A. O. Scott

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A. O. Scott
Scott in 2016
Anthony Oliver Scott

(1966-07-10) July 10, 1966 (age 57)
Other namesTony Scott
Alma materHarvard University
  • Film critic
  • literary critic
  • author
Justine Henning
(m. 1991)
RelativesEli Wallach (great-uncle)
Anne Jackson (great-aunt)

Anthony Oliver Scott (born July 10, 1966) is an American journalist and cultural critic, known for his film and literary criticism. After starting his career at The New York Review of Books, Variety, and Slate, he began writing film reviews for The New York Times in 2000, and became the paper's chief film critic in 2004, a title he shared with Manohla Dargis. In 2023, he moved to The New York Times Book Review.

Early life and education[edit]

Scott was born on July 10, 1966, in Northampton, Massachusetts.[1] Both of his parents were professors. His mother, Joan Wallach Scott, is the Harold F. Linder Professor at the School of Social Science in the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.[2] His father, Donald Scott, was a professor of American history at the City University of New York. He is a great nephew of the married acting couple Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson (his maternal grandfather was Eli's brother).[3] Scott identifies as Jewish.[4] He attended public schools in Providence, Rhode Island, including Classical High School before graduating magna cum laude from Harvard in 1988 with a degree in literature.



Scott began his career at The New York Review of Books, where he served as an assistant to Robert B. Silvers.[5] Scott then served as book critic for Newsday, while also serving as a contributor to The New York Review of Books and Slate. In 1993, he wrote television reviews for Variety, using the name Tony Scott.[6]

He joined The New York Times' Arts section in January 2000, following Janet Maslin's retirement from film criticism. (Maslin continues to review genre fiction for the paper.) In 2004, he became chief critic, following Elvis Mitchell's resignation. Scott and the other film critics at the Times host a video podcast on the subject of film, called Critics' Picks.[7] On March 9, 2020, The New York Times announced that Scott would take a one-year break from his role as co-chief film critic and assume the title of critic at large, writing "bigger, cross-topic essays."[8]

Better Living Through Criticism, a book on art criticism by Scott, was published in 2016.[9]

Scott left his role as a film critic in March 2023 and joined The New York Times Book Review.[10] About his departure from film criticism, he said: "I have found that the way that I’ve practiced it has gotten harder to do. And also, the feeling of disconnection between the critic and the audience feels much stronger And the gulf feels much wider."[11]


In 2006 and 2007, Scott served as a guest critic on Ebert & Roeper during Roger Ebert's absence due to thyroid cancer.

Between 2002 and 2014, Scott made 15 appearances on Charlie Rose, where he predicted the Academy Award winners and spoke about recently released films. He often appeared alongside David Denby of The New Yorker and Janet Maslin of The New York Times and guest-hosted the program on a number of occasions.

On August 5, 2009, it was announced that Scott, along with Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips, would take over hosting duties on At the Movies from Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz, who would no longer be involved with the show.[12] Scott and Phillips began their duties when the show started its new season on September 5, 2009.[13] The show was canceled after one season due to low ratings, concluding its run in August 2010.[14]


Scott is a professor of film criticism at Wesleyan University.[15] As of 2023, he is no longer listed as being on the faculty at Wesleyan.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Scott is married to Justine Henning, and they have two children.[1][17]


Scott was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism "for his incisive film reviews that, with aplomb, embrace a wide spectrum of movies and often explore their connection to larger issues in society or the arts".[18]



In a 2009 interview with Rotten Tomatoes, Scott named the following five films as his favorites of all time.[19]

  1. La Dolce Vita
  2. The Godfather
  3. Sullivan's Travels
  4. McCabe and Mrs. Miller
  5. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

When asked to name the best of 21st century, Scott listed along with Manohla Dargis: [20]

  1. There Will Be Blood (USA, 2007)
  2. Spirited Away (Japan, 2001)
  3. Million Dollar Baby (USA, 2004)
  4. A Touch of Sin (China, 2013)
  5. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Romania, 2006)
  6. Yi Yi (Taiwan, 2000)
  7. Inside Out (USA, 2015)
  8. Boyhood (USA, 2014)
  9. Summer Hours (France, 2009)
  10. The Hurt Locker (USA, 2009)

Best of the year[edit]

Since becoming a film critic, Scott has named these films the best of the year:


Year Title Role Notes
2001 Tales of the City: Hanif Kureshi's Rough Guide to London Himself
2002–2014 Charlie Rose Guest/Guest Host 15 episodes
2006–2010 At the Movies Guest Host/Co-Host 66 episodes
2008 American Masters Himself Episode: "You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story"
2009 For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism Himself
2010 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Guest Expert 5 episodes
The View Himself 1 episode
TCM Guest Programmer Himself Episode: "U.S. Critics"
Up To The Minute Guest Film Critic 1 episode
2011 The Early Show Himself 1 episode
2013–2016 Jeopardy! Video Clue Presenter 5 episodes
2014 Life Itself Himself
CBS This Morning Himself 3 episodes
2015 Remembering David Carr Himself
2016 PBS NewsHour Himself 1 episode
Generation X Himself 2 episodes
2017 Spielberg Himself
2021 WTF with Marc Maron Himself Episode: "A.O. Scott"


  • Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth. Penguin Press. 2016. ISBN 978-1594204838.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "A. O. Scott". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 6, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  2. ^ Scott, Joan Wallach. "The School of Social Science". Institute for Advanced Study. Archived from the original on December 18, 2007. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  3. ^ "Eli Wallach, BA '36". The Alcalde. 88 (4). Emmis Communications: 28. March 2000. ISSN 1535-993X. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
  4. ^ Scott, A. O. (October 4, 2009). "Jewish History, Popcorn Included". The New York Times. p. AR1. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  5. ^ "The Amazing Human Launching Pads". New York. September 26, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  6. ^ Prouty (1996). Variety and Daily Variety Television Reviews, 1993–1994. Taylor & Francis. p. 113. ISBN 9780824037970.
  7. ^ "Movie Reviews". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 28, 2017. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  8. ^ "Staff News From Culture". The New York Times Company. March 9, 2020. Retrieved December 5, 2020.
  9. ^ Wood, Michael (February 3, 2016). "Review : In Better Living Through Criticism AO Scott Offers Insight". The New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  10. ^ "From Culture to Book Review: A New Chapter for A.O. Scott". The New York Times Company. February 21, 2023. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  11. ^ Barbaro, Michael. "Our Film Critic on Why He's Done With the Movies". The Daily. Retrieved May 31, 2023.
  12. ^ Goldwert, Lindsay; Praetorious, Dean (August 5, 2009). "'At the Movies' Drops Hosts Lyons, Mankiewicz". ABC News. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  13. ^ Phil Rosenthal (August 5, 2009). "Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips, N.Y. Times' A. O. Scott take over 'At the Movies'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  14. ^ Rosenthal, Phil (March 24, 2010). "Tower Ticker: Disney-ABC cancels 'At the Movies,' Siskel and Ebert's old show". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  15. ^ "A. O. Scott". The School of The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 15, 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  16. ^ Wesleyan University Website as of 5 November 2023. [1]
  17. ^ Shih, Cynthia W. (May 29, 2013). "A.O. Scott". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved November 20, 2021.
  18. ^ The Pulitzer Prizes
  19. ^ "Five Favorite Films With A.O. Scott". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 23, 2022.
  20. ^ "The 25 Best Films of the 21st Century So Far". The New York Times. June 9, 2017. Retrieved January 16, 2022.

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by Chief film critic of The New York Times
(with Manohla Dargis)

Succeeded by
Manohla Dargis