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Research Guides

Cinema Studies: Film Criticism

This guide highlights recommended resources for research in Cinema Studies.

film journals

Film Criticism vs. Film Reviews

Film criticism and film review are often used interchangeably however they are quite different in a number of ways. 

Film Criticism: 

Film criticism is the scholarly and in depth analysis of film usually published in academic articles and books years later. The criticism can focus on a single film, a genre of films, a director's or actor's oeuvre and more. It is often framed through the lenses of film theory.

Quote: "Film criticism will tend to discuss the film in its entirety and seek to deepen, reveal, expand, sharpen, and/or confront, a potential viewer's understanding in a way that goes beyond simply deciding whether or not the film is worth seeing" (Dictionary of Film Studies). 

Example: Knapp, Jeffrey. "'Throw That Junk!' the Art of the Movie in Citizen Kane." Representations, vol. 122, no. 1, Spring 2013, pp. 110-142.

Film/Movie Review:

A movie review is is usually published in popular magazines, newspapers or online often on the day of a film's release. It provides a plot synopsis and often a rating or recommendation

Quote: "A film review will usually be produced after one viewing and is primarily designed to help potential viewers decide whether or not to watch the film" (Dictionary of Film Studies). 

Example: Flin. "Film reviews: Citizen Kane." Variety, vol. 142, no. 6, 16 April 1941, p. 16.

Start Here for Scholarly Articles & Film Criticism


FIAF provides coverage to more than 300 academic and popular film and television journals from 1972 to the present. 

Link your search terms using the AND connector. For example: "horror films" and japanese. On the search results screen, use the options on the left toolbar to narrow your search results. To find the fulltext of the article, click on the "Check for Full Text" button and work your way through the screens. Not all articles will be online, some may only be in print, others may not be available at the UW. Articles from journals which the UW does not own can be requested via Interlibrary loan.

Additional Databases for Film Criticism