Aug 18, 2011

Rating Films

Recently, a friend of mine who’s a reader of the blog asked me about the film ratings I’ve given on the right sidebar. We both agreed that rating films with letters or numbers is arbitrary and doesn’t make much sense. Films, as works of art, create a wide range of emotions and thoughts that cannot be summarized in a letter. Also, definitions of what constitutes a good film are widely different from person to person, or even for the same person, from film to film. Is an original film that doesn’t leave an emotional mark better, for instance, than a formulaic film that is nevertheless well-made and engaging? Which has more value?
The closest anyone has come to capturing the reality of the experience of watching a film through numbers and letters is the amazing Nick Davis’ rating system which uses both variables to explain two different things, and factors in more elements than the quality of the film - elements like originality, visions, etc.
I’m not about to announce that I’m stealing his methodology. If I wanted my blog to be as good as his, I might as well stop writing for good. I’ll stick with my old method of letter grading only. But as an addition to the sidebar, I will now include a ratings legend. This legend is a general indicator of what I mean by a B or a C rating. Hopefully it will give you a better idea of where I stand on a particular film. 

Masterpiece for all ages! No film gets this rating upon release because A+ films have artistic merits and a cultural significance that can stand the test of time and pass from one generation to the next.

On par with the best cinema has ever offered. These films are practically flawless and leave a profound personal impact. With time they can take their place among the A+s.

The weaknesses are so insignificant, they can be overlooked. These film leave a lot of room for thinking and discourse and I’d recommend them to everybody.

These works are missing the “it” that A level films have but are nevertheless solid films that deserve conversation and praise.

Either ambitious projects that fall a flaw or two short of fulfilling their potential, or projects that achieve all they want but don’t strive for greatness.

Mild recommendation; I had a good time watching these films and I’ll give them another shot, even though I can’t look beyond the shortcomings.

The problems were noticeable enough for me to avoid a hearty recommendation but there were still some good moments here and there.

Any quality moment is overshadowed by a flaw of equal measure. Usually a lot of potential is wasted in these films.

If you like these films, you’ll really have to explain to me why. The problems in these films tangibly hurt their functionality.

These films border on being awful. There are very few good things I can point out about them and even those only work separately, not as part of the whole.

The only thing saving these films from a total failure is a particular good element: a good performance, an original idea, interesting imagery or some good music.

The only thing saving these films from a failing grade is my personal affection for someone involved in them: a beloved actor, a director I’ve long enjoyed, etc.

Offensively bad and insulting to the audience’s intelligence. All negatives should be burnt and the film should never be heard of again.


  1. I need to figure mine out as well. It's really tough to compare films. For me it's very clear that something is 8/10, but then me giving Source Code an 8/10 and let's say .. Tree of Life 8/10 it's a very different number!

  2. I don't even bother to rate the films I review most of the time, I only blog about stuff I like. Don't see the point in writing about what I disliked-I do that on twitter instead.

    I think ratings is so age specific, something arty you disliked as a teenager, sometimes you appreciate more as a 30-year-old? And also the other way around, you might love a trashy movie as a kid, yet realize as an adult what all the flaws were.
    I see we both thought Tree of Life was great ( :