The problem with these rankings (assuming they are from IMDB) is that they are more friendly to contemporary, Internet-age movies and TV. Anything older than about 30 years is significantly down further in the list.
As an example, I can't imagine a world where 'The Avengers' is better than 'Schindler's List', 'Godfather, Part 2', or 'Pulp Fiction' (just 3 examples).
A few stupid entries:
#1721 'I Love Lucy' - easily considered by critics as the best TV comedy of all time yet barely in the top 20% of all tv and movies?
I can't even find the MASH TV show, only the movie. Pretty weird considering that it's considered the 2nd best TV comedy of all time.
#74 'Seinfeld' - considered the 3rd best TV comedy of all time. The internet is more friendly to this one.
#15 'Game of Thrones (TV)' - fanboys strike again, or they just really like irrelevant nudity.
#1636 'The Constant Gardener' - it is an abomination that this is here, it's lower ranked than 'Super Troopers' (#1626), 'Iron Man 2' (#1610), and 'Soul Surfer' (#1599), just to name a few.
There's another bias, where things are overrated because they're unusually good for their time. For instance, "Battleship Potemkin" is often considered one of the greatest films ever made because it was so innovative for its time, despite the fact that when you watch it now, it's easily a shitty propaganda film. It may have been a greater achievement, but as a film, it's somewhat lacking by modern standards. Likewise, MASH and Seinfeld were groundbreaking, but largely because of MASH and Seinfeld, we can and do make better television series today. I think the two biases largely cancel out.
This has some interesting consequences. For instance, in the restricted realm of science fiction TV, it's clear that Star Trek: The Next Generation is strictly better than the original Star Trek, just as the recent Battlestar Galactica is strictly better than TNG, because these series responded to and innovated on each other.
On balance, I still wouldn't say it's necessarily true that newer series are better than older series. It's still rare that a TV series tops The Prisoner, for instance.
I'm generally a seller of the whole "social discovery" web application movement, but for things like movies, I have one or two friends whom I depend upon heavily for "social discovery" (I'll usually email them about what I'm looking for) in having great movies recommended to me personally :).
That's the mass taste. I am not trying to discuss with the mainstream taste, just made the tool.
For those interested in getting a personalized movie ranking I created another tool "Movie Galaxy" http://arek-paterek.com/movie-galaxy/
I seriously doubt that. Just because it's what the available data show doesn't mean that that's the popular taste. If you surveyed 100 people who have seen both The Avengers and Godfather Part 2, I highly doubt a majority will regard the former as a better film than the latter. People are in different moods when they rate films, older films don't get rated as often, the scale with which an individual rates different films may be wildly non-normalized...
Website idea: show two random movies, ask them if they've seen both, and if they have, ask the user which one's better without prescribing what "better" means. Repeat 1 trillion times. I'd be much more willing to trust differential data like this.
 - not going to call it a startup idea, because I have no idea how it would make money.
I think you'd be surprised. Though, I also think you'd be hard-pressed to find people who have watched both films (I've only seen one, and it isn't The Avengers). And there's a reason for that: most people don't want to watch a three-hour, epic drama from 1972. Ask people who haven't seen either film which they'd rather see, tonight, and I'll bet they choose The Avengers. Why? Because if you haven't seen GF2 by now, it probably doesn't interest you. So on some level, these rankings speak to the current Zeitgeist.
I can't understand the vitriol directed at these rankings. Sure, there is a definite bias towards modern films in the imdb rankings, but it is what it is. I don't think that it's any different than some crotchety old movie critic telling me which films I should like best.
The fact of the matter is, there is no objective measure of "best". Scan these comments. I can find examples to agree with and disagree with in nearly every single one. But they are all saying the same thing: "This list is wrong!" Based on that, I don't think you or I would have any more success curating a list of movies. This list is as good as any.
That's really neat. It's quite addictive to rank films that way. Annoyingly hard in some instances. The only thing I think is lacking is some way to get a reminder about the plot; when you're talking about movies seen more than a couple of decades ago ...
The tool has no point if the data source is flawed. It is like saying you made a weather forecast website but none of the predictions are accurate: It becomes worthless. If you make a tool that tool has to be able to extract quality data before anything else.
And interestingly, "Research suggests that the best way to predict how much we will enjoy an experience is to see how much someone else enjoyed it."
- “If money doesn’t make you happy, then you probably aren’t spending it right” by Elizabeth W. Dunn, Daniel T. Gilbert
Maybe put in an inflation adjustment factor. That would reflect how a movie rates compared to it's contemporaries.
You'd have to be careful not to cap a movies' rating just because scores in that era are more lenient though -- maybe pull movies toward an overall median based on their distance from a 2-3 year moving average.
So say we want the median score to be 50%. And the median rating in 2008 was 63%. Let's take two movies from 2008 -- one scored 98%, the highest score in several years, and one scored 63%. The 98% movie stays at 98%. The 63% movie score becomes 50%.
Am I the only geek in the world who wasn't THAT impressed with Avengers? It was a fine superhero film, great ensemble cast, good script and all, but I didn't find it revolutionary. #3 "best" film ever? Come on!
I do not even think it rates as fine! The script was awful, and Loki being beaten up by Hulk was just so wrong. Loki is joking about it but he ia supposed to be a God and way above the Hulk and so on. I could go on and on and nitpick forever on this movie, there were so many thins wrong with it, but the worst is that there was no tension, no sense of urgency, and no reason for the super heroes to team up together. The super heroes should have been going one by one after Loki and their ass kicked so that they realize they need to work together.
Anyway, Marvel really messed up what could have been awesome in the first place.
That's not gaming. If a movie is rated 4 stars on IMDB but you think it should be 5, you won't rate it 5, you'll rate it 10 because that pulls the average closer to 5. Likewise, if it's rated 5 stars but you think it should be 4, you might rate it 1.
I see an opportunity here. Is there already a recommendation service around that takes your rating profile into account? Apple has their 'Genius' system, however with respect to movies rentals I think this is lacking a bit: Movies I want to rent are usually movies I only want to see once, not gems like Godfather or Constant Gardener. A personal rating service would have to pose you targeted questions about your movie preferences and drill down into your personal taste.
I'm not one of those "Firefly is t3h greatest show evar" people but I would still say that, yes, Firefly is better than Citizen Kane. But we would have to define what we mean by "better".
Citizen Kane gets a lot of rightful attention for being historic and groundbreaking in a number of ways, especially by people who have never seen it. Unfortunately, despite often being conflated, "groundbreaking" and "good" are not really the same thing. Now, don't get me wrong, Citizen Kane is a fine film and still worth watching today. But divorce it from its historic role and consider modern audiences. Think about what it would be like if released today. At best it would be critically-acclaimed and lauded by a small audience without ever seeing mainstream appeal, much as Firefly has.
Now, granted, I haven't gone a single shred toward showing that Firefly is actually any better than Citizen Kane though I have gone some way to putting them on roughly the same level. And Firefly has more explosions and space zombies making it more watchable for many people today.
Is Firefly really better than Citizen Kane? It will never be widely thought so by critics but I can definitely see an argument where it is better for modern audiences and I really think that's what matters at the end of the day.
Citizen Kane is famous for a bunch of different reasons, including advancing the state of the art of cinema and being basically a flawless masterpiece. But probably the thing that stands out the most today is its psychological depth, in that to this day it's arguably still the best character study ever done.
Firefly doesn't have that sort of psychological depth, but it does have a lot of moral ambiguity, something that's virtually non-existant in CK. That's something that would have gone a lot deeper had the show gotten another two or three seasons, but they never got that chance. It also has some of the most clever writing of any TV show, up there with only Arrested Development really. Cleverness might not be as prized by critics as authentic character writing, but it's still at the top of its form nonetheless. The main downside of the show was that it was already starting to get a bit formulaic toward the end of season one when they canceled it. In any event, I don't think you could ever put Firefly above Citizen Kane, but certainly I think it pushed the boundaries of its genre in a way that is rare.
The Avengers, on the other hand, has virtually no redeeming value whatsoever except for Joss Whedon's clever writing during the second half and the amazing effects during the NYC fight scene.
Moral ambiguity is something that passes in and out of fashion, and it's something that Firefly never really delivered on. Where Firefly really shone was as a prototype for the naturalistic science fiction approach that Battlestar Galactica mastered.
Yeah, it's unfortunate that Firefly never got the chance to deliver there. That said, if you pit the first season of Firefly against just the first quarter of Citizen Kane, which is really more fair in some ways, I'd go with Firefly any day.
I'm saying you are clearly seeing a generational and tech savvy bias to the rankings. For Avengers to be so high shows it's good movie, and it is. But the fanboyism of the comic-reading, tech savvy audience is skewing the metric way higher than it should be.
The same thing is happening with Game of Thrones. It's excellent but I've seen many, many TV dramas that are just as good if not better.
Comedy is a terrible example to criticize due to it tending to be very cross-generational. MASH, Seinfeld, and I Love Lucy are still shown on TV today. MASH and I Love Lucy on more obscure cable channels, but Seinfeld still is on in reruns for an hour before primetime TV on our CBS affiliate.
At first I thought this was an awful list, but then I filtered it by date up to 1995 and I felt that the list made a lot more sense. Is this an issue that it takes 15 to 20 years to get settle on what is truly worthy? Or is it an issue with the dawning of the Internet Age?
There are plenty of films made after 1995 that I think are highly deserving. But in 20 years from now, will we look and say Return of the King out ranks Star Wars? Or The Avengers is better than 12 Angry Men? (The Avengers was decent popcorn fun, but what was the plot?)
"At first I thought this was an awful list, but then I filtered it by date up to 1995 and I felt that the list made a lot more sense. Is this an issue that it takes 15 to 20 years to get settle on what is truly worthy? Or is it an issue with the dawning of the Internet Age?"
I remember seeing the same thing on IMDB years back, where contemporary movies will appear very high on the list and disappear.
If you read the reviews (and I think IMDB lets you filter by demographics, or used to) you'll see that it's mostly young kids and idiots voting summer blockbusters as "10/10 OMG best movie evar!".
Not sure if there is a solution as it's always been the same way, there's always some hot new art, book, technology, etc. that's "GROUNDBREAKING" "CLASSIC" "AMAZING" that fades away quickly and the items that stick around for posterity aren't necessarily the ones that you'd predict (eg. Moby Dick and The Great Gatsby were initially flops on publication).
"The National Film Registry is the United States National Film Preservation Board's selection of films for preservation in the Library of Congress."
"The National Film Registry names to its list up to 25 'culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films' each year, showcasing the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation.... To be eligible for inclusion, a film must be at least ten years old."
If you try to go down this list, your head will explode.
Half of top movies are highly bogus comices (sorry guys, they are), the other half are highly epic dramas.
You just should not mix them on a single page. This is so wrong.
Clockwork Orange is 46th, 2001 is 211st, and Lolita (Kubrick's version), 1018th. Best movie that poor, not-so-much-talented Kubrick has apparently made is Strangelove, which is 32nd "best movie ever made".
It's very informative to know what IMDB thinks (for one thing, you know what movies to skip), but basing our "best movies" list on what they think is not all right.
The ranking criteria - basically, I combined ratings from IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, with additional heuristic tweaks. The ranking method I use for is different than the popular IMDb method aka "True Bayesian estimate", which is not really a Bayesian estimate. I wrote more about how I approach ranking in my e-book http://arek-paterek.com/book/ , for people who are really interested in such technical details.
This was my first question too and I wouldn't necessarily consider myself incredibly technical.
I think the first question most people have when they see a "top _____" list, is "according to who?" Having a short description of the way the rankings are done along with a link to a more detailed description, would be great.
This really doesn't seem to solve the main problem that most current ranking systems have - it doesn't compensate for recency. Newer critically-acclaimed movies like The Dark Knight rank higher than much older but just as well-liked movies like Citizen Kane.
Is that really a bug? Kane, while a technical masterpiece for it's time - shouldn't be up on some pedestal. As art it is, while powerful, also not flawless. If you had to pin me down to a black and white era drama, I much prefer, say, 12 Angry Men to Kane as _art_.
Giving more importance to the average rating in RT, rather than the tomatometer, would give a very different ranking. Avengers has more than a 10% lower average ranking than any other movie in the top 10.
Sorry this is off-topic but does anyone know why there are no independent Netflix services? I'm thinking back when you could go to your neighborhood movie rental place...well, now imagine that selection is specific (ex. Western) or curated, and also imagine it is online, available for viewing. Is this just too hard to get the rights to? How did local movie rental places get the rights to rent out films?
People sell pirated films on the street here in Brazil and I once heard of a cultured 'pirate' who only sold pirated, high-brow DVDs. It got me thinking
Licensing terms are really hard and expensive to get, streaming services are expensive to set up/run and Internet brands are a "winner takes all" situation that make it hard for regional or niche brands to compete.
You can buy a physical media copy of a film licensed for rental quite easily through a standard-ish system (expensive, I think it's a few hundred bucks for the disc?) but there's no standard system for licensing streaming and as long as the studios are scared of the Internet there won't be one.
There's a few indie streaming services out there but they're small. Film critic Roger Ebert runs "The Ebert Club", an online subscription club with limited runs of fairly obscure older movies. I remember one for horror/arthouse stuff too, but can't find it now. LoveFilm is really big in the UK.
I wanted to raise a point here, on the Internets (and I'm sure this will get downvoted into oblivion, but since I am a huge movie watcher [self-assessment based on large amounts of cash spent in theatres + Netflix], I will engage in this conversation anyway).
While some movies are transcendent, they are also highly subjective to their viewers tastes. As tastes change, so does the opinion of each generation and, thus, the ratings of those movies. As each generation disappears, why shouldn't the charts change, as that would be a reflection of the fact that each generation is different from the next one?
For example, I didn't think Star Wars was a great movie, even though I am a huge Sci-Fi fan! Most people would find this contradictory, but I can't argue with my tastes: I watched all of the episodes in 2009 and I said: "meh". Now, I am aware that at the time it had revolutionary graphics and it had a great impact on the film industry (which is why I dedicated the time to watch it in the first place). I can appreciate the impact it had in 1977, but in terms of absolute value it brought to me in 2009 - I can't justify the decision to vote for it as one of the top 10 best movies.
I noticed there is a strong bias coming from people who have watched Star Wars decades ago and only remember how awesome that movie made them feel at the time. I understand, I'm the same about the first 2 Terminator movies (since I'm in my late 20s) - there will always be a special place in my heart for them, but, realistically speaking, if I'd rewatch Terminator 1 or 2 right now, I wouldn't be as impressed with them as I was back then.
Obviously, it is unfair to compare movies from the 70s and 80s with the movies of today, but these charts do exactly this when they place The Godfather on 2nd place. Now the problem is that the placement suggests that Godfather 2 will be more enjoyable _today_ than The Avengers. Well, why should that be the case? My personal experience taught me otherwise.
Another example: the parent post mentions "I Love Lucy" as "the best TV comedy of all time", according to the critics. I'm constantly in search of good comedies and I watched the trailer to assess how much enjoyment I might get out it. I have to say - the IMDB trailer shows a primitive comedy and it didn't resonate with me, even though I'm not opposed to watching old comedies (Noises Off (1992) is one of my favorite "old" comedies). So I probably won't watch it, despite the fact that it was so highly acclaimed. Which then makes me wonder: how accurate are the ratings of the "critics"? If they're all in their 40s,50s and 60s (because it takes time to build a reputation as a critic), why would my generation listen to them and expect an accurate assessment of how enjoyable an old movie would be today ?
In conclusion, I'd like to suggest that maybe some movies naturally die out (in terms of rating) as a fact of life, just as old basketball players have to make room for new players, as they simply can't compete with the young ones. Perhaps there is a similar trend with movies, where modern technology coupled with a great plot simply creates a more immersive experience than old movies can, solely with their plot. If it is so, then we shouldn't disregard these charts just because "epic movie X from 100 years ago" ended up as #XXXXX.
Thanks for reading!
P.S.: Parent post should be Zimahl's "The problem with these rankings ... "
Well, I don't know if I agree with some statements here... Art does not necessarily "reflect the life as it is". I think art is an artist's expression of his/her view of the world (or life). Some may see the same scene in bright colours, some in gray, if you see what I mean.
EDIT: However I do agree that majority of the "good" movies these days are just targeting the entertainment nerve of a potential consumer...
I think you and I are in a pretty small minority. Maybe it's because I'd already read the novel - but I walked out of Shawshank Redemption thinking "meh" - and discovered I was very, very alone in that perspective.
I find the "Writer" column strange. Sometimes it's the author of the screenplay, sometimes it's the author of a book from which the film was adapted, or out of which the film was inspired. It's strange to see Tolkien as the "Writer" of the LOTR movies.
Yes when I saw Stephen King as the Writer for Shawshank Redemption I was surprised, didn't even know that was based on a short story by Stephen King. But the writer or screenplay was by Frank Darabont.
neat idea, I would be interested in how the score is calculated.
I tried restricting it to TV series, and I noticed an interesting trend that anything older than 2000 is pretty far down the list.
This is probably just a factor of pre-Internet TV shows not being well represented by number of reviews.
I see the same bias on sites like Rotten Tomatoes where if you look at an excellent movie before 1995, it will have few reviews (unless there were a bunch of reviews collected for the DVD / BluRay releases)
Maybe it's interesting technically, but what's the use of this site, if the movies are rated by retards? I mean, any ranking that puts Avengers in the first 1000 best movies is obviously deeply flawed.
Oh come on. It's a fine piece of entertainment, but it's hardly the second-best film of all time. Using the raw data like that is an immediate statistical fail, you should be using a high-pass filter of some sort.