Whether you're planning a dinner and a movie with a special someone for Valentine's Day, or you just like to read up on what's worth seeing before you spend your hard-earned cash on a theatre experience, you have plenty of options to find out what's new in theatres or what's worth seeing before you go. Here's a look at five of the best movie recommendation and review services, based on your nominations.
Photo by Ondřej Lipár.
Criticker doesn't just match you up with movies that you would like, it also matches you up with other movie lovers who enjoy the same types of movies that you do. If you're a movie buff or a self-described movie critic, Criticker gives you a platform to share your thoughts, rate movies, and comment on other people's ratings. The service is only as good as the movies you rate though, so as soon as you sign up, your best bet is to start rating movies right away so the site can get an idea of what you'd enjoy watching. When it does know what you like, it makes some great predictions. Best of all, the algorithm that it uses to determine whether you'd like a movie, the "Taste Compatibility Index", is dynamic, learns from your changing tastes, and can help you determine whether you'd like a new blockbuster before you spend money on it.
Jinni, often described as "Pandora for movies", works best when you search for the types of movies, genres, moods, even performers that you like, and you'll see a list of movies that Jinni thinks will fit the bill, thanks to its aptly-named "Movie Genome Project". Even if you search for "date night", Jinni can suggest some titles for you that are perfect for the atmosphere that both of you will enjoy. Then you can further customise the search by limiting the results to types of films, dates released, genres and more. If you have an account, you can save your searches, along with any preferences and favourites you have, so Jinni can hone your recommendations even further.
Rotten Tomatoes is the quintessential movie review site. For a lot of people, a "rotten" rating is enough to make them not want to see a movie at all, much less spend money on it in the theatres. Rotten Tomatoes does an excellent job of aggregating movie reviews from all over the web, including the voices of professional movie critics, newspapers reviews, bloggers, and forum and movie fan buzz around the web. The site is a great way to quickly see how well received (or poorly received) a new film that's just landed in the theatre has been. After registering for an account, you can rate movies on your own and contribute to the community. Think of Rotten Tomatoes as an essential research tool to use to decide if a movie worth seeing — even if it doesn't use your tastes or watch history to help you decide.
With the tagline "movie reviews by industry chicks", ChickFlix aims to give you a female perspective on the movie industry's latest releases. Operated by three women who started the site by debating what exactly a "chick flick" really is, the blog has grown into an amazing source for movie reviews and perspectives that you won't find represented in newspaper reviews or on other movie review sites. Keep in mind though that ChickFlix doesn't aim to rate movies, or give you detailed background into why movie A is better than movie B, or why you'll like movie C because you liked movie D. Instead, you'll find interesting and engaging movie reviews, information on films that you may like that you may not have heard of, and great suggestions for films that you may not otherwise have investigated.
Metacritic rates just about everything, and movies are no exception. Like Rotten Tomatoes, the site is largely sentiment-driven and scores are an aggregate based on reviews from elsewhere on the web, prominent voices, independent reviews, authors, bloggers, commenters, and members of the community who are invited to sign up and rate their own movies and experiences. The process of building a metascore is unique and complex enough that there's a whole page about it, and to this day Metacritic rankings — which fluctuate based on the sentiment of the web — are used to communicate the overall worth of a movie, video game, book, or album, even if that media has been out for years.
Again, Metacritic is a research tool, much like Rotten Tomatoes — even though Metacritic covers a much wider series of topics, it's not going to help you decide whether you'd like a film based on other films you like, but it will help you determine whether the overall reception of a movie has been positive or negative, and why.
Honourable mentions this week go out to the venerable IMDB, which not as many of you nominated as we expected, but which remains a great go-to site for information on past movies, actor bios, upcoming projects and productions that your favourite performers are in, trailers, and news. Also worth mentioning is MovieLens, a site that does a really good job of suggesting movies to you that you'd like based on movies you already know you enjoyed or disliked.
Did your favourite not get enough nominations to make the list? Have something to say about one of the contenders we missed? Sound off in the comments below.