Sci-Fi FilmRank

Sweet circumstance! The huge positronic brain that I built in my cellar to compute the algorithmic movie ranking FilmRank is still warm. So when I saw this list of

how could I resist to submit the question to the electronic abomination? After all, left to its own devices, the machine might otherwise become sentient in its idle time and decide to take over the Internet. And then. The. World.

“Can you give me the 25 most important sci-fi movies, ranked by FilmRank.”

There was a moment’s expectant pause whilst panels slowly came to life on the front of the console. Lights flashed on and off experimentally and settled down into a businesslike pattern. A soft low hum came from the communication channel.

“Difficult. What is this Sci-Fi of which you speak?”

To decide what is Sci-Fi and what isn’t, I again fell back on IMDB, namely on the genre labelling. Now, many movies list dozens of genres, so I arbitrarily chose to only recognise the two or three that make it to the front page.

This leads to some decisions that I disagree with: For example, the hive-mind that is IMDB users don’t classify Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (1920) as Sci-Fi, so it doesn’t make the list. On the other hand, Superman (1978) is in there. Even more unbearably, the The Rocky Horror Picture Show would have made a respectable 24th place, had it not been classified as Comedy/Musical.

But of course, the conceit of this whole project is to minimise my influence, so the list is what it is. I defer completely to my algorithmic overlord, and the human life-forms it has absorbed into its computational matrix.

So here it is, presented with infinite majesty and calm. Those movies that appear on both the FilmRank list and on io9’s I have marked with a star.

  1. Star Wars (1977)
  2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) [*]
  3. Metropolis (1927) [*]
  4. Frankenstein (1931)
  5. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  6. The Terminator (1984)
  7. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) [*]
  8. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) [*]
  9. Alien (1979) [*]
  10. The Matrix (1999) [*]
  11. THX 1138
  12. Blade Runner (1982) [*]
  13. Aliens (1986)
  14. Superman (1978)
  15. Back to the Future (1985) [*]
  16. Gojira (1954)
  17. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  18. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) [*]
  19. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
  20. Planet of the Apes (1968) [*]
  21. Jurassic Park (1993)
  22. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) [*]
  23. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
  24. RoboCop (1987) [*]
  25. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Comments? The FilmRank list is a lot more “classical,” which is an artefact of the algorithm. (The damping factor is 0.50.) For example, the spectacularly good District 9 doesn’t have a chance. I note with surprise that Back to the Future appears on both lists, even though it probably wouldn’t make my own. Oh, and FilmRank has Gojira, so it’s full of win. Now, I wonder which parameters I must tweak to get Reptilicus (1961) on the list…

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