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Patricia Puentes

When You Don’t Feel Like Going to the Movies and Prefer to Stream Something at Home Instead

who are the top movie critics

I feel I may have been deceiving you a bit over the last few months. In my capacity as a movie critic I’ve reviewed A Quiet Place II , The Last Duel , Don’t Look Up , The Matrix Resurrections and, more recently, The Batman , The Lost City and Top Gun: Maverick . Yet I haven’t set foot in a theater during a regular movie session since March of 2020. I’ve watched all of those movies, and a few other titles, at private limited-capacity screenings, specifically organized for the press. For other movies, I’ve simply streamed them at home. 

Let me be clear: advanced press screenings and digital movie screeners aren’t a pandemic novelty. I was already watching movies for reviews that way before COVID-19 upended our lives. The difference is that in the before times I didn’t care that much if someone else was sitting next to me at the theater. If I couldn’t make it to a press screening, I would go to a regular movie session at my local Landmark or AMC theater once the movie was out.

Right now — especially since the drop of the indoor masking mandate and with coronavirus cases on the rise once again — it’s either press screenings with limited capacity or I’ll just wait until the movie is available on streaming. Yet again, my reluctance to go to the theater has increased due to the pandemic. And I’m not sure if I’ll ever return to my pre-COVID routine of going to the movies at least once a week. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be watching movies. It’s just that not all of them require the big screen.

who are the top movie critics

I’ve written about the theaters vs. streaming dichotomy I’ve been having for more than two years . The idea of watching a movie at home is not exactly a new concept. We had VHS tapes, DVDs and iTunes rentals. But we’re at a point now where streaming technology, paired with bigger and higher-quality TV sets , allows us to have a quasi-moviegoing experience at home for certain titles that don’t offer that much spectacle. 

Streaming services have been vying to provide that cinematic experience for a while. Think about Netflix’s Oscar-baiting efforts with Beasts of No Nation (2015), Roma (2018), Marriage Story (2019), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020) or Mank (2020). But also think about their popular movies like Red Notice (2021), The Adam Project (2022) or Bird Box (2018) — or something like Don’t Look Up (2021), which managed to enrage some critics, get four Oscar nominations and make it to number two on Netflix’s ranking of their Most Popular Films in English . 

Streaming services like Netflix and Apple TV+ are releasing movies — wannabe awards contenders also get a limited release in movie theaters — that end up becoming not only big trophy nominees but also winners (think about The Power of the Dog and CODA ’s spotlight during awards season this year). CODA would make history by becoming the first streaming film to win the top Oscar prize: Best Motion Picture of the Year. The intimate coming-of-age story about a teenager who’s the only hearing person in a family of deaf people makes for the perfect at-home consumption. It’s one of the types of movies that I don’t necessarily see myself seeking out at a movie theater in the future. It makes for a great date night in.

Even though it’s getting harder for me to tell people to go to the cinema — and a big part of that is the risk the pandemic poses — I still think there are movie experiences that are better served up in a theater. I saw Top Gun: Maverick last month — sitting in the front of the theater just to avoid being too close to unmasked people — and it makes for the perfect moviegoing outing. Because of the way it was shot — with actors actually flying inside of F-18 jets and relying on practical effects instead of an abundance of CGI — it’s undeniably one of the movies that justifies the extra expense, bother and risk factor of the big screen. It won’t be the same to experience it at home, which is probably why the movie opened exclusively in theaters on May 27. 

who are the top movie critics

If you take a look at this year’s numbers , Top Gun: Maverick , The Batman , Jurassic World Dominion , Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home — which was released in December of last year and was actually 2021’s highest-grossing movie — lead the domestic box office so far. So don’t expect to see a shortage of action and comic book movies at the cineplex in the future. There’s clearly an audience for that.

But there’s also room for Sandra Bullock’s latest rom-com The Lost City , sitting at number eight right now in terms of the domestic yearly box office gross. Since its release on March 25, the action-adventure movie has grossed $105 million. It’s now finding a second life after being released on Paramount Plus on May 10. (Long gone are the days of the 90-day window between the date a movie opened in theaters and its release for home entertainment.) The Lost City was the most-streamed movie during the weekend of May 13–15, according to Whip Media, the data analysis company for the entertainment market.

As much as I thought The Lost City made for the perfect date movie, I also think date nights that revolve around film-watching can be perfectly enjoyed at home if you’re as risk-averse as I am. I didn’t feel Bullock’s antics in the movie — as brilliant and hilarious as she is here — required the complete cinematic experience. 

Especially when the complete cinematic experience means getting out of the house, dealing with parking and risking not only possible COVID-19 exposure, but also a chatty theater-seat neighbor who doesn’t shut up or texts during the film. Somehow, during the pandemic, I developed an intolerance for inconvenient situations.

who are the top movie critics

I should also mention the arthouse film that has beaten all odds: Everything Everywhere All at Once . The film has grossed more than $66 million. Variety brands the box office performance as “impressive” for an arthouse flick , adding that “those ticket sales are a positive indication that adult audiences will return to the big screen for the right movie.” The trade publication adds that older audiences have been slower to return to movie theaters compared to younger ones, which explains the box office popularity of titles like Spider-Man: No Way Home and The Batman . You could also argue that Michelle Yeoh’s movie taps into the zeitgeisty multiverse during its trendiest moment .

While big studios like Disney or Warner Bros. have returned to the model of releasing their big titles exclusively in cinemas, arthouse studios and streaming services are betting on different strategies. A24 has found success with their exclusivity in theaters with the release of Everything Everywhere All at Once but also, to a lesser degree, X , and they released Alex Garland’s ( Ex Machina ) Men that way on May 20. Searchlight Pictures is taking a different approach. They’ll be releasing their three summer films — Fire Island , Good Luck to You, Leo Grande and Not Okay — directly on Hulu. Netflix will keep its weekly release of movies during the summer months, too. In the case of the star-studded The Gray Man , it’ll premiere in select theaters on July 15 and will then be available on Netflix a week after that. And Apple TV+ will try to replicate its CODA success with a new Sundance film: Dakota Johnson’s Cha Cha Real Smooth , which premiered simultaneously in select theaters and on the streamer on June 17.

If you’re feeling like watching a movie after all this cinema talk, take a look at our 2022 Summer Movie Preview . We include everything from genre tentpoles to arthouse indie titles. And we tell you whether you’ll be able to watch them in cinemas, at home, or both. One thing is clear: there are options for everything these days. But perhaps not every single movie demands to be watched on the big screen, at least for the time being. 


who are the top movie critics

The 12 Best Movie Critics of All Time, Ranked 

Many thumbs up.

Film critics are tasked with honesty, — and they are often seen as responsible for informing moviegoers of whether they should part with their hard-earned money or not. This has been the case from the prime of TV's Siskel & Ebert to the rise of Rotten Tomatoes.

Through the decades, there have been many movie critics who have made a particularly significant impact in the world of film, and each of these are worthy of mention. Each of these critics have left a lasting impression on moviegoers across the world, and an influence on film itself.

12 Joe Morgenstern

Writing as a film critic for almost twenty years at Newsweek, Joe Morgenstern made a name for himself as an authority in film. He went on to write for The Wall Street Journal for almost another thirty years. Morgenstern won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2005 for his work in film and television criticism.

RELATED: 10 Underrated Movies Recommended by Gene Siskel One of his claims to fame during his tenure at Newsweek is that he wrote a negative opinion of the film Bonnie and Clyde , but after careful consideration, published a retraction in a subsequent issue of the magazine. Which served to work as a great marketing opportunity for the film, noting that it caused a renowned film critic to change his opinion on the quality of the film.

11 Mark Kermode

An widely published critic, musician, radio and podcast host, Mark Kermode is a name many film buffs are familiar with. Kermode began his film critic writing career in Manchester's City Life magazine, then moving on to Time Out and NME in London. He has also written for The Independent , Vox , Empire , Flicks among others.

RELATED: 12 of Gene Siskel's Favorite Movies Ever In addition to his truly prolific career in writing, Kermode is also a double bass player and has played in various rockabilly bands. Kermode became chief film critic for The Observer in 2013. In 2014, he named The Babadook the best film of the year. His favorite film is The Exorcist .

10 Andrew Sarris

Andrew Sarris was a lover of film. Writing for the magazine, Film Culture , and then eventually moving to write for The Village Voice . Some regarded his writing as elitist, but was undeniably one of the most impactful and respected in his field. Eventually, he wrote for The New York Observer and then taught as a professor of film at Columbia University until he retired in 2011, a year before his death.

Sarris was married to fellow film critic Molly Haskell . Sarris claimed that for thirty years, if anyone were to ask what his favorite film was, his answer was unvaried: The Earrings of Madame de... , by Max Ophuls . Sarris consistently referred to this film as the most perfect film ever made.

9 James Agee

James Agee was an accomplished novelist, journalist, as well as a poet, screenwriter, and film critic. In the 1940s, he became one of the most widely known film critics as he wrote for Time Magazine . He wrote for Fortune , The Nation , and Life Magazine , as well.

RELATED: Behind the Scenes: 10 Great Films About Filmmaking That Aren't ENTOURAGE In 1958, he was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his autobiographical novel, A Death in the Family . Additionally, he is well-known as the screenwriter for such revered film classics as The African Queen and The Night of the Hunter .

8 André Bazin

In his unseasonably short life, André Bazin was nevertheless a prolific critic and theorist of film. As the co-founder of the film magazine Cahiers du cinema , he regularly would provide criticism and feedback on films of that era.

Bazin's passion for realism often conflicted with other film theorists of his time. The influential voice was silenced to soon, when Bazin died of leukemia at age 40 in 1958.

7 Molly Haskell

Author and feminist film critic, Molly Haskell has been active in the field since the 1960s. Writing for publications such as The New York Times , The Guardian, Esquire, and many others, she has established a legacy as one of the most influential of all critics. Her most famous book is the searing, incisive From Reverance to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies .

On top of reviewing film and stage for decades, she is also an accomplished author with over a half dozen books written on the topic of film and film criticism. In 2019, she was the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow of the Year.

6 François Truffaut

Not only was François Truffaut an esteemed and influential film critic, but he also was, of course, a director, screenwriter, producer and actor. He is regarded as one of the founders of the French New Wave, and remains to this day one of the greatest icons in the French film industry.

RELATED: 'The 400 Blows' and 9 More of the Best French New Wave Movies, According to IMDb His career in film speaks for itself. He served as a director to over twenty films, an actor in over fifteen films, and a producer to at least five. He has over a dozen written books credited to his name ( Hitchcock/Truffaut is an essential read for all fans of film).

5 Vincent Canby

Vincent Canby was an accomplished writer who served as the premier film critic for The New York Times from the late 1960s until the early 1990s, moving only then to be their main theater critic from 1994 until 2000, when he passed away. Before the Times , he wrote briefly for the Chicago Journal of Commerce , then another brief stint at Variety .

Canby was known to be a supporter of filmmakers with a specific style, such as Stanley Kubrick , Spike Lee , and Woody Allen . Additionally, he was known to have a highly negative view of films that were generally well received, such as Blazing Saddles , Rocky , Rain Man , among others. Whether you agree with his opinions or not, Canby was truly a master with words, and will forever remembered in the world of film and theater.

4 Leonard Maltin

Film critic, published author and editor, podcast guest and host, noted television host... and Guinness World Record Holder?! Yes, Leonard Maltin holds the world record for the shortest movie review, which consists of his review of the 1948 film Isn’t It Romantic in which he merely stated: “No”.

RELATED: 9 Movies Roger Ebert Hated, But Audiences Loved

Voicing himself in South Park and The Simpsons (he also played himself in Gremlins 2 ) and writing or editing over 20 books, Maltin is not only accomplished, but he is beloved by all, being honored by the National Board of Review, the Telluride Film Festival, the Los Angeles City Council, and many others.

3 Gene Siskel

Most famous for being half of the duo of Siskel & Ebert , Gene Siskel has a very long history of providing the world with his opinion on film. He began his career writing for the Chicago Tribune in 1969. From there, he hosted a review program with Roger Ebert until his death in 1999.

In 1998, Siskel was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent immediate surgery to remedy the issue. Despite briefly returning to the show, in February 1999, he decided to take a leave of absence to allow himself to recover, only to pass away from complications 3 days later. His legacy will forever and always get two thumbs way up from friends and fans alike.

2 Pauline Kael

A critic from an earlier era than some of these others, Pauline Kael was one of the most influential film critics of her era. She was known as witty, biting, and being overtly opinionated, but still focused on getting her voice heard. She was known for regularly disagreeing with her contemporaries.

RELATED: Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Movie Critic’ Is Set in 1977, But It’s Not About Pauline Kael

Writing for The New Yorker for over twenty years, Kael created a lasting impression with critics of several generations. Despite a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in the 1980s, she continued to write for New Yorker until 1991, when she announced her retirement.

1 Roger Ebert

When it comes to movie critics, the one name that is recognizable above all else is the truly unforgettable and inspirational Roger Ebert . His career lasted nearly a half-century, and his impact has lasted long after his death in 2013. He paved the way for virtually every critic who's followed.

Whether he was writing for the Chicago Sun-Times or hosting his widely beloved television series sharing his thoughts on film, Ebert was a worldwide treasure. He was the first film critic to ever win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, in 1975. While he may be gone, he will never be forgotten and will always be loved for what he brought to the world of film criticism.

NEXT: 15 Great Underrated Movies Recommended by Roger Ebert

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Top 10 Film Critics

Critics of movies have a very important purpose. They are meant to label a movie whether its good or bad, great or terrible, or any other words they can come up with. There isn't many, but some critics have managed to earn a prominent status. These critics are known for their extreme passion for films, and even if you sometimes disagree with them, you can't help but listen to their intellect. Here are the 5 critics who have made an impact in the world of film criticism, and cinema in general. Enjoy!

1. Roger Ebert

Cinematographer | Siskel & Ebert & the Movies

Roger Joseph Ebert was the all-time best-known, most successful movie critic in cinema history, when one thinks of his establishing a rapport with both serious cineastes and the movie-going public and reaching more movie fans via television and print than any other critic. He became the first and ...

Isn't this a no brainer? Roger Ebert has criticized movies for 4 decades from the 1970s to the 2010s. His whole life was dedicated to the art of film, and understood it. With that he was able to give fair, and understandable reasons behind his opinions. He wasn't always perfect (like with The Lion King, calling it a good film, but not great.) But you can't dislike his passion, and impactful brilliance.

2. Leonard Maltin

Actor | Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Leonard Maltin is one of the most recognized and respected film critics of our time. He recently completed his 30th season with the long-running television show, Entertainment Tonight (1981). Maltin was born on Friday, December 18th, 1950, in New York City and grew up in suburban Teaneck, New Jersey...

A film critic and writer. Responsible for the Movie Guide Books that ran until 2009. He and Ebert rivaled for who was the better critic, and Maltin was just a good.

3. Gene Siskel

Self | Siskel & Ebert & the Movies

Gene Siskel was an American film critic and journalist for the Chicago Tribune. He partnered with fellow critic Roger Ebert to present a series of television shows which centered on film reviews. Their partnership lasted from 1975 to Siskel's death in 1999. Siskel became famous for his heated ...

Roger Ebert's longtime partner in crime. He and Ebert had a friendly dispute about which films were good or bad. Sometimes they both hate a film, both love a film, or one likes, and one hates. They both gave agreeable statements for their arguments. Gene himself was as much into criticism as Ebert was, unfortunately he died early in his career.

4. Richard Roeper

Richard Roeper was born on October 17, 1959 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He is a writer and actor, known for Siskel & Ebert (1986), Something to Live For and Entourage (2004).

5. Jeremy Jahns

Actor | Homemade Movies

Jeremy Jahns is known for Homemade Movies (2012), Jeremy Jahns (2009) and Movie Trivia Schmoedown (2014).

A YouTube sensation who got started critiquing movies in 2009 after the release of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. Since then he has made over 1000 videos ranging from movie reviews, game reviews, trailer reviews, movie news, and more. In 2015 he hit 1 million subscribers on YouTube and counting. He says as long as he is breathing he will continue to do movie reviews and other things as he's done before.

6. Doug Walker

Writer | The Nostalgia Critic

Doug Walker was born in Naples, Italy; and because his father was in the Navy, lived in many different places across the United States when he was growing up. He went on to study film at Northern Illinois University, majoring in communications. After college, he worked as an illustrator and started ...

One of the most popular internet personalities who makes videos on YouTube. His most popular trend is a character he created named the Nostalgia Critic. He does other videos like: Sibling Rivalry, Our Thoughts On..., and Bum Reviews. He runs several channels including: The Guy with the Glasses, League of Super Critics, The Review Must Go On, and others. His brother Rob appears from time to time to play his character Santa Christ, and as himself on Our Thoughts On..., and Sibling Rivalry.

7. Chris Stuckmann

Writer | Shelby Oaks

Chris Stuckmann was born (April 15, 1988) in Akron, OH. He developed a love of movies early on through films like Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), Back to the Future (1985) and The Princess Bride (1987). As he got older, his love of film led him to purchase a video camera and try his hand...

Another well-known YouTube movie reviewer who has a very similar setup as Jeremy Jahns, but Chris is more precise, and pays attention to detail more. If you are a movie lover who also pays attention to things like camera work, directing, camera shots, and other technical stuff, then he is the critic for you. However, he's not boring, he has passion for films, and he shows it in his reviews.

8. Kristian Harloff

The Reaping

Kristian Harloff is known for The Reaping (2007), Schmoes Know (2008) and SEN Live (2019).

The founder of Schmoes Know at Schmoeville with his partner Mark Ellis. They began around the same time as Jeremy Jahns. But while Jeremy does solo reviews, Kristian and Mark do duo reviews. Kristian is more of the straight man, who acts more sarcastic, and yet passionate about the films he watches. When he watches a film and loves it, he will let you know. But if the movie (stoinks!) he doesn't take it kindly.

9. Mark Ellis

Producer | Schmoes Know

Mark Ellis is known for Schmoes Know (2008), Movie Trivia Schmoedown (2014) and Movie Trivia Schmoedown Exhibition (2018).

Also the founder of Schmoes Know. His partner Kristian Harloff also has. Mark's reviews are more loose. Giving deep reasons behind his opinions and often acts like the dummy of the two, but this is just comedic.

10. Janet Maslin

Self | Spielberg

Janet Maslin was born on August 12, 1949 in New York City, New York, USA. She has been married to Benjamin Hale Cheever since December 24, 1981. They have two children. She was previously married to Jon Landau .

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Who are top critics.

Top Critic is a designation created to distinguish Tomatometer-approved critics who excel at their craft. Critics selected are well-established, influential, and prolific; they are, in a sense, the cream of the crop. Top Critic status is granted by a set of criteria and a selection panel and cannot be applied for.

Reviews published by Top Critics feature in-depth analysis, supported by a breakdown of formal and thematic elements. Top Critics exhibit a deep knowledge of film/TV history, and their reviews may also provide valuable cultural context. While their reviews incorporate the lens of their own experience, they also exhibit the ability to remove any biases that may prevent them from serving the audience at-large. Overall, reviews from Top Critics are compelling, provide a sense of the viewing experience, exhibit a recognizable voice, and may influence the larger cultural conversation around a film or TV series.

Top Critics demonstrate commitment to criticism beyond reviewing and create impact in a number of ways, including but not limited to:

  • Maintaining a professional reputation among fellow critics and within the industry for their high-quality work, championing emerging talent in film and/or television (e.g. new filmmakers and writers), and building community both in person and through social engagement.
  • Investing in the next generation of criticism via mentorship, teaching, participating in panels and workshops, programming or moderating screenings, and/or publishing books on film and/or television.
  • Participating in the evolution of criticism via newer review formats (i.e. podcasts and video).

Peer evaluation and external expertise is also taken into consideration in selecting candidates for this designation. We have collaborated with an advisory group of critics and industry professionals chosen for their diverse backgrounds and prominence in the field in order to ensure and maintain quality for the designation.

Advisory Committee

Monica Castillo , Arts & Culture Reporter, Colorado Public Radio David Fear , Senior Editor & Film/TV Critic, Rolling Stone Jessica Kiang , Film Critic, Variety, The Playlist, Sight & Sound Magazine Eric Kohn , Executive Editor & Chief Critic, IndieWire Amy Nicholson , Host of the podcast “Unspooled” & critic for KPCC’s Film Week Gil Robertson , co-founder and President of AAFCA

Individually-Designated Top Critics

Eligible critics are individually-approved for Rotten Tomatoes and also meet the following guidelines:

  • Have reviewed professionally for a minimum of five years
  • Critique film/TV on a regular and frequent basis, a minimum of four to six times per month
  • Consistent web traffic with at least five million visits over six months
  • 450k followers on Twitter
  • 500k video subscribers
  • For podcasts, at least 1k ratings and 4 stars on Apple Podcasts

Critics who contribute to approved publications that reach underrepresented groups will be considered on a case-by-case basis. An active and dynamic social presence is also evaluated for all critics.

List of individually-designated Top Critics

Top Critic-Designated Publications

Similar to individual recipients, Top Critic outlets are making distinct and lasting impacts on the field of film/TV criticism. By reaching broad and/or underrepresented audiences, these outlets influence conversations surrounding the films and/or TV series they cover.

Eligible outlets often review lesser-covered and/or niche films and/or TV shows, and do so from perspectives and angles that speak directly to their communities. Overall, these publications have established themselves as distinctive platforms that provide nuanced and unique coverage both by and for underrepresented audiences.

Eligible publications are approved for Rotten Tomatoes and also meet the following guidelines:

  • Consistently publish reviews for at least five years
  • Frequently publish reviews, features, and/or cultural essays from both individually-approved critics and Top Critics

List of publications that receive the Top Critic designation

In some cases, even if a critic or publication does not meet the eligibility guidelines listed above, we may consider them for approval if we believe their inclusion will benefit the utility of the Tomatometer® and its audience.

In all cases, Rotten Tomatoes maintains the right to approve, reject, include, exclude and remove critics, reviews and publications on a case-by-case basis at any time.

From time to time we change our guidelines, and there may be critics or publications who are still included in the Tomatometer® that may not meet the current set of guidelines.

History of Top Critics

Established in 2008, Top Critic is a designation that elevates Tomatometer critics who excel at their craft, are well-established, influential and prolific; they are, in a sense, the cream of the crop.

The Top Critic designation was originally intended to spotlight critics whose reviews were primarily published at traditional print outlets. These publications were selected for their editorial oversight, longevity, journalistic reputation and elevated reach, demonstrated by high circulation (e.g., print outlets holding rank in the top 10% of circulation). As media formats evolved, the designation was eventually expanded to wide-reaching web magazines and news sites.

Subsequently, Top Critic became an essential component for the Certified Fresh designation. Certified Fresh status is a special distinction awarded to the best-reviewed movies and TV shows; in order to qualify, a movie or TV season must have at least five reviews from Top Critics.

Greatest Film Critics of All Time

Their words influenced audiences, turned movies upside down, and changed filmmaking and movie watching forever.

As long as there have been films, there have been those who dedicate their lives to writing about them. It takes love, passion, and time to forge criteria and consideration towards the seventh art. Film critics and theorists have, for over a century, played a pivotal role in the cinematic world, as their words have filled movie seats (or not), birthed (or ended) careers, and became eternally bound to the films they refer to.

While some go through film school, or start as actors or in some other role in film production, some of history’s most renowned filmmakers began as critics, and through their studying and countless hours of movie-watching, eventually became creators themselves. No matter what you think about them, film critics and theorists are crucial to the development of film and of society’s consciousness towards them. These 10 critics (listed in alphabetical order) stand apart from the rest, as their influence and work is to this day precious to life and film.

André Bazin

What is Cinema? is still arguably the most important book about movies, and its author, André Bazin , is responsible for film criticism as it is today. The co-founder of Cahiers Du Cinema is one of the most respected names when it comes to filmmaking and film theory.

Bazin's expansive essays on the importance of realism, and what makes films conjure so many emotions, and even influence everyday life, are keystones to film schools throughout the world. Without Bazin, there would be little critical consciousness regarding films, and thus, no film criticism as we know it today.

Peter Bogdanovich

The dearly-missed Peter Bogdanovich not only was one of the key figures in the New Hollywood movement , but he also was one of the most important film critics and historians of all time. As a kid, he would keep a record of all the films he saw in an index card with a review of each one included, a practice he would continue for nearly 20 years.

In average, he would see nearly four hundred films a year, a passion that drove him to be part of film programming teams at institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, film critic at Cahiers Du Cinema, and writer of many important books on film history, and in-depth interviews with directors such as Alfred Hitchcock. Of course, Bogdanovich's film career was also formidable, in which classics such as The Last Picture Show or Paper Moon stand out.

Peter Bradshaw

For over twenty years, The Guardian’s film section has featured the precise writings of Peter Bradshaw . After spending most of the 90s as a columnist for the Evening Standard, in 1999 he began working as chief film critic for The Guardian , and has since established himself as one of the most trusted and respected modern critics.

In an age where reviewers have received backlash by actors just for doing their job, Bradshaw is one of those raising the flag for the continuity and importance of film critics.

Manohla Dargis

This celebrated critic and author is one of the chief film w riters for The New York Times and a five-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. A look at Manohla Dargis ' best film list of each year will give you an idea of what an eclectic and interesting mind is at work here.

Her cultured and beautifully written work, has graced week in and week out the newspaper’s Arts section, taking in from underground art house cinema to mainstream Hollywood blockbusters. As an author, she has written books focusing on the role of women in cinema throughout history.

Roger Ebert

Loved, feared, and hated, his name is synonymous with film criticism. Roger Ebert is the undisputed best-known movie critic of all time. His work at the Chicago Tribune and on PBS introduced the “thumbs up/thumbs down” ranking that has become a staple of cinema, and his take would become a decisive factor on whether audiences would swarm to a theater, or wouldn’t even care to show up.

In 1975, he became the first film critic to be awarded a Pulitzer prize, and despite the relevance of his opinion, he wasn’t as tough as the mythology that has been built around his work. A staple of his, was the inclusion of witty personal anecdotes in his reviews, which also made him sympathetic to thousands of readers. His death in 2013 left a void in the film world that is felt to this very day.

Pauline Kael

No one, absolutely no one would have expected for Pauline Kael to be the subject of Quentin Tarantino’s final film , yet it feels so appropriate. Hopefully, Tarantino’s love of film and its history will make Kael a known and beloved figure for more than just the film community, for which Kael is a sacred figure as relevant as all the films she wrote about.

Her nearly autobiographical approach to criticism set her apart from the academic form of prior critics and changed the way film was written about forever. She was famous for being unapologetic, unafraid of arguing, and a champion of films often discarded by most critics, and inversely, a critic of widely beloved movies.

Dilys Powell

All-time best film critics lists hold a historical debt to female critics, who have been as good and important throughout history as men. Most only include Pauline Kael, leaving behind the legacy of critical icons such as Dilys Powell .

For over 50 years, Powell contributed to The Sunday Times and was one of the 20th century critics who was most open to societal and cultural changes. This can be indebted to her tireless traveling and hunger for understanding foreign cultures, which made her writing elaborate and incredibly knowledgeable.

Dan Sallitt

The love of film is hopefully what drives someone to become engaged more closely with the art form; that love is felt in every bit of writing from Dan Sallitt , which is gorgeously translated in his film work as writer and director.

One of the world’s most underrated critics and filmmakers has been at it for more than four decades, and thankfully in recent years, his work has achieved a higher recognition by the film community. His writing has been featured on MUBI, The Village Voice, Slate, and other famous outlets, while his films, ever since 2012's brilliant The Unspeakable Act, have appeared in several film festivals.

Paul Schrader

Paul Schrader is mostly known as a great screenwriter and director, but he is also one of the filmmakers that has acknowledged and championed the importance of film studies and criticism in the development of the art form. He became a film critic in the late '60s and early '70s, and published the renowned book Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer before he was even 30.

Related: Exclusive: Gregg Turkington on Useless Film Critics and the Comic Universe of On Cinema

By the mid-'70s, he made the transition to scriptwriting and directing, a career that has lasted half a century (most recently with the mysterious movie Master Gardener ) could have easily left critical assessment of films aside, but he’s always had it so present, to the point that to this day he continually shares his opinions on his Facebook page .

Francois Truffaut

No one bridged the gap between European and American cinema quite like Francois Truffaut . He would make some of the most important films of the 20th century while still being able to understand and appreciate what made someone like Steven Spielberg make the films he did. His dedication for the seventh art was clear right from the beginning of his career through his harsh though passionate reviews for Cahiers Du Cinema in the 50s.

As a writer, he is best remembered for his 1954 call-to-arms article, “A Certain Trend in French Cinema” which is seen today as partly responsible for the ignition of the French New Wave . He is also responsible for the development of “auteur theory,” which sets the director as the major creative force behind films, for which he used Hitchcock as an example, with whom he would develop an endearing friendship. His book, Hitchcock/Truffaut , was turned into a 2015 film, it was so influential.

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The Most Famous Movie Critic: A Ranking of Celebrated Voices in Film Analysis

Voting rules: Choose the critic you think is the most famous!

Author: Gregor Krambs

Who Is the Most Famous Movie Critic?

Roger Ebert

  • Roger Ebert
  • Position 1 of 10 in Most popular movie critic
  • Position 4 of 10 in Most famous Roger

Pauline Kael

  • Pauline Kael
  • Position 3 of 10 in Most popular movie critic

Gene Siskel

Gene Siskel

Leonard Maltin

Leonard Maltin

  • Position 2 of 10 in Most popular movie critic

Andrew Sarris

Vincent canby.

David Denby

David Denby

Kenneth Turan

Kenneth Turan

  • Position 9 of 10 in Most popular movie critic
  • Janet Maslin

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Ranking factors for famous movie critic.

  • The critic's credibility and reputation in the film industry. 2. The critic's writing style and ability to deliver thoughtful and insightful reviews. 3. The critic's overall contributions to the field of film criticism. 4. The critic's popularity and reach, including the size of their audience and the impact of their reviews. 5. The critic's influence on the industry, such as their ability to sway public opinion or affect box office earnings. 6. Awards and recognition received for their work as a movie critic. 7. The critic's longevity in the industry and their consistent track record of delivering quality reviews.

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This is a community-based ranking of the most famous movie critic. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or critic is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!

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A participant may cast an up or down vote for each critic once every 24 hours. The rank of each critic is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

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The 10 Most Famous Movie Critics of All Time

Their reviews influenced the minds of moviegoers as well as the box office

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who are the top movie critics

Since the earliest days of cinema, movie critics have played a crucial role in filling seats (or not filling seats) at movie theaters. Countless movie reviews have been published over the decades, but only a select few film critics have become well-known for their work. The following famous movie critics have made a lasting mark on the film industry.

André Bazin

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France's André Bazin was one of the earliest major film critics, having started his career in 1943. He was a co-founder of the renowned film magazine Cahiers du cinéma. More important than Bazin's reviews are his extensive writing on film theory, including essays on the importance of realism in cinema that are still widely read by film students.

Judith Crist

Judith Crist was one of the first female film critics to gain widespread recognition from her reviews in the New York Herald Tribune , New York magazine, and TV Guide , as well as her appearances on NBC's The Today Show throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. She was perhaps the first female film critic whose criticism was published widely outside of "female-focused" magazines.

Roger Ebert

Arguably the most famous U.S. film critic of all time, Roger Ebert reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for nearly fifty years. With former television partner Gene Siskel, Ebert popularized the basic "thumb's up" or "thumb's down" rating system. Because of his popularity in both print and on television, a review from Ebert could often make or break a movie's box office chances. He also started his own annual film festival, Ebertfest, which often highlights overlooked movies.

As famous as he was for thoughtful, in-depth film criticism, Ebert is also remembered for his savage and often hilarious negative reviews. His review of the 1994 movie North became famous for its vicious prose, including the lines, "I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it."

Pauline Kael

The New Yorker

Pauline Kael began her career as a film critic when the editor of a San Francisco magazine overheard her talking about films with a friend in a coffee shop and offered her a job.

Later as a critic for women's magazine McCall's , Kael became famous for her in-depth analysis, as well as for weaving her personal life and experiences into her reviews. She is also known for giving negative reviews to movies that were otherwise popular favorites, such as her extremely negative assessments of It's a Wonderful Life and The Sound of Music .  

In 1968, Kael became a film critic for The New Yorker , where she regularly championed films that other critics ignored or dismissed. She also gained notoriety for her since-discredited 1971 essay Raising Kane that alleged that Orson Welles wrote very little of the Citizen Kane screenplay.

Leonard Maltin

Leonard Maltin began his career as a movie critic before he even graduated high school. Published regularly from 1969 to 2014, Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide was one of the most popular film reference guides, containing Martin's short reviews of hundreds of movies. He was also the film critic for the television show Entertainment Tonight for 28 years.

Maltin has since become one of the go-to critics for projects relating to the history of American cinema. He has hosted a variety of television programs about the history of movies.

Andrew Sarris

Longtime Village Voice film critic Andrew Sarris was a strong proponent of the "auteur theory" of cinema, which gives credit to a film's director as its primary author.

Sarris was also known for his book The American Cinema , which ranked filmmakers by their output and generated endless debate among film fans. Sarris was married to fellow Village Voice film critic Molly Haskell.

Gene Shalit

Best known for his unique look—bushy hair, mustache, and ever-present bow-tie—Gene Shalit wrote for a variety of publications before becoming the film critic for NBC's The Today Show , a role he held for 40 years (1970–2010).

Shalit was also a comedy writer who integrated puns into many of his reviews ("When it comes to oddball titles, The Men Who Stare at Goats would be hard to bleat!"). Shalit's puns, physical appearance, and overall jovial attitude have made him a popular subject of fond parody, even after he stepped out of the public eye.

Peter Travers

Longtime Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers is one of the most popular film critics of all timeespecially to Hollywood's publicity and marketing departments.

Travers has a tendency to lavish high praise on many films, which means his words are very frequently quoted on publicity materials like posters, trailers, and advertisements.

That doesn't mean Travers gives everything he sees a good review. He has written eviscerating reviews about otherwise very popular movies like A River Runs Through It , Barbershop and Jackass: Number Two . But if you do see a few quotes on a movie poster or television commercial, there's a good chance one of them originated from Travers.

François Truffaut

Unlike most film critics, France's François Truffaut didn't just review movies—he also made them. After a few years of writing famously tough reviews in the film magazine Cahiers du cinéma in the 1950s, Truffaut put his money where his mouth was and began directing movies, starting with 1959's The 400 Blows . Truffaut proved he knew what he was talking about when The 400 Blows won him the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival. His 1973 film, Day for Night , won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film .

As a critic, Truffaut is best known for developing the "auteur theory" of cinema. He used Alfred Hitchcock, with whom he published a book-long interview, as an example of an auteur.

Armond White

Armond White has written movie reviews for a variety of publications, including the New York Press and National Review . But rather than famous, many would refer to him as "infamous."

White is best known for giving negative reviews to otherwise nearly universally-acclaimed movies like Incredibles 2 , Get Out , Black Panther , Toy Story 3 , The Shape of Water , and The Florida Project . He is also known for giving positive reviews to otherwise negatively-received films, like The 15:17 to Paris , Justice League , and Transformers: The Last Knight . He has been labeled everything from a "contrarian" to a "troll," with many film fans calling for him to be removed as a Top Critic on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Yet White's against-the-grain criticism is often valuable, as it inspires thoughtful consideration of what makes his views so different from his fellow critics and moviegoers. 

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The 25 Best Movie Critics of All Time

Everyone else's opinions are optional.

Image via Complex Original

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As self-ran blogs and online message boards continue to dominate pop culture conversations, one old adage seems more apt than ever: Everyone's a critic.

The days when new movies were reviewed exclusively by knowledgeable film scholars are gone. Anyone who knows how to navigate Wordpress can publish their written views about the latest art-house film, popcorn flick, or costume drama. And, chances are, somebody's going to read it.

The most frustrating thing about this online renaissance—aside from suffering ignorant comments from trolls—is the way it trivializes the grade-A essays and critiques penned by folks whose entire lives have been dedicated to cinema studies.

In our own humble ways, we operate this Pop Culture channel utilizing the fine examples left by the greatest women and men of film criticism, albeit without losing sight of the modern vibes of 21st century Internet methodologies. And by "the greatest," we're referring to The 25 Best Movie Critics of All Time . Anyone who takes cinema seriously is advised to read their work.

RELATED: The 50 Harshest Roger Ebert Movie Review Quotes RELATED: The 100 Best Movies of the Complex Decade RELATED: 20 Pieces of Hollywood Trivia That Will Blow Your Mind!

Written by Matt Barone ( @MBarone )

25. David Edelstein

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Publications: Slate , New York Post , The Village Voice , Boston Phoenix , The New York Times , Rolling Stone , Vanity Fair , Variety , New York Read Reviews Here 

As filmgoers, we obviously prefer good movies over bad ones, but when it comes to reviews, it's always more fun to read a tear-down of a truly crappy movie. Few critics are able to eviscerate cinema's dregs quite like New York 's champion of snark, David Edelstein. It's exactly that brand of written scorn that immortalized Edelstein during the heyday of Saw and Hostel , wholly unpleasant horror movies that he famously dubbed "torture porn."

24. Kim Newman

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Publications: City Limits , Sight and Sound , Empire Read Reviews Here 

Highbrow movie critics have a tendency to downplay horror movies, and unfairly so. Kim Newman, on the other hand, has made a career out of championing the weirdest, most overlooked, and decidedly one-of-a-kind gore flicks, creature features, and every other kind of scare flick.

Hailing from London, Newman also moonlights as a horror fiction writer, but it's his regular Empire column, "Kim Newman's Video Dungeon," that still provides the 28-year veteran's most anticipated writings. Everything from Lucio Fulci pictures to schlock like Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks the Same  (yes, that's a real movie) gets the Dungeon treatment.

Those interested in catching up with Newman's pro-genre narratives should start with his massive, brilliantly comprehensive book Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s .

23. Wesley Morris

Publications: The Boston Globe , Grantland Read Reviews Here 

Wesley Morris' resume speaks for itself. First, there's the college he attended: Yale University. Second, and most importantly, there's that measly honor he was bestowed with last year: the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

Just imagine the sobs and head-smacks happening inside The Boston Globe 's office when Morris announced that he was leaving the newspaper to join Bill Simmons' Grantland full-time and become its biggest on-staff movie head.

22. Mike D'Angelo

Publications: Las Vegas Weekly , The Village Voice , Variety , Time Out New York , Nerve (website), Esquire Read Reviews Here 

Mike D'Angelo caught onto the power of online film criticism way before anyone else. Back in 1995, he started the blog The Man Who Viewed Too Muc h , a popular cyber hub for D'Angelo's accessible yet brainy reviews. Through the success of that site, he scored a full-time gig with Time Out New York and handled a monthly column in Esquire .

These days, he's back on the World Wide Web via AV Club's recurring "Scenic Routes," where D'Angelo breaks down one key scene from a noteworthy film in extensive detail.

21. Todd McCarthy

Publications: Variety , The Hollywood Reporter Read Reviews Here 

Movie junkies who impatiently wait for the first reviews of prestige pictures and pricey blockbusters should know Todd McCarthy's name well. Beginning in the late 1970s, McCarthy spent more than 30 years writing reviews for Variety , meaning his takes were, more often than not, the earliest published reactions to big studios' latest releases. And in that, he became a major authority whose dry, clinical observations helped to either build buzz or deliver a film DOA.

20. Glenn Kenny

Publications: The Village Voice , Premiere , The Auteurs (website), MSN (website) Read Reviews Here

Reading Glenn Kenny's reviews and essays is like being in a film class, but without the dry chafing of academia. As astute as he is witty, the former Premiere  critic has a strong knack for connecting current movies to old classics.

On his highly recommended blog, Some Came Running , Kenny regularly posts long, knowledgeable analyses of vintage films that draw insightful connections to today's pictures. In early January, for example, Kenny used the racial debate surrounding Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained to reflect upon D.W. Griffith's 1915 controversy magnet The Birth of a Nation .

19. Dana Stevens

Publication: Slate Read Reviews Here

To best appreciate Slate 's Dana Stevens, and in an effort to show her unpredictability and dedication to her own convictions, let's cite a few of her more recent reviews. As most of her peers were praising Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained , Stevens reacted from a place of inner disgust : "Tarantino’s intent may have been to showcase the horrors of slavery, but there’s something about his directorial delectation in all these acts of racial violence that left me not just physically but morally queasy."

But, at the same time, she's able to embrace the splattery weirdness of genre maverick Don Coscarelli's absurdist delight John Dies at the End , writing, "The story’s rabbit holes got so deep that I can’t actually tell you whether the movie’s title is a spoiler or not, but I loved John Dies at the End for so confidently whisking the viewer to a place where the question 'Well, did he die or didn’t he?' seems hopelessly un-nuanced and square."

18. Vincent Canby

Publications: Variety , The New York Times Read Reviews Here 

During his 24-year run as the chief film critic for The New York Times , Vincent Canby's (1924-2000) words wielded the power of mighty swords. If he chastised a foreign or independent movie, which he so often did, said film didn't stand a chance of catching on in the Big Apple. Take British director Terence Davies, for example, who made two pictures that Canby ridiculed in print and inadvertently prevented from receiving healthy American distribution.

His reviews didn't read like scholarly texts; rather, Canby's writing favored whip-smart humor. When covering a young, seriously bulked-up Arnold Schwarzenegger, he described the Austrian bodybuilder as ""something the actor might want to shed in order to slip into something more comfortable."

17. Philip French

Publications: The Times , The Observer , Sight and Sound Read Reviews Here 

Over in England, Philip French is a loud voice among film critics. In fact, he's arguably the UK's greatest living movie analyst. And if French has an area of untouchable expertise, it's in the cowboys-and-spurs sect of cinema: Originally published back in 1977, French's definitive book Westerns: Aspects of a Movie Genre is regarded as the greatest book ever written on the subject. And, best of all, you don't need to know Sergio Leone's birthday off the top of your head to appreciate the genre, thanks to French's lively writing.

16. Dilys Powell

Publications: The Sunday Times , Punch

Check those publication names above—far cries from the worldwide notoriety of periodicals like The New York Times , right? That's why the late Elizabeth Dilys Powell (who dropped her first name when writing) isn't frequently referenced when people discuss their favorite movie critics.

She worked in a vacuum of sorts, and her self-aware, pithy style of writing wasn't universally acknowledged until after her death in 1995. The source of her posthumous respect: cinephiles acquainting themselves with her sprawling, though now hard to find, book The Golden Screen: Fifty Years of Films .

15. Lisa Schwarzbaum

Publications: The Boston Globe , Entertainment Weekly Read Reviews Here

Earlier this week, the face of Entertainment Weekly began an unexpected face-change when Lisa Schwarzbaum, one of the magazine's two in-house movie critics (the other being Owen Gleiberman), announced that she's leaving the post after 22 acclaimed, productive years. It's a real blow to the glossy, easily consumed mag, since Schwarzbaum's loose, conversational reviews are, on a weekly basis, one of EW 's strongest components.

14. Manny Farber

Publications: The New Republic , Time , The Nation , New Leader , Cavalier , Artforum Read Reviews Here 

Manny Farber (1917-2008) had a low tolerance for high art. Which isn't to say that the Arizona native had bad taste—on the contrary, Farber possessed a brave, against-the-grain fondness for otherwise frowned-upon fringe cinema. Most of his peers couldn't be bothered by the genre trappings of anti-prestige artists like Laurel and Hardy, Don Siegel, and Andy Warhol, but Farber, bless his soul, devoted most of his career to casting their kinds of creative minds in a celebratory, you-need-to-watch-this light.

See his landmark essay "White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art" for a look into this singular mind.

13. Janet Maslin

Publication: The New York Times Read Reviews Here

Those who currently read The New York Times solely to check out film critic Manohla Dargis' latest reviews should salute Janet Maslin, big time. From 1977 through 1999, the NYC-bred Maslin brought her sterling combination of smarts and wiles to the reputable newspaper, specifically riding hard for the independent movie scene.

12. A.O. Scott

Publications: Newsday , Slate , The New York Times Read Reviews Here

One look at Anthony Oliver (or, simply, A.O.) Scott's family background should quickly explain why he's such a poignant writer: Both his parents were college professors. Keeping the Scott brood's educated leanings alive and well, Mr. New York Times Movie Reviewer (working alongside Manohla Dargis) represents a younger breed of critical prestige. He's only 46-years-old, yet Scott's work can be placed next to the also currently active Roger Ebert's output. Don't be surprised if he's held in the same kind of reverential esteem as Mr. Ebert by the time he reaches 70.

11. James Agee

Publications: Time , The Nation Read Reviews Here

A true trailblazer, James Agee gave film criticism a boost of widespread credibility back in the 1940s, when he reviewed countless movies for both Time and The Nation . And he never hid his affinity for silent films, often saving his most positive thoughts for wordless cinema. As for every other kind, Agee is largely remembered as being a tough man to please. He wasn't the type to hand out middling criticisms—his standards were sky-high.

Clearly, he knew what he was talking about: After ending his critic hustle in the early 1950s, Agee went on to work on the screenplays for the greatly revered films The African Queen (1951) and The Night of the Hunter (1955). Plus, following his death in 1945, Agee posthumously won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel A Death in the Family .

10. Anthony Lane

Publications: The Independent , Independent on Sunday , The New Yorker Read Reviews Here

In a different reality, Anthony Lane could be a prolific comedy writer. Through his intelligent reviews, The New Yorker 's free-wheeling critic (he's been on staff there since 1993) always conveys a sharp sense of humor, addressing a film's faults and positive attributes with self-deprecation and jokes.

In his 2003 book, Nobody's Perfect: Writings from The New Yorker , Lane provided a short list of must-do practices for anyone who's interested in following a similar career path, and it's quite indicative of the man's wit. Case in point, this tip: "Try to keep up with documentaries about Swabian transsexuals (or, see everything regardless of budget or hype)."

9. François Truffaut

Publication: Cahiers du cin é ma Read Reviews Here

François Truffaut is remembered best for being a master filmmaker, and with good reason. With undisputed classics like The 400 Blows (1959) and the meta Day for Night (1973) under his belt, the icon of French filmmaking (1932-1984) stands as one of cinema's exemplary directors.

But all of the talk about his behind-the-camera work detracts from his impressive run as a movie critic, during which he earned a stigma as France's harshest voice, writing for Cahiers du cinema, the film magazine from which the Nouvelle Vague  movement sprang from. His polarizing negativity reached its apex with the article "A Certain Trend in French Cinema" (1954), a call-to-arms for those who weren't happy with the country's moviegoing trends.

8. Manohla Dargis

Publications: Los Angeles Times , LA Weekly , The Village Voice , Film Comment , Sight and Sound , The New York Times Read Reviews Here

who are the top movie critics

Week in and week out, her learned, gorgeously written work enhances The New York Times Arts section, giving equal attention and excitement to films as diverse as Silver Linings Playbook and divisive as French writer-director Gaspar Noe's dizzying Enter the Void . Unlike most high-end critics, Dargis' name above a review of a genre film doesn't guarantee a wrongly slanted, probably disinterested point-of-view. For her, weirdo cinema has just as much potential as Oscar fare.

7. David Denby

Publications: The Atlantic , New York , The New Yorker Read Reviews Here

Consider David Denby the film critics' circuit's answer to the hip-hop community's Nas. Similar to how Nasir Jones made it his mission to question the existence of his once-prevalent and always cherished art form, The New Yorker 's chief film writer shook up the world of big-screen lovers with his controversial book Do the Movies Have a Future? . Largely avoiding snark, Denby's writing throughout the page-turner is earnest, focusing on the promotion of film's older ideals against the blockbusters and money-first products that major studios rush into theaters nowadays.

If written by a lesser critic, Do the Movies Have a Future?  would've came off as a real bitch-fest, one akin to an aged D.I.T.C. fan crying about Chief Keef and Trinidad James for 368 pages. But thanks to Denby's sterling, deserved reputation, it's an important conversation-starter from a master who's at the top of his game.

6. Jonathan Rosenbaum

Publications: Cahiers du cin é ma , Film Comment , Chicago Reader Read Reviews Here

Jonathan Rosenbuam is a true crusader. Born in Alabama, the wide-eyed, then-26-years-old go-getter moved to Paris in 1969, where he routinely contributed film reviews to publications like Sight & Sound and The Village Voice . That time spent overseas filled Rosenbaum with an intense appreciation for non-American movies, and he's since made it his personal mission to promote international filmmaking here in the states.

For his most impassioned defense of non-Hollywood productions, the indispensable 2002 book Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Movies We Can See is a must.

5. J. Hoberman

Publications: The Village Voice , Film Comment , The New York Times , The Virginia Quarterly Review , ArtInfo (website) Read Reviews Here

Simply put, there's no greater living film essayist than James Lewis Hoberman, better known as J. Hoberman. Starting at The Village Voice  in the '70s, the New York City native owned the paper's film reviews section with his beautifully composed, scholarly critiques until he was wrongly removed from his post in 2012.

The thing about Hoberman's reviews, though, is that they don't read like reviews; they're more like heavily researched narratives that relate the movie in question to larger, all-encompassing themes that touch upon society, cinema, and politics.

For incredibly informative and vibrantly penned time capsules, pick up any one of Hoberman's many books. Our recommendations: the cult community manifesto Midnight Movies (co-written with Jonathan Rosenbaum) and his most recent release, Film After Film , a compilation of Hoberman's post-9/11 writings that makes for a dynamic companion to Denby's Do the Movies Have a Future?

4. Pauline Kael

Publications: City Lights , McCall's , The New Republic , The New Yorker Read Reviews Here

It takes a lot of nerve to go against the popular consensus, no matter the contrarian's gender, but a female movie critic who doesn't fear pissing off her (male) contemporaries nor Hollywood's (male) elite? That's one tough person.

Widely regarded as one of the most influential film analysts ever, the late Pauline Kael filled her  New Yorker  reviews (published from 1968 through 1991) with fearless wit, often writing in the first-person to either attack or praise a motion picture. She thrived during times when jealous ones especially envied, weathering sexist insults and accusations of star-chasing favoritism.

Best of all, Kael championed genre filmmakers like Brian De Palma, Walter Hill, and Sam Peckinpah, artists who are revered now but initially released low-budget, unfairly B-pegged flicks. She was a rebel with a passionate cause.

3. Andrew Sarris

Publications: Film Culture , The Village Voice , NY Film Bulletin , The New York Observer Read Reviews Here

Every cinematic shotcaller working today, whether independent or major, owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Andrew Sarris. Strong-minded and blessed with the gift of fluid prose, the late Brooklyn-born writer is best remembered for his classic 1968 tome The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968 , an exhaustive, opinionated dissection of pre-'68 sound films broken down by the individual filmmakers.

In The American Cinema , Sarris fully developed the influential auteur theory, bringing the daring pro-director beliefs practiced by the many great critics working for France's Cahiers du Cin é ma and popularizing them in the United States.

2. Roger Ebert

Publication: Chicago Sun Times Read reviews here

Like Jay-Z is for rappers, Roger Ebert is the most widely recognized movie critic ever. He's been cranking out entertaining, witty, and often heartfelt reviews for the Chicago Sun Times since 1967, forging a 40-plus-year career that's seen him conquer print media, the online blogosphere, and even television. Of course you remember watching him on his groundbreaking At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert , which he co-hosted with his best confidante, the late Chicago Tribune  critic. Together, they made upward and downward thumbs iconic.

Ebert's congratulatory reviews are top-notch, yet it's his negative, gloves-off beatdowns of crappy cinema that have always been his most delightful to read. Read his 50 harshest review quotes for yourselves .

1. André Bazin

Publication: Cahiers du Cin é ma Read Reviews Here

There's arguably no book about movies that's as mandatory as André Bazin's What is Cinema?  Still taught in film classes today, it's the definitive explanation of what makes the medium's proverbial heart beat, offering groundbreaking views on visual storytelling, with a special fondness for patience and duration. Bazin was a strong advocate of the long take, after all.

He's also responsible for co-founding the game-changing magazine Cahiers du Cin éma  in 1951, through which Bazin and his colleagues introduced the auteur theory that has since helped to contextualize the classic films made by the likes of Fritz Lang, Howard Hawks, and Alfred Hitchcock.


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