Project: IMDB Top 250

IMDB TOP 250
(as of June 1, 2016)
1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994, Frank Darabont)
2. The Godfather (1972, Francis Ford Coppola)
3. The Godfather Part II (1974, Francis Ford Coppola)
4. The Dark Knight (2008, Christopher Nolan)
5. Schindler’s List (1993, Steven Spielberg)
6. 12 Angry Men (1957, Sidney Lumet)
7. Pulp Fiction (1994, Quentin Tarantino)
8. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003, Peter Jackson)
9. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966, Sergio Leone)
10. Fight Club (1999, David Fincher)
11. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001, Peter Jackson)
12. The Empire Strikes Back (1980, Irvin Kershner)
13. Forrest Gump (1994, Robert Zemeckis)
14. Inception (2010, Christopher Nolan)
15. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002, Peter Jackson)
16. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975, Milos Forman)
17. Goodfellas (1990, Martin Scorsese)
18. The Matrix (1999, Andy & Lana Wachowski)
19. Seven Samurai (1954, Akira Kurosawa)
20. Star Wars (1977, George Lucas)
21. City of God (2002, Fernando Meirelles)
22. Se7en (1995, David Fincher)
23. The Silence of the Lambs (1991, Jonathan Demme)
24. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946, Frank Capra)
25. The Usual Suspects (1995, Bryan Singer)
26. Life Is Beautiful (1997, Roberto Benigni)
27. Léon (1994, Luc Besson)
28. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968, Sergio Leone)
29. Spirited Away (2001, Hayao Miyazaki)
30. Saving Private Ryan (1998, Steven Spielberg)
31. American History X (1998, Tony Kaye)
32. Interstellar (2014, Christopher Nolan) [cap]
33. Casablanca (1942, Michael Curtiz)
34. Psycho (1960, Alfred Hitchcock)
35. City Lights (1931, Charles Chaplin)
36. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, Steven Spielberg)
37. The Intouchables (2011, Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano) [cap]
38. Rear Window (1954, Alfred Hitchcock)
39. Modern Times (1936, Charles Chaplin)
40. The Green Mile (1999, Frank Darabont)
41. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991, James Cameron)
42. The Pianist (2002, Roman Polanski)
43. The Departed (2006, Martin Scorsese)
44. Back to the Future (1985, Robert Zemeckis)
45. Whiplash (2014, Damien Chazelle) [cap]
46. Gladiator (2000, Ridley Scott)
47. Memento (2000, Christopher Nolan)
48. Apocalypse Now (1979, Francis Ford Coppola)
49. The Prestige (2006, Christopher Nolan)
50. The Lion King (1994, Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff)
51. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, Stanley Kubrick)
52. Sunset Blvd. (1950, Billy Wilder)
53. Alien (1979, Ridley Scott)
54. The Great Dictator (1940, Charles Chaplin)
55. The Lives of Others (2006, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)
56. Cinema Paradiso (1988, Giuseppe Tornatore)
57. Django Unchained (2012, Quentin Tarantino)
58. The Shining (1980, Stanley Kubrick)
59. Paths of Glory (1957, Stanley Kubrick)
60. Grave of the Fireflies (1988, Isao Takahata) [cap]
61. WALL-E (2008, Andrew Stanton)
62. The Dark Knight Rises (2012, Christopher Nolan)
63. American Beauty (1999, Sam Mendes)
64. Aliens (1986, James Cameron)
65. Princess Mononoke (1997, Hayao Miyazaki) [cap]
66. Oldboy (2003, Park Chan-wook)
67. Citizen Kane (1941, Orson Welles)
68. North by Northwest (1959, Alfred Hitchcock)
69. Once Upon a Time in America (1984, Sergio Leone)
70. Das Boot (1981, Wolfgang Petersen)
71. Vertigo (1958, Alfred Hitchcock)
72. Return of the Jedi (1983, Richard Marquand) [cap]
73. Witness for the Prosecution (1957, Billy Wilder)
74. M (1931, Fritz Lang)
75. Reservoir Dogs (1992, Quentin Tarantino)
76. Amélie (2001, Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
77. Braveheart (1995, Mel Gibson)
78. Requiem for a Dream (2000, Darren Aronofsky)
79. A Clockwork Orange (1971, Stanley Kubrick)
80. Taxi Driver (1976, Martin Scorsese)
81. Double Indemnity (1944, Billy Wilder)
82. Toy Story 3 (2010, Lee Unkrich)
83. Lawrence of Arabia (1962, David Lean)
84. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962, Robert Mulligan)
85. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)
86. Full Metal Jacket (1987, Stanley Kubrick)
87. Amadeus (1984, Milos Forman)
88. The Sting (1973, George Roy Hill)
89. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Stanley Kubrick)
90. Bicycle Thieves (1948, Vittorio De Sica)
91. Singin’ in the Rain (1952, Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly)
92. Snatch (2000, Guy Ritchie)
93. Toy Story (1995, John Lasseter)
94. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones) [cap]
95. Inglourious Basterds (2009, Quentin Tarantino)
96. The Kid (1921, Charles Chaplin) [cap]
97. L.A. Confidential (1997, Curtis Hanson)
98. For a Few Dollars More (1965, Sergio Leone) [cap]
99. The Apartment (1960, Billy Wilder)
100. Rashomon (1950, Akira Kurosawa)
101. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989, Steven Spielberg)
102. Scarface (1983, Brian de Palma) [cap]
103. A Separation (2011, Asghar Farhadi)
104. Metropolis (1927, Fritz Lang)
105. All About Eve (1950, Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
106. Yojimbo (1961, Akira Kurosawa)
107. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948, John Huston)
108. Batman Begins (2005, Christopher Nolan)
109. Children of Heaven (1997, Majid Majidi) [cap]
110. The Hunt (2012, Thomas Vinterberg) [cap]
111. 3 Idiots (2009, Rajkumar Hirani) [cap]
112. Some Like It Hot (1959, Billy Wilder)
113. Good Will Hunting (1997, Gus Van Sant) [cap]
114. Unforgiven (1992, Clint Eastwood)
115. Up (2009, Pete Docter)
116. The Third Man (1949, Carol Reed)
117. Raging Bull (1980, Martin Scorsese)
118. Downfall (2004, Oliver Hirschbiegel)
119. Inside Out (2015, Pete Docter) [cap]
120. Die Hard (1988, John McTiernan)
121. The Great Escape (1963, John Sturges) [cap]
122. Chinatown (1974, Roman Polanski)
123. Heat (1995, Michael Mann) [cap]
124. Room (2015, Lenny Abrahamson) [cap]
125. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006, Guillermo del Toro) [cap]
126. Captain America: Civil War (2016, Anthony & Joe Russo)
127. On the Waterfront (1954, Elia Kazan)
128. My Neighbor Totoro (1988, Hayao Miyazaki) [cap]
129. Ran (1985, Akira Kurosawa) [cap]
130. Ikiru (1952, Akira Kurosawa)
131. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939, Frank Capra)
132. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957, David Lean)
133. The Gold Rush (1925, Charles Chaplin)
134. The Force Awakens (2015, J.J. Abrams) [cap]
135. The Secret in Their Eyes (2009, Juan José Campanella) [cap]
136. The Seventh Seal (1957, Ingmar Bergman) [cap]
137. Blade Runner (1982, Ridley Scott)
138. Sunrise (1927, F.W. Murnau)
139. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998, Guy Ritchie) [cap]
140. Tokyo Story (1953, Yasujiro Ozu) [cap]
141. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004, Hayao Miyazaki) [cap]
142. Casino (1995, Martin Scorsese) [cap]
143. The General (1926, Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman)
144. Wild Strawberries (1957, Ingmar Bergman)
145. The Elephant Man (1980, David Lynch)
146. The Message (1976, Moustapha Akkad) [cap]
147. Warrior (2011, Gavin O’Connor) [cap]
148. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013, Martin Scorsese)
149. A Beautiful Mind (2001, Ron Howard)
150. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961, Stanley Kramer) [cap]
151. V for Vendetta (2005, James McTeigue) [cap]
152. Gran Torino (2008, Clint Eastwood) [cap]
153. The Big Lebowski (1998, Joel Coen) [cap]
154. Incendies (2010, Denis Villeneuve) [cap]
155. Zootopia (2016, Byron Howard & Rich Moore) [cap]
156. The Deer Hunter (1978, Michael Cimino)
157. Rebecca (1940, Alfred Hitchcock)
158. Fargo (1996, Joel Coen)
159. Trainspotting (1996, Danny Boyle)
160. Gone with the Wind (1939, Victor Fleming)
161. Dial M for Murder (1954, Alfred Hitchcock)
162. Cool Hand Luke (1967, Stuart Rosenberg)
163. How to Train Your Dragon (2010, Chris Sanders & Dean DeBlois) [cap]
164. The Sixth Sense (1999, M. Night Shyamalan)
165. Finding Nemo (2003, Andrew Stanton) [cap]
166. The Thing (1982, John Carpenter) [cap]
167. No Country for Old Men (2007, Joel & Ethan Coen)
168. Into the Wild (2007, Sean Penn) [cap]
169. Mary and Max (2009, Adam Elliot) [cap]
170. Gone Girl (2014, David Fincher)
171. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003, Quentin Tarantino)
172. It Happened One Night (1934, Frank Capra)
173. Rush (2013, Ron Howard)
174. Life of Brian (1979, Terry Jones) [cap]
175. There Will Be Blood (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson)
176. Hotel Rwanda (2004, Terry George)
177. Platoon (1986, Oliver Stone)
178. The Maltese Falcon (1941, John Huston)
179. Deadpool (2016, Tim Miller) [cap]
180. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, George Miller) [cap]
181. The Wages of Fear (1953, Henri-Georges Clouzot)
182. Spotlight (2015, Thomas McCarthy) [cap]
183. Network (1976, Sidney Lumet)
184. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969, George Roy Hill)
185. The 400 Blows (1959, Francois Truffaut)
186. Shutter Island (2010, Martin Scorsese)
187. Stand by Me (1986, Rob Reiner) [cap]
188. In the Name of the Father (1993, Jim Sheridan) [cap]
189. 12 Years a Slave (2013, Steve McQueen)
190. Persona (1966, Ingmar Bergman) [cap]
191. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014, Wes Anderson)
192. Amores Perros (2000, Alejandro González Iñárritu) [cap]
193. The Princess Bride (1987, Rob Reiner) [cap]
194. Million Dollar Baby (2004, Clint Eastwood)
195. Ben-Hur (1959, William Wyler)
196. Wild Tales (2014, Damián Szifrón) [cap]
197. Touch of Evil (1958, Orson Welles)
198. Hachi (2009, Lasse Hallström) [cap]
199. Annie Hall (1977, Woody Allen)
200. The Grapes of Wrath (1940, John Ford)
201. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984, Hayao Miyazaki) [cap]
202. The Revenant (2015, Alejandro González Iñárritu) [cap]
203. Jurassic Park (1993, Steven Spielberg) [cap]
204. Stalker (1979, Andrei Tarkovsky) [cap]
205. Gandhi (1982, Richard Attenborough)
206. Diabolique (1955, Henri-Georges Clouzot)
207. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007, Paul Greengrass) [cap]
208. Before Sunrise (1995, Richard Linklater)
209. Donnie Darko (2001, Richard Kelly) [cap]
210. The Truman Show (1998, Peter Weir) [cap]
211. 8½ (1963, Federico Fellini) [cap]
212. Memories of Murder (2003, Bong Joon-ho) [cap]
213. Rocky (1976, John G. Avildsen)
214. The Wizard of Oz (1939, Victor Fleming)
215. The Terminator (1984, James Cameron) [cap]
216. Monsters, Inc. (2001, Pete Docter) [cap]
217. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946, William Wyler)
218. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011, David Yates) [cap]
219. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949, Robert Hamer)
220. Twelve Monkeys (1995, Terry Gilliam) [cap]
221. Groundhog Day (1993, Harold Ramis) [cap]
222. Sin City (2005, Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller)
223. Strangers on a Train (1951, Alfred Hitchcock)
224. Infernal Affairs (2002, Andrew Lau & Alan Mak) [cap]
225. Jaws (1975, Steven Spielberg)
226. La Haine (1995, Mathieu Kassovitz) [cap]
227. The Battle of Algiers (1966, Gillo Pontecorvo) [cap]
228. Barry Lyndon (1975, Stanley Kubrick)
229. Prisoners (2013, Denis Villeneuve) [cap]
230. Dog Day Afternoon (1975, Sidney Lumet)
231. The Martian (2015, Ridley Scott) [cap]
232. Ip Man (2008, Wilson Yip) [cap]
233. The Imitation Game (2014, Morten Tyldum) [cap]
234. Fanny and Alexander (1982, Ingmar Bergman) [cap]
235. Catch Me If You Can (2002, Steven Spielberg)
236. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003, Gore Verbinski) [cap]
237. The Avengers (2012, Joss Whedon) [cap]
238. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, James Gunn) [cap]
239. The Help (2011, Tate Taylor) [cap]
240. A Fistful of Dollars (1964, Sergio Leone) [cap]
241. The King’s Speech (2010, Tom Hooper)
242. Roman Holiday (1953, William Wyler)
243. Castle in the Sky (1986, Hayao Miyazaki) [cap]
244. Throne of Blood (1957, Akira Kurosawa) [cap]
245. High Noon (1952, Fred Zinnemann)
246. Beauty and the Beast (1991, Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise) [cap]
247. In the Mood for Love (2000, Kar Wai Wong) [cap]
248. Lagaan (2001, Ashutosh Gowariker) [cap]
249. Before Sunset (2004, Richard Linklater)
250. Paris, Texas (1984, Wim Wenders)

***

The IMDB is the most extensive resource of hard information about film ever constructed; it’s an ever-evolving document that’s in its third decade now. Among its innovations was the voting system and, starting around 1996, a list of the movies receiving the highest averages on that system. Twenty years later the 250 is still updated daily and, after much tweaking by IMDB staff, it’s become an unusual barometer of taste among internet denizens, typically only the people odd enough to care about voting for films on such a site. Judging from the films that make the list, they’re first-year film students and/or perpetual adolescents and/or people stuck in the ’90s. I was a lot younger when I decided to tackle this project and, in retrospect, I don’t think it was a good decision or that the results are illuminting.

Way back in 2007, I set out to watch every film on the IMDB Top 250 that I hadn’t already seen; I somehow finished this less than a year later. Because I’m stubborn I intended to maintain the status a long time later when I started this slightly more formal blog. And when I attempted to reclaim the, uh, accomplishment, it took me a whopping thirty-five months. There were a few reasons for this. First is that I insisted on rewatching all of the films I had previously seen unless they had already been examined for this blog (and in some cases even then, though usually only for films I love and wanted to revisit recreationally). While I was very focused on the project throughout its first year, I drifted away from it somewhat involuntarily in 2014 when I went through a period of some disillusionment with this blog in general (as well as some life-related stress). When I switched the format to focus on capsule reviews, I renewed my commitment but I still made the mistake of trying to keep up steadfastedly with a list that changes every day. This resulted in some wasteful work of gathering films that would then be voted off the list. Eventually I made the choice to pick a day as a source for a concrete version of the list to stand for a year, then to be updated. So the list above is that of June 1, 2016; and it will, theoretically, be updated in June 2017.

There are lots of everchanging rules for inclusion on the 250, apparently designed to keep out cultists and outliers. It doesn’t really work; almost invariably, when a new tentpole movie opens, it briefly places high on the list then gradually drops away as fanboyish interest wanes. The 250 has something of a cult that cares deeply about what places on it and where, and in this way as well as some others the whole thing feels quaint, and — in terms of the content that actually sticks — a bit like a time capsule of the late ’90s, when such interaction still held so much novelty and promise. There are a lot of good films on the list, also a lot of middlebrow pap (and some good middlebrow pap), and for this reason I sort of lost interest at around the halfway point and began to regret taking on the project at all. To be honest, I continue to regret it, and I’ve rearranged my future plans for the blog to avoid getting mired for an extended period in movies that simply don’t interest me, as many of these did not. Alas, by the time I had this awakening I was too far along to abandon the idea.

As I am anxious to move on and return to the silent canon list and the other exciting projects meant to follow that one, I won’t be dwelling too much on the achievement of wrapping up the IMDB list, which is representative of an aspect of movie culture, especially web-based movie culture, I’m eager to start ignoring and continue to ignore for some time. (Not forever. I do harbor ambitions of having most every kind of film covered in my guide eventually. I don’t quite know why.)

At this writing, 249 out of 250 films below are seen and reviewed (either as capsules or essays) on this blog. The odd one out, Captain America: Civil War, is not yet available to me and I’ll be catching up with it when possible. I will also remove this disclaimer then, if I remember to. I don’t feel this list is important enough for me to carefully track the changes it’s undergone since I got started; there’s an excellent aggregator that already does this. I have kept a log to track what I saw specifically for this project and when, which I’ve posted here. In the future I will acknowledge what films in this first pass have gone missing when I revise the list. I’ve decided not to suss out a list of the movies I saw that were then gone by the time of my final grab on June 1st. It doesn’t seem like terribly useful information.

Not counting those “castoffs” and the prerequisites I brought in (namely the first seven Harry Potter films), I saw 182 movies specifically for this project, starting with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and ending with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (a subsequent rewatch of Jaws notwithstanding). This includes any of those that overlapped with various concurrent Oscars projects but excludes everything I’d already considered for the blog by the first day of work on this procedure.

Thank you for reading along. I’m happy to bury this one… though I will confess it’s useful to have reviews of all of these very popular movies in the can. Join us through the end of 2016 for the continuation and conclusion of the first version of the silent canon project, which will be followed by a (probably) yearlong jaunt through the 1930s under the same conditions. Stay with me!

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