15 Crowd-Pleasing Films That Critics Also Adored

Have you ever watched a movie that you absolutely adored only to learn that the critics thought the same thing? Or maybe you stumbled onto a hit movie that not only made a lot of money but also received positive reviews from even the harshest critics? While at times critics and audiences hold very different opinions, other times they agree. That is not an easy task, winning over both the most disconcerting critics and the crowds who love popcorn and a laugh. Here are 15 movies that managed to reach that fine balance between critical and commercial success.

 

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)

Photo Credit: AGBO.

With its daring mash-up of genres and limitless creativity, Everything Everywhere All At Once is a cinematic odyssey that defies genre classification. This mind-bending trip, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively known as “Daniels”), chronicles the experiences of Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), a middle-aged Chinese American woman, as she travels between multiple universes. The movie combines science fiction, humor, drama, and action components, offering a multifaceted examination of identity, familial ties, and the interdependence of all elements of a person’s identity. Everything Everywhere All At Once connected with viewers throughout the world, garnering praise from critics while gaining a devoted following.

 

Budget: approximately $14-25 million 

Box office: approximately $143 million

IMDb score: 7.8/10

 

The Godfather (1972)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

The Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and based on Mario Puzo’s novel, transports audiences to the expansive narrative of the Corleone crime family. The portrayal of power, loyalty, and betrayal within the Mafia underground convinced spectators with its flawless artistry, legendary performances, and gripping story. The picture is made even greater by Marlon Brando’s renowned role as Don Vito Corleone and Al Pacino’s transformative performance as Michael Corleone. The Godfather is without a doubt a timeless classic that continues to resonate with viewers across decades. 

 

Budget: approximately $6-7 million 

Box office: approximately $250-290 million

IMDb score: 9.2/10

 

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Photo Credit: Paramount Vantage.

Set against the backdrop of California’s early oil boom and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood is an epic tale of greed, ambition, and moral decay, anchored by Daniel Day-Lewis’s mesmerizing performance of oil magnate Daniel Plainview. Viewers are taken into a world of brutal capitalism and existential turmoil through the film’s evocative score, finely rendered characters, and frightening photography. Few films in the history of cinema have garnered as much universal praise and lasting impact as this one, demonstrating that the human condition and the allure of power are ageless themes that appeal to all audiences.

 

Budget: approximately $25 million 

Box office: approximately $76 million

IMDb score: 8.2/10

 

Whiplash (2014)

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics.

Whiplash is an engrossing cinematic journey that appeals to both reviewers and viewers, becoming a critical and commercial success in equal measure. Directed by Damien Chazelle, it explores the competitive world of music and ambition via the turbulent relationship between Andrew, a young jazz drummer (Miles Teller), and his unyielding teacher Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons, who won an Academy Award for his performance). The movie deals with issues of perfectionism, obsession, and the cost of brilliance through a high-stakes struggle of wills that captivates audiences with its throbbing beat, powerful performers, and compelling story.

 

Budget: approximately $3 million 

Box office: approximately $49 million

IMDb score: 8.5/10

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

Few movies have remained as influential as Do the Right Thing. A timeless example  of socially conscious cinema, the movie ignited fundamental discussions about injustice, race, and community. This ground-breaking movie, directed by Spike Lee, examines the simmering tensions that explode on a hot summer day in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. It challenges viewers to face difficult realities about society by presenting them with the intricacies of racial prejudice and systematic oppression through its ensemble cast and sharp storytelling. Now this one wasn’t unanimous with the critics when it came out, but critics duo Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert called it the best movie of 1989, and it is hard not to agree. 

 

Budget: approximately $6 million 

Box office: approximately $37 million

IMDb score: 8.0/10

 

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Photo Credit: Orion Pictures.

The Silence of the Lambs enthralls critics and spectators with its suspenseful story and endearing characters. This psychological thriller, directed by Jonathan Demme and based on Thomas Harris’s novel, follows FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) as she enlists the aid of incarcerated cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to apprehend another elusive murderer known as Buffalo Bill. The Silence of the Lambs is the ultimate representation of a game of cat and mouse that explores the darkest corners of the human mind thanks to its brilliant direction, strong acting, and tight storyline. Many years after its initial release, The Silence of the Lambs still frightens and fascinates viewers, demonstrating its continuing appeal and lasting influence in the history of cinema.

 

Budget: approximately $19 million 

Box office: approximately $272 million

IMDb score: 8.6/10

Interstellar (2014)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures .

Achieving both economic success and critical praise, Interstellar rises as a cinematic marvel that captivates both viewers and critics alike with its spectacular sights, thought-provoking themes, and emotionally powerful storytelling. To save humanity from extinction, a group of astronauts set out on a treacherous journey through a recently discovered wormhole in search of a new habitable planet. Interstellar may be considered just a sci-fi space opera, but it soon becomes a profound meditation on the nature of existence and the unwavering will of humanity.

 

Budget: approximately $165 million 

Box office: approximately $733 million

IMDb score: 8.7/10

 

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a whimsical treat that won over audiences and critics alike with its quirky characters, striking cinematography, and clever narrative. This hilarious movie, directed by Wes Anderson, transports audiences to the made-up Republic of Zubrowka. There, they join an endearing concierge named Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) and a devoted lobby boy, Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori), on a crazy journey. With its elaborately designed sets, striking color scheme, and a large cast of eccentric people, The Grand Budapest Hotel gives life to a nostalgic world that still manages to resonate with audiences worldwide. 

 

Budget: approximately $25 million 

Box office: approximately $174 million

IMDb score: 8.1/10

 

Moonlight (2016)

Photo Credit: A24.

Moonlight is a coming-of-age drama, directed by Barry Jenkins, which centers on Chiron, a young African American man growing up in Miami, as he deals with the difficulties of adolescence, love, and self-discovery against the backdrop of discrimination and poverty. The movie explores themes of masculinity, sexuality, and the need for belonging with a deep sense of delicacy and empathy through its lyrical depiction of Chiron’s journey, as represented by three different actors at three different points in his life. The film received a great deal of critical acclaim and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, securing its place in history as a timeless piece of art that moves spectators long after the credits have rolled. 

 

Budget: approximately $1.5 million 

Box office: approximately $65 million

IMDb score: 7.4/10

Coco (2017)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

With its charming story and stunning animation, Coco captivates audiences of all ages as a joyful celebration of culture, family, and the power of music. This animated masterwork, co-directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, tells the story of Miguel, a young, ambitious musician who travels to the Land of the Dead to discover his family’s long-forgotten past and fulfill his musical dreams. Coco is funny, poignant, and sad, all while featuring many catchy musical numbers. Its vivid characters, highly detailed depiction of Mexican customs, and emotionally stirring plot line all work together to create an unforgettable experience. The movie received a great deal of praise and affection from critics, confirming its status as a beloved classic in the Pixar canon.

 

Budget: approximately $175-225 million 

Box office: approximately $814 million

IMDb score: 8.4/10

Little Women (2019)

Photo Credit:Sony Pictures .

With its innovative viewpoint and outstanding ensemble cast, Greta Gerwig’s 2019 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel Little Women captivated both critics and fans as a moving and topical reworking of the beloved book. The movie follows the March sisters (Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth) as they experience the highs and lows of growing up in 19th-century New England against the backdrop of the American Civil War. Gerwig’s adaptation brings fresh life to the well-loved tale by delving deeply and delicately into themes of sisterhood, ambition, and the pursuit of artistic fulfillment through its exquisite cinematography, well-developed characters, and feminist sensibilities. Little Women won critical acclaim for its performances, direction, and faithful but inventive take on a beloved literary classic.

 

Budget: approximately $40 million 

Box office: approximately $218 million

IMDb score: 7.8/10

 

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

With its endearing story of friendship and self-discovery, How to Train Your Dragon became an engaging animated adventure that captivated audiences worldwide and received both critical and financial acclaim. The movie, co-directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, tells the story of Hiccup, a young Viking who defies convention by making friends with the vicious dragon Toothless. Set in the fantastical world of Berk, the movie features stunning animation (Hiccup’s design is impeccable), exhilarating flying sequences, and lovable characters. A global message of acceptance and belonging, humor, and inventiveness are what make this movie so popular.

 

Budget: approximately $165 million 

Box office: approximately $494 million

IMDb score: 8.1/10

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Photo Credit: United Artist.

Regarded as a timeless classic, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is beloved by critics and viewers alike for its evocative score and memorable characters. In this epic Western, directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach, three gunslingers go out to hunt hidden treasure against the backdrop of the American Civil War. The film’s examination of greed, loyalty, and the human condition resonates with timeless relevance as audiences are drawn into its world of moral ambiguity and epic grandeur, cementing its place in the pantheon of cinematic greats.

 

Budget: approximately $1 million 

Box office: approximately $39 million

IMDb score: 8.8/10

Seven (1995)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Seven, stylized as Se7en, is a terrifying masterpiece that captivates viewers with its eerie atmosphere, complex narrative, and intense acting. This psychological thriller, directed by David Fincher, focuses on two detectives, played by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, as they pursue a sadistic serial killer who bases his crimes on the seven deadly sins. With its gritty realism, unrelenting suspense, and unsettling visuals, viewers are drawn into a dark world of moral decay and existential dread, and forced to explore the deepest and darkest parts of the human psyche.

 

Budget: approximately $33 million 

Box office: approximately $327 million

IMDb score: 8.6/10

 

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Photo Credit: Focus Features.

The 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice gave new life to Jane Austen’s classic story, succeeding in giving it great imagery, energetic acting, and an authentically modernized take. This adaptation, which was directed by Joe Wright and stars Keira Knightley as the vivacious Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen as the moody Mr. Darcy, transports viewers to the charming English countryside of the early 19th century, where wit and charm collide with social conventions and romantic entanglements. The film combines a modern sensibility with an evocative score, grandiose dancing sequences, and a witty portrayal of Austen’s iconic characters.

 

Budget: approximately $28 million 

Box office: approximately $121 million

IMDb score: 7.8/10

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