Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Film critic weighs in on Oscar results, less passionate audiences

Modern movie audiences are becoming increasingly apathetic in the way they view films, movie critic Roger Ebert told a crowd of 179 people at Block Museum Wednesday night.

“When I started in the ’60s, people would stand in the rain in November to see a film,” he told the overcrowded auditorium. “Today’s movie-goers are much less curious, adventurous and informed.”

Ebert spoke about the new direction of the movie business and gave his impressions on this year’s Oscar winners in the speech sponsored by Block Cinema. A showing of “Crash,” this year’s winner for best picture at the Academy Awards, followed.

Ebert began his speech by saying he never planned on being a film critic. He preferred reading books instead, he said.

“I have a background as an English student,” Ebert said. “I never took a film course in my life.”

Ebert also said that people are less interested in foreign films and that, with the increasing popularity of DVDs, fewer people are seeing movies in a theater.

Unlike other critics who predicted that “Brokeback Mountain” would win the Academy Award for best picture, Ebert said he always thought “Crash” would take the Oscar.

Many of Ebert’s readers thought his views were homophobic, and some sent him e-mails expressing their anger about his prediction, he said.

“Every picture nominated for an Oscar was political and left-wing,” Ebert said. “The five that were nominated were not the five best films, and it was generally conceded by everyone that ‘Brokeback Mountain’ was the front-runner. ‘Brokeback’ won every pre-Oscar award.”

Although he didn’t think “Brokeback Mountain” would win best picture, Ebert still liked the movie and gave it four stars, he said.

“For years I harbored the hope that my influence would be so great, and this year I finally got credit – or blame,” Ebert said. “I was responsible that ‘Brokeback’ lost.”

Ebert also said that “Crash” won best picture because it was a powerful empathy machine. Viewers can easily identify with the film’s characters, he said.

Film allows viewers to understand what it is like to be somebody else, Ebert added.

“‘Crash’ took us to the next level of racism in this country,” Ebert said. “The movie showed all kinds of people dealing with prejudices, not even knowing who they’re dealing with.”

Weinberg sophomore Kyle Strong, said he disliked “Crash.” Although Ebert did not convince him to like it, Strong said he enjoyed listening to Ebert’s views.

“I think Ebert has always been a really authentic guy,” Strong said.

“He is interested in helping film and students, and it is good to see someone doing what he loves.”

Reach Lauren Levy at [email protected].

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Film critic weighs in on Oscar results, less passionate audiences