Interview with Film Critic Alissa Wilkinson

“The best way to respect cinema and ensure its ongoing importance is to take it seriously, and that means fostering a lot of different points of view in criticism.”
— Alissa Wilkinson

Alissa Wilkinson is a staff writer and film critic at Vox. Wilkinson is also a professor of criticism and cultural theory at The King's College in New York City and co-authored the book How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World.

Why do different critical voices matter?
 

The biggest reason it's important to read and support a lot of critical voices is that it's impossible for any one critic to get a comprehensive purchase on one movie. We all bring different experiences and perspectives to the table, and when there aren't lots of different voices in the mix, we short-change the art itself. The best way to respect cinema and ensure its ongoing importance is to take it seriously, and that means fostering a lot of different points of view in criticism.

What inspired you to be a critic?

I became a critic because I realized how much I liked talking about and exploring movies with other people. Writing can be lonely, but the critical community and those who love talking about movies is anything but lonely. When I realized that I understood a movie best when I wrote about it, I started to see that criticism was something that doesn't just give a movie a thumbs-up or thumbs-down -- it unpacks it and gives it more life.

What films are you excited about right now?

So many! But honestly, what excites me most is discovering films. I just came back from Cannes, where I saw a bunch of great films: Cold War, Shoplifters, Burning, Under the Silver Lake, and a weird little last-man-on-earth film called In My Room among them. The most fun part of this job is being able to see a movie before there's any buzz and have an experience of discovery in the theater.

What “hidden gem” do you think deserves more attention?

I am forever telling people to see Destin Daniel Cretton's little 2013 movie Short Term 12, which isn't just a fantastic and moving film about mental health and what we mean when we say someone is "troubled," but also a great place to glimpse actors who were just on the cusp of getting famous, including Brie Larson, Rami Malek, and Lakeith Stanfield. It's terrific.

  Film On Repeat   Three Colours: Blue (1993) Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski

Film On Repeat
Three Colours: Blue (1993) Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski

  Laugh Your Ass Off Film   In the Loop (2009) Directed by Armando Ianucci

Laugh Your Ass Off Film
In the Loop (2009) Directed by Armando Ianucci

  Game Changer Film   Fish Tank (2009) Directed by Andrea Arnold

Game Changer Film
Fish Tank (2009) Directed by Andrea Arnold

Paris McGarry