Dana Stevens Oscars AMA: Slate’s film critic answers reader questions on Reddit.

Dana Stevens Casts the Dana Stevens Biopic and Meets Her Fanboys

Dana Stevens Casts the Dana Stevens Biopic and Meets Her Fanboys

Reviews of the latest films.
March 5 2014 7:01 PM

The Scribblin’ Samurai

Dana Stevens answers reader questions during a Reddit AMA.

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Cowboyoctopus: Hi, Dana! I just want to let you know you are one of my journalistic lady-crushes. (I find you quite charming.) What's an upcoming film you can’t wait to see? Also—what’s been your biggest challenge as a female journalist and movie critic?

Dana Stevens: 1) I am charmed and yet discomfited by that fact!

2) I can't wait to see PTA’s Inherent Vice and David Fincher’s Gone Girl.


3) I’m doing a panel on women in film criticism this Saturday at NYU and wondering how to answer that very question. The truth off the top of my head is that I have not found it to be an impediment, and there’s obviously a long tradition of women being well-represented in film criticism as compared with other careers (for example, filmmaking). I do find being a parent and a film critic to be tough sometimes—a lot of tight deadlines, a lot of nights away from home. But I don’t see how that would be different for a male critic if he was really pitching in as a parent, which most fathers I know are.


eisenhower777: Dante Stephens, how do you feel about aggregate review sites (Metacritic, Rotten Tomatoes)? Do you think they help or hurt film criticism?

Dana Stevens: I don’t see how they would hurt—they just organize data. I use them a lot just to find out stats about a new movie, or remind myself how something went over in the past. Obviously if you start choosing your movie based solely on Tomatometer averages, you’re overly in thrall to data, but it’s a place to go find work by critics you might be interested to read. Overall I am pro-Tomato.


JorgeCS: Does Stephen Metcalf smell of lavender and cedar wood as I imagine he does?

Dana Stevens: Next time I see him, I’ll just walk up, bury my nose deep in his preppy flannel shirt collar, and sniff. No, I will definitely not be doing that. But I would not be surprised if he was the single most fragrant member of the Gabfest.


Ldpincincinnati: First, you’re completely correct about flip-flops. Your position on the subject in unassailable. Now, movies: What’s your view on why Inside Llewyn Davis got no Academy Awards love? I’ve seen all the nominees except 12 Years a Slave, and so not having seen the winner, I can’t say ILD should have won, but I can say with confidence that it should have been nominated.

Dana Stevens: Thanks on flip-flops. Solidarity forever.

As for Llewyn Davis, that is clearly not Oscar material—way too small, too subtle, too good. But there’s a line from Hamlet that comes to mind whenever people talk about awards in terms of what “deserved” to win: “Use every man after his desert, and who shall ’scape whipping?”


Frajer: Who’s your most underrated director/film?

Dana Stevens: Mind a blank, mind a blank ... well, of people currently working, I think Todd Haynes is an amazing director who people don’t talk about/revisit enough. Nicole Holofcener gets praise from critics, but not the size audience she deserves. And among classic filmmakers, Max Ophüls is every bit as original and brilliant as, say, Orson Welles, but because he has a small filmography and worked in “women’s” genres, he doesn’t get remembered as often.


Twarnercool: What’s your favorite “odd” movie?

Dana Stevens: I have a longtime soft spot for The Abominable Dr. Phibes.


mr_everything: Which is your favorite Pessoan heteronym?

Dana Stevens: Great question. Probably the one whose poetry I know and love the best is either Álvaro de Campos, in his Whitman mode, or Fernando Pessoa “himself.” But the book that first made me fall for Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, is by the semi-heteronym Bernardo Soares.


ZombieLincoln666: Do you have any favorite music videos?

Dana_Stevens: Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”? Or that Spike Jonze-directed one where Björk dances with the giant cat?


wogunsalute: What book would you like to see adapted to the big screen? Personally I’d like a Satanic Verses film, though obviously that wouldn’t happen, so second choice might be The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh.

Dana_Stevens: Melville’s story “Bartleby the Scrivener” with Mackenzie Crook as Bartleby. Please, please, some director worthy of Melville make this happen!


colfaxschuyler: How does it feel like to be Internet-famous?

Dana_Stevens: I suspect you are making fun of me with that question, but I will simply throw back my head with an Errol Flynn laugh and reply: Magnificent!