Will I "Really Like" this Movie?

Navigating Movie Website Ratings to Select More Enjoyable Movies

Archive for the category “Movie Lists”

Musings After a Quiet Movie Weekend

There were no changes this week to the 2017 Objective Top Ten. None of the movies that opened last weekend earned a Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. So, I have nothing to talk about. Right? Oh, you are so wrong.

First, regarding that Objective Top Ten that I update every Monday, I want to be clear about something. I’m not suggesting that you will like every movie on that list. I’m not suggesting that there aren’t good movies that didn’t make the list. In fact, my two favorite movies so far, Beauty and the Beast and Gifted, aren’t on the list. It is just an objective measure of quality. It doesn’t take into account your personal taste in movies. For example, if you typically don’t like Art House movies you may not like Kedi, which is a documentary about the hundreds of thousands of cats that have been roaming Istanbul for thousands of years, or Truman, which is a Spanish language film that celebrates the enduring nature of good friendship. These low budget movies tend to take risks and aren’t intended to please the general audience. But, would you really prefer to see the new Transformers movie which opened yesterday and is 16% Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes? You may prefer to avoid all three movies and that’s okay. The point of the list is to give you a menu of quality movies and if any naturally intrigue you, the odds are that it will be a “really like” movie for you.

Turning from low budget Art House films to big budget Blockbusters, the success of two other movies on the list explain why movies based on comic books are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Logan with its estimated $97 million production budget and Wonder Woman with its estimated budget of $149 million have returned a tidy return in worldwide box office receipts of over $617 million and $578 million, respectively. When quality movies in the comic book genre are made, they spin box office gold.

A couple of other notes on the Objective Top Ten List. In July I plan to expand the list to fifteen movies and in October I’ll expand it again to twenty movies. This will better accommodate the number of quality movies that typically are released over the second half of the year. Also, I’m close to being able to incorporate Cinemascore grades into the probabilities for the Objective Top Ten. It’s possible that this change may be incorporated as early as next Monday’s update. This change will differentiate better one movie from the next.

Finally, two movies that I have my eye on for this weekend are The Beguiled ,which earned Sofia Coppola the top director award at Cannes, and The Big Sick, which is already 98% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wonder Woman Is Wonderful But Is It the GOAT Superhero Movie?

Everybody is talking about Wonder Woman and its record-breaking box office last weekend. Critics and audiences agree that Wonder Woman is worth a trip to the theater. The Mad Movie Man is convinced as well. You’ll find the movie in the top half of the 2017 Top Ten List and it is on my Watch List for the week, which means I plan on seeing it within the next week.

I mentioned last week that critics were falling all over themselves in praising this movie with some calling it the Superhero GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). Does it warrant such acclaim? Maybe. When you compare it to four other highly rated superhero movies that kicked off franchises, it holds up pretty well.

Oscar Noms/Wins IMDB Rating Rotten Tomatoes Rating Rotten Tomatoes % Fresh Combined Rating
Wonder Woman (2017) 0/0 8.3 C. Fresh 93%              17.6
Iron Man (2008) 2/0 7.9 C. Fresh 94%              17.3
Batman Begins (2005) 1/0 8.3 C. Fresh 84%              16.7
Superman (1978) 3/0 7.3 C. Fresh 93%              16.6
Spider-Man (2002) 2/0 7.3 C. Fresh 89%              16.2

All four of these comparison movies were Oscar nominated. We’ll have to wait until next January to see if Wonder Woman earns Oscar recognition. The combined rating presented here totals the IMDB rating and the Rotten Tomatoes % Fresh (converted to a 10 pt. scale) to measure the response of both critics and audiences to the five movies. It is still early, and IMDB ratings tend to fade a little over time, but for now Wonder Woman is clearly in the GOAT discussion.

If Wonder Woman holds on to its statistical GOAT position it will be fueled by the response of women to the movie. A comparison of Female and Male IMDB ratings for the five movies compared here lays this out pretty clearly.

Female IMDB Rating Male IMDB Rating IMDB Rating Differnce
Wonder Woman 8.6 8.2 0.4
Iron Man 7.9 7.9 0.0
Superman 7.3 7.3 0.0
Batman Begins 8.1 8.3 -0.2
Spider-Man 7.1 7.3 -0.2

While men “really like” Wonder Woman, females love the movie. Women are responding like they never have before to a superhero movie. Men, on the other hand, have a slight preference for Christopher Nolan’s vision of Batman. I also have to admit that I personally consider Batman Begins as one of the GOAT movies, irrespective of genre. That being said, I am really excited about seeing Wonder Woman.


After all of this praise for Wonder Woman, you might be wondering why it is only fifth on the 2017 Top Movies List. Does that mean that the four movies ahead of it are better movies? It might but not necessarily. The top four movies all went into limited release in 2016 to qualify for Oscar consideration. They didn’t go into wide release until early 2017, which is why they are on this list. All of the other movies on the list won’t be considered for Oscar recognition until January 2018. As I mentioned last week, this list is based on objective criteria. The Oscar nominations that the top four movies received are additional objective pieces of evidence that they are quality movies. This allows the algorithm to be more confident in its evaluation of the movie and as a result produces a higher “really like” probability. Again, just in case you were wondering.


“Really Like” Previews of Coming Attractions 

Recently I mentioned to someone that I was a movie blogger. Naturally they assumed I wrote movie reviews. It did get me thinking, though, “what is my blog really about?”

Looking back at my previous 92 posts, it’s hard to discern a consistent theme. I confess that it has been hard to come up with a fresh idea every single week. The result has been a hodgepodge of articles that intersect movies and data, but lack a unifying core. That is…until now.

It occurs to me that, while I’m not in the movie reviewing business, I am in the movie previewing business. I use statistical analysis to preview what movies I might “really like”. It also occurs to me that I created my algorithm for my benefit, not yours. I write this blog, though, for your benefit.

With all of that in mind, I’ve decided to reorient this blog to a discussion of movies you might “really like”, using my statistical analysis as the foundation of the discussion. My algorithm has two parts. The first produces a “really like” probability based on data from websites like Netflix, Movielens, and Critcker that are oriented to movies that I, personally, will “really like”.

The second part of the equation is based on general data that has nothing to do with my personal taste in movies. IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes produce ratings based on the input of all of their website participants. Oscar award performance has nothing to do with me. I’m not a member of the academy. For now, these are the factors that go into my “really like” probability based on general information. It’s this “really like” probability that might be most useful to you, the followers of this blog.

On Monday I added a new list to this site. The Top Ten 2017 Movies Based on Objective Criteria uses this second half of my algorithm to suggest movies that you might “really like”. I intend to update this list every Monday after the initial data from the previous weekend’s new releases comes in. This Friday, for example, Wonder Woman goes into wide release. Some critics are calling it the “best superhero movie of all time”. It will be interesting to look at the data feedback on Monday to see if it’s actually trending that way.

I’m also exploring the addition of other general data to the criteria. For example is there statistical significance to when a movie is released. I’m in the data gathering stage of that study. I’m also planning on adding in future months Top Ten lists for years prior to 2017.

I will also continue to update on Wednesday’s my Watch List for the week. While it is based on movies I should “really like”, you might find some movies there that pique your interest.

As for this blog, I plan to orient each week’s post around one or two of the movies on my lists and offer up some ideas as to why it might be a movie that you’ll “really like”. For now I would encourage you to check back on Monday to see if the hyperbolic buzz surrounding Wonder Woman is supported by strong enough numbers to move it into 2017’s “really like” Top Ten. Then, return again on Thursday to see what movies that you might “really like” have caught my eye.

A Movie Watch List is Built by Thinking Fast and Slow

In early 2012 I read a book by Daniel Kahneman titled Thinking Fast and Slow. Kahneman is a psychologist who studies human decision making and, more precisely, the thinking process. He suggests that the human mind has two thinking processes. The first is the snap judgement that evolved to quickly identify threats and react to them quickly in order to survive. He calls this “thinking fast”. The second is the rational thought process that weighs alternatives and evidence before reaching a decision. This he calls “thinking slow”. In the book, Kahneman discusses what he calls the “law of least effort”. He believes that the mind will naturally gravitate to the easiest solution or action rather than to the more reliable evidence based solution. He suggests that the mind is most subject to the “law of least effort” when it is fatigued, which leads to less than satisfactory decision making more often than not.

How we select the movies we watch, I believe, is generally driven by the “law of least effort”. For most of us, movie watching is a leisure activity. Other than on social occasions, we watch movies when we are too tired to do anything else in our productive lives. Typically, the movies we watch are driven by what’s available to watch at the time we decide to watch. From the movies available, we decide what seems like a movie we’d like at that moment in time. We choose by “thinking fast”. Sometimes we are happy with our choice. Other times, we get half way through the movie and start wondering, over-optimistically I might add, if this dreadful movie will ever be over.

It doesn’t have to be that way. One tool I use is a Movie Watch List that I update each week using a “thinking slow” process.. My current watch list can be found on the side bar under Ten Movies on My Watch List This Week. Since you may read this blog entry sometime in the future, here’s the watch list I’ll be referring to today:

Ten Movies On My Watch List This Week
As Of March 22, 2017
Movie Title Release Year Where Available Probability I Will “Really Like”
Fight Club 1999 Starz 84.8%
Amélie 2002 Netflix – Streaming 72.0%
Hacksaw Ridge  2016 Netflix – DVD 71.5%
Emigrants, The 1972 Warner Archive 69.7%
Godfather: Part III, The 1990 Own DVD 68.7%
Pride and Prejudice 1940 Warner Archive 67.3%
Steel Magnolias 1989 Starz 67.1%
Paper Moon 1973 HBO 63.4%
Confirmation 2016 HBO 57.0%
Beauty and the Beast 2017 Movie Theater 36.6%

The movies that make it to this list are carefully selected based on the movies that are available in the coming week on the viewing platforms I can access. I use my algorithm to guide me towards movies with a high “really like” probability. I determine who I’m likely to watch movies with during the upcoming week. If I’m going to watch movies with others, I make sure that there are movies on the list that those others might like. And, finally, I do some “thinking fast” and identify those movies that I really want to see and those movies that, instinctively, I am reluctant to see.

The movies on my list above in green are those movies that I really want to see. The movies in turquoise are those movies I’m indifferent to but are highly recommended by the algorithm. The movies in red are movies that I’m reluctant to see.

So, you may ask, why do I have movies that I don’t want to see on my watch list? Well, it’s because I’m the Mad Movie Man. These are movies that my algorithm suggests have a high “really like” probability. In the case of Fight Club, for example, I’ve seen the movie before and was turned off by the premise. On the other hand, it is a movie that my algorithm, based on highly credible data,  indicates is the surest “really like” bet of all the movies I haven’t seen in the last 15 years. Either my memory is faulty, or my tastes have changed, or there is a flaw in my algorithm, or a flaw in the data coming from the websites I use. It may just be that it is among the movies in the 15% I won’t like. So, I put these movies on my list because I need to know why the mismatch exists. I have to admit, though, that it is hard getting these red movies off the list because I often succumb to the “law of least effort” and watch another movie I’d much rather see.

Most of our family is gathering together in the coming week and so Beauty and the Beast and Hacksaw Ridge are family movie candidates. In case my wife and I watch a movie together this week, Amélie , Pride and Prejudice, and Steel Magnolias are on the list.

The point in all this is that by having a Watch List of movies with a high “really like” probability you are better equipped to avoid the “law of least effort” trap and get more enjoyment out of your leisure time movie watching.


The Art of Selecting “Really Like Movies: Older Never Before Seen

Last week I stated in my article that I could pretty much identify whether a movie has a good chance of being a “really like movie” within six months of its release. If you need any further evidence, here are my top ten movies that I’ve never seen that are older than six months.

My Top Ten Never Seen Movie Prospects 
Never Seen Movies =  > Release Date + 6 Months
Movie Title Last Data Update Release Date Total # of Ratings “Really Like” Probability
Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ 2/4/2017 5/13/2011          97,940 51.7%
Incendies 2/4/2017 4/22/2011        122,038 51.7%
Conjuring, The 2/4/2017 7/19/2013        241,546 51.7%
Star Trek Beyond 2/4/2017 7/22/2016        114,435 51.7%
Pride 2/4/2017 9/26/2014          84,214 44.6%
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me 2/9/2017 10/24/2014        105,751 44.6%
Splendor in the Grass 2/5/2017 10/10/1961        246,065 42.1%
Father of the Bride 2/5/2017 6/16/1950        467,569 42.1%
Imagine: John Lennon  2/5/2017 10/7/1998        153,399 42.1%
Lorenzo’s Oil 2/5/2017 1/29/1993        285,981 42.1%

The movies with a high “really like” probability in this group have already been watched. Of the remaining movies, there are three movies that are 50/50 and the rest have the odds stacked against them. In other words, if I watch all ten movies I probably won’t “really like” half of them. The dilemma is that I would probably “really like” half of them if I do watch all ten. The reality is that I won’t watch any of these ten movies as long as there are movies that I’ve already seen with better odds. Is there a way to improve the odds for any of these ten movies?

You’ll note that all ten movies have probabilities based on less than 500,000 ratings. Will some of these movies improve their probabilities as they receive more ratings? Maybe. Maybe not. To explore this possibility further I divided my database into quintiles based on the total number of ratings. When I look at the quintile with the most ratings, the most credible quintile, it does provide results that define the optimal performance of my algorithm.

Quintile 5

# Ratings Range > 2,872,053

# of Movies # “Really Like” Movies % “Really Like” Movies Proj.  Avg. Rating All Sites My Avg Rating My Rating to Proj. Rating Diff.
Movies Seen More than Once 152 134 88% 8.6 8.5 -0.1
Movies Seen Once 246 119 48% 7.5 6.9 -0.7
All Movies in Range 398 253 64% 7.9 7.5  

All of the movies in Quintile 5 have more than 2,872,053 ratings. My selection of movies that I had seen before is clearly better than my selection of movies I watched for the first time. This better selection is because the algorithm results led me to the better movies and my memory did some additional weeding. My takeaway is that, when considering movies I’ve never seen before, put my greatest trust in the algorithm if the movie falls in this quintile.

Lets look at the next four quintiles.

Quintile 4

# Ratings Range 1,197,745 to 2,872,053

# of Movies # “Really Like” Movies % “Really Like” Movies Proj.  Avg. Rating All Sites My Avg Rating My Rating to Proj. Rating Diff.
Movies Seen More than Once 107 85 79% 8.3 8.3 0.1
Movies Seen Once 291 100 34% 7.1 6.4 -0.7
All Movies in Range 398 185 46% 7.4 6.9
Quintile 3

# Ratings Range 516,040 to 1,197,745

# of Movies # “Really Like” Movies % “Really Like” Movies Proj.  Avg. Rating All Sites My Avg Rating My Rating to Proj. Rating Diff.
Movies Seen More than Once 122 93 76% 7.8 8.0 0.2
Movies Seen Once 278 102 37% 7.1 6.6 -0.6
All Movies in Range 400 195 49% 7.3 7.0
Quintile 2

# Ratings Range 179,456 to 516,040

# of Movies # “Really Like” Movies % “Really Like” Movies Proj.  Avg. Rating All Sites My Avg Rating My Rating to Proj. Rating Diff.
Movies Seen More than Once 66 46 70% 7.4 7.5 0.2
Movies Seen Once 332 134 40% 7.0 6.4 -0.6
All Movies in Range 398 180 45% 7.1 6.6
Quintile 1

# Ratings Range < 179,456

# of Movies # “Really Like” Movies % “Really Like” Movies Proj.  Avg. Rating All Sites My Avg Rating My Rating to Proj. Rating Diff.
Movies Seen More than Once 43 31 72% 7.0 7.5 0.5
Movies Seen Once 355 136 38% 6.9 6.2 -0.7
All Movies in Range 398 167 42% 6.9 6.4

Look at the progression of the algorithm projections as the quintiles get smaller. The gap between the movies seen more than once and those seen only once narrows as the number of ratings gets smaller. Notice that the difference between my ratings and the projected ratings for Movies Seen Once is fairly constant for all quintiles, either -0.6 or -0.7. But for the Movies Seen More than Once, the difference grows positively as the number of ratings gets smaller. This suggests that, for Movies Seen More than Once, the higher than expected ratings I give movies in Quintiles 1 & 2 are primarily driven by my memory of the movies rather than the algorithm.

What does this mean for my top ten never before seen movies listed above? All of the top ten is either in Quintiles 1 or 2. As they grow into the higher quintiles some may emerge with higher “really like” probabilities. Certainly, Star Trek Beyond, which is only 7 months old, can be expected to grow into the higher quintiles. But, what about Splendor in the Grass which was released in 1961 and, at 55 years old, might not move into Quintile 3 until another 55 years pass.

It suggests that another secondary movie quality indicator is needed that is separate from the movie recommender sites already in use. It sounds like I’ve just added another project to my 2017 “really like” project list.



It’s a Mad Movie Man Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown.

Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful for those blessings, however small, that we can claim for ourselves and those close to us. It is also  a day that we petition that which is good in each of us to strive to make the lives of those less fortunate a little better. It is a day that we draw those who we cherish most even closer to us. If you think of the day in this way it acquires a certain solemnity. With the sacred nature of the day so close to my heart, it seems almost crass to express my gratitude towards the movie industry. But, if you can be thankful for football on Thanksgiving, certainly there is room for movies as well. So, here goes.

First, I’m thankful for these eleven new releases that I’ve seen since last Thanksgiving.

My “Really Like” Probability My Actual Score (100 pt. scale)
Spotlight 96.5% 98
Brooklyn 96.5% 96
Bridge of Spies 96.5% 88
Big Short, The 96.5% 88
Mad Max: Fury Road 48.1% 86
Star Wars: The Force Awakens 96.5% 86
Steve Jobs 86.3% 85
Hell or High Water 74.8% 85
Sing Street 74.8% 85
Captain America: Civil War 96.5% 85
Room 96.5% 85

It is movies like these that fuel my passion. It is particularly gratifying to discover so-called “little” movies like Hell or High Water and Sing Street that don’t get the promotion dollars that bigger budget movies might get.

When you watch around 100 movies a year, you realize that there aren’t enough new releases in a year that are of sufficient quality to fill your hopes for those “special” movie experiences. I am thankful that there are vintage movies that meet that need even when your experiencing them again for a second time, or a third time, or more. Here are 18 movies that I’ve watched in the last year that I still love after multiple viewings.

My “Really Like” Probability My Actual Score (100 pt. scale)
Godfather: Part II, The 94.5% 100
Silence of the Lambs, The 94.4% 99
Lawrence of Arabia 74.8% 99
Saturday Night Fever 49.7% 95
Courage Under Fire  62.5% 94
From Here to Eternity 96.5% 90
American Beauty 96.5% 90
Hustler, The 74.8% 89
Erin Brockovich 96.5% 89
LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring 94.4% 88
Cast Away 96.5% 88
Insider, The 96.5% 88
Memento 92.5% 88
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 82.6% 86
Body Heat 61.0% 86
Remember the Titans 89.7% 85
Frequency 96.5% 85

I am thankful that Christopher Nolan is still directing movies. I’ve watched eight Christopher Nolan directed movies and have “really liked” all eight. The six listed below are movies of his that I love.

My “Really Like” Probability My Actual Score (100 pt. scale)
Batman Begins 96.5% 97
The Dark Knight Rises 96.5% 95
Inception 94.4% 88
Memento 92.5% 88
The Dark Knight 94.4% 87
Interstellar 74.8% 86

I am thankful that another Christopher Nolan movie, Dunkirk, will be released July 21, 2017.

Finally, I am thankful for well written screenplays. Without an engaging story with crisp dialogue, a movie will fall flat on its face. Based on my ratings, there is no screenwriter I enjoy more than Aaron Sorkin. I have seen six of the seven movie screenplays he has written. I have loved all six movies.

My “Really Like” Probability My Actual Score (100 pt. scale)
A Few Good Men 96.5% 98
The American President 96.5% 96
The Social Network 96.5% 89
Moneyball 96.5% 87
Steve Jobs 86.3% 85
Charlie Wilson’s War 96.5% 85

I’m thankful that Aaron Sorkin has two 2017 projects he is working on. He is directing, as well as screenwriting, an adaptation of the memoir Molly’s Game about the high stakes world of underground poker. The movie is filming now and has Jessica Chastain in the lead. Sorkin is also working on a live TV presentation of A Few Good Men.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

After a Disappointing October at the Theaters, Get Ready for a Terrific November.

Maybe it’s me, but I thought that the October opening of the Oscar season this year was kind of a dud. The two leading Best Picture contenders released widely in October, The Birth of a Nation and The Girl on the Train, were over-hyped. Even the movies you might expect to be better than average crowd-pleasers were okay entertainments at best. One possible exception is The Accountant. Audiences seem to like it even though critics didn’t warm up to it. Its Rotten Tomatoes rating is 51% Rotten but its IMDB average rating is 7.8 so far. That being said, there was no movie released in October that was a “must see” for me. November, on the other hand, could rock.

November releases, on average, make up almost 12% of the total annual box office. Ticket sales are usually more than 40% higher than the average month. You would expect November to be a magnet for crowd-pleasing, Oscar-worthy movie releases. In fact, since 1990, 13.9% of all Best Picture nominees have been released in November, including the last three winners. Based on my own data, there is a 58% chance that I will “really like” a movie released in November. So with those kind of odds in our favor, let’s take a look at what interests me in November.

Seven of Awards Circuit’s top twenty Best Picture contenders will be released in November. I’m going with four of those seven and a “summer blockbuster” type being released in November.

Doctor Strange.    Release Date: November 4    “Really Like” Probability: 75%

Because Thanksgiving is such huge family movie weekend, you will usually find a “sure thing” franchise blockbuster released during the month of November. The box office king for the last three Novembers was the last three movies of the Hunger Games franchise. Before that it was the Harry Potter franchise. This year Marvel Studios and Disney Studios are making a big bet by launching the Doctor Strange franchise, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, in November. Entertainment Weekly has compared it to Inception and The Matrix in its “puzzle-box quality”. We already have an idea how good this movie is going to be because it had its Los Angeles premiere on Oct. 20th and premiered internationally on Oct. 25th. Early IMDB voting has it at an 8.4 rating so far and Rotten Tomatoes is at 96% Fresh based on 49 reviews. The November 4th U.S. release suggests that the producers are confident enough in this new franchise that it will be a “must see” movie by Thanksgiving.

Manchester by the Sea.  Release Date:  November 18   “Really Like” Probability: 65%

Every year The Black List surveys production companies to identify the best scripts they’ve read that haven’t been picked up for movie production. In 2014 Manchester by the Sea was near the top of that list. Two years later it is one of the leading contenders for Best Picture. Casey Affleck plays the lead character and is the current front runner for Best Actor. Can this Boston area based movie replicate the Oscar magic of last year’s Best Picture winner, Spotlight, another Boston based film released in November?

Moonlight. Wide Release Date: November 4     “Really Like” Probability: 60%

This film has come out of nowhere to become a legitimate Best Picture contender. Moonlight opened in four theaters last weekend and earned $413,174 in ticket sales. That is one of the top 25 average sales per theater opening of all time. It already has a 99% Certified Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.5 average rating from IMDB. It is about a young black man growing up in South Florida as he struggles with his sexual identity.

Arrival.   Wide Release Date: November 11     “Really Like” Probability: 55%

Can a movie about a linguist trying to prevent an alien invasion really be a Best Picture candidate? According to Awards Circuit, that is, in fact, the case. Amy Adams plays the linguist and is right in the middle of the discussion for a Best Actress nomination. So far, it is 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes based on 49 critic reviews. This movie is going after the audience that loved The Martian last year. Count me in.

Hacksaw Ridge.     Wide Release Date: November 4     “Really Like” Probability: 50%

This film, based on a true story, features Andrew Garfield as a conscientious objector who wins the Medal of Honor in World War II despite the fact that he refuses to kill. Awards Circuit currently has it ranked 14th in the Best Picture race. Very early feedback on the movie is positive. The IMDB average rating is 8.7 and Rotten Tomatoes is 94% Fresh. It is an interesting premise and should make for an entertaining movie.

This is the first month since I started forecasting the upcoming movie month that I am really excited to see all of my picks for the month. There were even three Best Picture contenders that I left off my list. Does it get any better than November and December for great movie watching?


A Netflix-DVD Perfect Score Movie Is a Must See Movie

Nothing in life is guaranteed. How often have you heard that? Those who use that phrase are probably right…most of the time. But when Netflix-DVD provides you with a “Best Guess” of 4.9 for a particular movie, I can say that you are guaranteed to “really like” that movie and be pretty confident that I am right. In my database of 1,980 movies, 51 have received a perfect score of 4.9 from Netflix-DVD. That is 2.6% of all of the movies I have watched in the last 15 years. Of those 51 perfect score movies, I have given a “really like” score of 75 (out of 100) or higher to all 51 movies. I have given a “love” score of 85 or higher to 48 of the 51. If Netflix-DVD presents me with a movie with a Best Guess of 4.9, there is a 94.1% probability that I will “love” the movie, and close to 100% that I will “really like” it. That is pretty darn close to a guarantee.

So, after providing all of these guarantees, it would be just cruel of me not to share with you the 51 perfect score movies. Here they are:

Netflix-DVD Perfect Score Movies
American President, The King’s Speech, The
Apollo 13 L.A. Confidential
Argo Lincoln
Batman Begins Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Bourne Identity, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The
Bourne Ultimatum, The Martian, The
Braveheart Million Dollar Baby
Casablanca Mystic River
Cinderella Man Raiders of the Lost Ark
Dark Knight, The Rocky
Departed, The Saving Private Ryan
Few Good Men, A Schindler’s List
Field of Dreams Shawshank Redemption, The
Forrest Gump Silver Linings Playbook
Fugitive, The Sixth Sense, The
Gladiator Sleepless in Seattle
Glory Social Network, The
Godfather, The Sound of Music, The
Godfather: Part II, The Spider-Man 2
Gone Baby Gone Star Trek
Good Will Hunting Star Wars IV: A New Hope
Hoosiers Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
It’s a Wonderful Life Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
Jerry Maguire Sting, The
Juno To Kill a Mockingbird
When Harry Met Sally

Those of you who are movie lovers probably have seen all or most of these. If not, you probably can’t go wrong sampling some movies from this list. The list is also a peek at my taste in movies. Netflix-DVD is uncanny in its capability to look into the depths of my movie soul and pick out the perfect movie. I’ll just mention again that I’m not referring to the recommendations that you get on Streaming Netflix. It seems like they give five stars to everything. The perfect scores for this post is from the DVD recommender.

We all strive for perfection at different times in our lives. Netflix 4.9 movies define perfection for movie recommendations.

Will We Find Something Special in the July Movie Releases?

As I look ahead to July, the peak month of the blockbuster season, my challenge is to find five potential movie gems that I will “really like”. I’m not looking for the top five possible winners at the box office, though some of my choices will be on that list. I might even watch one of the July releases and walk away feeling that the movie is special. In the last five years there have only been a handful of movies released in July that have approached this level. In July 2012, there were two. One was a blockbuster, The Dark Knight Rises, while the other was a low budget documentary that went on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary, Searching For Sugar Man. The five movies that follow are those five that I think have the best possibility of being special.

Jason Bourne. Release Date: July 29, 2016    “Really Like” Probability: 62.5

This is the third collaboration in the series between director, Paul Greengrass, and actor, Matt Damon. Putting aside The Bourne Legacy, which you can almost consider as a stand alone movie since it didn’t involve Greengrass or Damon, each movie in the series was a “really like” movie. The last movie in their collaboration, The Bourne Ultimatum, is, arguably, the best in the series. The word from producer Frank Marshall is that this movie features a chase scene along the Las Vegas strip that is the best chase scene in the series.

Captain Fantastic. Release Date: July 8, 2016    “Really Like” Probability: 44.3

This movie is in the early discussion for Oscar consideration, having won Best Film at the Seattle International Film Festival and garnered Director Awards for Matt Ross at Cannes and Palm Springs. It’s about a father, played by Viggo Mortensen, who raises his six children off the grid in the forests of the Pacific Northwest and the challenges they face when they are forced to return to the “civilized” world to address an emergency.

Star Trek Beyond. Release Date: July 22, 2016    “Really Like” Probability: 32.1

J. J. Abrams directed the first two movies in this Star Trek series reincarnation and I rated both of them as “really like” movies. Justin Lin, who directed four of the Fast and Furious franchise movies, takes over for Abrams in the Director’s chair for this film. I have never seen a Justin Lin directed movie which makes me a little hesitant with this one. But, with Abrams overseeing as Producer and Idris Elba playing the villain, Krall, I am ready for another trip on the Enterprise.

The BFG. Release Date: July 1, 2016    “Really Like” Probability: 32.1

I’ll finalize my probability for this movie tomorrow. I don’t believe it will be a special movie, but I do believe it can be a “really like” movie. Raold Dahl, Steven Spielberg, and last year’s Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor, Mark Rylance, are a promising combination. Early reviews are mixed but audiences have yet to weigh in. This is one that you may want to wait on until after opening weekend.

Café Society.  Release Date: July 15 (limited) July 29 (Wide)    “Really Like” Probability: 23.0

The low probability on this one is deceptive. I actually feel that, while not on the same level as Midnight in Paris and Blue Jasmine, this latest film from Woody Allen may be in the ball park. Based on buzz from the Cannes and Seattle festivals, it has made some early lists for Oscar contenders. Allen, who has a knack for attracting top talent, recently lined up Kate Winslet for his next movie. For this comedy, set in the 1930’s, he has another ensemble of “A’ list talent including Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, and Blake Lively.

One of the joys of looking ahead at the movies being released in the next month is the hope that one or two of them will be magical. July, historically, has been a month that produces its fair share of these special movies. Maybe one of these five movies will be one of those iconic movies that earn the sobriquet “classic”.


Franchise Action Movies are Gold

X-Men: Apocalypse dominated the box office this Memorial Day weekend taking in $65.3 million in ticket sales. It also received a less than enthusiastic response from the critics, earning a 49% Rotten grade from Rotten Tomatoes. Does this mean that Rotten Tomatoes has little impact on how well a movie does at the box office? Absolutely not. X-Men: Days of Future Past received a 91% Certified Fresh Rating when it opened on Memorial Day weekend in 2014 and took in $90.8 million in ticket sales. The latest entry into the X-Men franchise underperformed its predecessor by 28% at the box office for the same holiday weekend. I suspect much of that deficit was due to the lukewarm reviews X-Men: Apocalypse received.

The story isn’t the impact of bad reviews on this particular movie but the box office immunity that franchise action movies have in general. They come with a built in audience that will show up regardless of how the movie is reviewed. The following is a list of the top ten U.S. box office performers for action movies including their Rotten Tomatoes grades:

Release Year US Box Office (000000) Rotten Tomatoes Grade % Fresh
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens 2015 $937 Certified Fresh 92%
Avatar 2009 $761 Certified Fresh 83%
Jurassic World 2015 $652 Fresh 72%
The Avengers 2012 $623 Certified Fresh 92%
The Dark Knight 2008 $533 Certified Fresh 94%
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace 1999 $475 Rotten 56%
Star Wars 1977 $461 Certified Fresh 94%
Avengers: Age of Ultron 2015 $459 Certified Fresh 75%
The Dark Knight Rises 2012 $448 Certified Fresh 87%
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest 2006 $423 Rotten 54%

These box office behemoths have combined for $5.8 billion in ticket sales. Three of these blockbusters aren’t graded Certified Fresh and a fourth, The Avengers: Age of Ultron just barely qualifies as Certified Fresh. What all of these movies have in common is that they are all part of movie franchises. Avatar 2, 3, 4, & 5 are scheduled for release between 2018 and 2023, in case you were wondering why Avatar is considered a franchise. Only Star Wars and Avatar didn’t come with a built in audience from a previous movie in the franchise. Eight of the ten movies were released during Movie Blockbuster season. The other two, Avatar and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, were released during Movie Award season, earning 14 Academy Award nominations and 3 wins. These movies have a combined IMDB rating of 8.2 for males and 8.1 for females. There is little gender gap for this genre.

Franchise Action Movies are  box office gold for the good, the bad, and the ugly (a reference to a franchise of a different genre).

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