a place in the sun (george stevens, 1951)
music friday: winterland

directors i have obsessed over

After watching all of those Johnnie To movies, we began to wonder how he stacks up compared to other directors whose movies I have seen in quantity. This was a challenge to my OCD self, so I went to the IMDB, which holds more of my ratings than any other site, and with a little exporting and spreadsheet-fiddling, I came up with a long list. I shortened it to every director where I had seen at least ten of their films. This is imperfect ... there are plenty of movies I've never rated, for example. But it was a relatively easy way to get an eyeball on my taste preferences, if that indeed is what this indicates. Here is the list:

Spielberg 17
Hitchcock 16
Scorsese 15
Ford 14
Coens 13
Woo 13
Allen 12
Kurosawa 11
Eastwood 11
Bergman 11
To 11
Linklater 10

(Whoa, I had no idea it would come out like a table.)

When we guessed, off the top of our heads, who would be atop the list, both Spielberg and Hitchcock came to mind. I'm still surprised we were so accurate. The single biggest surprise to me was Clint Eastwood. And the single most surprising absence to me is Howard Hawks. (He just missed the cut with 9 movies, and I'm sure if I looked more closely, I could find a few that hadn't been rated. The other Nines: De Palma, Godard, Kubrick, and Miyazaki.)

When I posted this list on Facebook, my wife immediately asked to sort those directors by their average ratings. Thus:

Kurosawa (11) 8.6
Bergman (11) 8.5
Spielberg (17) 8.1
Hitchcock (16) 8.0
Woo (13) 7.8
Linklater (10) 7.7
Scorsese (15) 7.6
Ford (14) 7.5
Coens (13) 7.1
To (11) 7.0
Eastwood (11) 6.7
Allen (12) 6.2

I usually think of myself as wishy-washy when it comes to the Coens, but clearly I like them more than I realize. Also, in my mind, when I assign these silly numbered ratings, I tend to start around 6 1/2. If I like a movie but don't love it, that's a 7. If a movie is OK and I don't hate it, that's a 6. This tells me I've seen a lot of movies by Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen without liking them all that much. (For what it's worth, Hawks averages 8.6.)

Finally, since I've gone this far, here's something I post every few years, using MovieLens, which offers better breakdowns of my ratings than the IMDB, and has almost as many of those ratings. They have three categories I find especially interesting. First, there are movies I've rated that others have not. The leaders here are Paju, and Fear. They have only been rated by one other person. (The movie I haven't seen that has been rated more often than any other is Dances with Wolves.)

Then, there are what they call "Unusual Dislikes", movies where my rating is significantly lower than the average. The winner is I Am Sam. (My entire review: "What a revolting piece of shit.") I gave it 1/10 ... the average rating is 3.58.

Of course, there are also "Unusual Likes", movies I liked more than other people did. The top two are The Birth of a Nation (1915) and The Rapture. I gave them both 10/10 ... their average ratings were 3.16 and 3.28 respectively.



Speilberg ranking so high for you is both surprising and not surprising. Statistical proof you like the Coen Bros more than you say you do is all surprising.

Steven Rubio

A couple of oddities I just noticed:

There are (at least) two "mistakes" for Spielberg. One, for some reason I hadn't rated Hook on the IMDB. I gave it 4/10, which would bring his average down a bit. Also, the IMDB didn't tag him for Poltergeist (6/10), which would also bring his average down. But that does mean there are actually 19-and-counting Spielberg movies. As for his rating, I've given four of his movies 10/10, and put Close Encounters on that Fave 50 list of a few years back.

The Coens get a decent rating because I rarely hate their movies. If I had to pick a surprise for them, it would be Hail Caesar, which I liked quite a bit.

Charlie Bertsch

I love this sort of thing. I'm not one for keeping tabs the way you do -- that's more my dad's style -- but I always like reading your reflections on the data you put together.

I'm pretty sure Hitchcock would be at the top of my list. Linklater would come in pretty high. And I'm sure Fassbinder would make an appearance.

Steven Rubio

What happens with me is, I'll be bored one day and have time on my hands, and so I'll start some project that boils down to data entry. When I'm done, I'll have a bunch of movie ratings, for example. Then I just keep it up in real time. The only real effort is that first day. And I have a few sites with my data, because they allow for import/export with IMDB. The three sites are the IMDB, which is the basis for everything else, MovieLens, which for some forgotten reason I decided did a good job of predicting my tastes, and I Check Movies, so I can say that I've seen 35% of Hitchcock's features. (Looking at that now, I see that Suspicion, Marnie, and Frenzy aren't on my IMDB list ... I saw them in the days before I rated movies, so they are on the "I've Seen It" list on I Check Movies, but not in the data I used for this post. IOW, I've actually seen 19 Hitchcock movies.)

Meanwhile, I've seen 3 Fassbinders, and the directors who come in at 8 (just below what I talk about in the post) are Altman, Apted, Cukor, Curtiz, Frears, Polanski, and Tarantino.

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