I like the good people at Slant Magazine…plus the equally astute folks at The Auteurs Notebook, the AV Club, and (for the hell of it) The New Yorker. Duncan Shepherd is cranky but still writes quite well.
I agree with the praise of Danny Peary and Ken Hanke. Peary’s Cult Movies books were invaluable to developing an appreciation of cinema for me. Kael’s were as well but, unlike the other critics i’ve mentioned, I not only disagree with her but now have a fundamental dislike of her outlook on film.
I have one more Rosenbaum plug, he calls his end of the year lists “My favorites” not best and acknowledges that he has biases just like everyone else.
Ebert seems much too commercial for my tastes. He is a part of the Hollywood machine and rarely challenges his readers to seek out films that won’t be coming to the multiplex. I was more of a Siskel fan.
Mike & Jaspar:
Yeah. I got those Cult Movies books when I was about 13. I remember being extremely disturbed by synopses of Pink Flamingos, Behind the Green Door, and Trash.
Don’t no if I agree with you about Ebert. Just to cite some relatively recent stuff, he’s championed films byLodge Kerrigan and Rahmin Bahrani, and Courtney Hunt’s Frozen River, and at Ebertfest he shown countless films from outside the cineplex mainstream. .
From the old days I like to read Andrew Sarris at the New York Observer and check Rosenbaum blog to see what he is saying. I like both a lot even if Rosenbaum seems to have some hang-ups with mainstream american movies.
The online critics I read regularly are Michael Sicinsk www.academichack.net/, which could be the most enlightening critic in the US, Kevin Lee at alsolikelife.com/shooting/, even if he talks most about older films, and Mike D’Angelo at www.panix.com/~dangelo/.
I also check Slant magazine now and then because they cover almost all releases.
Damn, I was just about to make this thread. I think my favs would be Dargis, Rosenbaum, AO Scott and Hoberman in that order more or less. Rosenbaum recently gave a short review of 24 City which gives me hope he’ll continue writing.
Hate to sound like an asshole but I find Ebert’s consistency has gone down alot in recent years (post-surgery?) his reviews of great movies are always good though, I just don’t know what to make of him now.
Matt, i may have oversimplified with Ebert. From what you say he is probably a cut above the majority of mainstream critics. Are the films at Ebertfest truly outside the mainstream or are they the usual Miramax stuff that’s supposed to be “indie” without actually being independent? I confess to being ignorant on the festival. I was basing most of my opinion on his books which cover mostly the same thing as David Thompson and the rest.
Rosenbaum is definately still writing, His piece about John Gianvito in the winter edition of Film Quarterly is excellent. He’s had a few things in Film Comment, including this overview of the films of Manoel de Oliveira:
He’s also going to have some stuff on Slate soon, too, I understand.
Ebertfest (formarly the Overlooked Film Festival) is actually pretty eclectic. They show a silent film with live orchestra accompaniment every year, foreign films, indies, Hollywood films that for whatever reason didn’t find an audience, documentaries, etc. Here’s the films shown at this year’s edition:
Oh, and I’d like to add to my own thread: Ed Gonzalez, Bill Mousoulis, David Ehrenstein.
Emanuel Levy is a critic that I agree with almost all the time so he’d be my pick. He’s also written some great books on film.
By far, Martin Scorsese—if you watch everything he recommends, you’ll never be disappointed—he is definitely the best critic we have in the world at present. He is better critic than film maker!
i dont really care for any critics. i used to like ebert before he gave that review for blue velvet. that was the most horrible review ive ever witnessed.
Pete Travers of Rolling Stone is always spot on. He is also the most coveted name to get on your film jacket, due to the reputation of Rolling Stone Magazine as THE hippest mag on the market for movies and music.
“i used to like ebert before he gave that review for blue velvet. that was the most horrible review ive ever witnessed.”
Horribly written or negative? There’s a big difference.
And even if you love Blue Velvet, and I do, everything he says in his review is right. The tonal shifts he mentions are clear. The punny humor undercuts the intensity of the Hopper/Rossellini/MacLachlan material. The dorky jokes have always been a problem in Lynch’s films, like he can’t commit to the surreal stuff that he does better than virtually anyone else.
Agreed on Peter Travers. He’s one of the most unpretentious critics today, if anything.
I like A.O. Scott of the NYTs and Manolah Dargis, but man, Scott has been on that comedy shit really hard lately. Its as if hes’ trying to apeal to a younger audience or something… its not good. I wish he would get back to business.
Mark Kermode – BBC Radio 5
Peter Bradshaw – The Guardian
Anyone who dismisses Ebert is not thinking clearly. If you disagree with him on a certain review, then you disagree with him on a certain review. People who extrapolate their disagreements about one movie (Blue Velvet, Indy 4…) into a total hatred of the man are silly. I can’t imagine anything more unfair.
Ebert’s a decent, honest writer. He likes the art house but will give the mainstream a try. His reviews are always within the context of the filmmakers ambition. He’s a good guy. Come on people.
The only person I tend to trust is David Thomson.
OBVIOUSLY ARMOND WHITE
well………….no. probably ebert and rosenbaum, plus the guys at movieline and the AV club. I read thos regularly
People have already mentioned the great Jonathan Rosenbaum and J Hoberman, which are probably my two favorites, so I just wanted to put in a recommendation for Dave Kehr. He pulls on a remarkably expansive knowledge of film history, and he can be a fairly pithy writer too (digging through his capsule reviews at the Chicago Reader always yields some finely polished gems of critical observation).
but as someone said here, the golden age of film critiquing is done.
I’ll tell you who’s the worst: Roger Ebert. The man can’t write to save his life.
I usually read the film critics of the New York Times and I agree with them 95% of the time.
There are no real tilm crtics out today. The best film critic is on some blog. That said I like Elvis Mitchell.
Without a doubt Elvis Mitchell is the best film crtiic out there.
Q.T is a great critic and I cant wait for him to start writing books on cinema
I could not stand Siskel, Ebert is okay.
Pauline Kael is great, one of my all time favorites
Paul Scharder wrote some interesting reviews which you can read for free on his website
Tag Gallagher is the best writer on film in the English language that I’m aware of, but he’s not a reviewer- he specializes in a few directors:
why, i am the the best critic
I have to agree the best film critics are usually not professional critics like the late David Foster Wallace or Martin Scorsese.
J. Hoberman was ok but working at the Voice has made him a horrible critic now always putting politics into his film reviews. Seriously if a film has a political point of view you don’t agree with how does that make it a bad film? I never understood that.
Peter Travers is a joke and never met a film he didn’t like. His reviews seem to be inspired by industry execs and written for 16 year olds.
Armond White, well its hard to take him too seriously. I understand the need to say outrageous things to try to seperate yourself from the heard but you should still have a means to your silly rants (or at least seem to).
Ebert is better in writing than his show.
Never trust a critic that gives films starts or ratings or thumbs up/down, etc.
Someone telling me “I liked it!. It gets 4 stars” is NOT film critism. I can get that asking people coming out of the movie theatre and it would be more accurate. It still amazes me people get paid for that kind of “review”