Andrew Sarris

He was, of course, already a legend when he brought his wisdom, passion, and insight to the Observer in 1989. But Andrew Sarris did not assume the role of great writer in residence, living on past glory, when he took up with this fledgling operation in only its second full year of existence. Instead, Mr. Sarris showed that even after the tempestuous decades spent at the Village Voice, even after the passions of great feuds and debates had cooled (at least somewhat), he still had a great deal to say, and to teach.

Mr. Sarris, who died the other day at the age of 83, graced our pages for two decades. From ’89 to 2009, film buffs turned to his weekly reviews for insight, argument, or simply for a good read, which he provided with remarkable consistency. The great era of New York film reviewers may have been over, but Mr. Sarris continued to explain and explore film with the same enthusiasm he showed when he became an icon of criticism in the 1960s.

He was impatient with cant, whether from directors or from fellow critics. He also was not above changing his mind—he admitted after screening The Dark Knight that he would have to “rethink my past reservations” about director Christopher Nolan’s work.

It was an honor to publish Andrew Sarris for 20 years. His prose and wisdom continue to inspire our writers regardless of their beat or their passion.