Thursday, February 20, 2014


We're ba-a-ack!

After a dithering-imposed hiatus last year (um, we forgot to book the venue), it's time once again for the annual Critic's Smackdown, where we ink-stained members of The Press duke it out over our favorite films of the previous year and offer our fearless and/or clueless predictions for this years Academy Award winners.

For many moons, Bruce Bratton, of KZSC and Bratton Online, Wallace Baine, of the Sentinel, and I commandeered the Nicklelodeon for this event. Regretfully, this year, Wallace has had to opt out; he's too busy covering every other arts and entertainment story in the county to see enough of the movies.

But Bruce and I will be joined by longtime local journalista Christina Waters, whose opinions on film and food appear in the Santa Cruz Weekly, and online at Christina

Also new this year, our act is booked into the Grand Auditorium, downstairs at the Del Mar. Showtime is this Sunday, February 23 (one week before the Oscars), at 11 am. And, yes, we WILL be in 3D, but no glasses required!
Our leader: Morton Marcus

This entire event began years ago as an outgrowth of Morton Marcus' bi-monthly Saturday morning film discussion groups at the Nick. Mort attracted such a large, loyal following of passionate local movie fans that one year, he invited Bruce, Wallace, and me to participate in one of his early January discussions to talk about our favorite films of the previous year.

Turned out the audience loved having not one, but four local critics in its collective sites with whom to spar over their most and least favorite movies of the year. Mort invited us all back in March, a week before the Academy Awards broadcast, to talk about all things Oscar, and a tradition was spawned.

Mort is no longer here to chime in with his colorful opinions and encyclopedic knowledge of film history. But we do our best to carry on without him on what is now our tenth anniversary.

And now that the Oscar show comes so much earlier in the year, my fellow filmies and I have downsized to a single yearly mash-up where we discuss our favorite films of the year AND the upcoming Oscar contest. Expect diverse opinions, but a clean fight; as Mort would say, no kicking, gouging or spitting.

But, hey, nobody wants to listen to the critics blather on and on. The success of this event depends on you, The Public, telling us your opinion of the films of 2013. This is an interactive event that depends on audience participation, and the Del Mar is huge, so bring your friends—it's free!

That's this Sunday, 11 am, at the Del Mar. This is your chance to let the critics know what YOU think!

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