TOP CRITICS

Who are Top Critics?

Top Critic is a designation created to distinguish Tomatometer-approved critics who excel at their craft. Critics selected are well-established, influential, and prolific; they are, in a sense, the cream of the crop. Top Critic status is granted by a set of criteria and a selection panel and cannot be applied for.

Reviews published by Top Critics feature in-depth analysis, supported by a breakdown of formal and thematic elements. Top Critics exhibit a deep knowledge of film/TV history, and their reviews may also provide valuable cultural context. While their reviews incorporate the lens of their own experience, they also exhibit the ability to remove any biases that may prevent them from serving the audience at-large. Overall, reviews from Top Critics are compelling, provide a sense of the viewing experience, exhibit a recognizable voice, and may influence the larger cultural conversation around a film or TV series.

Top Critics demonstrate commitment to criticism beyond reviewing and create impact in a number of ways, including but not limited to:

  • Maintaining a professional reputation among fellow critics and within the industry for their high-quality work, championing emerging talent in film and/or television (e.g. new filmmakers and writers), and building community both in person and through social engagement.
  • Investing in the next generation of criticism via mentorship, teaching, participating in panels and workshops, programming or moderating screenings, and/or publishing books on film and/or television.
  • Participating in the evolution of criticism via newer review formats (i.e. podcasts and video).

Peer evaluation and external expertise is also taken into consideration in selecting candidates for this designation. We have collaborated with an advisory group of critics and industry professionals chosen for their diverse backgrounds and prominence in the field in order to ensure and maintain quality for the designation.

2020 Advisory Committee

Monica Castillo, Arts & Culture Reporter, Colorado Public Radio
David Fear, Senior Editor & Film/TV Critic, Rolling Stone
Jessica Kiang, Film Critic, Variety, The Playlist, Sight & Sound Magazine
Eric Kohn, Executive Editor & Chief Critic, IndieWire
Amy Nicholson, Host of the podcast “Unspooled” & critic for KPCC’s Film Week
Gil Robertson, co-founder and President of AAFCA

Individually-Designated Top Critics

Eligible critics are individually-approved for Rotten Tomatoes and also meet the following guidelines:

  • Have reviewed professionally for a minimum of five years
  • Critique film/TV on a regular and frequent basis, a minimum of four to six times per month
  • Publish reviews at outlets with a verifiable audience demonstrated by
    • Consistent web traffic with at least five million visits over six months
    • 450k followers on Twitter
    • 500k video subscribers
    • For podcasts, at least 1k ratings and 4 stars on Apple Podcasts

Critics who contribute to approved publications that reach underrepresented groups will be considered on a case-by-case basis. An active and dynamic social presence is also evaluated for all critics.

List of individually-designated Top Critics

Top Critic-Designated Publications

Similar to individual recipients, Top Critic outlets are making distinct and lasting impacts on the field of film/TV criticism. By reaching broad and/or underrepresented audiences, these outlets influence conversations surrounding the films and/or TV series they cover.

Eligible outlets often review lesser-covered and/or niche films and/or TV shows, and do so from perspectives and angles that speak directly to their communities. Overall, these publications have established themselves as distinctive platforms that provide nuanced and unique coverage both by and for underrepresented audiences.

Eligible publications are approved for Rotten Tomatoes and also meet the following guidelines:

  • Consistently publish reviews for at least five years
  • Frequently publish reviews, features, and/or cultural essays from both individually-approved critics and Top Critics
  • Demonstrate audience reach with:
    • Consistent web traffic with at least five million visits over six months
    • 450k followers on Twitter
    • 500k video subscribers
    • For podcasts, at least 1k ratings and 4 stars on Apple Podcasts

List of publications that receive the Top Critic designation

In some cases, even if a critic or publication does not meet the eligibility guidelines listed above, we may consider them for approval if we believe their inclusion will benefit the utility of the Tomatometer® and its audience.

In all cases, Rotten Tomatoes maintains the right to approve, reject, include, exclude and remove critics, reviews and publications on a case-by-case basis at any time.

From time to time we change our guidelines, and there may be critics or publications who are still included in the Tomatometer® that may not meet the current set of guidelines.

History of Top Critics

Established in 2008, Top Critic is a designation that elevates Tomatometer critics who excel at their craft, are well-established, influential and prolific; they are, in a sense, the cream of the crop.

The Top Critic designation was originally intended to spotlight critics whose reviews were primarily published at traditional print outlets. These publications were selected for their editorial oversight, longevity, journalistic reputation and elevated reach, demonstrated by high circulation (e.g., print outlets holding rank in the top 10% of circulation). As media formats evolved, the designation was eventually expanded to wide-reaching web magazines and news sites.

Subsequently, Top Critic became an essential component for the Certified Fresh designation. Certified Fresh status is a special distinction awarded to the best-reviewed movies and TV shows; in order to qualify, a movie or TV season must have at least five reviews from Top Critics.