To answer all of these questions, let’s take a look at how the top three movie ranking sites put their ratings together and why you should ignore them all.
Classification of films: the methodology
On IMDb, all movies receive an overall rating out of ten. In a roundabout way, these ratings are derived from votes submitted by IMDb users, not movie critics.
All registered IMDb users can submit a single rating – a number between one and ten – for any movie on the website. These votes are then rearranged so that certain demographics (newly registered users, for example) don’t disproportionately influence the overall rating of the movie. IMDb doesn’t reveal how it rearranges those votes, but what it does mean is that a movie’s rating isn’t quite an overall average of all of its user scores, but it’s probably close enough. .
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Just to be even more useful, IMDb’s top 250 movies are ranked in a slightly different way. Only the votes of “IMDb regular voters” are used to establish these rankings. Fortunately, IMDb doesn’t say what makes someone a regular IMDb voter.
In short: IMDb ratings are based on votes from website users, with a bit of a math tweak to prevent certain groups from disproportionately influencing the vote.
It all sounds very egalitarian, but as we’ll see, most IMDb voters are male, which seems to skew the rankings in favor of films that are geared more to men.
IMDb’s Best Movies of All Time
****: 1. The redemption of Shawshank
****: 2. The Godfather
****: 3. The Godfather: Part II
****: 4. The Dark Knight
****: 5.12 angry men
****: 6. Schindler’s List
****: 7. Pulp Fiction
****: 8. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
****: 9. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
****: 10. Fight club
Rotten Tomatoes gives films a rating out of 100 based on the average reviews of professional film critics. If a movie scores 60 or higher, it gets a “fresh” red tomato on the site. Less than 60 and that makes a rotten tomato. The best films are selected for a “Certified Fresh” rating, which usually means the film has at least 80 critical reviews and a rating of 75 or higher. The website also ranks movies separately based on user scores, but let’s not let that distract us here.
For its main rankings, Rotten Tomatoes only considers reviews from approved reviewers and approved posts. To be classified as an approved reviewer, you must write for a large or reputable website, magazine, or newspaper.