Why I’ve ditched star ratings

Ditching star ratings
This blog is ditching the star rating system, in favour of a more binary formula

I’ve been considering this one for a while. Ever since I started reviewing films online, I’ve grappled with the limitations of the five-star rating system. I’ve often found myself deciding star ratings based on other films around the same ball park rather than the individual merits of each film. And if you’ve read the review of Filth I posted this week, you will know that my verdict on the film was a little bit different to the array of stars that usually adorn my critiques.

My new system is simple. It’s a binary measure of whether or not I liked the film and would recommend it to readers. Simply put: pop or poop.

Rating: Pop Rating: Poop!

When I walked out of my screening of Filth a week or so ago, my overriding thought was one of confusion. I knew straight away that the film had failed to work for me on a very fundamental level, but couldn’t quite pinpoint it in terms of stars. It’s an ambitious ride of a film, so it was difficult to place upon a ten point scale. The nuance of my feelings on the film could be dealt with in a review, but the five star system encourages people to immediately place the film on a scale of other releases without considering nuance of opinion.

Also, from my point of view, the five star system means that I often end up giving films ratings based not on how I felt about that film, but how it compared to other films I had seen this year. More than once, three star films have become four star films when I realised how much better they were than their three star counterparts. This should not be how film reviewing works and so I’d rather let my reviews do the talking.

However, a binary “yay or nay” discourages this ranking system and allows for more interesting opinions to be formed. So we’ll give it a go and see what happens.

2 thoughts on “Why I’ve ditched star ratings

  • 19/10/2013 at 22:25

    Usually I prefer the five star system because it’s a bit more specific… but I get where you’re coming from on this. This will definitely be interesting. 🙂

    • 20/10/2013 at 00:10

      I always thought that I did. It seems bizarre that a binary system could allow for more nuance, but I really think that it does.


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