – movies that are almost perfect. These are the ones to warm hearts, stir the soul, call forth eruptions of laughter, and rattle your bones. To anyone who approaches to see and hear their stories, they will enthrall the audience…save the stray naysayer or two, of course.
Its members are fleeting; membership comes with no lifetime guarantee. Any additional Rotten reviews could toss the movie from the 99% Club and into the gutter that is a 98% score, to associate with the likes of Wizard of Oz and The Godfather.
You’ll notice most in the 99% Club are from this century. Movies may or may not be getting better, but they are getting reviewed more. When a work generates nearly 400 critics’ appraisals, its Tomatometer score can better endure Rotten reviews and sustain its 99% score. Classic films, by dint of having fewer reviews in written existence, can have their scores torpedoed by a single Rotten remark.
The 99% Club: On the cusp of triple-digit Valhalla. Come join in their almost-perfection. —Alex Vo
Adjusted Score: 121199%
Critics Consensus: Lady Bird delivers fresh insights about the turmoil of adolescence -- and reveals writer-director Greta Gerwig as a fully formed filmmaking talent.
A teenager (Saoirse Ronan) navigates a loving but turbulent relationship with her strong-willed mother (Laurie Metcalf) over the course of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 116994%
Critics Consensus: Eighth Grade takes a look at its titular time period that offers a rare and resounding ring of truth while heralding breakthroughs for writer-director Bo Burnham and captivating star Elsie Fisher.
Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 114031%
Critics Consensus: Fueled by a gripping performance from David Oyelowo, Selma draws inspiration and dramatic power from the life and death of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- but doesn't ignore how far we remain from the ideals his work embodied.
Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it... [More]
Adjusted Score: 108652%
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.
Marlin (Albert Brooks), a clown fish, is overly cautious with his son, Nemo (Alexander Gould), who has a foreshortened fin.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 112673%
Critics Consensus: Paddington 2 honors its star's rich legacy with a sweet-natured sequel whose adorable visuals are matched by a story perfectly balanced between heartwarming family fare and purely enjoyable all-ages adventure.
Settled in with the Brown family, Paddington the bear is a popular member of the community who spreads joy and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 112556%
Critics Consensus: Powerfully acted and directed, Never Rarely Sometimes Always reaffirms writer-director Eliza Hittman as a filmmaker of uncommon sensitivity and grace.
Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn and her cousin, Skylar, travel across state lines... [More]
Adjusted Score: 111343%
Critics Consensus: Understated yet ultimately deeply affecting, Shoplifters adds another powerful chapter to director Hirokazu Koreeda's richly humanistic filmography.
On the margins of Tokyo, a dysfunctional band of outsiders is united by fierce loyalty and a penchant for petty... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107501%
Critics Consensus: Boasting dazzling animation, a script with surprising dramatic depth, and thrilling 3-D sequences, How to Train Your Dragon soars.
Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is a Norse teenager from the island of Berk, where fighting dragons is a way of life.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 108893%
Critics Consensus: I Am Not Your Negro offers an incendiary snapshot of James Baldwin's crucial observations on American race relations -- and a sobering reminder of how far we've yet to go.
In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, "Remember This House." The book... [More]
Adjusted Score: 108651%
Critics Consensus: Edifying and inspiring in equal measure, Apollo 11 uses artfully repurposed archival footage to send audiences soaring back to a pivotal time in American history.
Never-before-seen footage and audio recordings take you straight into the heart of NASA's most celebrated mission as astronauts Neil Armstrong,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105883%
Critics Consensus: Morally complex, suspenseful, and consistently involving, A Separation captures the messiness of a dissolving relationship with keen insight and searing intensity.
When Nader (Payman Maadi), a bank employee, refuses to leave Tehran, his wife, Simin (Leila Hatami) sues for divorce in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106876%
Critics Consensus: Warm, funny, and brilliantly animated, Shaun the Sheep is yet another stop-motion jewel in Aardman's family-friendly crown.
All is well at Mossy Bottom Farm, except for the fact that the animals will do anything to get out... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107079%
Critics Consensus: A tough but rewarding watch, Happening puts a personal face on an impossibly difficult choice and its heart-rending aftermath.
France, 1963. Anne is a bright young student with a promising future ahead of her. But when she falls pregnant,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 110593%
Critics Consensus: Taut pacing, brilliantly dense writing and Oscar-worthy acting combine to produce a smart, popcorn-friendly thrill ride.
Three policemen, each with his own motives and obsessions, tackle the corruption surrounding an unsolved murder at a downtown Los... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107381%
Critics Consensus: Brilliantly capturing a remarkable performer near the peak of her prodigious power, Amazing Grace is a thrilling must-watch documentary for Aretha Franklin fans.
Singer Aretha Franklin performs gospel songs at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107206%
Critics Consensus: Ash Is Purest White finds writer-director Zhangke Jia revisiting familiar themes while continuing to observe modern Chinese society with an urgent, empathetic eye.
In an industrial city in China, a young dancer named Qiao falls in love with a mobster named Bin. When... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107089%
Critics Consensus: An impressive technical achievement with a walloping emotional impact, They Shall Not Grow Old pays brilliant cinematic tribute to the sacrifice of a generation.
Using state-of-the-art technology and materials from the BBC and Imperial War Museum, filmmaker Peter Jackson allows the story of World... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107120%
Critics Consensus: Like a pageant winner walking across the stage, Miss Juneteenth follows a familiar path -- but does so with charm and grace.
A former beauty queen and single mom prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the "Miss Juneteenth" pageant.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105635%
Critics Consensus: A union to cherish between a writer-director and star working at peak power, Things to Come offers quietly profound observations on life, love, and the irrevocable passage of time.
A passionate middle-aged philosophy professor (Isabelle Huppert) rethinks her already much-examined life after an unforeseen divorce.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106351%
Critics Consensus: Equal parts breezily charming and poignantly powerful, Faces Places is a unique cross-generational portrait of life in rural France from the great Agnès Varda.
Director Agnès Varda and photographer and muralist JR journey through rural France and form an unlikely friendship.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104973%
Critics Consensus: My Life as a Zucchini's silly title and adorable characters belie a sober story whose colorful visuals delight the senses even as it braves dark emotional depths.
A police officer (Nick Offerman) and some new friends help an orphan adjust to life at a foster home.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 120763%
Critics Consensus: An undisputed masterpiece and perhaps Hollywood's quintessential statement on love and romance, Casablanca has only improved with age, boasting career-defining performances from Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), who owns a nightclub in Casablanca, discovers his old flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) is in town... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104433%
Critics Consensus: Rich, insightful, and occasionally heartbreaking, 20 Feet From Stardom is an energetic tribute to the passion, talent, and hard work of backup singers.
Filmmaker Morgan Neville shines a long-overdue spotlight on the hit-making contributions of longtime backup singers like Darlene Love and Merry... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105400%
Critics Consensus: McQueen offers an intimate, well-sourced, and overall moving look at a young life and brilliant career that were tragically cut short.
Archival footage and interviews with friends and family offer insight into the extraordinary life and career of British fashion designer... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104242%
Critics Consensus: Transgressive in the best possible way, Wadjda presents a startlingly assured new voice from a corner of the globe where cinema has been all but silenced.
A rebellious Saudi girl (Waad Mohammed) enters a Koran recitation competition at her school and hopes to win enough money... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103834%
Critics Consensus: Smart, hard-hitting, and queasily realistic, Starred Up is an instant classic of U.K. prison cinema.
An explosive teenager runs into his equally violent father after being switched to an adult prison from a facility for... [More]
Adjusted Score: 115610%
Critics Consensus: Smart, sophisticated, and devastatingly funny, All About Eve is a Hollywood classic that only improves with age.
Backstage story revolving around aspiring actress Eve Harrington. Tattered and forlorn, Eve shows up in the dressing room of Broadway... [More]
Adjusted Score: 113363%
Critics Consensus: With his electrifying performance in Elia Kazan's thought-provoking, expertly constructed melodrama, Marlon Brando redefined the possibilities of acting for film and helped permanently alter the cinematic landscape.
Dockworker Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) had been an up-and-coming boxer until powerful local mob boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103548%
Critics Consensus: Fresh and inventive yet immediately accessible, Cameraperson distills its subject's life and career into an experience that should prove immediately absorbing even for those unfamiliar with her work.
Cinematographer Kirsten Johnson exposes her many years behind the camera through a memoir made up of decades of footage shot... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103991%
Critics Consensus: A galvanizing glimpse behind the scenes of a pivotal election, Knock Down the House should prove engrossing for viewers of all political persuasions.
A young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner's daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada, and a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103769%
Critics Consensus: Saint Frances approaches an array of weighty issues with empathy, humor, and grace -- and marks star and writer Kelly O'Sullivan as a tremendous talent to watch.
After an abortion, a deadbeat nanny finds friendship with the 6-year-old she's hired to watch.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103090%
Critics Consensus: Tower probes into a painful chapter of American history with sensitivity and grace -- and revisits its events from a valuable new perspective.
On Aug. 1, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102317%
Critics Consensus: Aki Kaurismäki's deadpan wit hits a graceful note with Le Havre, a comedy/drama that's sweet, sad, and uplifting in equal measure.
A shoeshiner tries to save a refugee.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102919%
Critics Consensus: Song of the Sea boasts narrative depth commensurate with its visual beauty, adding up to an animated saga overflowing with family-friendly riches.
An Irish youth (David Rawle) discovers that his mute sister is a selkie who must find her voice and free... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102190%
Critics Consensus: Beautiful, thoughtful, and engrossing, Jiro Dreams of Sushi should prove satisfying even for filmgoers who don't care for the cuisine.
Revered sushi chef Jiro Ono strives for perfection in his work, while his eldest son, Yoshikazu, has trouble living up... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102096%
Critics Consensus: Impeccably crafted and edited, The Interrupters is a tough and honest documentary about street violence that truly has the power to inspire change.
Members of the activist group CeaseFire work to curb violence in their Chicago neighborhoods by intervening in street fights and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102803%
Critics Consensus: Under the Shadow deftly blends seemingly disparate genres to deliver an effective chiller with timely themes and thought-provoking social subtext.
After Shideh's building is hit by a missile during the Iran-Iraq War, a superstitious neighbor suggests that the missile was... [More]
Adjusted Score: 111394%
Critics Consensus: A documentary-like depiction of a nation's real-life efforts to expel a colonizing force, The Battle of Algiers puts viewers on the front lines with gripping realism.
Paratrooper commander Colonel Mathieu (Jean Martin), a former French Resistance fighter during World War II, is sent to 1950s Algeria... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102488%
Critics Consensus: Thrillingly unorthodox and emotionally searing without being didactic, The Missing Picture is a uniquely poignant documentary -- and so much more.
Filmmaker Rithy Panh re-creates atrocities of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 115135%
Critics Consensus: This atmospheric thriller is one of the undisputed masterpieces of cinema, and boasts iconic performances from Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles.
Set in postwar Vienna, Austria, "The Third Man" stars Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins, a writer of pulp Westerns, who... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102377%
Critics Consensus: The Wailing delivers an atmospheric, cleverly constructed mystery whose supernatural thrills more than justify its imposing length.
Suspicion leads to hysteria when rural villagers link a series of brutal murders to the arrival of a mysterious stranger... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102718%
Critics Consensus: The Tale handles its extraordinarily challenging subject matter with sensitivity, grace, and the power of some standout performances led by a remarkable Laura Dern.
Jennifer has it all, with a loving boyfriend and a great career as a journalist and professor. But when her... [More]
Adjusted Score: 108447%
Critics Consensus: As bruised and cynical as the decade that produced it, this noir classic benefits from Robert Towne's brilliant screenplay, director Roman Polanski's steady hand, and wonderful performances from Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.
When Los Angeles private eye J.J. "Jake" Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is hired by Evelyn Mulwray to investigate her husband's activities,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100800%
Critics Consensus: A vibrant, powerful, and poignant glimpse into the struggles of women in modern Africa.
For fear of enduring genital mutilation, a group of girls flee their own "purification" ceremony and take refuge with Collé... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101281%
Critics Consensus: Suffused with happiness and modest charm, Bill Cunningham New York offers a touching, gently humorous portrait of its subject without invading his jealously guarded privacy.
Bill Cunningham, one of the mainstays of the New York Times, has been a contributor to the renowned newspaper for... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102529%
Critics Consensus: On the Record uses harrowing first-person accounts to powerfully and persuasively confront the entrenched sexism of an industry and its culture.
Filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering examine the sexual assault allegations against hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101169%
Critics Consensus: About Elly offers viewers performances as powerful as its thought-provoking ideas, and adds another strong entry to Asghar Farhadi's impressive filmography.
A young teacher disappears before being introduced to a potential suitor in northern Iran.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106890%
Critics Consensus: Goldfinger is where James Bond as we know him comes into focus - it features one of 007's most famous lines ("A martini. Shaken, not stirred.") and a wide range of gadgets that would become the series' trademark.
Special agent 007 (Sean Connery) comes face to face with one of the most notorious villains of all time, and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101171%
Critics Consensus: The Invisible War is a vital and frank expose on sexual assault in the U.S. military, shot by master filmmaker Kirby Dick (This Film is Not Yet Rated).
A filmmaker explores the ever-increasing incidents of violent sexual assault within the U.S. military.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100960%
Critics Consensus: Andy Goldsworthy and his art are beautifully captured in this engaging documentary.
Andy Goldsworthy's art is supposed to fall apart. He creates large-scale outdoor sculptures and artworks out of natural materials like... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102079%
Critics Consensus: The Chambermaid uses one woman's experiences to take audiences inside a life -- and a culture -- that's as bracingly unique as it is hauntingly relatable.
A young chambermaid working in one of the most luxurious hotels in Mexico City enrolls in the hotel's adult education... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101633%
Critics Consensus: Well-written, well-acted, and patiently crafted, Truman takes an affecting look at a long friendship separated by distance but undimmed by time.
Terminally ill actor Julián wants to spend his final days tying up loose ends. When childhood friend Tomás pays him... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100691%
Critics Consensus: Samurai epic as a touching drama.
In 1860s Japan, samurai Seibei (Hiroyuki Sanada) lives in a rural village with his mother and daughters, where he is... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101478%
Critics Consensus: Director Michael Apted continues to utilize cinema as a window into the lives of everyday people, and in the reflection of this documentary we can glimpse our own aging humanity.
Continuing a project he began in 1964, filmmaker Michael Apted revisits his original subjects and sees how their lives are... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101340%
Critics Consensus: Brutally honest and utterly compelling, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me offers a riveting, vanity-free portrait of its legendary subject while offering a few essential truths about the human condition.
Plagued by medical issues and memory lapses, the Broadway icon contemplates retirement and mortality as she approaches her 87th birthday... [More]