What My Ratings Really Mean

I know rating systems are dumb. But they’re an attempt to quantify some sort of standard of comparison by measuring a critic’s opinions with a sliding scale.

Perhaps every critic feels this way, but I am honestly proud of the way my film rating scores relate to one another. Naturally, I think my ratings are “accurate” in relation to one another and according to my own tastes, but I am not foolish enough to believe that something so subjective as my opinionated value judgment of a film’s quality has any universal relevance or application for anyone. And yet, here I am, taking my ratings and myself way too seriously…

So, that brings me back to acknowledging again that rating systems are dumb. But I don’t care. Here’s what mine means:

0.5 to 4.5 Avoid — If a movie falls in the 0.5 to 4.5 range, then it’s definitely an avoid, meaning, I see no reason for you to ever watch that film. Ever.
A Few Examples:
1 = The Last Exorcism Part II
3 = G.I. Joe: Retaliation
4.5 = The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

5 to 5.5 Low-Priority Rental — This ranges means the film is a low-priority rental, which means, if you never get around to it or forget about it, then no big loss. Really, these are movies you’d only rent if there were no better options, or you already had some interest in seeing them. Perhaps they feature your favorite actor, director or property.
5 = Seven Psychopaths
5.5 = Gangster Squad

6 to 6.5 Good Rental — In my estimation, the average movie (the apex of the Bell Curve) is a 6, and a 6.5 is above average. These are good, solid rentals, meaning, if you rent a movie with this rating, you will be sufficiently pleased.
6 = Real Steel
6.5 = Olympus Has Fallen

7 to 7.5 Definite Rental — The priority rentals start at the 7 to 7.5 range. These are movies that you’ll definitely enjoy, and should definitely see at some point. And these films are particularly special oddities because they rise above what’s average and fall just barely below greatness. Even so, these are very good movies and could even be considered for purchase by some collectors.
7 = Safety Not Guaranteed
7.5 = The Perks of Being a Wallflower

8 to 10 Must-See Right Away / Go to the Theater / Buy it! — Movies that hit this range are take-it-to-the-bank, sure-bet, golden picks! Movies in the 8 to 10 range are those that you must see before you die. And if you’re a movie collector, these should be found in your personal library. Sometimes a film with hit this range because it’s “an important film,” such as the documentary “Bully” (2011).
8 = Bully (2011)
8.5 = Flight
9 = Oblivion
9.5 = The Wrestler

10 Masterpiece — And, of course, a 10-rated film is a Masterpiece.
10 = Se7en
10 = The Imposter


2 thoughts on “What My Ratings Really Mean

  1. It’s good to know that you rate on 6 as an average rating. I know some people who use 7 (like school grades) as an average and I personally see 5 (equally between 0 & 10, although I guess you could argue for 5.5 if you don’t give 0’s) as average. This just forces me to use the entire scale, plus I use flickchart, I know it’s pedestrian but I think it makes it easier to truly place a film where it belongs. That way I give the worst films I’ve seen a 0.5 instead of a 2. Are there worse? Probably. But if a film is the worst I’ve seen… I’m not losing sleep over giving it a 0.5.

  2. And dude, for any True cinephile, the original Scarface is definitely a big deal if you don’t see it. This is where I think you need to not worry so much about your listeners who are Michael Bay’s greatest fans. Your top rating is for masterpieces. I think that certainly could be used to describe Howard Hawk’s Scarface.

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