Sunday, 5 June 2011

Intermission: Slut ratings... explained!

It’s marks out of ten - how hard can it be, right?! Well, lest I appear unduly harsh - and I've been challenged on this a few times by friends - I thought I’d give a wee breakdown of what it means exactly to get ten (or zero) out of ten.
There are eleven possible marks then, from zero to ten, and I’ll run through them in ascending order:
0/10: not only is this film dull/stupid/unentertaining/shoddily-made, it has no redeeming features whatsoever and, furthermore, is actively offensive. As with the top rating, this can be quite a personal category – for example, both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones would receive this mark from me. Less controversial examples would include Sex and the City 2 and this year's Just Go With It.
1/10: a very, very poor film. Probably as 0/10, though perhaps not as offensive, or maybe there’s a single scene or performance that precludes the film from the lowest mark. The Dilemma fell squarely into this category.
2/10:  One to avoid. Not the worst film, just sub-standard dreck that isn't worth anyone's time or money. Even it is well-intentioned, the film is deeply, deeply flawed. An example might be Clint Eastwood's disastrous Hereafter.
3/10: Bad, but in an unremarkable way. There are probably one or two redeeming features – a good score perhaps, or joke or two that hit the mark. If you’re passionate about the genre or perhaps one of the individuals involved, then it might be worth seeing – but prepare to be disappointed. Examples from this year include Paul, Hall Pass and Season of the Witch.
4/10: Multiplex mediocrity or dull arthouse failure. It’s certainly possible to sit through the film, but don’t expect to be particularly entertained, moved or amused. Worth seeing only if there's nothing else better or, as with the 3/10s, if you happen to be a big fan of a director, actor or the genre in general. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is the mark I've given most frequently over the year so fear, with nearly a quarter of all films receiving a 4/10. Films that epitomise the rating include Pirates 4, The Rite and Fast & Furious Five.
5/10: An OK film, it may be an unimaginative but competent genre offering (e.g. I Am Number Four) or a movie with higher aspirations that is flawed yet noble (e.g. Black Swan). Probably worth seeing if the genre is your cup of tea or if the subject mater piques your interest.
6/10: A decent effort, worth a look. 6/10 films are well-crafted, entertaining yet ultimately forgettable - like The Next Three Days or Rio; or they may have higher ideas that don't quite work out - but an worthwhile viewing experience still remains, as with Barney's Version.
7/10: A good film. Not one for the ages, perhaps, but good solid entertainment that is well made and solidly performed. The story is compelling and probably quite original, or least has original elements that elevate it above the morass. From this year The Fighter, Attack the Block and Source Code are good examples.
8/10: An excellent film, something that has really extraordinary elements and is entertaining, profound and substantial. If it’s a genre piece, it will be something that stands out as a classic of its kind (e.g. Back to the Future, Gremlins, or Four Weddings and a Funeral) - The King's Speech and 13 Assassins qualify from this year. Alternatively it may be a kind of ‘flawed masterpiece’, i.e. there are elements of the film that would lift it up to a 10/10, but it is problematic in other ways. Apocalypse Now is a good example of this.
9/10: A tour de force, likely to be considered a classic. Examples might include The Shining, City of God or Fargo. If it’s a genre piece, it transcends to stand simply as a superb piece of film-making and could be seen as the pinnacle of the craft – perhaps Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Lord of the Rings trilogy or Airplane!. Only Animal Kingdom and Senna have achieved this rating so far in 2011
10/10: An all-time great, as close to flawless as a film can get. Examples would be The Godfather, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest or Chinatown. This is probably the most personal and controversial category in which to place a movie. No films from 2011 have achieved this rating (so far)
Of course, there will be some films that are quite hard to fit into this framework (Le Quattro Volte springs to mind), so do take these definitions fairly loosely. Hopefully this illustrates why the marks I give might seem a bit harsh - they aren't really, it's a just a sliding scale that allows for the very best at the top and the very worst at the bottom

16 comments:

  1. I tried to do this once, ended up spending ten paragraphs explaining what a rating actually means.... suffice to say, I didn't get my point across. Nice ratings though!

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  2. Cheers! I got some stick at a party recently about how apparently harsh my ratings are, so felt I had to explain myself...

    I just want to be able to give all-time classics their due. I mean, if you've give ten-on-ten to, say, The Two Towers, where do you go when you're faced with Raging Bull?

    (Actually, I'm not that big a fan of Raging Bull, but you see what I mean.)

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