Rating Movies on Netflix

Published on December 1, 2008

Netflix has a movie rating system designed to help them recommend titles that you might like. They present the user with six rating options:

  • 5 stars (Loved it)
  • 4 stars (Really liked it)
  • 3 stars (Liked it)
  • 2 stars (Didn’t like it)
  • 1 star (Hated it)
  • Not interested

When I first signed up, I went through the movies that I either owned or could remember well enough, and rated each one as carefully as I could. However, as time goes on, I find it more and more difficult to rate movies that I watch. I often find myself second guessing my initial rating, usually in the negative direction. For example, I’ve recently watched the first four Dirty Harry movies (out of the total five). Here’s what I gave each:

I feel pretty solid on my ratings for the first three movies. The first movie is an all-time classic and set the bar (and tone) for most subsequent police dramas. Magnum Force was nearly as good, but felt a little flat in parts, hence my four star rating. The Enforcer was weaker still, and felt like any generic action film might in the 1970s (the female partner story was particularly disappointing). But what about the fourth title? Towards the end of the movie, I found myself thinking that it was a solid four-star film. But the climax was so epic, that it vaulted the movie into five-star territory for me.

I later found myself second guessing my five-star rating, wondering whether or not it was truly “five-star worthy.” The movie had some flaws (what movie doesn’t?), but were they enough to lower the rating? Which leads me to the ultimate question: what makes a movie five-star worthy? I know I’m over-analyzing the matter, but it’s so hard to compare apples to oranges. Do you use Netflix? If so, how do you rate movies? Are there any rules you follow?

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