love good, appreciative, analytical, critical writing. Roger Ebert does that very well. Here’s a plausible explanation of how and why.
And this reflection: All of these films are on this list for the same reason: The direct emotional impact they made on me. They have many other qualities, of course. But these evoked the emotion of Elevation, which I wrote about a year or so ago. Elevation is, scientists say, an actual emotion, not a woo-woo theory. I believe that, because some films over the years have evoked from me a physical as well as an intellectual or emotional response.
In choosing the list, I decided to bypass films that may have qualified for their historical, artistic, popular or “objective” importance. No lists have deep significance, but even less lists composed to satisfy an imaginary jury of fellow critics. My jury resides within. I know how I feel.
Almost the first day I started writing reviews, I found a sentence in a book by Robert Warshow that I pinned on the wall above my desk. I have quoted it so frequently that some readers must be weary of it, but it helps me stay grounded. It says:
A man goes to the movies. A critic must be honest enough to admit he is that man.
That doesn’t make one person right and another wrong. All it means is that you know how they really felt, not how they thought they should feel.
And here’s another beautiful moment, from Ebert’s paragraphs on Juno:
I was surprised how much I laughed during “Juno,” and then surprised how much I cared, especially during a luminous scene when the woman who will adopt her baby (Jennifer Garner) solemnly places her hand on Juno’s pregnant belly and the two exchange a look so beautiful that if I’d known it was coming I don’t know if I could have looked.