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IMDB Top Trumps

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Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll know that the IMDB (Internet Movie Database) is the place to go for information about movies, TV shows, actors, production crew personnel (What the hell is a key grip anyway?) and video games.

It started life on paper in 1987, was launched onto the internet in 1990 (Then called the Cardiff IMDB), acquired by Amazon in 1998 before becoming the all singing all dancing encyclopaedia for movie lovers everywhere that exists today (a key grip sets up lights).

But what else can one do with such a database? Look up an actor's early work and try to uncover a rare missed gem; (I'll save you the trouble with Tom Hardy - Minotaur (2006) is, and I'm being kind, not a good film).

If you are anything like the actors I live with however, you'll just get drunk and play a massive game of Hollywood top trumps! Well that's what we did anyway.

So, how does it work?

First take an actor you like, for the purposes of this we're going to use the Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and view their page. Make a note of how many acting credits they have (minus any in production and plus one if they've been in a cult tv show) so for Arnie it's;
49 Titles -6 in production +1 (for Tales from the Crypt)
= 44 credits.

So far, so basic Top Trumps. But now here comes the tricky part; scour the credits and decide how many good films they've done, because only those ones will count. This is where the game turns into a hazy, objective, alcohol fuelled free for all.

You can't cheat and pretend you think a film is good when you know it isn't, but hey, your flatmate might be adamant that Twins is a classic piece of dark cinematic drama, tackling the hard hitting issues of eugenics - and who are you to argue?

The debates can get pretty heated - Let's face it, if you just go on the box office takings, Tom Cruise would be crowned the Greatest Actor of All Time. Backing a Tom Cruise movie is about as risky as breathing (seriously even Far and Away (1992) made a skip full of cash and that film was both bad and awful).

So, you've got your total movies right?
Arnie's is 14 (I'll allow one Conan but not both) now calculate a percentage against the total, assuming you've not drunk all the maths out of you
14 +1 TV = 15
15 is roughly 34% of 44 so;
Success = 34%

But it doesn't finish there - you can't have one top trump score can you? Next up we need to look at longest run of good movies. Again this can take up a large part of your evening and will be based on an ever-diminishing sense of artistic judgement (Admit it, you thought Kindergarten Cop (1990) was great too!)

Our case study had a run of 12, which is pretty good going, the best? Harrison Ford with 14;
From Empire Strikes Back (1980) to Clear and Present Danger (1994) it was non-stop movie gold. It would've been even longer but Sabrina (1995) was pallid display by his standards. And you do need to judge them by their own standards; Last Action Hero (1993) might've been a kooky play against type romp if it were a Jean Claude Van Damme vehicle but for Arnie it was just plain embarrassing.

Next up Charisma;
Now, you might not agree with us, but we've gone for a highly impressive 90%. Not only Did Arnie sell movies; he convinced the state of California to elect him (a foreigner) as governor, he also fathered and raised an illegitimate child with his live in maid, has admitted to several affairs and now, only when he's stepping down as governor, has his wife filed for divorce. That's one charming body builder! (He lost a further 5% for his dodgy views on the death penalty)

Acting Range (Out of 10);
1... maybe 2. He either plays a violent guy or a guy who abhors violence but ends up using it anyway. And here's how he squares up against other Hollywood types;

ACTOR Arnold Schwarzenegger Tom Cruise Harrison Ford
SUCCESS 34% 50% 35%
RUN 12 9 14
CHARISMA 90% 80% 77%
RANGE 2 1 8

If making an entire deck of trumps seems like a little long winded, then you might find duelling of more interest; this is pretty much the same in terms of stats but you simply take two actors with a similar career path or acting genre and play them off each other in a fight to the death! Well, maybe not death, anyway, here's a few suggestions;
Steve Martin vs Eddie Murphy
Kate Blanchet vs Kate Winslet
Nicole Kidman vs Katie Holmes
Charlie Sheen vs Emilio Estavez
Matthew McConnaughy vs Woody Harrelson
Gene Hackman Vs Michael Caine
Ridley Scott vs James Cameron (oh, it works with directors too)
Enjoy!