* UPDATE 12/05/08: For a more updated list click here *
As someone who reviews films and DVDs the internet is an invaluable resource, but what are the most useful sites? After a look through my many film bookmarks and feeds here is my selection of the 10 most useful websites that I use on a regular basis:
- The Internet Movie Database: After all these years it is still the single most useful site about films and filmmaking. It is an obvious choice but if you want to find out information about a film, actor or director the IMDb is without parallel. Sites like the All Movie Guide and Yahoo Movies try to do a similar thing but they are not on the same scale. Plus, the IMDB also has some very useful features under the hood – the Top 250 films voted by user ratings, the Trivia sections and the Memorable Quotes. Another useful aspect of the site is that on the top right hand corner of each film entry you can see whether or not the film is available on Region 1, Region 2 DVD or if there is a soundtrack.
- Wikipedia – Film Portal: It might sound strange to rank a section from Wikipedia so highly but given the enormous growth of the online encyclopaedia its film entries have become numerous and very handy indeed. The idea of an encyclopaedia written and edited by users must have sounded crazy a few years ago but despite the odd example it remains a terrific resource if you want to get a basic understanding of a film or any aspect of filmmaking. Some of its entries on particular films are excellent (e.g. Blade Runner, Ran and Halloween) and is also useful at placing films in context. For example if you looked up Blade Runner you could also see links to other films from 1982, director Ridley Scott, author Philip K Dick, the Bradbury Building and what dystopian means. Plus, if you ever wanted to know about such diverse things as the WGA screenwriting credit system, Panavision, Lindsay Lohan and the little known Tom Hanks TV movie Mazes and Monsters, then Wikipedia has entries for them all. An amazing resource.
- Metacritic: If you regularly read film reviews then Metacritic will make your job a lot easier. It collates reviews from a range of critics, gives them a rating out of 100 and then gives the film an average score. It usually includes a line from each review and also contains useful links to each film (the official site, the IMDb link and the trailer). Rotten Tomatoes is a much more popular site that does a similar thing but I prefer the look and feel of Metacritic. The film section is also complemented by ones for DVDs, music, games, books and TV. In my experience the average scores are pretty accurate but if you disagree then you can always add your opinion in the forums.
- Google / Movies: Google is a search engine so popular that it has even become a verb. But apart from indexing millions of webpages and allowing you to search them it also has some useful features that you might not be aware of. It can spell-check, convert units of measurement and (most importantly for film lovers) help you find out your local cinema times. Again there are many sites that do this but Google’s reliably slick interface, ease of use and links to Google Maps makes them the current movie listing champ. The UK listings site is here and the US site is here.
- Digg / Movies: Digg is a relatively new site but its fast becoming a great way to explore the buzz on news stories and the world of film is no different. They recently divided their stories in sections and one of those is devoted to Movies. Users submit and then vote (or digg) which stories they find interesting. You can browse the most popular this year (“Watch 70 legal TV stations for free”), this month (“Batman Begins sequel casting and title confirmed”), this week (“Siskel and Ebert hated each other “), today (“99 Top Gun movie mistakes”) and recently popular.
- Movie City News: A great one stop shop for film news edited by film writer and blogger David Poland. It has regular links to all the latest news stories and a series of blogs that are connected to the site. Very useful indeed.
- Guardian Film: The Guardian and its sister Sunday paper The Observer are the best British newspapers when it comes to film coverage and their film website is where you can find all the stories if you didn’t buy the paper. They have the best range of articles and the best writers – Philip French is my favourite British newspaper critic whilst Mark Kermode and John Patterson are always worth reading. Unlike some other newspapers the Guardian understands publishing for the web and Guardian Film is regularly updated with reviews and features.
- Criticker: Think of a site as a personalised Metacritic or in their words a “Personalised Film Recommendation Engine”. It allows you to rate films and then suggests ones you might like based on your ratings. Another handy feature is the Taste Compatibility Index that allows you to compare your film tastes with other users and more established critics. More addictive than it sounds and a good way of gauging what type of films you like.
- Soundtrack Net: This site reviews the latest soundtracks but also takes a remarkbly detailed and comprehensive look at the role of music in film. There are interviews with composers, features on different scores and even an incredibly detailed database of music used in trailers.
- Box Office Mojo: The best site for checking out how films have done financially at the US and global box office. It provides a lot of different stats and trends on what is going on at the box office including daily, weekly, monthly and yearly analysis. The section for All Time Box Office records is always worth checking out if only to see if anything will ever beat Titanic.
If you have any comments or suggestions for a useful site then do send me an email.