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Anthony Johnson: Don't Be Scared Because I'm a Film Critic

Most of us can relate to going to the movies with our families when we were children. Some might call it a tradition. Every Friday, Saturday, or Sunday we would pack the family up and head out to see the movie that everyone would be talking about that following Monday. However, when Anthony Johnson was a child, going to the movies almost every weekend with his family turned out to be more than just a pastime. He was developing a passion that would lead him to offer a distinctive style of critique to film.

It was early 2013 and Johnson was looking to do something different, something he was passionate about. That thought took him down a path back to his love of film. He decided that he wanted to take his original passion for film a step further. He felt he could add value to the space of film criticism, especially being an African American man. He didn’t see

Anthony Johnson

many film critics that looked like him, and he knew personal experiences can factor greatly into how movies are reviewed and what kinds of ratings they get. “Who you are and where you come from is going to weigh heavily into what you think about a film,” Johnson told I See You Awards® Website Correspondent Cliniquka McCall. Johnson noticed the void in the industry and instead of standing on the sidelines, he did something about it. He developed The Movie Bruthas with Kevin Daniels. The Movie Bruthas' website states that they "deliver a unique style of film critiques. They aim to inform, educate, entertain, and shine a spotlight on lesser known minority talent that typically {would} not receive mainstream media attention". Over the past six years, Johnson’s content and voice has become a reliable and relatable source for filmgoers.

While Johnson has been a professional film critic for six years, he experienced the Sundance Film Festival for the first time this year. He describes the experience at Sundance as “surreal” and “unbelievable”. He says it’s one of those experiences that makes you think “what took me so long to do this?” He strongly recommends attending for anyone who loves film, and he will be coming out with a top ten takeaway post for first time Sundance attendees. He goes into further details about his experience.

You’re put in a space surrounded by people that have the same interest as you. You’re standing in line talking to someone... and you automatically have things to talk about -Anthony Johnson

While Sundance may speak to the present and near future of film, Johnson gives us more insight to where he personally sees film, particularly black film, going in the future.

“We are in a very interesting and delicate place, right now. On one hand, one can say we are getting more opportunities than what we have seen in the past. On the other hand, we still have a long, long, long way to go. Our stories are still not as diverse as they need to be. A medium like Netflix is good; it creates more opportunities. In the next 10 to 15 years, the outlook is positive, but we just can’t get comfortable. I’m cautiously optimistic”. -Anthony Johnson

While it’s natural for him to critique a film, he doesn’t review everything he sees. Whether he’s combing through Netfllx, Amazon Prime, Hulu, or just watching a movie with friends, he can still just watch a movie for entertainment, but he says that somewhere in the back of his mind, his film critique hat is always on.

Whether his film critique hat is on for a major studio-released film or an independently- released film, his standards remain the same. He’s a firm believer in less is more. To him, to make a great film, it’s important to be “brilliant on the basics”. He gives us his perception on the main components to the makings of a great film.

“A great want a great story, it can either be a new take on an old story or an existing one. Maybe it’s a story that hasn’t been told, {but} it needs to be fresh, it needs to be original….you need a great cast, you need good acting performances, and the cinematography needs to be on point”. - Anthony Johnson

This techie by day says timing and pacing are also important factors for a good film. But if you really want to know how Johnson feels about a movie, pay attention to his litmus test.

“Did I look at my watch, or how long did it take for me to look at my watch? That’s one of my litmus tests at the end of {a} film. For me, for it to be a good film, I get pulled into that story, that world. I’m not in a theater, It’s escapism”.

-Anthony Johnson

This sales engineer not only has an undeniable understanding of film, but he has a distinctive understanding of filmgoers, and that’s evident when he states “a lot of time we as filmgoers are not given enough credit, in terms of our level of intelligence and ability to think independently. Everything doesn’t have to be so spoon fed. Don’t force the message on me.”

For those entering their work into the I See You Awards® this year, Johnson says, along with all the components he’s mentioned before, he will also be looking for creativity and originality, as he judges. For those without a big budget backing their project, don’t look for sympathy from this film critic, who reminisces about how some really great films have been shot using an iPhone.

“You don’t have to have some big blockbuster budget. The technology is there for these filmmakers...if they have the gift and skills they can make it”.

-Anthony Johnson

Just a little observation about how powerful Johnson’s reviews can be, it’s on record that his reviews have single-handedly changed the mind of filmgoers opinions on rather or not to see a film. With Johnson, it’s more than critiquing films, he does reviews, blogging, hosting, and public speaking, but there’s also a message behind his work.

“The message that I want to get across is that you have a platform with The Movie Bruthas. Don’t be scared because I’m a film critic. I’m always going to be honest, but if you come to me and say, hey, check my project out, I’ll check it out”, {I’ll review it}. -Anthony Johnson

You can check out Anthony Johnson’s work on He will be making an international stop soon and checking out films in Australia, and of course we can’t wait to hear his take on the films at the I See You Awards. If you are wondering what it takes to get a 10 out of 10 rating from Johnson, keep in mind that on average he gives about 2 to 3 films a year, a 10 out of 10 score.

“For a film to get a 10 out of 10, it is perfect. There {aren’t} any flaws. The acting performances are outstanding. {It’s an} amazing story, I didn’t look at my watch, it’s beautiful, and grabs me from the time I walk into the theater. It pulls me in, and {doesn’t} let me go until the credits start rolling. And if you do that, {then} we can have a conversation about a 10 out of 10”. -Anthony Johnson

You can check out Johnson's work on his website:, and be sure to follow him on Instagram: @themoviebrutha.

The third annual I See You Awards® will be held Thursday, August 22 - Sunday, August 25, 2019 at the Emagine Theater in Royal Oak, Michigan. Filmmakers interested in submitting their films and/or getting more information on the event can click here for all the details. The third annual I See You Awards® are sponsored by the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office, Emagine Entertainment and WWJ Newsradio 950, with additional partners The Lee Group and ES Communications Agency.

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