Alissa Wilkinson is a staff writer and film critic at Vox. Wilkinson is also a professor of criticism and cultural theory at The King's College in New York City and co-authored the book How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World.
Why do different critical voices matter?
The biggest reason it's important to read and support a lot of critical voices is that it's impossible for any one critic to get a comprehensive purchase on one movie. We all bring different experiences and perspectives to the table, and when there aren't lots of different voices in the mix, we short-change the art itself. The best way to respect cinema and ensure its ongoing importance is to take it seriously, and that means fostering a lot of different points of view in criticism.
What inspired you to be a critic?
I became a critic because I realized how much I liked talking about and exploring movies with other people. Writing can be lonely, but the critical community and those who love talking about movies is anything but lonely. When I realized that I understood a movie best when I wrote about it, I started to see that criticism was something that doesn't just give a movie a thumbs-up or thumbs-down -- it unpacks it and gives it more life.
What films are you excited about right now?
So many! But honestly, what excites me most is discovering films. I just came back from Cannes, where I saw a bunch of great films: Cold War, Shoplifters, Burning, Under the Silver Lake, and a weird little last-man-on-earth film called In My Room among them. The most fun part of this job is being able to see a movie before there's any buzz and have an experience of discovery in the theater.
What “hidden gem” do you think deserves more attention?
I am forever telling people to see Destin Daniel Cretton's little 2013 movie Short Term 12, which isn't just a fantastic and moving film about mental health and what we mean when we say someone is "troubled," but also a great place to glimpse actors who were just on the cusp of getting famous, including Brie Larson, Rami Malek, and Lakeith Stanfield. It's terrific.