A 100% Fresh rating is a pretty rare feat in the world of Rotten Tomatoes. (The Godfather only made it to 99%.) Though it’s not surprising that Citizen Kane and Rashomon got perfect scores, we thought we’d spotlight fully fresh movies that might surprise you.
10. The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
Based on an acclaimed novel, writer/director Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter deals with a school bus crash that kills 14 students and the class action lawsuit that follows. Grieving families and buried secrets are also major themes, so if you’re looking for a happy-go-lucky romp, this is not it. But despite the dispiriting subject matter, the lyrical film was a critical success. (The Toronto Film Festival named it one of the best Canadian films of all time.) Featuring a brilliant cast that includes Ian Holm and Sarah Polley, it’s a perfect film to watch as the days get as cold as a Canadian winter.
9. Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)
Winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, Taxi to the Dark Side tells the story of a Afghan taxi driver who was beaten to death by American soldiers while at a detention facility. Alex Gibney’s film looks into the policies of torture and the nature of interrogations as a whole. While disturbing, this acclaimed doc illuminates a part of the military that most of us know little about.
8. Sound City (2013)
There’s a lot of documentaries with very high ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, but Sound City is a rare nonfiction film that doesn’t leave you feeling sad for humanity. Directed by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, the film tells the story of a small recording studio in the San Fernando Valley that was used by Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Red Hot Chili Peppers and more. It was also home to a Neve 8028 soundboard. Though soundboard history may not sound scintillating, it’s one of four that were ever made in the world and the documentary ends with a cavalcade of stars recording new songs just for the film. Plus, after watching you’ll be able to impress all your geeky sound design friends.
7. Hallelujah, I’m a Bum! (1933)
From 1933, Hallelujah, I’m a Bum! deserves 100% for its title alone. Starring Al Jolson as Bumper the jovial tramp, the film is a light romp about living as a hobo in the 1930s. (Oddly, costar Frank Morgan says “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home” in this film years before he appeared in The Wizard of Oz.) With a Rogers and Hart score, this light comedy features some great songs and reminds us of a time when being a tramp was mostly adorable.
6. Atlantic City (1980)
In 1982, Chariots of Fire, Reds, On Golden Pond and Raiders of the Lost Ark were all nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and all are fondly remembered today. Yet the last nominee has been forgotten — even though it’s the only one to earn a 100% rating and get Oscar nominations in all four acting categories. Atlantic City stars Susan Sarandon as a blackjack dealer who gets mixed up with drugs and gangs in the decaying New Jersey seaside town. If anything, watch the film to see the remains of the real Atlantic City, since most of it was bulldozed to create newer hotels, casinos and places where Trump can hang his name in gold.
5. Bob Roberts (1992)
This political mockumentary from writer/director/star Tim Robbins is just as topical today as it was in 1992. Robbins plays Bob Roberts, a right wing folk singer who goes to great and duplicitous lengths to get elected to Senate. The film also features Gore Vidal, a young Jack Black (see him above) and Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad fame. It’s a biting satire that holds up as one of the funniest political comedies of the ’90s or any decade.
4. Manson Family Vacation (2015)
The most recent movie on the list, Manson Family Vacation stars Jay Duplass and Linas Phillips as partially estranged brothers who eventually come together mostly because of Charles Manson. Yes, it’s a comedy, with some darker moments about family acceptance and being the odd one out, and it’s surprisingly light for a film about people obsessed with Manson. With great performances from the cast, this offbeat dramedy is an interesting examination of family relationships and dark obsessions that bring new hope.
3. The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952)
This 1952 film is based on a Ernest Hemingway story and stars Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner. Peck plays an adventurous writer reflecting upon his past loves and exploits as he lays nearly dying in Africa from an infected wound. If you’re a fan of Hemingway or a Gregory Peck completist, this forgotten film is a must-see.
2. The Ladykillers (1955)
No, not the Coen brothers movie starring Tom Hanks. The perfect rating goes to the 1955 original. Starring Alec Guinness as not Obi-Wan Kenobi and Peter Sellers, this comedy about a complicated heist made all the more complicated by a batty old lady still holds up. It’s pretty impressive considering screenwriter William Rose claimed he dreamt the entire film. Getting an Oscar nomination and a BAFTA award for a dream is pretty amazing. Sadly, our script for “I Didn’t Study for The Test and Also My Teeth are Falling Out” has yet to be made.
1. The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2014)
This animated tale of a little girl found in a bamboo shoot (who we later learn is from the moon) was nominated for Best Animated Film in 2014. It’s often listed with Spirited Away as one of the greatest anime films of all time. The American voice cast features Chloe Grace Moretz as the Princess, with Mary Steenburgen and James Caan as her Mom and Dad. Sadly, it lost the Oscar to another film with Japanese influence, Big Hero Six. Though we’re sure if Princess Kaguya had robots, it would’ve swept up all the awards.
Kick back with The Matrix Revolutions during IFC’s Rotten Fridays!