Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films, individually and collectively. In general, this can be divided into journalistic criticism that appears regularly in newspapers, and other popular, mass-media outlets and academic criticism by film scholars that is informed by film theory and published in academic journals.
Film critics working for newspapers, magazines, broadcast media, and online publications, mainly review new releases. The plot summary and description of a film that makes up the majority of any film review can have an important impact on whether people decide to see a film. Poor reviews can doom a film to obscurity and financial loss.
In recent times, the impact reviews have on a film's box office performance and DVD rentals/sales have become a matter for debate. There are those who think modern movie marketing, using pop culture convention appearances and social media along with traditional means of advertising, have become so invasive and well financed that established reviewers with legitimate criticism cannot be heard over the din of popular support. Moreover, this has led, in part, to a decline in the readership of many reviewers for newspapers and other print publications. The vast majority of film critics on television and radio have all but disappeared over the last thirty years, as well. It can be observed that most of the discussion of film on television is focused on the amount of box office business a film does, as if financial success were the only criterion needed to define artistic success. Today arts criticism in general does not hold the same place it once held with the general public.
Conversely, it's been claimed positive film reviews have been known to spark interest in little-known films. For example, independent films with smaller marketing budgets, such as The Hurt Locker, are promoted more widely thanks to the positive reviews they received. There are those who believe critics are biased towards art-house films (examples: The Hurt Locker, Blue Valentine) and against commercial blockbusters (examples: Pirates of the Caribbean, Cowboys & Aliens). However, many critics analyze a film by its inexhaustibility, or the range of its impact and appeal on to generations of fans beyond its original release date.
Today, fan-run film analysis websites like Box Office Prophets and Box Office Guru routinely factor in general public film review opinion with those of more experienced reviewers in their projections of a film. Other websites, such as Rotten Tomatoes, combines all reviews on a specific film published online and in print to come up with an aggregated rating known as a "freshness rate."
Some well-known journalistic critics have included: James Agee (Time (magazine), The Nation); James Berardinelli; Vincent Canby (The New York Times); Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times, At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper); Pauline Kael (The New Yorker); Derek Malcolm (The Guardian); Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune); and Joel Siegel (Good Morning America).
Online film reviews
Some websites, such as Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic RateTheFilm seek to improve the usefulness of film reviews by compiling them and assigning a score to each in order to gauge the general reception a film receives. Other sites such as Spill.com review sites with ratings such as "rent it" or "matinée" to tell the viewer in what setting to watch the film rather than a numerical score. Some go so far as to recommend the number of beers you will need to enjoy a movie such as MovieBoozer. The Online Film Critics Society, an international professional association of Internet-based cinema reviewers, consists of writers from all over the world. For Independent Films sites such as IndyRed offer reviews for amateur/independent film titles and then rely on social to spread the word. Sites like this are filling the gap between Hollywood and Independent film makers.
A number of websites allow internet users to submit movie reviews and scores to allow a broad consensus review of a movie. Some websites specialize in narrow aspects of film reviewing. For instance, there are sites that focus on specific content advisories for parents to judge a film's suitability for children (e.g. Screen it!). Others focus on a religious perspective (e.g. CAP Alert). Still others highlight more esoteric subjects such as the depiction of science in fiction films. One such example is Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics by Intuitor. One website, Everyone's a Critic, allows anyone to publish film reviews and comment on them. There are even websites for special interest groups such as the Christian review site, Movieguide.
Blogging has also introduced opportunities for a new wave of amateur film critics to have their opinions heard. These review blogs may focus on one genre, director or actor, or encompass a much wider variety of films. Friends, friends of friends, or complete strangers are able to visit these sites, and can often leave their own comments about the movie and/or the author's review. Although much less frequented than their professional counterparts, these sites can gather a following of like-minded people who look to specific bloggers for reviews as they have found that the critic consistently exhibits an outlook very similar to their own.
Websites like Movie-Blogger.com are now blending the gap between movie blogs and movie review sites. These community based websites allow users to publish movie reviews from their own blogs the site, meaning the content is community driven. This method gives amateur and professional movie reviewers an equal platform to express their opinions and comment on each other's work. These kind of websites allow smaller bloggers the opportunity to showcase their work to a wider audience, and submit their ratings on movies which help to establish an overall score for that particular movie.
Community driven review sites have allowed the common movie goer to express their opinion on films. Many of these sites allow users to rate films on a 0 to 10 scale, while some rely on the star rating system of 0–5 or 0–4 four stars. The votes are then culled into an overall rating and ranking for any particular film. Some of these community driven review sites include Reviewer, Movie Attractions, Flixster, FilmCrave, Flickchart, and Rotten Tomatoes.
Some online niche websites, such as Cinefile Review, provide comprehensive coverage of the independent sector; usually adopting a style closer to print journalism. They tend to prohibit adverts and offer uncompromising opinions free of any commercial interest. Their film critics normally have an academic film background.
Criticism and Lexical Creativity
Undulating Curve of Shifting Expectations refers to both the title of a recurring entertainment industry feature in New York Magazine by cultural critic Adam Sternbergh and also to a concept of media analysis co-developed by writer Emily Nussbaum.
In simple terms UCoSE refers to the dynamic tension between pre-release promotional efforts and subsequent audience reactions to entertainment media.
"...what the UCoSE does is provide us a way of analyzing the trajectory of entertainment products as they metamorphize their way through his theorized seven-stage growth chart: Pre-Buzz, Buzz, Rave Reviews, Saturation Point, Overhyped, Backlash, and finally, Backlash To The Backlash." 
It has been claimed[by whom?] that journalist film critics should only be known as film reviewers, and that true film critics are those who take an academic approach to films. This work is more often known as film theory or film studies. These film critics try to come to understand why film works, how it works, what it means, and what effects it has on people. Rather than write for mass-market publications their articles are published in scholarly journals that tend to be affiliated with university presses; or sometimes in up-market magazines.
- Film canon
- List of film critics
- List of film journals and magazines
- List of films considered the worst
- At the Movies, a TV series for reviews of movies, originally hosted by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert
- For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
- Hennig-Thurau, Thorsten, André Marchand, and Barbara Hiller. The Relationship between Reviewer Judgments and Motion Picture Success: Re-analysis and Extension Journal of Cultural Economics, 36 (3), 249-283, 2012.
- Haberski, Raymond J. Jr. It's Only A Movie!: Film and Critics in American Culture, University Press of Kentucky, 2001.
- Rosenbaum, Jonathan. Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Conspire to Limit What Films We Can See, A Cappella Books, 2000.
- Peter Bradshaw gives advice to young, aspiring, would-be film critics (The Guardian, 8 July 2008)
- The Top Film Criticism Sites: An Annotated Blog Roll, Part One and Part Two (Slant Magazine)
- Independent Sector Cinefile Review - specialising in films of cultural significance
Hubs for film journalism
- Movies at The New York Times
- Movies at The Washington Post
- Film reviews at The Independent
- Film at The Times
- Film reviews at The Daily Telegraph
- Film at The Guardian
- Film at Slant Magazine
- Roger Ebert at Chicago Sun-Times
- Homepage for Cahiers du Cinema (French)
- Movie Reviews at The Times of India
- Film at Cinefile Review
- Movie Reviews at Cinephiled