The Objective Top Twenty Doesn’t Account for Personal Taste

Over the last few months I’ve spent a lot of time introducing you to the 2017 Objective Top Twenty Movies. But, let’s be clear. It isn’t my list of the top twenty movies so far. As a matter of fact, I’ve only seen a handful of the movies and I may only see a handful more in the future. There are some movies on the list that I’ll never watch. At the end of the day, which movies you watch on the list is a matter of personal taste.

Over the last few months I’ve spent a lot of time introducing you to the 2017 Objective Top Twenty Movies. But, let’s be clear. It isn’t my list of the top twenty movies so far. As a matter of fact, I’ve only seen a handful of the movies and I may only see a handful more in the future. There are some movies on the list that I’ll never watch. At the end of the day, which movies you watch on the list is a matter of personal taste.

The Objective Top Twenty is ranking of movies that, based on available data today, I’m most confident are good movies, regardless of personal taste. Hidden Figures and Lion are at the top of the list because there is more data available for those movies than any of the other movies on the list and that mature data continues to support the quality of those two movies. I can say with a high degree of confidence that both of these movies are really good movies. On the other hand Blade Runner 2049, which probably is a good movie, just doesn’t have the data support yet to confidently support that subjective opinion.

While I’m confident all of the movies on the Objective Top Twenty are good movies, I’m not confident that you, personally, would “really like” every movie on the list. In fact, I’m fairly confident you wouldn’t like every movie on the list. Our personal taste in movies reflects our life experiences. Those movies that we “really like” somehow connect with our memories, our aspirations, our curiosity, or represent a fun place to escape. Not every movie on the Objective Top Twenty is going to make the personal connection needed to make it a “really like” movie for each of us.

So, which of the Objective Top Twenty should you watch. Other than using the websites I promote in this blog, most people use trailers to see if they connect with a small sample of the movie. If it’s an Objective Top Twenty movie and the trailer connects with you, that’s not a bad approach. The only caution is that sometimes a trailer leaves you with the impression that a movie is about X when it’s really about Y.

My recommendation is to use at least one personal rating website that will model your personal taste in movies. I use three, Netflix-DVD, Movielens, and Criticker. There are links for all three at the top of the page. I’ve created a subjective “really like” model to go along with the objective model used to create the Objective Top Twenty. Here’s a ranking of the Objective Top Twenty based on the probability today that I will personally “really like” the movie.

2017 Released Movies Subjective “Really Like” Probability Objective “Really Like” Probability My Rating for Seen Movies
Hidden Figures 74.3% 76.78% 7.9
Lion 74.0% 76.00% 7.9
Wonder Woman 73.2% 71.39% 8.5
Dunkirk 72.7% 70.71% 8.4
Patriots Day 72.7% 71.01%
Spider-Man: Homecoming 71.9% 71.39%
Logan 71.3% 70.71%
Big Sick, The 69.5% 70.56% 8.4
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 69.2% 71.01%
Only the Brave  62.6% 71.01%
Monster Calls, A 62.2% 71.01%
Land of Mine 61.2% 74.72%
Salesman, The 59.2% 75.18%
I Am Not Your Negro 56.0% 75.18%
Kedi 52.4% 70.56%
Florida Project, The 51.6% 70.56%
Truman 50.8% 70.56%
20th Century Women 50.5% 75.21%
Silence 48.7% 72.78%
Lucky 45.7% 70.56%

The movies that I’ve seen so far are, for the most part, the movies at the top of the list. I’ve, in effect, ranked the Objective Top Twenty based on those movies with the greatest probability that I will “really like” them. I am certain that I will watch all of the top nine movies on this list. I will probably watch some of the remaining eleven movies on the list. I will definitely not watch all of them.

However, you choose to do it, the Objective Top Twenty needs a personal touch when you use the list to pick movies to watch. I can only guarantee that they are good movies. It’s up to you to figure out which ones will be “really like” movies for you.

Will “You” Really Like This Movie?

If you reviewed this week’s Objective Top Twenty, you might have noticed something other than five additional movies on the list. You might have noticed that, other than Hidden Figures holding onto the number one spot on the list, all of the rankings had changed.

If you reviewed this week’s Objective Top Twenty, you might have noticed something other than five additional movies on the list. You might have noticed that, other than Hidden Figures holding onto the number one spot on the list, all of the rankings had changed.

A few month’s back I mentioned that I was developing a new objective database to project “really like” movies that are not influenced at all by my taste in movies. This week’s Objective Top Twenty reflects the early fruits of that labor.

The plan is to build a very robust database of all of the movies from the last twenty five years that finished in the top 150 in box office sales for each year . I have 1992 through 1995 completed which gives me enough movies to get started with.

The key change in the “really like” formula is that my algorithm measures the probability that users of the IMDB database will rate a particular movie as a 7 out of 10 or higher, which is my definition of a “really like” movie. The key components of the formula are IMDB Average Rating, Rotten Tomatoes Rating, CinemaScore Grade, and the number of  Academy Award wins and nominations for the major categories and for the minor categories.

In future posts, I’ll flesh out my logic for all of these factors. But, the key factor is the capability to measure on IMDB the percentage of IMDB voters who have rated a particular movie as a 7 or higher. When you aggregate all of the movies with a particular IMDB average rating you get results that look like this sample:

Avg. Rating % Rating 7+
                8.5 92.8%
                8.0 88.8%
                7.5 81.4%
                7.0 69.2%
                6.5 54.7%
                6.0 41.5%
                5.5 28.7%

Note that, just because a movie has an average rating of 7.0, doesn’t mean that every movie with a 7.0 average rating is a “really like” movie.  Only 69.2% of the votes cast for the movies with a 7.0 rating were ratings of 7 or higher. Conversely, every movie with an average rating of 6.0 isn’t always a “don’t really like” movie since 41.5% of the voters handed out 7’s or higher. It does mean, though, that the probability of a 7.0 average rated movie is more likely to be a “really like” movie than one with a 6.0 rating.

These changes represent a start down a path towards a movie pre-screening tool that is more useful to the followers of this blog. It is a work in progress that will only get better as more years are added to the database. But, we have a better answer now to the question, “Will you ‘really like’ this movie?”

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If you’re going to the movies this weekend, chances are that you’re going to see Blade Runner 2049. The early indications are that it is going to live up to the hype. You might also check out The Florida Project, an under the radar movie that is getting some apparently well-deserved buzz.