What makes someone a film critic?

What makes someone a film critic? Is there an actual difference for someone who thinks critically? Now that I’ve been writing more reviews I thought I would tap myself in on how I see the entire situation.

If you were to ask me what qualifies someone in the first place, I would say: “it’s the total number of movies you’ve seen, period.”

What does that mean?

Let’s pretend someone you know goes out and sees the BIG NEW action ‘summer blockbuster’ in theaters before you get a chance to. You talk to them and they tell you; “it was amazing, 10/10. OMG! It was awesome. One of the best movies I’ve seen in a while.”

What makes their opinion valid? Back to my initial point, it’s the total number of movies you’ve seen.

If you’ve seen 10 action movies in your lifetime, you aren’t going off much knowledge and understanding on what makes a great action movie. What a 10/10 looks like vs. a 7/10. Sure, everyone has the right to their own opinion, but wouldn’t you rather listen to the guy that’s seen 500 action movies vs. the guy that’s seen 10? I know I would.

You have to build up watching movies to understand how to rate a movie — like building a mental library. If I gave you 10 films to watch and then asked you to rank them, theoretically there’s your current Top 10 — but if I gave you another 10 and asked you to rank the Top 10 out of the 20 given, now we have some thinking to do… critically. That’s where this whole ranking process begins.

As time progresses and you’ve seen 100, 200, 500, 1000, 5000 movies — you start to understand what a top notch film looks, sounds and feels like. You start to understand the massive difference between a watchable 6, to a solid 8 and a masterful 10. You start looking at things above and beyond the acting — you talk about the cinematography, art direction, musical scores, the way the movie moves through the director’s eyes, etc. etc.

I know this is obvious, but you have to think about it that simply.

I can’t tell you how many times family and friends ask me about the newest movie out in theaters that I saw; my number one answer is usually a 6 or 7, because most are. They are enjoyable, some stand out more than others, but overall they can’t be in the discussion with what’s at the top of my list.

Why do you think after literally hundreds of movies releasing every year, a lot of the Top 10’s have similar movies in them? Your first thought might be “it’s just snobby Oscar bait,” and sometimes that’s correct, but there are always standouts over the rest of the field. Go back and start looking at Top 10’s from the past few years, there are probably 15-25 movies associated in the majority of them. The rank may differ depending on the reviewer, but a lot of the films are the same…. Why? because there is a format to these things.

What’s your bar? What are those handful of movies that you gave a 10/10 to? I’m not talking about your favorite movies of all-time, your go-to’s when you’re sick or those staple feel-good movies — I’m talking about the greatest movies of all time, critically. Whatever those movies are, that’s how you rank them. Against that.

Let’s say you go and see the newest thriller — and walking out of the theater, you give it a rank of 9/10. Usually, (at least for me) you enjoyed it so much in the moment, you over-scaled. Let the moment pass, think about the movie and “how does that compare to what you think the greatest thriller is of all time.” You would realize that it’s more of a standout 7 or 8, because it just isn’t that close (in comparison) to the top of your list.

This is why major websites exist that sit inside a particular genre, because there is a major difference between top movies (based on popular belief) like a Crime-Drama film, ‘The Godfather’ and a Horror film like ‘Get Out.’ They will receive similar scores (9’s & 10’s) across the board, but they’re widely different and can’t be compared because ‘Get Out’ can’t hold a candle to ‘The Godfather.’

What’s really unfortunate, is that this entire write up and ideal is a catch-22, because at the end of the day, everyone has the right to their own opinion — whether you’ve seen every movie ever made or just a handful. All I’m trying to say is that the more films you see, the more rock-solid your scale starts to become.

Cheers,

Matt.