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50 master quotes that show why screenwriters shouldn’t worry about film criticism

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Epic lines by Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino, Neil Gaiman, and more

Audience ratings over critic ratings anytime!
Audience ratings over critics ratings anytime!

Image: Freepik

No soul can be braver than a screenwriter or filmmaker putting their labours of love out there into the world for everyone to see. It’s a risk like no other. Audiences either lap up your work or reject it outright. It’s rare to find any in-betweens these days.

As if that worry isn’t enough, we also have to bite our nails over film critics’ and other reviewers’ views about our movies.

While more reviews equal more coverage (and, thus, more publicity), it’s still a clammying experience when we see a scathing takedown of our best efforts. Some of these powerhouse experts hold the final word in film recommendations and can sway public opinion.

Yet, there’s also the increasing disconnect between what critics prefer and what audiences do. And so, we wonder whether it’s worth pleasing a select bunch of highbrows at the cost of a larger viewership.

I’m all for having the necessary conviction while writing and making a film, without worrying about what critics say. No point in making a movie that critics fill up with praises while box-office counters go empty, right? I unabashedly admit my inclination towards creating commercial entertainers over arthouse cinema.

For more inspiration and strength, seek them out in these 50 quotes by some of the finest screenwriters and filmmakers of our time. You’ll automatically develop the much-needed grit and gumption, without the need for validation. Not saying that film criticism shouldn’t exist—though it can be way better than the hotchpotch it has become. Simply spelling out that it depends on us what we do about it.

“If film critics could destroy a movie, Michael Bay and Adam Sandler would be working at Starbucks. If film critics could make a movie a hit, the Dardenne brothers would be courted by every studio in town.”
Alonso Duralde

“There was a cultural war going on, the ’60s was going on. All the film critics were square.”

John Waters

“Someday, I’ll make a film that critics will like. When I have money to waste.”
—Francois Truffaut

“You highbrows writing on movies are nuts! In order to write about movies, you must first make them.”

Orson Welles

“To see a film once and write a review is an absurdity.”
Stanley Kubrick

“There’s not much in a critic showing off how clever he is at writing silly, supercilious gags about something he hates.”

Stanley Kubrick

“No film critic’s going to say it, but Madagascar 3 is better than The Artist.”
Chris Rock

“I despise the phony, fancy-pants rhetoric of professors aping jargon-filled European locutions— which have blighted academic film criticism for over 30 years.”

Camille Paglia

“What critics call dirty in our pictures, they call lusty in foreign films.”
—Billy Wilder

“Of course, the French are making very credible movies and it is still one of the greatest nations in terms of world cinema, but the real problem is the decay in film criticism.”

Wim Wenders

“I would never have guessed that the profession of film criticism would be going the way of the dodo bird.”
—Quentin Tarantino

“One thing I don’t do anymore is read or pay attention to the critical response…”

Casey Affleck

“In some cases, the critics just didn’t like the film—fair cop. Others, I think, didn’t understand it.”
—Guy Ritchie

“In this age of consumerism, film criticism all over the world—in America first but also in Europe—has become something that caters for the movie industry instead of being a counterbalance.”

Wim Wenders

“Reviews, although they feel devastating in the immediate moment, are not remotely as significant as the significance you endow them with on the day that they appear.”
—Tony Kushner

“The culture of independent film criticism has totally gone down the drain…”

Wim Wenders

“Plays can outlast even the opinions of the chief film critic of The New York Times…”
—Tony Kushner

“Many, many critics say to me that my films are not good because they are too unbelievable, but this is my style.”

―Dario Argento

“It’s hard to see a film one time and really ‘get it’ and write fully and intelligently about it.”
—Richard Linklater

“I never think anyone will like what I do.”

—Terence Davies

“A lot of the films I do go down brilliantly critically and win awards, but not a lot of people see them.”
—Martin Compston

“I'm always terrified the critics won’t like my film and of course you always count the people who leave at the screening. They are on your death list. The people who stayed, stayed because they wanted to. You see it in a different way with an audience.”

—Terence Davies

“They used to criticize happy endings, but really, what’s the point of going to a film if you have to come out hating your fellow man?”
—Ray Harryhausen

“Critics are not aware of it, but (directing) is hard, physical work.”

—Roger Corman

“I’m sad that so many critics so uncritically use words like franchise, which should be reserved for your local Burger King.”
—David Edelstein

“For the film to ‘earn’ the right to be criticized on a scientific level is a high compliment indeed.”

—Neil deGrasse Tyson

“I don’t have any bone to pick with critics … Most of my bone is I would be a better film critic than most of the film critics I read.”
—Quentin Tarantino

“In America, even the critics—which is a pity—tend to genre-ize things.”

—Francis Ford Coppola

“You can get critically acclaimed and go to various film festivals around the world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the majority of people are going to hear about it.”
—Hugo Weaving

“The trouble is that when you read criticisms about the other films that I’ve made, you get the impression that they’re all about themes, or problems, or ideas. But those are actually things that develop out of characters, out of images, and out of other things. These more abstract things develop while working on the material, and out of it. It’s not a theoretical exercise from the outset.”

—Michael Haneke

“A theatrical on a tight budget really only becomes about generating critical reviews for you and your film, not revenue.”
—Aurora Guerrero

“I don’t have a very high opinion, actually, of the world of criticism—or the practice of criticism. I think I admire art criticism, criticism of painting and sculpture, far more than I do that of, say, films and books, literary, or film criticism. But I don’t much like the practice. I think there are an awful lot of bad people in it.”

—Tom Robbins

“Would it be nice to win a film award one day? Yes. But the critics are going to have to wait till I’m ready. Right now, my gift is making big movies that audiences want to see.”
—Brett Ratner

“Making judgments on films is in many ways so peculiarly vaporous an occupation that the only question is why, beyond the obvious opportunities for a few lectures’ fees and a little careerism at a dispiritingly self-limiting level, anyone does it in the first place.”

—Joan Didion

“I think films are about having a good time, so I don’t know that there’s a message. The message of a film is always what a critic writes, and the fun of a film or the emotion of a film is what the audience feels.”
—Steve Martin

“The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews.”

—William Faulkner

“Film criticism became the means whereby a stream of young intellectuals could go straight from the campus film society into the professionals’ screening room without managing to get a glimpse of the real world in between.”
—Judith Crist

“Does the critic wish to influence the kind of film that costs more than £250,000? It is as if he were to send a postcard to General Motors explaining that he would like them to make a raft next year, or a helicopter, instead of a car.”

—Kenneth Tynan

“Sometimes, it occurs to me that the job of a serious cultural critic mostly consists in telling the generality of people that their opinions—on films, on books, on all manner of widgets, gadgets, and even the latest electronic fidgets—simply aren’t up to scratch.”
—Will Self

“People think I’m against critics because they are negative to my work. That’s not what bothers me. What bothers me is they didn’t see the work. I have seen critics print stuff about stuff I cut out of the film before we ran it. So, don’t tell me about critics.”

—Jerry Lewis

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”
—Neil Gaiman

“In city after city, newspaper after newspaper has diminished its staff of critics, sometimes to zero. Film and TV critics have been dropped and not replaced. Maybe they’re deemed unnecessary because nobody cares if anything’s good or not.”

—Tom Shales

“Critics sometimes appear to be addressing themselves to works other than those I remember writing.”
—Joyce Carol Oates

“I’m telling you, every film I’ve ever made has been hated by the UK critics.”

—James Gray

“What distinguishes modern art from the art of other ages is criticism.”
—Octavio Paz

“Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic.”

—Jean Sibelius

“Having the critics praise you is like having the hangman say you’ve got a pretty neck.”
—Eli Wallach

“There are many critics who invite me on their show, and I (tell) them that (whenever) my film releases, you … give it (a) one-and-a-half-star rating. That’s fine. There’s no issue because stars will matter when I’m planning to open a five-star hotel. When I’m making films, I don’t need stars.”

—Rohit Shetty

“Critics in particular treat CGI as a virus that’s infecting film.”
—Peter Jackson

“Ignore critics.”

—Anne Rice


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