Men prefer Star Wars and women prefer Dirty Dancing — but The Shawshank Redemption is first overall because everyone scores it highly

The Shawshank Redemption is the number one movie on practically every movie website's list, but new YouGov research reveals that it gets its high ranking for its breadth of appeal - not because it is the single movie that people say they like the most.

The Shawshank Redemption comes out on top, ahead of the original 1977 Star Wars and Dirty Dancing, which places highly by ranking first among women (12.8 points), 3.2 points ahead of The Shawshank Redemption and Pretty Woman (which are tied).

After gathering a shortlist from open-ended responses to the question 'what is your favourite film?', a score is calculated for each film by balancing breadth of appreciation (the percentage people who say they like the film at all), with intensity of appreciation (the percentage who like the film most out of the list of 15). 

Shawshank also places second among men, on 12.1 compared to Star Wars' 13.9. And in every age group the pattern is replicated: by clicking the age headings in the table below to sort you can see that in each case it places second, but the consistency of its high score brings it to first place at the national level.

 The nation's favourite movies by age
 Click table headings to sort

  18-24 25-39 40-59 60+
The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 13.3 12.1 10.1 9.5
Star Wars (1977) 12.7 12.4 10.6 5.4
Dirty Dancing (1987) 8.2 10.2 7.3 7.1
Forrest Gump (1994) 14.4 9.6 6.5 5.2
The Green Mile (1999) 5.2 9.2 8.2 6.4
The Sound of Music (1965) 6.0 5.8 6.1 8.9
Pretty Woman (1990) 5.4 5.4 6.9 7.2
The Great Escape (1963) 3.7 2.5 7.2 10.3
Pulp Fiction (1994) 8.5 8.5 6.0 2.2
The Godfather (1972) 4.5 6.9 4.6 4.9
It's a Wonderful Life (1946) 2.4 3.2 6.0 6.5
The Blues Brothers (1980) 3.5 4.1 5.8 5.1
Blade Runner (1982) 3.2 3.4 4.9 2.3
Gone with the Wind (1939) 0.8 1.5 3.4 7.7
Some Like It Hot (1959) 1.2 1.5 3.6 4.3

For the youngest generation Forrest Gump is the favourite, while Star Wars is first for both 25-39 and 40-59 year-olds. The Great Escape (1963) does best among over-60s, who in general rank the older movies higher than those behind them in age.

See the full poll results

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