Film Reviews and Recommendations

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General Information and Where to Start

This guide is designed to help you find print and Internet based resources about films, such as: plot summaries, checklists, critical film reviews, and customized film recommendations. Please note: this guide primarily refers to entertainment oriented resources, rather than academic or film industry resources.

There is a variety of sources available to check for film reviews and recommendations. There is no definitive source for this type of information, so you might have to or want to consult several of the following sources.

Internet Based Resources for Film Reviews and Recommendations

Although there are many resources available in print, there are several sources found via the Internet that are easy to use. Internet based resources are especially helpful when looking for reviews of recently released films. They also allow you to connect to other websites related to a particular film or to connect with other people with similar film interests.

The Internet Movie Database http://us.imdb.com/ is considered to be one of the most comprehensive film resources on the Internet. Although it is based out of the University of Cardiff, it has mirror sites all around the world. The Internet Movie Database currently contains over 100,000 titles, with cast, credits, a synopsis, movie reviews, links to related web sites, and movie ratings from users. This is an excellent starting point.

Hollywood.com http://www.hollywood.com/ is another comprehensive site. In addition to movie reviews, it also has trailers, celebrity news, a category on independent films, TV information, and a movie locater.

Rotten Tomatoes http://www.rottentomatoes.com/ is similar to both Hollywood.com and to IMDB, however its presentation is unique. Movie reviews are presented as 30-35 to a page with opening quotes and credits allowing you to choose to read further only if the review looks like it will interest you. Once you select a movie, it presents news, chats, other websites, and many more tidbits related to that movie or to the performers in the film.

Film Festivals.com http://www.filmfestivals.com/ serves as both a Festival locater and as a provider of in depth festival results and coverage.

Foreign Films.com http://www.foreignfilms.com/ - Interested in finding out more about Foreign Films? Then, this is your website! Foreign Film Lists, Hard-to-Find Films, Searches by Country, Top Requests...it's all here!

Movie Review Query Engine http://www.mrqe.com/ can be used to search Internet-based movie reviews. It includes a wide variety of media outlets such as newspapers, trade publications, magazines, etc. It has a feature for complex queries, and also allows you to restrict your searches to recent movie releases, movies opening soon, and more! It is a good source to find film reviews published on the Internet, but remember that older films tend to have less reviews on the WWW than recent films. MRQE also has some predefined topical lists of movies such as those newly released on video/dvd, upcoming releases to the theaters, Academy Award nominations, Top 100 lists,Specific Directors lists, Film Festival award winners, and much more.

The Greatest Films http://www.filmsite.org/ has a variety of resources which include: 100 Selected Greatest Films, Deserving Films Without Academy Awards, Greatest Film Moments &Famous Scenes, Cinematic History by Decade. The 100 selected "greatest films" were chosen as "landmark movies in the history of film and cinema." The web site also has a Major Film Search Engines page which allows you to search various Internet based movie resources.

HollywoodReporter.com http://www.hollywoodreporter.com provides more in depth magazine coverage on the movie business, movies, and issues related to film and television.

Screen It! Entertainment Reviews for Parents http://www.screenit.com/search_movies.html/heavily details the content of movies based on fifteen categories which includes: alcohol/drugs, frightening/tense scenes, and topics to talk about. It actually bullets the scenes that qualify for each category!

A growing trend in Internet based movie resources is personal predictors. These web sites create a personal profile based on how you rate several movies. Based on this new profile, the personal predictors will customize film recommendations to suit your interests. The recommendations are based on a comparison of movie ratings of people with similar interests to your own. Some personal predictors are (some require sign-on, but it's free): IMDb Recommendation Center, MovieLens, Reel.com Movie Matches, Movie Wizard, and SEPIA Video Guide.

There are a number of Usenet newsgroups in this area as well. They reflect a variety of interests in movies. These can be good places to ask questions, participate in or observe discussions, and meet people with similar interests. Google Group's list of Usenet groups is a good place to search for more Usenet newsgroups. There are also email-based mailing groups (listservs) on specific topics. Try searching Topica to find these listservs.

There are also weekly television programs such as Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper at the Movies which has film critics reviewing currently released films. has a web site with a searchable database of its current and past film reviews. You can find longer film reviews at Roger Ebert on Movies (from the Chicago Sun-Times). He also has feature columns, such as Roger Ebert's The Great Movies which has reviews of several movie classics.

Printed Resources for Film Reviews and Recommendations

There are a number of books that provide checklists of recommended films. Some books, such as The Book of Video Lists, categorizes recommended films by genres such as "classic tear jerkers" or "religious epics." Other books, such as The Academy Award Index, chronologically list all of the recommended Academy Awards winners. You can also find books on more specialized topics such as The Ultimate Guide to Lesbian and Gay Film and Video or The Mystery Scene Movie Guide.

If you have a particular film in mind, you can consult a resource which provides a detailed plot summary,such as the Magill's Survey of Cinema series. Magill's has specialized series for English Language Films, Foreign Language Films, and Silent Films - some of these series date back to 1981. Check Magill's Cinema Annual for more current film reviews.

For films available on video tape, you can check one of the many movie or video guides available. Some popular guides include the Blockbuster Entertainment Guide to Movies and Videos, Leonard Maltin's Movie &Video Guide, and Roger Ebert's Video Companion. These guides are updated annually and can be purchased at bookstores, or through amazon.com, an Internet based bookseller. These specific guides are also available on a CD-ROM called Cinemania. In addition to plot summaries, some of these movie or video guides provide brief critical reviews of the films.

You might also want to check for recent film reviews in local and national newspapers. Your public library might has access to the National Newspaper Index, which will allow you to search multiple national newspapers. Some of the national newspapers that have film reviews are The Chicago Tribune Metromix Entertainment Guide, The Detroit News Movie Finder, The New York Times Movie Page, USA Today Movie Page, and Washington Post Movies and Videos. You can also find film reviews in entertainment periodicals such as Entertainment Weekly and Premiere. If your public library has the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, you can find more film reviews printed in magazines by searching under the subject heading of motion picture reviews. Some other good sources to check are the New York Times Film Reviews and Variety Film Reviews. These two sources have reprints of film reviews from their publications and it is a good way to see what movies have been released during a particular year.

You can find some of these resources at your local public library. Most public libraries in the United States use the Dewey Decimal Classification; some call numbers of interest here follow. Library staff can help you find more information.

  • 791.43 Motion Pictures

This pathfinder was created by Helen Look. Updated by Sena Roth.

You may also wish to see IPL General/Reference Collection: Movies (http://www.ipl.org/ref/RR/static/ent50.00.00.html)