#50-21: An assessment of the IMDb Top 250 so far

It’s no secret by now that the IMDb Top 250 is not a perfect barometer for all-time greatest films. I’ve learned through my journey up the list that the best of the best films are generally present and accounted for, and the greatest of all are mostly stuffed into the top 50, but some films slip into higher rankings with seemingly no good reason for it.

Let’s take Whiplash, for example, a 2014 release sitting at #40 on my saved version of the list (now #45).  J.K. Simmons kills the performance with his antics and bi-polar tendencies, but he looms as a cartoonish and vulgar character that overpowers the whole screenplay, making the safespace protagonist look like the sniveling brat he calls him out to be, and annhiliating an already weak script by doing an unlikely turn in the middle of a huge gig. The film should not sniff any greatest films list, and especially not be sandwiched between Modern Times, a respectable Chaplin work, and Terminator 2, perhaps the most innovative modern sci-fi film and one of the best sequels ever.

It turns out that the next 30 entries on the list are mostly landmark films, legendary by reputation, completely unhinged masterpieces of screen, or truly moving human tales. Several are among the most violent or vulgar films I’ve ever seen; very few are not shocking or forgettable. The remaining handful of oddball entries are likely bolstered by hype far beyond their value. This group also contains some of my all-time favorites.

Unlike previous spans of films, I had little problem ranking them; they were either excellent or considerably less so. The top 20 on my rerank is somewhat interchangeable.

Amadeus remains number one, standing tall as a remarkable cinematic achievement from front to back.  The haunting and surreal The Deer Hunter also stayed in the top three, retaining its grip on my memory, but the next several are all films that were ranked in the 50-21 range on the IMDb chart.

Below is my unabashed reranking of the films I’ve seen so far.  The original position on the IMDb Top 250 is in parenthenses next to my hierarchy.  At the bottom is my “eliminated” list — films I felt didn’t cut it as all-time greats. After “catching up” on a few others, the “skipped” list will likely stand at three films henceforth.

1 (89) Amadeus (1984)
2 (23) The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
3 (149) The Deer Hunter (1978)
4 (25) It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
5 (26) Life Is Beautiful (1997)
6 (30) Saving Private Ryan (1998)
7 (32) Casablanca (1942)
8 (36) Psycho (1960)
9 (37) Rear Window (1954)
10 (43) The Pianist (2002)
11 (21) City of God (2002)
12 (49) Sunset Blvd. (1950)
13 (54) The Lion King (1994)
14 (86) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
15 (33) Spirited Away (2001)
16 (50) Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
17 (105) A Separation (2011)
18 (35) City Lights (1931)
19 (41) Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
20 (47) Apocalypse Now (1979)
21 (107) Metropolis (1927)
22 (91) Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
23 (58) The Shining (1980)
24 (44) Memento (2000)
25 (46) Gladiator (2000)
26 (75) Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
27 (53) Alien (1979)
28 (83) Requiem for a Dream (2000)
29 (88) The Sting (1973)
30 (85) Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
31 (115) 3 Idiots (2009)
32 (118) The Hunt (2012)
33 (104) The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
34 (218) Barry Lyndon (1975)
35 (235) Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (2003)
36 (195) The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
37 (186) Ben-Hur (1959)
38 (152) Gone With the Wind (1939)
39 (102) The Apartment (1960)
40 (60) Paths of Glory (1957)
41 (173) Network (1976)
42 (194) The Wizard of Oz (1939)
43 (66) Citizen Kane (1941)
44 (62) WALL·E (2008)
45 (63) American Beauty (1999)
46 (29) Interstellar (2014)
47 (67) North by Northwest (1959)
48 (246) Departures (2008)
49 (110) Batman Begins (2005)
50 (64) Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
51 (42) The Green Mile (1999)
52 (180) Annie Hall (1977)
53 (82) Taxi Driver (1976)
54 (174) There Will Be Blood (2007)
55 (97) For a Few Dollars More (1965)
56 (117) Downfall (2004)
57 (48) Back to the Future (1985)
58 (101) Toy Story (1995)
59 (113) Unforgiven (1992)
60 (158) Dial M for Murder (1954)
61 (192) Shutter Island (2010)
62 (130) Ran (1985)
63 (99) Rashomon (1950)
64 (79) Braveheart (1995)
65 (127) The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
66 (135) The General (1926)
67 (138) The Elephant Man (1980)
68 (22) Se7en (1995)
69 (81) Double Indemnity (1944)
70 (27) Léon: The Professional (1994)
71 (114) Up (2009)
72 (132) The Gold Rush (1925)
73 (80) A Clockwork Orange (1971)
74 (134) Blade Runner (1982)
75 (77) Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
76 (72) M (1931)
77 (100) All About Eve (1950)
78 (147) Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
79 (45) The Departed (2006)
80 (164) The Thing (1982)
81 (68) Vertigo (1958)
82 (125) Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
83 (225) La Haine (1995)
84 (34) Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
85 (163) Mary and Max (2009)
86 (214) Fanny and Alexander (1982)
87 (151) How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
88 (154) Trainspotting (1996)
89 (205) Twelve Monkeys (1995)
90 (31) American History X (1998)
91 (76) Toy Story 3 (2010)
92 (55) The Lives of Others (2006)
93 (137) Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
94 (108) Yojimbo (1961)
95 (122) Good Will Hunting (1997)
96 (116) Raging Bull (1980)
97 (139) Casino (1995)
98 (184) In the Name of the Father (1993)
99 (200) Strangers on a Train (1951)
100 (211) Throne of Blood (1957)
101 (128) My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
102 (39) Modern Times (1936)
103 (69) Oldboy (2003)
104 (121) Die Hard (1988)
105 (222) The King’s Speech (2010)
106 (146) Rebecca (1940)
107 (224) Ip Man (2008)
108 (179) The Princess Bride (1987)
109 (202) Wild Tales (2014)
110 (219) The Truman Show (1998)
111 (197) The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
112 (111) Some Like It Hot (1959)
113 (52) Inside Out (2015)
114 (141) Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
115 (155) It Happened One Night (1934)
116 (160) Rush (2013)
117 (221) Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
118 (57) Cinema Paradiso (1988)
119 (90) Bicycle Thieves (1948)
120 (56) The Great Dictator (1940)
121 (234) The Night of the Hunter (1955)
122 (144) V for Vendetta (2005)
123 (71) Das Boot (1981)
124 (24) The Usual Suspects (1995)
125 (143) Gran Torino (2008)
126 (207) Infernal Affairs (2002)
127 (98) L.A. Confidential (1997)
128 (203) Jurassic Park (1993)
129 (96) The Kid (1921)
130 (70) Princess Mononoke (1997)
131 (84) To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
132 (93) Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
133 (51) The Prestige (2006)
134 (95) 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
135 (106) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
136 (156) Gone Girl (2014)
137 (209) Jaws (1975)
138 (157) Into the Wild (2007)
139 (159) The Sixth Sense (1999)
140 (212) Groundhog Day (1993)
141 (166) Hotel Rwanda (2004)
142 (189) Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
143 (177) Stand by Me (1986)
144 (190) Diabolique (1955)
145 (162) Finding Nemo (2003)
146 (148) A Beautiful Mind (2001)
147 (92) Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
148 (129) Ikiru (1952)
149 (126) Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
150 (150) Cool Hand Luke (1967)
151 (198) Donnie Darko (2001)
152 (169) The Wages of Fear (1953)
153 (170) Platoon (1986)
154 (176) The 400 Blows (1959)
155 (215) Monsters, Inc. (2001)
156 (217) Rocky (1976)
157 (229) Castle in the Sky (1986)
158 (230) Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
159 (236) La Strada (1954)
160 (239) Beauty and the Beast (1991)
161 (187) The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
162 (241) Before Sunset (2004)
163 (243) The Killing (1956)
164 (61) The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
165 (78) Reservoir Dogs (1992)
166 (204) Before Sunrise (1995)
167 (247) The Graduate (1967)
168 (153) Fargo (1996)
169 (120) The Great Escape (1963)
170 (131) The Seventh Seal (1957)
171 (242) The Big Sleep (1946)
172 (175) Touch of Evil (1958)
173 (161) The Maltese Falcon (1941)
174 (109) The Third Man (1949)
175 (133) Wild Strawberries (1957)
176 (165) No Country for Old Men (2007)
177 (172) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
178 (167) Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
179 (178) 12 Years a Slave (2013)
180 (232) Roman Holiday (1953)
181 (123) On the Waterfront (1954)
182 (65) Aliens (1986)
183 (171) Life of Brian (1979)
184 (181) Persona (1966)
185 (59) Django Unchained (2012)
186 (185) Million Dollar Baby (2004)
187 (193) Stalker (1979)
188 (119) Chinatown (1974)
189 (87) Full Metal Jacket (1987)
190 (196) Gandhi (1982)
191 (112) Scarface (1983)
192 (199) 8½ (1963)
193 (248) Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (2010)
194 (249) Three Colors: Red (1994)
195 (250) Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
196 (182) The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
197 (28) Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
198 (94) Snatch. (2000)
199 (231) The Help (2011)
200 (206) The Battle of Algiers (1966)
201 (228) Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
202 (208) The Terminator (1984)
203 (238) X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
204 (226) A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
205 (73) Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
206 (213) Memories of Murder (2003)
207 (220) High Noon (1952)
208 (124) Heat (1995)
209 (74) Amélie (2001)
210 (227) Notorious (1946)
211 (103) Inglourious Basterds (2009)
212 (245) Akira (1988)
213 (244) Laura (1944)
214 (183) Amores Perros (2000)
SKIPPED/UNAVAILABLE
191. Sin City (2005)
136. The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)
140. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

ELIMINATED
210. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
216. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
223. The Imitation Game (2014)
233. Prisoners (2013)
237. Underground (1995)
240. Papillon (1973)
201. The Avengers (2012)
188. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009)
168. Incendies (2010)
142. Warrior (2011)
145. The Big Lebowski
40. Whiplash (2014)
38. The Intouchables (2011)

 

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