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A movie review is an article that is published in a newspaper, magazine, or scholarly work that describes and evaluates a movie. Reviews are typically written by journalists giving their opinion of the movie. Some reviews include score (4 out of 5 stars) or recommendations (thumbs up). Since reviews are printed in many different kinds of publications, you may need to search several sources.
A movie criticism is written by a scholar or expert in film studies to discuss the movie within a historical, social, political, or theoretical context. It differs from the opinion or recommendation that a movie review provides in terms of length, content and focus. Criticisms can be found in cinema studies journals as well as discipline-specific sources, depending on the plot or themes of the movie.
Reviews and criticisms are produced after the release of a movie, whether that is its initial release to theatres, or a release in a home video format. Knowing the initial release date(s) will help refine your search. Also note that nationwide release of movies only started in the 1980s; earlier films were released on different dates in different parts of the country. So a movie reviewed in New York City of Los Angeles may not have been reviewed for months or years later in smaller cities. The Internet Movie Database is an excellent source for release dates. Finally, movies can be remade, so you will want to be sure you are finding reviews or criticisms for the correct film; knowing the director or major stars will help refine your search results.
Many sources will only give a citation for the review or criticism. Use that citation to track down the complete text of the article.
Movie review and critique databases
- Film & Television Literature Index from EBSCOhostFilm & Television Literature Index indexes citations, abstracts, and full-text articles from journals, magazines, and newspapers, along with books and book reviews, film and television program reviews, interviews, and biographical information on all aspects of film and television theory, writing, production, and reviews. Full text is available in HTML and PDF. You can limit to peer-reviewed sources. 1910s-present.
- Communication & Mass Media Complete from EBSCOhostCMMC indexes citations, abstracts, and full-text articles (HTML and PDF) from journals and conference papers in the communication field. This database also offers cited reference searching and author profiles that provide biographical data and bibliographic information on prolific authors in the discipline. You can limit to scholarly/peer reviewed sources. 1900-present.Communication & Mass Media Complete incorporates the content of CommSearch (formerly produced by the National Communication Association) and Mass Media Articles Index (formerly produced by Penn State) along with numerous other journals in communication, mass media, and other closely-related fields of study to create a research and reference resource of unprecedented scope and depth encompassing the breadth of the communication discipline.
CMMC offers cover-to-cover (“core”) indexing and abstracts for more than 550 journals, and selected (“priority”) coverage of nearly 200 more, for a combined coverage of 737 titles. Furthermore, this database includes full text for over 440 journals. Many major journals have indexing, abstracts, PDFs and searchable cited references from their first issues to the present (dating as far back as 1915). CMMC contains a sophisticated Communication Thesaurus and comprehensive reference browsing (i.e. searchable cited references for peer-reviewed journals covered as “core”). In addition, CMMC features over 5,400 Author Profiles, providing biographical data and bibliographic information, and covering the most prolific, most cited, and most frequently searched for authors in the database.
General interest databases
Reviews and criticisms can be found in general interest databases. Note the date range covered by each database and select ones that cover the time after the release of your movie. Search the title of the movie (as a phrase when possible) and include the director's last name if more than one film by that title exists.
- Academic OneFile from GaleLimit by Document Type to Movie review. Most content is 1980s-present, but some content is indexed back to the early 1900s.
- Academic Search Complete from EBSCOhostAllows limiting by document type to entertainment reviews. Most sources are indexed from 1980-present, but some journals are covered to the 1800s.
- MLA International Bibliography with Full Text from ESBCOhostMLA International Bibliography indexes citations and full text of journal articles, books, dissertations, and scholarly web sites in disciplines such as language, literature, folklore, linguistics, literary theory and criticism, and the dramatic arts. Coverage includes literature from all over the world and includes citations to materials in many languages other than English. 1926-present.
- Newspaper Source Plus from EBSCOhostCan limit by Document Type to entertainment reviews.
Since most databases cover only more recent years, finding reviews for older movies may require using a print index. Check the catalog record for each index to see if it covers the dates required. Use the volume corresponding to the year of publication for your book and the year or two after.. (Several of these indexes have been moved to off-campus storage; you'll have to request for them to be brought back to Newman to use them.)
The Motion Picture Guide [Print] by Jay R. Nash; Stanley R. RossCall Number: PN1995 .N346Publication Date: 1910-1998This 10 volume encyclopedic set lists every English-speaking motion picture ever released to theaters from 1927 to 1984, more than 25,000 entries.
Variety's Film ReviewsCall Number: PN1993 .V36Publication Date: 1907-1990Indexes in volumes 16 and 18. Includes reprints of the reviews.
Magill's Survey of Cinema by Frank N. Magill (Editor)Publication Date: 1980-1982We have multiple series of this encyclopedic work. Includes critical examinations of major English-language films.
Selected Film Criticism, 1951-1960 by Anthony SlideCall Number: PN1995 .S426 1982ISBN: 0810815257Publication Date: 1982-01-01Provides a cross-section of contemporary American film criticism from 1896-1960. The volumes reprint reviews in their entirety from periodicals such as Photoplay, Film Reports, The Moving Picture World, Variety, and The New York Times.
Freely available movie review websites
A large number of websites provide access to movie reviews, either the full text of the review, or at least a citation you can use to track down the full text.
- Internet Movie Database
- The premiere site for information on all aspects of movies. Look for the external reviews under the Awards & Reviews category. Reviews include articles from prominent sources like Variety as well as blogs and commercial websites, so evaluate the information presented accordingly.
- Movie Review Query Engine
- Includes a searchable database of reviews from over 75,000 movies. Includes reviews from print sources like Variety and The New York Times, popular entertainment magazines, blogs and commercial websites.
- CineFiles from Berkeley's PFA Library
- a database of reviews, press kits, festival and showcase program notes, newspaper articles, and other documents from the PFA Library's collection. The collection contains documents from a broad range of sources covering world cinema, past and present. CineFiles currently includes materials on the films of over 175 directors whose works have been featured in PFA's exhibition program. Materials on additional directors' works are added regularly. The database also contains retrospective indexing of film titles beginning with "A" and of files describing Soviet silent films from PFA's collection. Brief authority records, including title, director, country, and year, are also currently available for over 25,000 films. When retrospective indexing is complete, the CineFiles database will hold over 200,000 documents. New titles and document images are added daily. Documents are indexed and retrievable from numerous access points. Full citations are available for all documents, and page images are available for documents with copyright clearance.
- Roger Ebert's movie reviews
- Roger Ebert's reviews, as published in the Chicago Sun Times. 1967-present, plus classic "Great Movies."
- Last Updated: May 18, 2023 9:52 AM
- URL: https://guides.lib.vt.edu/find/byformat
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