I thought it might be informative to the readers of my reviews and those that are looking for some guidelines on rating to actually set out in writing how I rate films.
I generally divide the ten points into two different criteria: how much I liked the film, and how good the film was. Although the films I enjoy are usually very well-made (and vice-versa), there are some exceptions. This is why I usually give a film up to five points for how well it was made and up to another five points for how much I liked it.
10: For a movie to warrant a rating of 10, it has to be one of my favorite 10-20 fims I've ever seen. I need to have a great time when I see it, I need to want to watch it again, and I need to be surprised while I am watching it for the first time at how quickly time seems to fly (no looking at my watch thinking, "I've only been sitting here for 45 minutes?"). To get a 10, the film has to make sense and it has to be interesting. It has to have some sort of emotional appeal to me, whether it be the shedding of tears (not necessarily because it makes me sad), laughter, or that sense one gets of "This is a magical, excellent film." After watching the film and catching the trailer on TV or the Internet, I need to stop and think to myself, "That was truly an excellent film." Extra points are usually awarded for originality in cinematography and/or the treatment of subject matter and character.
9.5-5.0: I'm not going to make you read a breakdown of each half-point-- you get the idea. However, if a film is one of my top 100, that usually means that the film is worth about an 8. This will eventually rise to 8.5 as I see more films, etc. If I watch a film and I didn't hate it, and it was kind of funny or kind of good, I usually award it with about a 6.5. If I didn't hate the film, but I didn't see much about it that I liked, I usually give about a 5.
4.5-0.0: I apparently have something against any film that rates under a 5-- whether it be a story that is boring, hard to follow, un-funny (when it purports to be funny), or when I notice excesses of length, sexual content, violence, or profane language that do not relate to or contribute to the quality of the film. For example, use of rough language in Saving Private Ryan or The Shawshank Redemption makes sense since they're soldiers and inmates. Use of rough language in Stuart Little doesn't make sense since they're cats. The worse rating I give a film, the greater degree of what I have described above.
"Get busy living, or get busy dying." -Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption