The people have spoken…
While internet popularity can be a fickle and fleeting thing, in the case of IMDb, there are a few films that tower above their rivals and stand the test of time. Moviegoers can rate the films they see on the website, and some films are cemented as being the top of their class.
Seen by many as the go-to resource for film ratings and opinions, the 10 most voted films are usually, if not some of the best movies of all time. At the very least, they are comfortably the internet's favorite movies.
Rarely does a film so completely transcend the medium's limits to become a staple of popular culture, but The Godfather is an odd confluence of factors. A genre Hollywood had thought dead, a young, maverick filmmaker with the vision to revitalize it, and one of the best casts of all time combine to bring this all-time classic to life.
It's tough to find fault with this film — everything from the script to the production design, the cinematography, pacing, action, and acting are all top-notch. Perhaps the only real surprise is that this powerhouse isn't higher on the list: as it stands, it has 1.7 million ratings.
The closer to Peter Jackson's trilogy of films adapting J.R.R. Tolkien's seminal fantasy novels is blockbuster filmmaking done right. Providing a satisfying conclusion to the nearly nine hours of story, this film sees Aragorn claim his birthright as the King of Gondor, possibly the most outstanding cavalry charge ever put to film, and the eventual destruction of the ring and defeat of the big bad, Sauron.
This film holds a three-way tie for the most awarded film in Oscars history, with Ben-Hur and Titanic all sharing the illustrious honor of taking home 11 awards. Perhaps as much an acknowledgment by the academy of the monumental achievement the trilogy as a whole was, it also marked one of the rare times in history where the big winner was an epic, crowd-pleasing fantasy film, with 1.8 million ratings on IMDb.
Looking back on it, the task of adapting The Lord of the Rings trilogy that Tolkien spent most of his lifetime developing — and had a massive influence on the genre as a whole — was perhaps rightly seen as one that was, for all intents and purposes, impossible. However, Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema decided to take on the challenge — and it paid off.
Is the beginning of a tale better than the end? The internet certainly seems to think so, rating the film 1.8 million times, as this places above the conclusion to the trilogy. Why this is so is anyone's guess — but it's certainly an excellent, well-made film that does a great job of introducing the characters, their motivations, and the stakes of the story.
"What is the Matrix?" is a seemingly simple question, but one that perplexed and intrigued audiences as part of one of the most effective marketing campaigns in history. An odd combination of the height of stunt work, exciting new technologies, and philosophical contemplation of humanity's relationship with machines combined to make The Matrix a massive hit and a cultural phenomenon.
This film holds a special place in many people's hearts, and it's easy to see why. It changed the way blockbusters were made, introducing the world to bullet-time and revolutionary special effects. It would be akin to audiences watching A New Hope for the first time — a film that was innovative and genuinely showed audiences something they'd never seen before: that's why it has 1.8 million ratings on IMDb.
After announcing himself with blistering debut Reservoir Dogs two years prior, this is the film that cemented Quentin Tarantino as a creative force in Hollywood. It's hard to put a finger on precisely what makes this film so good — an all-star cast trading barbs with each other from Tarantino's whip-smart script and playing with editing conventions to tell a non-linear story are two of the top reasons.
But perhaps most of all, Pulp Fiction is just cool. There's no other word for it. From the stylish hitmen played with panache by Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta to the soundtrack of absolute bangers from start to finish, this film epitomized the mid-90s. It became one of the most influential American films of the decade, and 2 million people on IMDb had something to say about it.
This is perhaps strong evidence that there is no accounting for (or predicting of) taste. Known for his crowd-pleasing films, director Robert Zemeckis is at his most crowd-pleasing here as we follow the journey of Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) as he goes from being an impoverished child in Alabama to having an unlikely impact on events that shaped the world in the 20th century.
While undeniably a heartwarming affair and being incredibly acted across the board, particularly in Hanks' case as the titular character, the film isn't known for its subtlety. It's undoubtedly very charming, and its appeal is evident in its 2 million ratings on IMDb.
David Fincher's grungy, punk-infused adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel of the same name is one of the defining cult classics of the 1990s. Combining psychological thriller, comedy, and fight movie into one tantalizing package, Fight Club is dirty, unapologetic, depressing, and exhilarating all in the same breath — not to mention pulling off one of the best twists in cinema history.
The appeal of this to the internet is relatively easy to see, standing at 2 million ratings on IMDb. Presenting a nihilistic worldview that many disaffected youths resonate with, Fight Club reflects the youth culture of the 1990s as disillusionment and a sense of hopelessness are the defining traits of the story. After all, as Durden states, "Our great war is a spiritual war… Our great depression is our lives."
The blockbuster filmmaking of the last 20 years has undergone a shift. As competition from various forms of media — mainly the internet — has increased competition in Hollywood, studios have become less and less inclined to take a gamble on an ambitious filmmaker's unique idea — preferring instead for the relative safety of adaptation.
This is what makes Inception such a unique film. Having proven his ability to make money at the box office with the record-breaking The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan was given a large budget and relative creative freedom. Inception was a concept that had been in Nolan's head since the days of Memento — and a perfect combination of timing, funding, and ideas came together for him to be able to make it in the style that he had always envisioned. This led to the film having 2.2 million ratings on IMDb.
Proving just as adept at adapting existing material as he is at crafting his own unique stories, Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy has stood the test of time. It is widely regarded as the definitive take on the Caped Crusader in a live-action setting. While the other two films form practical bookends for the trilogy, this film genuinely stands out.
This is one of the rare films that manages to transcend its genre trappings. Considered by many to not be so much a superhero film but instead, a crime epic where the protagonist and antagonist happen to dress in costume, The Dark Knight — elevated by the late great Heath Leger's barnstorming and legendary take on the Joker — is quite simply one of the best blockbusters ever made, and an undeniably brilliant, engaging piece of cinema, with 2.5 million ratings on IMDb.
After being put in prison for a crime he says he didn't commit, Andy Dufrense (Tim Robbins) is sent to Shawshank — one of the worst prisons in the state. Not the kind of man who is cut out for prison life, Dufrense befriends Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman), and the two men bond during their time inside together, finding solace and eventual redemption by maintaining their hope in a place where it appears there's none to be had.
Shawshank is, without a doubt, a triumph. One of the best films ever made about hope and the human spirit, Frank Darabont directs the best of his Steven King adaptations — showing another side to the horror master. Anchored by Freeman and Robbins' fantastic chemistry, The Shawshank Redemption is a great film, and it's little wonder it's the highest voted film on IMDb with 2.5 million ratings.
KEEP READING: The 10 Best Animated Short Film Oscar Winners, According to IMDb
Tom Hutchinson is a passionate media producer, podcaster and writer. After spending two years hosting a show on community radio that reviewed film and television, he went on to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Screen Media. His writing has been featured in The Haze Mag and Fashion Industry Broadcast. In his spare time he likes collectibles, bushwalking and playing music.
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10 Highest Rated Movies on IMDb, Ranked by Votes – Collider
The people have spoken…