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Rotten Tomatoes vs. Metacritic

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 24, 2009 at 8:59AM

The online movie critics aggregators Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes each have their strong and weak points, supporters and detractors. I like smaller site Metacritic's lean and elegant interface and respect their brainy selection of 40 or so established film critics, whose taste and erudition I trust more than Rotten Tomatoes' less discriminating list of hundreds of critics. That group gives a better sense, however, of how a movie will actually fare with the public. And the fresh/rotten stamp is delicious.
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Thompson on Hollywood
Thompson on Hollywood

The online movie critics aggregators Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes each have their strong and weak points, supporters and detractors. I like smaller site Metacritic's lean and elegant interface and respect their brainy selection of 40 or so established film critics, whose taste and erudition I trust more than Rotten Tomatoes' less discriminating list of hundreds of critics. That group gives a better sense, however, of how a movie will actually fare with the public. And the fresh/rotten stamp is delicious.

Rotten Tomatoes is a more crowded, noisy, content-filled eclectic site for movie fans. RT is more likely to post a few critics early without waiting for the official review date. And their Cream of the Crop list is equivalent, really, to the Metacritic list. While some folks decry the debasement of film literature brought by Rotten Tomatoes (hello Don Murphy), I argue that exposing large numbers of film fans--who do use these sites to make their decisions about what to see--to more film critics is a good thing. (I try to link to both sites.)

OK. You tell me. Which do you prefer and why? And if you don't use them, who do you read to inform your movie choices?

This article is related to: Reviews


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.