What are the prime aspects you look at when thinking out your opinion of a particular film? What aspects you pay attention to when reviewing it or giving it a grade? And, why? What grade scale do you usually use to state your rating for the film?
Finally, do you consider other external information (such as director’s remarks, development & production info, critics’ reception) about the film before viewing/grading it? Does this information have a great impact on your final verdict?
I don’t think about these things consciously necessarily as I’m watching a film, because I like to stay open and be in a more “lucid” state as I take in the film, rather than distracting myself by nitpicking ect. BUT in general….
First off in general how do I feel after the film? (Good, bad, enlightened, garbage trucked, ect.)
Then if you feel compelled you can get specific about “the big three”:
How was the Filmmaking? (Photography, camera work, editing, sound design, music, ect.)
How was the Script? (Story, scenario, structure, dialogue, characters, concept, ect.)
How was the Acting? (Performances.)
My roommate Tonda and I use a 10 point rating scale that looks something like this….
1 – Worst Movie Ever – Very “painfully bad”. Will prob leave a scar, I’ll wince in pain and feel like vomiting at the mere mention of this title.
2 – Pretty Bad – Terrible film, also painful, but more boring painful less “I want to die” painful.
3 – Forgettable – Not good. No “notes”, can’t really find anything positive to say about the film. Not “the worst” or anything… just a total blank, its gone from your mind immediately.
4- Not Justified – Also not good, but there were maybe one or two elements that were decent. Maybe the photography was excellent, or it had a performance that really worked, or some cool music. Generally not “worth” the two hours you spent to watch it though, and you would prob. avoid seeing this film a second time.
5 – Bottom Tier – Decent. Maybe a couple minor notes, and one BIG thing about it that I really liked. Flawed, but has enough going for it that it overcomes the flaws. You don’t regret seeing a 5, and aren’t necessarily opposed to seeing it a second time. Still not quite a “good” film, but an OK film.
6 – Mid Tier – A good film. Now we’re talking. This is exciting. Still maybe has a misstep or two, but on the whole it’s an all around “quality” piece of filmmaking. You feel good after seeing these and you actively will recommend this film to others. You will watch this again.
7 – Mid/high Tier – Completely solid through and through, no missteps. This film is very good, you could easily see it making it on the bottom half of your top 10 of the year. You will watch this film once every couple of years for the rest of your life.
8 – High Tier – Amazing. In contention for best film of the year. Your heart skips a beat at the mere thought of this film, it has a very special meaning and power for you. A film you will actively champion, love, and treasure forever.
9 – Top Tier – Now we are going all time. Near perfection, best film of the year not close. 9’s are often times 10s that you’ve only seen once or twice. Could easily be a 10, but need to get one or two more viewings in of it to be sure. They don’t have words for films this good, these are something else, something divine.
10 – Highest Tier – The face of god. Could be the best film ever made. Complete, sublime perfection. Best thing ever, what can you really say? You live for these films.
I adamantly avoid spoilers and try not to read anything about the film before I see it. I don’t listen to commentary tracks. I prefer to keep the “mystery” alive about films, I’d rather not know what is “behind the curtain”, because once you know… then the thing is dead. Can’t have that!
Since I am studying acting, performances play a huge part in my movie review and appreciation..
Axelumog, interesting. I wonder if you ever gave 1 to any film you’ve seen. And, what would be your examples of films worthy 10?
Well, we’ve ranked almost 1500 films thus far, and we’ve given out 22 10/10’s and only 7 1/10’s, for whatever that’s worth. I think this thread is more about “ranking systems” and less about specific films, so not sure if we really “want to go there” buuut… you can check out everything we’ve seen and ranked on criticker here, feel free to pass judgement ;)
Overall impression. Any specific criteria you try to apply will have too many exceptions, it’s all about how the film works together as a whole.
For me something along the line of:
9-10: Elite/all time quality
4: Acceptable/mixed positive and negative
Axelumog, thanks for the reply. Had I known you had that many, I wouldn’t have asked, so I apologize.
In grading films I use a more casual standard of whether or not as a surface entertainment (this does not exclude artistic depth nor favor mainstream commercialism) I respond with amusement (this does not preclude dramatic materials) or interest. In criticizing a film, the criteria is far more detailed and stringent. I generally find grading films whether through star or numerical systems an amusing parlor game but one without lasting value, nor would I wish my ultimate judgments on a film to be determined by this process. Again, in-depth criticism (as opposed to reviewing) is my preferred way to go.
I agree with Axelumog’s first comment.
What are the prime aspects you look at when thinking out your opinion of a particular film? What aspects you pay attention to when reviewing it or giving it a grade? And, why?
First let me say that there are two ways I can evaluate a film: 1) whether I personally enjoyed the film or not; 2) whether I think the film is good or not. Sometimes the two judgments overlap, but sometimes they don’t.
I’m going to focus primarily on #2 when answering your questions. The first and most important question I involves determining what the film is really about and what it’s trying to do. I’m talking about getting to the core of the film, maybe even the central theme. In other words, I really want to understand the film on its own terms and understand it well.
Did the film succeed it what it set out for itself is the next question I ask. If the answer is yes, I want to know how well the film succeeded.
Why do I evaluate a film this way? Well, I don’t think one can fairly or accurately evaluate a film without really getting a good understanding of it. That may sound ridiculously obvious, but I think many people (including myself) tend to react to a film before really trying to understand what the film was about and what it was trying to accomplish. We often care about whether we personally liked the film or not over whether the film succeeded in what it set out for itself. Personally, I don’t think we can really evaluate a film without understanding it and evaluating it on its own terms—not if we want to evaluate it in a more “objective” sense.)
What grade scale do you usually use to state your rating for the film?
I use a 0-100 scale. This seems complicated and ridiculous, but I think it’s pretty simple. Basically, it’s a ten point scale, with the number in the one’s place “commenting” on the number in the ten’s place. For example, a 78 is basically a 7 (out of 10). The “8” signifies a very strong 7. You can also think of it as a film that is almost an 80, but not quite. What distinguishes a 78 from a 79? Not much. In the case of the second digit, I think of it as a kind of “applause-o-meter”—a gauge that represents how strongly I feel.
You can read more about my rating on my profile page.
In general, I would say these factors don’t influence my judgment, and I actually don’t get this type of information (or I try to make my judgment before getting this information.) On the other hand, director’s comments can influence my judgment, insofar as it influences the way I understand the questions I asked above.
I enjoy being entertained, so I give a film points for making me laugh and stay tuned throughout. If it is a drama or artier type of flick, I pay more attention to the actors, their faces, and mannerisms and how they serve the story and drive home the power that floors me (the best example being Marlon Brando in either A Streetcar Named Desire or Last Tango in Paris).
If that drama is powerful and interesting enough to make me revisit it, I then pay attention to the camerawork, style, score, and other stuff. Turning on the director’s commentary or a critic/film scholar’s commentary is insightful to the true artistic intentions of the film. Sometimes, they can be so convincing that my score raises.
Highest to lowest
The best movie ever made. Second coming of Citizen Kane. It may be out there and I haven’t seen it, but I have yet to award a film this. There is a God if this film exists!!
A+= 5 stars
Just never ceased to stop satisfying me. Moves me beyond words, and I feel honored having seen in. Stuff like Apocalypse Now, Drive, Casablanca, and 2001, sending the most electrifying shocks down my spine. I do not have a favorite movie of all time, so when you ask me to name it I’ll just take a 5 star movie I have at random and give it to you, that’s how much I love each film I award this rating, and I pray you’ll be as moved by it as I was.
When my faith in cinema and myself lowers, and I feel slighted by the size of the world and the cinematic intelligence others have that surpass mine, I turn to one of these films to show me that we are all in this for the same glorious reason: cinema is the most inspiring medium out there. It makes me love people and life, or hate them.
A= 4 stars
Pretty damn close to A+, but it falls short because of things like brief annoyances or running too long that sometimes come to mind when I think of it. Still a near masterpiece, or a masterpiece I must see again to see how phenomenal it really is.
A-= 4 stars
I loved it, but those annoyances are sometimes glaring and momentarily unforgivable. But like I said, still great.
B+= 3 stars
Really good, but falls short of being something truly memorable.
B= 3 stars
… I don’t feel my time was wasted by it…
B-= 3 stars
Awfully close to being bad, but has enought to make it not the worst thing on the show-times.
C+= 2 stars
It SUCKS, but surprised me by doing something a little decent.
C= 2 stars
C-= 2 stars
Not much different from a regular C, but goes one peg below if it was a film I had hopes for.
F= 1 star
I get nauseous thinking about it. It could be a terribly obnoxious comedy, or a drama thinking its powerful when it’s really manipulative bs.
WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?
The lowest rating. It makes me forget why I love movies and briefly denounce my faith as a cinephile. Sends me to dark places, it does. How are movies like this made? How are they allowed to be made?
I ‘m amazed how seriously people take the activity. it’s not that important or meaningful, especially since you can’t rate it on a scale of 1 to 10.
Hey, pathetic as it may or may not be, film is everything to me so yeah, ranking system = serious business!
whatever floats your boat. but i hope you’re not putting words in my mouth. i never said that adjective you use.
Nope, that was all me, a transparent and desperate attempt to sound “charming” and “self-aware” ;)
Girlfriend In a Coma,
I completely disagree with you. Reviewing and grading films is a very important part of the feedback, acclaim and appreciation films receive, all what makes viewers talk about them for years, decades or even generations.
Now, imagine if we lived in the world that lacked any film criticism other than two options: ‘I liked it’ and ‘I didn’t like it’. Not sure about you, but to me, just like for the most others that adore films, that would be awful. This reality would be too much like what Facebook is doing to virtual dimension in the social context.
If you don’t care about this, then what is your point of: 1. Posting here 2. Thinking of film as more than the medium of entertainment 3. Watching films at all
Don’t you discuss films you watch? Don’t you have opinion about films you watch? Don’t you care about what and why you watch them? If you don’t, then what would be your point of being here and posting in this thread?
My rating scale…..
5 stars – Grade A
4 stars – Grade B
3 stars – Grade C
2 stars – Grade D
1 star – Grade F
So you seem to exclusively watch narrative fiction films and dismiss documentary and experimental?
5 – These films will be with me always to return to again and again, reminding me why I love film
4 – Great, highly recommended
3 – Alright. This can either apply to mildly entertaining/thoughtful films or films I am torn about with both positive and negative factors.
2 – Just bad
1 – Absolutely atrocious, complete lack of redeeming value or morally repugnant.
10 = 5
9 = 5
8 = 4
7 = 4
6 = 3
5 = 3
4 = 2
3 = 2
1 = 1
Because documentary / experimental / non-fiction films don’t contain concepts, they don’t contain any dialogue, they don’t have characters, and they don’t begin with an idea or a string of ideas?
Billy, film criticism cannot be reduced to a five star rating system, so I don’t see your point.
Most documentaries don’t have scripts or acting. A lot of documentaries and experimental films don’t have dialogue or even people in them.
Most documentaries have people in them I would guess, they may not be “actors”, but one could argue they are still extensions of the filmmaker, meant to inspire you to think, feel, laugh, ect… What is an actor if not that? Actor or non Actor, once you turn a camera on someone and they’re aware of it, are they not performing?
I love American Movie strictly for the characters/performances, I think they are of an extremely high caliber, for example. You can be a good film without people or any kind of scenario/narrative of course, it’s possible, you’d just need to have some pretty stellar “technicalities” to make up for it (Koyaanisqatsi, Samsara, ect… even those obviously have people in them and almost even a “narrative”).
As far as documentaries go I’m not in love with the idea of something “strictly informative” so I personally tend to avoid them, but I love American Movie, The Five Obstructions and I also enjoyed Exit Through the Gift Shop quite a bit, fwiw. It is certainly true that the ranking system I use is more geared toward traditional “narrative” style stuff rather than docu/“experimental”, however I’m not sure that it is entirely fair to call it dismissive.
@ GIRLFRIEND IN A COMA
And posting on an internet forum cannot result in a genuinely felt human connection, yet here we are?
@Axelmuog: I am sure that I could agree and disagree with many of your ratings, and as you said, in general we don’t “want to go there”, but I have to mention this one…
1/10 for Muppets Take Manhattan? Seriously? Did you have some traumatic experience that occurred during the Miss Piggy/Joan Rivers makeup fight? :)
Haha, but in general I agree with your system, though I don’t think I have ever given a film a 1/10
There is a special place in hell for those muppets… trust me Captain, best leave those waters unchartered… =D