If You Are Going to the Movies, What Should You See?

Rampage is an action movie that you would expect to be a “guy movie” but should guys go out and see it?

Last week I introduced the concept of a demographic footprint for individual movies. Nice idea, but what good is it? The Way We Were is on my watch list this week. It’s this week’s Friday Night Movie with my wife. Here’s its demographic footprint:

The Way We Were
Gender Target Gender Friendly Age Target Age Friendly Objective “Really Like” Probability
Female Female 30+ 30+ 72.6%

Not much of an insight is it? It’s telling you that it’s a “chick flick”. And, because it was released in 1973, it has greater appeal to older women who nostalgically remember the way it was the first time they saw the movie. The reality is that, if you are familiar with a movie, you know who the movie appeals to without having that knowledge confirmed statistically. But, what about movies you’re not familiar with?

Rampage was the number one movie at the Box Office last weekend. From trailers you might have seen, you know that it is an action movie that you expect to be a “guy movie” but should guys go out and see it? The early data feedback might suggest otherwise.

Beginning this week, I’m using Objective “Really Like” Probability data and Demographic Footprint data to advise you whether going to a movie in last weekend’s Box Office Top Ten is a good bet and, if it is, who is it a good bet for. Here’s this week’s list:

Recommendations for the Weekend Box Office Top Ten 
Weekend Ending April 15, 2018
Movie Weekend Box Office “Really Like” Probability? Who Should See it?
Rampage $34.5 62.9% Nobody Yet
A Quiet Place $32.6 70.4% Fans of Horror Thrillers
Truth or Dare $19.1 51.2% Nobody Yet
Ready Player One $11.2 71.7% Fans of Action Adventures
Blockers $10.3 70.4% Young Adult Fans of Comedies
Black Panther $5.3 74.0% Everyone
Isle Of Dogs $5.0 72.2% Fans of Quality Animated Movies
I Can Only Imagine $3.9 69.6% Fans of Faith Based Movies
Acrimony $3.8 54.3% Nobody Yet
Chappaquiddick $3.0 70.4% Grown-Ups Familiar with the Events

In future weeks you’ll find this list on the sidebar of this page.

The “Really Like” Probability column suggests that there are a number of potentially good options at the movies this week. I use 65% as the cut off for whether I recommend a movie or not. Under that criteria there are seven movies worth seeing by someone. The question is whether these seven movies are worth seeing by everybody.

When a movie is first released it takes a little time to develop fully credible data. Rampage was just released last Friday. The jury is still out as to whether it is more than a mediocre movie for even its target demographic. The data for Black Panther is robust. I can say with a lot of confidence that all demographic groups will probably “really like” the movie. For the remaining six recommended movies, there isn’t enough data to recommend the movie beyond the segments identified here.

Movies recently released in the theaters are the movies you are most unfamiliar with. When Rotten Tomatoes gives a new movie a Certified Fresh and IMDB develops an average rating of 7.5 or higher, you can usually feel confident that the movie is a good movie. Those ratings, though, can’t tell you whether it will be a good movie for you.

With this new weekly list I’m introducing, I’m confident that you can go down this list and increase your odds of seeing a movie this week that you will “really like” . Let me know if you agree. Also, let me know if you like the new blog format I’m experimenting with.




What’s This Movie’s Demographic Footprint?

A Quiet Place has attracted a young audience of both males and females

You’re probably looking at this week’s title and saying to yourself, “What is the Mad Movie Man getting us into this week?” Well, thanks to the folks at IMDB who provide demographic data of each movie based on their ratings, we can derive a demographic footprint for each movie.

Wait a minute, didn’t I tell you in these pages that IMDB ratings are skewed heavily towards men. I did. I’ll also tell you that the ratings are skewed towards IMDB voters older than 29. Based on my data sample, only 18.6% of all votes on IMDB are female votes. Additionally, only 38.8% of all votes are from movie fans under 30.   By scaling this data to the averages, we can begin to neutralize the biases of the data. From this data I can create the following scales:

Female % of IMDB Vote
“guy movie” Gender Neutral “Chick flick”
< 14%  14% – 23.3%  > 23.3%
Age < 30 % of IMDB Vote
“young adult’s  movie” Age Neutral “grown-ups movie”
< 29.1%  29.1% – 48.5%  > 48.5%

Additionally, IMDB provides average ratings by demographic group. We can use this data to determine if any particular group tends to like a movie more than others.

So, how would this work? Let’s say you are going to the movies this weekend and you are trying to decide which movie to see. The three movies below are all quality movies.


Movie Gender Orientation Gender Friendly Age Orientation Age Friendly
A Quiet Place Neutral Female < 30 30+
Ready Player One Male Neutral Neutral 30+
Love, Simon Female Female < 30 Neutral

Which movie you decide to see comes down to who you are going to see the movie with. There really aren’t any bad choices here. There are just more informed choices. A Quiet Place has attracted a young audience of both males and females but women and voters over 29 tend to like it more than the target audience. Ready Player One is a “guy” movie that women don’t seem to mind and older audiences seem to like more than younger audiences. And, Love, Simon is geared towards a young female audience that all ages seem to like. Which movie best fits your demographic footprint and the footprint of whoever is joining you at the movies should lead you to the best decision.

I’m excited about sharing this perspective on a given movie. I’ve already incorporated it into my weekly movie watch list. I’ll be incorporating this movie view into other lists I’ll be creating in the near future. I hope you find the approach useful. If you agree let me know.



Until Saturday

For those of you who expect a post from me every Thursday like clockwork, I’ll be away for a couple of days. I will be posting on Saturday.

Those of you who return on Saturday will be rewarded with the answer to the question “Did you know that each movie has a demographic footprint?” I think you’ll find it interesting.

Just Because a Movie Is Female Friendly Doesn’t Make It Female Oriented

Empowered women may make Star Wars: The Last Jedi a female friendly movie. At the end of the day, though, it is still a “guy movie”

Last Thursday I published the 2017 Objective Top Twenty. I promptly got blasted by my most important follower…my wife. She took one look at the list and said, “With the exception of Beauty and the Beast, these are all guy movies. That’s unacceptable.” I pointed out that six of the twenty received higher ratings from women than men. She replied, “It doesn’t matter. They are still guy movies.” As I thought about it, I agreed she was right. The movies may be female friendly but they are not movies that a woman would necessarily go to without being dragged there by some man. I had to fix this.

The first thing I did was profile the IMDB gender distribution of all of the movies on the list of movies considered for the top twenty. The first thing I discovered was that women, on average, rated the sample 3 points higher than men. When I leveled the ratings of the two groups it reduced the female friendly movies on the list from six to four. The second thing I discovered was that female IMDB votes make up only 17.4% of the entire sample. When we look again at the female percentage of all of the IMDB votes for Star Wars: The Last Jedi we discover that the female participation is a paltry 12.3% of the total. It’s definitely a guy movie. But, even when we level the ratings to compensate for the higher overall ratings of women, the female adjusted average rating for Star Wars is still 7.7 against a male rating of 7.5. This makes Star Wars: The Last Jedi a Male Oriented but Female Friendly movie.

Next I went in search of the 2017 movie that epitomizes “chick flick”, that movie which would make many men check their testosterone at the door. I came up with Girls Trip. Females still only make up 40.8% of all Girls Trip IMDB voters but it is significantly higher than the 17.4% for the entire sample. The adjusted average female rating for Girls Trip is 6.8. The male average rating is 5.9. This movie might be classified as Female Oriented and very Female Friendly.

I’m considering using the percentage of IMDB votes to classify movies as Male Oriented, Gender Neutral, or Female Oriented. Using this approach, the list of 2017 movies that are Female Oriented  and eligible for the Objective Top Twenty might include these movies:

2017 Released Movies Female % of All IMDB Votes
Beauty and the Beast  38.2%
Greatest Showman, The 36.6%
Hidden Figures 31.4%
Wonder 28.3%
Lion 26.7%
Lady Bird 26.5%
Coco 23.1%
Murder on the Orient Express 23.0%
Shape of Water, The 22.9%
Okja 22.3%

I believe that these movies pass the eye test as female oriented movies but first … I better ask my wife.



What Twenty Movies From 2017 Will You “Really Like”?

Dunkirk is #2 on the 2017 Objective “Really Like” Top Twenty

When someone sets out to make a list of the movies that you, the movie enthusiast, will probably “really like”, the compiler of the list starts out with a significant disadvantage. The person creating the list doesn’t have any idea what kind of movies you, specifically, really like. So the list, almost by definition, has to be made up of movies that have mass appeal. Mass appeal isn’t enough though. Justice League was the 10th highest grossing movie at the box office last year but it doesn’t belong on this list. It wasn’t a very good movie. My criteria is simple. An Objective Top Twenty-worthy movie has been seen by a lot of movie viewers, earned critical acclaim, and those who have seen the movie have “really liked” it. I think there were 26 movies in 2017 that met that simple criteria. But, a top twenty can only have twenty movies.

Here’s my 2017 Objective Top Twenty:

2017 Objective Top Twenty
As Of March 29, 2018
2017 Released Movies  Academy Award Points  # of IMDB Votes Rotten Tomatoes % Fresh Cinema Score Metacritic Objective “Really Like” Probability
Star Wars: The Last Jedi                   4.0    344,932 91% A 85 75.65%
Dunkirk                   8.3    370,530 93% A- 94 75.49%
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2                   1.0    354,476 83% A 67 75.33%
Get Out                   4.1    284,533 99% A- 84 75.13%
Baby Driver                   3.0    282,234 93% A- 86 75.13%
Fate of the Furious, The                     –    156,915 66% A 56 74.76%
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri                   7.2    194,450 92% NR 88 74.72%
Blade Runner 2049                    5.2    269,568 87% A- 81 74.24%
Wind River                     –    111,829 87% NR 73 73.76%
Kong: Skull Island                   1.0    198,846 75% B+ 62 73.65%
Wonder Woman                     –    391,299 92% A 76 73.53%
Thor: Ragnarok                     –    280,784 92% A 74 73.53%
Spider-Man: Homecoming                     –    295,065 92% A 73 73.53%
Logan                   1.0    463,842 93% A- 77 73.38%
Alien: Covenant                     –    191,925 67% B 65 73.04%
War for the Planet of the Apes                    1.0    162,154 93% A- 82 72.88%
John Wick: Chapter 2                     –    220,753 89% A- 75 71.93%
It                     –    259,121 85% B+ 69 71.93%
Split                     –    256,100 75% B+ 62 71.93%
Beauty and the Beast                    2.0    202,321 71% A 65 71.92%
Movies with Female IMDB Rating at least .2 points > Male Rating are in Bold
Movies with Male IMDB Rating at least .2 points > Female Rating are Underlined

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the movie that I can say with the greatest confidence that you, no matter who “you” is, will “really like”. Even with that, there are about 24% of you who probably won’t “really like” this movie. It’s up to you to figure out where you probably fit.

I’m sure that you’re reaction to the list is similar to my reaction to the list. Some of the movies on the list I’ve seen, or I’m interested in seeing, and others I have no interest in seeing. That’s okay. My hope is that you will use the list to identify those movies you’ve been thinking of seeing and feel confident that there’s a high probability that you will “really like” the movie experience. I’ve personally seen nine of the twenty movies and “really liked” all of them. There’s a handful of the remaining movies on the list that I plan on seeing. There’s another handful that I probably won’t see anytime soon.

Also, the list is dynamic. Because it’s data-based, it can change over time. Movies rise and fall as they get exposed to a broader audience. Two of my favorite movies of 2017, Lady Bird and The Big Sick aren’t in the top twenty. Academy Award Best Picture winner The Shape of Water didn’t make the cut. Those three movies have the data to support inclusion from a quality standpoint but haven’t been seen enough yet. A year from now that could change. For now, the data is what the data is.

Enjoy the list. Use it as just another data point in your quest to select movies that you will “really like”.




This Fall Women Will Be Able to Cherry Pick Their Movies

Last week Miranda Bailey (the film producer, not the Chief of Surgery on Grey’s Anatomy) announced at South by Southwest that she will be launching a new movie critic rating aggregator this Fall called CherryPicks

Last week Miranda Bailey (the film producer, not the Chief of Surgery on Grey’s Anatomy) announced at South by Southwest that she will be launching a new movie critic rating aggregator this Fall called CherryPicks (think Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic) . Just what we need, another Movie Critics website. Right! Actually, right, we do need this website. The unique feature of this website is that it will aggregate only female critics. And, in terms of seeking out “really like” movies, it is a perspective that is sorely lacking in the existing movie ratings options.

In Entertainment Weekly’s article introducing CherryPicks, Miranda Bailey points out that there is around a 4 to 1 ratio of male to female critics on Rotten Tomatoes. This disparity doesn’t usually come into play in reviews of the universally great movies. Many of these movies are gender neutral. But for a female oriented independent film that doesn’t have 300 reviews, gender inequity can be the difference between a Certified Fresh rating and a Rotten rating, and the box office impact that goes with it.

It’s even worse on IMDB, where male voters tend to overwhelm female voters in the development of the average rating for each movie. As women in Hollywood raise their voices, the divide between male and female voters on IMDB gets wider. I wrote about the male IMDB voter backlash that resulted with the 2016 release of Ghostbusters and its all female cast. Today, of the 165,000+ IMDB voters who rated Ghostbusters, less than 30,000 were women. The average rating from men is 5.0. The average rating from women is 6.6. The overall average rating is 5.3. The fact that women thought that the movie wasn’t bad was drowned out in the deluge of male votes that panned the movie. Its overall 5.3 rating suggests Ghostbusters is a bad movie when an equitable gender distribution of the movie probably would suggest that it actually was an okay movie and not bad at all.

Like it or not, rating websites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB drive how much movies get seen. For female movie producers, directors, and actors, how much their movies get seen determines how much they work and how much they earn. For them, a website like CherryPicks is critical to their livelihood.

For me, CherryPicks has a much more modest import. I want to be able to pick out a movie for Friday Movie Night that both my wife and I will “really like”. For followers of this blog, I need to be able to identify movies that women will like as well as men. I need data that isn’t skewed to men. I’m hopeful CherryPicks can play a part in providing a step towards a balanced perspective. For now, any list I produce which recommends movies will indicate whether IMDB suggests that the movie is female friendly,  male friendly, or just neutral. My weekly watch list which I published yesterday is the first list with these indicators. Next week’s final 2017 Objective Top Twenty will also include these indicators.

For now, this is the best I can do until CherryPicks is able to lend its voice in the Fall.



The Best of the Best Pictures: Part 3

The Graduate took on counter-culture themes that were representative of films from The Age of Revolution.

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 covered 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. 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

How does The Shape of Water measure up, objectively, to other Best Picture winners of The Modern Age?

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

Casablanca is timeless and holds up in comparison with movies from any age.

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’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.