Roger Ebert: A Top Ten List

I adored Roger Ebert and still do. He was an interesting, giddily playful, intelligent human being and I will miss him dearly. One of my fondest memories from my childhood is watching Siskel and Ebert and The Movies every weekend – it was on in the mornings on public access television. He came to the Center for World Affairs conference in Boulder every year for nearly 40 years, including the years I was a resident there and seeing him in town remains a highlight of my university years. I admired everything from his politics to his candor to his passion for film. His passing marks the end of an era.

I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting.

Siskel and Ebert

Although I liked Ebert very much, I didn’t always agree with his reviews. However, he understood that reviewing a film should be more than just an analysis  – that it should be a fun discussion of what makes the film awful or great. So whether I enjoyed or loathed what he recommended, reading his reviews were always a highlight. Here are ten movies: five I liked more and five I liked less than he did.

Five films I liked more than Mr. Ebert:

10. Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Classic.

First of all Rat, you never let on how much you like a girl. “Oh, Debbie. Hi.” Two, you always call the shots. “Kiss me. You won’t regret it.” Now three, act like wherever you are, that’s the place to be. “Isn’t this great?” Four, when ordering food, you find out what she wants, then order for the both of you. It’s a classy move. “Now, the lady will have the linguini and white clam sauce, and a Coke with no ice.” And five, now this is the most important, Rat. When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV.

9. Reservoir Dogs.
8. Fight Club. Admittedly, I have a crush on Edward Norton, but I find Brad Pitt to be sheisty. Regardless, I think it is better than the two stars it was given.
7. The Village. It wasn’t that bad.
6. The Usual Suspects.

Five films I liked less than Mr. Ebert:

5. Dark City. Dark City over Saving Private Ryan – really?!?
4. The X-Files: I Want to Believe. I am one of those people that believe just because a television series is successful does not mean it has to be made into a movie.
3. Knowing. I’m not sure we saw the same movie…
2. Gone With the Wind. I hate the book so much that it impedes on my enjoyment of the film. However, his review was divine:

[Rhett Butler] tells Scarlett in a key early scene, ‘You need kissing badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how.’ For ‘kissed,’ substitute the word you’re thinking of.

1. A Walk in the Clouds. Hmmm…I just don’t like this movie.

Image: Chicago Tribune

4 thoughts on “Roger Ebert: A Top Ten List

  1. I don’t watch many movies and rarely pay attention to critics’ reviews, but I definitely felt pangs of what could only be grief when I heard of his passing. He was such an icon. It’s strange how some celebrity deaths will hit me hard, and others don’t seem to affect me at all.


    1. I watch a lot of movies and I was a huge fan of Ebert. He seemed like such an honest, nice person. It was a rough ‘celebrity’ cancer week for me. First the news that Iain Banks (a favorite writer of mine) has only months to live and then Roger Ebert unexpectedly passes – can’t cancer go after more worthy candidates? Starting with Kim Jong-un…


      1. Yeah, cancer blows.

        Also, as unexpected as it was for the rest of the world, I can’t help but wonder if he knew. With it coming so close on the heels of his announcement that he was going to be stepping back… I’ve just heard that, when it’s an illness and not something out of nowhere (heart attack, accident, etc), that some people can sense when their end is coming. Of course, that could just be pessimism/depression paired with timing… who really knows? But if it is true, maybe the announcement was his way of saying goodbye.


      2. Actually, the last line of his last blog post was quite touching and an appropriate farewell: “So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies.”

        So maybe he did know. I am very glad the filmmakers are going to complete the Roger Ebert documentary, I will certainly watch it.


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