Using a list of the best movies of the year can help you find something good to watch.
The number one question I get when I talk to people is, seen any good movies lately? Thanks to on demand services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, we’re all looking for the next good movie to watch. I like see a lot of popular movies and blockbusters, so if that’s not your cup of tea, you may not like my answer.
So, how do you find a good movie to watch? One way is to check out the best movies of the year, either the current year or some other year. (You can also search for best movies of all-time, but I’ll talk about that further down.)
When I create a “best of” list for Media Medusa, I have a fairly specific research process. No, I haven’t seen all of the movies on the lists I write. (Gasp!) I use my handy-dandy research skills to find the cream of the crop for my blog readers. In this blog post, I’m going to lift the curtain (or my skirts, depending on your metaphor of choice) to show you my top-secret, all-encompassing, amazing research process to find the best movies. That way, you can do it too!
There are a gazillion websites out there that recommend stuff to watch. A lot of times, those websites only offer one person’s opinion. I use two resources that aggregate ratings and reviews: IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes.
Aggregate websites — meaning, sites that take a bunch of critical reviews and boil them down to a single rating — are under fire. Some movie moguls claim that sites like Rotten Tomatoes are ruining the movie industry. They claim that if Rotten Tomatoes posts a “Fresh” or “Rotten” rating before the movie comes out, based on the pre-release reviews, it determines whether a movie makes money or not. The moguls are super simplifying a much larger process. I mean, I’m going to go see a superhero movie or a Harry Potter movie no matter what the critics say. Plus, hello! I do have a brain, like most moviegoers, and I can decide for myself whether or not the critics know what they’re talking about.
For instance, Rotten Tomatoes gave Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) a Tomatometer score of 53% (Rotten), based on the critics’ reviews. But audiences gave it a 75% (Fresh). Needless to say, I fall in the 75% group, because I really liked that movie. I went to see it despite what the critics said.
The bottom line is that a lot more than a Rotten Tomatoes score goes into the decision-making process of a moviegoer.
Let me preface this step by saying that I wrote this in 2017, so that’s the year we’re using for this tutorial.
Type this into your internet browser bar (whether it’s Chrome, Foxfire, Safari, Explorer or whatnot). Or, copy the following line and paste it into your browser.
site:IMDb.com top movies 2017
No http:// or www or anything else. This line tells your search engine of choice to search just IMDb.com for “top movies of 2017.”
(Just so you know, I use the search paramenter”site: ” for pretty much every internet search I do. I generally know from which website I want information, so I search only that website for my keyword phrase. That’s a trick you can use for anything. Like, try site:ew.com riverdale and all of the Riverdale content on Entertainment Weekly’s website will come up.)
Here were my results for the best movies of the year.
Bing served up some thumbnail pictures from IMDb, but I’m going to ignore those because I can’t see any information other than the title of the movie. A few of the search results look like great resources for finding the best movies of the year. I clicked the second one because it had a lot less gobbledy-gook in the website address, which is that green URL under the entry’s title. I clicked “Best of 2017 – Top 10 Movies of 2017 – IMDb.”
Here’s what I got.
If you look at the top of the results, just above the first movie, you can see that IMDb sorted the search results by popularity.
I’m assuming that this is a combination of IMDb user votes, number of searches, critical reviews and box office totals, because if you scroll down the results, you can see that the IMDb rating doesn’t run from highest to lowest directly. There must be more variables in the formula.
Regardless, that’s the setting I use when I look for the best movies of the year. If you click, for instance, IMDb rating, you’ll get a list of movies from around the world that’s sorted by IMDb’s rating. Remember, there are a lot more people in China and India than there are in the United States or the United Kingdom. I can pretty much guarantee you won’t recognize anything in that list. Stick with popularity. (You can, of course, click any of the settings, if you so choose. For instance, you can check out the top box office gross of 2017.)
Using this list, the top movies of 2017 were:
- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
- The Greatest Showman
- The Shape of Water
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Mississippi
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi
- The Post
- Darkest Hour
- Blade Runner 2049
- I, Tonya
When you look at a movie’s entry, you’ll see a few things that tell you how well the movie was received.
IMDb Rating: This is the number of stars out of 10 that IMDb has assigned the movie, based on user scores. (58,593 people voted for this movie, apparently.)
Metascore: This is the score, out of 100, the movie received on Metacritic. Metacritic is another aggregate movie review website, like Rotten Tomatoes. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle only earned a 58. (Even though users gave it a 7.2 on IMDb. See what I mean? You can’t go by critics alone.)
Gross: This is how much the movie earned in box office gross, to date. You can use this number as another way to gauge the movie’s popularity.
There’s more! You can narrow down the results using your favorite genre. For example, I love action movies. (Duh!) If I add “action” to my search text, like this
site:IMDb.com top action movies 2017
I get a slightly different list.
The top 10 action movies of 2017 were:
- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi
- Justice League
- Kingsman: The Golden Circle
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
- The Foreigner
- American Made
Obviously, you can pick and choose what movies you want to watch from whatever list you come up with, based on the rating, the Metacritic rating, box office or other variable. (I don’t know how in the he-e-double-hockey-sticks Geostorm ended up on this list. See my blog post on Gerard Butler movies for a possible explanation.)
After I have a list to work with, I cross reference it with Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t start with Rotten Tomatoes because I don’t feel like they have as many variables in their formula. They base a movie’s Tomatometer rating solely on critics’ reviews. They do take into consideration their users’ ratings, but I don’t feel like their method is as encompassing as IMDb’s. Plus, IMDb offers a lot more information about movies, actors and actresses, directors, etc.
Back to the task at hand! So, armed with my list of the best movies of the year, I check it against Rotten Tomatoes’ list in the same fashion.
site:rottentomatoes.com top action movies 2017
Their search results look a little different than IMDb’s.
If I click on the very first entry, I get this.
In the upper left, you can see their list of the best movies of 2017, based on their own Tomatometer rating.
- Get Out
- The Big Sick
- Lady Bird
- Wonder Woman
- Baby Driver
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi
If you compare the two lists, the only movie that shows up on both lists is Star Wars: The Last Jedi. (Read my review.)
If you’re into pop culture and want to see what everyone else saw in 2017, you should use IMDb’s list. If you are only interested in what the critics recommend, the Rotten Tomatoes list should suit you.
Looking for more? In the center of the Rotten Tomatoes screen, you can see top 100 lists in various genres. Click any of these links to find more specific lists from the genre of your choice. On the right, you can see their list of the best movies of all-time. Back on the left, you can see they start to list the best movies of the previous years, beginning with 2016.
- Search IMDb with site:imdb.com [put parameters here]
- Search Rotten Tomatoes with site:rottentomatoes.com [put parameters here]
- Compare lists.
Some things to keep in mind.
- Tinker with your search phrase or parameters to find a list that’s the closest to what you’re looking for.
- Don’t be afraid to sort IMDb by other variables to see what they come up with.
Good luck! I hope this method helps you find the best movies of the year, no matter what year or genre you’re looking for. If you use this method, I’d love to find out if it worked for you. Just comment below to let me know!
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