Michael B. Jordan has just earned some new bragging rights. Not only did he work as both an actor and a producer on his latest film Just Mercy, the movie has the unique distinction of earning an A+ — a perfect score — with CinemaScore moviegoers. And it joins just a handful of other films that are apparently too good to miss.
According to the CinemaScore website, Just Mercy is the first film of 2020 to earn an A+ rating. Just Mercy tells the true story of Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer who left behind a potentially lucrative career to help overturn wrongful convictions. In the film, he takes on the case of Walter McMillian, a black man wrongfully accused of killing a white woman in Alabama. It’s not exactly the type of lighthearted story that you might expect film fans to flock toward. But those who’ve seen the film seem to have found it more than worth their time.
Film critics, too, have given Just Mercy mostly positive reviews. They have praised Michael B. Jordan’s portrayal of Bryan Stevenson, as well as Jamie Foxx’s performance as Walter McMillian, and the way in which the film approaches some pretty controversial themes. And while CinemaScore isn’t the only barometer of cinematic satisfaction, Rotten Tomatoes users have also rated Just Mercy highly. It currently has a 99% audience score on that website.
As of this year, only 89 movies have been given an A+ rating by CinemaScore — a market research company that has been polling moviegoers around the country since 1979. The first film to get an A+ was 1982’s E.T. And before Just Mercy, the last film to earn a perfect CinemaScore was last year’s Ford v Ferrari. From those two examples alone, it’s easy to see that there’s a wide range of films that have ultimately earned an A+. Some are undisputed classics, like Schindler’s List or Finding Nemo. Other films might seem a bit more debatable — like Dolphin Tale (yes, seriously).
But CinemaScore’s results drive home a point that’s frequently been a topic of conversation among film lovers — that there can be a huge gap between what critics love and what audiences respond to. A perfect example of this is 2017’s Mother!, which had mixed-to-positive reviews from critics, some of whom hailed it a masterpiece, but received an F grade on CinemaScore.
Just Mercy like won’t be as controversial as Mother! Though it does take a critical perspective on the U.S. justice system and racial discrimination, it does so through the lens of empathy for those who’ve been mistreated by it. And though it takes place in the 1980s, its themes are relevant today, as well, which makes it easier for audiences to relate to. Just Mercy also stars Brie Larson. It is currently playing in theaters nationwide.