Movies & TV / Columns

Is There Perfect Movie and If So, What Is It?

May 4, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Perfect Movie Princess Bride Black Panther Shawshank Redemption

Let’s start off and say the entire premise of this column is purely subjective. I know some of you haven’t even read this part and have already left a comment below about some nonsense and that I suck. I get it. 

When thinking about what makes the perfect movie, you have a number of categories to consider. Writing, acting, casting, editing, is the story any good, the message (of lack of), who you saw it with (at home or in a theater?), is it quotable, and so much more gets weighed in to determine a movies personal value. At least for me. 

How you judge a movie is going to be different. Notice I didn’t put how much money a movie made above, because a movie’s box office success is on the lower end of the scale for me. 

While writing this I visited some sites that ranked and rated movies based on votes and here’s what I found. When you hit up IMDB, their Top 10 includes:

1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 9.2
2. The Godfather (1972) 9.1
3. The Godfather: Part II (1974) 9.0
4. The Dark Knight (2008) 9.0
5. 12 Angry Men (1957) 8.9
6. Schindler’s List (1993) 8.9
7. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 8.9
8. Pulp Fiction (1994) 8.8
9. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) 8.8
10. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) 8.8

An interesting mix of selections and I think I’m more curious about what didn’t get ranked higher and didn’t make the list. 

To get the flames going, I went to Rotten Tomatoes and looked at their Best Of list that ranked movies with 40 or more critic score reviews. It looks like the number of reviews weights the rank because while Citizen Kane has a score of 100%, it “only” has 85 reviews. I’m already seeing the problem with a list like this. 

1. 97%. Black Panther (2018). 495 reviews.
2. 94%. Avengers: Endgame (2019). 505 reviews.
3. 93%. Us (2019). 515 reviews. 
4. 97%. Toy Story 4 (2019). 429 reviews. 
5. 99%. Lady Bird (2017). 385 reviews. 
6. 97%. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018). 416 reviews. 
7. 98%. The Wizard of Oz (1939). 116 reviews.
8. 96%. The Irishman (2019). 424 reviews. 
9. 100%. Citizen Kane (1941). 85 reviews.
10. 96%. BlacKkKlansman (2018). 418 reviews.

OK, before you scroll down and go on a diatribe, Rotten Tomatoes has a number of lists with different ways of ranking and I included this to show a different angle to the proceedings. You might not agree with it but that doesn’t take away from its data. They rank movies like…

Top 100 Action & Adventure Movies
Top 100 Animation Movies
Top 100 Art House & International Movies
Top 100 Classics Movies
Top 100 Comedy Movies
Top 100 Documentary Movies
Top 100 Drama Movies
Top 100 Horror Movies
Top 100 Kids & Family Movies
Top 100 Musical & Performing Arts Movies
Top 100 Mystery & Suspense Movies
Top 100 Romance Movies
Top 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Movies
Top 100 Special Interest Movies
Top 100 Sports & Fitness Movies
Top 100 Television Movies
Top 100 Western Movies

Get the picture?

A movie without flaws to the viewer exists only to the viewer. You can state your case but with so many personal standards, it’s near impossible to agree on one.

Notice I said “near impossible” because the perfect movies DOES exist! In 1987, a little movie directed by Rob Reiner came out that was an adaptation of a William Goldman book from 1973. Framed as a book being read by a grandfather to his grandson, it’s a story about a farmhand named Westley, who is accompanied by faithful companions he befriended along the way, who must rescue his true love Princess Buttercup from Prince Humperdinck. 

That perfect movies name? The Princess Bride. It’s got everything. Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…

It checks all the boxes on my list. To me, it’s the perfect movie. 

How about you? What’s your perfect movie? And try to have fun below.