Fun With Slate’s Hollywood Career-O-Matic

Fun With Slate’s Hollywood Career-O-Matic (photo)

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I’m good at my job because I’m eternally curious about the world of movies. And I’m bad at my job because I’m eternally curious about the world of movies. Once I find something about movies online, it’s kind of hard to stop looking at it. My doctor calls it “Internet addiction.” I call it my “mutant power.” We agree to disagree.

Today my obsessive tendencies have me playing with a new web page from Slate called The Hollywood Career-O-Matic. Basically Christopher Beam and Jeremy Singer-Vine used the movie review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes to compile sets of data about working Hollywood actors and directors. When you enter a name into the Career-O-Matic, seen above, it spits out a line graph charting the ups and downs of that filmmaker’s critical reception over time. By moving the mouse over the points on the graph, you get pop-ups of the names of the movies, their release date, and their Rotten Tomatoes score. It’s a fun, user-friendly way to access the scope of a filmmaker’s career and to see, in an instant, what someone’s best and worst reviewed movies were (Michael Bay’s best? “The Rock.” His worst? “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”).

But it gets much more interesting from there because you can plug more than one name into the Career-O-Matic, and compare two or more filmmakers’ careers side-by-side. For example, the graph above was actually the very first one I plugged into the Career-O-Matic: Arnold Schwarzenegger vs. Sylvester Stallone.


The results aren’t perfect; the Career-O-Matic doesn’t filter out cameos (something that would be apprecaited in a C-O-M 2.0), which means Schwarzenegger’s second best received picture is “Dave,” which he is barely in. And the database only goes back to 1985; meaning Arnold is spared the unflattering comparison of “Hercules in New York” versus “Rocky.” But it is still fascinating to compare these peers’ work in this way. The best reviewed picture either ever made during this period is “Terminator 2: Judgment Day;” while the highest score Stallone’s received came for his voice only, as an animated bug in “Antz.” It’s also interesting to observe how both of their careers cratered simultaneously in the mid- and late-90s, suggesting shifts in public taste for action films, and how they’ve enjoyed a slight resurgence in the last half-decade, suggesting a certain nostalgia for their style of films.

Okay, so I got the obvious out of the way. What’s next? How about this one:


Director versus director, brother versus brother, Ridley and Tony Scott. Again, we’re limited by our data starting in 1985 (meaning no “Alien,” “Blade Runner,” or “The Hunger”) but we do see similar gradual downward trajectories in both cases. At least until recently; it does seem the reevaluation of Tony Scott as something of a phantom auteur by certain artier sects of the critical community has begun to seep into criticism at large. While three out of Ridley’s last four films have been amongst the worst reviewed of his career (and the fourth, the dreadful “American Gangster,” received an impossibly generous score of 79), Tony’s stock is on the rise: after bottoming out with “Domino,” he rebounded with “Deja Vu” (which is inexplicably absent from his graph) and “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” then scored his best reviewed movie in fifteen years with last year’s “Unstoppable.” The numbers are so close between them I’m not sure who comes out on top. Someone get these two to dual it out in a vicious battle of slaps to determine the winner.

All right, one more before I lose all day to this thing.


Here we’ve got arguably the two biggest names in American independent film since the early 1990s, Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh. Clearly, Tarantino takes the match in terms of average score; other than the dark spot on his directorial career that is the anthology “Four Rooms,” Tarantino doesn’t have a film to his name that rates less than a 60. Soderbergh has a lot more critical flops (and his own poorly received anthology, “Eros”) but he’s also got a lot more movies, period. As you can see from the long stretch between dots on his green line, in the six years between Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown” and “Kill Bill: Volume 1,” Soderbergh made seven movies, including “Traffic,” “Eric Brockavich,” and “Ocean’s Eleven.” Also, it’s kind of surprising that the highest rated Tarantino movie isn’t “Pulp Fiction;” it’s “Reservoir Dogs.” I don’t know anyone who prefers the latter above the former, but that’s not necessarily the way Rotten Tomatoes works. They chart consensus, not passion.

I could go on and on with this thing. And I want to. But I’ll leave it here for now. It’s time for you to play with the Career-O-Matic for yourself. I’d love to hear some more comparisons in the comments section; maybe we can do a follow-up post later of the most interesting ones.

Got a good combination for the Hollywood Career-O-Matic? Tell us about it in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.


IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines


The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.


Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.


A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.


Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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