Will I "Really Like" this Movie?

Navigating Movie Website Ratings to Select More Enjoyable Movies

The Best of the Best Pictures: Part 3

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Entertainment Weekly labeled the years 1967 to 1986 as the Age of Revolution when it put together its special Oscar edition this year. After all, it was one of their own, Mark Harris, the former Executive Editor and columnist for Entertainment Weekly, who wrote the informative 2008 book, Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood. The book detailed the 1967 Academy Award race for Best Picture and what it said about the changes that were going on in society and in Hollywood.

Movies began to reflect the political and cultural changes that were revolutionizing society. Three of the Best Picture nominees in 1967, The GraduateIn the Heat of the Night, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, began to take on issues that were moving to the forefront of society (racial prejudice & hatred, generational alienation).

Warren Beatty’s ultimately successful efforts to wrest control of the movie Bonnie and Clyde away from the Hollywood Studio system are also in the book. The story of the making of Bonnie and Clyde is the story of the revolution of independent film makers who separated themselves from the shackles of the studio system and began to create films that took chances.

The fifth nominated movie in 1967 was Doctor Doolittle. The movie become a financial and critical disaster. It brought to an end the Age of Musicals. For over twenty years movie musicals had been a safe staple of the studio system. The Doctor Doolittle boondoggle didn’t end musicals but it significantly slowed their volume.

So against the backdrop of the upheaval initiated in 1967, here are the Best Picture winners from the Age of Revolution ranked by their “really like” probability.

Top Objective Best Picture Winners
The Age of Revolution (1967 – 1986)
Movie (Award Year) # of IMDB Votes Rotten Tomatoes % Fresh Cinema Score Metacritic Objective “Really Like” Probability
Godfather, The (1972) 1,317,039 98% NA 100% 76.41%
Godfather, The, Part II (1974) 909,697 85% NA 97% 76.41%
Platoon (1986) 327,566 89% A 92% 76.39%
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)  767,877 95% NA 80% 75.96%
Rocky (1976) 434,259 93% NA 69% 75.96%
Amadeus (1984) 310,169 95% NR 93% 75.78%
Deer Hunter, The (1978) 263,422 94% NR 91% 74.59%
Gandhi (1982) 193,843 85% NR 79% 74.59%
Annie Hall (1977) 222,242 97% NA 92% 74.46%
Sting, The (1973) 200,775 93% NA 80% 74.46%
French Connection, The (1971) 92,665 98% NA 96% 73.84%
Patton (1970) 83,665 95% NA 91% 73.84%
In the Heat of the Night (1967) 56,103 96% NA 75% 73.84%
Midnight Cowboy (1969) 84,516 90% NA 79% 73.84%
Ordinary People (1980) 39,236 90% NR 87% 73.69%
Chariots of Fire (1981) 45,769 83% NR 88% 73.69%
Terms of Endearment (1983) 45,661 88% NR 79% 73.69%
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) 109,691 88% NR 77% 70.45%
Out of Africa (1985) 59,507 58% NR NA 65.92%
Oliver! (1968) 28,956 81% NA NA 64.65%

One of the “really like” criteria that I use is the number of IMDB votes a movie has attracted. Intuitively, most movie fans would place the two Godfather movies at the top of this list. Objectively, the fact that so many IMDB voters have sought out these two movies provides objective reinforcement to what we intuitively know. The Godfather movies are special and in a class by themselves when compared to the other movies on this list.

The other thing to note from the list is that Platoon is the only movie from the era with a published CinemaScore. By earning an “A”, Platoon objectively moves ahead of movies not rated by CinemaScore that otherwise would have been higher. As I mentioned last week the lack of comprehensive scoring from CinemaScore is a little bit of a frustration for me and one that I have to address in the future.


Best of the Best Pictures: Part 2

Last Sunday night The Shape of Water became the 90th recipient of the Academy Award for Best Picture. How does it measure up, objectively, to other Best Picture winners? As of today…not very well.

As with last week’s post, I’ve organized the movies into the same time frames Entertainment Weekly used in their Oscar special edition. This puts The Shape of Water into what EW calls The Modern Age which encompasses the years 1987 to the present. The movies are ranked based on the probability that the average IMDB voter will give the movie a rating of 7 or higher. There is a tie breaker system in place.

Top Objective Best Picture Winners
The Modern Age (1987 – 2018)
Movie (Award Year) Rotten Tomatoes % Fresh Cinema Score Metacritic Objective “Really Like” Probability
Forrest Gump (1994) 72% A+ 82% 76.63%
Argo (2012) 96% A+ 86% 76.38%
Million Dollar Baby (2004) 90% A 86% 76.38%
Rain Man (1988) 89% A 65% 76.38%
Silence of the Lambs, The (1991) 95% A- 85% 76.21%
Departed, The (2006) 90% A- 85% 76.21%
American Beauty (1999) 88% B+ 86% 76.21%
Braveheart (1995)  77% A- 68% 76.21%
Schindler’s List (1993) 97% A+ 93% 76.04%
Lord of the Rings, The: The Return of the King (2003)  93% A+ 94% 76.04%
Titanic (1997) 88% A+ 75% 76.04%
Gladiator (2000) 76% A 67% 76.04%
12 Years a Slave (2013) 96% NR 96% 75.77%
Spotlight (2015) 97% NR 93% 75.77%
Hurt Locker, The (2009) 97% NR 94% 75.77%
No Country for Old Men  (2007) 93% NR 91% 75.77%
King’s Speech, The (2010) 95% NR 88% 75.77%
Birdman (2014) 92% NR 88% 75.77%
Slumdog Millionaire (2008) 91% NR 86% 75.77%
Unforgiven (1992) 96% B+ 85% 75.74%
Beautiful Mind, A (2001) 75% A- 72% 75.74%
Crash (2005) 74% A- 69% 75.74%
Chicago (2002) 85% A- 82% 74.90%
Driving Miss Daisy (1989) 81% A+ 81% 74.59%
Moonlight (2016) 98% NR 99% 74.58%
Artist, The (2011) 95% NR 89% 74.58%
Last Emperor, The (1987) 92% A- 76% 73.67%
Shakespeare in Love (1998) 92% A 87% 73.64%
Dances with Wolves (1990) 82% A+ 72% 73.64%
English Patient, The (1996) 84% A- 87% 72.89%
Shape of Water , The (2017) 92% NR 87% 70.45%

Is The Shape of Water really the least likable Best Picture winner of the last 32 years? While it could be, in the long run it probably won’t be.

One of the objective criteria I use is the total number of IMDB votes. If a movie is likable, it will continue to be sought out for viewing long after it has left the theaters. The Shape of Water is just beginning this process of attracting new viewers. Where “word of mouth” goes in the years to come for this movie is unknown. I’m pretty confident though that it will get enough new IMDB voters to pull it past the four movies ahead of it.

An adjustment to another one of the criteria could also improve the position of The Shape of Water. From 1986 to 2008, CinemaScore generated and published a score for every single Best Picture winner. From 2009 through 2017, the movie Argo in 2012 is the only Best Picture winner to have a posted score on the CinemaScore website. Not having a score disadvantages a movie in the rankings. I don’t know whether this trend is due to a change in CinemaScore’s methodology or whether the industry has amped up the practice of using limited releases to build momentum for a movie. Whatever the reason, it is a flaw I need to correct.

Finally, a movie that wins Best Picture, like Argo and Crash, with 6 total nominations is on equal footing with a movie like The Shape of Water that has 13 total nominations. To determine whether the additional nominations increase the “really like” probability will take a more robust database than I have right now. If it does improve the odds, this is another opportunity for The Shape of Water to move up in the rankings.

All of this being said, The Shape of Water has a long way to go before it earns a place among the classic “really like” movies.


Because I had too much to say about The Modern Age, I’m holding off on publishing the rankings from 1967 to 1986 until next week.

The Best of The Best Pictures: Part 1

We all have our own opinion of which movies are the greatest of all time. What if we polled a half a million people?  What would the consensus greatest movies of all time be? Using the feedback we get from websites such as IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic we can do that. With the Academy Awards being presented this coming Sunday, I thought it would be fun to rank the Best Picture winners using the same algorithm I use for the Objective Top Twenty.

Recently, Entertainment Weekly published their special Academy Award edition in recognition of 90 years of Oscar. They divided their issue into four parts to recognize the different eras of movie production. This division also makes a lot of sense when using feedback data to rank movies. The older the movie, the less data there is to support the movie. It creates a statistical bias towards the more recent movies. By comparing Best Picture winners against movies from their own era, you end up with a more meaningful comparison of a movie’s greatness. This makes sense to me and so I’m organizing the Best Picture winners into the same eras used by Entertainment Weekly.

The first era is The Golden Age from 1928 to 1946. It goes from the birth of “talkies” to post-World War II. Here’s the ranking:

Top Objective Best Picture Winners
The Golden Age (1928 – 1946)
Movie (Award Year) IMDB Rating Rotten Tomatoes % Fresh Cinema Score Metacritic Objective “Really Like” Probability
Casablanca (1943) 8.5 97% NA 100% 76.77%
Gone With The Wind (1939) 8.2 93% NA 97% 76.77%
Best Years of Our Lives, The (1946) 8.1 96% NA 92% 76.77%
It Happened One Night (1934) 8.1 98% NA 87% 76.77%
Rebecca (1940) 8.2 100% NA NA 75.79%
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) 8.1 100% NA NA 75.79%
Lost Weekend, The (1945) 8.0 100% NA NA 75.79%
You Can’t Take It With You (1938) 8.0 91% NA NA 75.41%
Wings (1928) 7.7 95% NA NA 74.25%
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) 7.8 94% NA NA 74.25%
How Green Was My Valley (1941) 7.8 90% NA NA 74.25%
Grand Hotel (1932) 7.6 86% NA NA 74.25%
Mrs. Miniver (1942) 7.6 92% NA NA 74.25%
Going My Way (1944) 7.2 78% NA NA 73.01%
Life of Emile Zola, The (1937) 7.3 75% NA NA 73.01%
Great Ziegfeld, The (1936) 6.8 65% NA NA 69.87%
Cimarron (1931) 6.0 53% NA NA 64.81%
Broadway Melody, The (1929) 6.2 35% NA NA 64.81%
Cavalcade (1933) 6.0 61% NA NA 64.68%

The list makes sense to me. I’ve seen all but a handful of these movies. Casablanca is timeless and holds up in comparison with movies from any age. There are also some pretty mediocre movies on this list. Winning Best Picture doesn’t mean that it’s a great movie. Only the test of time adequately measures greatness.

Entertainment Weekly designates the next era as The Musicals Age. It’s kind of an odd designation. It may be based on the fact that six of the twenty Best Picture winners from this age were musicals and several more were nominated. The post war period introduced Americans to the nuclear threat. Musicals were an avenue of escape. The period ends in 1966. Many students of film history also believe that 1966 was ebb tide for the Hollywood Studio System which makes it a good cutoff point for this era.

Top Objective Best Picture Winners
The Musicals Age (1947 – 1966)
Movie (Award Year) IMDB Rating Rotten Tomatoes % Fresh Cinema Score Metacritic Objective “Really Like” Probability
All About Eve (1950)  8.3 100% NA 98% 76.77%
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)  8.3 98% NA 100% 76.77%
On the Waterfront (1954) 8.2 98% NA 98% 76.77%
Bridge on the River Kwai, The (1957)  8.2 94% NA 87% 76.77%
Ben-Hur (1959) 8.1 86% NA 90% 76.77%
Apartment, The (1960) 8.3 93% NA NA 75.79%
West Side Story (1961)  7.6 94% NA 86% 74.46%
Marty (1955) 7.7 100% NA NA 74.25%
My Fair Lady (1964) 7.9 96% NA NA 74.25%
From Here to Eternity (1953) 7.7 92% NA NA 74.25%
Sound of Music, The (1965) 8.0 86% NA NA 74.25%
All The King’s Men (1949) 7.6 97% NA NA 74.25%
Hamlet (1948) 7.8 91% NA NA 74.25%
An American in Paris (1951) 7.2 95% NA NA 73.07%
Man for All Seasons, A (1966) 7.9 82% NA NA 73.01%
Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) 7.4 77% NA NA 73.01%
Tom Jones (1963) 6.7 83% NA NA 69.87%
Gigi (1958) 6.8 77% NA NA 69.87%
Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) 6.8 74% NA NA 69.87%
Greatest Show on Earth, The (1952) 6.7 44% NA NA 66.32%

The three movies at the top of the list are the consensus great movies of the era and none of them are musicals. Based on my ranking system, All About Eve and Lawrence of Arabia finish tied for first, just a hair ahead of On the Waterfront. What makes these three movies special is a topic for another day. As with Casablanca, these three masterpieces hold up against the best movies of any age.

Next week I’ll share with you the ranking of the remaining 52 winners. This ranking will include the first look at where Sunday’s Best Picture winner fits into the list of greats, goods, and mediocres, at least as of now.

Unfocused Does Not Mean an Absence of Ideas.

I’ve been very unfocused this week. Perhaps it’s the jetlag from my return trip from the West Coast. Perhaps it’s because my granddaughter not only shared her love but also her cold (believe me, the love is worth the cold). Perhaps it’s the Springtime in February weather we’ve been experiencing on the East Coast this week. For whatever reason, I’ve been unable to focus on a single theme for this week’s “really like” post. But, that’s okay. I can make unfocused, half-baked ideas about “really like” movies work.

I was going to write something insightful about Black Panther only to discover that the airwaves and the internet have been saturated with stories about this cultural phenomenon. Anything I might have to say would get lost in the wave of Black Panther mania. I’d guess that this isn’t the last time that the hype machine will take over our cultural conversation. Some of it will be deserved. It might even be deserved for Black Panther. Its cultural significance is unquestioned. Its greatness as a movie has to meet the test of time. As I did last year for Dunkirk, by throwing down a “great” movie benchmark (Saving Private Ryan) for comparison, we can benchmark Black Panther’s greatness over time. An appropriate benchmark for Black Panther is the gold standard of Comic Book inspired movies, The Dark Knight. That gold standard includes an IMDB average rating of 9.0, a 94% Certified Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes, an 82 Metascore Rating, an “A” from Cinemascore, and 8 Academy Award nominations including 2 wins. So far Black Panther is exceeding the standard based on scores from Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and CinemaScore and lagging pretty significantly the IMDB standard. We’ll need to wait until next year’s awards season to see how much Oscar love there is for Black Panther. Today, Black Panther is a well established “really like” movie. I’m looking forward to seeing it. Let’s give it a little time to see how it measures up to the established greats like the Dark Knight series.

I also thought about posting an Academy Award related theme but decided to hold off a week on that one. I am doing an special Oscar study for next week (That’s a tease folks!). But my unfocused mind has been thinking about this year’s Oscar awards. Last week I watched two Oscar nominated movies, The Shape of Water and Mudbound. I “really liked” Shape of Water but I didn’t love it. I think for this movie to work you need to care about the creature. Don’t get me wrong I cared that the creature was being treated inhumanely. I just didn’t find out enough about the creature to care about him as an individual. On the other hand, I really cared about Elisa (Sally Hawkins) which is why I liked the movie. But, to really care about a movie relationship I think you need to care about both people in the relationship. Thus, my ambivalence about the movie.

Mudbound, on the other hand, was a revelation. I loved it. With as many movies that have been made about American race relations, it is difficult to find a story that is fresh. Mudbound is fresh and well told. I have not seen this story on the screen before. After seeing Mudbound, I began to think about how underrepresented it is in the Academy Award nominations. Is it because it is a Netflix movie? The Netflix model is to release movies in theaters overseas and on its streaming platform in the United States. Does Hollywood penalize movies owned by Netflix because of this model? I’m just wondering.

Finally, I was thinking about the movie wasteland that exists between now and the beginning of blockbuster season in May. It is not historically a good time for new “really like” movies to get released. Some ” really like” movies do, though, and I make it my personal mission to pan for that nugget of movie gold worth watching. This weekend I have my eye on two new releases, Annihilation and Game Night. Early Rotten Tomatoes reviews are promising for both. Stay tuned.

So, as you can see, I was a little unfocused this week. Just don’t mistake that for an absence of ideas.


A “Really Like” Redux in Three Parts

According to Dictionary.com, a redux is something that has been brought back. Today I’m bringing back three posts for updates based on recent news.

In August 2016, I published a data-based study of the careers of Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. So far, it is the most reviewed post I’ve written. At the time I was unaware that Streep and Hanks would be co-starring for the first time in The Post which was widely released in January. Since my 2016 article Meryl Streep has received two more Best Actress nominations for The Post and last year’s Florence Foster Jenkins. Tom Hanks, on the other hand, was unable to convert two award worthy performances (The Post and Sully) into a single nomination. Hanks hasn’t been nominated in seventeen years. During that period Streep has been nominated nine times. Why has Hanks lost his Oscar “mojo”? I don’t have an answer. Well-reviewed performances in Oscar-worthy roles have clearly not been enough to get him over the top.

In August of 2017 I wrote about MoviePass and its viability for the average moviegoer. Well, MoviePass, which recently hit two million subscribers, is in the news again. It has announced another new pricing plan that slashes the average monthly price to $7.95 from $9.95 for new subscribers and they will throw in a year’s subscription to the streaming service Fandor. There is a catch, though. MoviePass wants you to pay a year’s worth of monthly fees up front. And, they are adding on a processing fee of $19.95. This processing fee almost wipes out the $2 a month savings from the reduced price. MoviePass wants its money upfront because they are cash poor. According to this recent article in Yahoo News the parent company of MoviePass is desperate for cash and has recently put out a sizable stock offering to raise it. So, my previous analysis doesn’t change much. If you are honest with yourself and you are sure you will go to the movies more than a dozen times a year, this can be a good deal. If you are a fan of independent movies, Fandor will be a plus. Just be aware that, while MoviePass is doing a great job attracting new subscribers, its business viability is not a sure thing.

In my 100th post this past July, I mentioned that for Dunkirk to be considered great it would need to compare favorably to Saving Private Ryan. We are a couple of weeks away from the Academy Award presentations and Dunkirk is a viable Best Picture possibility. Let’s revisit how it is doing with its other benchmarks. While Dunkirk has turned in a solid 8.1 on IMDB, it significantly lags the 8.6 average rating of Saving Private Ryan. Dunkirk also lags on Cinemascore by an A- to A score for Saving Private Ryan. The critics have a more favorable view of Dunkirk. Rotten Tomatoes gives both movies a Certified Fresh 92%. Metacritic gives Dunkirk the slight edge 94 to 90. Finally, Saving Private Ryan has a slight edge so far in the Oscar race with 11 nominations to 8. All in all, Dunkirk holds its own with Saving Private Ryan. I might give the technical edge slightly to Dunkirk. In terms of audience appeal, though, Saving Private Ryan has a solid advantage.

I hope you enjoyed my little Redux. Adieu.

Horrible Horror Movies and Why They Keep Getting Made

The gothic horror movie Winchester was released last Friday and finished the weekend third at the US Box Office with $9,307,626 in total ticket receipts. According to Box Office Mojo the opening night audience was 58% female and 64% were over the age of 25. It was considered to be a successful opening weekend.

Here’s the thing, though. Most people who’ve seen the movie didn’t “really like” it. Rotten Tomatoes gives the movie a 12% Rotten rating. Metacritic has given it a score of 28%. Despite these poor reviews from critics, people went to see the movie anyway and audiences didn’t like it either. The average IMDB rating for the movie is 5.3. Only 36.3% of IMDB voters gave it a “really like” rating of seven or higher. So, word of mouth is bad and the critic reviews people are reading are almost universally bad and still they keep showing up at the theater. On Monday, Winchester still finished third at the box office.

And, it’s not just Winchester. In my objective data base, which now includes the top 150 box office movies each year from the years 1992 to 2001, there is evidence that most horror movies are bad. From 1992 to 2001, horror movies have an average IMDB rating of 5.8 and are 40% Fresh (or Rotten) on Rotten Tomatoes. All other movies for the same time frame have an average IMDB rating of 6.3 and are 53% Fresh (less Rotten). Generally speaking, as a genre, horror movies are below average in quality.

And yet, Hollywood still keeps rolling out horror movies year after year. Why? These movies are reliable money makers. During the 10 years of my study, horror movie business performance compares very favorably to other movies.

Avg Domestic Gross per Movie Avg Production Budget per Movie Net After Budget per Movie
Horror Movies  $  44,973,410  $  39,938,864  $   5,034,547
All Movies  $  38,935,822  $  46,294,593  $ (7,358,771)

While the industry as a whole doesn’t turn a profit until they take in video sales and licensing fees after movies end their box office run, horror movies turn a profit, on average, before the movies end their box office run. The average horror movie brings in more box office revenue with lower production costs than the typical movie in other genres. They are the perfect movies for those months that make up the non-blockbuster, non-awards seasons. They represent a low risk, moderate reward option for these down months of the box office year. There is something irrational about the audience draw for these horrible movies. There is something about the genre that encourages audiences to overlook the below average quality of the movies. They know it’s bad and they don’t care.

If you’re like me, quality matters and it takes a quality horror movie like Get Out to be a “really like” movie. With the information that is available to us today, there is no excuse for shelling out hard earned cash at the Cineplex for horrible movies like Winchester. Hold out for quality. A reliable profit stream for bad movies encourages them to keep making bad movies. We need more Get Out‘s and a lot fewer Winchester‘s. Tell them that horrible just doesn’t cut it, even for horror.


In February, Hope for the Unexpected

Unless you are still catching up with the Oscar nominated movies that you haven’t seen, February can be a tricky month for finding “really like” movies at the theaters. The winter months of January, February, and March don’t lure many moviegoers to the cinema. The average domestic box office gross for a movie widely released in February is a little over $28 million. For the entire year the average gross for a typical movie is in excess of $38 million. As a result, movie producers don’t release many movies that they’ve invested heavily in during the month of February. You can see this in the size of the production budgets for February releases. The average February movie has a production budget of around $36 million compared to an average for the year of around $46 million. So should we just stay home and watch “really like” movies available on our streaming services? That’s actually not a bad strategy. I’m kidding! Well maybe a little bit.

Seriously though, February is a tricky month but it’s not hopeless. Movie producers are skilled at finding a strategy that works at different times of year and sticking with it. For example in recent years, February has proven to be a good month to successfully kick off franchises for lesser known comic book characters like Deadpool and  Kingsman: The Secret Service. This year Marvel is kicking off the new franchise Black Panther in February. It premiered in Los Angeles on January 29th and opens overseas on February 13th before opening widely in the United States on February 16th. The early IMDB score is a promising 7.5. We won’t know if that rating is holding up until we get closer to the US opening. Stay tuned.

Many Oscar nominated movies for Best Foreign Language film weren’t released in the United States until the February after their overseas release to see if they could transform Oscar buzz into US Box Office success. The foreign classic Life is Beautiful was released in the United States in February. This year it is A Fantastic Woman, which opens in the US tomorrow, that is getting the buzz. The good thing about this foreign slice of February releases is that they already have a significant body of data from their prior year release overseas. A Fantastic Woman is Certified Fresh 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, has a Metacritic score of 90, and an IMDB average rating of 7.5.

If you are looking for an Oscar caliber movie in February, the odds are against you. Silence of the Lambs is the only movie released for the first time in February (not a prior year holdover) to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. If Get Out wins Best Picture this year it will become the second February release to do so. The one thing that both movies have in common is that they both had modest production budgets. Silence of the Lambs had a budget of $19 million and Get Out had a budget of $4.5 million. The other thing that they have in common is that they are both from the Horror/Thriller genre. The third thing they have in common was that their success was unexpected. I don’t see any movie on the February release schedule that I would expect to be this year’s Get Out, which, I guess, would make the emergence of such a movie, well, unexpected.

With Oscar Nominations Announced, the 2017 Objective Top Twenty Takes Shape

Now that we know which movies have been nominated for Academy Awards, all of the factors that go into the 2017 Objective Top Twenty are populated with some data. The only big unknown in the race is which movies will win Oscars on March 4. Just to be clear, the Objective Top Twenty isn’t about who will be crowned as the Best Picture of the year. It is about which 2017 movies have the highest probability that you will like them. Academy Award performance is just one of the indicators. Here is the status of the race so far.

2017 Widely Released Movies Objective “Really Like” Probability
Blade Runner 2049  76.58%
Coco 76.23%
Wonder 76.23%
Dunkirk 76.06%
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 76.06%
Logan 76.06%
Lion 75.85%
Thor: Ragnarok 75.64%
Only the Brave  75.64%
Greatest Showman, The 75.57%
Florida Project, The 75.50%
Loving Vincent 75.50%
Monster Calls, A 75.46%
Wonder Woman 75.45%
Spider-Man: Homecoming 75.45%
Get Out 75.32%
Hidden Figures 75.21%
Salesman, The 75.19%
Star Wars: The Last Jedi 75.14%
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 75.14%

The separation among all twenty movies isn’t great. In fact, there is only a two percentage point difference separating the top thirty two movies. A few ratings changes over the next couple of months can significantly reshape the race.

To determine which movies are considered “widely released” in 2017, I use the wide release date used by Box Office MojoThe Post was released on Dec. 22 in nine theaters. It wasn’t until Jan. 12 that it was released in theaters in all markets. So The Post, along with Oscar nominated films, Molly’s GameI, TonyaPhantom Thread, and Call Me By Your Name will be considered for the 2018 Objective Top Twenty instead of 2017. And, 2016 movies like LionHidden Figures, and The Salesman which weren’t widely released until 2017 are on the 2017 list.

So, you might ask, why aren’t The Shape of Water with its 13 Oscar nominations, Darkest Hour with its 6 nominations, and Lady Bird with its 5 nominations, in the top twenty. It goes back to my earlier comment about how close the top 32 movies are. All three of these movies could win a major award on March 4 and end up back in the top twenty. It’s that close.

So check back each Monday for the Objective Top Twenty updates. There are still some changes to come. The cake may be in the oven but it isn’t baked yet.

Oscar Nominations Can Lead You to “Really Like” Movies

Movie fans will pore over the list of Oscar nominations that will be announced next Tuesday. Some seek affirmation that their favorite movie of the past year is a favorite of the industry as well. Others hope to find nominated movies that they might have overlooked, or prematurely dismissed, when they were first released. These movies go on their list for future streaming. Many others are intrigued by the drama of seeing who made the cut and who was snubbed. You could argue that there is more uncertainty over who will get nominated then there is over who will win. Whatever your motivation, Oscar nomination day is a big deal for movie fandom.

I have to admit that “all of the above” feed my excitement of the day. I’m hoping that movies on the bubble that I loved like Molly’s Game and The Big Sick get the recognition that they deserve. I’m hoping that Christopher Nolan and Greta Gerwig break through in the Best Director’s race. And, I’m hoping to identify some movies that weren’t on my radar that possibly should be for “really like” viewing in the next year.

As nominees walk the red carpet on Oscar night, you will hear “I am so honored just to be nominated.” When it comes to selecting “really like” movies “just being nominated” is a big deal. Movies that don’t receive an Oscar nomination have only a 64.4% chance of receiving a 7 or better from IMDB voters. Movies that receive a nomination have a 76.1% probability of a 7 or better IMDB vote. Even a minor nomination gives a movie a 72.9% chance of being a “really like” movie. And if a movie is nominated in one of the major categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay) the odds increase to 76.9%.

So, when the Oscar nominations are announced on Tuesday, pay attention to all of the categories. A nominee for Best Art Direction-Set Direction may be your next “really like” movie.

Metacritic Makes the “Really Like” Movie Grade

For sometime now, I’ve been aware that Rotten Tomatoes is not the only website that aggregates movie critic reviews into an overall score. Metacritic, which was launched in 2001, also creates a movie critic consensus rating for individual movies. Initially, I felt that using two movie critic rating website scores in my selection algorithm might be redundant. I chose to use Rotten Tomatoes because it used more critic reviews and it provided ratings for almost every movie ever made. Metacritic is more hit and miss for movies released prior to its 2001 launch. After choosing Rotten Tomatoes over Metacritic, I put Metacritic off to the side intending to study it more when I got the chance. Well, I’ve finally taken the time to analyze Metacritic and I’ve changed my tune. Metacritic ratings belong in my algorithm.

If you’ve never seen Metacritic ratings before, click here to view the website. They use  Green, Yellow, and Red recommendation symbols which parallel Rotten Tomatoes’ Certified Fresh, Fresh, and Rotten Ratings. Metacritic uses fewer critics but they evaluate the quality of the critics and weight their final ratings towards the better critics.

Both movie critic rating systems are predictive of whether you will “really like” a particular movie. Here are the “really like” probabilities that a specific Rotten Tomatoes Rating will produce a rating of 7 or better on IMDB:

IMDB 7+ Prob.
Certified Fresh 79.3%
Fresh 72.1%
Rotten 59.5%

and here are the probabilities for Metacritic recommendations:

IMDB 7+ Prob.
Green 78.7%
Yellow 67.5%
Red 56.1%

Both rating systems are predictive of how people who see the movies will rate the movies. But, is their value in using both rating systems in the algorithm? Are they redundant?

The answer lies in the methodologies used in each rating system. They measure different things. Rotten Tomatoes measures how often the universe of critics recommend a movie. Metacritic measures how much the critics in their universe like a movie. Rotten Tomatoes uses a quantitative measure. Metacritic uses a qualitative measure. They should complement rather than replicate each other.

The data supports the complementary nature of Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

7+ Prob.
Certified Fresh & Green 78.4%
Certified Fresh & Yellow 73.8%
Fresh & Green 73.8%
Fresh & Yellow 71.2%
Rotten & Green or Yellow 64.7%
Rotten & Red 56.1%

Certified Fresh movies that are also Green on Metacritic are more likely to be enjoyed by IMDB voters than movies that are Certified Fresh and Yellow. If you want to take a chance on a Rotten movie, stay away from the movies that Metacritic has also rated Red.

If you’ve reviewed the 2017 Objective Top Twenty within the last two weeks, you’ll note that there is a Metacritic column. That signifies that Metacritic has made the grade. It is in the algorithm and is a viable tool in our quest to find more “really like” movies.


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