Best Movies With a 100% Rotten Tomatoes Score (2023)

Only the greatest and most renowned cinematic masterpieces (or at least those with a large enough amount of reviews) are awarded a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score, with few films receiving the prestigious honor. It takes the best of the best to nab the coveted rating and is the ultimate triumph for filmmakers and entertainment studios when the rare occurrence comes to fruition.

Rotten Tomatoes is a popular review-aggregation website for both film and television and since its launch in 1998 has become a leading platform for audiences and critics to express their opinions on newly-released flicks. The “Tomatometer Rankings” connects to the practice of viewers throwing rotten tomatoes when disapproving of a poor stage performance; the higher the percentage a movie receives, the more “fresh” it is and, at least theoretically, better in the show business world.

To earn a certified fresh and perfect Rotten Tomatoes score is no easy accomplishment, which makes it all the more thrilling when a picture is able to do so. Indeed, most recently, Marcel the Shell with Shoes debuted with a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes. Sometimes, the choices are surprising and seem a bit arbitrary.

Nonetheless, usually cinema’s most admired and celebrated films have achieved the victory, ranging in a wide array of genres and subjects. The 1967 prison drama hit Cool Hand Luke graces the illustrious list, as do two of the best Disney movies and even an Arnold Schwarzenegger '80s action extravaganza. Let's take a look at some of the best movies which have also gotten the revered 100% Rotten Tomatoes score.

Updated May 21, 2023: If you love universally acclaimed films, you'll be happy to know this article has been updated with additional content and entries by Yosra Ben lagha.



15 12 Angry Men (1957)

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It's been remade for both stage and screen, but the original 1957 effort, led by Henry Fonda, takes the cake. 12 Angry Men takes place after the closing arguments in a murder trial, where the 12 members of the jury must deliberate. A guilty verdict means death for the accused, an inner-city teen. As the dozen men try to reach a unanimous decision while sequestered in a room, one juror (Fonda) casts considerable doubt on elements of the case.

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Personal issues soon rise to the surface, and conflict threatens to derail the delicate process that will decide one boy's fate. In addition to maintaining a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes over the years, the film is also near the top of the list for best courtroom dramas by the American Film Institute for their AFI's 10 Top 10 list. It's not to be missed, especially for the true cinephiles who consume the classics.

14 Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Silver screen heartthrob Paul Newman stars as the eponymous Luke in the critically-acclaimed prison drama Cool Hand Luke, which follows decorated World War II veteran Lucas “Luke” Jackson, who is sentenced to two years on a chain gang in a prison camp for drunken misconduct but refuses to surrender to the system. The thrilling drama showcases Luke’s continuous attempts to escape the Florida prison, successfully doing so multiple times while defying and challenging the confinement’s authorities every step of the way.

Newman’s performance in the picture garnered rave reviews, and helped cement his status as one of the era’s top actors; Time Out commended the prison drama, writing, “A caustically witty look at the American South and its still-surviving chain gangs, with Newman in fine sardonic form as the boss-baiter who refuses to submit and becomes a hero to his fellow prisoners.”

13 Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

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From the beloved Studio Ghibli comes the 1988 animated war tragedy Grave of the Fireflies, telling the haunting tale of Seita and Setsuko Yokokawa, two close-knit siblings who after their mother is heartbreakingly killed in the Bombing of Kobe during World War II must fight to survive the tail-end of the conflict. Adapted from the Akiyuki Nosaka short story of the same name, the breathtaking picture offers a poignant look at human suffering and tenacity, as the orphaned duo pushes forward amid the most devastating circumstances.

Director Isao Takahata was inspired by his own personal experiences as a child with bombing raids during World War II, and he felt compelled to tell the brother and sister's profound story. Grave of the Fireflies is considered Takahata's cinematic masterpiece and is universally regarded as one of the greatest war films of all time; ReelViews expressed in their review, "Some movies are such singular achievements that they deserve to be seen at least once by everyone who considers himself or herself to be a lover of film. Grave of the Fireflies falls into that exclusive category."

12 The Kid (1921)

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Worldwide cinema icon Charlie Chaplin appears alongside Jackie Coogan in the sensational 1921 silent dramedy The Kid, an unforgettable picture the legendary performer also directed, wrote, and produced that centers on his memorable on-screen character The Tramp as he takes care of an orphaned child. Considered to be one of the finest creations of the silent era, its overwhelming success and popularity led to its six-year-old star Coogan becoming the first major child star in film. According to Chaplin's biographer Jeffrey Vance, The Kid is the "perfect blend of comedy and drama, it is arguably Chaplin's most personal and autobiographical work.”

The Kid remains a hallowed comedy juggernaut that features plenty of slapstick humor, moving dramatic moments, and stellar performances by its gifted leads. Over a century later, the Chaplin staple continues to impress and inspire the entertainment industry and in 2011 it was selected to be preserved in the National Film Registry, with the collection declaring it as "an artful melding of touching drama, social commentary and inventive comedy."

11 The Philadelphia Story (1940)

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Hollywood greats Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart appear in the 1940 romantic comedy The Philadelphia Story, which follows socialite Tracy Lord whose wedding plans become complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband and a tabloid magazine reporter. The picture is considered one of cinema’s finest examples of a comedy of remarriage, a popular genre of the 1930s and 1940s in which a couple divorces, has flirtatious dalliances, and ultimately remarries.

The rom-com is one of the best Jimmy Stewart movies and was Hepburn’s first mega-hit after several flops which landed her on a notorious 1938 list of actors considered “box office poison." The movie served as her highly-anticipated screen comeback with the help of Grant and Stewart. The Philadelphia Story won two Academy Awards and was remade as the 1956 musical High Society, this time starring Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra.

10 Toy Story (1995)

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The 1995 spectacular animated comedy Toy Story was the first feature film from Pixar, which was approached by Disney to produce a computer-animated picture told from a small toy’s perspective. The wondrous children’s flick is set in a world where toys come to life when humans are not present, and introduced the world to the dynamic duo Wood and Buzz Lightyear: an old-fashioned pull-string cowboy doll and a modern astronaut action figure. It depicts the characters as they go from rivals competing for the affection of their owner Andy, to friends who work together to be reunited with the boy when they get separated.

Toy Story features dynamite voice acting performances from Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, and John Ratzenberger, and was a knockout with audiences and critics, grossing more than $350 million. Many reviewers recognized the film’s appeal to various age groups, with Entertainment Weekly noting, “It has the purity, the ecstatic freedom of imagination, that’s the hallmark of the greatest children’s films. It also has the kind of spring-loaded allusive prankishness that, at times, will tickle adults even more than it does kids.” Its success launched a multimedia franchise and a series of three sequels.

9 Seven Samurai (1954)

Undeniably one of the most influential pictures of the twentieth century is the 1954 Japanese epic drama Seven Samurai, centering on a desperate group of villagers who hire a seasoned samurai to protect them from a dangerous gang of bandits that have taken over their community. The aging but skilled rōnin Kambei (Takashi Shimuri) recruits his fearless samurai comrades to help eradicate the criminals from the mountain village, leading to a violent and explosive showdown between the dueling forces.

Seven Samurai has been described as one of cinema's most "remade, reworked, and referenced" films and has been favorably compared to the Western genre, bringing forth a new wave of storytelling and style that took both Japan and the world by storm. In 2018, the BBC conducted an international critics' poll that declared Seven Samurai the greatest foreign-language film of all time.

8 Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

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Heavily regarded as the greatest classical Hollywood musical ever made, the 1952 musical romantic comedy Singin’ in the Rain features the talents of Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor, and tells the story of three stars in late 1920s Hollywood who struggle with the transition from silent pictures to “talkies.” The lighthearted flick includes a slew of catchy tunes, most notably the titular song that Kelly performed while spinning an umbrella and splashing through puddles, all the while battling a 103-degree fever.

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The musical was infamous for some on-set tension between the trained dancer Kelly and newcomer Reynolds; the actor apparently insulted her over her lack of dancing experience and upset her so much she hid under a piano and cried, only to be found by the legendary Fred Astaire. Despite production woes, Singin’ in the Rain captured the hearts of audiences and is considered one of the finest films of its genre.

7 How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

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The 1966 beloved Christmas classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is an enduring holiday favorite that is adapted from the Dr. Seuss children's book, and tells the tale of how the Grinch set out to destroy Christmas for all the Whos down in Whoville. Horror icon Boris Karloff memorably voiced the mean, green misanthropic character, also serving as the narrator for the celebrated made-for-TV movie special. Released during a resurgence in popularity of animated holiday specials (A Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer also debuted in the decade), the cartoon was praised for its stunning artwork, faithfulness to the original source and Karloff's outstanding performance.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! remainsa perennial Christmas staple and continues attracting loyal viewers over fifty years later. The cartoon classic landed at the top of TV Guide's 10 Best Family Holiday Specials list and its success led to two additional television specials surrounding the enduring Seuss character.

6 The Last Picture Show (1971)

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The late great Peter Bogdanovich’s 1971 coming-of-age drama The Last Picture Show takes place in the small Texas town of Anarene in 1951 and focuses on two high-school seniors and long-time friends Sonny Crawford and Duane Jackson as they go through the uncertain period of life and learn hard lessons on love, jealousy and ultimately hope. Bogdanovich was fairly unknown when he landed his filmmaking duties, with only one small movie to his directorial credits (the great crime thriller Targets), and was a 31-year-old stage actor and essayist.

He had discussed the project with his house guest at the time, the distinguished Orson Welles, who agreed that shooting the drama in black and white would work aesthetically despite being an unusual choice. The Last Picture Show won two Academy Awards and in 1998 was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry.

5 The Terminator (1984)

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The epic action flick that spawned a lucrative franchise and helped elevate Arnold Schwarzenegger to superstar status, James Cameron’s 1984 sci-fi staple The Terminator centers on the cyborg assassin as he is sent back in time from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor, whose unborn son will one day cause the extinction of a hostile artificial intelligence and save the human world. Cameron devised the plot of the movie after he fell ill and had a fever dream about a metallic torso holding kitchen knives dragging itself from an explosion; the visionary filmmaker was also inspired by John Carpenter’s low-budget Halloween and used the dream as a “launching pad” to writer a slasher-style project.

Before Schwarzenegger was cast as the notorious cybernetic android, action stars Sylvester Stallone and Mel Gibson turned down the role, and when the studio suggested O.J Simpson, Cameron quite ironically didn’t feel he would make a believable killer. The Terminator’s success led to several sequels, a television show, comic books, and video games, and established Schwarzenegger and Cameron as Hollywood hot commodities.

4 Pinocchio (1940)

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Walt Disney’s 1940 animated musical fantasy film Pinocchio is based on the Italian children’s novel by Carlo Collodi, and tells the heart-warming tale of a woodcarver named Geppetto who carves a wooden puppet named Pinocchio. His puppet is brought to life by a blue fairy, who informs him that he can only become a real boy if he proves himself to be “brave, truthful, and unselfish.” Along his journey to prove himself worthy, Pinocchio encounters many unusual characters, such as a wise 100-year-old talking cricket and the spoiled pet cat Figaro.

Pinocchio was a groundbreaking achievement in the area of effects animation, with lead artist Joshua Meador and animators creating everything that moves other than the characters. The picture was a hit with moviegoers and critics, with The New York Times proclaiming upon its release, “Pinocchio is here at last, is every bit as fine as we had prayed it would be — if not finer — and that it is as gay and clever and delightful a fantasy as any well-behaved youngster or jaded oldster could hope to see.”

3 Before Sunrise (1995)

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Before Sunrise is the first movie in the Before trilogy directed by Richard Linklater. It's a romantic drama film that follows the compelling story of two strangers, Jesse and Céline (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, respectively) as they randomly meet on a train and arrive in Vienna. We basically don't see a lot of action as the plot is not event-driven. The only sense of conflict that the movie allows is the conflictual views of the two protagonists as they share their perspectives on life, love, sexuality, death, and a plethora of different substantial topics. The unplanned meeting of two strangers from different cultures and backgrounds sets the tone for a very beautiful romantic adventure that's filled with the unpredictability and blessedness of the present moment.

Related: The 25 Best Romantic Comedies of All Time, Ranked

They spend a whole night together, exploring the streets of Vienna and talking. At the end of that magical night, they confess their mutual attraction, and they surrender to the possibility that despite their undeniable chemistry, they might never see each other again. In fact, the movie ends with Jesse and Céline saying goodbye when Céline's train is about to leave. They decide not to take each other's contact information as an act of trusting that if it's fated, they will see each other again.

It's no wonder this movie gained so many positive reviews and made it to the top of the list. Basically, one of the reasons for its success is because, unlike most romantic movies, Before Sunrise is more about letting go of than about holding on to a loved one. It brings calmness to the spirit and teaches the art of releasing control in relationships.

2 Toy Story 2 (1999)

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The animated comedy adventure sequel Toy Story 2 directed by John Lasseter, is definitely a classic that will be forever etched to our memory because of how fun it is to watch. After the success of the first Toy Story movie, the audience simply wanted more. In fact, the sequel is a continuation of the beautiful but somewhat complex dynamic of Woody and Buzz Lightyear's relationship. It follows the story of Woody's kidnapping by a toy collector called Al McWhiggin. And thus begins the quest to save him. Buzz Lightyear leads an investigation with the help of the rest of the toy crew who are finally successful at discovering the identity of the thief.

Meanwhile, Woody meets a group of new toys who are excited to go to a museum in Japan in order to be sold. He becomes friends with a cowgirl named Jessie who tries to persuade him to go to Japan with her. At first, Woody refuses out of loyalty to his owner Andy. However, when he learns that Jessie's owner abandoned her, his own fears of being rejected and let down by Andy finally push him to accept to leave. He surrenders to the new reality and decides to move on with his life.

However, luckily for Woody, his friends simply won't give up on him. Buzz and the group are finally able to trace AI, they jump into his satchel, which finally leads them to Woody. Buzz goes far and beyond to convince him to come home. The two toys put their differences and competitiveness aside and decide to rescue Jessie from being shipped to Japan. This animated movie deserved its high ranking, and its ultimate box office success thanks to how deep and relatable the characters are, and how creative and mind-blowing the plot is.

1 The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

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The American drama film The Grapes of Wrath is considered a classic. It's a delightful cinematographic adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name written by John Steinbeck. It centers around the Joad family, a group of farmers who lost their farm business during the drought period of the Great Depression in 1930. They pack up and head to California hoping to find better opportunities there and to change their lot.

To their surprise, however, work in California is not as easy to find as they'd hoped, so their situation becomes even more critical. The eldest son, Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) who is already an ex-con gets himself in more trouble when he attends a meeting about unions. He accidentally knocks a guard dead while trying to protect his friend.

Along with having no job, Tom becomes wanted by the authorities. He leaves his family and starts a life on the run. Although the film is a moving tale of poverty, injustice, and rotten luck, it definitely preserves a space where human will could make a difference. Through Fonda's final speech about justice, resilience, and refusal to be oppressed and silenced, we clearly see how the movie departs from the novel.

If you can sit through watching the somber human suffering in the face of a declining economy, and systemic injustice then you will be rewarded with watching a movie that had everyone agree on its incredibly magnificent quality.

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