erik lundegaard

Crunching the Numbers: Which Best Pictures are Most-Seen, Least-Seen, and Most Beloved?

best pictures

Our friend and neighbor and oft-time reader, Vinny, who has his own blog, The Sayings of Uncle Vinny, recently crunched the numbers on the 71 readers who have ranked Oscar’s best picture winners. This is what he came up with.


Some analysis of votes received in Erik Lundegaard’s “Rank Oscar’s Best Picture Winners.”

First, a note on “ranking” vs “percentile rank.”

I started out sorting results by “Rank” (Ex.: “The Godfather at No. 1; ”Crash“ at No. 77), but soon switched to “Percentile Rank” (0% to 100%, with 100% being best) because it gives a better sense of the popularity of the films. Emily, for example, who only watched 21 movies, ranked “Slumdog Millionare” as her least favorite (#21), putting that film on even footing with a very good film that was ranked #21 by someone who has seen most or all of the best pictures. CM Gardner saw 81 filmes and ranked “Schindler’s List” as #21. Putting it in terms of percentage makes it easier to see how people feel about the movies.

What do we love? What do we hate?
“The Godfather,” no surprise, has the best overall ranking, with an average percentile rank of 84.4% (+/- 16). It was seen by nearly everyone (67 of the 71 readers). It's also the least-hated film on the list. Its lowest score was 30.3%, which might sound bad, but the next least-hated film is “Schindler’s List,” which still hit a low of 24.4% on somebody’s list. From there the “minimum” scores swiftly descend into the low teens, with a full 75 of the 85 films hated by someone: Each of them scored in someone’s bottom 10%.

Here are the nine films that stayed out of the bottom 10% on everyone’s lists:

title year Avg Score Lowest Score
The Godfather 1972 84.36 30.3
Schindler's List 1993 71.66 24.39
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1975 68.33 19.05
Casablanca 1943 82.87 18.57
In the Heat of the Night 1967 41.91 14.81
The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957 62.02 13.21
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans 1928 78.67 12.82
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946 56.48 11.29
Hamlet 1948 46.38 10.34

Only three films failed to crack the top 50% on anyone’s list: “The Broadway Melody” (27% at its highest), “The Great Ziegfeld” (41%) and “Cavalcade” (41%). In the same way that very few movies were hated by nobody, very few movies didn’t have some love showered on them by somebody: 77 of the 85 made it into the top 20% of at least one list.

Here are those unbeloved eight films:

title year Avg Score Best Score
The Broadway Melody 1929 5.63 27.16
The Great Ziegfeld 1936 18.19 41.18
Cavalcade 1933 8.44 41.38
Cimarron 1931 12.61 71.43
The Greatest Show on Earth 1952 15.23 75.29
Rocky 1976 36.58 76.32
Tom Jones 1963 30.96 78.21
Marty 1955 31.52 79.66

Opinion differed the most on “All Quiet on the Western Front”, where 30 voters gave a spread (standard deviation) of 30 points  around the average score of ~60%. Nobody was confused about “The Broadway Melody,” whose standard deviation was only 7.5% around a score of 5.6%. Ouch!

What have we seen?
The average voter has seen 57 of the 85 films. Two people have only seen 21 while three saw all 85. The least-seen movie was “The Life of Emile Zola,” with only 11 viewings. Two films, “Forrest Gump and “Slumdog Millionaire,” were seen by everyone.

Here are the 10 most-viewed best-picture winners. Well, 14 most-viewed. A big tie at the end there. Second sort on chronology:

title year TimesViewed
Forrest Gump 1994 71
Slumdog Millionaire 2008 71
The Silence of the Lambs 1991 69
Titanic 1997 69
Shakespeare in Love 1998 69
Casablanca 1943 67
The Godfather 1972 67
No Country for Old Men 2007 67
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1975 66
Annie Hall 1977 66
Schindler's List 1993 66
American Beauty 1999 66
Gladiator 2000 66
A Beautiful Mind 2001 66

And here are the 10 (well, 11) least-viewed best-picture winners:

title year TimesViewed
The Life of Emile Zola 1937 11
Cimarron 1931 12
Cavalcade 1933 12
The Broadway Melody 1929 13
The Great Ziegfeld 1936 16
Going My Way 1944 19
Wings 1927 20
Mrs. Miniver 1942 26
Gentleman's Agreement 1947 26
Mutiny of the Bounty 1935 28
The Greatest Show on Earth 1952 28

More to come...

The worst best pictures?


Posted at 01:17 PM on Sat. Feb 23, 2013 in category Movies - The Oscars  
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