For 195 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 56% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 41% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 6.3 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

A.A. Dowd 's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 Before Midnight
Lowest review score: 16 Left Behind
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 8 out of 195
195 movie reviews
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 A.A. Dowd
    Just as swoon-worthy, and essential, as its predecessors, Before Midnight reveals the full scope of Linklater’s ambition. This is not just another stellar follow-up, but the latest entry in what’s shaping up to be a grand experiment — the earnest attempt to depict the life of a relationship onscreen, decade by increasingly tumultuous decade. In the process of justifying its own existence, Before Midnight redeems the very notion of sequels.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 A.A. Dowd
    Her
    Four films into a sterling career, the director’s made his most beguiling, profoundly human work yet.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 A.A. Dowd
    What’s uniquely remarkable about The Long Day Closes, Terence Davies’ 1992 return to his own childhood, is how gloriously disorganized its story feels.
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 A.A. Dowd
    There’s a cumulative power here that transcends any rough patches. Boyhood isn’t perfect, but it’s an astonishing, one-of-a-kind accomplishment—and further proof that Linklater is one of the most daring, ambitious filmmakers working today.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 A.A. Dowd
    More "Full Metal Jacket" than "Dead Poet’s Society," the film is an epic battle of wills between two fanatical artists, one doing everything in his power to painfully make a master out of the other.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    Polley’s fledgling foray into documentary filmmaking is also an investigative mystery, a real-life soap opera, and — most compellingly, perhaps — a searching “interrogation” (the director’s word) of the hows and whys of storytelling itself.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    Burshtein shoots in extreme shallow focus, framing her actors against a sometimes-blinding blanket of white fuzz. It’s a decision that, coupled with Yitzhak Azulay’s stirring, chant-driven score, lends each conversation a near religious aura.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    Easily one of the year’s best comedies, the movie thrives off the chemistry between its leads, with Pegg painting a very funny portrait of emotional paralysis and Frost demonstrating a heretofore unseen talent for intimidation.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    There are some who have complained that C.O.G. ends too abruptly, but it has the bracing, devastating punctuation of a fine short story.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    The bloodshed is fast and brutal — the flash of a knife, a splash of crimson in a backseat, an opening robbery gone horrifically awry. There’s even a little Tarantino in the staging, as when a blood-splattered wallflower unleashes her Kill Bill-style vengeance straight into the camera lens.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    Drenched in the evening glow of its urban and suburban backdrops, Darker comes alive in the dark, when its characters are drowning their sorrows in song, the sauce, or conversation.
    • 97 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    If there was any doubt that this is a horror movie, Hans Zimmer’s score pounds and roars with dread — the appropriate soundtrack for the madness of history.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    Explicit lesbian lovemaking aside, Blue is, at heart, a somewhat ordinary coming-of-age romance, pulled and stretched nearly to its breaking point.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    American Hustle turns out to be a freewheeling party of a movie, one that never stops adding complications and wrinkles and hungry new players to the mix.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    There’s a cracked logic, a genius almost, to the film’s amped-up irreverence. Maybe laughter isn’t just the best medicine, but the only sensible response to this much brazen amorality.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    The Missing Picture might have felt academic, even coldly removed, were it not for its scathing narration, penned by Panh (with Christophe Bataille) and read by Randal Douc.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    Under The Skin is rich with menacing atmosphere, so much so that viewers could probably tune out the narrative and still get on the proper wavelength.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    In many respects, Adam and Eve are nocturnal cousins to the angels from Wim Wenders’ "Wings Of Desire": They’re secret observers of history, living records of the past with little control over the future. But Jarmusch has no interest in the kind of guilt and grief Wenders wove through his movie; Only Lovers comes in a hipper, sexier shade of melancholy.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    Blue Ruin rarely resembles anything but itself. Much of the singularity can be attributed to the film’s atypical hero, surely one of the year’s great characters.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    The plight of this struggling family unit weighs more heavily on the heart with each passing minute, making Stray Dogs the rare marathon-length art film that seems to grow less oppressive the longer it goes on.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    In examining the man’s selfless service, Moss uncovers something greater than a vision of a divided community; he’s made a drama as prickly and surprising as any fictional character study.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    Because of its autobiographical slant, Something In The Air has been compared to Assayas’ 1994 breakthrough, "Cold Water," which gazed upon roughly the same period of the director’s life.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    Not a drop of blood is spilled in Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio. Even so, Italian-horror buffs may feel a flush of nostalgia watching this bewitching genre whatsit, which manages to evoke the crimson-splashed shockers of the 1970s without so much as a single frame of actual carnage.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    For once in a Dolan film, an actor upstages the camera moves. That’s a promising precedent, as well as a hint that artistic adulthood won’t spoil this hotdogging prodigy.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    For a moment, Crystal Fairy looks like it’s going to be a real fish-in-a-barrel satire, its rifles aimed at two very easy targets. But once a coked-out Cera invites Hoffmann on his road trip, a voyage he hopes will culminate with the consumption of a psychotropic cactus, the film gains a ramshackle quality that’s difficult to resist.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    In nearly every respect, V/H/S/2 improves on its predecessor. Free of poky mumble-horror filler, it offers four fruitful variations on the original’s best chapter.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    As an exercise in classical scare tactics, delivered through an escalating series of primo setpieces, The Conjuring is often supremely effective.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    By going back to nature — and to his indie roots — the director of "George Washington" has reconnected with his poetic side. The Malick comparisons seem appropriate again.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    If nothing else, Gravity makes the case for throwing immense resources at true visionaries; the blockbuster craftsman as adventurer, Cuarón expertly blends the epic with the intimate. For every stunning 3-D setpiece involving a dangerous hailstorm of metallic debris, there’s a moment of small tenderness.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    An eye-opening, often-infuriating new documentary.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    This as one of the director’s most pitiless visions—a drama as pitch black as the night that envelops its characters.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    Beautifully shot by Amélie cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis is instantly recognizable as the work of its sibling auteurs. But it’s also something of a departure — looser and more rambling than the average Coen concoction, with a lovingly recreated period setting.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    What May is really after, in other words, is a glimpse at a post-Columbine America, where punishments don’t always fit crimes, cures are often worse than diseases, and the courts are frequently being used as a catchall solution to very normal discipline problems.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    Anderson’s latest invention, The Grand Budapest Hotel, may be his most meticulously realized, beginning with the towering, fictional building for which it’s named.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    The most shocking thing about Nymphomaniac, with its cock-shot montages and frankly descriptive narration, is how flat-out funny it often is.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    The best Marvel film since "The Avengers."
    • 89 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    Ida
    Over an efficient 80 minutes, no shot feels wasted, and no one says much that couldn’t be better communicated through their placement in the artfully arranged frame.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    This Godzilla doesn’t tap into deeper cultural anxieties the way its 60-year-old ancestor did. Nor does it engender much dramatic investment in its hero... Yet as pure popcorn entertainment, Godzilla delivers plenty of goosebumps.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    The result is an uncommonly clever genre movie, reliant not on special effects — of which there are basically none — but on heavy doses of paranoia.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    Polanski isn’t a miracle worker. Venus In Fur works where the facile "Carnage" largely didn’t because the play itself is something of a delight — a straightforward but sharply comic twofer about roleplaying and control-based relationships (be they artistic, romantic, or otherwise). The casting, too, is impeccable.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    Setting several scenes to the famously poignant plinks of pianist Frédéric Chopin, Love Is Strange never achieves the sheer emotional resonance of "Make Way For Tomorrow"; it’s gently affecting, not deeply heartbreaking — in part because Sachs builds to a less devastating punctuation than McCarey did.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    Dumb fun is rarely this smartly delivered.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    In an age when most cartoon companies have traded pens for pixels, the magicians at Laika continue to create fantastically elaborate universes out of pure elbow grease.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    Identity is the film’s true subject: As much as he pokes fun at the foibles of a privileged white America, Simien is more interested in the ways his protagonists conform, or refuse to conform, to society’s idea of them.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    For Michael Keaton, Birdman is some kind of gift from the movie gods, a license to have his cake and messily devour it too.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Rip-roaring set-pieces aside, the biggest pleasure here is still the yin-yang chemistry between Kirk and Spock, even as the writers sand down the barbed edges of the characters’ interactions.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Truthfully, Assange’s absence from We Steal Secrets—regardless of the reasons for it—is a major liability, and not just because it prevents Gibney from truly engaging with his headline-grabbing subject. Without a strong personality at its center, the film often feels unbalanced, lurching awkwardly between basic infotainment concerns and a sharper, more specific agenda.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    True to its name, Monsters University brims with cleverly designed creatures, a student body worthy of the recently deceased Ray Harryhausen. What the movie lacks is its precursor’s human ace-in-the-hole—that pint-sized, inadvertent agent of chaos, Boo.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Yet for all its expensive grandeur, almost too epic even for the vast canvases of IMAX, Pacific Rim is unmistakably a Del Toro creation.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Now here’s a comic-book movie. In a summer that’s delivered one overstuffed Phase Two sequel and a bloated reboot designed to establish a whole new universe of interconnected franchises, The Wolverine has a self-contained efficiency that’s hard to resist.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    If Ponsoldt can step beyond the 12 steps, he might make something truly spectacular.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Written by Simon Barrett, another purveyor of micro-budget carnage, You’re Next boasts a sometimes-uneasy blend of comedy and horror.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Closed Circuit may be little more than a high-minded, shrewdly topical gloss on a shopworn genre, but its cynicism is bracing.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    The results are akin to seeing the Nixon presidency through the eyes of his top aides; it’s as much a portrait of innocence lost as a behind-closed-doors exposé.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Sharp as the dialogue is, it’s hard to imagine any of this working as well without the late, great Gandolfini.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    More often that not, however, Captain Phillips is riveting. Though he remains unfortunately convinced that violently shaking his camera is the best way to achieve visual urgency, Greengrass nevertheless excels at pressure-cooker scenarios.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    That it never quite sinks into caricature is thanks to the imposing presence in the lead. Refusing to fish for sympathy, even as his character circles the drain, Eidson delivers a complex, bravely off-putting performance.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    No amount of needless chatter can quite dilute the power of The Counselor’s grim endgame, especially given the way its writer and director conspire to keep the threat offscreen, like some terrible, unseen force of nature.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    There’s something undeniably affecting about that trajectory, which allows McConaughey to turn his character into an empathetic figure — one whose prejudice fades as his fighting spirit intensifies — without sacrificing his rapscallion spirit. He’s the same loudmouthed macho braggart at the end of the movie than he was at the beginning, but now he’s a loudmouthed macho braggart with purpose.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Like too many franchise installments, Catching Fire builds to more of an ellipsis than a period, teasing the next chapter instead of providing closure. But isn’t that true of "The Empire Strikes Back" as well? At least casual fans will only have to wait a year, not three, to see what happens next in this galaxy not so far away.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Believe it or not, some of this mayhem—muscularly orchestrated by directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, who made 2010’s "Rabies" — does provoke laughter.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    This RoboCop earns its stripes, mostly for the seriousness with which it treats its Frankenstein story.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    For all its virtuosic showboating, the film belongs as much to its screenwriter, Damien Chazelle, as it does to its director, Eugenio Mira.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    For the most part, Veronica Mars plays like a very solid episode of the series, the kind unlikely to rank among fan favorites. It could, however, serve as fine fuel for a sequel, one that wouldn’t find Veronica resisting — for half of her time on screen — the urge to do what she does best. Keep your hearts (and wallets) open, marshmallows.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Taken as a whole, with volumes one and two in concert, Nymphomaniac looks like nothing less than a career overview, touring each era of the director’s development.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Joe
    For two hours or so, he becomes a magnetic actor again, the same vibrant presence who wowed audiences with his work in "Leaving Las Vegas" and "Adaptation." He is, in these rare instances, just plain good.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Really, though, the film’s focus is on neither the destination nor the journey, but on the individuals planting themselves in front of the lens.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    There’s a certain muddled ambivalence to the movie; one gets the impression that Reichardt is more interested in these people than their ideas, but she never quite cracks Josh, who’s much more impenetrably aloof than the beleaguered travelers of "Meek’s Cutoff", her masterpiece. Night Moves is a portrait of outsiders that leaves its audience on the outside.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Good movies are made out of great books all the time, and to fault Fault for not living up to its inspiration isn’t much more fair than dismissing the novel on the grounds that it sounds, superficially, like "Love Story" for millennials. As with infinities, some successes are just bigger than others.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    In turning a 23-minute story into an 83-minute one, Robespierre sometimes struggles to occupy her running time.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    At heart, The Rover is something of a buddy road movie, albeit one almost completely devoid of humor.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Provides little in the way of comforting catharsis. That may be because Berlinger, a thorough and impassioned muckraker, has managed to find hints of injustice in the justice that was served.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Seeing clichés mimicked this skillfully is plenty hilarious.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    What resonates, in this smart but minor procedural, isn’t the harsh vision of a post-9/11 world, but the unglamorous depiction of governmental grunt work.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Guardians boasts not one, but two Han Solo proxies — not to mention an ass-kicking Princess Leia surrogate, a villain with a very Sithian fashion sense, and the flora answer to Chewbacca. Also, one of the Han Solo types is a talking raccoon.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    The movie exists mainly as an act of social advocacy, showing how one portion of the population lives and offering a sobering rebuke to pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps rhetoric.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Some of Calvary is uncomfortably bleak... But writer-director John Michael McDonagh—brother of the English playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh (In Bruges)—has an ear for wry humor, providing his characters with a steady supply of acerbic wit.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Frank is never more endearing than when Fassbender has a mic to his mouth, spitting out the hilariously batshit lyrics of his “most likeable song ever,” or literally singing the praises of his cohorts during an affecting showstopper.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    Thing is, though, for anyone familiar with the Tarantino film, this less remarkable picture will totally seem like a prequel, peering back as it does on younger versions of characters audiences got to know in "Jackie Brown."
    • 53 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    It’s dazzling, but also excessive; by the end, even those consistently wowed by the directorial showmanship may find themselves feeling that less would have been more.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    If you’re going to treat your audience like a rat in a maze, it’s best to offer a tastier reward than the promise of more maze to come.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    It’s little surprise that Her turns out to be the better of the two movies, mostly by virtue of prominently featuring Chastain, who conveys an interior life — shifting emotions, competing desires — the script doesn’t supply her.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    Funny is funny, and it would be truly dishonest to deny the big laughs—the spikes of gut-busting inspiration—that the film sporadically delivers.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    Unfinished Song is basically two movies inelegantly stuffed into one. Both are about aging — its setbacks and second chances — but only one of them feels like an honest exploration of the topic. The better half of the film is a kinder, gentler cousin to 2012’s "Amour."
    • 66 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    With her piercing baby blues that never seem to settle on a subject, even when she’s locked in conversation with it, Ronan seems just… off enough to play a vampiric vixen.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    Putting a human face on a public tragedy that already had a human face, Fruitvale Station plays like an uncomplicated eulogy, with little more to say on its subject than “what a shame this bad thing happened.”
    • 58 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    For all its chronic familiarity, the movie has its minor pleasures, many of them visual. Though at this point it's basically a given that a new studio-animated movie will look good, Turbo often looks downright exceptional.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    The film’s as clumsy yet earnest as a nervous first-timer, groping gracelessly in the dark for ecstasy and meaning.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    As directed by Ecuadorian filmmaker Sebastián Cordero (Chronicles, Rage), Europa Report manages a few striking and intense sequences — most notably, a fatal drift into the endless vacuum of nothingness, filmed from the perspective of the disappearing spaceman.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    At the end of the day, the pesky imperative to convey information is still a driving force; more than anything Wong has ever made, the movie chokes on exposition, its more poetic concerns stifled by its surfeit of plot.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    Mostly, however, This Is Us counts on the musicians to supply the personality—a strategy that makes it feel more like an anonymous mash note than a warts-and-all glimpse behind the curtain. Then again, what warts?
    • 77 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    Mother Of George is rarely boring to look at, but it might still have been better served by a starker, less showy aesthetic.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    Narrowness of focus keeps the movie from becoming bloated with self-importance, but it also leaves it feeling a little inconsequential.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    As a primer on its topic, Inequality For All is informative, plainly argued, and — in some of its more poignant anecdotes — suitably enraging.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    This stereoscopic IMAX vanity project presents the titular rockers not as men, but as living legends, playing the hits at a gigantic venue, for thousands of bellowing diehard fans. In place of introspection, there is only lionizing spectacle; if Monster laid bare the wounded egos of metal’s biggest stars, Never simply re-inflates them.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    The more outlandish the film becomes, especially in its off-the-rails second half, the less crucial its unique setting seems.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    The saving grace of Kill Your Darlings is its sordid romantic angle, a narrative thread that pulls the film away from wink-wink allusions and into more serious emotional territory.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    The movie is written and directed by the British filmmaker Richard Curtis, who specializes in fantasies — the dozen intersecting rom-coms of "Love Actually" the fairy-tale courtship of "Notting Hill", the endless receptions of "Four Weddings And A Funeral." At a glance, About Time appears to be of a piece with those crowd-pleasers.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    Forget the fairy-tale romance between Jane and her hammer-wielding hunk. The real emotional center of the Thor series is this sibling rivalry, more compelling than any climactic battle royale or winking teaser for the next chapter.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 67 A.A. Dowd
    Ronan acquits herself nicely. Believable as both a smitten leading lady and a resourceful action heroine, she’s the ideal young-adult starlet — though after this and "The Host," maybe it’s time the actress lent her piercing baby blues to a plain old adult project again.