Scoring is color coded: Theme : Plot : Character : Dialogue : Acting : Cinematography

Each Lanni’s List entry is rated. The rating system comprises six categories: Theme, Plot, Character, Dialogue, Acting and Cinematography. Each of which I give a 1 to 5 ranking, 1 being the lowest score and 5 the highest. Since I am only rating films that I believe are worth seeing, the ratings tend to be on the high side.

The first four categories reflect the rating grids that are included in most industry “coverage.” Coverage is the term for the screenplay reports that story analysts write for agents and producers. They are Hollywood’s Cliffs Notes. When I first arrived in LA, I paid my rent by working as a freelance story analyst and found coverage rating categories to be a useful way to create a snapshot of a film’s relative merits. Since Lanni’s List deals with completed films as opposed to screenplays, I added Acting and Cinematography to those I purloined from script coverage rating grids.

The Theme category refers to the ideas a film communicates. Are these ideas truly insightful? Are these ideas original?

Plot refers to a film’s storyline. Does the sequence of events make logical sense? Is the story too simple or too complicated?

The Character category refers to the psychologies of the participants in the film’s plot. Are the characters fully developed? Are the characters interesting? I don’t care whether they are likeable or not.

Dialogue refers to what the characters say to each other in the film. Is the dialogue appropriate for the character? Would that character be speaking that dialogue in that situation?

Acting refers to the actors’ performances. Does the actor make me suspend my disbelief and perceive her/him as the character? Is the actor’s performance pitched at the correct level given the tone of the film as whole?

Cinematography refers to the quality of the images on the screen. Does the ‘look’ of the film serve the story? How do the colors and the compositions affect me emotionally?