He Said, She Said: Fandom by the Numbers

Which 100 films have the most fans on Letterboxd—and what happens when we sort by member pronouns, and by fan-to-viewer ratio? Nerds, gather.

We like having fun with stats on Letterboxd and we’ll take any excuse to crunch some data. This week we ran the numbers on which films have the most fans—a “fan” being a member who has added the film to their profile as a favorite. 

A top 100 films with the most fans emerged. Not too many surprises at the top of this category, with Pulp Fiction, The Empire Strikes Back, Fight Club, The Dark Knight and 2001: A Space Odyssey in the top spots.

Then Sally Jane asked if we could publish similar lists for each of the different pronoun options we provide. If you’re not aware, since June 2016 you’ve been able to select the pronoun that applies to you in your account settings: she/her, he/his, xe/xyr, ze/hir and ze/zir, along with it/its for organisations, podcasts and so on. Roughly 20 percent of our members have changed their account from the default of they/their to one of these alternatives.

An excuse to pull some more data? Sure!

The ‘he/his’ list produced a top five almost identical to the overall list for the site: The Empire Strikes Back, Pulp Fiction, The Dark Knight, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner.

The ‘she/her’ list had no top-five matches with the overall list. The most popular films chosen by members identifying as ‘she’ were: La La Land, Call Me by Your Name, Lady Bird, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Amélie.

The only film to appear in the top ten of both lists was Interstellar.

We also published a combined ‘xe/ze’ list that brought de Niro into the fold. Its top five was: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Drive, Blade Runner, Taxi Driver and There Will Be Blood.

Fans per viewer

Lastly, we published a list of films with the most fans as a ratio of the number of members who’ve watched each film. Essentially this means that a higher proportion of members who watched these films set them as a favorite than any others on Letterboxd. We excluded films watched by fewer than 100 members.

The result is a much more eclectic list of films than in the above lists, with some incredible outliers. Anything goes in this list, from My Chemical Romance’s video diaryto bleached-blonde surfing dramas on Hawaii’s North Shore.

The international spread of films is greater, too, with three Indian films in the top 25, and films from Hungary, France, Russia, Taiwan, Canada, Italy, and a good number from Japan. Directing greats in the list include Tarkovsky, Bergman, Wenders and Akerman.

Topping the “Most fans per viewer” list is Lithuanian-American filmmaker Jonas Mekas’ five-hour family opus As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty, regarded as the ultimate dogma movie before the birth of dogma. A journey through Letterboxd reviews reveals why it topped our “ultimate fan” list.

“This film proves that you don’t need anything to create a pure work of art,” Leo declares. “Everything that matters happens in this film,” writes Gabriel. “I consider this a compelling and unique example of what I consider the cinema of poetics,” Dylan opines. “Films that will never reach the mass market but spiritually mean something to people with an inner understanding of themselves, their harmonies and their grip over life.”

We also enjoyed this vodka-soaked deep-dive into Mekas’ film by Colin Edwards: “By the final hour, one of our group was rolling around on the floor drooling water all over his sleeping bag from convulsive laughter whilst the cat walked through the kebab sauce and covered my shoes in parma-ham…”

Elsewhere on the list: Matrix, from 1973, is an eighteen-minute experimental art film and its appearance can presumably be chalked up to user error—added instead of The Matrix—but maybe not?

Elem Klimov’s 1985 war drama Come and See must be one of the highest-rated yet least-recommended films on the list (and on Letterboxd itself). “An experience that I can’t recommend as it is unbelievably disturbing,” writes Dirk in his five-star review. “I’d think twice about recommending it to people,” Genki B agrees, adding, “The imagery is shocking but also kind of amazing. There’s a scene in which you see a Mercedes Benz symbol on the front of a truck and you feel like you could never buy a German-engineered car again.”

The little-known TV movie Front of the Class gets some love, possibly because—in true made-for-TV, based-on-a-true-story tradition—the story of a man with Tourettes Syndrome who just wants to be a schoolteacher has just enough emotion to surpass the cheese. Or, as Carla put it, “Let’s just say a lot of us cried in Front of the Class.

Call Me by Your Name, high up on the other lists, ranks well here too, which shows how much love we have for that film (and on that note, check out the trio of films about love that director Luca Guadagnino shared with us).

Finally, two unreleased 2018 films made the list: Alex Garland’s Annihilation, which early reviewers are getting excitedly sweary about, and modern romance Love, Simon (coming in at number six—probably due to high anticipation from fans of the book).

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