I know no one takes this list seriously as an index of considered critical judgement, or even ordinary good taste, but it continues to bug me anyway. Perhaps that's because the Top 250 does reflect, in a weird hybrid way, both established film-history judgements and authentic popular choice. Normally that kind of combination works pretty well for my taste--and there are lots of good movies on the list. But their presence only makes the absurdly overrated stinkers more irritating...
In reverse order of IMDb rating:
10. #219 - Stalag 17 (1953). Just to show that I'm not a historical snob. This is a fine WWII POW movie, but it's also dorky, dated, and unmemorable. One of the Top 250's many problems is that it overrates the 'Golden Age' of the '50s (37 films) and underrates the 'New Hollywood' period of the '70s. No way Stalag 17 deserves this position ahead of, say, Straw Dogs.
9. #214 - Cinderella Man (2005). I haven't even seen this, and its presence here still galls me tremendously. I won't complain about Gladiator, because I understand big historical epics do well on this kind of list, but do we need TWO Russell Crowe movies in the Top 250? That's embarrassing.
8. #197 - Magnolia (1999). This is up there with A.I., I Heart Huckabees, and Igby Goes Down in my personal list of Most Hated Movies Of All Time. In fact I'd say this is my signature Most Hated movie. You have to go to Thesaurus.com and look up synonyms for 'pompous' and 'leaden' to fully appreciate how awful this film is. I'm confident the recent Hilary Swank 10-plagues-of-Egypt feature, The Reaping, did a better "Frogs" scene than this clanking monstrosity.
7. #130 - Crash (2005). All I'll say is that I disliked Crash before it was fashionable to dislike Crash. I'm actually surprised the post-Oscar backlash hasn't dropped this Academy embarrassment out of the Top 250 altogether.
6. #129 - V For Vendetta (2006). What the fuck? Seriously. This is the most surprising movie on here. Even more surprising, it apparently does better among women then men. Mysterious and very galling.
5. #122 - Children of Men (2006). The most overrated movie of 2006. It's not really all that different from V For Vendetta in its sophomoric futurism -- I used to think that was a snark, but according to the Top 250, it's a mark of distinction. Blech.
4. #96 - Braveheart (1995). OK, so I said I wouldn't complain about about popular historical epics, but this is an exception. What a piece of crap! And just to prove that I'm not a blind Mel Gibson-hating Jew, I thought Apocolypto was very, very good. But if you add a few slaves-who-aren't-really-slaves to Braveheart, you have the The Patriot, don't you?
3. #63 - Reservoir Dogs (1992). I'm sure this will raise a few eyebrows, but I detest this movie. Truly pointless violence. Violence so "cool" and so idiotic that it could only be immortalized in a frat boy college poster. Peckinpah would vomit Beast Lite all over himself if he lived to see it.
2. #29 - Fight Club (1999). Same college-poster bullshit as Reservoir Dogs, only combined with a truly vapid "existential" mindfuck.
1. #2 - The Shawshank Redemption (1995). The Most Quietly Overrated Movie Of All Time. Somehow, between 1995 and 2005, this film went from absorbing (if manipulative) prison flick, to middlebrow cult classic, to THE SECOND GREATEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME. I know it's not Tim Robbins' and Morgan Freeman's fault that they're naturally wooden and self-serious. But how did this happen? Not only is Shawshank #2 all time, it's also the single most voted-on movie in the entire top 250, and, as far as I can make out, on the entire IMDb site. How did this happen? It's extremely galling.