Prior to being a film critic for The New York Times, Dargis was a chief film critic for the Los Angeles Times, the film editor at the LA Weekly, and a film critic at The Village Voice, where she had two columns on avant-garde cinema (CounterCurrents and Shock Corridor). Her work has been included in a number of books, including Women and Film: A Sight and Sound Reader and American Movie Critics: An Anthology From the Silents Until Now, published by the Library of America. She wrote a monograph on Curtis Hanson's film L.A. Confidential for the British Film Institute and has served as the president and vice-president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
In 2012, Dargis received a Nelson A. Rockefeller Award from Purchase College; the award is, according to the college, "presented to individuals who have distinguished themselves through their contributions to the arts." In 2013, Matt Barone of Complex named her the eighth-greatest film critic of all time. She was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2018.
Dargis grew up in Manhattan's East Village, evincing an early love of film through regular attendance at St. Mark's Cinema and Theater 80. She graduated from Hunter College High School and received her BA in literature from Purchase College State University of New York in January 1985. She received a master of arts in cinema studies in 1988 from the Graduate School of Arts and Science at New York University. Dargis is married to the wine expert Lou Amdur.
- "Film Critic Biography: Manohla Dargis". The New York Times. December 7, 2004. Retrieved September 12, 2010.
- "Nelson A. Rockefeller Awards". Purchase.edu. Archived from the original on April 21, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
- Barone, Matt (February 8, 2013). "The 25 Best Movie Critics of All Time". Complex. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
- "The 2013 Pulitzer Prize Winners Criticism". pulitzer.org. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
- "The 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winners Criticism". pulitzer.org. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
- "The 2016 Pulitzer Prize Winners Criticism". pulitzer.org. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
- "2018 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists". pulitzer.org. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
- "Rockefeller Award past recipients". Purchase.edu. Archived from the original on September 28, 2015. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
- Purchase College, SUNY Institutional Advancement (914)-251-7909
- "Manohla Dargis". University of Southern California. Archived from the original on July 8, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2013.