I call it ‘The SNEWP Method.’ My Rotten Tomatoes film critic scoring technique

How do I score a film on a scale of 1 to 10? Here are my personal guidelines for what I call the SNEWP Method

When reviewing a film, I score them based on a merit system of 1 (being the lowest) to 10 (being the highest). I judge films to the tenth of a point, meaning I don’t just designate an 8 or 9, but rather an 8.7 or similar number.

But how do I grade the films and arrive at my score?

The answer is a five-point range of elements, each worth 2.0 points. As an aside, for further reference, I am going to indicate a letter relating to the element for future scores I will list with my reviews. I will call it my overall SNEWP score.

I will describe them here:

(S) STORY – Are there all the elements of a great story?

Does the film tell a good story? Does it tell the story well? In addition to telling a story, how accurate is it to the genre it embraces? For example, if it is a comedy, how great of a comedy is it? The same can be said for a drama, an action movie, a documentary and more. I am not really worried about a well-defined genre if the story is great. And, of course, I always include technical aspects such as great acting, writing, directing, sound, lighting, and editing.

(N) NOSTALGIA – Is there nostalgic beauty or an enjoyable recognizable history?

So what about the film is nostalgic? To me, there is not much a greater feeling in a film that gives me a fun memory or overall feeling of recognition of a fun part of my life. In addition to the element of nostalgia, I also consider any aspects of an enjoyable or recognizable history–meaning, is there something I can identify with or relate to in terms of the history of the characters, the film’s region or environment?

(E) EXHILARATION – Are there exhilarating, passionate or hair stand-up moments?

I think this is a pretty straightforward concept. I ask myself, were there moments I felt the passion of the filmmaker, the actors, the people involved or within the story? Are there times I was moved to tears, excitement, screams out loud or even excited laughter? The best films do this, which is a no-brainer for me to include.

(W) WANDERING – Are there moments that cause my mind to wander or do I have mental critique?

This element is much more about not being included than the latter. When watching a film, I ask myself if there were any moments where my attention wandered or I wanted the film to hurry up and get to the point. I also include the perspective as if I wanted there to be anything I wanted to change, as there are many times I think, “It would have been easier to understand if they changed this,” or “The film didn’t need to include that.” This isn’t necessarily a judgment against a filmmaker with an artistic vision to share. Still, I cannot help but notice when something removes me from the story due to unnecessary elements.

(P) PUZZLE PIECES – Does the film come together as puzzle pieces that all fit together well?

This is a bit of an overall aspect, meaning, “How well does everything come together in a cohesive and well-rounded package?” I have seen beautifully produced and directed films that just don’t measure up in the end. Having this sense of overall cohesiveness generally indicates how close the final film was to the director’s original story and voice. If this final puzzle completed isn’t working, something in the elements above is generally missing from the equation.

All said, I LOVE films and am blessed and honored to review them. I think many times my scores are a bit higher than many critics because I really do get so much genuine joy from seeing amazing things directors/filmmakers create.

I hope this is helpful.

Feel free to check out my Rotten Tomatoes page.