Year-End Movie Survey, Question 9

Which movie critic (or critics) did you most enjoy reading in 2005, and why?

If you read any of my previous garble, you'd know that I already referenced Wilonsky and Edelstein. Other critics and columnists I enjoy are Esquire's Mike D'Angelo, The Williamette Week's David Walker, Seattle Weekly's Brian Miller, freelancer (and author of last year's Hick Flicks: The Rise and Fall of Redneck Cinema) Scott von Doviak. Also, of course, David Denby and Anthony Lane of The New Yorker, and, admittedly, at times, the screwballs at Ruthless Reviews, namely Matt Cale and Jonny Lieberman, especially for their "Ruthless Guide to 80s Action." It's awfully clever. If Lieberman would get off his tukis and find a decent literary agent, he could score a pretty juicy coffee table book deal. Instead he'd rather continue blogging like a putz--and look who's talking, right?

Over the last year or so I've become friendly with a few movie critics. Needless to say these are the ones I read first. Through my series of interviews with movie critics I've come to have an even greater appreciation for what movie critics do. Critics in general are fighting against the tide. More and more readers turn to their local critics for plot synopsis and thumbnail analysis. It takes time and dedication to seek out good criticism that challenges your perceptions of the movies. It's understandable to want to read critics that more or less express your reaction to the movies--the joy of reading movie criticism is reading a review that challenges my take on a given movie or performance.

Having said that, the critic I turn to first is EW's Owen Gleiberman. Owen articulates his emotional responses in such a clear manner, it's as if he was saying what you were thinking all along. Even when you find yourself disagreeing with him (Oldboy, Red Eye) you know the disagreement is an aesthetic one and not an ideological one. The same goes for Owen's counterpart, Lisa Schwarzbaum. I am continually impressed by Premiere's Glenn Kenny and his encyclopedic knowledge of movie history. The same goes for USA Today's Mike Clark. He has an anecdote for almost every movie. The NY Daily News' Jami Bernard has a no-bull wit that is always fun to read. I'm intrigued to see how Slate's David Edelstein translates his meticulous style to his new home at New York magazine.

I could go on and on. Armond White and Matt Zoller Seitz at the NY Press are probably the two most challenging critics writing today. Andrew Sarris is always a pleasure to read, as is Kauffmann in The New Republic. There's Corliss and Schickel in Time, Morgenstern at the Wall Street Journal, Scott and Dargis at the Times, Ty Burr at the Boston Globe, Amy Taubin and the entire staff at Film Comment, and on and on. There's always good criticism waiting to be discovered.

I keep up only sporadically now. I read Hoberman most every week in the Voice, and I check Sarris fairly regularly in the New York Observer, where his reviews are posted each Wednesday; there's no set timetable that I can figure out anymore as to when Kauffmann's reviews go up on the New Republic site, so I only remember to check him periodically. I usually don't see Edelstein's reviews in Slate until a few weeks after they run--it's just not a site I look at--but I enjoy reading him. Simon's disappeared. Kael's dead. Clyde Gilmour, the Toronto Star's film critic through the '70s and the first I ever read, is very dead.

clyde gilmour