The Hollywood Reporter ranked the most important movie reviewers in New York City via an anonymous poll of “studio heads, marketing chiefs, directors, screenwriters and a slew of industry types,” and the results show a deep and abiding respect for the fine art of film criticism.
Okay, what they actually show is that the above-mentioned executives, marketers and filmmakers — plus who- or whatever constitutes a “slew” — care about critics exactly in so far as they can drive audiences to the box office. There’s no way of knowing how much that’s a function of who the Reporter talked to, their generally pro-industry lean, or what exactly the list is meant to represent — are these New York’s most important critics? Its best, whatever that means? And doesn’t a ranking confined to the island of Manhattan seem rather provincial for a publication aimed at a global industry? But the impression is that the Reporter’s subjects read criticism the way a sports fan might a box score.
Naturally, the New York Times comes out on top, although according to an anonymous producer that has less to do with the critics themselves than the publication. Next up is Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers, whose reputation as a reliable source of positive, trailer-ready quotes for all but the stinkiest slice of studio dreck holds firm. “He gives the nicest reviews,” says “an indie exec. “He’s such a cream puff.”
By the time you get to the bottom of the list, the strains of focusing solely on New York are starting to show, and it’s hard to fathom how the Observer’s Rex Reed nabs the 10th spot while a critic like Time Out New York’s Joshua Rothkopf goes unranked. (He could have taken the place of 8th-ranked Elizabeth Weitzman, who actually left the Daily News in February.) But at least we get this memorable description of the New York Post’s Lou Lumenick:
“With Lou, it only becomes a big deal if his review is really nasty,” says a publicist. “A normal review doesn’t get any attention.” A studio exec, though, gives him a thumbs-down. “F— that f—er,” he says.
Congratulations, Mr. Lumenick. We doff our f—ing cap to you.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Top 10 New York Film Critics
1. A.O. Scott & Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
2. Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
3. Richard Corliss, Time
4. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
5. Stephanie Zacharek, The Village Voice
6. Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
7. David Edelstein, New York magazine
8. Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News
9. Lou Lumenick, New York Post
10. Rex Reed, The New York Observer