Posted on Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 by Angie Han
Netflix already has its own sophisticated algorithm for tailoring recommendations to each individual user, but there are times when their suggestions can be a little too customized. Like, say, when you’re looking to expand your horizons with a critically acclaimed classic you expect to admire more than like, or dip your toe into a genre you rarely explore.
For those needs, Dave Jachimiak has invented A Better Queue. The simple but useful program cross-references Netflix and Rotten Tomatoes to help you mine the Watch Instantly catalog for the very best it has to offer, from any genre or time period you choose. Hit the jump for more details.
A Better Queue allows you to choose multiple genres, set your own range of release dates, and decide how high a Tomatometer score you’re looking for. Once you enter that information and hit “filter,” the program spits back a list of matching titles, in no particular order. You can go to any movie’s Netflix page by clicking on the poster image, or its Rotten Tomatoes page by hitting the Tomatometer number. My first search — for comedies rated above 75% and dated between 1990 and 2012 — served up lots of titles I’d already seen or had in my queue, but it also yielded several films I didn’t know were on the site or hadn’t even known existed, which is exactly the point of a program like this.
Jachimiak admits that his own program isn’t perfect yet, and writes in his blog that he’s already got a few improvements in the works. Among them are an improved website UI, a mobile app, and an “Add to Instant Queue” button. In addition, Jachimiak plans to improve the reliability of the Tomatometer scores by accounting for how many reviews a film has, not just how many of them are positive. Personally, I’d also love to see him update the categorizations so that a film can fall under more than one genre. For example, Rango currently falls only under “Children & Family,” even though it could just as easily suit the needs of someone looking for a comedy or an animated film.
Of course, one big caveat is that Rotten Tomatoes itself isn’t always a perfect indicator of how good a movie is or how much you’ll personally enjoy a movie. If you find yourself generally disagreeing with Rotten Tomatoes’ critics, A Better Queue may not be of much use to you. If, on the other hand, you’re a Roger Ebert-loving cinephile hunting for some of Netflix’s hidden gems, A Better Queue is a fantastic first stop.