Jonathan Rosenbaum  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Jonathan Rosenbaum is a prominent American film critic. He is the author of many books on film, including Film: The Front Line 1983 (1983), Placing Movies: The Practice of Film Criticism (1995), Moving Places: A Life at the Movies (1980; reprint 1995), Movies as Politics (1997) and Essential Cinema (2004). His most popular work is Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Movies We Can See (2002). He has also written the best-known analysis of Jim Jarmusch's film Dead Man; the volume includes recorded interviews with Jarmusch. He edited This is Orson Welles (1992) by Welles and Peter Bogdanovich, a collection of interviews and other materials relating to Welles, and was consultant on the re-editing of Welles's Touch of Evil released in 1998, based on a lengthy memo to Universal Pictures written by Welles in the 1950s.

He is considered an important figure in American film journalism because he openly promotes the dissemination and discussion of foreign film. Indeed, his strong views on filmgoing in the U.S. hold that Hollywood and the media tend to limit the full range of the films Americans can see, at the Cineplex and elsewhere.

Rosenbaum is the main film critic for the Chicago Reader. He is also a regular article contributor to the DVD Beaver website, where he offers his alternative lists of genre films, including Offbeat Musicals, Overlooked Noirs and Fantasies, Eccentric Westerns, Neglected Science Fiction and Undervalued Satires. He also writes for the Global Discovery Column in the online film film journal CinemaScope, where he reviews international DVD releases of films not widely available.



Rosenbaum grew up in the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Alabama, in which state his grandfather owned a small chain of movie theaters. He later lived in Paris, working briefly as an assistant to director Jacques Tati and appearing as an extra in Robert Bresson's Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971).

Alternative Top 100

In response to the AFI list of 100 greatest American movies published in 1998, he published his own list [1], focusing on less well-established, more diverse films. It also includes works by important American directors (such as John Cassavetes) who were absent from the AFI list.

In his most recent collection, Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons (2004), he appended a more general list of his 1,000 favorite films of all nationalities, slightly over half of which were American.


As Author

As Editor

  • This is Orson Welles (1992)
  • Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of Cinephilia (2003) (with Adrian Martin)

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