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Finding the most influential movies using PageRank and other network analysis algorithms

Researchers at the University of Turin used network analysis algorithms to determine the most influential movies. Instead of looking at box office numbers (which aren’t very good at determining how influential that movie can be in the future), the researchers looked at references within movies as a measure of success and they used those findings to also determine the most influential actors, actresses, etc.

The researchers used the movies as nodes and then measure the number of references to other movies as the connections, as well as using the influence of the movies a movie is connected to. The researchers used four centrality scores: in-degree, closeness, harmonic analysis and PageRank to assign influence scores to each movie. By doing so, they also applied this analysis to the directors of said movies as well as the actors/actresses within these movies. The top 10 most influential movies are as follows:

1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

2. Star Wars (1977)

3. Psycho (1960)

4. King Kong (1933)

5. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

6. Metropolis (1927)

7. Citizen Kane (1941)

8. The Birth of a Nation (1915)

9. Frankenstein (1931)

10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

A couple insights from their research also showed that the Japanese movies filmed during the 50’s have been very influential for Western cinema. The insights also showed a gender gap where males always dominated the most influential list and actresses weren’t normally found unless the dataset was separated into their respective genders. The exception here is Sweden where actresses overwhelm actors in the global rankings.


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