Video: What Is Film Criticism, And Why Is It Important?

Film criticism matters! Shout it from the rooftops. That said, there seems to be a common misconception about what film criticism even is. An informative new film criticism video essay attempts to get to the bottom of just what criticism is, and why it's important.

What is film criticism? It seems like a simple question, but answers will vary. If you yourself have ever wondered just what film criticism is and why it even matters at all, a helpful new video from Patrick Willems is here with some answers. Watch it, then we'll discuss.

We Need To Talk About Film Criticism

Right at the top of the video, Willems clears up some common misconceptions about film criticism. First up: film critics aren't bought or bribed. You've likely seen people online furiously insinuating that a critics good review has been paid for by a studio. This has never happened. As Willems points out, it would make no sense for studios to do this. Negative reviews really don't have that much of an impact on box office, and a studio bribing a critic would basically be burning money for no reason.

Next, Willems talks about how critics don't conspire together to take down a movie. Last but not least, he points out the fallacy in the concept that critics "hate everything." I personally have heard this complaint numerous times – it's the "we made this for the fans, not the critics" argument. And it's silly. Critics are fans. If they weren't fans of movies, devoting their life and careers to the medium of film would be a huge mistake.

From here, Willems moves on to reveal that, based on a survey he conducted on Twitter, most people seem to only follow YouTube critics rather than critics who write reviews. This is slightly alarming to me. Not to disparage YouTube critics, but far too often, YouTube critics don't really go deeper in their criticism. They rattle off a list of quick talking points, usually standing in front of their Blu-ray shelf. There's no real substance. (There are exceptions, of course.)

The rest of the video highlights the things good film criticism should do. "I want to read critics who really know their shit," Willems says. "Whose opinions, whether I agree with them or not, are educated, and come from a real understanding of how film works. Don't tell me, 'This film is gorgeously shot.' Tell me why it's shot that way, and what purpose it serves."

There's a lot more info in the video, which you can see for yourself. One of the best pieces of advice Willems offers is for the reader of film criticism to seek out a range of diverse voices. Overall, this is an extremely sharp video, and I couldn't agree with it more, particularly the part where Willems says: "If you like movies, you should read good film criticism. It will make you like movies even more."

One more thing I whole-heartedly agree with: Willems' concluding statement that "CinemaSins is terrible."