erik lundegaard

Movies - The Oscars posts

Wednesday February 22, 2012

How Do Best Pictures Rate on IMDb?

My recent post about the IMDb ratings of current best picture nominees, along with the usual slew of “worst best-pictures” articles, or revisionist or do-over Oscar picks, made me wonder how every best picture winner has fared with IMDb users—or at least those IMDb users who bother to rate films.

Which are the highest-rated best picture winners? Which are the lowest-rated? Which pictures get votes and which are ignored?Oscar Oscar Oscar

No big surprise: Recent best picture winners get rated more often, way more often, than older best picture winners. In the past 20 years, there are only three films that haven't been rated by more than 100,000 users: “Chicago,” “Shakespeare in Love” and “The English Patient.” Meanwhile, of the first 45 best picture winners—i.e., from 1927 to 1971—only two films, “Casablanca” and “Gone with the Wind,” have generated more than 100,000 votes. Most people can't be bothered with what's old. Those who can, like me, can't be bothered to rate them on IMDb.

The films with the lowest vote totals also tend to have the lowest ratings. That was a bit of a surprise to me. I thought that the few fans of, say, “Cavalcade” (1933), would skew its results up, but it's simply logic. Lesser movies just don't get watched, and thus don't get rated, particularly if they're older. Among best picture winners, “Calvacade,” from 1933, has the fewest votes: 1,426.

A note to IMDb: Isn't it time to increase the decimal? Ten of the 84 films are tied with an 8.4 rating. Nine are tied with an 8.0 rating. That's too many ties. Give us that hundredth already.

Now on with the countdown.

Here are the highest-ranked best picture winners on IMDb:

The Godfather (1972) 9.2 535,083
The Godfather, Part II (1974) 9.0 336,575
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 8.9 501,289
Schindler's List (1993) 8.9 375,193
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) 8.8 300,314
Forrest Gump (1994) 8.7 446,991
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) 8.7 344,094
Casablanca (1943) 8.7 209,989
The Departed (2006) 8.5 368,308
American Beauty (1999) 8.5 389,392
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) 8.5 98,407

Again, it skews recent. Of the top 11, more than half were released in the last 20 years. Only two—“Lawrence” and “Casablanca”—were released prior to 1970.

Here are the bottom 10:



Cimarron (1931) 6.1 1,744
Cavalcade (1933) 6.3 1,426
The Broadway Melody (1929) 6.4 2,466
The Greatest Show On Earth (1952) 6.7 5,186
Around the World In 80 Days (1956) 6.8 9,129
Tom Jones (1963) 6.9 4,857
Gigi (1958) 6.9 7,472
The Great Ziegfeld (1936) 6.9 2,583
Out of Africa (1985) 7.0 25,363
Chicago (2002) 7.2 99,936
Chariots of Fire (1981) 7.2 20,114
An American In Paris (1951) 7.2 11,808

It skews old. We get the forgotten BPs of the 1930s, the bloated spectacles of the 1950s, plus a few recent head-scratchers. But “An American in Paris” at 7.2? Really? IMDb's voters don't like musicals, do they? The great musicals of the early sixties, “My Fair Lady” (7.9), “The Sound of Music” (7.9) and “West Side Story” (7.7) all get less love than the abyssmal “Crash,” which is somehow still perched at a lofty 8.0.

Something is even more apparent when you look at each decade's highest- and lowest-ranked films:

Decade Highest-Ranked Rating Lowest-ranked Rating
1930s It Happened One Night 8.3 Cimarron 6.1
1940s Casablanca 8.7 Gentleman's Agreement 7.4
1950s The Bridge on the River Kwai 8.4 The Greatest Show on Earth 6.7
1960s Lawrence of Arabia 8.5 Tom Jones 6.9
1970s The Godfather 9.2 Kramer vs. Kramer 7.7
1980s Amadeus 8.4 Out of Africa 7.0
1990s Schindler's List 8.9 Shakespeare in Love 7.3
2000s Lord of the Rings: Return of the King 8.9 Chicago 7.2

It's the dude angle, the fanboy angle. The highest-ranked films above are testosterone-heavy. From the 1950s on, in fact, it's tough to find a leading woman in the mix. Diane Keaton in “The Godfather” maybe? Mozart's wife in “Amadeus”? Cate Blanchett in “LOTR: ROTK”? On the lowest-ranked side, it's all female-centered stories (“Chicago”) or empathetic male stories (“Kramer vs. Kramer”), or both (“Shakespeare in Love”). It's hardly a scoop that IMDb's users are young and male but it is sad. The Academy is historically dismissive of female-centered stories. IMDb's voters turn out to be worse.

As I was compiling the above, I noticed that the highest-ranked of the highest-ranked movies was “The Godfather,” while the highest-ranked of the lowest-ranked movies was “Kramer vs. Kramer,” both from the 1970s. It led me to break down the ratings by decade:

Decade Avg Rating
1970s 8.35
1990s 8.16
2000s 8.13
1940s 7.94
1960s 7.88
1980s 7.72
1950s 7.66
1930s 7.48

The 1970s, with its great slew of American films, is rightly in first place. The 1950s is weighed down by a few of the Academy's tepid choices (“Greatest Show,” “Around the World”), as is the 1980s (“Ordinary People,” “Chariots of Fire,” “Driving Miss Daisy”). The '90s and 2000s are obviously too high but what are you gonna do? They'll come down.

For completeists, here's the entire list:

The King's Speech (2010) 8.2 155,972
The Hurt Locker (2009) 7.7 137,683
Slumdog Millionaire (2008) 8.2 269,582
No Country For Old Men (2007) 8.2 274,692
The Departed (2006) 8.5 368,308
Crash (2005) 8.0 217,777
Million Dollar Baby (2004) 8.2 204,335
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 8.9 501,289
Chicago (2002) 7.2 99,936
A Beautiful Mind (2001) 8.0 202,651
Gladiator (2000) 8.4 397,268
American Beauty (1999) 8.5 389,392
Shakespeare In Love (1998) 7.3 97,391
Titanic (1997) 7.5 336,027
The English Patient (1996) 7.3 72,322
Braveheart (1995) 8.4 327,548
Forrest Gump (1994) 8.7 446,991
Schindler's List (1993) 8.9 375,193
Unforgiven (1992) 8.3 135,496
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) 8.7 344,094
Dances With Wolves (1990) 8.0 94,144
Driving Miss Daisy (1989) 7.4 30,411
Rain Man (1988) 8.0 165,428
The Last Emperor (1987) 7.8 33,160
Platoon (1986) 8.2 145,818
Out of Africa (1985) 7.0 25,363
Amadeus (1984) 8.4 128,078
Terms of Endearment (1983) 7.3 21,085
Gandhi (1982) 8.1 71,833
Chariots of Fire (1981) 7.2 20,114
Ordinary People (1980) 7.8 20,192
Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979) 7.7 40,353
The Deer Hunter (1978) 8.2 117,540
Annie Hall (1977) 8.2 87,916
Rocky (1976) 8.1 143,362
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) 8.8 300,314
The Godfather, Part II (1974) 9.0 336,575
The Sting (1973) 8.4 85,891
The Godfather (1972) 9.2 535,083
The French Connection (1971) 7.9 42,667
Patton (1970) 8.0 49,384
Midnight Cowboy (1969) 8.0 42,805
Oliver! (1968) 7.5 12,026
In the Heat of the Night (1967) 8.0 26,928
A Man For All Seasons (1966) 8.0 14,614
The Sound of Music (1965) 7.9 68,810
My Fair Lady (1964) 7.9 35,262
Tom Jones (1963) 6.9 4,857
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) 8.5 98,407
West Side Story (1961) 7.7 37,371
The Apartment (1960) 8.4 49,785
Ben-Hur (1959) 8.2 76,925
Gigi (1958) 6.9 7,472
The Bridge On the River Kwai (1957) 8.4 76,003
Around the World In 80 Days (1956) 6.8 9,129
Marty (1955) 7.7 8,028
On the Waterfront (1954) 8.4 52,369
From Here To Eternity (1953) 7.9 19,141
The Greatest Show On Earth (1952) 6.7 5,186
An American In Paris (1951) 7.2 11,808
All About Eve (1950) 8.4 43,955
All the King's Men (1949) 7.6 5,597
Hamlet (1948) 7.9 6,557
Gentleman's Agreement (1947) 7.4 5,688
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) 8.3 21,793
The Lost Weekend (1945) 8.1 14,287
Going My Way (1944) 7.4 4,143
Casablanca (1943) 8.7 209,989
Mrs. Miniver (1942) 7.7 6,058
How Green Was My Valley (1941) 7.9 8,993
Rebecca (1940) 8.4 45,011
Gone With the Wind (1939) 8.2 106,428
You Can't Take It With You (1938) 8.0 10,500
The Life of Emile Zola (1937) 7.4 2,376
The Great Ziegfeld (1936) 6.9 2,583
Mutiny On the Bounty (1935) 7.9 9,276
It Happened One Night (1934) 8.3 32,375
Cavalcade (1933) 6.3 1,426
Grand Hotel (1932) 7.6 7,300
Cimarron (1931) 6.1 1,744
All Quiet On the Western Front (1930) 8.1 28,205
The Broadway Melody (1929) 6.4 2,466
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1928) 8.4 15,384
Wings (1927) 7.8 3,792
Posted at 06:59 AM on Feb 22, 2012 in category Movies - The Oscars
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Saturday February 18, 2012

The Best Picture Nominees by Current IMDb Ranking

  • The Artist: 8.4
  • Hugo: 8.2
  • The Help: 8.0
  • Midnight in Paris: 7.8
  • Moneyball: 7.7
  • The Descendants: 7.7
  • War Horse: 7.3
  • The Tree of Life: 7.1
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: 6.4

I'm a bit surprised that “The Help” is that high but I shouldn't be. I'm a bit surprised that “The Tree of Life” is that low but I shouldn't be. I should revisit in a year and see what's changed. Someone remind me. Vinny? Reed?

“The Help”: It's funny cuz it's untrue.

Posted at 03:26 PM on Feb 18, 2012 in category Movies - The Oscars
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Friday February 17, 2012

The Bechdel Test, Stein, Hemingway and Woody Allen

“What's even more embarassing about this film [Midnight in Paris] is that one of the more important historical figures that Gil interacts with is Gertrude Stein. For those of you who aren't familiar with her, Stein is one of the most famous writers, and lesbians, in American history. And Woody Allen has the nerve to not have her speak to another female character in the entire film?”

--Anita Sarkeesian, in her video, The 2012 Oscars and the Bechdel Test, below, at the 3:30 mark. (But keep reading beyond the video.)

“Miss Stein was very big but not tall and was heavily built like a peasant woman. She had beautiful eyes and a strong German-Jewish face that also could have been Friulano and she reminded me of a northern Italian peasant woman with her clothes, her mobile face and her lovely, thick, alive immigrant hair which she wore put up in the same way she had probably worn it in college. She talked all the time and at first it was about people and places.

”Her companion [Alice B. Toklas] had a very pleasant voice, was small, very dark, with her hair cut like Joan of Arc in the Boutet de Monvel illustrations and had a very hooked nose. She was working on a piece of needlepoint when we first met them and she worked on this and saw to the food and drink and talked to my wife. She made one conversation and listened to two and often interrupted the one she was not making. Afterwards she explained to me that she always talked to the wives. The wives, my wife and I felt, were tolerated...

“'I said to my wife, ”You know, Gertrude is nice, anyway.“ ...

”'I never hear her,' my wife said. 'I'm a wife. It's her friend that talks to me.'“

--Ernest Hemingway, ”A Moveable Feast"

Posted at 07:32 AM on Feb 17, 2012 in category Movies - The Oscars
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Saturday February 11, 2012

Oscar: Doing the Wrong Thing

I'm finally getting together my invites for the Oscar party on Sunday, Feb. 26 and got distracted on the site. Is that an official site of the Academy? It looks to be. There's as well, which is definitely official, but I assume the organization runs both.

Anyway I was distracted by a “Celebrate the Movies” photo gallery that is also advertising the Oscar broadcast this year and the Oscars and the movies in general. One photos shows Tom Cruise in “Top Gun” with the line WE SHOWED YOU HOW TO BE A MAVERICK; another shows Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany's” with the line WE SHOWED YOU HOW TO HAVE STYLE. Etc.

It's halfway to annoying. But it went the entire way with the following slide:

"Do the Right Thing" on the Oscar site

YOU showed us how to make a change? How about Spike Lee did? Or not even. He made a good, incendiary movie, which, in a weak year, didn't get nominated for best picture or director or cinematographer. It got ignored by the Academy—infamously—in favor of past pleasantries. Yet here you are using it to promote yourself.




All are more accurate.

Posted at 09:59 AM on Feb 11, 2012 in category Movies - The Oscars
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Thursday February 09, 2012

The Return of Karl Show! (Starring Jason)

A few months ago I was on the Portland radio show Karl Show! (Starring Jason) to talk about movies and reviewing movies. Tomorrow night, Friday night at 8 pm (PST), I'll be back on to talk about this year's Oscars: the good, the bad and “War Horse.”

You can listen live here.

The podcast will be available on the Karl Show! (Starring Jason) website.

Posted at 08:01 AM on Feb 09, 2012 in category Movies - The Oscars
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