Obsessive: The Top-Rated Rewatchables

We dive into the Letterboxd stats to reveal the highest-rated, most obsessively rewatched films and directors.

List: Letterboxd’s 100 Highest Rated, Most Obsessively Rewatched Films

We were reading a recent Den of Geek story that contemplated whether you have to see a film twice for it to work, when the writer posed an interesting question:

“The top rated film of all time at the IMDb, The Shawshank Redemption, boasts nearly a million people who rank it as a ten out of ten movie. But also, there are 30,000 who rate it 1/10, and 4,528 who’d score it a 4/10. What IMDb doesn’t measure, interestingly, is how many times people have watched a certain movie. That’s the sub-division of scoring I’d be fascinated to see. What’s the highest rated movie of all time, when the criteria is you must have seen it five times or more? I’d still not bet against The Shawshank Redemption, personally.”

Unlike IMDb, we do let you to record how many times you’ve watched a film. (We can also help you import your IMDb data to Letterboxd, but that’s a tale for another day.)

So using Simon Brew’s question—“What’s the highest rated movie of all time, when the criteria is you must have seen it five times or more?” —⁠we got our stats department to punch the numbers on a category we’ll call “The Highest-Rated Obsessively Rewatched Club”.

First, we found all films that had been watched five or more times by at least 25 different members. As we allow members to cast a rating each time they log a film, we were able to compute an average rating for each “obsessive” member for every film in our list, and from there we calculated a single average rating for each film. Then we ordered by the highest average.

Still with us? Good. Here it is then: Letterboxd’s 100 Highest Rated, Most Obsessively Rewatched Films. Occupying the top ten spots, in order: Her, La La Land, Back to the Future, The Thing, Carol, Inception, The Empire Strikes Back, Jaws, Alien and It’s a Wonderful Life. And here is the full list.

Lots to see here:

  • No Shawshank (sorry Frank Darabont). It didn’t even show up when we dropped the minimum thresholds a little.
  • No Godfathers. No Francis Ford Coppola in the top 100, actually.
  • Fittingly, The Thing made the top five. It was specifically called out in the Den of Geek story: “Where would John Carpenter’s The Thing be, a movie bashed on its original release, without its army of advocates, and the people who went back to try again?”
  • Only one film with a female director (Frozen’s Jennifer Lee). Come on people, get your #52FilmsbyWomen cranking.
  • Let’s be frank: there’s not a lot of intersectionality going on anywhere on this list. If it weren’t for Māori What We Do in the Shadows directors Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, and Mexican faves Cuarón and Iñárritu, we’d call this whole thing a whitewash. Anyone we missed?
  • No subtitled/foreign-language films. We thought something like Amelie might have made an appearance here.
  • Like attracts like, it seems. Obsessive movie fans Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg made the Top 100 with all three of the films in their Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End). Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs The World made it, too.
  • A strong helping of Christmas movies, no doubt helped by annual replays on broadcast television: Die Hard, Elf, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Nightmare Before Christmas, A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone and Love, Actually.
  • Likewise, it’s no surprise that Groundhog Day appears in the list, helped by annual replays on the small screen.
  • Typically, the big action/fantasy series get a look-in: LOTR/Hobbit, Harry Potter, Star Wars… and superheroes, of course, most notably Batman, but also a smattering of Avengers and X-Men.
  • But nice also to see some smaller-budget films on the list: What We Do in the Shadows, Frances Ha, Whiplash, The Guest and It Follows.
  • Don Hertzfeldt’s award-winning World of Tomorrow was the only short film to make the list and how lovely is that?

It’s worth noting the difference between seasonal and perennial favorites. Will La La Land be there in ten years’ time? Or Her or Carol for that matter?

(At this point, we checked in with Letterboxd’s resident Carol obsessive for his reaction to the impressive fifth placing of Todd Haynes’ modern classic. “Carol was robbed,” came the immediate, devastated reply from IndieWire’s David Ehrlich.)

Finally, we totted up the directors who inspired the most obsessive viewing:

Nerd note: a few of these director rankings would change if we included writing and producing credits (George Lucas would appear, Spielberg would be higher, that sort of thing). If you notice any other patterns, please share in the comments of the list. We’d love to hear from you.

*All stats are as of March 2017, and this blog post relates to the results from this period. We may revisit in the future to see how the ranking of seasonal favorites is affected by time and newer releases.


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