Who Are the Most Influential Movie Critics of All Time? Image

Who Are the Most Influential Movie Critics of All Time?

By Film Threat Staff | February 14, 2020

We humans are an incredibly insecure species at times. We constantly crave the opinions of others in order to help us form our own views, or at least to provide affirmation that what we are thinking is right. Not convinced? Just look at the way we choose what to watch on the big and small screen.

In this internet age, we’ll be checking out the reviews and opinions of our contemporaries on platforms like Amazon and imdb, often before, during and after watching a movie. But when it comes down to it, EFE syndrome is a symptom of the internet age. It stands for everyone’s a film expert, although some substitute the word film for something else. 

As a result, the opinions we trust most are those of the real experts. You see it in numerous other areas in the internet age, for example in the gaming sector when choosing what games to play (especially when money is involved) or which online platform to use or when making a big ticket purchase like a car or even a family vacation.

When it comes to movies, we place similar faith in the experts, just as we have since the golden age of Hollywood. Here are some of the people who have informed, influenced and affirmed public opinion over recent years.

Roger Ebert

He’s probably the best known movie critic of all time, and despite a US-centric career spent reviewing movies for the Chicago Tribune and on PBS, his name became known, and in some quarters feared, across the globe. Ebert introduced the “thumbs up/thumbs down” ranking that has become a staple and his was the last and decisive word in what’s hot and what’s not for more than 50 years. In 1975, he became the first movie critic to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize, and even when cancer treatment robbed him of his speech, he continued to write for the Tribune right up until his death in 2013.

Leonard Maltin

Here’s a man who has movies in his blood. He started out as a critic before he’d even graduated high school and his Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide series has been the go-to resource since 1969. The book is regularly republished and contains information on hundreds of movies, all in Maltin’s fair but no-nonsense style.

Peter Travers

It’s safe to say that movie critics are not always beloved of directors and producers. Peter Travers, however, is the exception that proves the rule. The flamboyant New Yorker started out at People magazine in the 1980s before becoming the movie critic for Rolling Stone in 1989. His enthusiasm, along with his tendency to lavish praise on movies, means he is quoted more often on movie posters and blurbs than any other critic. 

Mark Kermode

The King’s Speech, Spectre, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows… The British movie industry is alive and well, so it’s appropriate that we have a British critic on our list. Mark Kermode is movie critic for The Observer newspaper and Time Out magazine. However, he became a household name thanks to his BBC television and radio slots. He is famed for his acerbic wit and has become something of a “people’s champion,” often speaking out in criticism of the British Board of Film Classification for its censorship of horror movies.

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  1. Jimmyt says:

    Ok. Any list of influential critics that doesn’t include Andrew Sarris, James Agee, and (above all other critics) Pauline Kael, seems to me to be perfunctory.

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