Unwatchable Movies on the Rise

I’ve explained my movie-rating scale here. The lowest rating (on a 1-10 scale) is a 1, which means that I found it unwatchable. But I watched enough of it to form an opinion of it. Why abandon a film after 5-15 minutes of viewing? Here are some of the reasons: trite, pompous, or boring dialogue; leaden satire; blatantly leftist political propaganda; juvenalia aimed at teenyboppers and twenty-somethings; and cringeworthy acting.

I’ve assigned a rating of 1 to 56 of the 2,121 feature films that I recall having seen. Here’s the list of titles, with year of release and average rating given by users at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB):

Unwatchable movies_list

If you strongly disagree with me about one or more of these movies, let me know. In any event, the frequency of movies that I find unwatchable is on the rise:

Unwatchable movies_graph

That’s consistent with the downward trend in the quality of films, as I see it:

Movie ratings_annual and overall

What about the recent upward trend in ratings assigned by IMDb users? As I say here:

  • IMDb users, on the whole, have overrated films released from the early 1940s to about 1980, and from the late 1990s to the present. The ratings for films released in the latter period undoubtedly reflect the dominance of younger viewers who “grew up” with IMDb, who prefer novelty to quality, and who have little familiarity with earlier films. On the other hand, I have rated 852 films that were released in 1996-2014, and 1,248 films from 1920-1995 [now 868 films from 1996-2015 and 1,253 from 1920-1995].
  • My ratings, based on long experience and exacting standards, indicate that movies not only are not better than ever, they are generally getting worse as the years roll on.

How exacting are my standards? Hundreds of thousands of IMDb users give higher ratings to the films I choose to watch than to films in general:

Ratings of films ive seen vs ratings of all films
Note: “All films” represents 65,290 films designated by IMDb as “English-language,” of which I have seen 2,200. (I have seen 2,424 but IMDb lists only 2,200 of them.)

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Related posts:
A Hollywood Circle
Christmas Movies
Pride and Prejudice on Film
The Movies: (Not) Better Than Ever
At the Movies: The Best and Worst Years
My Year at the Movies (2007)
Forgotten Stars
The Quality of Films over the Decades
More about the Quality of Films
The Movies: Not Better than Ever (II)
The Longevity of Stars
2013: A Bad Year at the Movies
A Trip to the Movies
Another Trip to the Movies

2 thoughts on “Unwatchable Movies on the Rise

  1. I don’t watch many movies these days, so most of those on your list I haven’t seen. Of the five that I have seen, I enjoyed “The Butterfly Effect,” “The Holiday,” “Sideways,” and “Zelig.” Perhaps it’s my old age (80) that makes movie-watching a problem for me. I used to watch more of them than I do now. Deal-breakers for me (meaning that I immediately stop watching) are: gratuitous vehicle chases; gunfights during which thousands of rounds are expended and the hero never gets hurt; ridiculous physical feats performed by 60-year-old stars; sex scenes so passionate that the participants can’t make it to the bedroom and remove their clothing, but must copulate against a door or wall or on a desktop that has been cleared with a single sweep of an arm; any “comedy” involving bodily functions or fluids; an excessive amount of anti-social or juvenile behavior. In addition, I abandon ship when the profanity becomes gratuitous or excessive. (When I was a teenager, it was acceptable to say “n—–,” but not “f—ing” and “mother——.” This convention is now reversed.)

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m far from a prude or a non-combatant, and I have many memories of romantic and fistic encounters I could relate were I challenged to document it (and were I indiscrete.) I could take all this silly movie stuff in occasional and small doses. But, it seems to me that physically and psychologically ridiculous behavior and absurd and debased dialog permeates entire movies, and most movies, these days.

    A dozen of my all-time favorites, in no particular order: (1) My Fair Lady; (2) The Godfather series; (3) Casablanca; (4) Chinatown; (5) Patton; (6) Fargo; (7) Midway; (8) Inherit the Wind; (9) O Brother, Where Art Thou?; (10) All About Eve; (11) The Third Man; and (12) Dr. Strangelove. There are more, of course, but these come to mind.

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  2. Thanks for the comment. I seldom watch a feature-length film these days. I’ve turned mainly to the relatively few TV series and mini-series that feature clever plotting, sophisticated dialogue, and good acting. And I watch them via Netflix or Amazon Video, so that I don’t have to endure commercials. Most of them originally aired in Britain, which still seems to produce the best actors and script-writers, despite the sad decline of British civilization.

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