How I rate movies

2 minute read

I realized the other day that I’ve never explained the rating system I use for movies. It’s not all that critical, most people have a general understanding of the difference between 1/10 and 10/10. But I’ve noticed some subtle differences in rating systems over the years, especially online, so thought I’d explain how mine works.

Disclaimer: my ratings are entirely subjective and I don’t expect you to agree with either my system or where I rate movies, I’m just putting this up so you have some idea what it means when I say a 3/10 or 6/10.

As an example of online ratings that annoy me, Netflix has these values for it’s 5-star ratings:

  1. Hated it
  2. Didn’t like it
  3. Liked it
  4. Really liked it
  5. Loved it

And GoodReads has these values for it’s 5-star ratings:

  1. did not like it
  2. it was ok
  3. liked it
  4. really liked it
  5. it was amazing

Both of these examples skew towards a positive review. Also there are some pretty huge gaps, especially in the Netflix system where it jumps from “Didn’t like it” to “Liked it” when going from 2-3. And I’m going to be pretty hard pressed to invest so much emotional energy in media that I’ll describe my feeling as “Hated it”, so on Netflix I reintrepret one star as “do not want”.

This is probably one of the reasons I’ve always like ranking movies on IMDB TMDB - it just has numbers from 1-10 and doesn’t layer any specific expectations on what exactly that means, you’re left to interpret it yourself.

Here’s how my rating system basically works. I’m presenting it in the context of movies, but it can be adjusted to whatever medium.

  1. Wow, that was really awful, I will actively avoid and advocate others do as well
  2. I will never get that time back, actively avoid in future
  3. Bad, but with a redeeming point or two
  4. Pretty bad, but with multiple redeeming points
  5. So, that was a thing – ambivalent, no strong positive or negative feelings
  6. Pretty good, but with some bad points
  7. Good, am willing to watch again for some compelling reason
  8. Quite good, will be happy to watch again
  9. Very well done, will choose to watch in future if it comes up
  10. So good, I actively seek out opportunities to enjoy again, and advocate others try it

A few examples of each based on my TMDB history:

  1. Disaster Movie, Superbad (sorry, I really didn’t like it)
  2. Elektra, Rollerball
  3. Twilight, Battleship, Transformers: Age of Extinction
  4. The Da Vinci Code, The Core, Fantastic Four (2005)
  5. Cloverfield, Pearl Harbor, Pitch Black
  6. Minority Report, Thor: The Dark World, Die Hard 2
  7. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Transformers, Hudson Hawk (shut up, I like it)
  8. The Avengers, Spaceballs, All the President’s Men
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy, Sneakers, The Professional
  10. Blade Runner, Brazil, The Big Kahuna

There are a lot fewer movies in the lower rankings because frequently I’ll just stop watching in the middle if it’s not worth my time, and then either don’t feel justified rating it or can’t be bothered. And I’m likely to just skip a movie entirely if I hear it’s really bad from someone whose opinion I trust.

So, that’s it for now. Feel free to discuss below, and I’ll return to my backlog of reviews!