The top 10 movie reviews of all time?

What would be your top ten favorite movie reviews of all time? Pauline Kael's 1967 review of Bonnie and Clyde would top my list, but beyond that I don't know, something by Andrew Sarris, David Thomson, Manny Farber, James Agee, A. O. Scott, Anthony Lane, Manohla Dargis, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Roger Ebert, or Andre Bazin? Which reviews specifically?

I challenge Jason Bellamy, Nathaniel Rogers, Catherine Grant, Dana Stevens, Glenn Kenny, David Hudson, Anne Helen Petersen, Farran Nehme, Jake Cole, Kim Morgan, Dennis Cozzalio, Kelli Marshall, Matt Zoller Seitz, Ed Howard, Dan North, Richard BrodyCraig, the Cinetrix, Girish Shambu, and anyone else who may feel inclined to come up with a list. The results could be fascinating.

Meanwhile, some links:

---Beautiful Nightmares: David Lynch's Collective Dream

---"A girl and a gun"  

---"The Future of Cinema" by Keanu Reeves (with Martin Scorsese)

---David Bordwell considers The Man Who Knew Too Much

---The Art of Illustration

---ParaNorman's title sequence

---the early roles of the Oscar nominees

---behind the scenes of The Avengers

---Gary Hustwit's tips for documentary filmmakers

---L'univers de Jacques Demy

---Serge Daney considers film criticism 

---VFX videos for Looper and Flight

---Neil Sinyard on Grace Kelly in Rear Window


Jason Bellamy said…
Just saw this post and the challenge. And I think my brain exploded.

Craig (I'm glad you tagged him) has a much better memory for that kind of stuff (maybe that comes from working in the archives). What startled me, though, is that it wasn't as if several reviews immediately jumped to mind, which I find odd, considering how many reviews I read. (Or maybe that's the problem.)

I might be back with further thoughts on this. But you've got me thinking, and I appreciate that!
Thanks, Jason,

I find it odd how one can read reviews for much of one's life, but actually remembering the best ones isn't that easy. I have no trouble nominating several other Kael reviews in my top 10 list (especially the ones for Breathless and The Godfather), but the works of other writers often don't affect me permanently in the same way. I was thinking of looking back over Anthony Lane's Nobody's Perfect for more possibilities. Certainly, I would think of some of your work with Ed Howard in the Conversations file might qualify, or perhaps one of the more impressive thorough analyses by Dennis Cozzalio.
Craig said…
Too many Kael reviews would qualify. Her reviews of THE GODFATHER I ("Alchemy") and II ("Fathers and Sons"), NASHVILLE ("Coming"), and BLOW OUT ("Portrait of the Artist as a Young Gadgeteer"). Her review of CASUALTIES OF WAR ("A Wounded Apparition") is so stirring I found it hard to believe the movie was such a dud.

Several of Ebert's reviews undoubtedly influenced me, although I'm struggling to remember any. For some reason the one I'm recalling is THE VERDICT, where he infamously misread the ending. Roger thought Paul Newman's character was back on the sauce ("When you wash it down with booze, victory tastes just like defeat"), even though he was only drinking coffee. Kind of changes the entire meaning of the movie.

In more recent years, Tom Carson's review of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN meant a great deal to me. Back when it came out, there was enormous cultural pressure to like the movie: You had to like it, or else you were un-American. Tom expressed many of my misgivings with the film, and showed that was it okay to express them.

Craig said…
Oh, yeah, Anthony Lane. He's another of those highly intelligent Brit-crits (David Thomson, Tom Shone) who have an annoying habit of writing like they're above the subject of movies: film is frivolous, so why bother? they seem to be saying most of the time (the Anglophile Jim Wolcott does this too). Once in a while, though, Lane will engage with a movie, and I remember THE LIVES OF OTHERS being one of those times.
Thanks for your input, Craig. I still wonder what would be your list of top 10. I agree that it can be a "struggle" to remember specific reviews by those critics other than Kael. Perhaps Kael deserves her reputation because her work resonates so well? I'll look out for Tom Carson's review of Saving Private Ryan.
Rocky Clark said…
I don’t read movie reviews too often because they are very subjective and totally depend on the author’s taste in movies. However, I can’t imagine how one can understand Lynch or Fellini movies without reading reviews. At the same time, I don’t think that criticizing something deserves more attention than creating something. Even the worst movie in the world is a nobler job than the best critics. I make movies myself and I know how challenging it can be. I consider some reviews valuable, but only if they are written by someone who is involved (or at least was involved) in filmmaking industry. So, before you criticize a movie, make sure you know the industry of
movie making
I know it’s a little bit off topic, but I just couldn’t remain silent. I love David Thomson though, he’s a talented author.

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