Too Much Cinema Movie Ratings: What do they mean?

Be warned! This is a very self indulgent post where I try to standardize the  movie ratings I give. This is to not only give an idea to the readers but  to maintain consistency in how I rate movies. I believe all movies of a certain ratings (say 6) should be superior to those with lower one(like 5 and below)

Everyone who watches movies rates them in their own way. Some may just rate them simply good or bad while others may call them Great, good , ok, poor and horrible or in similar other notations, to each his own. It gets complicated when you write about movies and you want to give a rating. Ratings are quite important for any audience cos they give a quick idea of how good the product is. There are ratings all over, right from electrical appliances to censor board ratings to chess player or cricket team ratings. Movies are no different. 

The ratings make life simpler for the reviewer/critic and the reader/audience in the same way. When one watches or read about  hundreds of movies every year an easy way to categorize them and recall for recommendations or any other purpose is by giving it a rating. For example I could make a list like 'my movies in 2009' because I rated them all in imdb and archived them in an excel sheet. Call me a geek but without doing so it would be virtually impossible to track the couple of hundred movies I saw last year.

When I started loving movies, writing about them and rating them seemed the logical next step. Since then(almost 6 years now) I have been trying to find the perfect rating system. Each and every critics have their own. Ebert and Siskel used the thumbs up/down method, while Ebert gives a 4 star rating. Lots of publications especially the newspapers use a 5 pointer or 5 star system. Even some podcasts I know like filmspotting uses the latter. Some sites like Yahoo, AV club give an alphabetical grading system. Aggregation sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic use a 100 point score. However the one I always chose was the 1-10 ratings system as you find in IMDB. Each of the selections made sense to the reviewer or publication because of the way they approached the rating.


IMDB is the mother of all movie knowledge for movie buffs like me and as I began to rate movies there it seemed best to maintain a consistency all over. Now the challenge was to create a definition to the scale. I explored various ratings like mentioned above and even seeked inputs from ratings from various other industries like music and electronics. I found a good one at CNET but the best one was at WIRED. This one was itself built using the game review and tech review ratigns guide. It reinforced the system I had indigenously made and gave it clarity by using tried and tested words of wisdom. So here I reproduce verbatim and my own annotations because they were exactly what I was trying to make.

1 Abysmal

The perfect storm of artistic wretchedness. Horrible in every way, from script and direction to cinematography and on-screen performances. A production so boring or revolting that it’s nearly impossible to watch to the end.
This movie is a complete failure in every way. These movies make me puke.



2 Terrible

With almost no redeeming qualities, you’d be better off waiting till the one or two worthwhile scenes in this production show up on YouTube.
It is usually unbearable and obviously I suggest not to watch it. EVER.


3 Poor

Not even the most devoted genre fans would argue: This is a bad piece of work. The production isn’t fun, even for a second, although it might be interesting to some people for one reason or another.
Overall it is a pain and the downsides far outweigh the rare good moments.


4 Mediocre

Noticeably worse than what we consider a  run-of-the-mill production, the overall experience is disappointing, even though we might actually have been entertained for a few minutes by scene-stealing special effects or a compelling cameo.
These movies are just about bearable only if you watch out from the corner of your eye and dont pay any attention.


5 Average

Your run-of-the-mill entertainment experience. Genre devotees would give this a 6 or maybe a 7 on a good day, but even they would have to acknowledge that undeniable flaws keep it from standing out from the crowd. A couple of good scenes or genuine laughs barely make up for the overall mediocrity of the production.
They are bearable, recommended with reservations if you have nothing else to watch or cant take anything heavier.

6 Good

A score of 6, while displeasing to some, is still an above-average rating. Maybe there’s a great plot that’s undermined by poor acting; maybe it’s a beautiful production with bouts of shockingly bad dialogue. We could see recommending this to genre fans, but not to everyone.
Its strengths slightly outweigh its weaknesses, making it good for most uses but not a standout. These movies are good to pass time.

7 Very Good

This is a very good score, two full notches above average. Genre fans will likely enjoy this work and put up with its minor issues in exchange for a relatively solid piece of entertainment. Maybe it’s got one huge flaw that hurts it, but it’s still quite good.
They are quite enjoyable but not really reaching out for long term memorability. Very good but not quite great as they put it.

8 Excellent

Minor flaws drag the score down, but not by much. It’s still a stellar work, but too many missteps drag down the experience (at least a little). This is the cutoff point at which we might not recommend this title to someone who’s not already a fan of the genre. True believers might give this a
10, but everybody else will be less enthusiastic
They are very enjoyable and memorable experiences which often leave you thinking.

9 Spectacular

An amazing show; its only flaw is that it isn’t a groundbreaking work of genius. We’ve seen movies or shows just like it before, but this is too entertaining to get anything lower. Recommended even to people who aren’t fans of the genre
They leave you enthralled and nearly flawless. Watch them now!

10 Perfect

We might be able to point out a couple of niggling flaws, but the experience is so entrancing overall that it just doesn’t matter. Very few works will get this rating, which is reserved for truly brilliant, groundbreaking works.
These are the movies which just blow you away and impact one strongly. They achieve metaphysical perfection.

All ratings are in integers and there is no scope for decimal ratings like 7.2 or 6.5. They are rounded off to the greatest integer less than rating. Though there might be a different in quality all movies which seem better than 7 but not 8-worth are given a rating of 7.

P.S: Moving to this exact definition of ratings there is a slight tweak I made recently to ratings as they were far too many movies accumulated at the 8 spot. Giving the same ratings for movies like Invictus and The Blind Side as Synecdoche New York and My Fair lady seems wrong. So I moved down all other ratings a notch and created a new 7. All this is too geeky and you shouldnt bother.

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2 comments:

The Sentinel said...

I remember you asked me how I rate with the decimal point et al once. This is what I also think, more or less.

Nikita Banerjee said...

Interesting!