There Are No Turkeys in the Objective Top Seven Movies From 1992 to 1998

Shall we call it “The Drive for Twenty Five”? If so, this installment of our journey to the Objective Top Twenty Five Movies of the last Twenty Five years begs the question which of these Cinematic Seven will survive to Twenty Five.

Shall we call it “The Drive for Twenty Five”? If so, this installment of our journey to the Objective Top Twenty Five Movies of the last Twenty Five years begs the question which of these Cinematic Seven will survive to Twenty Five. By adding 1998 to the Objective Database more discrete groupings of data are statistically viable. As future years are added the number of groupings will grow resulting in many changes to this list. From the initial Top Six list that was published just two weeks ago, only three movies remain in the Top Seven. I think we can expect this kind of volatility with each year we add. How many of these movies will be in the Top Twenty Five at the end? Fewer than we’d expect, I’m sure.

Here’s our significant seven:

7. Scent of a Woman (IMDB 8.0, Certified Fresh 88%, CinemaScore A, Major Academy Award Win)

This movie is a favorite of mine. It produced Al Pacino’s only Academy Award win after being shut out for his seven previous nominations.

6. Good Will Hunting (IMDB 8.3, Certified Fresh 97%, CinemaScore A. Major  Academy Award Win)

One of my followers wondered why his favorite movie didn’t make the list. Good Will Hunting is a good illustration of what it takes. It requires high ratings from all feedback groups, movie watchers, movie critics, opening night moviegoers, and peer movie artists.

5. The Shawshank Redemption (IMDB 9.3, Certified Fresh 91%, CinemaScore A, Major Academy Award Nomination)

Another one of the original Top Six. The Achilles Heel for this movie from an objective rating standpoint is its failure to win a major Academy Award despite three major nominations.

4. The Usual Suspects (IMDB 8.6, Certified Fresh 88%, No CinemaScore rating, Major Academy Award Win)

Because this is an objective ranking rather than subjective, Kevin Spacey movies are still considered. In the long run, I wonder how much the absence of a CinemaScore rating will hurt this movie and, if so, should it.

3. The Lion King (IMDB 8.5, Certified Fresh 83%, CinemaScore A+, Minor Academy Award Win)

A few weeks before the release of this picture, Elton John was given a private screening of the movie. He noticed the love song he wrote wasn’t in the film and successfully lobbied to have it put back in. That song, Can You Feel the Love Tonight, won Elton John an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

2. Saving Private Ryan (IMDB 8.6, Certified Fresh 92%, CinemaScore A, Major Academy Award Win)

The only movie from the just added 1998 year to make the list. It is also the only movie on the list to be the top grossing movie for the year it was released.

1. Schindler’s List (IMDB 8.9, Certified Fresh 96%, CinemaScore A+, Major Academy Award Win)

According to the Objective “Really Like” algorithm, a 76.98% “really like” probability is the highest score that can be achieved with the algorithm. So far, Schindler’s List is the only movie with that perfect score.


Disney animated movies rule Thanksgiving weekend. According to Box Office Mojo, Disney owns 9 of the 10 highest grossing Thanksgiving movies of all time. Coco, which opened in theaters yesterday, is this year’s entrant into their tradition of Thanksgiving dominance. Early IMDB ratings give it a 9.1 average rating to go along with its 96% Certified Fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating. This morning CinemaScore gave it an A+ rating.

Also, two more Oscar hopefuls go into limited release this weekend. Darkest Hour is the perfect bookend to Dunkirk. It follows Winston Churchill’s response to the events at Dunkirk. Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Churchill has him on everyone’s short list for Best Actor. Also worth considering is a festival favorite, Call Me By Your Name, which was nominated this week for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Picture.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.

In the Objective Top Twenty, a Certified Fresh Is a Must…But Is It Enough?

When you review the Objective Top Twenty you’ll notice that every movie has earned a Certified Fresh designation from Rotten Tomatoes. It is a dominant factor in my rating system. It may even be too dominant.

When you review the Objective Top Twenty you’ll notice that every movie has earned a Certified Fresh designation from Rotten Tomatoes. It is a dominant factor in my rating system. It may even be too dominant.

All of the analysis that I’ve done so far suggests that a Certified Fresh designation by Rotten Tomatoes is a strong indicator of a “really like” movie. The new Objective Database that I’m working with also shows that a Certified Fresh rating results in a high likelihood that IMDB voters will rate the movie a 7 or higher.

 # of IMDB Votes IMDB Votes 7+ %
Certified Fresh               19,654,608 88.2%
Fresh                  6,144,742 75.4%
Rotten                  9,735,096 48.5%

And, as you might expect, the likelihood of a 7 or higher rating stair steps down as you move into the Fresh and Rotten groups of movies.

This exposes a flaw in my previous thinking about Rotten Tomatoes. In the past I’ve indicated that I haven’t seen a statistical relationship between the % Fresh and the likelihood of a “really like” movie. And, actually, that’s a true statement. The flaw in my thinking was that because I didn’t see it I assumed it didn’t exist.

The Certified Fresh, Fresh, and Rotten designations are primarily defined by % Fresh:

  • Certified Fresh for most movies is > 75% Fresh
  • Fresh for most movies is > 60% and < 75% Fresh
  • Rotten is < 60% Fresh

If differentiation exists for these three groups then it should exist between other % Fresh groups. For example, movies that are 95% Certified Fresh should have a greater “really like” probability than movies that are 80% Certified Fresh. I now believe that I haven’t seen the difference because there hasn’t been enough data to produce stable differences.

When I begin to marry Rotten Tomatoes data with IMDB, I also get more data. Below I’ve grouped the Certified Fresh movies into four groups based on % Fresh.

Certified Fresh:  # of IMDB Votes IMDB Rating 7+ %
100%                     966,496 90.7%
90-99%               10,170,946 89.9%
80-89%                  5,391,437 87.3%
70-79%                  3,125,729 83.5%

We might be seeing the differences you’d expect to see when the units of data get larger.

So, why is this important? If we treat all Certified Fresh movies as strong “really like” prospects, we are in effect saying that we are as likely to “really like” The Shawshank Redemption (Certified Fresh 91%, IMDB Avg. Rating 9.3) as The Mask ( Certified Fresh 77%, IMDB Avg. Rating 6.9). The “really like” model becomes a more dynamic movie pre-screening tool if it can make a Rotten Tomatoes distinction between those two movies.

I believe that the database has to get much larger before we can statistically differentiate between Certified Fresh 87% movies and Certified Fresh 85% movies. But, I think I can begin to integrate the Certified Fresh groupings I developed above to create some additional means of defining quality movies within the Certified Fresh grade.

You might just see this change in next Monday’s Objective Top Twenty.


In looking at this weekend’s new releases, there are no sure things but three of the movies are worth keeping an eye on. The Foreigner, the Jackie Chan action thriller, is getting good early feedback from critics and IMDB voters. I expect it to do well at the box office. Marshall, the Thurgood Marshall bio-pic starring Chadwick Boseman, has received some early Oscar buzz. It appears to be headed towards a Certified Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes. The movie that may sneak up on audiences is Professor Marston & the Wonder Woman. Professor Marston created the character of Wonder Woman in the 1940’s. This movie tells that story. Already 34 of 38 critics have given it a Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I would expect it to receive its Certified Fresh designation by tomorrow morning.







IMDB Can Be a Trivial Pursuit

Recently I watched Lethal Weapon 2 for the second time. After rating a movie, I like to read a critic’s review, oftentimes a Roger Ebert review, and click on the trivia link on the IMDB sidebar. The trivia link is a good way to gather some behind the scenes information about the movie.

Recently I watched Lethal Weapon 2 for the second time. After rating a movie, I like to read a critic’s review, a Roger Ebert review if available, and click on the trivia link on the IMDB sidebar. The trivia link is a good way to gather some behind the scenes information about the movie. From the Lethal Weapon 2 trivia link, I learned that Shane Black’s original screenplay was darker and resulted in Martin Riggs’ (Mel Gibson) death at the end of the movie. Both Warner Bros. and Richard Donner, the Director, refused to kill off Riggs which would have meant the end of the profitable franchise. Shane Black, however, refused to change the script and left the project. He went on to screen write Iron Man 3 and is working on the remake of The Predator scheduled to be released in 2018. The Lethal Weapon franchise went on to produce Lethal Weapon 3 & 4, which took in a combined worldwide box office of close to $600,000,000. It isn’t the first time, or the last time, that the art of making movies lost out to the business of making movies.

Here is some additional trivia from some of your movie favorites:

  • The Shawshank Redemption, which is the number one movie on IMDB’s Top 250 Movies list, took in only a very modest theater box office of $28,ooo,ooo before becoming one of the all time leaders in the video rental market.
  • Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro are the only actors ever to win Academy Awards playing the same character (Vito Corleone) in two different movies (The Godfather, The Godfather Part II)
  • Christopher Lee, who played Saruman in the Lord of the Rings trilogy read the Lord of the Rings books every year from the year they were published in 1954 until the year he died in 2015.
  • In the Star Wars movies, Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) had to stand on a box for many of her scenes with Harrison Ford (Han Solo) because he was 6’1” tall and she was only 5’1″.
  • For the movie Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks agreed to not take a salary to help control the production costs of the movie. Instead he agreed to percentage points which netted him $40,000,000.
  • When the Wachowskis were pitching The Matrix to Warner, they proposed a budget of $80,000,000. Warner would only agree to a budget of $10,000,000. The Wachowskis spent all $10,000,000 on the 10 minute opening scene with Carrie-Anne Moss and went back to Warner and showed them the first ten minutes. Based on those 10 minutes, Warner approved the entire $80,000,000 budget.
  • In the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, the script required George Bailey’s future wife, Mary Hatch played by Donna Reed, to break a window by throwing a rock through the window. Director Frank Capra hired a marksman to shoot out the window on cue. To everyone’s surprise, Donna Reed threw the rock through the window on the first take. Capra didn’t realize that Donna Reed was an accomplished baseball player in high school with a strong arm.
  • For Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg cast Matt Damon as Private Ryan because of his All-American looks and more importantly because he was a relatively unknown actor. A few months before the movie opened in July 1998, Spielberg’s unknown actor won an Academy Award for Good Will Hunting and became an overnight A-List actor.
  • The iconic scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the flamboyant swordsmen starts whipping around his sword and Indiana Jones pulls out his gun and shoots him, wasn’t in the script. Harrison Ford was supposed to knock the sword out of the swordsmen’s hand with his whip. Because a virus had infected Ford and much of the crew, they were having trouble executing the stunt. Finally Harrison Ford suggested “shooting the sucker”. The result was a scene that is ingrained in the memories of film fans ever since.

If you’ve had some fun with these trivial movie facts, visit IMDB and try out the trivia link for your favorite movies. Or, you can just wait for the next time that we play Trivial Pursuit with IMDB on this site.