The Four-Star Rating System
received requests to explain more thoroughly the four-star rating
system that I use, and what each star signifies. That way, my
readers will have a better understanding of exactly the level
that I recommend a film when I use issue it a zero-to-four-star
recommendation. The four-star rating system is the general rating
system used by most professional critics, and I personally feel
that it works best because of its simplicity.
and foremost, I recommend that you read my disclaimer on my Mission
page, in which I explain that one cannot simply look at the star-system
to understand how much I recommend a film. The review also needs
to be read; if it was as easy as placing stars in front of each
title, film criticism would hardly require literacy. Still, I
find the star system invaluable because it gives the reader a
clear indication of how close the reviewed film comes to reaching
cinematic greatness. With that point clear, I shall now break
down each star-rating and explain how and why I issue them.
very rare case indeed. No-star films has little to do with the
quality of the film so much as it has to do with my conviction
that the film cannot be judged as art and is, thus, not ratable
by the standards of my website. Usually, no-star films might have
interesting qualities to them, but they are so immoral and offensive
that they desecrate the art of film, and I am unable to issue
them any star-rating at all, as they do not live up to the standard
of art on any level.
one-star film can be judged for its artistic qualities, but they
are limited and surrounded by a film so incompetently made that
I cannot recommend it. A one-star film falls so short on every
level, from its acting and story and themes and cinematography,
etc., that it fails to be worthy of anything but the faintest
praise. Many one-star films can be watched for their unintentionally
hilarious qualities (see just about any film directed by Ed
Wood), and I will indicate any such qualities in my reviews.
have some good qualities about them, but not enough so that I
can recommend them. Usually, a two-star film has some interesting
aspects to it that could make for engaging viewing, but these
qualities are surrounded by a film that has little redeeming value.
True film-patrons might want to take a look at selected scenes
that work nicely, but I still would not recommend viewing the
good films have three-star ratings. This means that for the most
part, the film works very well. There are certain elements that
fall short of their goals and might mar the film to some degree,
but not so much that the quality of the film does not nevertheless
shine through. Thus, these are not perfect films, but they are
still engaging and recommended viewing.
films have received my highest level of recommendation. Any flaws
are few, and they do not take away from the film’s power
and grace. Essentially, they are films that are recommended on
every level, and in every way. Every aspect of the film works
brilliantly, and all its parts flow smoothly together to create
an unforgettable experience. These are the movies that you watch
to stimulate your imagination and thoughts on the highest level.
These are the movies that you share and recommend to your family
and friends. These are the reason that I am reviewing films, and
why I am in love with cinema.
variations: ½*, *1/2, **1/2, ***1/2
Half-star variations are a bit trickier. These films manage to
be slightly better than the stars before them, but still fall
short of the star in front of them. It is possible for a film
to land mid-way between whole stars. That said, I cannot whole-heartedly
recommend a film that is two-and-a-half stars or lower, and when
you see a half-star, it is best to simply read the review to get
an understanding of why I’ve placed the film somewhere in
between the standard ratings.
The Fifth Star
I have recently added a fifth star into my
rating system. Its presence does not indicate that a film has
transcended four-star greatness so much as it is used as a signpost
to reveal that not only is a specific film great, but it is also
considered by just about everyone as a classic. For more information
about the fifth star, how it fits into Film as Art, and
the difference between a "great" film and a "classic"
film, click here.
Hope this helps. For additional
information, please contact