Keep the following factors in mind when looking for film reviews:

  • When looking for reviews (especially of older films) it is useful to know the premiere date. Sources that can be helpful in determining the date are IMDb (Internet Movie Database) and the All Movie Guide.
  • Movie reviews generally are published when a film premieres nationally or opens locally. Additional reviews may be published once a film moves to a streaming service or is available on DVD.
  • Reviews of current films are usually easier to find. For older films (prior to 1980) you may need to check a number of sources including those in print.
  • Film reviews may be written by entertainment reporters and published in newspapers & magazines, or may be user-generated and uploaded to websites by film viewers. You may want to take in account who is writing the review.

 Reviews of contemporary films (1980-forward)

Movie Review Query Engine (MRQE)
Offers a large index of online film reviews. Abbreviated MRQE and pronounced "marquee." Searchable by movie title, actor, or director.

Provides an extensive collection of reviews of movies, DVDs, music, TV shows, and video games. Assigns each entity a “metascore” which distills multiple critical ratings into a summary number.

Rotten Tomatoes
Compiles and summarizes movie reviews and other information on films; each film receives a narrative summary of the critics’ consensus opinion, and a “Tomatometer” score summarizing the percentage of favorable ratings from critics and audience reviewers.

 Reviews of Older Films

Historical Newspapers (ProQuest)
Offers full text access to the archives of a selection of newspapers available on the ProQuest platform: the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette?, and the major African American newspapers of the 20th century, including the Chicago Defender. Coverage varies.
SEARCH TIP: Limit by "document type" to "review", or "display ad" to find movie advertising. Limit by release date. Enter the title of the film in quotes.

Readers' Guide Retrospective: 1890-1982 (EBSCO)
Provides indexing of general interest periodicals from the U.S., 1890-1982.
SEARCH TIP: Add "Motion Picture Reviews" or "Television Program Reviews" to SUBJECT. Enter the title of the film in quotes.

Cinefiles (Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive)
Contains scanned images of reviews, press kits, film festival and repertory theater program notes, newspaper articles, and other ephemera from the collections of the BAMPFA Film Library & Study Center at UC Berkeley.

Media History Digital Library
Offers full-text scans of historic magazines and books on film, broadcasting, and recorded sound. Includes extensive runs of Variety, Billboard, Moving Picture World, and Motion Picture News. Contents are out of copyright or licensed to the database for public use. Project is based at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and includes content from the collections of the Library of Congress, the Margaret Herrick Library, and MoMA.

 Film Criticism Databases

This page points to several databases that offer scholarly journal articles and book chapters on film and media studies, among other topics.  To find film criticism, search for your film's name in quotes. Include the director's last name, if the film title is not a unique word or phrase, or if it shares its title with a book. Examples:  "Get Out" AND Peele "The Color Purple" AND Spielberg

Film & Television Literature Index (EBSCO)
Indexes academic journals, popular magazines, and books in the fields of film and television. Includes abstracts for scholarly journal articles. Topics range from film & television theory to preservation & restoration, writing, production, cinematography, and technical aspects. Coverage goes back to the early 20th century and includes foreign language publications.

MLA International Bibliography (EBSCO)
Provides citations to journal articles, books, book chapters, and dissertations on all aspects of literature, language and linguistics, literary theory and criticism, dramatic arts, and folklore. International in scope; coverage from 1926 to the present. Includes access to the MLA Directory of Periodicals.

Communication & Mass Media Complete (EBSCO)
Indexes academic journals, magazines, books, and book reviews in the fields of communication, mass media, and other closely-related fields. Includes abstracts and full text for selected journals. Coverage goes back to the early 20th century.

Provides a full text archive of academic journals and books in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics. The most recent three to five years of a journal are usually not included.

Project Muse
Provides full-text access to books and journals in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.