An Explanation of My Ratings System

Back when I was a kid I got into watching Siskel & Ebert with my dad every Saturday night. 90% of the movie that they would review I was,  either too young to appreciate them or had no interest in seeing them. I still watched every Saturday, though, because it was something me and my dad did together.

The Siskel & Ebert rating system was very straightforward and simple: Thumbs up and Thumbs down. That was it. Either they liked the movie or they didn't. There was no grey area. I picked this up pretty quickly and any time someone would ask me if I like a movie or not, I would respond with a yes or no. Again, pretty simple. But it was something that didn't allow for any grey area. To me, there had to be something more. Movies weren't judged in black and white.

This is where my father introduced me to the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. I was not aware that Siskel & Ebert wrote for newspapers, let alone two newspapers that were in the same town. (I would also learn that the buildings that the respective papers occupied were across the street from each other.) After I started to read the papers, my dad would get both of them every Friday when the movie reviews would be printed. Every Friday I would pour though them and read every review I could. I would do this until their deaths.

Siskel and Ebert both took a different way of rating movies then that of their show. Each of them would rate a movie between one-half star and four stars. The one-half star would be for the really bad movies and the four stars would be for the top tier movies. Both critics tried to avoid rating movies with zero stars, but they would find that some movies are just so bad that a zero stars rating was the only way to go.

Since Siskel and Ebert were the models, for me, of how movies should be rated, that is how I would, and still do, rate them. So have made a chart of how my rating system looks to that of other reviewers. Note that ratings are subjective and really not needed. But we live in a society that needs validation for everything, so here you go:

My Ratings System (stars)      Critics & Letters (A,B,C,D,F)     Critics & Numbers (1-10)

Four Stars ****                          A+, A, A-                                        10, 9, or 8
Three and a half  stars***1/2     B+                                                   7     
Three stars ***                           B or B-                                            6
Two and a half stars **1/2         C+                                                   5
Two stars **                               C or C-                                            4
One and a half stars *1/2            D+                                                  3
One star *                                   D                                                     2
A half star 1/2*                           D-                                                   1
Zero Stars                                   F                                                      1 is used for the last two

I have been using the four star system ever since I started writing reviews. The Letter system is useful and have seen it used very well. The numb system seems odd to me. If I ever have to use it I would use my system and multiple the number by 2. A four star review would be an 8, 9, or 10. Some use it as it was used in school. Anything less then a 6 would be an F, but why use it if you don't have a reason to use the lower numbers. An F is an F no matter what number you put against it. And then there are some youtube critic who sound very pompous when using it. "I liked it, but it only gets a 6 out of 10".

I have looked at each rating system and I like the four star system the best. It was the uniform for critics for a long time. I love the way it looks and can explain any use of it without sounding like I don't know what I am talking about. Any system is fine just as long as it makes sense.

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