Fedora keeps Free pretty well and also includes the most common non-free firmware so ppl can have the full experience. Debian Testing or Unstable both have the most packages made for it ever, and if you need non-free firmware it's a simple matter of opening the non-free repo and installing the firmware in question. (they even have a software-center available ;P
Other ones to consider.
It has a one click install for about everything.
Very suited for people new to Linux too.
For the most part it is just a matter of playing with various distros and picking which ones are best for you. If you want my advice, I use a mix of Fedora and Arch, but if you want to replace Ubuntu my suggestions would be Fedora, OpenSUSE, or Mageia. Arch is definitely not for the light of heart and it is a disservice to it to suggest that it should be anyone's first port of call. You need a good understanding of what does what on your system to truly use it, and that is out of the scope that is being asked here.
It would have been easier if you had put the full criteria you were looking for up in the first place though.
So you think the ranking system is meaningless, or the reviews, or the database, or all of the above?Distrowatch is meaningless
Because personally, I think that it's great to have a catalog of all the *nix(-like) distributions out there, and that they do bother to review them on a weekly basis.
What I find interesting about DistroWatch is how quickly many Ubuntu fans disowned it, even though back in the day they were trumpeting it as proving their dominance in the Linux space. Granted, the DistroWatch methodology is questionable, but I do think turning around and dumping on it simply because it is now painting a slightly different picture is kind of immature.
I'd suggest OpenSUSE