Finding a movie with a near perfect rating of 9.5 out of 10 is no easy task. While critics may praise certain films as masterpieces, audience reactions tend to be more mixed. However, there are a select few movies that have managed to achieve the coveted 9.5 rating on IMDB and other review aggregators.
One film that stands out with a 9.5 rating is the 1994 drama The Shawshank Redemption. Directed by Frank Darabont and starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, the movie tells the story of Andy Dufresne, a banker who is sentenced to life in prison for murders he did not commit. Over the decades, Andy retains his hope and eventually finds redemption through his friendship with fellow inmate Ellis “Red” Redding.
Critics praised the film for its thoughtful themes about maintaining hope in desperate circumstances. Audiences connected deeply with the characters and their friendship. The movie did not find huge box office success on its initial release, but gained traction through video rentals and cable showings. Now it is regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, thanks to its timeless messages and powerful performances.
- Release Year: 1994
- Director: Frank Darabont
- Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman
- IMDB Rating: 9.5
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 crime epic The Godfather is another film that has earned a rare 9.5 rating. Starring Marlon Brando as mob boss Vito Corleone, the movie depicts the Corleone crime family as Vito transfers power to his reluctant son Michael, played by Al Pacino.
The Godfather is acclaimed for its stunning cinematography, memorable musical score, and incredible performances. Brando and Pacino anchor the film with their nuanced portrayals of the father and son at the center of a violent criminal empire. Supporting cast members like James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Diane Keaton also shine.
The film dramatically depicts the costs of power as Michael is forced into the family business. Its tragic themes combined with unforgettable scenes like Vito receiving requests for favors on his daughter’s wedding day have earned The Godfather enormous critical and popular acclaim.
- Release Year: 1972
- Director: Francis Ford Coppola
- Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan
- IMDB Rating: 9.5
Other Contenders with a 9.5 Rating
While The Shawshank Redemption and The Godfather stand out with the highest ratings, there are a few other beloved films that have also earned a 9.5 on IMDB and other review sites:
12 Angry Men (1957)
Sidney Lumet’s tense courtroom drama about a jury deliberating a murder trial features incredible ensemble performances and thoughtful themes about prejudice. The film stars Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, and E.G. Marshall.
Schindler’s List (1993)
Steven Spielberg’s moving biographical drama about factory owner Oskar Schindler who saved Jewish lives during the Holocaust stars Liam Neeson in the lead role, with Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes in supporting parts.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
The final installment in Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy trilogy concludes the journey of Frodo Baggins to destroy the One Ring. Featuring stunning visuals and emotional performances from Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, and the rest of the ensemble cast.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Quentin Tarantino’s stylish crime film weaves together interlocking stories of mobsters, hitmen, boxers, and a gangster’s wife. John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, and Bruce Willis lead the acclaimed cast.
What Makes These Movies so Highly Rated?
Looking at these top-rated films, some common traits emerge that help explain why audiences and critics alike hold them in such high esteem:
- Memorable stories and characters – All of these movies feature compelling narratives brought to life through vivid, complex characters. The storylines are emotional and thought-provoking.
- Expert filmmaking – The directors use stellar camerawork, editing, production design, and other techniques to create cinematic masterpieces.
- Amazing acting performances – Powerful acting from legendary stars and talented ensembles immerse the audience in the films.
- Themes of hope, courage, sacrifice – These movies tackle grand themes in drama, delivering timeless messages about the human spirit.
- Cultural impact and legacy – They have endured as classics thanks to their tremendous influence on filmmakers and audiences.
Data on Highest Rated Movies
Looking at data from IMDB’s list of the top 250 movies ranked by user ratings, we can see which films have achieved the extremely rare 9.5 rating.
|The Shawshank Redemption
|12 Angry Men
|The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Very few films in history have been able to match these ratings. The list shows that dramas tackle the most resonance themes with audiences. But fantasy epics and stylish crime movies have also touched viewers deeply when done exceptionally well.
How Reviews and Ratings Are Calculated
Aggregator sites like IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic compile ratings from many individual users and professional critics. Here is a breakdown of how they develop final scores:
IMDB allows any registered user to rate movies on a scale from 1 to 10. An advanced formula converts these individual votes into the final IMDB rating for each title. The exact calculation is private but it is weighted to account for factors like the number of votes.
Rotten Tomatoes Score
Rotten Tomatoes collects ratings from professional critics and classifies reviews as positive or negative. The percentage of critics giving a positive review generates the Tomatometer score. They also compute an average Audience Score from user ratings.
Metacritic assigns a weighted average score to each review on a scale from 0 to 100. Higher scores indicate more positive reviews. Like Rotten Tomatoes, they collect critic reviews and user ratings.
By aggregating many sources, these ratings aim to measure broad consensus and reflect how most viewers reacted. But personal taste still plays a role in how some may rate the same movie differently.
Subjectivity in Movie Ratings
Despite objective data aggregation, movie ratings still have a strong subjective element. Some factors that can influence how individuals rate and review a film include:
- Personal preferences for genres, directors, actors
- Expectations and preconceptions about the film
- Mood and life experiences when watching
- Attention to technical elements like cinematography
- Philosophical outlook and what messages resonate
Given these subjective influences, two people may perceive the same movie very differently. One may find a film boring while the other is moved. Review bombing campaigns based on external issues rather than film quality can also distort ratings. So while aggregated scores offer a useful guide, some subjective variance is expected.
Changes in Ratings Over Time
Movie ratings are also not static—they can shift over time as public opinion evolves. For example, fight scenes in classics like The Godfather that were once accepted may feel too graphic to modern audiences. As social norms change, ratings may dip on older films while newer relevant works are praised.
Cultural reappraisal can also boost ratings. As The Shawshank Redemption found popularity on home video, ratings rose as more audiences recognized its quality. temporally distant historical dramas may feel stale when first released but gain appreciation with time as their themes endure. Nostalgia and childhood memories can also influence evolving ratings.
A rare 9.5 rating on review aggregators like IMDB is the hallmark of a truly exceptional, genre-defining film. Dramas exploring hope and sacrifice like The Shawshank Redemption tend to most deeply connect with audiences across generations. But masterpieces from other genres like The Godfather or Return of the King can also achieve near universal acclaim when filmmaking, performances, and themes come together flawlessly.
While aggregated review scores offer useful guidance, ratings should not be taken as definitive. Subjective tastes, outside factors, changes over time, and personal connections to the film can all impact an individual’s rating. But for works like those profiled here that have resonated so powerfully with both critics and general audiences, a 9.5 rating indicates a transcendent cinematic achievement.