Netflix Ratings

UPDATE: The “script/program to get your Netflix Ratings”:http://www.scienceaddiction.com/2006/03/03/fetch-your-netflix-ratings/ is now ready for others to use. It is still in very early stages of development, but it has worked for a lot of people. Enjoy!

One of the things I love about my “Netflix”:http://www.netflix.com account is my ratings. As of now, I have 1323 DVDs (not all DVDs are films, but most are) rated there. This is a tremendous resource about my preferences that Netflix (and I) have. The trouble is that the only way I can get at them is by going to the website, logging in to my account, clicking through 2 pages to get to my ratings page. And even then, I can only see them 20 at a time. Clicking ‘Next’ 65 times to get through your own ratings is no fun. And Netflix doesn’t even provide an APIs (hooks that allow programmers to access information from websites through code) like “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/aws/landing.html, “Flickr”:http://www.flickr.com/services/api/ and “Google”:http://www.google.com/apis/ do so that I could use “the magic of programming”:http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/776.html to get the information. Nope it was 65 Next clicks (and a File->Save As on everyone of those) to get my ratings… or not.

I used the magic of google to find this nice man named “John Resig”:http://ejohn.org/projects/netflix who, on his blog, put up a perl script to pull all of your ratings from Netflix if you fed it your user name and password. Thank you, John- just what I was looking for!

But then I got greedy. I didn’t want just the name of the film and the rating; I wanted the genre of the film (to find out if I rate dramas higher than comedies), I wanted the year of release (to find out if the 60s truly were the best decade in cinema), I wanted the MPAA ratings (PG-13 or R?).

I modified the script to get all of that. And more. In the process I learnt the following about myself:

  • I rated, on a scale of 1-5, 479 5-stars, 522 4-stars, 260 3-stars, 67 2-stars and 13 1-stars. OK, I’m liberal with stars. No surprises there- can’t accuse me of being a conservative!
  • I rated NC-17 higher than G higher than PG higher than R higher than PG-13. Which proves my hypothesis that PG-13 is an abomination created by studio executives who market everything to the pre-teen male.
  • Among genres, Documentaries, Classics, Dramas, and ‘Children & Family’ rate the highest. Horror scores the poorest; go figure.
  • The ’50s was the greatest decade in cinema… according to me. Followed closely by the ’40s. The consolation is that this decade so far is not the worst. That would be the ’90s
  • Finally, of the last 15 years, the best year for films was… 2002. Not a surprise for me there, I adored 2002. The Pianist, The Hours, The Two Towers, Minority Report AND Catch Me If You Can, Attack of the Clones, Gangs of New York, Chicago, Adaptation, Y tu mamá también, Road to Perdition, Spider-man, 8 Mile, Signs, About a Boy, Bowling for Columbine, Spirited Away and Lilo & Stitch. My DVD collection is filled with 2002 films. So nothing to see here.

Now, I’m getting even more greedy. I’m putting a script together that will pull the name of the director and the stars from the film off the Netflix site so that I can get statistics on how I rate certain directors. If you want to get started, pull the “John Resig script”:http://ejohn.org/projects/netflix I mentioned above. I will put up my modified and enhanced scripts on this page soon.

UPDATE (3/6/06): The script is now ready; “go fetch the Netflix ratings download scripts, getFlix”:http://www.scienceaddiction.com/2006/03/03/fetch-your-netflix-ratings/ and behold the power of the “histogram”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histogram now.

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