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IMDb Ranks the Top 25 Movies of the Last 25 Years

IMDb Ranks the Top 25 Movies of the Last 25 Years

The Internet Movie Database is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and to mark the occasion, they’ve compiled a list of its user’s favorite movies from every year of the IMDb’s existence. As Vanity Fair’s Katey Rich, who first published the list, points out, the results show a pronounced proclivity for the works of Christopher Nolan, whose films took top honors a whopping five times, and Leonardo DiCaprio, who stars in four of them. (Morgan Freeman also appears in four, although his supporting turns in “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” are much smaller.)

Some more stats: the most popular of all 25 movies, with a user rating of 9.3 out of 10, is “The Shawshank Redemption,” a movie that famously made little impact on its initial release and achieved its now-canonical status in large part through being championed in the then-nascent online film culture: More than 1.5 million IMDb users have cast their votes in favor of the film. Given the historical makeup of said culture, it’s not surprising that of the 25 year-end favorites, nearly every one was directed by a white male (“The Intouchables'” co-director Éric Toledano has North African heritage), and only two are in a language other than English. Although IMDb’s data suggest its users are split almost evenly by gender, a recent study by academic Karen Boyle concluded that IMDb is “discursively constructed as a space where male voices and systems of value dominate,” i.e. No Girls Allowed. (My friend Ryan Godfrey, who studies IMDb stats in his spare time, points out that the list also zeroes out Bollywood movies by setting minimum vote threshholds, which fluctuate with the year; in 2009, only excluding movies with fewer than 180,000 votes keeps “Inglourious Basterds” from losing to “3 Idiots.” )

With few exceptions — “The Intouchables”? Really? — the IMDb 25 is a solid list of films, but it’s interesting to look at where it converges from critical and even popular tastes. “Into the Wild,” for one, ranks only 87th on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of 2007 critic favorites, but IMDb’s users pushed the story of a young man who is martyred by his inability to connect with other people past “No County for Old Men,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Ratatouille” and “The Bourne Ultimatum.” (Full disclosure: It ranked just below “No Country” on my Best of 2007 list.) It’s heartening to see IMDb users rally behind a movie like “Interstellar,” which many critics dismissed as sappy and contrived, even if its position can as easily be chalked up to the rabid devotion of Christopher Nolan’s fanbase as an appreciation of this particular film. But like most lists, the IMDb’s tells you more about the people who put it together than it does about the movies themselves.

The IMDb’s Top 25 Movies of the Last 25 Years

2014: “Interstellar”
2013: “The Wolf of Wall Street
2012: “Django Unchained
2011: “The Intouchables”
2010: “Inception
2009: “Inglourious Basterds”
2008: “The Dark Knight”
2007: “Into the Wild”
2006: “The Departed
2005: “Batman Begins”
2004: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2003: “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
2002: “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”
2001: “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
2000: “Memento
1999: “Fight Club
1998: “Saving Private Ryan
1997: “Life Is Beautiful”
1996: “Fargo
1995: “Seven”
1994: “The Shawshank Redemption”
1993: “Schindler’s List”
1992: “Reservoir Dogs
1991: “The Silence of the Lambs
1990: “Goodfellas

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