The Scoring System
A Guide to the GoneWithTheTwins Movie Ranking (or Judging) System
“Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of lute. Mere words! Was there anything as real as words?”
– Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
The important thing to understand about our ranking system is that scores are assigned in accordance to other comparable films. Great science-fiction films are ranked in relation to other great science-fiction films, while terrible science-fiction films are ranked in relation to other terrible science-fiction films (the same goes for every genre and sub-genre, of which there are nearly a hundred that are readily acknowledged by critics and historians, even if they’re not specifically designated on this site). The more similar or dissimilar a particular group of movies might be, the more or less reliable the comparing of their rankings.
For example, if “Gattaca” (1997) receives an 8/10, “Total Recall” (1990) receives a 9/10, and “Blade Runner” (1982) receives a 10/10, it’s because each one is respectively better than the last, based on the various similarities and comparable elements of their filmmaking approaches. The rank of a movie like “They Live” (1988), though not as serious, futuristic, glossy, or star-powered as the aforementioned films, will be slightly influenced by the existence of all of them – although, since it demonstrates a different interpretation of science-fiction thrills, the impact when determining each rating will be less than the impact of something like “Escape from New York” (1981), which more closely matches its production values, humor, and storytelling tone.
It’s also important to note that unlike movies will never affect each other’s ratings. “Chinatown” (1974) will never be directly compared to “Robocop” (1987), even though they both receive 10/10 scores. One may be significantly better than the other in a given aspect, but their standings in their own genres warrant the identical scores. Obviously, despite the perceived equality of 10/10 scores, some are actually better than others. Otherwise, we would never be able to determine that “The Godfather” (1972) is better than “Goodfellas” (1990), even though they received identical scores. Many critics may not admit to grading movies in this manner, but essentially they all do it – otherwise, a critic who has seen 5000 movies would have to have a rating scale of 1 – 5000.
The only exception, of course, would be a compilation like our Top 100 American Films list or our Top 10 Films of the Year lists, which specifically compare completely different movies against one another – many of vastly differing styles and genres.
A more contemporary example would be “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” The 2010 version received an 8/10, whereas the 2011 version received a 6/10. This is to be interpreted as one being superior to the other, based on their inherent similarities. Readers should not assume that just because the 2011 version received a 6/10, it is inferior to “Transporter 3” (2008), which received a 7/10. “Transporter 3” (2008) is a mediocre action movie that ranked higher compared to similar mediocre action movies – such as “The Mechanic” (2011) or “The A-Team” (2010). If “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (2011) was compared directly to “Transporter 3” (2008), then it might receive a different rating. But to compare every new movie to every other existing movie (that has no obvious relationship) would be futile, considering the incalculably massive assortment of films out there. To be clearer, it would be pointless to consider the existence of “Blue Velvet” (1986), “Citizen Kane” (1941), or “Mortal Kombat” (1995) when determining a ranking for “Despicable Me” (2010).
It should also be noted that each film critic possesses naturally distinct, potentially contrasting opinions and biases. For example, it’s impossible not to be biased (either positively or negatively) when judging “Into the Woods” (2014) if a given critic has seen the stage play. One cannot simply disregard the existence of previous iterations, just because that would lend to a more objective perspective. When collating scores amongst reviews, be sure to consider the author and how your personal movie tastes compare, allowing for a more accurate determination of possible recommendations.
The following is a breakdown of what each ranking suggests:
0/10: Currently, we don’t use this score, as it would offset the concept of only ten possible ratings.
1/10: Not just horrible, but absolutely, utterly despicable. In poor taste, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Will likely appeal to no one (perhaps even the filmmakers themselves will regret having made it).
2/10: Undeniably terrible. Generally a waste of time. Few, if any, tolerable approaches to filmmaking. Should appeal to a very specific, very minuscule group.
3/10: Pathetic storytelling, amateurish acting, and technically or artistically deficient. However, a specific niche may actually appreciate the movie, particularly if the subject matter can attract pre-sold audiences. But still not good enough for a guilty pleasure.
4/10: A film with potential – or one that does a decent job of being bad. This rating could apply to subpar cult films and movies just south of perfectly mediocre. Many films receiving this rating are quite forgettable but not regrettable.
5/10: Right on the border. Nothing particularly worthwhile to speak of, but nothing all that bad either. Generally, not too memorable. Take it or leave it.
6/10: Could be so bad it’s good, or it’s brimming with missed opportunities or discernible potential. Several aspects of the film are noticeably well-conceived, but it struggles to leave a mark on its genre. Worth a rent or a casual trip to the theater for the truly curious.
7/10: Not a bad film at all. Contains several praiseworthy aspects, such as acting, cinematography, direction, or score, but it’s clearly lacking in some area. Should appeal to general audiences who don’t want to think too much. Definitely not a waste of time.
8/10: A must-see movie, whether it be in a theater or at home. So many things work well yet there may be a couple of small components that could have been handled more cleverly or precisely. A film connoisseur’s delight.
9/10: Almost perfect. Everything is approached with precision and skill, and the entertainment value is remarkably high. Don’t wait – watch it in the theater to get the most rewarding experience.
10/10: Absolutely outstanding. A masterpiece. This is a film that you can either watch over and over again, or the emotional resonance will simply stay with you forever. It doesn’t have to be flawless, but there are certainly none worth mentioning. Surely a title to include on a personal list of “Top 10” films of the year (or possibly even all-time Top 100 or Top 500, depending on how dedicated you are to list-making).
11/10: As a nod to “This Is Spinal Tap” (1984), film ratings ought to go all the way to eleven. But we’re not likely to use it, except perhaps as an honorary signification of our Top 100 list.
– The Massie Twins