10 of the best and 10 of the worst movies of the year

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‘Palm Springs’ and ‘Holidate’ came out in 2020. Hulu; Netflix
  • Film critics and audiences often clash on movie opinions, but this year there were at least 20 films they seemed to share a consensus on.
  • Critics and audiences alike praised movies such as “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” “Words on Bathroom Walls,” and “Palm Springs.”
  • They also agreed that “Superintelligence,” “Holidate,” and “The Last Thing He Wanted” were among the worst movies of the year.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Although critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes don’t always have the same opinions on films, sometimes they totally agree.

Read on for the best and worst movies of the year, according to critics and audiences.

Note: All scores were current on the date of publication and are subject to change.


“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” earned praise for its delicately wrought love story.

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Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant in ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire.’ Neon

Critic score: 98%

Audience score: 92%

Summary: In the 18th century, painter Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is whisked away to Brittany to paint a wedding portrait for the young Lady Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), and the two women grow closer than they ever expected.

Both critics and audiences agreed that the delicate period piece benefited from pairing its minimalist filmmaking style with raw emotional power.

“Beautiful, just flat out beautiful,” wrote one viewer. “I don’t know why it took me so long to watch this masterpiece that left my heart wrenching.”


“Rocks” was an emotional experience for viewers and critics.

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‘Rocks’ premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. A24 Apple

Critic score: 98%

Audience score: 88%

Summary: In this dramatic coming-of-age story set in London, England, young teen Olushola (Bukky Bakray) is forced to step in as her brother’s (D’angelou Osei Kissiedu) caretaker when their mother leaves.

Critics largely keyed in on the powerful acting performances, and many viewers shared that the comedic drama made them laugh and cry in equal measure.

“Words cannot convey the raw emotion and absolute realism of this film,” wrote a Rotten Tomatoes user.

Note: “Rocks” first premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and was widely released in 2020.


Nearly every viewer was mesmerised by “Sound of Metal.”

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Riz Ahmed in ‘Sound of Metal.’ Amazon Studios

Critic score: 97%

Audience score: 89%

Summary: In the drama “Sound of Metal,” heavy-metal drummer Ruben (Riz Ahmed) must come to terms with his unexpected hearing loss.

Overall, critics and audiences expressed how the film’s tight editing, incredible sound mixing, and immersive cinematography worked in tandem to uplift Ahmed’s stellar central performance.

“Absolutely brilliant movie,” wrote an audience member. “Oscar worthy for sure.”


Critics and audiences bonded over the unique humour in “Palm Springs.”

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Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg in ‘Palm Springs.’ Neon

Critic score: 94%

Audience score: 89%

Summary: At a wedding in Palm Springs, California, sardonic maid of honour Sarah (Cristin Milioti) finds herself drawn to a groomsman (Andy Samberg) with a life-changing secret.

Many audience members and film critics shared the opinion that, although they’d seen movies like it before, “Palm Springs” was one of the best comedies of the year.

“You don’t have to go digging for it, this movie is comedic gold,” wrote a Rotten Tomatoes user.


“Babyteeth” emotionally impacted viewers across the board.

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Eliza Scanlen in ‘Babyteeth.’ IFC Films

Critic score: 94%

Audience score: 81%

Summary: Sick with a terminal illness, Australian high schooler Milla (Eliza Scanlen) surprises her parents (Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn) when she falls for a drug dealer and invites him into their home.

With its electric cast, romantic chemistry, and compelling sincerity, “Babyteeth” found its fair share of admirers among critics and viewers.

“I opened an account here just to beg everyone to watch this movie,” wrote one audience member. “Not much reaches me on an emotional level like this.”


“Love and Monsters” was praised for its infectious charm.

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Dylan O’Brien in ‘Love and Monsters.’ Paramount

Critic score: 91%

Audience score: 89%

Summary: Seven years into an apocalypse, Joel Dawson (Dylan O’Brien) fights his way across 85 miles of monster-infested territory after he discovers his girlfriend (Jessica Henwick) is still alive.

With O’Brien leading it, “Love and Monsters” quickly warmed critics and viewers with its humour and likability.

“O’Brien carries a huge part of this film with his charisma and charm,” wrote a Rotten Tomatoes user.


“The Invisible Man” kept viewers and critics on the edge of their seats.

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Elisabeth Moss in ‘The Invisible Man.’ Universal

Critic score: 91%

Audience score: 88%

Summary: After her abusive boyfriend reportedly dies, Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) becomes convinced that he is still alive and watching her every move.

In the capable hands of Moss, “The Invisible Man” garnered attention critically and commercially as a psychological thriller rich with suspense.

One viewer wrote that the horror film was “full of clever twists and turns right up until the closing credits.”


“The Trial of the Chicago 7” renewed attention for a landmark case.

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‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ is set in 1969. Netflix

Critic score: 90%

Audience score: 91%

Summary: In the historical drama “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention propel seven people into a national trial.

The film highlighted a story that lingered with audience members and reviewers long after the credits rolled.

“It keeps you glued to the screen, both with the story and the cinematography,” wrote a Rotten Tomatoes user.


“Words on Bathroom Walls” hit all the right notes with critics and viewers.

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Charlie Plummer starred in ‘Words on Bathroom Walls.’ Roadside Attractions

Critic score: 89%

Audience score: 94%

Summary: Based on the novel of the same name by Julia Walton, “Words on Bathroom Walls” follows Adam (Charlie Plummer) as he is pulled out of public school after being diagnosed with schizophrenia and ushered into a private academy, where he meets a bright-minded student (Taylor Russell).

By approaching the topic of mental health with sensitivity and nuance, “Words on Bathroom Walls” blew critics and moviegoers away.

“Informative, compassionate, intimate, and surprisingly humorous,” wrote an audience member. “Certainly, one of the year’s best films!”


Ben Affleck’s turn in “The Way Back” was praised as a career-high performance.

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Ben Affleck in ‘The Way Back’ Warner Bros.

Critic score: 84%

Audience score: 84%

Summary: Washed-up athlete Jack Cunningham (Affleck) receives one last shot at redemption when he is approached to coach high-school basketball at his alma mater.

Inspirational sports dramas have been done before and will be done again, but critics and audiences agreed that Affleck’s central performance helped “The Way Back” overcome genre expectations.

One Rotten Tomatoes user wrote that Affleck “shakes off his superhero role seamlessly and delivers a very believable performance.”


On the other hand, “Holidate” was lumped in with the worst movies of the year.

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Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey in ‘Holidate.’ Netflix

Critic score: 44%

Audience score: 40%

Summary: Tired of being pestered about her love life at every family event, Sloane (Emma Roberts) recruits the help of a stranger (Luke Bracey) so they don’t have to brave the holidays alone.

Showered with love, hate, and indifference, “Holidate” ultimately fell on the lower end of the scoring spectrum for both audiences and critics.

“Missed the mark on so many levels, great potential could be seen at a couple moments, but just didn’t work,” wrote a viewer.


The supernatural war movie “Ghosts of War” led to some bemused reviews.

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‘Ghosts of War’ was an overall flop. Vertical Entertainment

Critic score: 38%

Audience score: 41%

Summary: In the horror movie “Ghosts of War,” Chris (Brenton Thwaites) and his fellow soldiers find themselves haunted by unseen forces as they protect a French Chateau in World War II.

Critics and viewers largely agreed that “Ghosts of War” had an intriguing premise but failed to mix its two genres effectively.

One viewer called the film “creative and ambitious in its attempt to create a horror and war drama” but added that the mash-up’s “result isn’t as interesting as it sounds.”


Critics and audiences were often bored by “The Night Clerk.”

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Ana de Armas in ‘The Night Clerk.’ Saban Films

Critic score: 36%

Audience score: 31%

Summary: In the dramatic mystery “The Night Clerk,” hotel employee Bart Bromley (Tye Sheridan) finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation as he tries to protect a guest (Ana de Armas).

Even if they weren’t blown away, critics and viewers both gave the leads due credit for trying to elevate a predictable, plodding script.

“Sheridan tries hard, but his best efforts are not enough to save a flimsy plot,” wrote a Rotten Tomatoes user.


“Love Wedding Repeat” was an unconventional comedy that missed the mark.

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Sam Claflin and Olivia Munn in ‘Love Wedding Repeat.’ Netflix

Critic score: 32%

Audience score: 37%

Summary: On the day of his sister’s wedding, Jack (Sam Claflin) tries to keep things on track and impress an old flame (Olivia Munn) as a variety of alternate universes unfold.

Overall, audiences and film critics were pulled in by an interesting sci-fi premise that was soon squandered by humorless gags.

A viewer wrote that the movie “had potential with its message but it seems to fizzle away as the plot wanders around.”


Critics and audiences felt like “Superintelligence” failed to impress.

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Despite its strong cast, ‘Superintelligence’ was not a hit. HBO Max

Critic score: 29%

Audience score: 25%

Summary: In this comedy, an all-knowing AI (voiced by James Corden) chooses to study everyday woman Carol Peters (Melissa McCarthy) to see if humanity is worth saving.

Although many people found themselves drawn to the star-studded cast, critics and viewers alike felt the comedy didn’t stick the landing.

“I like all the actors, which is why I stayed for the ending, but it didn’t come together very well,” wrote one Rotten Tomatoes user.


“Money Plane” was largely panned for its wacky plot.

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Adam Copeland in ‘Money Plane.’ Quiver Distribution

Critic score: 25%

Audience score: 39%

Summary: After tumbling down a money pit, thief Jack Reese (Adam Copeland) attempts to pay back his debts and keep his family safe by pulling off his greatest heist yet – robbing an airborne casino.

Wacky beyond belief, “Money Plane” left critics and audiences unsure if the humour was intentional or not.

“Is this movie supposed to be this bad? Is it supposed to be a comedy?” asked a viewer. “Someone made a very bad bet on this movie.”


“The Grudge” was disregarded as an unnecessary instalment.

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‘The Grudge’ is the fourth instalment in the American version of the series. Sony

Critic score: 20%

Audience score: 23%

Summary: A horror sequel that takes place before and during the events of “The Grudge” (2004), this film focuses on a slew of house guests in Pennsylvania who are targeted by a vengeful spirit.

The critical and audience scores for “The Grudge” squarely fell into the same camp, as both sides generally agreed that it was an unnecessary instalment in the American franchise.

A viewer wrote that fans of “The Grudge” series may find that this movie “doesn’t expand upon it or show anything satisfying.”


“Desperados” failed to garner a lot of laughs.

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Nasim Pedrad starred in ‘Desperados.’ Netflix

Critic score: 15%

Audience score: 28%

Summary: After sending a drunken email to a new boyfriend, Wesley (Nasim Pedrad) and her friends rush to Mexico to intercede before it’s too late.

Full of unflattering depictions of women and jokes that failed to land, “Desperados” had a lot of reviewers and moviegoers desperately urging others to watch anything else.

“This movie is the epitome of the word ‘cringe,’ it’s just not good,” a Rotten Tomatoes user wrote. “I love Nasim Pedrad, but this was not a good showcase for her.”


Critics and audiences grew tired of “The Turning.”

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‘The Turning’ was based on the same story that inspired the Netflix show ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor.’ Universal Pictures

Critic score: 12%

Audience score: 15%

Summary: Based on Henry James’ novel “The Turn of the Screw” (which also inspired “The Haunting of Bly Manor“), this adaptation follows a young governess (Mackenzie Davis) as she nannies two children at a haunted estate.

Critics and viewers shared dismay over the horror movie’s lack of well-earned scares and surprises.

An audience member wrote that the film builds to an “end result that feels rushed, uncertain, and confusing.”


“The Last Thing He Wanted” was called silly and overwrought.

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Anne Hathaway in ‘The Last Thing He Wanted.’ Netflix

Critic score: 5%

Audience score: 13%

Summary: In the dramatic crime thriller “The Last Thing He Wanted,” a veteran journalist (Anne Hathaway) finds herself at the centre of a breaking news story when she reluctantly helps her father (Willem Dafoe) broker an arms deal.

Even fans of Hathaway were hard-pressed to find praise for the Joan Didion book adaptation, with both audiences and critics giving the film incredibly low scores.

“What a shame and waste of a good cast,” a Rotten Tomatoes user wrote.