Roger Ebert

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"As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks."
Roger Ebert on Deuce Bigalow European Gigolo

Roger Ebert (1942-2013) was Film reviewer-in-chief at the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967. In itself, that would make him important as the elder statesman of film criticism.

In 1975, Ebert teamed up with Gene Siskel, reviewer-in-chief at the Chicago Tribune, to present a film review program called Sneak Previews on the local PBS station. The program went to national syndication in 1978; in 1982 Siskel and Ebert moved to a new network and a new but very similar program called At The Movies with Siskel and Ebert (or vice versa). Unexpectedly, this made him one of the two most important movie critics in America. Because the show was televised, many more Americans saw it than read the reviews in the newspapers; because Ebert and Siskel had credentials in real newspapers in a major city first, and didn't review every movie favorably, they could be taken more seriously than most other movie reviewers on television. Siskel and Ebert's passive-aggressive chemistry was the stuff of legend. It was often thought that due their occasionally hostile on-screen presence when they disagreed, that the two hated each other. However, both considered the other a close friend, even if their relationship was competitive by nature. In fact, on the tenth anniversary of Siskel's death in 2009, Ebert posted a touching remembrance of his friend on his blog.

When Siskel died in 1999, Ebert kept on the show with guest hosts until it was settled that it would be At The Movies with Ebert and Roeper, with Richard Roeper, another Chicago Sun-Times critic. This made him the most important living movie critic in America. The show ended in 2008 partially because his throat cancer was preventing him from doing most of the episodes for over a year and a half. (To do film reviews on television, you have to be able to speak). Sadly, due to a few surgeries that successfully eradicated his cancer, Ebert had lost the ability to speak entirely and part of his lower jaw had been removed. By the end he "spoke" via handwritten notes and a computer text-to-speech program. In 2010, a Scottish company had created a voice similar to Ebert's own for him to use as his new "voice", using his DVD commentaries (and not his tv show, since there was always background movie noise and Gene Siskel/Richard Roeper interrupting him) and other similar recordings. Furthermore, his last treatments were so tough going with so much physical cost, he had vowed that if the cancer reemerges, he would let it take its course unto death.

In 2011, to replace the new At the Movies which had been canceled by its distributor, Ebert and his wife Chaz started their own movie review show on PBS called Ebert Presents At The Movies hosted by Christy Lemire of the Associated Press and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of Mubi, which followed largely the same format as Ebert's other shows. Ebert himself appeared in a segment on the show called "Roger's Office" which featured voice over narration (either with the help of either his new "voice", or a famous friend such as Werner Herzog or Bill Curtis) of one of his recent reviews or musings.

Ebert wrote weekly review columns as well as a daily blog and maintained a very active Twitter account, and every single one of his reviews are available on the Internet, where he was still an influential force in movie criticism's new dominant medium. In recent years, he had also picked up a reputation for being soft on movies; however, his wrath, when deployed, was legendary. I Hated, Hated, HATED This Movie! and Your Movie Sucks are two compilations of his two star and under reviews; a third, titled A Horrible Experience of Unbearable Length, was released in 2012.

Roger Ebert had been printing compilations of his movie reviews every year on the year since The Eighties.Also Ebert had written three books of essays about his favorite movies entitled The Great Movies, with these essays also available on his website in a condensed form.

He also wrote Ebert's Little Movie Glossary and Ebert's Bigger Little Movie Glossary, which are books of Film Tropes in Devils Dictionary form. (An even bigger movie glossary is on his web page.) They could be considered a proto-TV Tropes in a sense (and the Trope Namer for many).

Another column keeped up with was "The Movie Answer-Man", where he addresses various topics given to him by reader comments. Sometimes addressing fandom aspects like...

He also wrote many books on great films. He had been one of the great proponents of film preservation, letterboxing (back when most televisions were square and most movies in theaters weren't), and giving credit to directors and screenwriters; he probably helped make these issues important. He had also been a proponent of seeing films in theaters, but he had accepted modern viewing habits enough to write DVD reviews. He had done a few audio commentaries notably ones for two of his all time favorite films, Citizen Kane and Dark City, which have appeared on most releases of those films on DVD.

He was one of the major opponents to Colorization. He often likes Deliberately Monochrome films, and ones that were monochrome because of when they were made, because of the light and shadow effects. He also protested censorship in the name of Avoid the Dreaded G Rating or avoiding the dreaded X/NC-17 rating. While he advocated for years for a properly copyrighted A rating to replace X since that sound more respectable, he had hoped NC-17 would become a respectable alternative, and was disappointed when it didn't. He was critical of what he sees as an overuse of 3D technology in recent movies.

He was screenwriter for a notoriously bad film, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Since that film was released in 1970, this hasn't affected his stature as a critic much. He makes fun of it himself, but says he's proud of it regardless.

Gained a bit of flak from the gamer community when he commented video games not being an art form, but he eventually came around and at least decided he was not in a position to judge them. Despite that episode, he was considered as the most One of Us of major critics, as he admired Japanese animated film and had an incredible knowledge of science fiction, which was among his favorite genres. While he claims ignorance to a lot of TV shows due to his heavy schedule of writing and watching films, he's found time to become a fan of the WWE, South Park, and Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Also a master at uncovering the Freeze-Frame Bonus -- for years, he would spend a week at the University of Colorado's World Affairs Conference dissecting a film frame-by-frame with an audience's help to reveal small details.

Now we have his great movies list and his list of his least favorite movies.

Incidentally, described several tropes decades before TV Tropes even came into existance.

The website of his last show can be found here and there's an archive of the old Siskel & Ebert episodes here.

After a long fight with cancer, he died on April 4, 2013.

Roger Ebert is the Trope Namer for:

Ebert has supplied us with quotes for the following: