Penn State alumna and People magazine film critic Leah Rozen sees five to 10 movies a week, and at that rate, not every film she sees is Oscar-quality, she said.
"I'm always hopeful when the lights go down. I want to like every single one," said 52-year-old Rozen, Class of 1977.
Rozen joined People in 1983 and has been their chief film critic since 1997. She has been reviewing films since college, when she wrote for The Daily Collegian. Rozen named Slumdog Millionaire, Gran Torino, The Appaloosa, Wall-E and Milk as her favorite films of 2008.
As a critic, Rozen said her day-to-day schedule is always different. She sees most major movies one to three weeks before they open nationwide. Some films she sees in the evening, others at 10 a.m., she said.
"Often I am at the mercy of when the studios are going to show something," she said.
Though Rozen said she is not a morning person, she would still rather go to a film screening at 10 a.m. than in the evening, because night films can get in the way of her personal life. Sometimes she has to cancel plans to see a last-minute screening.
Rozen said people who think the life of a film reviewer is leisurely are wrong. After running around from film to film all week, Rozen spends all day Friday working on her reviews. She often doesn't leave her office until 8 or 9 p.m., she said.
"On Friday I'm chained to my laptop. ... You can just forget Friday night," she said.
Rozen frequents about a half dozen private screening rooms scattered throughout midtown Manhattan. She watches most movies with other film critics and writers, but some films she watches with an audience of regular moviegoers.
With comedies, studios want you to see it with other people," she said.
Rozen is the daughter of two Penn State professors. She grew up in State College and spent her teen years writing for the Centre Daily Times. Though she did not live at home while she attended Penn State, Rozen said she went home to do laundry and ate a homemade dinner every Sunday.
New York City offered a very different atmosphere than State College, but Rozen said she saw graduating and moving to New York as necessary steps to grow up. She now works in the Time-Life building in the center of Manhattan, she said.
Her career reviewing movies didn't begin upon her arrival in the big city though. After interning at the magazine Advertising Age, Rozen was offered a job there, where she worked for about three and a half years. She then spent two years working for a legal magazine, The American Lawyer.
Since joining People she has worked as a correspondent in Los Angeles, a bureau chief in Chicago and an editor in New York. She also helped start InStyle magazine, and has spent time in Australia working for Who, a sister publication of People.
Rozen offered advice on advancing technology, the Internet, and said she feels it will have a profound effect on the future of journalism.
"There are fewer and fewer full-time movie critics," she said. "The newspaper/magazine business is imploding right now."
She said the future of the business will be Internet-based, and it's important young journalists learn how to work with that.
"Practice writing 'click on this link,' because you will be writing that all the time," she said.
However, Rozen said "there will always be jobs for people who can write a sentence."
"If this is what you think you want to do with your life, you would be smart to try it out," she said.
Rozen said she feels she has the best job in the world.
"I am paid to see movies," she said. "It doesn't get much better than that."