Film, at its best, is a conduit for shared human experience, an art form that transcends boundaries and languages. It’s a mirror held up to society, reflecting our triumphs, our failings, our dreams, our fears. And in this medium of storytelling, the role of the movie critic emerges as an important component of the art. If you’re interested in this field, this guide dives into how to become a movie critic in the necessary skills to start your career.

How to Become a Movie Critic

Understanding the Role of a Movie Critic

A critic stands at the intersection of art and audience, serving not as a gatekeeper, but as a guide. Movie critics are not mere arbiters of good and bad. Rather, they dive into the heart of a film, explore its depths, and emerge with insights that might otherwise be missed. 

They provide context, dissect themes, and illuminate nuances, enriching the viewer's understanding and appreciation of the film.

Movie critics hold a significant role that extends far beyond merely watching films and offering opinions. Let's delve into the multifaceted world of a movie critic and explore the various aspects that shape their influential role.

Film Dissection

Movie critics meticulously dissect films, peeling back layers to uncover the intricacies within. They analyze the storytelling techniques, character development, story structure*, cinematography*, and other elements that contribute to the overall cinematic experience. 

This video by Every Frame a Painting analyzes the cinematography and composition of the film Drive and how it impacts the story. Its a great example of dissecting a film.

Drive (2011)  •  The Quadrant System

Through this critical examination, they unearth insights and observations that enrich the viewer's experience and understanding of the film.

Element Analysis

Critics are not satisfied with surface-level observations. They look deeper into the finer details of a film's elements. They scrutinize the screenplay, directing choices, performances, sound design, and visual effects. 

In this video analysis, we look at the use of sound design and its impact in the film Denis Villeneuve’s Dune.

Dune Sound Design Explained  •  Subscribe here

By dissecting these components, critics can assess the strengths and weaknesses of a film, providing audiences with a comprehensive understanding of its artistic merits.

Engaging Communication

To effectively convey their thoughts and evaluations, movie critics master the art of engaging communication. They craft their reviews with eloquence and clarity, employing captivating language to capture the essence of a film. 

Through their expressive writing or verbal delivery, critics aim to immerse readers or listeners in their cinematic journey while offering a fresh perspective.

Influencing Public Opinion

Movie critics possess the power to shape public opinion and impact the reception of a film. Their reviews can sway potential viewers, either drawing them towards or deterring them from a particular movie. 

Positive reviews may generate buzz and contribute to a film's success, while negative reviews can influence box office performance. As trusted voices in the industry, critics hold a responsibility to provide fair and insightful assessments.

The role of a movie critic is a complex one, transcending mere film watching and opinion sharing. It involves dissecting films, analyzing elements, communicating effectively, and potentially influencing public opinion. Their expertise and informed perspectives contribute to the vibrant landscape of cinema critique.

Skills on How to Become a Film Critic

Required Skills and Qualities

Being a movie critic is a demanding role that requires a combination of skills and a deep passion for cinema. To excel in this field, one must have a keen eye for detail, analytical thinking, and exceptional writing skills. 

Keen Eye for Detail

One of the key traits of exceptional movie critics is their ability to observe and analyze even the smallest details in a film. They pay attention to elements such as cinematography, editing, sound design, and performances. 

By noticing these nuances, critics can provide insightful commentary that enhances the audience's understanding and appreciation of the movie.

Analytical Thinking

Exceptional movie critics possess strong analytical skills that allow them to dissect and interpret films in a meaningful way. They go beyond surface-level reactions and delve into the deeper themes, symbolism, and underlying messages conveyed by the filmmakers. 

Here is Roger Ebert on what he thinks a movie review should do in a meaningful way.

Roger Ebert What A Movie Review Should Do

This ability to critically analyze movies helps them offer valuable insights and engage in thought-provoking discussions.

Exceptional Writing Skills

Writing is an essential aspect of being a movie critic. Exceptional critics can craft compelling and articulate reviews that captivate readers. They effectively communicate their thoughts and opinions, supporting them with evidence and examples from the film. 

By using descriptive language and engaging storytelling techniques, they transport readers into the world of the movie and make their reviews more impactful.

How to Become a Movie Critic Pauline Kael Headshot StudioBinder

“In ‘Jaws,’ which may be the most cheerfully perverse scare movie ever made, the disasters don’t come on schedule the way they do in most disaster pictures, and your guts never settle down to a timetable. Even while you’re convulsed with laughter, you’re still apprehensive, because the editing rhythms are very tricky, and the shock images loom up huge, right on top of you. There are parts of ‘Jaws’ that suggest what Eisenstein might have done if he hadn’t intellectualized himself out of reach — if he’d given in to the bourgeois child in himself.” — When the Lights Go Down (1980)

— Pauline Kael in Jaws

Developing a Unique Voice

What sets exceptional movie critics apart is the development of their unique voice. They have a distinct style and perspective that distinguishes them from other critics. This voice reflects their personality, values, and expertise. 

By cultivating their individuality, exceptional critics leave a lasting impression on their audience and contribute to the diversity of opinions within the field. In this video, Siskel and Ebert advise young critics to find their voice and tone.

Siskel & Ebert Advise Young Movie Critics

Becoming an exceptional movie critic requires a combination of skills, a passion for cinema, and the ability to view films critically. By honing their keen eye for detail, analytical thinking, exceptional writing skills, and developing a unique voice, movie critics can make a significant impact in the industry, just like the famous critics who have paved the way.

How to Become a Film Reviewer

Educational Background and Training

Becoming a movie critic doesn't have strict educational requirements, but having a background in film studies or journalism can be advantageous. Different routes of background and training can pave the way to a successful career in movie criticism.

Film Studies

One possible route to develop a solid foundation is through film studies. Engaging in courses that cover topics such as film history, theory, and analysis can provide valuable insights into the art of cinema. Understanding the various techniques, genres, and cinematic elements can help shape a well-rounded movie critic.


Another path to consider is through journalism. Building skills in researching, interviewing, and writing can contribute to becoming an effective movie critic. Journalistic training can provide a strong framework for conducting interviews with filmmakers, analyzing movies, and conveying opinions clearly and concisely.

Film Criticism and Creative Writing Courses

In addition to film studies and journalism, taking courses specifically focused on film criticism or creative writing can further enhance your skills as a movie critic. These courses can provide specialized knowledge in analyzing and interpreting films, as well as honing your ability to craft compelling and insightful reviews.

By exploring these different routes of background and training, aspiring movie critics can equip themselves with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in this dynamic field.

Starting a blog or YouTube channel, writing for your school newspaper or local magazines, are all great ways of gaining practical experience. Building a portfolio of your work showcases your ability to prospective employers.

Guide on How to Become a Movie Reviewer

Study the Greats

Learning from seasoned critics can also be a beneficial part of becoming a movie critic. Studying the work of prominent figures in the field can provide a wealth of insights. These critics, with their distinctive voices and unique perspectives, have shaped the art of film criticism and continue to influence it today.

Pauline Kael

Pauline Kael was known for her sharp, provocative, and often contrary views. Her work celebrated the emotional experience of the cinema and was often as entertaining as the films she critiqued. Kael's fierce independence of thought and her refusal to bow to popular opinion made her a trailblazer in the field.

Roger Ebert

American critic Roger Ebert, famous for his straightforward and conversational style, was one of the most influential figures in the industry. His reviews, packed with wit and humanity, made film criticism accessible to a broad audience. Ebert's ability to blend detailed analysis with a passionate love for cinema makes his work a must-read for any aspiring critic.

How to Become a Movie Critic Roger Evert Headshot StudioBinder

“Here is part two of the greatest crime saga ever made, a saga that will continue. No, it doesn't have that one scene that everyone remembers and quotes, like in the first film. But, it's a film we grow to love. The Godfather Part II is a quiet, brooding film that works upon reflection. The American dream has never seemed so ruthless.” 

— Ebert's review of The Godfather Part II

André Bazin

French critic André Bazin co-founded the influential film magazine Cahiers du cinéma. He championed the auteur theory, insisting on the director's role as the author of a film. Bazin's profound philosophical and moral engagement with cinema continues to inspire critics today.

Studying the work of these notable critics can offer valuable lessons in constructing compelling arguments, developing a distinctive voice, and understanding the many ways in which films can be interpreted and appreciated. Aspiring movie critics can draw inspiration from these industry greats, adapting their lessons to their unique perspectives and voices.

Learning How to Become a Movie Critic

Starting your career

Embarking on a career as a movie critic is both exciting and challenging. This journey requires not only a passion for films but also a steadfast commitment to honing your craft, establishing your unique voice, and continually learning about the ever-evolving world of cinema. 


Networking is key in the film industry. Attend film festivals, join film societies, and connect with other critics. Opportunities for professional development, such as seminars and workshops, can help you stay updated with the latest trends in the industry.

Job Opportunities and Career Progression

Job opportunities for movie critics can be found on various platforms including websites, film festivals, and newspapers. Career progression might include becoming a senior critic, an editor, or even publishing a book of your reviews.

Best way to Write Movie Reviews

Hone Your Skills

Writing about movies is like any other type of writing, it takes practice to get better. In the digital age, online platforms offer a practical way to hone your skills as an aspiring movie critic. Establishing an online presence not only allows you to practice and improve your writing but also helps you reach a wider audience and interact with fellow movie enthusiasts.

Social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter or YouTube are excellent places to start. These platforms enable you to share your thoughts on movies in bite-sized posts or longer threads. Additionally, interacting with other users can provide valuable feedback and stimulate interesting discussions about cinema.

Letterboxd is a social network specifically designed for film lovers. It's a perfect platform to log the movies you watch, write and share reviews, and discover new films through community recommendations. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the film community and practice your writing in an environment dedicated to film appreciation.

How to Use Letterboxd  •  Social Network for Film Lovers

By harnessing the power of these online platforms, you can start practicing your film criticism skills, engage with a community of film lovers, and establish your online presence as an emerging movie critic.

Critics' reviews are not dictations, but invitations to dialogue. They spark discussions, provoke thought, and challenge perspectives. They celebrate cinema's triumphs and critique its shortcomings, thereby encouraging filmmakers to push boundaries and strive for excellence.

Movie critics are an integral part of the cinematic ecosystem. They bridge the gap between the art of filmmaking and its audience, fostering a deeper, more meaningful engagement with film. In doing so, they help keep the magic of cinema alive and thriving.

What is Story Structure?

If you’re looking to become a movie critic, then one thing you will undoubtedly need to understand is story. In our next article, we take a deep dive into story structure and how it impacts how a story is told in film. 

Up Next: What is Story Structure? →
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  • Kyle DeGuzman graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science in Television, Film, & New Media. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado spending his time writing, filmmaking, and traveling.

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