... than to arrive. The image this time around is the title card from the 1961 movie Bloodlust, taken from that first-rate site Stephen Hills's Shill Pages. Imagine trying to follow this bloodcurdling image coming at you from a big screen with a movie worthy of the exclamation point! Not much chance, especially since Bloodlust! turns out to actually just be the 8,000th version of The Most Dangerous Game. I'd suggest that in many cases in the movie-going world the sense of anticipation beats the actual arrival of the movie, and maybe this is especially true during the end-of-year, prestige-pic Oscar season.

Since this is the time of year that critics end up dog-piling into one press-screening after another, I oddly find myself really enjoying their company; no one else but a film critic knows how bad it can get when they mudslide one half-baked 3-hour-long opus after another after another atop you, each one heavy with seasonal earnestness and watered-down political merit.

I'd say the best feature film of the year that had anything to do with the USA's political ordeal was Thank You For Smoking, precisely because it was about the hopelessness of using sentiment to win political arguments. Every professional arguer, whether they're a politician or a critic, ought to look into it. As this is a time of year when we put aside our petty differences and get together to make up Critics Circle lists, I thought I'd travel back in time to remember five particularly fun press screenings from my career: