A Film Study

In my reaction to the movie Gravity I mentioned its impressive crossover between different measurements of quality (critical, financial, diversity) and hinted at the idea of a diagram for tracking comparisons. Instead of a diagram, I have gone with a table, as the categories of measurement keep growing in number. The work-in-progress is below, and is based, in this initial test phase, on some of my favorite movies. I'll keep adding to the list and categories as needed, and a second phase might be based on the movies best-known or most successful in the respective categories. I'm not positing an argument or even an issue question yet; this is just observation. Explanatory notes follow.

1
Movie
2
#1
3
Fresh
4
Original
5
Female Lead
6
Bechdel
7
POC Lead
8
Foreign
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
X
100%





A Knight’s Tale

58%





Aliens
X
98%

X
X


Batman: Under the Red Hood
NA
100%





Clash of the Titans (1981)
?
66%


X


Doubt

78%

X
X


Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!
X
79%





Fantastic Mr. Fox

92%





Finding Nemo
X
99%
X




Fun With Dick and Jane

29%


X


Gravity
X
97%
X
X



Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
X
84%


X


Hero
X
95%
X


X
X
Howl’s Moving Castle



X
X

X
I Am Legend
X
70%


X
X

Inception
X
86%
X

?


Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
X
88%





Jaws
X
98%





Jurassic Park
X
93%


X


Kung Fu Panda
X
87%
X




Life of Pi

87%



X

Marvel’s The Avengers
X
92%





Maverick
X
74%





Meet Joe Black

51%





Mission: Impossible
X
61%





Pan’s Labyrinth

96%
X
X
X

X
Ponyo

92%

X
X

X
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
X
54%





Rango
X
88%
X

X


Ratatouille
X
96%
X




Robin Hood (1973)

52%


X


Romeo + Juliet (1996)
X
72%

X
X


Shrek 2
X
89%


X


Spirited Away

97%
X
X
X
X
X
Sleeping Beauty

91%

X
X


Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
X
96%





Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

72%
X

X


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
X
44%





The Dark Knight
X
94%


X


The Incredibles
X
97%
X

X


The Iron Giant

97%





The Karate Kid (1984)
X
90%
X

X


The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
X
96%





The Prince of Egypt

79%





The Princess Bride

97%

?



The Sandlot

63%
X




Unbreakable

68%
X




Willow
X
50%
X

X


Wreck-It Ralph
X
86%
X

X


X2: X-Men United
X
82%


X



NOTES:
  1. For this list I decided to represent only one film from any one franchise, which meant choosing a favorite. This wasn't easy, and doesn't always reflect critics' or fans' favorites. Also, I should note that I'm probably not as thorough a cinephile (lover of cinema) as others out there because of a self-imposed rule about avoiding R-rated movies. Some of the titles in this list are R-rated, but it's likely I saw them edited on TV. As a side note to my side note, I do acknowledge that some of the most powerful movies put to film are rated R, and it's possible that a more discerning method for choosing entertainment is needed.
  2. #1 refers to whether or not the movie achieved #1 in the box office during its theatrical opening weekend, according to Box Office Mojo. This is my financial measurement for now so as to avoid having to figure for inflation, but it doesn't factor in theatrical gross, home video releases, or other factors that might point to a movie's financial success or failure.
  3. The aggregation of critics' scores by Rotten Tomatoes (% of positive reviews, with > 60% meaning "fresh" (red) and < 60% meaning "rotten" (green)). While this is a popular and reliable way to group critic reviews, it's obviously based on how many -- or how few -- reviews were counted. Ex: The Dark Knight's score is based on 288 reviews while Willow's is based on 28.
  4. The "Original" category questions whether the movie is an original idea or if it's based on existing stories, whether books or other films. Adaptations, remakes, sequels, etc. do no qualify, though the first installment in a series might (Star Wars, for example).
  5. Does the movie have an obvious primary protagonist who is female?
  6. The Bechdel Test asks if the movie 1) has at least two named women 2) who have a conversation with each other 3) about something other than a man. It's an interesting but flawed system because it's hard to interpret the results. (Notice how Gravity, a movie with a strong female lead, doesn't pass. Does that mean anything?) I based my scores on the site's, which aren't always unanimous.
  7. POC = Person of Color. With animated films I considered how the characters are portrayed on screen, not who provided the voices.
  8. Foreign = made in a non-English speaking country.
Updated 7/16/14

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