Top 10 Movie Reviews from Roger Ebert

By Robert Kirchgassner,
the best of a master

As we all know by now, Roger Ebert died Thursday at age 70 after a long battle with cancer. But the disease did not stop him from continuing his legacy of reviewing movies, which he began in the 1960s.

Ebert always stuck out for me among film critics due to the language and analysis he put in his work. That, in turn, inspired the manner in which I now conduct my own reviews.

His methods also led to me re-reading many of his reviews numerous times over the years due to the entertainment value I found in them.

Here are my 10 favorites of Ebert’s movie reviews.

10. The Silence of the Lambs (1991): Ebert gave this film a positive review when it was initially released and then wrote another review in 2001 for his book The Great Movies. The more recent version is great because it sums up why Hannibal Lecter, despite being a cannibalistic madman, has endeared himself to so many film-goers.

9. Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (2005): This review is priceless because Ebert points out the film in question's flaws as well as those of its obnoxious star, Rob Schneider. The final line in his review became the title for his book Your Movie Sucks.

8. Freddy Got Fingered (2001): Thanks to Ebert, there are three movies that I will never watch: Freddy Got Fingered, The Love Guru (2008) and, most recently, Movie 43 (I know Richard Roeper wrote the latter review, but I first came across it on Ebert’s website). Because the Freddy review came first, I give it credit for illustrating how gross-out moments can only take a comedy so far before audiences want to actually be entertained.

7. A Clockwork Orange (1971): Naturally, there have been times I disagreed with Ebert, and his review of Stanley Kubrick’s controversial science fiction film was one of those times. But this review still stands out for me because of how Ebert points out why he disliked the film in contrast to lesser critics who simply say they hate something and leave it at that.

6. The Godfather Part II (1974): Like many, I was startled to find that Ebert gave the sequel to The Godfather (1972) a lower rating that its predecessor. But I liked that Ebert actually acknowledged that the low rating (even though it was still a good rating) ruffled the feathers of some people in his reissued review for his Great Movies series.

5. E.T.-The Extra-Terrestrial (1982): In another review which was redone for the Great Movies series, Ebert perfectly reflects why this classic was embraced by children from 5-100 by writing the review as a letter to his grandchildren.

4. Blood Work (2002): This Clint Eastwood thriller was predictable with a plot twist I saw coming a mile away, but I still found it watchable and Ebert’s review nicely summed up the appeal the film had for me.

3. North (1994): Ebert’s hatred for this film inspired the title of another of his books: I Hated Hated Hated This Movie.

2. Psycho (1998): Pretty much everyone knew that Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic was destined for infamy the moment the project was announced. It didn’t take me long to realize, though, that Ebert would have a field day with the finished product, and his review shows he clearly did. He also had an interesting choice to play Norman Bates after Anthony Perkins.

1. Total Recall (1990): This science fiction film is regarded as an exciting action picture. True, but Ebert’s review points out an aspect of it that is often overlooked: the performance of star Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is a great performance because Arnold displayed vulnerability which he hadn’t displayed onscreen previously. As a result, this film hinted that Arnold, as an actor, could have been known as more than simply an action star (although he made plenty of action pictures after this one).

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