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André Bazin Tops Complex's List of The Best Movie Critics of All Time

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by Matt Singer
February 8, 2013 12:46 PM
4 Comments
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"Ratatouille."

Complex.com has assembled a list of what they're calling "The 25 Best Movie Critics of All Time." Written by Matt Barone, the piece gives the top spot to André Bazin, who wrote "the definitive explanation of what makes the medium's proverbial heart beat," his book "What Is Cinema?" Here is the list's top 5:

1. André Bazin
2. Roger Ebert
3. Andrew Sarris
4. Pauline Kael
5. J. Hoberman

Barrone's introduction makes no mention of methodology; it's not clear how this list was assembled or arranged, or who, if anyone, voted on it besides him. Personally, I wouldn't even know how to begin to write something like this. What makes someone the best in this field? Subjective opinion? Influence? Quality of prose? Awards? Taste? Why is Sarris better than Kael? Or Manohla Dargis better than A.O. Scott? I have no idea. 

So click over, enjoy, debate, discuss, and maybe take a moment to ponder the amazing critics who didn't make the cut: Jonas Mekas, Siegfried Kracauer, Stanley Kauffmann, Phillip Lopate, Parker Tyler, Gene Siskel, Amy Taubin, Kent Jones, David Bordwell, Paul Schrader, Andrew O'Hehir, and Stephanie Zacharek to name just a few in no particular order. Maybe they're not as good as the twenty-five men and women who were selected ahead of them. Or maybe this kind of list, while fun to read, is also a fool's errand.

Read more of "The 25 Best Movie Critics of All Time."

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4 Comments

  • Arch | February 12, 2013 6:55 PMReply

    Agreed w/ Jordan. Beside those typical internet lists tend to be comment-generators (proof: hiding behind delay, I'm commenting!). Problem here is not subjectivity per se but lack of objectivity. As pointed it should at least have a basic definition to begin with, and maybe just be a list of "American/film critics".
    If you gonna throw in the French (conveniently) you better not forget Delluc (pioneer), Mitry (major one), Ciment (Positif is as big as Les Cahiers folks), Daney and many others (we're talking of an "of all time" list). Truffaut wrote important pieces as far as the "politique des auteurs" is concerned. But was he a better film critic than Godard et al? (Remember one of the best reviews of this era was the famous piece on Kapo by Rivette).
    Beside, although his critic of 7 Men From Now has to be my very favorite, Bazin was an art critic and a theorist more than "just" a film critic (you know what I mean). If you throw in theorists, a bunch of guys should be in (some are cited here along Bordwell, add the very "basics" like Eisenstein, Gance, Pasolini and so on).
    It's still interesting though, the first two names clearly represent the peak/symbol of two traditions (US Journalism VS French Academic ?). Turns out personally I'd love to know more about what seems to be an American tradition. That list might just be a starting point.

  • THOR | February 8, 2013 8:15 PMReply

    Where's Armond White? (I'm not kidding either.)

  • Mark Gubarenko | February 8, 2013 4:01 PMReply

    There's also volume two of his book! http://amzn.to/WIwVXA

  • Jordan Hoffman | February 8, 2013 1:39 PMReply

    I wanted to read Complex's list but quickly gave up when I saw I'd have to click 25 times to read it. My critique: look with scorn upon any website which still thinks pageviews vs unique visitors means anything. Mmmf.

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