The IMDB Quest

I am a geek, a scientist-in-training, a gamer, and a purveyor of anything I can get my hands on. That’s how I would like to see myself, at least. Unfortunately, I’ve failed at the most basic levels of study in modern pop culture. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been shouted down to the tune of “You haven’t seen [insert almost any classic movie you can think of]?!”

In fact, off the top of my head I can name at least 10 all-time, can’t-miss classic films that I’ve never watched.  It is therefore my stated and official goal with this blog to chronicle my personal journey into the viewing of a defined list of some of the best movies ever made. Best by consensus, at least, since I’ve chosen the IMDB list of the top 250 movies of all time, which is a popularity contest. I have chosen to lock in this list as of today, June 27, 2012. Here is that list:

Rank      Rating   Title

1              9.2          The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
2              9.2          The Godfather (1972)
3              9            The Godfather: Part II (1974)
4              8.9          Pulp Fiction (1994)
5              8.9          The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
6              8.9          12 Angry Men (1957)
7              8.9          Schindler’s List (1993)
8              8.8          The Dark Knight (2008)
9              8.8          The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
10             8.8          One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
11             8.8          Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
12             8.8          Fight Club (1999)
13             8.8          Seven Samurai (1954)
14             8.8          Inception (2010)
15             8.8          The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
16             8.7          Goodfellas (1990)
17             8.7          Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
18             8.7          City of God (2002)
19             8.7          Casablanca (1942)
20             8.7          The Matrix (1999)
21             8.7          Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
22             8.7          The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
23             8.7          The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
24             8.7          Rear Window (1954)
25             8.6          Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
26             8.6          Forrest Gump (1994)
27             8.6          Se7en (1995)
28             8.6          The Usual Suspects (1995)
29             8.6          Psycho (1960)
30             8.6          It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
31             8.6          Léon: The Professional (1994)
32             8.6          Sunset Blvd. (1950)
33             8.6          Memento (2000)
34             8.5          Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
35             8.5          Apocalypse Now (1979)
36             8.5          American History X (1998)
37             8.5          Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
38             8.5          North by Northwest (1959)
39             8.5          Saving Private Ryan (1998)
40             8.5          Citizen Kane (1941)
41             8.5          Alien (1979)
42             8.5          City Lights (1931)
43             8.5          The Avengers (2012)
44             8.5          Spirited Away (2001)
45             8.5          American Beauty (1999)
46             8.5          Toy Story 3 (2010)
47             8.5          Taxi Driver (1976)
48             8.5          The Shining (1980)
49            8.5          M (1931)
50            8.5          Vertigo (1958)
51            8.5          Paths of Glory (1957)
52            8.5          Modern Times (1936)
53            8.5          The Pianist (2002)
54            8.4          The Departed (2006)
55            8.4          Amélie (2001)
56            8.4          Double Indemnity (1944)
57            8.4          WALL•E (2008)
58            8.4          The Lives of Others (2006)
59            8.4          Aliens (1986)
60            8.4          A Clockwork Orange (1971)
61            8.4          Back to the Future (1985)
62            8.4          Life Is Beautiful (1997)
63            8.4          To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
64            8.4          Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
65            8.4          Das Boot (1981)
66            8.4          Reservoir Dogs (1992)
67            8.4          Requiem for a Dream (2000)
68            8.4          The Third Man (1949)
69            8.4          Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
70            8.4          The Prestige (2006)
71            8.4          The Green Mile (1999)
72            8.4          A Separation (2011)
73            8.4          The Great Dictator (1940)
74            8.4          Cinema Paradiso (1988)
75            8.4          Gladiator (2000)
76            8.4          Chinatown (1974)
77            8.4          The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
78            8.4          L.A. Confidential (1997)
79            8.4          The Intouchables (2011)
80            8.3          Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
81            8.3          Rashomon (1950)
82            8.3          Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
83            8.3          Full Metal Jacket (1987)
84            8.3          Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
85            8.3          Bicycle Thieves (1948)
86            8.3          Some Like It Hot (1959)
87            8.3          Amadeus (1984)
88            8.3          All About Eve (1950)
89            8.3          Metropolis (1927)
90            8.3          Raging Bull (1980)
91            8.3          Braveheart (1995)
92            8.3          Oldboy (2003)
93            8.3          2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
94            8.3          Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
95            8.3          The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
96            8.3          The Apartment (1960)
97            8.3          Unforgiven (1992)
98            8.3          Princess Mononoke (1997)
99            8.3          Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
100           8.3          The Sting (1973)
101           8.3          The Lion King (1994)
102           8.3          Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
103           8.3          Downfall (2004)
104           8.3          Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
105           8.3          Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
106           8.3          Die Hard (1988)
107           8.3          Inglourious Basterds (2009)
108           8.3          Up (2009)
109           8.3          The Seventh Seal (1957)
110           8.3          On the Waterfront (1954)
111           8.3          The Elephant Man (1980)
112           8.3          Yojimbo (1961)
113           8.3          The Great Escape (1963)
114           8.3          The Maltese Falcon (1941)
115           8.2          Batman Begins (2005)
116           8.2          Gran Torino (2008)
117          8.2          Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
118          8.2          Rebecca (1940)
119          8.2          Snatch. (2000)
120          8.2          For a Few Dollars More (1965)
121          8.2          The General (1926)
122          8.2          Heat (1995)
123          8.2          Blade Runner (1982)
124          8.2          Fargo (1996)
125          8.2          Ran (1985)
126          8.2          Wild Strawberries (1957)
127          8.2          Toy Story (1995)
128          8.2          Sin City (2005)
129          8.2          Touch of Evil (1958)
130          8.2          The Big Lebowski (1998)
131          8.2          Ikiru (1952)
132          8.2          The Deer Hunter (1978)
133          8.2          Jaws (1975)
134          8.2          No Country for Old Men (2007)
135          8.2          Cool Hand Luke (1967)
136          8.2          Hotel Rwanda (2004)
137           8.2          Scarface (1983)
138            8.2          It Happened One Night (1934)
139           8.2          The Wages of Fear (1953)
140           8.2          Strangers on a Train (1951)
141           8.2          The Wizard of Oz (1939)
142           8.2          The Sixth Sense (1999)
143           8.2          The Kid (1921)
144           8.2          The King’s Speech (2010)
145           8.1          Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
146           8.1          Annie Hall (1977)
147           8.1          The Gold Rush (1925)
148           8.1          Black Swan (2010)
149           8.1          Platoon (1986)
150           8.1          High Noon (1952)
151           8.1          The Artist (2011)
152           8.1          Warrior (2011)
153           8.1          Trainspotting (1996)
154           8.1          Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
155           8.1          Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
156           8.1          Into the Wild (2007)
157           8.1          The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
158           8.1          The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)
159           8.1          Sunrise (1927)
160            8.1          The Thing (1982)
161           8.1          Notorious (1946)
162           8.1          Gone with the Wind (1939)
163           8.1          Donnie Darko (2001)
164           8.1          Casino (1995)
165           8.1          Diabolique (1955)
166           8.1          Million Dollar Baby (2004)
167           8.1          My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
168           8.1          Life of Brian (1979)
169           8.1          There Will Be Blood (2007)
170           8.1          How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
171           8.1          Finding Nemo (2003)
172           8.1          Ben-Hur (1959)
173           8.1          Amores Perros (2000)
174           8.1          The Terminator (1984)
175           8.1          V for Vendetta (2005)
176           8.1          Good Will Hunting (1997)
177          8.1          Groundhog Day (1993)
178          8.1          The Big Sleep (1946)
179          8.1          Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
180          8.1          The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
181          8.1          Harakiri (1962)
182          8.1          Stand by Me (1986)
183          8.1          Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
184          8.1          Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
185          8.1          Twelve Monkeys (1995)
186          8.1          The Graduate (1967)
187          8.1          Network (1976)
188          8.1          The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
189          8.1          The Night of the Hunter (1955)
190          8.1          The 400 Blows (1959)
191          8.1          Mary and Max (2009)
192          8.1          The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
193          8.1          Gandhi (1982)
194          8.1          Dial M for Murder (1954)
195          8.1          Persona (1966)
196          8              The Battle of Algiers (1966)
197          8              The Princess Bride (1987)
198          8              District 9 (2009)
199          8              The Killing (1956)
200          8              8½ (1963)
201          8              Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
202          8              La Strada (1954)
203          8              Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
204          8              The Hustler (1961)
205          8              Sherlock Jr. (1924)
206          8              The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
207          8              Ratatouille (2007)
208          8              The Exorcist (1973)
209          8              Fanny and Alexander (1982)
210          8              The Wild Bunch (1969)
211          8              The Wrestler (2008)
212          8              Rocky (1976)
213          8              Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
214          8              Barry Lyndon (1975)
215          8              Stalag 17 (1953)
216          8              The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
217          8              Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
218          8              Nights of Cabiria (1957)
219          8              A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
220          8              A Beautiful Mind (2001)
221          8              Star Trek (2009)
222          8              All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
223          8              High and Low (1963)
224          8              Ip Man (2008)
225          8              The Truman Show (1998)
226          8              Rope (1948)
227          8              Roman Holiday (1953)
228          8              Tokyo Story (1953)
229          8              The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
230          8              Come and See (1985)
231          8              Stalker (1979)
232          8              Infernal Affairs (2002)
233          8              Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
234          8              Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
235          8              Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
236          8              Mystic River (2003)
237          8              Let the Right One In (2008)
238          8              Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
239          8              The Celebration (1998)
240          8              Monsters, Inc. (2001)
241          8              Nosferatu (1922)
242          8              Beauty and the Beast (1991)
243          8              Like Stars on Earth (2007)
244          8              Throne of Blood (1957)
245          8              La Grande Illusion (1937)
246          8              Manhattan (1979)
247          8              Le Samouraï (1967)
248          8              La Haine (1995)
249          8              Shutter Island (2010)
250          8              Castle in the Sky (1986)

So I figure I should lay out the ground rules for those who want to play along at home.

1) One movie will be watched every week during this quest.  This entails researching the critical and audience reaction to it based on review aggregators such as Rotten Tomatoes.  If big-name critical reviews can be found (IE Roger Ebert), then we’ll talk about that, as well.

2) Approach each film to be watched as if it I have not seen it before.

3) Exception to rule #2, movies I have seen that were made past the year 2000 will be excluded, since they are too close in my memory, and who really wants to hear a nerd geek out over Lord of the Rings again?

4) The movie to be watched will be chosen at random every Monday via a random number generator and Excel.  The exception here is that if a sequel is randomly chosen before its original has been seen, then the earliest movie in that series will be watched.

Rule 4 will dictate that some deviation from the list will occur. Indiana Jones is a good example here. Only The Last Crusade and Raiders are on the top 250, so if this movie gets picked then I will start from Raiders of the Lost Ark and then move to Temple of Doom, even though it’s not on the list, before watching The Last Crusade.

So that is the layout of this quest.  If you’re a budding pop-culture addict like me and want to join up, feel free to leave your experiences in this adventure, as well!

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About Zach

Zach works as a medical writer in Atlanta, GA. In his spare time, he likes to play video games and Dice Masters.
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