To me, Acting is a team sport.
I look for believability, great delivery of simple and complex lines, connection to an actor's/actress' respective character, and an elevation of supporting cast and extras by the lead(s) and vice versa. I'm also on the look-out for non-verbal performances by the cast: posture, hand/eye movement, facial expression. Do I feel like I'm there because of the acting?
Take me to another time and place.
A great Story requires a great script. Stories that I love make me think and ask questions that I haven't thought of before, they teach me things, they are dynamic yet balanced, and they keep me wanting more even after the credits roll. Editing is taken into account here - does the pace, length, and theme(s) all come together?
My Christian faith informs my views of Morality.
This doesn't mean that I'm automatically going to give low kernel ratings to movies with immorality. I may simply avoid those movies, or I'll mention elements that disrupt my spirit if I see a film with questionable immoral material, and/or I'll acknowledge films that portray real life struggles in a thoughtful way.
I love me some good camera work.
Obviously not every movie has a $100M budget and not every film needs to reinvent the visual basics of storytelling. For me, this comes down to whether or not the visual work drew me deeper into the Story. Visuals also include the talents of CGI, Animation, Costumes, Coloring, Hair/Makeup, Locations, and Set Design crews.
I have no musical talent whatsoever.
Until I made my first movie I underappreciated the immense value music brings to a film's greatness. Much like great Visuals are meant to help us engage with the Story, Music should do the same taking us on an audible journey. It also includes vocals, sound design, proper leveling, and usefulness of licensed music.
This is my way of saying X-Factor.
It's impossible to describe what this is going to be, because it could be anything. Sometimes a movie strikes a chord in my heart/mind that the other criterion don't fully address, other times it's a detail the film/crew really missed or hit, and other times it's just a feeling that comes over me when I reflect on the film.
Characters make us care (or not)...
In addition to noting any spectacular standout performances, I also consider my feelings on the casting choices and acting across the board.
Beginning, Middle, & Ending (not necessarily in that order)...
There are no new stories - not entirely. While surprises are a delight, it's most important to me that a movie takes me on a journey that keeps me entertained, engaged, curious, excited, emotional, and/or all of the above!
Matters that matter!
When I think of morality in movies, I think of moral imperatives of the overall flick, and/or their individual characters live by. Also, I try not to unfairly punish a film for any excessive violence, language, or other potentially sensitive/offensive elements, but I believe these things should be included purposefully.
Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder
I judge how appealing, or not, every single thing is if it appears on the screen during the movie. The set pieces/locations, wardrobe, choreography, prop designs, animation, color schemes, etc., as well as the quality and use of CGI and/or practical effects.
Sounds can change a story!
I once saw a poster of a young soccer player on his knees with a tearful, yet emotionally-ambiguous expression on his face, and a caption that read "Emotional victory, or crushing defeat?" I've always been amazed by the way song choices and original scores can so greatly impact my movie experience.
For those times when there's something about a movie that makes you love or hate it, but you just can't quite put your finger on it, Occasional Popcorn uses the Kernel Factor to help you incorporate those feelings into our scorecards
Acting is the all- important art of physically and emotionally inhabiting a character. Authentic acting is supremely important if a movie is to suspend the viewers disbelief and allow them to enter into the story.
In order to work, a movie must have good story structure including all the essential story beats. A good story will take the viewer on a journey of emotional highs and lows and ultimately, provoke an emotional and intellectual response (or catharsis.)
For me, morality essentially comes down to whether and to what degree a film contains elements that are exploitative or sensationalistic. This can involve the use of language, sexual content, violence and whether those elements are age appropriate and necessary to the story, but more important than these details is whether or not the film conveys a true moral premise.
Obviously, films are a visual medium and that medium has its own visual language. Camera angles, composition, movement and lighting all work together to convey meaning and emotion.
I think music and sound design account for maybe 40-50% of the movie viewing experience. Music and sound convey and underscore meaning in a movie to an incredible extent.
I understand Kernel Factor to be the prominent idea or emotion the movie leaves with the viewer. If a movie is working it should inspire, edify, challenge and often even trouble the viewer.