(This is an older article. It would be better if you read the new one.)
When I first started rating movies, and I gave “The Force Awakens” a 6 out of 10, a few people immediately got mad at me because they thought I was giving it a “D” or a 60%.
Later, when I gave Finding Dory a 5 out of 10, some people wondered why I gave it that, assuming that I brandished the film with an “F”.
I can understand the thinking; a lot of people probably think I’m measuring movies the way teachers measure grades. But that’s not what I’m doing at all, and if I was doing that, then I would use the Letter Grade System that I see other reviewers do. No, I rate movies out of 10 because, in my opinion, it’s the perfect balance between being precise without abandoning variety, and general without having too many options. And even then, it appears some people get confused on what each rating means.
So, as specific as I can be, I will go through each rating and, in broad terms, what they all mean.
1 out of 10 (An Absolute Horrendous Monstrosity of a Movie)
It is extremely hard for me to ever give a movie a 1 out of 10. In order for me to hand out this rating, I would have to hate everything about it without exception. The plot, the characters, the execution of events, nearly every aspect has to be horrible with no visible redeemable qualities to justify its existence.
Every other rating provides some room for enjoyment, even a 2 out of 10.
There are plenty of movies that I have watched that I hated, but I found some sort of reasonable entertainment value from it (be it intentional or not). If a movie even presents just a sliver of value, it is almost immediately disqualified from being a 1 out of 10.
2 out of 10 (A (Mostly) Horrendous Monstrosity of a Movie)
A 2 out of 10 is reserved for movies that have somehow saved themselves from the depths of the worst rating possible, but not by much.
A perfect example of a 2 out of 10 was Turbo Kid. I hate that movie. Everything about it was wretched to the very core, and all the while, it was begging for you to take it seriously (which made it worse). However, when the action scenes occurred, and there was an insurmountable amount of gore (to the point of absolute ridiculousness), I found it somewhat charming. I don’t know if my brain was just looking for something to enjoy, but I found myself laughing hysterically at the gore, and I couldn’t condemn it as a 1 out of 10.
Now every once in a while, a 2 out of 10 could be a movie that is “so bad that it’s good”. Gods of Egypt was a boring nightmare, but quite a bit of the line delivery was so unintentionally hilarious that I enjoyed the experience anyway.
The same thing happens with Sleeping Beauty (2014); everything in the movie screams low-budget and bottom-of-the-barrel. However, it somehow became part of the charm to where I was enjoying myself.
Both movies are still so horrible in a painful way, but they still get a 2 out of 10 because I found something to like.
3 out of 10 (A Movie so Bad it Cannot Possibly be Recommendable)
This rating is designed to be used often (in fact, it’s my second most used rating). A 3 out of 10 is a film that is simply terrible, but they’re not quite belligerently broken. Broken is in the 1-2 range.
However, just because they’re not broken does not mean that they are recommendable either. A 3 movie is one that is bad that you’re pulling your hair out, but it’s not quite so bad that it breaks the perpetual-fart-of-a-movie sound barrier.
A 3 out of 10 is not the worst girlfriend you’ve ever had… but she’s probably the second worst… I don’t know if I’m making sense.
Looking at all of my movies that I rated a 3 out of 10, I can say that the common element between all of them is that at one point, the movie tends to break apart narratively. A 3 out of 10 tends to be a movie that sacrifices all story and logic to make a bunch of unfunny jokes (like The Boss, Bridget Jones’ Baby, or Bad Moms), or to make an emotional connection that is extraordinarily unfitting (like The 5th Wave, The Choice, or Allegiant).
Now there are some 3 out of 10 movies that are enjoyable, but they are enjoyable despite the terribleness that is there entire experience (like Independence Day: Resurgence or The Purge: Election Year).
4 out of 10 (Below Average)
A 4 out of 10 is a bad movie that does not quite hit a point of bad to where I was constantly angry.
Yes, Blair Witch was tiresome, cliche, and filled with cheap jump scares, but I was never furious with the movie, just slightly irritated.
Yes, Zootopia was filled with cheap animal puns, cliche story elements, and half-assed metaphors about racism, but there were also some charming elements, decent animation, and the voice acting was okay.
Sure, Now You See Me 2 was absolutely unoriginal with irritatingly bland characters and twists trying so hard to impress you that you couldn’t help but role your eyes, but the magic tricks were cool, and they don’t necessarily do anything that completely abominable.
Basically, 4 out of 10 movies would have been average, but they had just enough elements to be less.
5 out of 10 (Average)
As with 3 out of 10, a 5 out of 10 is designed to be used often; it is my third most often used rating. A 5 out of 10 really only fits into two different categories:
The first category are movies that are extremely mediocre. There was never a point where the movie was good, but there’s really never a point where the movie was bad either. Hands of Stone and Pete’s Dragon are both examples of these kind of movies. Both of these movies never got to the point where I wanted to scream in anger, but I also never wanted to applaud the movie either. They essentially took no risks and therefore receive no rewards or rebukes. Star Trek Beyond is a perfect example of this. Holy crap the movie was so bland that it irritated me, but it wasn’t the blandness that got me fuming about the movie, it’s that people were praising this movie when all it did was just be a generic action movie with nothing else to offer.
The second category are movies that are a near even amount of entertainment and annoyance. Whereas the first category is like sitting on a seesaw that never moves, the second category is a seesaw that violent goes up and down. Ghostbusters (2016) was thankfully a movie that wasn’t horrendous… but boy did it have it’s moments where I wanted to scream at the movie for being so lazy… but there were other points where I was laughing and having a good time. In the end, I had to cut it down the middle.
6 out of 10 (Above Average)
A 6 out of 10 is typically a movie that was able to break through mediocrity into somewhat impressive territory, but it never gets to the point of recommendation. It’s basically a 5 out of 10 with a bit of flare.
That’s not to say that 6 out of 10 aren’t enjoyable movies, but I was never quite on board for the whole experience.
Now every once in a while, I find a really well made movie that SHOULD receive a higher grade, but the movie never goes anywhere of real substance, and I can’t justify giving it a higher grade. Hail, Caesar! was an example of this, but the biggest one that people still talk about is The Witch. Both of these movies are well shot, well acted, and well made, but at the end of the day, I just sit down and think “What was even the point of this movie?”
Now, with Hail, Caesar!, I think I may just need to see that movie again, but The Witch was not quite as narratively intricate: it’s just some family who gets the hell kicked out of them. What’s more to understand? What’s the point?
7 out of 10 (A Solid Recommendation)
Finally, we get to the point where I can comfortably recommend a movie.
This is the final grade that is designed for frequent use; 7 out of 10 is my most used grade, and it will probably always be my most used grade provided Hollywood doesn’t lobotomize itself further.
Personally, I don’t believe that all movies should strive to be a 10 out of 10… they should strive to be at least a 7.
Typically, a 7 out of 10 has little to nothing irritating about the movie at all, but if it does, then the benefits of the movie far surpass the flaws. If I give something a 7 out of 10 or higher, I am basically giving my recommendation.
8 out of 10 (Exceptional)
If a movie gets an 8 out of 10 or higher, this typically means that it is something that goes beyond recommendation. It’s not just a good movie; there are parts of it that are exceptionally unique. 8 out of 10 movies often have that extra effort that really benefits the viewer.
At this point, an 8 out of 10 movie has very little flaws to it, but it’s of course possible for an 8 out of 10 to have flaws provided that it does not tamper with the uniqueness of the film and the benefits still far surpass the flaws.
However, an 8 out of 10 COULD theoretically be a perfectly made movie… it doesn’t happen often, but just because there are no flaws in a movie doesn’t meant that a movie is a 10 out of 10, but it’s an 8 out of 10 at the very least.
9 out of 10 (A Grand Experience)
9 out of 10 movies are ones that constantly drew me in. They are almost never boring, but if they are, the boring spaces are few and far between, and they more than make up for it in their execution.
A 9 out of 10 is a great movie that easily does the following:
- Is extremely cinematographically sound (the shots, the animation, the dialogue, all is exceptional).
- Is consistently entertaining
- Is thought provoking and/or emotionally moving (without becoming preachy)
If I can barely find any flaws, if I can say the movie had me hooked, and if I was intrigued by the movie, then it fits into the 9 out of 10 category.
10 out of 10 (A Masterpiece Worthy of Remembrance)
Every single time I’m tempted to give a movie a 10 out of 10, I constantly try to make arguments as to why the movie shouldn’t receive that grade. I ponder giving this grade for a long time, because I don’t think one’s highest grade should be taken lightly.
Oftentimes, a few 9 out of 10 movies were, at one point, a 10 out of 10, but then I found a reason for not giving it that grade.
I take this grade very seriously. I have only given two movies I’ve reviewed on my website a 10 out of 10, and only one of these movies was 2016.
A 10 out of 10 movie is something that I cannot find anything objectively wrong with, and if I can, then the benefits must eclipse the flaw(s).
A 10 out of 10 movie fits all the requirements of a 9 out of 10, but does so in a way that goes above and beyond. A 10 out of 10 movie is one that makes me overcome with emotion, makes me wish I could see it again, and makes me completely satisfied with the entire experience.
Small Things to Keep in Mind
- I don’t consider disagreeing with a movie politically, philosophically, religiously, etc. a flaw. There are movies that I disagree with in virtually every single rating I could possibly give. Yes, even 1 out of 10 and 10 out of 10. If a movie makes me politically or religiously angry, it MUST be in a way that’s grossly and intentionally mischaracterizing in order for me to consider it a flaw, and even then, a movie MUST have other justifiable flaws before I give it a bad rating.
- The subject matter does not factor into the rating. The movie could be about murderers, meat eaters, morbidly obese muppets, or Mormons, and as long as the movie is interesting, intriguing, and well developed, then the movie gets a fair shot.
- Comedies get judged for ALL of its elements, not just laughs. Horror movies get judged for ALL of its elements, not just scares. Romances get judged for ALL of its elements, not just the love story. Children’s movies get judged for ALL of its elements because I’m not a damn child. And so on…
Hope this clarifies things. Thanks for reading.