Two years after becoming Indiewire's first staff TV critic, Alison Willmore is leaving to become the first film critic at BuzzFeed. The move was announced on MediaBistro this morning. Her first day at the new gig will be March 31. Indiewire has started a search for Willmore's replacement, which they hope to fill in the coming weeks.
In a statement, BuzzFeed's entertainment editorial director Jace Lacob said the position "isn’t going to be about generating capsule reviews with letter grades; instead, Alison will be writing film criticism that provokes and propels the conversation, both on social media and in life." The focus on "the conversation" rather than strict reviews will presumably allow Willmore to focus on worthwhile films without falling prey to the "Bambi Rule" controversy that clouded the appointment of BuzzFeed's first books editor.
BuzzFeed already features tons of writing on movies, from lengthy essays and features to its signature quizzes lists, but naming Willmore as a dedicated critic, rather than a squishier term like "film writer," indicates that a site whose business model involves cracking the code of how and why people read what they read believes there's a place for criticism in the new media culture.
Criticwire has reached out to Willmore for comment on how she plans to approach the new position, and will update this post with her responses this afternoon.