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Film & Media

Reviews & Criticism

The following sources will help you locate film reviews and criticism. In order to find a film review, you need to know the film title and film release date. If you do not have this information, consult either Halliwell's Film Guide, the Oxford Companion to Film, the International Directory of Films and Filmmakers (Vol. 1) or the Motion Picture Guide.

What are the differences between film reviews and film criticism?

Film reviews are written for the general public by usually journalists or other non-academics and appear in newspapers, magazines or online around the time the film is released in theatres. Their purpose is to describe the plot, characters, director, etc in order to help determine whether or not a film should be seen.

Film criticism is the study, interpretation and evaluation of a film with regard to issues such as historical context, theory or technical analysis. Film criticism is written by academics and is published in books or scholarly journals. It may sometimes address a specific apsect of a ilm or focus on the work of a particul director or genre. Critical reviews may be published many years after a film is released.

Databases for Finding Reviews & Criticism


Film and Television Literature Index with Full Text
Comprehensive bibliographic database to film and television literature

Has full-text runs scanned cover-to-cover in color of core U.S. and U.K. trade papers and magazines, such as Variety, Boxoffice, Broadcast, The Hollywood Reporter, and American Cinematographer to name a few. 
Oxford Bibliographies - Cinema and Media Studies
Film Journals in JSTOR

Additional Review Resources Online

From 1969 to 1990, check Omni
For 1907-1984 coverage see: Art Index Retrospective.
Under More settings, click more Settings to select AHCI.  In Advanced Search, search film title and select "film Review" as document type. 
Contains reviews of the latest releases and news about and previews of films in the works. "Classic reviews" includes critiques of 75 classic titles spanning the decades from 1931 to 1991. "Review Archive" contains reviews for more that 900 films released since 1995. Good source for very current reviews, interviews and articles covering the film industry.
Includes film reviews from over 700 Canadian journals and newspapers.
For 1920 - 1998, Check Omni
Good for reviews of current and retrospective Canadian films. To find reviews in the print volumes, look under the heading Moving picture reviews from 1927 through 1986 and under the heading Movie reviews from 1987 onwards.

Movie Review Query Engine (MRQE)

This site includes over 25,000 titles and over 200,000 reviews.
This site contains decades of reviews in addition to a variety of other movie-related content.
Readers' Guide
Compact Shelving AI3 .R2 from 1900-2006 (Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature)
REF AP3 .R496 (1890-1922) (Nineteenth Century Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature)
To find reviews of film from 1925 to 1977, look under the heading Moving picture plays - Criticism, plots, etc.-single works and from March 1977 onwards, Motion picture reviews - Single works.
Variety (Online)
The show-business daily.

Web Resources

Reviews of the latest releases with interviews and articles covering the film industry. Classic reviews include critiques of 75 classic titles from 1931 to 1991.  
Compiles critical reviews and assigns each movie an overall score.
Reviews for new and recent films in theaters, DVD and Blu-ray releases, and film classics.
Browse or search thousands of movie reviews. Included in this free archive are all of the films reviewed since 1960.
Offers a critical reaction on movies from the nation's top print and online film critics.

Print Resources

Film Review Index
REF Z5784 .M9 F513 
For films released between 1882-1985, this resource lists articles, chaptes, and books from popular magazines and scholarly publications. 
Bio-Bibliographies in the Performing Arts (Series)
An excellent starting point for research on various actors, actresses, and directors. The titles in this series feature not only biographical and critical comments on the films but also annotations of the key writings on the person covered.
British Humanities Index
AI3 .B86 1962-2009 (Storage -- Ask at Information Desk)
To find reviews, look under the heading Cinema.
Film Review Annual
Compact Shelving PN1995 .F456 1981-2002
Contains complete reviews of films released in the U.S. during the year...from various newspapers and magazines.
5001 Nights at the Movies
PN1995 .K19 1985
An anthology of movie reviews by Pauline Kael, one of the most influential American film critic of her day.
A Guide to Critical Reviews. Part IV: The Screenplay
REF Z5781 .S16 (1927-1980)
Good for early reviews.
How to Locate Reviews of Plays and Films
REF Z5781 .S19
This annotated bibliography lists indexes, checklists and bibliographies of reviews and critiques of plays and films.
Index to Critical Film Reviews in British and American Film Periodicals
REF Z5784 .M9 .B64
Contains film reviews from selected film journals for the years 1939 to 1974.

Magill's Survey of Cinema: First and Second Series

REF PN1993.45 .M3 and M32
The two series cover 1266 American, British, Canadian, Australian and other English language films of the sound era, 1926-1981. Focus is on major genres, directors, and performers. Entries include release date, producer, studio, credits, run time, cast and a signed essay, which includes a plot summary and critical evaluation.
Magill's Survey of Cinema: English Language Films, Second Series
REF PN1993.45 .M32
Magill's Survey of Cinema: Foreign Language Films
REF PN1993.45 .M34 1985
Surveys over 700 films from around the world originating in a language other than English.
Magill's Survey of Cinema: Silent Films
REF PN1995.75 .M33 1982
The three volumes survey over 300 classic silent films from countries around the world.
Motion Picture Guide
PN1995 .N346 (Storage -- Ask at Information Desk)
This multi volume set reviews films from the silent era to the present. Arranged by film title, each entry offers a critical commentary, a synopsis of the film, cast and credits, year of release ...
New York Times Film Reviews
Compact Shelving PN1995 .N4 (1913-1990)
Film reviews are reprinted in full from the New York Times. Reviews are arranged chronologically but there are also name and title indexes.
Reference Publication in Film (Series)
Call Number varies
An excellent starting point for research on various actors, actresses, and directors. The titles in this series feature not only biographical and critical comments on the films but also annotations of the key writings on the person covered.
A Retrospective Index to Film Periodicals, 1930-1971
REF Z5784 .M9 .B39
Includes the entire contents of fourteen film journals from their beginnings through 1971. To find reviews, look up the film title in the section called Individual Films.
Selected Film Criticism
REF PN1995 .S426
Seven volumes containing reviews of American films from 1896 to 1960. Volume 6 includes criticism of foreign films released in the U.S. between 1930 and 1950. Reviews are from popular and film related journals and are arranged by film title.
Variety Film Reviews
Compact Shelving PN1995 .V34 (1907-1980)
Consult for film reviews that appeared in Variety. Covers both American and foreign films. Arranged alphabetically by date, there is also access by title in Volume 16.