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Citizen Ebert

April 20, 2011

I recently stumbled on this inspiring TED talk by legendary film critic Roger Ebert. In it, Ebert—joined by his wife and two friends—discusses the challenges he’s faced since thyroid cancer forced doctors to remove his entire jaw. He may not be able to physically speak, but as this talk makes quite clear, he still has a voice—and a wonderfully eloquent one at that. Please take 20 minutes and watch it. Unless you’re missing a jaw, it’ll put your most of your problems in perspective.

I’m not generally a fan of film critics–they tend to be overly snarky and too clever by half, especially if they live in New York–but I’ve always had a soft spot for Roger Ebert. Indeed, he and Gene Siskel (his At the Movies partner in crime who sadly passed away in 1999) were one of reasons I used to love “Oscar season” when I was growing up. I always looked forward to their pre-Oscar TV special, Siskel & Ebert: If We Picked the Winners, as well as to their appearance on An Evening at the Academy Awards on Oscar night. You may not’ve agreed with their predictions, or with their (very strong) opinions as to who they thought should win, but one thing you couldn’t deny: these guys loved movies. Loved them with a passionate, un-ironic, non-snarky intensity. And they also knew movies. Unlike many red carpet interviewers and Oscar commentators nowadays, they’d actually seen all the nominated films, past and present, and they cared about what won. And they wanted the people at home watching to care too.

For them, the Oscars wasn’t just a horse-race; it was a coveted honor which only the best movie/performer/artist should win.

I guess you might say, they made you feel that the Oscars actually… mattered.

It’s wonderful to see that Ebert is not only still going strong, he’s as opinionated and prolific as ever (his blog is pretty amazing, delving into politics and social issues as well as movies, and he’s also quite active on the Twitter). Still, I’ll always be nostalgic for the days when he and Siskel would go head-to-head as to what movie should win Best Picture.

Back when two unglamorous film critics from Chicago could still have their own televised pre-Oscar special.

Back when Oscar coverage wasn’t just about fashion and Hollywood parties.

Back when it used to be about the movies.

Of course, as long as Ebert’s around, it’s nice to know that for some of us, it still is.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Angie Girl permalink
    April 22, 2011 4:35 pm

    I love Roger Ebert and truly miss his wit, vast movie knowledge and love for the movies. Yes, he actually watched the movies he reviewed! Thank you for bringing clip this to our attention.

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