IMDb’s Top 250

Many people refer to IMDb’s top 250 films as a reliable source to help them decide what to watch. I entered 2016 with the New Year’s resolution to watch them all. Now around a third of the way through the year, and only about 80 films in, I am hesitant over the reliability of this ever-changing list.

The Shawshank Redemption is firmly holding #1 position with its undisputed ranking, from a 9.3/10 score and over 1.5million votes, has an inspiring yet moving narrative, which I could not bear to criticise. It is baffling however how films such as Inside Out enter straight into the list at #51, among classics such as Back to the Future, yet is demoted to #116 within a year. All while Back to the Future’s position is largely immobile. The reason for Inside Out’s immediate success is that it is a Pixar Animation, and the only film of this sort to be released at this time. Its narrative is primarily aimed at children but its innovative concept of personified emotions appeals to adults on a different level. Thus it has a spectrum of viewers, but in spite of its initial boom, Inside Out did not deserve its original position, as shown by its short longevity at this #51 – where it was overshadowed by well deserving masterpieces.

Nonetheless, it does seem fair how IMDb’s top 250 is not constructed based solely on box office sales. A list of this sort would leave more independently produced films such as American Beauty, (which received $356.3 million at box office, still pretty great) no chance of being ranked. While franchise films such as The Dark Knight which raised $1.005 billion, and whose pre-release media hype and marketing generated enough ticket sales whether the film was actually worth seeing or not (which of course it was in this instance) – though this is not true for all film franchises that have unlimited funds spent on its advertising.

While I am yet to come across a film I believe to be truly undeserving of its position on IMDb’s top 250, there have been some that have not quite met my taste, but that can be expected of everyone due to individual preference. Some films, including The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II no doubt hold their position for their originality and for being renowned cult classics. Though these films along with many others on the top 250 are now rather dated – but their influence on more modern films cannot be ignored and their revolutionary features are used nostalgically time and time again.

Likewise I am surprised by the top 10 position of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, an extremely popular western and regarded as a classic of the genre; although westerns certainly haven’t been lusted over since the millennium. While it could be argued that both Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight fall into the genre of western, the appeal of them lies more with their stars and the reputation of their director. The only argument I can provide for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’s enduring appeal is that it stars the iconic Clint Eastwood and has been a source of inspiration for many modern westerns.

Though I feel I have come so far in my filmic journey, the end is not even in sight; I have many foreign and classic pictures left to stay awake through. My film ratings may not always match that of IMDb’s, but it is no doubt a useful point of reference when lost over what to watch. So whilst the list spoils you for choice, may I suggest a few of my favourites thus far: City of God, American History X, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and A Beautiful Mind.


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