How I Rate the Movies

Rating movies couldn’t be any more subjective, personal, and inconsistent. One thing is for sure – a “great” movie doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a “favorite” movie. I mean, my favorite bad movie is Weekend at Bernie’s (for obvious reasons), but I won’t be seeing the great Gone with the Wind again because it will take two years to finish. Below is a brief description of a ratings system I’ve been using since 1999, even with its personal flaws:

The ***** star film is legendary, breaking ground for all of its successors. Even though it’s not one of my “favorite” movies, we would not be where we are cinematically without Citizen Kane (and nothing can top the drama genre like The Godfather)

****1/2 might have borrowed from its ancestors, but it’s still original and rewatchable (and re-livable) like Groundhog Day. And, does anyone else like Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, or is it really just me?

**** is that imperfect but beloved movie we go to for nostalgic purposes and escape. Sometimes, I’ll clean the house with Moneyball in the background. Or, if I need a laugh from the past, I turn to Dumb and Dumber. My latest **** surprise was The Invisible Man (2020).

***1/2 is simply more than a demographic target and more than a genre definer. It goes a little further, like Wayne’s World, Mission: Impossible III, or either of the recent FyreFraud docs.

*** is what I give most movies: It hits the genre, audience, and box office numbers target. It’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, The Equalizer 2, and The Old Man & the Gun.

**1/2 references Siskel & Ebert as it just misses a solid “thumbs up.” It’s audacious but too flawed for both thumbs (The Fisher King is a perfect example; heck, anything by Terry Gilliam).

** is worthy of its intentions, but no. From Hudson Hawk to Hostel, I’m better off forgetting than remembering.

*1/2 (read my review of Long Shot).

Anything a * or below is why we’d rather stab a fork into our kneecap: The Village, Freddy Got Fingered, anything Transformers.

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