Your guide to conservative film critics

Your guide to conservative film critics

Right of center movie criticism seemed like an oxymoron until the dawn of the Internet.

Yes, conservative magazines like The Weekly Standard and National Review often pontificate on the films of the day, but most movie consumers relied on either local or nationally syndicated film critics. And, like most journalists, they tended to lean left.

Things are changing, but the ratio remains akin to the movie “300.” And guess which side represents the conservatives?

The following is a list of some prominent conservative film critics and others just making themselves known throughout the blogosphere. Their ranks may be humble, but they stand as a necessary balance to the liberal-leaning industry.

On a personal note, I’ve become acquaintances with several people below. That means this list doesn’t pretend to be objective. It’s simply a resource for those who want to read a conservative’s take on movies in toto.

The Stalwarts

  • John Nolte, Big Hollywood - The erstwhile Dirty Harry serves as Editor in Chief of the right-leaning entertainment site, but he finds the time to write commentary on Hollywood at large as well as review films in his sweet spot. Consider his ode to John Wayne and “The Comancheros” as Exhibit A.
  • Kurt Loder, Reason – The former MTV personality tackles movies from a libertarian perch, bringing both intellectual heft and a child-like appreciation for popcorn fare to his writing.
  • Kyle Smith, The New York Post/KyleSmithOnline.com - The conservative Post is known for its outlandishly funny headlines, and Smith’s oft-hilarious reviews complement those snarky word bombs.
  • John Podhoretz, The Weekly Standard - This pull no punches critic is old school in the very best sense, a critic steeped in film lore who doesn’t rub it in your face.
  • Michael Medved, “The Michael Medved Show” - The veteran talker serves up audio reviews on his signature site.
  • The American Spectator – Critic in residence James Bowman takes a culture warrior’s perspective on movie fare.
  • Stephen Hunter - This former Washington Post critic and Pulitzer Prize winner retired a few years back but still punches the clock for the occasional film essay.
  • Libertas - One of the web’s earlier right-leaning movie sites went away for a spell but is back and commenting on the latest Hollywood fare.

The Newer Kids on the Block

  • Hunter Duesing – This self-described metal head contributes to Big Hollywood, Parcbench.com and, when he finds the time, this very site. He’s also the co-host of “The Midnight Movie Cowboys Podcast.”
  • Chris Yogerst -You’ll find Mr. Yogerst’s reviews over at Parcbench.com where he serves as Senior Editor and film critic, and, like Duesing, he also publishes commentary at Big Hollywood.
  • James Frazier – This impressive young scribe publishes his own film blog, contributes to Big Hollywood and occasionally pinch hits at WWTW.
  • Commentarama Films – This new site covers some newer film releases but saves space for older films.

This list is certainly not complete, and I fear I’ve left out some folks who are either cloaking their ideology (can’t blame them) or so far haven’t mustered enough Internet juice to hit my radar. Are there any prominent names I’ve left out? I’ll update as needed.



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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

James FrazierNo Gravatar June 1, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Great list. I’m certainly very right-wing, though I almost never write about it. And he’s retired now, but you could include the Washington Post’s Stephen Hunter.

AlericNo Gravatar June 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I have arguments on some of the other sites with the guys running them and how they are all definately slanted to the left. This has been going on for several years and none of them will admit they vote Dem but they see no problem with movies like Fair Game or W making fun of the Bush Administration.

My suspicions were confirmed the other day when Cole Abious wrote about how he admired Noam Chomsky, but only on a linguistics level.

Tom in AZNo Gravatar June 1, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Well, as an amateur linguist, I have some respect for Chomsky’s work in the field—it isn’t tainted by whatever makes him a Jewish Holocaust denier. It’s like, yeah, you gotta respect Oppenheimer as a physicist. As a seller of secrets to Stalin and a serial womanizer who once tried to poison a TA who gave him a bad grade, not so much.

RWANo Gravatar June 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm

The American Spectator’s James Bowman is one of the very best film critics, period. I don’t read critics for their politics and I don’t even care if I agree with their reviews most of the time; I read them for their writing ability and their keen insights and analysis.

AlericNo Gravatar June 1, 2011 at 7:56 pm

@Tom, but these same people deny that Chomsky isnt a die hard Liberal or that his writitngs have no bearing on modern Liberalism.

AndrewPriceNo Gravatar June 1, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Christian, Thanks for noticing our film site! Yeah, we don’t a lot of new films yet, but we are working hard to catch up on all the old ones! :-)

P.S. While I’m at it, I should also say thanks for everything you’ve written — and I mean that sincerely. I’ve always found your take useful and interesting. And I’m glad that guys like you and John Nolte broke the mold that conservatives somehow have nothing to say about films!

Agim ZabeliNo Gravatar June 1, 2011 at 9:14 pm

What? No Mark Steyn?

Peter HundtNo Gravatar June 1, 2011 at 9:28 pm

I don’t know if he’s a conservative, but Armond White of the NY Press isn’t shy about fileting sacred liberal cows. Check out his takedown of Matt Damon’s Adjustment Bureau:
http://www.nypress.com/article-22184-matt-damon-dickhead.html

Hunter DuesingNo Gravatar June 1, 2011 at 9:53 pm

This made my day, glad to see James Frazier and my buddy Chris Yogerst on there. Frazier’s work is excellent, Yogerst knows more about westerns than anyone I know.

BillNo Gravatar June 1, 2011 at 10:38 pm

For what it’s worth, Debbie Schlussel does movie reviews as well

EzraNo Gravatar June 1, 2011 at 11:23 pm

You should also check out Louis Fowler, a friend of mine from Fort Collins, CO. Louis is a professional who writes for local publications and also runs his own blog. He’s billed by many a s a “contrarian,” but he always makes his stuff funny, insightful, and convincing. This is his site:

http://louisfowler.blogspot.com/

John NNo Gravatar June 2, 2011 at 12:42 am

Add Debbie Schlussel to the list. She’s been reviewing films for years.
http://www.debbieschlussel.com/

Marcus HernandezNo Gravatar June 2, 2011 at 12:51 am

good list minus medved. problem is people thinking they have to agree with film critics. I hate ebert’s politics but cherish his film reviews even when I don’t agree with his take on a film. also check out james berardinelli at reelviews.net pretty middle of the road politically but great writer. I just wish politics didn’t have to play a part in film. I’m political about nearly everything I just wish this could be a non-political subject.

Nicol DNo Gravatar June 2, 2011 at 2:01 am

While I like and appreciate this list, the way the conservative film movement has developed has left at least a touch of bad taste in my mouth. Libertas (Jason Apuzzo and Govindini Murty plus a few newer writers) were not just one of the first, with their Liberty Film Festival they arguable were the first real conservatives to put their beliefs and reputations on the line. Without Liberty Film Festival, arguable there would be no Big Hollywood. That Breitbart is getting so much credit is mildly disconcerting.

I do not know what went down between between Apuzzo, Murty, Nolte (who started at Libertas) and why the Liberty people were left out of Big Hollywood and are largely not acknowledged when they are actually the founders of the movement.

That there has been so much web silence about this has always irked me. It has the feeling of the conservative film movement being no more pure and just as prone to its own “list” of who is in and out as the left.

Again, I have no idea what went down (was it because the Liberty people wanted to be filmmakers more than gatekeepers?), but I have always been curious and unable to find sufficient answers.

EricPNo Gravatar June 2, 2011 at 5:07 am

Nicol D, while I have no direct knowledge of what went down between John, Jason and Govindini, I know the Liberty Film Fest couple have burned a lot of bridges in Hell-A, which is unfortunate. I had a great time working at the second LFF and they were affable enough with me.

As for Big Hollywood, it’s too bad Nolte spends so much time in the culture war trenches. He’s quite good at it, don’t get me wrong, but few have such a love of film and write as eloquently about it as he. Miss his reviews something fierce. If only he would pass along some of that knowledge to his younger staffers who write film reviews. I haven’t seen “is” used as much since Slick Willie scuffled around the Beltway wondering exactly what “is” is. Oh, it’d also be nice if Nolte would lift his draconian (and hypocritical) ban on my making comments at BH, but that’s neither here nor there. On that note, Nicol D, you’re exactly right about that feeling of the “cool” kids club in the conservative entertainment/film world. Incredibly disappointing, I say, I say, ’cause it’d be scary how effectively we could do more than lob rocks at the leftist machine if far more people were like WWTW and think about the team and less cared primarily about their egos.

mokulenNo Gravatar June 2, 2011 at 6:36 am

I also love that James Bowman reviews a lot of foreign films something a lot of critics conservative or otherwise don’t do.

http://www.jamesbowman.net/

RWANo Gravatar June 2, 2011 at 11:55 am

Debbie Schlussel, unfortunately, is not only a poor film critic, but is pretty loopy overall.

ChrisNo Gravatar June 2, 2011 at 12:11 pm

No mention of Steve Sailer’s work in the American Conservative and Taki’s Magazine? I am disappointed.

Here’s his most recent review in Taki’s of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris: http://takimag.com/article/midnight_in_paris_the_lost_generation_reborn1

WJLNo Gravatar June 2, 2011 at 12:23 pm

A great site for family reviews of movies & DVDs is Movieguide. At http://www.movieguide.org/ I’ve been using it for years.

Floyd R TurboNo Gravatar June 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm

What RWA said… times 10.

Does being a conservative film critic in my head count Christian? :-)

PhineasNo Gravatar June 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Don’t ever forget the 50+ years of the great,the brilliant, John Simon,with his superb dissections of movies,and a razor sharp eye for exposing a movie’s artistic,and/or political, pretentions.

KNo Gravatar June 2, 2011 at 4:42 pm

From a conservative Christian POV Scott Nehring has an interesting movie review site.

http://www.goodnewsfilmreviews.com/

NYaNo Gravatar June 2, 2011 at 5:07 pm

http://www.decentfilms.com/

Steve Greydanus; another conservative Christian pov.

This is for theatre; Terry Teachout, is wonderful:
http://www.artsjournal.com/aboutlastnight/

brutonyNo Gravatar June 2, 2011 at 5:41 pm

I sure am a cunning linguist, as many women have told me! And a conservative who reviews films amateurly!

jamesNo Gravatar June 2, 2011 at 8:23 pm

My favorite critic is Ty Burr of the Boston Globe. I have not observed bias one way or another with his reviews. We just agree on good and bad movies.

brutonyNo Gravatar June 2, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Any conservative film critics who are on TV, or I could read without any difficulty, like on-line or a major publication?

RWANo Gravatar June 3, 2011 at 12:02 am

They’re very specialized, but the folks at Republibot do an excellent job at reviewing science fiction.

Although Donald Lyons currently concentrates on theater reviews for the NY Post and New Criterion, his book INDEPENDENT VISIONS was the “Bible” for many of us film geeks growing up in the Nineties, at least until Miramax sold out to Disney.

brutonyNo Gravatar June 3, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I’lll check it out

ALNo Gravatar June 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm

In my opinion, the best conservative film critic on the web is Joe Bendel. Check out his site (http://jbspins.blogspot.com/). J.B. (as he’s known) does a lot of art-house and festival coverage (including Sundance and Tribeca this year), and he also squeezes in some jazz & theater reviews. He also write fairly regularly for Libertas, which they mention. Check out his stuff. The guy can write, and I consistenly love his take and perspective.

RWANo Gravatar June 3, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Thanks Floyd. I just wanted to add that I’m a frequent reader of Threedonia and I love your takes on the Classics of the Day.

I can’t believe I forgot Ken Begg, of Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension. He currently blogs at http://www.jabootu.net, and unlike a lot of “bad movie” bloggers, genuinely loves movies, including the classic science fiction and horror films he regularly discusses. His older reviews are archived at http://www.jabootu.com; his reviews of Superman IV and Captain Planet are classics themselves.

MW HemingwayNo Gravatar June 6, 2011 at 10:54 pm

How could you forget to mention Joe Bob Briggs, aka John Bloom. Guy is legendary, wrote for National Review off and on for years. His recent books Profoundly Disturbing and Profoundly Erotic are terrific.

http://www.amazon.com/Profoundly-Disturbing-Shocking-Changed-History/dp/0789308444/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1307400768&sr=8-3

http://www.amazon.com/Profoundly-Erotic-Movies-Changed-History/dp/0789313146/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1307400768&sr=8-15

brutonyNo Gravatar June 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Good one, Hemingway, I always used to watch his Drive-In reviews, and briefly, TV spots. Ive also read him, and he does seem to be very conservative! Maybe thats why I havent seen or heard from him in ages!

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