Someone was bound to, sooner or later, come down on the critics for one thing or another. So these two writers, Adam K Raymond and Matan Gilat, decided to gather up all of the Metacritic scores and rank the critics from most agreeable to least.
I wouldn’t ordinarily mind this particular method of ranking critics if it weren’t based on the premise: who most agrees or disagrees with the fully branded, targeted demographic of 13 year-old boys. They used the top 200 highest grossing films of the past decade. That is like ranking food critics using their reviews of the five fast food chains that dominate every corner of every street on America (as I wrote in the comments). That doesn’t tell you anything about the taste of film critics. It doesn’t illuminate anything about anything. All it does is help advertisers and studios figure out which critics most agree with their pointed and successful strategy. They write:
To ensure a statistically significant sample (and our sanity), we started with a list of the 200 highest-grossing movies of the last decade and concentrated on only those critics who had reviewed at least 40 of them, though for many, the sample was closer to 100 films. To narrow it down to the most influential critics, we considered factors like reach and reputation, the frequency of their reviews, and whether or not they’re still in the game, with a focus on those who write for newspapers, magazines and websites people actually read. We (reluctantly) left out certain notorious self-promoters like Fox 4 Kansas City’s Shawn Edwards, four-time winner of eFilmCritic’s annual quote whore award, who isn’t even in Metacritic’s database—likely because he’s more PR shill than critic.
They are selective when it comes to the critics but not selective when it comes to the movies. Do you think it’s fair to judge the worth of a critic on Dead Man’s Chest, for instance, which topped the box office in 2006? I don’t. I don’t need a critic for that reason. We value our critics because they are great writers, many of them, though that breed of critic is disappearing. Replacing them are the kinds of critics the writers of this piece would value – not critics at all, really, but consumer reporters. They will tell you whether the film is worth your money depending on what exactly you’re looking for. Okay, fine. But there is a dimension to cinema and film that most of the great critics got into the business for. The fanboys and bloggers who have replaced them did not. They got into it because they loved movies. Fandom=fanboys. Coming from that place, one is an advocate – and we need those too. But film critics do have their place not to judge the branded sequels, tent poles and remakes that dominate the box office but to illuminate the magic, the complexities of the art of cinema.