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The Problem With Relying on Aggregators

The Problem With Relying on Aggregators (photo)

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In the comments for Pete Hammond’s report on Disney’s Oscar push for the upcoming “Tangled,” a chorus of voices chimes their support for the greatness of “How to Train Your Dragon.” And last week, the Hollywood Reporter‘s Borys Kit noted that DreamWorks Animation had sent out a best animated feature and best picture For Your Consideration packet for the film: “The fact that it’s supporting the movie isn’t the unusual part — the movie is easily one the best films of the year so far — but it’s not even Labor Day yet!”

It is? Easily? As bemusing as I find this glimpse into an alternate universe of film valuation, it’s nothing new — the more films there are, the more they target very specific audiences, the higher the chances that everyone will have (very) different ideas about the what the best one of the year will be (and the argument over what constitutes quality is an eternal one). But I do take issue with this, from Kit’s piece:

“Dragon” has an awesome 98% rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes so you’d think it would have a great edge. But look out! Its rival, “Toy Story 3” from practically perennial winner Pixar, has 99%.

Rotten Tomatoes measures consensus, not quality. A 98% or 99% rating on the site means that almost everyone agreed that it was good — but that doesn’t mean that more consensus is proof of a better movie. Great movies — challenging, ambitious, weighty, unusual — tend to be more divisive, to invite high praise and deep disagreement. An innocuous movie that everyone thinks is absolutely adequate could obtain a higher RT rating than one that the majority of critics claim is the best of the decade, and a few others can’t stand. That doesn’t mean that the former is better than the latter.

This is what the angry types that attack whoever dares spoil a favorite movie’s “100% Fresh” rating (usually Armond White) miss — that everyone agreeing that a film is good is worth a lot less than writers making interesting, well-reasoned cases for why that film is great. Rotten Tomatoes and other aggregators are very useful for getting a glimpse of the zeitgeist critical opinion of a movie and for finding in depth reviews, but to place so much significance on percentage points is ridiculous. A 98% approval rating isn’t proof that a film is the best of the year, or proof that it isn’t. It’s proof that most people found it perfectly watchable.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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