Ebert’s Bests, by Roger Ebert
2016/05/07 1 Comment
There are an awful lot of movies out there, and the older I get, the more picky I’ve become. Over the years, I’ve relied on the guidance of film reviewers whose opinions I trust. Eli Glastner on the CBC, Katherine Monk in The Vancouver Sun (until she was laid off last year), and of course, Siskel & Ebert, the thumbs up/thumbs down squabblers whose views only occasionally coincided. They were on PBS, if I recall, but film posters and ads would always indicate a thumbs up from one or both. Gene Siskel died in 1999 of complications from surgery on a brain tumour and though Ebert’s sadness was palpable, he stayed active as a reviewer of his beloved films for years, passing away in 2013. This little e-book is just 49 pages long, and is offered free this month by University of Chicago Press. Published as a “Chicago Short,” it’s an excerpt from the longer Awake in the Dark (2006, 2012). It includes a lively and informative 15-page bio, titled Becoming a Film Critic, in which Ebert briefly describes his career path, with the caveat that it’s highly personal and in many ways serendipitous, so don’t try to follow it! Before presenting the Best lists, he offers a few thoughts on the lists he created, including the fact that at the time of creation, he often chooses to put “the” best film in second place. He also criticizes the idea of ranking the year’s 10 best films which really can’t be compared. Given a choice, he would opt for a simple alphabetical order. The book then finishes with about 30 pages of the ten best films of the year, 1967 to 2011. It’s fun to read, to look for the ones you’ve watched as well as the ones you’ve never heard of (and for me, that was the majority of each list – like I said, I’m not a fanatic!). And if you want to know more, well, today’s modern filmgoer simply turns to IMBD. Ah, time. My thanks to University of Chicago Press for the e-book. You can get your own free copy of this e-book (until the end of May), and sign up for future monthly giveaways, at http://press.uchicago.edu/books/freeEbook.html.