Happy birthday … and a big thumb's up!

Today is Roger Ebert’s birthday. Probably the best-known movie critic in the world, he turns 67.

No matter how you feel about his opinions on films, there’s no denying that Ebert is a terrific writer. He has written more than a dozen books, he has been a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame since 1997 and he continues to be a film lecturer at the University of Chicago Fine Arts Program.

A favorite excerpt of mine, from his review of “Freddie Got Fingered” (2001): “This movie doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.”

Over his life and career, Ebert estimates he’s seen more than 10,000 films in his lifetime. And his favorite — at least, according to a David Letterman interview — is “Citizen Kane” (1941),” his supposed “desert island movie.”

Recent years have seen him struggling with various health issues, including cancer. But he survived and continues to see films and write about them for the Chicago Sun-Times.

He’s also a pretty regular presence at the Sundance Film Festival, and he has been fairly genial to me in our dealings.

So … a very happy birthday, Roger. And we’ll continue to save an aisle seat for you!

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