Movies & Television

The Most Divisive Movies of the Decades

Critics help us decide what’s worth watching and what’s a waste of time, but audiences and critics don’t always see eye to eye.

Which movies from the past forty years have sparked the most disagreement? Rave Reviews compared average user and critic ratings on Rotten Tomatoes to find out.

Here are the most divisive movies of all time, and by decade, as well as the most divisive director and movie genre:

Most Divisive Movies of All Time

Armchair critics found their niche in the internet age. The whole top 20 most divisive movies came out after Rotten Tomatoes was launched in 1998.

Knock Down the House, and Hannah Gadsby: Nanette both got perfect 100% ratings from critics, but super-low audience ratings of 18% and 22%. Were they targeted by trolls, perhaps?

Most Divisive ‘80s Movies

Sci-fi and fantasy are contentious genres of 80’s movies. With a shocking 26% rating-gap, Speilberg classic E.T. apparently didn’t win the hearts of audiences as much as critics.

Most Divisive ‘90s Movies

Critics loved the action-packed and star-studded animation Antz, but others were less convinced. Controversial star Woody Allen, Marxist subtexts, and general weirdness contributed to its 41% lower audience rating.

Most Divisive ‘00s Movies

Audiences aren’t fussy about artistic merit, as long as they are entertained. A new pattern for ‘00s movies saw critical flops such as American Outlaws getting much higher audience ratings.

Most Divisive ‘10s Movies

Netflix offers a new stream of material to disagree on. The contentious themes of Knock Down The House, Hannah Gadsby: Nannette, and Strong Island attracted critical acclaim, but very low audience votes.

Most Divisive Director

Of 600 directors, Adam Shankman (The Wedding Planner, Stuck on You) caused the most disparity; a 26.9% average across 10 movies. Meanwhile, everyone loves Hayao Miyazaki, whose movies had a rating disparity of just 4.5%.

Most Divisive Genres

Horror movies divide opinions the most. Critics are generally less excited about Sports & Fitness, TV Films, and Westerns than regular viewers, whose real-life entertainment goals trump ‘Arty’ ideals.

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