Grading System

I use a 1-to-9 rating system that I developed a few years ago, after several years of trying to squeeze my opinions into the awkward four-stars-including-half-stars paradigm that many professional movie critics adhere to. I don’t use this system to be contrarian, or because I consider myself above convention, but simply because it works for me — and since I have no boss or editor, I’m free to do as I please.

Please note: it is not 1 to 9 because 10 implies perfection and no movie is perfect. It is 1 to 9 because, in my sincere and long-reflected-on opinion, there are exactly nine distinct grades of movie quality — no more, no less. You’re free to disagree, of course, but if you do, you’re wrong.

The scale runs thusly:

1 — execrable (utterly without redeeming qualities; detestable or reprehensible)

2 — lousy (not appalling, but with virtually nothing to recommend it)

3 — bad (far from wretched, but equally far from good; has its points, but not nearly enough)

4 — weak (nearly good, with many fine qualities, but ultimately a miss)

5 — decent (enjoyable but flawed; worth seeing if you have a special interest in the creators or the material)

6 — solid (strong, well-crafted, and worthwhile, but not of exceptional interest)

7 — excellent (accomplished and interesting; falling short of greatness, but thoroughly above mediocrity)

8 — superb (a film one could comfortably call “great; entertaining, distinctive, and fully realized)

9 — sublime (priceless, enchanting — the film that makes all the rest worthwhile)

If I’m using the scale correctly, there should be very few 1’s, very few 9’s, and quite a lot of each other grade (with the caveat that I don’t generally see films I expect to dislike). The scale does get extra-subjective at either end, but I can live with that.

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Published on March 1, 2010 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

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