Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Critics Critiquing Critics

posted by Nell Minow

Critics complain about having to decide how many stars to give a movie. There are times when it does feel very arbitrary to try to assign stars or letter grades to a film. And sometimes I think it creates more confusion than it dispels. My view is that you can only grade a movie within the context of its own aspirations and its intended audience. Otherwise, every review is going to begin, “Well, it’s no Citizen Kane. I also rethink my grade when the movie comes out again on DVD.
Eric Childress of CriticWatch provides his annual dissection of the worst movie critics, those who can’t write, those who don’t know anything about movies or about reviewing them, and worst of all those who will say anything (and I mean anything) about any movie (and I mean any movie) in order to get their name in an ad. I breathed a sigh of relief when the only mention of my site was a positive one but nevertheless resolved to do my best to stay away from his list of overused adjectives. (Note: some strong language, understandable under the circumstances.)



  • Wendy

    That was a very positive comment towards you and an amusing post. Thanks for the heads-up. I look to you not just to see whether the film is family appropriate (actually–not at all for that as my daughter is not yet two, but I look forward to your family oriented thoughts in the future), but because I really mesh with your taste in films. We get to movies so rarely, I want to make sure something is worth seeing, and I know your review is my best bet.

  • Alicia

    Hi, Nell. Eric Childress’s selection of bad quotes by critics is funny – I wouldn’t want to get on his bad side!
    I love your reviews of all kinds of movies, not just family-oriented movies.
    Regarding the star system (or the grade system) I rather like the star system. (I already posted about this on the “Crunchy Con” blog, and as I said there, I’ve probably spent way too much time thinking about this, but it’s fun.)
    The grade system you use is probably even better because it allows more nuance, but I’m more used to the * system because of the hours spent browsing Leonard Maltin’s movie book.
    I think the star system is useful in deciding whether to watch a movie or not. Generally, if a movie gets ** or lower, I think of that as “don’t waste your time.” ** stars is supposed to be average, but I think of it as “thorougly mediocre, with nothing special to recommend it.”
    ** 1/2 – Average, but with a little something extra, such as great production values or good performances. Two and a half stars is sort of the “damning with faint praise” category. I think of it as the “if you don’t have anything better to do, watch this” rating. Unfortunately, many well-reviewed movies fall into this category.
    *** – Good – worth seeing at least once or twice, but not exceptional. 3 stars is also a good rating for entertaining movies like “The Fugitive” or “Titanic,” that, while not great, are good “comfort movies” that can be watched many times. Good horror movies would mostly fall into this category.
    *** 1/2 – Excellent, but perhaps just misses being a classic. Lots of excellent films that can be seen more than once, but may not stand the test of time to become classics. “Michael Clayton” would be a recent example.
    **** – Classic. Movies that stand the test of time and seem to grow in stature.
    Thanks for letting me ramble on – but this is a subject I love thinking and writing about.
    Happy Friday!

Previous Posts

Interview: The Woman in Gold's Simon Curtis and E. Randol Schoenberg
Director Simon Curtis told me, "My last film was My Week with Marilyn, and this one is my century with Maria."  He is referring to "The Woman in Gold," with Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann, who brought a lawsuit to get back the portrait of her aunt Adele, painted by Gustav Klimt, which had been stole

posted 3:37:47pm Mar. 31, 2015 | read full post »

Faith-Based Movie Picks -- The Today Show
In honor of Easter and Passover, the Today Show has some good suggestions for faith-based movies, from the very serious and respectful to the light-hearted.

posted 3:13:29pm Mar. 31, 2015 | read full post »

Another "Star is Born" Movie? Possibly, with Bradley Cooper as Director and Beyonce to Star!
A movie that's already been done three times (at least) may just get yet another remake if the rumors are true that Bradley Cooper will direct and Beyoncé will appear in "A Star is Born."  The original 1937 version, said to be inspired by (among others) the marriage of aging vaudeville star Al Jol

posted 3:54:02pm Mar. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Exclusive Clip and Contest: What Would Jesus Do -- The Journey Continues
We are honored to present an exclusive clip from "WWJD (What Would Jesus Do): The Journey Continues," inspired by the best-selling classic book In His Steps. WWJD: The Journey Continues is availab

posted 3:40:29pm Mar. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Behind the Scenes: Furious 7
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/idn_PGgl3HQ?rel=0&controls=0&showinfo=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:57am Mar. 30, 2015 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.