Thursday, January 04, 2007

New year, new ratings system

I’ve never been all that happy with using the 4-star system of rating films. Most of the time, the middle ratings tend to be overloaded with movies, stuff that’s pretty kind of OK but hardly spectacular. The trouble is that, especially since I’ve tried to be tougher with the higher star ratings, the ** and **1/2 star ratings have become my default for the middle-of-the-road stuff. So finally I’m making a change, not to the Retarded 100 Point Scale™ or back to letter grades, but to a 10-point scale. The added bonus is that the 10-point scale has always translated more naturally to conversation than star ratings- while you always sort of have to explain what the stars represent to people, when you say that a movie is 6 out of 10, most people have a pretty good idea what you mean.

Still, I should probably specify what I mean by each number rating. Because I’m such a nice guy, ya know.

10 => **** (Masterpieces)
9 => ***1/2 (Near-masterpieces)
8 => ***-***1/2 (Highly recommended)
7 => *** (Very good)
6 => **1/2 (Above average)
5 => **1/2 (Worth seeing)
4 => ** (Mediocre)
3 => *1/2-** (Has redeeming facet)
2 => *1/2 (Dire)
1 => * (Worthless)
0 => 0* (Vile, offensive garbage)

For the time being, I’ll try the numerical ratings with new releases only, continuing to rate classics on the 4-star scale, in order to make compiling my retroactive yearly lists easier and not quite so messy.

In the interest of (a) keeping my readership informed of what I’m watching, and (b) not falling behind on my screening log, here’s what I’ve watched in the last week or so.

12/26- % Three Godfathers (1948, John Ford) [***]
% /Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968, William Greaves)/ [***1/2]
12/28- % Vive l’Amour (1994, Tsai Ming-liang) [***]
% /Lawrence of Arabia (1962, David Lean)/ [****]
% Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 2 ½ (2005, William Greaves) [8]
12/29- % /M (1931, Fritz Lang)/ [****]
% Gabrielle (2005, Patrice Chereau) [8]
12/30- % /L’Enfant (2005, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne)/ [8]
# Rocky Balboa (2006, Sylvester Stallone) [4]
# Dreamgirls (2006, Bill Condon) [4]
# Blood Diamond (2006, Edward Zwick) [2]
% /Inside Man (2006, Spike Lee)/ [8]
% /Bubble (2006, Steven Soderbergh)/ [7]
12/31- % Who’s Camus Anyway? (2005, Mitsuo Yanagimachi) [8]
# The History Boys (2006, Nicholas Hytner) [3]
% /Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005, Michael Winterbottom)/ [9]
% /United 93 (2006, Paul Greengrass)/ [8]
1/1- % /The Conformist (1970, Bernardo Bertolucci)/ [***1/2]
# /The Prestige (2006, Christopher Nolan)/ [10]
% /The Black Dahlia (2006, Brian DePalma)/ [8]
1/2- % The Great McGinty (1940, Preston Sturges) [***1/2]
1/3- % /Lorenzo’s Oil (1992, George Miller)/ [***1/2] {remember when this guy used to make awesome, underappreciated live-action films instead of silly animated dancing penguin movies? That was awesome)

More to come, if you're lucky and I'm motivated enough. But don't bet on it, at least not until I get my computer back.


Jason_Alley said...

Yeah, no matter what rating system you choose to work with there's always going to be a little weirdness. I've always like the 4-star system, but it still gets wonky sometimes.

Glad you hated "The History Boys" too. Wow, "The Prestige" is a 10 now?! Cool. Anyway, enjoy those movies I sent - later!

James said...

I just so happened to have posted an explanation of the 5 star ratings system used in my reviews on the same day you posted yours. I never even bothered screwing around with the 4 star method; too little room. Thinking of using the A-F system ala EW or Steve Carlson makes me dizzy!

And The Presitge totally deserves a 10. It'll have a high-spot on my ballot for the as of yet unnamed awards, that's for sure.