How I Rate Films I Watch

How I rate films I watch

First and foremost any and all film ranking system is completely subjective. Someone will always disagree with me. I am okay with this. After watching what many consider the best examples of cinema I have noticed that watching other movies has become a bit slighted. I notice more in films than I had in the past.

This realization led me to wanting to develop a system to personally rate films so I can go back and compare and remember what I may have forgotten. For the most part I am moving forward and not trying to grade something on memory. I am comfortable with this because I know that I will be watching Evil Dead again someday and can rate it then and I know that I will never watch the Street Fighter (the 1992 flick, not the one from the 70’s)  movie, ever, so I really don’t need to have any breakdown of why, it is just bad.

I decided on 15 categories with which I feel comfortable rating how I feel a film performs in each. After a little math I end up with a rating between
1 (Street Fighter) and 10 (I doubt anything will achieve this). If a category does not apply to a film (I. e. Sound in a silent film) it is not
held again the film and the math is modified. So far, after ranking 90 films the highest is Tales of Hoffman (8.9) and the lowest is Histoire(s)
du cinema (3.7) with an average score of 7.2 (keep in mind I have mostly masterworks rated (if I watch Pixels and Fantastic Four I bet that average
will drop)).

Directing – If the director is the pilot of the plane and the plane crashes they don’t deserve much credit for it. I understand that studios often have a lot of control over what the director creates but there is a still a base level of a director’s vision that comes through.

Cinematography – Part of this is the execution of the directors visual vision. It can, however, be higher than directing at times when the visuals surpass the direction. This is not common.

Editing – I try to start every film at a 10 in editing and then slowly allow the film to chip itself away. If there are bad cuts (unless clearly intentional ala Breathless) or scenes that just drag on and on for the detriment of the experience.

Parity – This is very important to me and the reason that there will most likely never be a perfect 10. The population is not made up of white males and film should reflect this. For instance The Godfather earns a 1, sure there are women, but for the most part they are only there to show the rage and aggression of the men (who are all white). It isn’t really difficult to cast well. There are a few caveats to this, I gave Jeanne Dielman an 8, yes it is a white film but it deserves a high score here. The closest to 10 that I can think of might be Ali: Fear Eat Soul but I would need to watch it again.

Performance Main – This is pretty obvious

Performance Else – If you pay for a great actors and main supporting cast at the expense of the rest of the characters then you have done your film a disservice.

Score – Very self explanatory.

Sound – Same

Story – I separated story and script because they deserve to be separate. The effects that one has on the other can elevate or crush the outcome.


Effects – I added this in later when putting this together and it has the most NA’s so far. This is specifically practical and digital effect and I always consider a film as it would be considered at the time of release as it is not fair to compare some of the questionable effects of Metropolis against the Lord of the Rings. However, if I am watching a brand new film and I see rubbery digital effects it will lose a couple of points. (I’m looking at you Batman v Superman).

Design – I added this one in for two reasons. First is that lighting and set design can have the same effect as the effects and the story and script. Also it seems that Wes Anderson films need to be able to shine in the ratings for their design.

Costume – This falls in closely with the design but deserves to be separate.

Keeps Interest – How many times did I check my phone or generally lose concentration?

Lasting Impressions – I still can not shake Satantango, nearly three years later. This might be the only rating that will change with time.