Americans' taste in movies is—how to put this delicately?—not so demanding. Each year, the box-office charts are dominated by unimaginative sequels, kiddie schlock, and overproduced explosion porn. That's why the list that Netflix publishes of its all-time most-rented movies is such a delight, and a surprise. Of the top six films, three won the Oscar for Best Picture, and a fourth was nominated. Two are action flicks, yes, but they're two of the best-reviewed action flicks in years. Another movie features a performer who reminds us that he has acting chops beyond his usual blockbuster bait; in yet another, an 80-year-old favorite reassures us that he's still got it. Of the 10, only two can be said to be, well, kind of inanae. But hey—sometimes we all need a little mindless fun amid the classics.
By letting customers build queues of the titles they truly want to see, instead of merely watching what happens to be in stock at the local rental store, Netflix has allowed us to see more great movies—and has thrived as a business in the process. As of July 1, 2010, here's the top 10, accompanied by reviews by Netflix users, as showcased on the site (and represented here typos and all).