The IMDB 250 list is world renowned as one of the most highly regarded and debated “best of” film lists in current existence. To some hardcore moviegoers, a film being included on the IMDB 250 is often equated to being of equal honor (and in some cases, controversies) as being awarded a Best Picture Academy Award at the Oscars. In both cases, the film in question inspires heavy, heated, and passionate debates among movie lovers who may or may not agree with the decision.
The qualifications to be included in the IMDB 250 list is simple. The list is ever changing, but also includes some of the most popular and highest-rated films on the IMDB website. The ranking and positions of certain films over others, especially, has inspired heavy debate. For the most part, people don’t complain as much about the IMDB 250 as they used to, but every now and again, the same sort of films pop into conversation every now and again over whether or not these sorts of films deserve to be on the list alongside some of the most prestigious films in the history of movies. These sorts of films are often considered undeserving and overrated compared to others. Here are 25 films on the IMDB 250 list that are often spoken of in that kind of light.
25. V For Vendetta
V For Vendetta is a movie that lives and dies off of Hugo Weaving‘s lead performance as the valiant and vigilant vigilante, V. Keep in mind that none of us are taking anything away from Weaving’s performance. In voice alone, the guy delivers a tremendous and commanding presence on-screen. However, whenever the character isn’t on-screen, the weaknesses of the film come to light. Sure, the messages of the film still carry some weight, and Natalie Portman is strong for the material that she’s given, but the film is never nearly as compelling without V on-screen as it is with him — certainly not compelling enough to be considered one of the greatest films of all time. Released at a time when fears of totalitarianism were at an all-time high, V For Vendetta is very much a film of its time. It probably won’t hold nearly as much weight in 50+ years’ time.
24. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is not a terrible movie, but the hype behind it has been overblown to cosmic proportions worthy of galaxies far and away. It seems as though much of the praise around the film is just a matter of exceeded expectations. After the godawful prequel trilogy released in theaters a decade before The Force Awakens, everyone expected the latest trilogy to be just as much of a critical bomb. Even when creative control was handed over from George Lucas to the Disney umbrella, fans didn’t trust the idea of any new Star Wars films. Then, the first film of the new trilogy came out, pretty much as a remake of A New Hope, fans caught the nostalgia bug, skeptics were overwhelmed with joy, and people treated this thing like it was the best Star Wars flick ever made. Or the best movie ever made, for some critics. This film is far from either.
For the sheer spectacle alone, Gladiator is a really good movie. The stunning action, the breathtaking cinematography, and the triumphant performances are enough to make this an enjoyable popcorn flick. There’s sufficient quality in this movie that makes it hard to criticize, but there’s not enough good in it to warrant a reasonable explanation for why this thing has a spot on the IMDB 250. It can be argued and debated that Gladiator didn’t even deserve the Oscar for Best Picture, let alone a spot on a list reserved for some of the greatest films of all time. It is a good movie, but it’s simply not that good of a movie to warrant all of this monumental praise, especially when the story moves along more like a hokey comic book rather than the grandiose epic it wants to be.
22. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part II
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part II isn’t even the best Harry Potter movie (that honor belongs to Prisoner of Azkaban), so can we please stop acting like it’s one of the greatest movies ever made? Honestly, it feels like audiences got way too nostalgic and teary eyed when their childhood franchise finally came to an end — so nostalgic that critics couldn’t help but suggest that this movie was not only one of the best movies of the decade but also deserved some Oscar consideration. Give me a break. Look, I’ll admit: I’m not the biggest Potterhead in the world, but I can appreciate a quality film enough that I can check my biases at the door and recognize an incredible film when I see one. However, through my eyes at least, this is nowhere near incredible — certainly not enough to warrant a spot on the IMDB 250 as one of the greatest films of all time.
21. The Shawshank Redemption
For almost a decade now, The Shawshank Redemption has reigned supreme as the top film on the IMDB 250 list, although not only do some filmgoers disagree with the decision, but some also speculate that there may be some forgery afoot. Let’s first wind the clocks back to 2008, when The Dark Knight was being hailed as the greatest film of all time by many, securing the top spot on the IMDB 250 before it was even released in theaters. The big issue that filmgoers had here was that it knocked The Godfather out of the top spot. Godfather fans and TDK fans were angrily airing out their grievances by downvoting each other’s films and writing negative reviews against each film. To rectify the problem, IMDB decided to allow The Shawshank Redemption to knock both films out of the top spot. It seems as though Shawshank has retained the top spot for so long not because it’s the best movie ever or even because it’s the highest-rated movie on IMDB but because it’s used as the middleman to separate the two movies everyone used to argue about.
20. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
While I wouldn’t call myself the biggest Ringer in the world, I will admit that Return of the King was actually a great movie. Apart from that egregious epilogue that felt like it would never end, Return of the King is well deserving of the praise it gets. The two LotR films that came before it? Not so much. Especially with regard to the second one. Fellowship is overrated in itself, but Two Towers is way worse. The middle entry of the trilogy seems unnecessarily slow-paced and dull. We understand that the trilogy needs to save some of the action for its final film, but there’s no need to make the second one so darn boring. Apart from an outrageously entertaining supporting character in Gollum, Two Towers, the obvious weak link of the trilogy is notable for nothing but nonstop walking.
19. The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises is arguably the most overrated superhero movie ever made and, without a shadow of a doubt, the most overrated Batman movie ever made. We’re not sure what’s worse: the fact that this movie received a spot on the IMDB 250 or the fact that so many people threw praise in this film’s direction for so long despite the dire shape of the film. Where to even begin with this one? Well, for starters, just thinking about the holes in this film’s story for long enough can make one’s head spin, not to mention that some character motivations don’t add up, namely Bane’s grand plan and especially “Robin’s” whole “no guns” thing getting dropped meaninglessly. New characters give half-assed performances while older characters (except Michael Caine) act like they can’t wait for this franchise to end. And thank God that Nolan‘s franchise did end.
18. Batman Begins
Sure, we can (and maybe we should) add The Dark Knight in this spot instead, but at least The Dark Knight had a genuinely phenomenal performance from Heath Ledger to earn its stripes. What did Batman Begins have to offer? Seriously, think about it. What possibly did Batman Begins bring to the table that was of actual substance, other than ‘it’s better than the last Batman movie?'” Face it: that’s the only reason why critics gave Batman Begins so much praise back in the day. Batman & Robin was so bad that Batman Begins looked shockingly good to the untrained eye. A further examination says that all Batman Begins ever gave us was a whiny brat of a protagonist, villains who were more interesting than the hero, plot holes galore, a boring first half, and an absolutely shite performance from Katie Holmes.
17. The Usual Suspects
The Usual Suspects is one of the highest-rated movies on IMDB, and it also happens to be one of the most overrated films of all time. Everyone came out of this movie astounded at the twist ending of this film, but everyone was too shocked to realize that the ending was nothing but one big cop out of a conclusion. Roger Ebert said it best in a scathing review of this movie when he said that he preferred “to be amazed by motivation, not manipulation.” Up until the last five minutes, The Usual Suspects is nothing more than a standard crime thriller with some good performances throughout. Then, at the very end, thanks to a left-field twist, the film garnered an undeserved legacy as a classic.
16. Gran Torino
Gran Torino is a one-man show and nothing more. Gran Torino has the prestige of being host to the last great Clint Eastwood performance, but that’s the only luster that shines off of this heaping scrap metal of junk. Eastwood is surrounded by a cast of virtually unknown and inexperienced actors, which lends itself to some horrendous acting by almost everyone involved. In the director’s chair, Eastwood just feels lazy. For a guy who crafted visual marvels like Unforgiven and Letters from Iwo Jima, Eastwood’s editing and directorial style for this film feels muted and lazy. There’s even no attempt at a stylistic approach. He just points a camera in his direction and growls. And don’t even get me started on the hokey dialogue in this script. How is this on the IMDB 250 again?
When it was first released, Inception was the must-see blockbuster of the summer. Much of its buzz stemmed from how the film appeared to be much more thought-provoking and challenging than the average summer popcorn flick. While that’s true to some extent, it’s mostly a challenging movie because the story forces you to buy into its dream world when the script doesn’t properly adhere to the rules of the dream established early on. Inception feels more like watching somebody play a video game whose story is lackluster and overall makes no sense, but it looks so cool that everyone plays along; plus, it’s fun to play. That was exactly the case with Inception. Everybody bought so deeply into the stunning spectacle rather than the story enough to push Inception into the Oscars and, apparently, the IMDB 250. And if we’re being honest, everything about Inception was better when Paprika did it a few years earlier. We’re not saying Inception is a ripoff of Paprika, but the comparisons are uncanny.
This next entry comes bittersweetly for me, at least, as I’m actually a huge fan of this movie. I think Warrior was a genuinely good movie with great performances from its leads, Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton. It took the classic underdog story popularized by Rocky and brought it into the MMA world to positive results. So, why did I include it on this list? Even a fan has to admit when a film they like is overrated. Warrior currently sits at #154 on the IMDB 250. This is a relatively high number as it places Warrior above classics like Trainspotting, The Deer Hunter, No Country For Old Men, and Jurassic Park. Warrior isn’t as good as any of these movies. The enjoyable, albeit predictable, Warrior can’t hold a candle to most of the films on IMDB 250, not even some of the less-deserving films on this list. In this case, at least, we have to call a spade a spade and call Warrior undeserving of its IMDB 250 spot.
13. Into the Wild
Into the Wild is directed by Sean Penn, the same Oscar-winning actor who wrote an El Chapo-centric Rolling Stone article where an entire passage was dedicated to the stream of his own piss. Let that sink in for a bit because that tells you all you need to know about Sean Penn’s directorial ability. Much like how Penn’s own pretentiousness overshadowed his El Chapo article, that same pretentiousness overshadowed this film about the true story of a young man who treks out into the world. We’re supposed to admire this privileged kid who throws away college and a financially stable life with his wealthy family for the sake of adventure, but the way that Penn tells his stories makes the kid come off as nothing but selfish, naive, and unsympathetic. In better hands, this could’ve been the classic flick deserving of an IMDB 250 spot, but that isn’t the case when looked at through the lens of Sean Penn.
12. Shutter Island
Shutter Island is another film which is good on its own merits but feels completely overrated and overhyped when stacked alongside 249 of the greatest films ever made. By itself, Shutter Island is really good. The ending is a tad predictable, but the premise produced some intrigue, the mystery was captivating enough to sit through, and we got another stellar performance from Leonardo DiCaprio. When placed on something like, say, IMDB 250, Shutter Island looks mediocre. In fact, looking at the previous work done by director Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island looks mediocre and wouldn’t even edge into the top 10 Scorsese movies ever made, let alone the top 250 movies ever made.
Why is this movie even included on the list? Who even remembers it? Some of us might recall this race-car movie being shuttled out around Oscar season (aka the fall season at the end of the year) and garnering only minimal attention and zero Oscar nods mostly because it’s a forgettable film, more than anything else. Director Ron Howard makes the mistake of trying to focus on the bland bits of the James Hunt vs Niki Lauda feud, and it results in a film that’s primarily, well, bland. Howard also can’t help himself but indulge in the cornier aspects of filmmaking, lending Rush to be overwhelmed with constant cliches and cheesy dialogue since that happens to be Howard’s M.O. for most of his movies.
10. The Apartment
When it first hit theaters in 1960, The Apartment was a genuine gem in the comedy world. The film had enough laughs and heart to earn itself an Oscar for Best Picture, in addition to another four Oscar wins that night. Looking back on it now, in 2017, some aspects of the film hold up, while others don’t hold up as well, but above everything else, we can’t help but feel a little bit underwhelmed when we consider what other films come out that same year in 1960. Psycho, The Magnificent Seven, Breathless, and Ocean’s 11 are just a few examples of other 1960 films which not only hold up better today but would’ve also been better-suited to win Best Picture that year. They’re also more deserving of an IMDB 250 spot than The Apartment.
9. The Sting
The Sting is often ranked up there as one of the most undeserving Oscar winners for Best Picture in The Academy’s history. Not even back when it first won the award in 1973 did people agree with the decision, not when its competition that year came from films like The Exorcist, Mean Streets, Serpico, and Enter the Dragon. The Sting couldn’t hold a candle to those films back then, and it can’t hold a candle to those films now; nor can it hold a candle to the rest of the films on the IMDB 250 list. Yet somehow, The Sting has managed to crack the top 100 of the IMDB list, and no one seems to know why. By caper standards, it’s a weak film, and by the standards of both The Oscars and the IMDB 250, The Sting looks inadequate.
8. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale
Why and how is this movie even on the IMDB 250 list? Whether or not you’ve seen or even heard of Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, it’s clear from the movie poster alone that this is nothing but a bonafide Lifetime movie with a high-priced Hollywood production. As a film, Hachi is harmless family fare at best. It isn’t very good, and it’s hardly ok, but it isn’t insultingly bad either. What’s insulting is the fact we’re meant to believe that this movie deserves a #210 ranking on IMDB’s 250 list above the likes of Rocky, Gandhi, and Monster’s Inc. Either Hachi’s inclusion on the list is a freak accident, a bad joke that has gone too far on behalf of the IMDB staff, or there’s some type of untraceable glitch in the system.
7. The Help
The Help is one of the more unabashed and unapologetic Oscar bait films to come out in recent memory. In favor of a more cheery lighthearted white savior narrative, the film sacrifices the more serious, dark, and true narrative of both the civil rights movement and the real story at the heart of the film. Hollywood preferred to make a crowd pleaser rather than anything close to the true story. On one hand, this film does give us some great performances from the likes of Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Viola Davis, and Jessica Chastain. On the other hand, it too easily sugar coats the darker days of racism and oppression that lie at the center of the film’s history. In that regard, the film just feels too patronizing to take seriously or even fully enjoy.
6. Star Wars: A New Hope
And this is exactly the point where half of our readers start sharpening their pitchfork lightsabers and arm themselves to throw them at my head. Yeah, I know. The original Star Wars film incorporated some revolutionary special effects into its filmmaking process and really changed the game for film, in general, in that regard. Apart from that? This one is just a little too style-over-substance when viewed with modern eyes. It isn’t any different from something as vilified as Transformers, which is just as much style-over-substance as the first Star Wars film. This one feels too formulaic and predictable, and frankly, there’s nothing impressive about the film apart from the special effects, which look a wee bit dated now. Also, Luke’s just too annoying to stand for two hours.
5. A Beautiful Mind
Before we even start to try and pick on the content of A Beautiful Mind, let’s just take a gander at some modern classic movies that were released the same year: Mulholland Drive, Donnie Darko, Spirited Away, Monster’s Inc, Training Day, Shrek. Which movie won the Oscar for Best Picture that year? A Beautiful Mind. Why? Who knows. On its own merits, A Beautiful Mind actually isn’t that bad. In fact, it’s quite alright, actually. The problem is when stacked against other films that came out around the same time, it’s damn near mediocre — even more mediocre when one takes a look at some of the films A Beautiful Mind sits next to on the IMDB 250. It just sticks out like a sore thumb or as the obviously correct response to those “one of these things doesn’t belong” puzzles.
Spotlight is a movie that has material, which is infinitely more interesting than its actual story. The controversy surrounding priests in the Catholic Church is something rather compelling. The story of the film regarding the journalists who cover the big scoop isn’t quite as captivating to sit through, though. Spotlight is a film whose material would be infinitely compelling as a book — in fact, for anybody who’s read the Pulitzer Prize-winning original Globe stories that the film is based on, this is better to read in written form than as a movie — but not so interesting as a movie due to the fact that the story lends too much time to the characters involved rather than the story. That misstep prevents this film from being truly deserving of its Best Picture Oscar win and its current #197 ranking on IMDB 250.
3. Gone With The Wind
Ok, we’ll give credit where credit is due. In terms of spectacle and visual presentation (considering the shots, the cinematography, etc), Gone with the Wind holds up and feels as grandiose as ever. The story, however, not so much. We’re not even talking about racist values held by the film, which led to a mass plea to ban the film in 2015, though that’s a reason to leave Gone with the Wind in the trash where it belongs. No, we’re talking about the garbage story itself. Clark Gable is supposed to be this universally lovable dolt, but he comes off as just the worst jerk. Then there’s the ending where he leaves Vivien Leigh, and she promises that (cue sappy line) “tomorrow [will be] a better day!” Except we never see tomorrow. The movie just ends in the flattest way possible — no true resolution and no redemption or comeuppance for our protagonist. It just… ends. What a crap way to end a crap film.
To be fair, Logan is actually a pretty good movie. It exceeds expectations as a superhero movie, takes full advantage of its gritty R-rating, and manages to display a surprising amount of emotion. Whether you’re a fan of the film or not, there isn’t too much to complain about regarding the film. But even the most diehard of X-Men fans have to admit that the film couldn’t possibly be good enough to hold a candle to some of the best films of all time. It isn’t that good. It may only sit at #151 (as of this writing) on the IMDB 250, but that still ranks it higher than all-time classics like Network and Jaws, as well as modern classics like The Wolf of Wall Street and Gone Girl.
1. La La Land
From the moment that La La Land hit theaters, the film was expected to sweep the Oscars, not because it was any good, but because it has all of the sappy aesthetics that The Academy drools over. Hollywood story, an appropriation of music culture, and a Los Angeles backdrop are just a few examples. The actual quality of the movie itself is questionable, though. The story has all of the cliches that a movie can manage to wrap its pretty little head around. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling spend the whole movie phoning it in, and yet, somehow, the former won an Oscar for her role. Frankly, all of the Oscars for La La Land felt less like deserved Oscars and more like “IOU” awards. Stone and director Damien Chazelle were awarded when they were more deserving of Oscars a couple years prior for, respectively, Birdman and Whiplash. Honestly, La La Land is the most overrated movie of the last decade.
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