Below are some general guidelines to the grades we award films.
An A+ is a fantastic film in more ways than is reasonable to expect.
An A is a fantastic film that lacks just that little bit of flair to be just as unreasonable.
An A- is a great film with just a few flaws and nitpicks grounding it.
A B+ is a really great effort and a relatively solid recommendation.
A B is a really good effort and can be generally recommended.
A B- is a film that totters the line between being generally recommendable and generally un-recommendable.
A C+ is a bad film, with some worthwhile moments or ideas.
A C is a bad film, with maybe one saving grace here or there.
A C- is a bad film that just about avoids being deemed an abject failure.
An F is an abject failure on all accounts.
Of course, these grades are subject to the critic’s taste and the above is only a general outline. For example, a film might be technically polished in as many ways as you can imagine, and still get an F for being utterly loathsome in its message.
While documentaries are a valid and often wonderful form of cinema, we at Big Picture Reviews feel that to grade a film format that has been primarily used as a means of recording and presenting real events runs too high a risk of insensitivity.
Documentaries will be reviewed by the team, as the format and the subject matter it often presents is still subject to artistic vision and not only promotes but deserves critical discussion. Scores, however, present a fundamentally flawed system for reviewing and are utilised by Big Picture Reviews as a means of contextualisation and entertainment.
To grade the overall presentation of a documentary, regardless of or informed by its factual contents, runs a higher than average risk of offending the individuals involved and, thus, we feel, should be made exempt.