Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The IMDb Top 250

When I first became interested in movies, one of the things I checked out the most was the IMDb Top 250. Back then, I really didn't know much about other movie websites and I was convinced that these 250 films were the best ones ever made. Every time I went to Blockbuster I always picked up a film on this list. 

As my knowledge of cinema, and the internet for that matter, has grown, I have come to learn that his list seems to be losing some of its authority. As of right now, there are seven films from 2009 on this list: The Hangover, 500 Days of Summer, Star Trek, Zombieland, District 9, Inglourious Basterds, and Up. That total comes out to a rough average of one film a month. While all of these films have been praised by audiences and critics alike, does it really make sense that roughly every month we are seeing one of the 250 greatest films of all-time? I think not.

Some nay-sayers of this list might say that these statistics are worthless because they are only votes from the website users and not actual movie critics. And this is what I would say to those people: Are movies generally made to be enjoyed by critics or audiences? There are millions of more average moviegoers on this planet than there are movie critics, so doesn't it make sense that a director would rather please audiences than critics? Sure it does.

Taking all of that into consideration, does this list mean that audiences are getting easier to please? When films like Zombieland and Star Trek are voted as some of the greatest movies of all-time, what is that saying about the intelligence of the average audience member?

These are just some of my thoughts and are not meant to insult anyone. I'm curious to hear what you all have to say about this topic. 


Univarn said...

This happens every year as those who vote a lot weigh more heavily than your mom and pop voter. Pretty much every big film gets a huge voting spike for the first month, then again at DVD release. But 99% of the time they trail off after a few months and it goes back to normal.

Usually the best time to check it out is about March-April before people begin to march in droves to whack 10/10 for every movie they saw that summer.

Danny King said...

@ Univarn: There is no doubt that the numbers for current releases almost always go down eventually -- like you said 99% of the time.

Daniel Getahun said...

I've complained about what happened to this list many times. In the 90's it really was a more "accurate" representation of the "best" films, but as the internet exploded and fanboys took over, it was never the same. The Matrix is really the first movie that made a huge splash at the top before falling a little bit. And that's happened ever since - like you say even 7 times in what I would consider to be a pretty bad year so far.

It's just a little strange that the majority (at least half, or so it would seem) of the movies on there are from this decade. That alone makes the entire list suspect in my opinion.

In any case, Univarn makes a wise point about the timing within the year.

Danny King said...

@ Daniel: Thanks for commenting Daniel. I certainly agree that starting with this decade, the numbers have become increasingly skewed. Considering that it has been "a pretty bad year so far", which I agree with, it is very glaring that 7 films could be on that list from 2009. Univarn does make an excellent observation about the timing of the list, but there will always be new releases out there so I don't' know if the Top 250 will ever regain the credibility it once had.

Anonymous said...

iMDB's Top 250 is still a great place if you're an aspiring film buff. I gained a great deal of knowledge about films by watching the movies on the list.

Now, a lot of people would asert that iMDB has been taken over by internet nerds, but I don't buy that. I just think that people are assessing on different criteria. If they were entertained by a film, they give it high scores, thus it will make it into the Top 250. Some may also rate based on historical importance and other factors.

I think we're seeing a greater frequency of movies entering the Top 250 because more people are aware of the site and use it as a tool.

The Top 250 isn't the end all of "Greatest Ever..." lists, it's simply a good tool to see the general consensus within the non-critic community. At the end of the day, the ultimate decision-maker for what you feel is the "Best" is yourself.

Danny King said...

@ Anon: When I first started learning about cinema, I too was grateful to this list. I made an effort to watch as many films on the list as I could and I am grateful for that.

I would also agree that many people judge a film based on how entertaining it is. Probably one of the only universal criteria for a film is that it has to be entertaining, but sometimes people might reject the other criteria if it is a slower paced film.

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