Malcolm was educated at Eton College and Oxford University. He worked for several decades as a film critic for The Guardian, having previously been an amateur jockey and the paper's first horse racing correspondent. In 1977, he was a member of the jury at the 27th Berlin International Film Festival. In the mid-1980s he was host of The Film Club on BBC2, which was dedicated to art house films, and was director of the London Film Festival for several years.
After leaving The Guardian in 2000, he published his final series of articles, The Century of Films, in which he discusses films he admires from his favourite directors from around the world. After The Guardian he became chief film critic for the Evening Standard, before being replaced in 2009 by novelist Andrew O'Hagan. He still contributes film reviews for the newspaper, but it emerged in July 2013 that his contribution to the title is to be reduced further.
Malcolm is president of the British Federation of Film Societies and the International Film Critics' Circle. In 2003 he published an autobiographical book, Family Secrets, which recounts how in 1917 his father shot his mother's lover dead, but was found not guilty of murder.
- "Berlinale 1977: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
- Stephen Brook, London Evening Standard appoints Andrew O'Hagan as film critic, The Guardian, Thursday 7 May 2009
- Josh Halliday "Independent titles to cut back on arts coverage", guardian.co.uk, 29 July 2013
- "30th Moscow International Film Festival (2008)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
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