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Top 100 Movies of All-Time – A list challenge

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I have to admit. 2018 has not been a great year for my writing. Whilst I’ve consumed a lot of media throughout the year, I haven’t written a great deal. But for 2019, this will change. I am going to watch and write about the top 100 movies of all-time, because what better way to get back into writing, than to write about the thing I love the most?

I have always been an avid movie buff. I consider myself fairly well-rounded. In the early 2000s, I was certain movies were my future. In fact, I was accepted to film school at university, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to attend. Still, my love of movies has never faultered, and I am so grateful that I grew up with a film buff for a father – the man who showed me Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and Citizen Kane before I was even 10.

Back then, AFI came out with a list of the 100 Top Movies of All-Time, but that list is far too dated to use now. So many great movies have come out in the past two decades. So my first task was to find the right Top 100 Movies list to use, and a quick Google search showed me far more than I had expected. There were possibly too many options, and the more I looked at each list, the more incomplete each seemed. Some lists had Captain America: Civil War in the list, which seems crazy to me, but then great movies like 2001:A Space Odyssey were completely removed. I could never quite feel right if the list I used was wrong. So early on in my quest, I decided I was going to do something different.

I’m going to admit something now, which might make me seem like a super nerd and I’m totally okay with that, but I love analyzing data. I love taking information and finding patterns, so I thought, what if I combined ten of the best lists I could find and ranked the movies based on overall placement across those lists? Sounds simple enough, until I realized that no matter how I ranked, the movies I really want on the list won’t be there, like LA Confidential. It is by far one of my favorite movies, but it didn’t end up making the cut thanks to my “algorithm.”

I took all 10 lists and placed them into a spreadsheet. I combined the lists together to get a complete list of 400+ movies, and removed any that appeared in only one list. That left me with 201 movies to rank. Then the fun began.

But first, I’m going to talk about which lists I used.

There were six publications, one IMDb user list, and three aggragate sites. I have given more weight to the first seven, as aggragate sites are not great, which I’ll get into more below.

  1. Hollywood’s 100 Favorite Films – Hollywood Reporter
    This list was collated by industry professionals via THR. This list was among the better that I found, but still a few were missing that made it feel incomplete, like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
  2. The Top 100 “Must-Watch” Movies of All Time That You Won’t Regret Watching – Sinemia
    This list was ranked by scores on Sinemia and IMDb rankings. There are some fantastic movies on this list that do not appear on any other, like Das Boot, Oldboy, and Grave of the Fireflies. But that means some movies, like Wizard of Oz, Jaws, and Gone with the Wind was not on it.
  3. The 100 best movies of all time as chosen by actors – TimeOut
    As the title suggests, these were ranked by actors as the best movies for their performances. Some fantastic entries appeared on this list, like Being There, the fabulous dark comedy/political satire starring Peter Sellers. This list might be one I revisit in the future, because I loved the hidden gems. It just didn’t meet the brief for top 100 of all time.
  4. The 100 Greatest Movies – Empire Online
    This list was ranked by readers of Empire.
  5. The Best Movies of All Time – Ranker
    Ranked by movie experts and film fans alike on Ranker.
  6. The 100 Best Films of All time: The Ultimate List – Newsweek
    This list was ranked based on Metacritic, Rotten Tomatoes ratings, and IMDb user scores. It’s
  7. Top 100 Greatest Movies of All Time (The Ultimate List) – IMDb user ChrisWalczyk55
    To quote his list, “The movies on this list are ranked according to their success (awards & nominations), their popularity, and their cinematic greatness from a directing/writing perspective.”
  8. Top Rated Movies on IMDb
  9. Top 100 Movies of All Time on Rotten Tomatoes
  10. Best Movies of All Time on Metacritic

The last three come from aggragate sites, and even some of the other lists above are generated by them. While I see value in these and the overall usefulness they provide when new movies are released, the ratings can be manipulated. Hardcore fans tend to use multiple accounts to generate higher scores. Additionally, critics in the past were less likely to provide higher ratings to movies than they do now, or completely miss the movie altogether, such as in the case of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Take the Rotten Tomatoes list. Over 20 of the Top 100 Movies of All-Time are from 2015 and beyond. I’ll admit that there have been some good movies in the last couple of years, but included in that is Baby Driver (a movie by Edgar Wright, who has a large and rabbid fan-base), Spider-man: Homecoming, and Finding Dory. Missing from that list are Pulp Fiction, Schindler’s List, and The Godfather Part II. I’m not even lying. These movies are far superior that the formers, yet they don’t even get a look in.

So once I collected all my data together, I decided that the easiest way to score the movies was to give weight to the movies that had the highest ranks, their average ranking (across the first seven lists), and the number of times they appeared on a list.

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The scoring is as such:

  1. Total List Points: Total List Appearances (Column M) x Total number of appearances in the top 7.
  2. Avg Rank Points: Average Rank of all 201 movies based on their Average Rank in Column N
  3. Top 5 Points: Column P x 5
  4. Top 10 Points: Column Q x 4
  5. Top 25 Points: Column R x 3
  6. Top 50 Points: Column S x 2
  7. Top 100 Points: Total List Appearances from 51-100

Total Score was Column T x Sum of Columns U to Z.

I did try this a few different ways, but I ended up having movies like Three Colours: Red (which appears once in Newsweek and once in Metacritic) in the top 100, while Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which appears in three lists and the IMDb list as well) missed out. I had to figure out the best way to give the movies that landed on multiple lists, while still giving focus to movies that were in the top 10 and top 5, as that is a mean feat.

It’s not a perfect system. Movies like Inglorious Basterds, which was on 4 lists, but had an average rank of 73 across those, didn’t make the cut. Additionally, all lists are very Western-focused, which means there is a significant lack of diversity. Future me would love to do a top 100 foreign films list someday. Nevertheless, I’m fairly proud of the list that I’ve created. I would not call this my top 100 but rather everyone in the Western world, and what excites me, as well, is getting to revisit movies I haven’t seen in years (some I have totally forgotten) or ones I’ve never watched, for one reason or another.

More about this challenge. I will be watching each of these, even if I’ve seen them before (in some cases dozens of times). My plan is to watch two movies per week, with a post about each on Sunday and Friday, if possible. Some weeks, I may do more, as I know there will be some times when I might fall behind, due to work commitments, etc. I will be watching the movies at random, unless they are part of a series, and then I will watch them in order of their series (a la Star Wars, Lord of the Rings). Lastly, I will be making my best attempt to find these movies on Australian streaming services Netflix and Stan, Apple, or on Blu-Ray, DVD. I recently learned that when format changes occur, ie VHS to DVD, DVD to Blu-Ray, a percentage of movies never make the shift. Australian distribution rights are another issue. I’m hoping that none of this will affect me, since these are universally recognized as great movies, but if I exhaust all of the above, then I may have to just skip it.

And finally, here is the list:

  1. The Godfather
  2. Casablanca
  3. Citizen Kane
  4. Pulp Fiction
  5. Schindler’s List
  6. The Godfather Part II
  7. Apocalypse Now
  8. Goodfellas
  9. Star Wars: A New Hope
  10. 12 Angry Men
  11. Psycho
  12. Taxi Driver
  13. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  14. Singin’ in the Rain
  15. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  16. It’s a Wonderful Life
  17. Gladiator
  18. Rear Window
  19. The Shawshank Redemption
  20. Lawrence of Arabia
  21. The Wizard of Oz
  22. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  23. Saving Private Ryan
  24. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  25. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  26. The Silence of the Lambs
  27. Jaws
  28. Dr Strangelove
  29. Back to the Future
  30. The Dark Knight
  31. The Shining
  32. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  33. Gone with the Wind
  34. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  35. Vertigo
  36. Some Like It Hot
  37. A Clockwork Orange
  38. Fight Club
  39. The Matrix
  40. To Kill a Mockingbird
  41. Forrest Gump
  42. Alien
  43. Toy Story
  44. T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  45. Chinatown
  46. The Usual Suspects
  47. Inception
  48. American Beauty
  49. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  50. Seven Samurai
  51. Se7en
  52. North by Northwest
  53. Raging Bull
  54. Fargo
  55. All About Eve
  56. Jurassic Park
  57. Blade Runner
  58. Annie Hall
  59. Sunset Boulevard
  60. Spirited Away
  61. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  62. The Philadelphia Story
  63. On the Waterfront
  64. Leon: The Professional
  65. Titanic
  66. A Streetcar Named Desire
  67. The Departed
  68. Aliens
  69. The Lion King
  70. Braveheart
  71. Wall-E
  72. Modern Times
  73. Amadeus
  74. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  75. Rosemary’s Baby
  76. The Green Mile
  77. Rocky
  78. The Big Lebowski
  79. Memento
  80. The Third Man
  81. The Sound of Music
  82. Die Hard
  83. Reservoir Dogs
  84. The Princess Bride
  85. Life is Beautiful
  86. Cinema Paradiso
  87. Pan’s Labyrinth
  88. Whiplash
  89. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  90. There Will Be Blood
  91. Interstellar
  92. Once Upon a Time in the West
  93. The Grapes of Wrath
  94. Good Will Hunting
  95. Double Indemnity
  96. The Maltese Falcon
  97. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
  98. The Lives of Others
  99. American History X
  100. City Lights
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