Critics Round Up (CRU) is the first movie review aggregator to select reviews based on writing quality instead of popularity. Website traffic rankings play a major part in what gets selected for inclusion on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. These metrics don’t factor into whether a site gets included here.
Just because CRU cares most about writing quality doesn’t mean that we will comprehensively cover all well-written reviews. The internet is large and constantly expanding. It would be impossible to cover everything of merit. But unlike Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, we won’t drop the ball on providing you the essentials from hardcore cinephilia. The aforementioned aggregators don’t cover MUBI’s Notebook, Cinema Scope or La Furia Umana. This site includes all those publications, in addition to many others not on the radars of the more populist aggregators.
I should give credit where it’s due. The idea of focusing on high-minded critics was mostly inspired by my love of David Hudson’s Daily. I don’t know David, but he has superb taste in film criticism. I’m basically taking many of the critics he aggregates and applying a 100-point scale to their reviews to try to challenge the scores and ratings of Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.
One major goal of CRU is to serve as a link archive. Even if you dislike seeing movies and reviews reduced to a number on a 100-point scale, I hope that, if you’re a discerning cinephile, you would at least find the link archive aspect useful. I’m now satisfied with how many links have accumulated on the site, but it will only get better with every year that passes as the archive continues to grow.
We’ll also make an effort to aggregate old movie reviews that are only available in print. I have a few books by James Agee, Manny Farber and others that will be included on the site. Our coverage of film festivals will be better than any other aggregator site. We’ll do a lot of aggregating for Cannes, TIFF, NYFF, Berlinale, Venice and Locarno. The other aggregators don’t really cover those festivals, but we will.
Which Movies Get Aggregated
Because aggregating and adding movie information is time-consuming, I have to be selective about which movies are added to the site. Currently, there are around 20 movies that receive a commercial release in NYC every week. CRU will aggregate only the ones that are well-reviewed or hold interest to cinephiles for some other reason (e.g. if it’s by a celebrated director). Most of those new releases get lukewarm-to-negative reviews and are quickly forgotten anyhow, so I don’t think people will be disappointed that they’re not on this site. As a general rule, new reviews of old movies usually get aggregated here. If a critic feels a movie is worth writing about many years after it was first released, it probably deserves attention, even if it’s a negative review.
Explanation of the 100-Point Scale
I would expect that most cinephiles understand how a 100-point scale works by now, but I should clarify since that’s not true for everybody. The higher a movie or critic’s review lands on the 100-point scale, the more positive the reaction is. Positive scores begin at 67. That number probably sounds unusually specific, but I’ve run the numbers for a few scores based on hypothetical movies with small, three-to-five review consensuses and 67 seems to be the best place to draw the line.
Critics Round Up is now using Symbol Scoring. We’re using five symbols that each correspond to a certain number of points. These points are averaged out to create the CRU Rating (which still uses the 100-point scale). Here’s an explanation of the symbols:
++: 100 points. An ecstatic reaction.
+: 75 points. Positive.
+x: 50 points. Mixed, ambivalent or barely positive.
x: 25 points. Negative.
xx: 0 points: Extremely negative.
For the foreseeable future, the majority of pages on Critics Round Up will still be using the older, 100-point scoring in its roundups. We’re trying to upgrade everything to Symbol Scoring as soon as possible, but it’s gonna take some time.
Why Some Film Critics Aren’t Included
I don’t feel bad about excluding most Rotten Tomatoes film critics, since they write thoughtlessly and without a point. But I’ve also excluded some film critics that get linked to in David Hudson’s Daily because there’s too much good film criticism online for one person to keep up with. I’ve been going a little crazy keeping up with the film critics that are currently on the site as it is. If you get linked to a lot by David, you almost certainly deserve to be here, but I’ve had to limit the number of critics and publications to favorites. This fills me with more guilt than you might imagine, but I’m already working long hours as it is.
Which Critics Are Included?
Click here for the list.
The Archive is an index of pages that are pretty much satisfactory and complete. For immediate updates, you can follow Critics Round Up on Twitter.
CRU Rankings for New Releases: 2014.
Personal favorites: 2014.