Recently I’ve spent a lot of thought on the idea of giving a score, or a number to represent the quality of a film. Obviously I understand the need, or want, to associate a numeric value to a film to understand a generic amount of value or scorn this may elicit, but we are all beasts of arbitrary association and we all (humans) like to know which subjects are the “winners” and which are the “losers” even when such a dichotomy is fruitless in the end. Everyone has films, music, paintings, architechture, etc etc that they prefer over others’ preferences. Recognizing skill and artistic expressions is great, and important culturally. However stating that one may be better or worse truly depends on who you are as a person, your own background, family’s impressions upon you, and essentially your taste.
Awards also fall under this category for they are ultimately arbitrary when it comes to art in my opinion. While I do love the fanfare and pizzazz that comes with the Oscars, it’s not the award that gives meaning to art, it is the celebration of the creation of art that has meaning here. Plus who doesn’t love a good show? It is part of being involved in film, in theatre, we love putting on a good show. The Oscars don’t always hold that notion close to their hearts, but it is there for better or worse. I’d like to entertain the notion that such an idea shouldn’t be about receiving an award, but of giving recognition to a piece of art that has enough of a consensus to have earned such notoriety.
My conclusion being that since this is such a meaningless task in the end my reviews from this point on will focus more on the merits and failures of any specific film as far as my perspective can facilitate such a conversation. In the wake of a score I will implement more of a whimsical idea in that my “Final Scores” will be as meaningless as any such label. An example of this might be “Fifty-two surfboards” for Keanu Reeve’s ‘Point Break’ or “One Thousand and Eight Bullet casings” for Mel Gibson’s ‘Hacksaw Ridge’. Not only can this be a fun button to put at the end of each review, I believe it helps to cement the ideology of “One man’s trash being another’s treasure”. I know, as well as you do, that some people actively seek out films disregarded as “Trash” or simply “bad” intentionally or otherwise purely because of it’s perceived “badness”.
My intent is facilitate thought and discussion about film and the people involved in creating it. Losing the focus of scorekeeping levels the field and diverts thoughts back to what makes or breaks a production. Was the editing too fast and muddled? Or did the cinematography move and flow in a way that moved you? Were the performances impeccable? Or did it seem like the actor was holding back? Not pushing him or herself the distance? Maybe it was the atmosphere on set that created this? Or something in their personal lives that could be felt onscreen in some mystifying way? Obviously some of these unknowns will always be speculation, but that’s part of the fun isn’t it?
One final thought. If you find yourself disgusted, maddened, or simply unentertained by someone else’s art, then by all means express your opinion, it is our right after all, but there is no reason to spew misplaced and confused hatred into the world because you were bothered by a piece of art, film or otherwise. I’m not suggesting the silence of discussion by any means, this whole piece is about the broadening of thoughtful and engaging communication between others. I simply believe that you shouldn’t need, or feel the need, to go out of your way to spread vitriole and division. We here in the United States of America have enough of that going around as is, and in light of the holidays approaching: go forth and talk, write, or type about a film that you love. Show it to others. Have discussions about it with them and if you don’t particularly enjoy something that someone else loves, then let them have it. This is supposed to be entertainment after all.
2 thoughts on “Ratings, Awards, and Scores”
We share a niche peccadillo, especially in this subculture: I prefer to eschew ratings as well, whether a number or letter, for my reviews. Not only does it invite comparisons and “winners and losers” like you mention, but it also reduces an entire nuanced opinion to a lazy metric. I dig your idea to embrace the insanity of such metrics! Unfortunately, I don’t think Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic is going to be able to translate # of surfboards into an “easily digestible” number. Oh well, their loss.
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Yes! Thanks for the kind words. I figure at the end of the day, I’m writing this blog for fun and to promote good, or at least rather enjoyable films, so I might as well foster a good conversation about the merits or failures instead of abstract numbers and scores. It is indeed their loss 🙂