This is a list of useful movie websites to help guide you to the best film content on the web.
Back in August 2006 I created a list of what I thought were the 10 most useful movie websites but I felt a fresher and more comprehensive one was needed (which is why it is the 2.0 version).
So, the following is a collection of sites related to the world of film broken down into these categories: essential sites, news, blogs, critics, DVDs and podcasts.
If you look on the sidebar to the right you’ll see links to a lot of these sites but I thought I’d expand it and explain why they are worth bookmarking.
Part of the aim here is also to spread the word about quality film sites, so if you want to post this to Digg or another social news site then just use the buttons at the bottom of this post.
I’m sure there are more links out there worthy of inclusion in a future list, so if you have any suggestions email me or leave a comment below.
These are sites that I would consider essential bookmarks. They range from some of the most popular film sites on the web to the more obscure, but all are useful at helping you find the movie information you want.
All Movie Guide: A handy and comprehensive database to find out more about particular films or directors
Box Office Mojo: The best site for finding out how films are doing at the box office.
Criterion Collection: The pioneering US DVD label is an essential visit for anyone interested in re-issues of important classic and contemporary films.
Digg / Movies: Despite being just 3½ years old this social news site has become an extremely useful way of gauging what users find interesting and the movies section is always worth a look.
Google Movies / Showtimes: A simple but hidden gem from Google which allows you to type in your postcode and get local movie showtimes.
IMDb: Perhaps the most useful movie site of all, The Internet Movie Database has an extraordinary array of information on films, directors, actors and a good deal else besides.
Metacritic: My favourite review aggregator, this lists the critical reaction to the latest movies and assigns them an average score out of 100. It also provides handy links to the reviews themselves.
Criticker: A website where you can rate films and match your film taste with others using a Taste Compatibility Index.
Movie City News: An excellent one stop shop for film news edited by David Poland. It has regular links to all the latest news stories and a series of blogs that are connected to the site.
The following section is a little broad but it centres on more general sites that cover the world of film.
Some are established news organisations whilst others are purely online, but all are useful sources of information on the latest film stories.
Aint It Cool News: One of the first movie websites to get worldwide attention in the late 90s after creator Harry Knowles spilled the beans on how bad Batman and Robin was, AICN remains an important place for checking out the latest news, rumours and fan reaction even though the design hasn’t changed much during the years.
AP News / Entertainment: The famous US news agency is always worth checking for stories related to the film industry.
AV Club: The entertainment branch of The Onion features a lot of interesting reviews and features on films and directors outside the mainstream, plus Scott Tobias and Nathan Rabin are critics always worth reading.
Bloody-Disgusting: For horror fans this a very useful place to get the latest news and views on the genre.
C.H.U.D.: Cinematic Happenings Under Development plays in the same ballpark as AICN with a slant towards genre side of things but is worth checking out for the news, features and interviews.
Coming Soon: Another site that can be useful for news and previews of mainstream releases.
Dark Horizons: An Australian based site that started out specialising in sci-fi but now is a valuable resource for all kinds of mainstream films.
Devil Ducky: A useful hub for checking out the latest viral videos.
Empire: The UK’s bestselling film magazine has had a healthy online presence for years now and does a good job of juggling the demands of the print and digital worlds. Their (relatively) new blog is definitely worth subscribing to and they have a good range of writers working for them like Kim Newman, Angie Errigo, Chris Hewitt and Helen O’Hara. Coincidentally, the question I get asked the most – apart from ‘what is your favourite film?’ – is ‘why don’t you write for Empire?’, so if anyone there is reading this, I’m open to offers
Four Word Film Review: One of those curious sites that sounds crazy but proves strangely addictive. Every film is reviewed by users using 4 words or less and some of the results range from the hilarious to the profound. A recent review of Iron Man reads ‘Robot Downey Jr.’
Hollywood Wiretap: The look and feel of this news site make it appear like a film version of the Drudge Report but it is a handy gauge of film news from a variety of sources.
Film4: The UK’s best film channel has a comprehensive website filled with reviews, interviews and features. Pus, if you live here then check out their listings as they have a great mix of mainstream and cult movies showing throughout the week.
indieWIRE: An excellent hub for news on the independent film world with excellent coverage of festivals like Sundance and interviews with established and up and coming filmmakers.
Little White Lies: A classy UK based film magazine that also has a presence on the web.
New York Times / Movies: The pre-eminent US newspaper maybe cutting jobs but lets hope that doesn’t affect their first rate movies section. The features may sometimes be a day or two behind the best movie blogs, but generally speaking the reporting and writing is of the high standards you would expect of the Grey Lady. Critics such as Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott are part of any discerning film fans’ required reading.
Premiere: Although the magazine may no longer exist, the online version survived with Glenn Kenny providing the news and insight. Well, that was until a couple of days ago when Glenn was let go. He has a new blog called Some Came Running.
Sight and Sound: The UK’s best highbrow film magazine is frustrating in what it chooses to put up on the web (it saves some of the juicier features for the print edition) but there is no doubting the quality of the contributors whose reviews and features are usually in-depth and rich food for the cinephile mind.
Slant Magazine / Film: This is a well written, intelligent site and in critic Ed Gonzalez they have a writer who is always worth reading even though his views tend towards the arch and contrarian. Their end of year lists are required reading.
The Times / Film: Another UK newspaper that often has some good features, especially around the London Film Festival (which it sponsors) and reviews from the likes of James Christopher, Cosmo Landesman and Wendy Ide.
The Hollywood Reporter: Although it doesn’t have the influence or prestige of its rival Variety, this trade paper often contains stories of interest, whether it is the announcement of a new production or recent box office grosses.
The New Yorker / The Film File: The New York magazine has a deserved reputation for quality writing and that comes across in many of the movie features or profiles it does. The review section was made famous by Pauline Kael and now Anthony Lane and David Denby carry her critical torch with witty (and often snooty) putdowns of the latest cinema amidst the few things they enjoy.
Blogs have grown rapidly in the last four years, allowing professional journalists and keen movie lovers to publish their thoughts online in a structured format.
Some of these belong to established news organisations, others are independent – but all are worth reading if you want regular doses of movie opinion and insight.
/Film: Peter Sciretta edits this blog that has come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. The focus is on mainstream movies, but the stories here are a useful snapshot of what is going on in the wider movie blogosphere from posts about Indy 4 to coverage from Sundance.
Awards Daily: Sasha Stone is one of the elite awards season bloggers, which means she covers the road to the Oscars with a passion and detail that is rare indeed. If you have any interest in the raft of awards that lead to Oscar, such as the Golden Globes, SAG awards and BAFTAs, then this is the place to visit.
Salon / Movies: Although it still has that annoying ad at the beginning of the site (can’t they find a new commercial model?) Salon is still a home for perceptive and lucid journalism. Writers like Stephanie Zacharek and Andrew O’Hehir provide a distinctive take on films and Andy Klein’s 2001 piece on Memento is one of the best things I’ve read about that film.
Defamer: The Hollywood branch of Nick Denton’s Gawker blog empire is a barrage of no holds barred gossip. Sometimes cruel, sometimes amusing it can also be a useful window into the wackier aspects of the Hollywood machine.
GreenCine Daily: One of the best and most comprehensive film blogs on the web. It is a fantastic resource for any film fan with regular posts on a wide range of movies, although it skews towards the high brow.
First Showing: The gang at First Showing submit news items that regularly make the front page of Digg and their blog is a good mix of reviews, news, rumours and interviews.
Hollywood Elsewhere: Jeffrey Wells is one of the most prolific bloggers anywhere, with regular daily updates on all manner of film related news. The comments section is usually an interesting place, especially with the likes of producer Don Murphy and director George Hickenlooper posting there from time to time.
Moving PictureBlog: You might know Joe Leydon form his role as a critic for Variety (or you may even be one of his students at the University of Houston) but his blog has a nice range to it, covering mainstream movies and more artistic fare with a pleasing sense of fair-mindedness.
Masters of Cinema: A feast for any cinephile this site has a highly impressive stream of information on classic films and links to where you can get them on DVD.
Risky Biz Blog: The blog of trade journal The Hollywood Reporter, which is edited by Steven Zeitchikand features contributions for various other HR writers. Useful for industry analysis even if there isn’t much in the way of outbound links.
Scanners by Jim Emerson: Ebert’s colleague at the Sun Times is the founding editor-in-chief of RogerEbert.com and also runs his own blog which is another useful place to catch up with the latest news and opinion on movies.
Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule: As a devoted Leone fan, the title of this blog had me hooked from day one. But the great thing about the site – written by Dennis Cozzalio – is it’s unique voice and passion for cinema. For an explanation of the rather funky title check out this post.
The Envelope / LA Times: The awards section of LA’s daily newspaper might lack the detail of certain rivals but is usually a good place for more ‘establishment’ coverage of Oscar season with big name interviews and analysis.
The Hot Blog by David Poland: David Poland is the editor of Movie City News and has been writing online since the late 90s at The Hot Button. His blog is filled with lots of smart, detailed insight into the latest releases, issues affecting the film industry and a good deal else besides.
The Screengrab: A blog with ‘news, gossip and comment for indie film addicts’, this also has a fine strand of unwatchable movies (e.g. Bolero) that you perversely want to see after reading about them here.
Thompson on Hollywood: Variety’s Anne Thompson used to be at Risky Biz Blog but switched over to their trade paper rival and posts regularly on the industry with her customary insight and taste. Refreshingly for someone at an established media outlet she understands the virtues of blogs and how they are reshaping film coverage.
Twitch: An excellent destination for anyone interested in Asian cinema.
The role of the film critic is one that has come under some scrutiny in recent times with many getting laid off and some questioning their role in an age of blogs and sites like Rotten Tomatoes.
What follows here are the film critics whose opinion and insight is valuable to anyone who cares about the medium.
Andrew O’Hehir / Salon: O’Hehir’s reviews and writings are perceptive whilst retaining an obvious enjoyment of watching movies (which can’t be said of all critics).
Andrew Sarris / New York Observer: The distinguished veteran – and one of the leading proponent’s of the auteur theory – is still going strong and his experience over the years makes his contemporary reviews all the more interesting.
J. Hoberman / Village Voice: The senior film editor for the Village Voice has a terrific grasp of film history, which makes his reviews amongst the most lucid and informed you can hope to read.
James Berardinelli / Reelviews: One of the first film critics on the web I ever came across, James has been publishing reviews on his site since the mid 90s and has an enthusiasm for films that marks him out from his peers.
Roger Ebert / Chicago Sun-Times: The rightly celebrated Pulitzer prize winning critic is often known for his thumbs up/down approval of films, but his infectious enthusiasm, perceptive critiques, excellent books and wide-ranging taste make him one of the best in his field.
Todd McCarthy / Variety: Many eyeballs in the industry are ready to scan what the trade bible’s chief reviewer will make of a big release. Not only can it set the tone for a film’s commercial and critical prospects, but Todd McCarthy is a shrewd observer of the whole package of a particular release, avoiding the academic posturing that can affect some critics.
For those interested in finding films on DVD and what the latest releases are like then I would suggest the following.
AmazonUK / US: The giant online retailer is still the place to search for and buy (or even sell) DVDs. They own the IMDb, so when you are browsing entries there look on the top right hand corner and you will see links to the film on DVD or the soundtrack. The user reviews can also be handy.