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In the Eye of the Beholder...
Okay, so everyone has their own list. Few of the critics, groups, festivals, or experts agree on the best film. However, one can prognosticate by looking at critics and audience preferences, and calculating weighted and unweighted average scores. Yes, math can be your friend at times. Henceforth the following compilation of calculated and not-so-calculated rankings:

By the Numbers...
Rank Critics Average Score* Internet Movie Database*
Internet Movie Database*
Las Vegas Odds*
British Odds*
Top U.S. Box Office Gross* Most Profitable Films*
1 Secrets & Lies
Star Trek: First Contact
(9.5/10 227 votes)
The English Patient
(even odds)
The English Patient
(even odds)
Independence Day
($306.1 million)
(Gross: $72.1M,
Cost: $3.5M,
Ratio: 20.6)
2 The English Patient
The English Patient
Beautiful Thing
(9.5/10 421 votes)
(even odds)
($241.7 million)
Il Postino (The Postman)
(Gross: $80.5M,
Cost: $4.5M,
Ratio: 17.9)
3 Breaking the Waves
Beautiful Thing
The English Patient
(9.3/10 727 votes)
Jerry Maguire
Mission Impossible
($180.9 million)
(Gross: $309.1M,
Cost: $26.0M,
Ratio: 11.9)
4 Big Night
Lone Star
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie
(9.3/10 264 votes)
Secrets & Lies
The Rock
($134.1 million)
Independence Day
(Gross: $785.0M,
Cost: $70.0M,
Ratio: 11.2)
5 Lone Star
Willam Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet
(9.2/10 128 votes)
Secrets & Lies
Jerry Maguire
The Nutty Professor
($128.8 million)
Leaving Las Vegas
(Gross: $49.8M,
Cost: $4.6M,
Ratio: 10.8)
6 Fargo
Lone Star
(9.1/10 579 votes)
($125.8 million)
Toy Story
(Gross: $358.8,
Cost: $35.0M,
Ratio: 10.3)
7 The People vs. Larry Flynt
That Thing You Do!
Secrets & Lies
(9.0/10 305 votes)
    The Birdcage
($124.1 million)
Rumble in the Bronx
(Gross: $75.8M,
Cost: $7.5M,
Ratio: 10.1)
8 Shine
Jerry Maguire
Jerry Maguire
(8.9/10 493 votes)
    101 Dalmations ($109.7 million) Babe
(Gross: $245.9M,
Cost: $25.0M,
Ratio: 9.8)
9 Trainspotting
The Rock
Star Trek: First Contact
(8.9/10 1,932 votes)
    A Time to Kill
($108.7 million)
Secrets & Lies
(Gross: $39.6M,
Cost: $4.5M,
Ratio: 8.8)
10 Jerry Maguire
Big Night
(8.9/10 237 votes)
($104.3 million)
Dangerous Minds
(Gross: $179.5M,
Cost: $23.0M,
Ratio: 7.8)

  • Critics' Average Score - Lists the top ten movies by average score in my compilation of reputable movie critics' lists. A movie is awarded 10 points for every time it appears first in a critic's list, 9 points for second, and so on. An average is calculated by dividing by the number of critics currently in my list for whom I have data (i.e. 13). Lastly, the movie must appear on at least two lists to be counted. For a view inside the numbers, see the table below.
  • Internet Movie Database (weighted rank) - The Internet Movie Database, the web's best movie resource, solicits readers to rate movies on a scale of 1 to 10. This list ranks the top ten movies of 1996 based on IMDb reader rankings as of 1/6/97. Unfortuately the Internet population is heavily biased towards techno-nerds who happen to love anything related to science fiction. And given how the curators of the IMDb weight their ranking based on number of replies, silly things result like Star Trek:First Contact rocketing to the top of the chart and the mere presence of MST3K in the top ten. The IMDb weighted rank is calculated as below:

    weighted rank (WR) = (v/(v+m))*R + (m/(v+m))*C

    R = average for the movie (mean) = (Rating)
    v = number of votes for the movie = (votes)
    m = minimum votes required to be listed in the top 250 (currently 200)
    C = the mean vote across the whole report (currently 6.62)
  • Internet Movie Database (unweighted rank) - This is my attempt at addressing the generally poor taste of geeks and their obssession with science fiction. Thus I calculated an unweighted rank that corrects for the bias towards movies with large numbers of votes. This unweighted rank lists the top 10 movies of 1996 by Rating with at least 100 votes as of 1/6/97.
  • Las Vegas Odds - The odds of winning the Oscar for Best Picture of 1996, as compiled by Las Vegas oddsmaker Lenny Del Genio of Bally's Casino (as reported by Reuters, 3/20/97). His other odds:
    Best Director:
    - Anthony Minghella (even)
    - Scott Hicks (even)
    - Joel Coen (6-to-5)
    - Milos Forman (8-to-1)
    - Mike Leigh (10-to-1)
    Best Actor:
    - Geoffrey Rush (even)
    - Billy Bob Thornton (even)

    - Tom Cruise (3-to-1)
    - Ralph Fiennes (5-to-1)
    - Woody Harrelson (8-to-1)
    Best Actress:
    - Brenda Blethyn (even)
    - Kristin Scott-Thomas (even)
    - Frances McDormand (3-to-1)
    - Diane Keaton (5-to-1)
    - Emily Watson (8-to-1)
    Best Supporting Actor:
    - Cuba Gooding Jr. (even)
    - Armin Mueller-Stahl (2-to-1)
    - William H. Macy (3-to-1)
    - James Woods (5-to-1)
    - Edward Norton (10-to-1)
    Best Supporting Actress:
    - Lauren Bacall (even)
    - Joan Allen (2-to-1)
    - Juliette Binoche (3-to-1)
    - Barbara Hershey (5-to-1)
    - Marianne Jean-Baptiste (10-to-1)
  • British Odds - The odds of winning the Oscar for Best Picture of 1996, as compiled by British Ladbrokes booking house (as reported in Reuters/Variety, 2/19/97). Their other odds:
    Best Actor:
    - Geoffrey Rush (4-to-5)
    - Tom Cruise (11-to-4)
    - Ralph Fiennes (4-to-1)
    - Woody Harrelson (7-to-1)
    - Billy Bob Thornton (10-to-1)

    Best Actress:
    - Brenda Blethyn (13-to-8)
    - Frances McDormand (5-to-2)
    - Kristin Scott-Thomas (5-to-1)
    - Emily Watson (8-to-1)
    - Diane Keaton (?-to-1)
  • Top U.S. Box Office Gross - Lists the top ten movies by domestic US box office gross receipts as of 1/1/97. Of course how much money a film makes usually is inversely proportional to the quality of the movie so don't look here for clues to Oscar nomimations. (source: Variety 1/17/97)
  • Most Profitable Films - Lists the most profitable films of 1996, according to a survey based on the ratio of a film's worldwide box office to its budget. Numbers in parenthese are (worldwide gross in millions of dollars, budget in millions of U.S. dollars, and Ratio of worldwide gross to cost). (source: Variety 2/10/97)
    Least profitable films of 1996:
    1. Bad Moon (Gross: $1.1M, Cost: $7.0M, Ratio: 0.157)
    2. Big Bully (Gross: $2.6M, Cost: $15.0M, Ratio: 0.173)
    3. Kansas City (Gross: $3.4M, Cost: $19.0M, Ratio: 0.179)
    4. The Stupids (Gross: $4.5M, Cost: $25.0M, Ratio: 0.180)
    5. Grace of My Heart (Gross: $1.0M, Cost: $5.0M, Ratio: 0.200)
    6. Bogus (Gross: $6.6M, Cost: $32.0M, Ratio: 0.206)
    7. Faithful (Gross: $2.7M, Cost: $13.0M, Ratio: 0.208)
    8. Mary Reilly (Gross: $12.9M, Cost: $52.0M, Ratio: 0.248)
    9. Carpool (Gross: $4.4M, Cost: $17.0M, Ratio: 0.259)
    10. Unforgettable (Gross: $5.0M, Cost: $19.0M, Ratio: 0.263)

Critics' Average Score (Inside the Numbers)
For another look at the critics data, the table below shows the top 25 movies from my tabulation of critics' Top 10 lists. Listed are the rank, movie, average score, total score, and number of Top 10 Lists within which the movie appears. Remember the movie had to appear in at least two different lists to be counted.

Rank Name Avg. Score Total Score # of Lists
1.Secrets & Lies 5.927711
2.The English Patient 5.08669
3.Breaking the Waves 4.61607
4.Big Night 4.46588
5.Lone Star 3.77498
6.Fargo 3.54466
7.The People vs. Larry Flynt 3.15418
8.Shine 2.38315
9.Trainspotting 1.62214
10.Jerry Maguire 1.31175
11.L'America 1.23162
12.The Crucible 1.15154
13. (tie)Everyone Says I Love You 1.08143
13. (tie)Courage Under Fire 1.08142
15.Welcome to the Dollhouse 0.92123
16.Flirting with Disaster 0.77102
17. (tie)Chunking Express 0.69 93
17. (tie)Dead Man 0.69 93
17. (tie)Looking for Richard 0.69 92
20. (tie)Land and Freedom 0.62 82
20. (tie)Nelly et. M. Arnaud 0.62 82
22.La Ceremonie 0.61 82
23. (tie)Ridicule 0.46 62
23. (tie)Bound 0.46 62
25.Tin Cup 0.23 32
26.When We Were Kings 0.15 22

Comments to: Sugi Sorensen
Last Revised: March 31, 1997