Critics Round Up is the first movie review aggregator to select reviews based on the quality of writing moreso than popularity. That doesn’t mean CRU will pick up on all of the worthy film writing online. Good writing has and will continue to fall through the cracks, which is inevitable since the internet is so big and constantly expanding. But unlike Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, CRU will not fail in bringing your attention to new writing by esteemed critics like Adrian Martin and Kent Jones or reputable film journals like Senses of Cinema and La Furia Umana, people and sites that absolutely shouldn’t be overlooked.
This site has two main goals:
To provide an alternative to the aggregated numbers of more popular sites. Rotten Tomatoes is good for people who want to see the highest number of critics included, but standards need to be applied. Not everyone should be counted. Metacritic works for people who are mainly interested in well-known publications, but they ignore many of the best sources for film criticism because they aren’t as recognizable (no MUBI, no Cinema Scope, no more J. Hoberman since he left the Village Voice). My idea was to synthesize the approaches of these sites: to filter out the majority of the online discourse, but also to be plugged in enough to include sites true, dedicated cinephiles love that are mostly ignored by the major 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.
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 ND/NF. 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.
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.