On Friday, starry film critic Robert Osborne died at age 80. As a host of Turner Classic Movies for nearly half a century, Osborne’s influence was unmistakable. His guest lists were studded with legends, and his pungent live podcast on old movies was a must-listen. “Robert Osborne was a friend for more than five decades,” Oliver Stone said in a statement. “You will be sorely missed.”
Other than Osborne, there isn’t another point person in the history of movie journalism who so effectively portrayed a particular approach. A private man known for driving a Beetle, Osborne was always present on the red carpet at the Academy Awards, and the grand event was never the same after he departed it. That’s partly due to his approach and partly because of the influx of new writers and new commentary coming into the industry through Netflix, streaming services and film blogs.
Fans who responded to the hashtag #89andMe pointed out that 25 stars already have websites where they answer critics and commentators’ comments. Too often, however, these stars don’t actually respond well. Critics like Anne Thompson and Peter Howell typically go easy on stars, offering polite critiques for most of the films people complain about. (Is it me, or does Kenneth Branagh look like he’s starting to walk around?)