There was a time when 10 out of 10 meant something. One hundred percent. A+. Perfection. Something to strive for but, most likely, never achieve. I mean, honestly, how many times can you achieve perfection? How many pitchers throw a no-hitter? How many paintings can be called a masterpiece? How many films are without flaws? Not that many, but you’d seem to think otherwise these days.
There are plenty of enjoyable movies that come out of every year. 2009 hasn’t been a great year by any means, but there have been some fun flicks. Star Trek was a blast, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen was praised to the high heavens by all critics (wink wink) and District 9 is currently kicking all sorts of sci-fi ass. Toss in Moon and Drag Me to Hell and whatever else you want, there have been some good movies. Even great ones. But perfect? Nah. I don’t think anything that’s come out this year deserves to be called a 10 out of 10. I loved Star Trek, even saw it twice. I totally dig District 9 and it deserves much of the acclaim it’s getting. But is either perfect? Because that’s what a 10 out of 10 implies. Sure, there is a little wiggle room. Maybe you forgive this or that, but we’re talking 99.5% rounded up. Not 95% or 98% or just a regular old A as opposed to an A+. A 10 out of 10 is the pinnacle of not just film making, but story telling. Acting, directing. When you watch this film there is no hesitation or doubt. No room for improvement. No “but” or “well.” Just the film, as is, perfect.
Yet some critics hand out four stars (out of four) or the 10/10 stamp with apparently little thought. Do they really feel that so many films achieve perfection every year? Do they grade on a curve? Are they honest? Or are they cheating you? Lying to you? Do they favor a certain genre over another, despite claiming to be a movie site rather than a horror site or a sci-fi site? What are their grading criteria? Are they being honest to you? Are they being honest to themselves, to the film? I don’t know. I’m not certain this many films can be perfect. Especially on a 10 out of 10 scale. If you’re dealing with 4 stars, 3 out of 4 or 3.5 out 4 is mathematically a 75% or an 88% so you’re not getting much to work with. But a 10 out 10 gives you 7, 8, 9, whatever out of 10. That’s a whole lot of room to put the critic in critical. I mentioned Drag Me to Hell earlier and that film really dumbfounded me. Somehow it was perceived as this amazing film, perfect, 10 out of 10! and other bullshit exclamations. Sure it was pretty fun and comedic, but if you think that is perfect, or even perfect for Raimi or comedy-horror, then you’ve got some learning to do.
I’m not against good films, in fact, I love them. I’m down for giving movies good grades too. Hell, I’m the guy who liked Transformers 2. I gave it a good grade. But not a 10 out of 10. Because it wasn’t perfect and that’s what it means. When we celebrate everything as being perfect, we lessen what it means to be perfect. Pretty soon, Transformers 2 will be a 10/10 if we keep this up. What’s wrong with 9 out of 10? Or hell, 9.5 out of 10? All I’m saying is that we have to respect the 10/10. Keep it special. Reserve it for those rare films that actually do fire on every single cylinder without a single misfire. There is no sense of time watching those movies, it never slows, it never bores, it never drags. It doesn’t skip around or have plot holes or poor acting or lame shots. It is in a word perfect and to spread that rating around makes it less meaningful when its passed out. We all know of certain critics who are cakewalks and give a thumbs up or a great rating to any pile of shit paraded in front of them and we don’t respect those opinions. Unfortunately, their ranks are growing, though those joining the perfect army would tell you they’re still just as fair, just as critical. Right, and I’m sweeter than Splenda. Let’s keep 10/10 sacred and reserved because otherwise I’ll have to keep perfectly hitting my boiling point.
What films, if any, were a 10 out of 10 this year? Do you think critics are too positive with some films?