Bob Mondello 2010 i
Doby Photography/NPR
Bob Mondello 2010
Doby Photography/NPR

Bob Mondello

Arts Critic

Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career, "hired to write for every small paper in Washington, D.C., just as it was about to fold," saw that jink broken in 1984, when he came to NPR.

For more than three decades, Mondello has reviewed movies and covered the arts for NPR News, seeing at least 250 films and 100 plays annually, then sharing critiques and commentaries about the most intriguing on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine All Things Considered. In 2005, he conceived and co-produced NPR's eight-part series "American Stages," exploring the history, reach, and accomplishments of the regional theater movement.

Mondello has also written about the arts for such diverse publications as USA Today, The Washington Post, and Preservation Magazine, as well as for commercial and public television stations. And he has been a lead theater critic for Washington City Paper, D.C.'s leading alternative weekly, since 1987.

Before becoming a professional critic, Mondello spent more than a decade in entertainment advertising, working in public relations for a chain of movie theaters, where he learned the ins and outs of the film industry, and for an independent repertory theater, where he reveled in film history.

Asked what NPR pieces he's proudest of, he points to commentaries on silent films – a bit of a trick on radio – and cultural features he's produced from Argentina, where he and his husband have a second home. An avid traveler, Mondello even spends his vacations watching movies and plays in other countries. "I see as many movies in a year," he says. "As most people see in a lifetime."

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"I could hear the gold whispering in the souls of these men," says Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado of a gold mine in Serra Pelada. Sebastiao Salgado/Amazonas Images/Sony Pictures Classics hide caption

itoggle caption Sebastiao Salgado/Amazonas Images/Sony Pictures Classics

Sidney Poitier smolders — and swelters — in In the Heat of the Night. Mirisch/United Artists/Kobal Collection hide caption

itoggle caption Mirisch/United Artists/Kobal Collection

The finite romance in The Last Five Years is "haunting, bittersweet" says NPR film critic Bob Mondello. Courtesy of RADiUS hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of RADiUS

Marion Cotillard is Sandra, who must convince her factory co-workers to vote against giving themselves a bonus in order to preserve her job, in Two Days, One Night. /Les Films du Fleuve hide caption

itoggle caption /Les Films du Fleuve

Quvenzhane Wallis (second from right) stars in an updated version of Annie, produced by Jay Z. Barry Wetcher/Sony Pictures Entertainment hide caption

itoggle caption Barry Wetcher/Sony Pictures Entertainment