Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Five Star Film Grading Scale Defined

Dissecting and Defining the 5 Star Scale
Bryan Hoskins

The Standard deviation Chart Explained: This chart is meant to serve as a guide and a basic illustration of the spectrum of the film grading scale. This graphic illustrates the different percentiles that different star films tend to fall in historically. This graph is not meant to be an absolute mathematical measurement but a general illustration to serve as a guide.
Introduction: A brief forward about the legitimacy of a grading scale.
Before anyone can begin to debate the greatness or the opposite lack of, or even simply judge a film, a common ground from which to base their arguments must be established. The five star grading scale gives an individual a quantifiable scale from which to judge a films’ overall quality. Many will argue that films and art in general cannot be measured using quantifiable scales because Art in general is subjective and a matter of individual taste, therefore, no universal scale can or should be used to grade them. Philosophers as far back as Plato did not believe that art was completely subjective much in the same way they did not believe that truth itself was subjective, as later philosophers would claim. They believed in universal principals that existed before man and were principles for men to discover not to create. Socrates placed these universal principals to be part of the nature of something whereas Aristotle would define them as absolutes to which all things in that category aim.
Regardless of the category be it science, math, or creative arts such as film, all categories have a set of universal principles from which excellence within these categories can be measured. Aristotle expanded universal principles to art when he wrote on the Poetics. A work which sought to define some of the universal ingredients for which the proper use of would create the perfect drama or tragedy. Similarly Aristotle laid down rules and laws for comedies as well. One last note about universal laws in artistic categories, these laws were discovered and defined by the use of logic and reason, a way of thinking in which the Greeks discovered many universal laws in categories which at the time were thought to be indefinable such as Justice, Rhetoric, and government constitutions.
Therefore just as the Greeks established a way of thinking from which many universal laws were discovered and written down in many distinct categories, today the same techniques can and should be applied to new categories such as film. The same technique will be used in dissecting and defining the 5 star grading scale currently in place to measure films so that individuals can have a quantifiable common ground from which to grade and critique films.

The Grading Scale: Introduction
The grading scale for films is currently constructed on a five star scale where 5 stars is the best possible grade a film can receive and 1 star is the worst. The scale can be looked at as a spectrum where each end is an opposite extreme 5 stars on one end and 1 star on the other. With every spectrum there is a center point which something is neither part of one side nor the other but in the middle. This point defines where a film within the spectrum is the least like both extremes. Within the 5 star grading scale this middle point can be mathematically placed at 2.5 stars. A 2.5 star film will be a film that will define the absolute middle of the grading scale. Since 2.5 films are in the absolute middle these films will be neither good nor bad because they are on the fence and not a part of either side. All other films will be on one side of the middle point or they other and will therefore have either negative or positive connotations associated with them. Since all film’s are judged based on the presence and absence of things, stars will be awarded based on the presence of quality ingredients as defined in the Nature of Good Films and will likewise stars will be withheld based on the absence of these ingredients.

One Star Film:
A one star film has already been determined to be the lowest grade a film can receive. One the spectrum of film quality a one star film is the furthest away from a perfect movie. And just as a five star film embodies all the ingredients of a perfect film, so too can be determined that a one star film receives its grade based on the absence of all these ingredients. One star film can be viewed as empty based on the absence of any respectable quality. The complete and utter absence of any respectable quality will earn a film a one star rating since it is the worst movie that could possibly be made.

One and ½ star Film:
A one and a half star film can be described as a noticeable failure. This is a film that does not work on major levels such as plot, acting, directing ext. One and a half star movies never have the potential to work based on major flaws with foundational parts of such as plot or direction. These films are generally agreed upon to be bad movies bad the general pubic and by film critics because the flaws are so deeply rooted and therefore highly noticeable.

Two Star Film:
Two star films are described as a general failure for being unable to meet general mediocrity. A two star film is where a film can start to be described as more bad than good. Two star films can a few good things about them and potential to be an ok film but over all simply misses more times than it hits. These films can be classified as having potentials but just never reaching them.

Two and ½ Star Film:
Two and half star films can be classified and looked at as mediocre, neither good nor bad, but average. Two and half star films tend to make up the largest group of films where they contain just enough good ingredients not to be considered bad but still too many bad ingredients to be considered good. These are generally referred to as B movies for their average and merely OK natures. B movies can and often do have box office success with the general public but critics often have problems with them due to their often formulaic and unoriginal style.

Three Star Film:
Three star films can be described as better than average films but films which did not quite meet all their goals or potentials as a film. These films receive the grade of B+ good but not great. Three star films are better than average because they do include better than average film ingredients such as directing, acting, or writing but they are not three and half stars because the film could have been noticeably better. Therefore the film did not meet all of its goals but still better than average and should be given credit accordingly.

Three and 1/2 Star Film:
Three and half star films can be defined well made films not going for best picture of the year. Three and half star films are films which meet all their goals as a film and do them in a creative and original fashion. In any given category be it comedy, action, family film, or drama these are films that a reviewer should look at and say for what that film was trying to do it could not be made any better or well enough to say it met all it’s goals as a film. These are films that if the pool of four star films is not enough to fill all the nomination slots in a given year than three and half star films can be considered. Even though three and half star films are not quite four stars, they should still be considered an A quality movie.

Four Star Film:
Four star films are simply defined as 3 ½ star films that gave a little something more. That something more was intentional and found in the film’s overall theme or objective to the film. This something more can be a statement about society, a truth or theme about life, human nature, or love. It can be a philosophical argument or a political statement. This extra ingredient on top of an already well put together film can be in many different forms but in four star films it is always there and it is always intentional and is always part of the overall purpose of the film. Therefore 4 star films should always be nominated for best picture of the year unless quantity forbids all to receive the nomination. Four star films a rare piece of art that can also be recognized by their quantity. Just like 4 /12 and 5 star films only appear a few times over a course 25 years so too 4 star films tend to appear only about 4 or 5 times a year often times even less. Quantity is a good measure to keep in mind when grading films because even though irregular years in film will present themselves overall four star films will never be too numerous in a given year due to their rare quality.
Five and Four and ½ star Films:
A five star film is a perfect film and a Four and ½ star film is near perfect. These films receive their grade based on the complete or near complete presence of all the ingredients defined in the Nature of Good Films. These films will be valued throughout the entire history of cinema as the best films of all time. These films will be relatively few in number compared to the amount of films made, and being the rarest in number will hold the highest value since things that are rarer are thought to be more valuable. To respect and accurately place films within this most prestigious category a slightly different selection process must be made for these films.
I propose that the highest possible grade a film can be given at the time it was first reviewed is 4 stars. After a minimum span of 25 years a film can be reviewed again by a committee of educated film scholars to grant a film a four and ½ or five star rating. It is very difficult to be able to distinguish between 4 and a 4 ½ or 5 star film at the time it was released by waiting a span of 25 years a reviewer a better see the impact a particular movie had not only to influence future films but also the impact the film had on society and time also helps to show a films overall durability. It is often said that masterpieces are timeless. Furthermore a lot of truly special and great films are often ahead of their time and therefore do not appear to be great when released but when time catches up their greatness is easier to recognize. For Example Bizet’s famous opera Carmen was a flop at the time of its release and the composer died thinking his opera had failed. Therefore to respect and honor truly great masterpieces of film a committee of film scholars should wait a span of 25 years than review all eligible films for possible 4 ½ or 5 star rating.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely Put together. Looking forward to your reviews.