How I Rate Movies

I may write pretty well, but I don’t have as dense an education about movies as I’d like to or as professionals out there do. I’m guessing here that I’m like many other audiences in that the movies I go to the theater to see, the store to rent or my couch to stream, are ones I think I’m going to like (or ones I’m at least interested in for reasons not limited to them being nominated for some award). Ultimately, those are the ones I, more often than not, end up reviewing on this website.

Over time, I’ve grown tired of trying to rate a movie out of four stars in the traditional sense, one reason for that being that, sometimes, what I rated it somehow didn’t reflect what I’d written in my post (i.e. how much or how little I enjoyed it) because, subconsciously, my analysis of it could be separate from the very black-and-white star rating that felt like it had to be so official. So, this summer, I rethought my process. How could I strip away the pressure of those four stars, while keeping the general function of them? They were still the symbols I wanted to use to tag a movie (I don’t think I could ever go to some out-of-10 rating system). So, I thought of a probably not-so-unique idea. Rather than rating movies based on some perceived professional, historical scale, I should rate them based on how much I personally enjoyed them. In that way, for example, a movie that gets 1-1/2 stars isn’t necessarily a bad movie; rather, it’s a movie I didn’t enjoy as much as others. But that 1-1/2 star movie could still win an Oscar.

Who needs one more person trying to create a new way to tell the world that this potential Oscar winner is perfect in every way, when everyone else has already done that? As one music writer I talked to recently said, “That’ll drive you crazy.” My reviews should be about my experience with the movie, in my words, rather than stressing myself out to frame an analysis I don’t necessarily believe or to end it by giving the movie a star rating that feels disconnected from everything I said in the preceding paragraphs.

I consider all the movies on my shelves at home to be greats; I bought them, after all. A movie I throughly enjoy rewatching is a good movie, in my mind. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that’s how I should’ve been rating them all along.

Here’s the scale:

★★★★  =  Gonna be rewatching it forever
★★★ 1/2  =  Wished I saw it sooner
★★★  =  Happy customer
★★ 1/2  =  No regrets … Chalk it up to continuing education
★★  =  It could’ve waited
> ★ 1/2  =  I’ll never get those two hours back*

*At or below 1-1/2 stars, there’d be so little difference I’d just be picking hairs. In fact, I love movies so much that rarely am I ever so peeved by one that it gets any worse than that. But, maybe, in the future, a more in-depth negative scale will develop.