Will I "Really Like" this Movie?

Navigating Movie Website Ratings to Select More Enjoyable Movies

Archive for the month “January, 2018”

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.



If January Makes You Shiver with Every Movie They Deliver, Then Stick with the Oscar Bait.

What do the movies Molly’s GameThe PostPhantom Thread, and Hostiles have in common? For one thing, they all hope to receive Academy Award nominations when they are announced on January 23rd. Secondly, after going into limited release in December to qualify for 2017 movie awards, most of the world will finally get a chance to actually see these movies this January. Thirdly, these movies are the early front-runners for the 2018 Objective Top Twenty. Finally, they will be your very best bets for “really like” movies released in January.

Why do movie producers push some Oscar contenders into January and sometimes even into February? Are these movies artistically worthy but with limited audience appeal? Sometimes. That may be the case with Hostiles, for example. I’ve heard that the beginning of the movie is intensely violent which might turn off audiences, particularly women and older audiences. The overall IMDB rating is 7.1 but the male/female split is 7.2 and 5.3 respectively. The age demographics in IMDB reflect similar polarization. Voters under 30 give it a 7.6 so far while voters 30 and older give it a 6.5. Like the similarly violent The Revenant, which also went into wide release in January, it may have a better chance to find it’s audience away from the family dominated audiences of December.

Phantom Thread is another movie that might not appeal to wide audiences. This is a Paul Thomas Anderson directed film and, to say the least, he is an acquired taste, a taste that I have yet to acquire. The last time he collaborated with Daniel Day-Lewis was for the film There Will Be Blood, a movie I hated. Personal opinion aside, it has been reported that Phantom Thread may be the most mainstream movie that Paul Thomas Anderson has ever made. Early IMDB ratings are strong with an average rating of 8.8. Sometimes the selection of a release date is nothing more than superstition. There Will Be Blood opened on Jan 25, 2007, which is approximately the same weekend (Jan 19th) when Phantom Thread will open.

Molly’s Game, which I was fortunate to see already, is definitely not a January holdover because it lacks audience appeal. It’s IMDB rating is 7.6 and it is consistently strong across all demographic groups. This is an under-buzzed movie and sometimes the strategy is to roll out a movie slowly to build up the buzz.

The Post, on the other hand has all the buzz and star power it needs. With Spielberg, Streep and Hanks, along with a topical storyline, this movie screams Best Picture. So why slide this movie into January. It’s strategic. The producers hope that this will be the movie that everyone is talking about when Oscar voting is taking place. The strategy is to have the buzz be about The Post just as the buzz is winding down for other Best Picture contenders like The Shape of Water and Lady Bird.

So what about the rest of the January releases. Well, you might find a diamond in the rough but the odds are against you.

% with IMDB Rating 7+ Probability You Will “Really Like”
Prior Year Oscar Contender Jan. Wide Release 84.3% 75.39%
All Other January Wide Releases 51.3% 64.81%
Movies Released in All Other Months 72.0% 71.20%

The high IMDB ratings go to the prior year hold-overs and not the movies being released for the first time in January. The movies held over from the prior year are better, on average, than the movies produced over the remaining eleven months. The remaining January movies are significantly worse.

To avoid the January shivers on your next trip to the Cineplex, stick to the Oscar bait from last year, whenever it was released.




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