We've been movie fans all our lives. I always thought that Roger Ebert had the job that I should have had. When he graduated from college just a few years before I did, he had no more training and experience for his position as the film critic at the Chicago Sun Times than I did. Getting paid to watch movies all day and being able to share your opinions with others would be an ideal way to make a living. I always felt a bit envious although having to watch movies that would only appeal to teen-age boys really could make this dream job more of a night mare. We always watched the TV show he did with Gene Siskel where the "thumbs up" became the classic short cut film review. Over the years we faithfully read his reviews in the Sun Times and Gene's in the Chicago Tribune and learned how their opinions varied from ours. They saved us from many miserable experiences at the movie theater.
Shortly, after I retired we attended the Roger Ebert Film Festival which takes place annually in Champaign IL, his home town. At the panel discussion he hosted, it was clear to see that he was as passionate about his job as he was the day he sat at that typewriter and wrote his first review. He was not jaded and full of himself as you might imagine someone who hobnobs with Hollywood royalty might be. When I shared my frustration because so many of the films he gives high marks to never make it to the suburbs, he clearly was as frustrated by the Cineplex approach to booking films as we are. Now that Roger has lost his voice to cancer, it would be easy to imagine that he would give up, but his love of films continues unabated. He writes regularly and blogs about movies as well. And we are still loyal fans.
At the end of the year Roger and the other film critics make top ten lists, lists of the best films of the year. Often these films end up being Academy Award nominees. In recent times film makers tend to hold back their best films until the end of the year so that they will be fresh in the minds of academy nominators. Inevitably we look at those lists in frustration, realizing that at best we've seen perhaps one or two. They all are screened at Christmas time and it can be hard to see them all before they close. If those films are not nominees we will never get to see them at all, at least until they are available on Netflix long after the Academy Awards show.
So as the cold front moved through the valley, bringing a day of drizzle followed by cooler temps, we have been catching up on a few of the films that were on Roger's list. We could tell you our opinions of what we saw, but you're better off reading Roger.