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Which is 2010's best-reviewed film? Disney and Sony don't quite agree

December 16, 2010 |  3:33 pm

1 Some absolutes are irrefutable.
China is the most populous nation.
Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is the tallest building.
The Pacific is the largest ocean.

But what is the year’s best-reviewed movie? Sony and Disney have different answers, and are touting their opinions in awards advertisements.

It’s indisputable that Sony’s “The Social Network” and Disney’s “Toy Story 3” attracted some of the best notices in 2010. But is one film actually more critically lauded than the other — “the best-reviewed movie of the year,” as the studios’ competing for-your-consideration ads both maintain?

Even the forensics team from “CSI” might find the evidence contradictory.

On the movie review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, “Toy Story 3” has a score of 99% among the 246 critics it surveyed, and 100% of the site’s top critics, people like the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern, Time’s Richard Corliss, and the Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan.
“The Social Network” had a 96% score among 256 critics it surveyed, and 100% of the top critics. It looks like a clear win for Disney. 
2 But Sony points out that “The Social Network’s” top critics’ score is based on 43 reviews, while “Toy Story 3’s” marks in the same category are derived from 38 notices. In Sony’s way of thinking, that means “Social Network” had more raves from prominent opinion makers, and was thus better reviewed than “Toy Story 3.”

The other two leading aggregation sites, Metacritic and Movie Review Intelligence, tilt in  favor of “The Social Network.”
On Metacritic, “The Social Network” has a score of 95 (based on 42 reviews), while “Toy Story 3” scored 92 (based on 39 reviews).

Movie Review Intelligence also favors “The Social Network.” On that site, “The Social Network’s” reviews were 94.4% positive (based on 54 reviews), while “Toy Story 3’s” were 92.1% (based on 51 reviews).

But Disney argues that the Metacritic and Movie Review Intelligence scores are taken from a small sampling of all of the reviewers counted by Rotten Tomatoes, where “Toy Story 3” wins among all critics by 3%. In other words, do you trust the average opinions of some 40 people more than the consensus from 240?

With both films likely contending for the best picture Oscar, it’s not entirely an idle question.  

--John Horn

"Toy Story 3" Photo: Disney/Pixar.

Jesse Eisenberg and Joseph Mazzello in "The Social Network." Photo: Merrick Morton.

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