For 268 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 57% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 41% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 5.6 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

A.A. Dowd 's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 65
Highest review score: 100 Before Midnight
Lowest review score: 16 Left Behind
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 16 out of 268
268 movie reviews
    • 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.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 A.A. Dowd
    For what it sets out to accomplish, across a brisk 98 minutes, Petzold’s film feels perfectly judged. And it builds to an ending that’s just plain perfect.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 A.A. Dowd
    The Look Of Silence is a powerful gesture of political rebellion, one whose boldest action isn’t damning mass murderers to their faces, but being willing to believe that their stranglehold on country and history could be broken.
    • 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.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 A.A. Dowd
    Two Days, One Night is a small miracle of a movie, a drama so purely humane that it makes most attempts at audience uplift look crass and calculated by comparison.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 A.A. Dowd
    Her
    Four films into a sterling career, the director’s made his most beguiling, profoundly human work yet.
    • 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.
    • 88 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 A.A. Dowd
    Fans of early John Carpenter will immediately identify the master’s influence — on the voyeuristic slink of the camera, the synth pulse of Rich Vreeland’s throwback score, and the transformation of “safe,” warmly lit residential environments into landscapes of dread.
    • 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.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    If there’s any fault to find in this expertly directed, frequently hilarious study of imploding male ego, it’s that Östlund basically arrives upon a perfect ending — one that brings the movie full circle, both dramatically and visually — and then bypasses it in favor of a more muddled one. But as climactic missteps go, it’s not exactly disastrous.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    For all the chaos erupting at all times, we never lose track of what’s going on, because it’s been staged not just with diabolical mischief, but also total clarity. What a movie.
    • 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
    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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    Bucking the current company mandate of churning out lesser sequels and prequels, it’s not just a brilliant idea, but maybe the most conceptually daring movie the Bay Area animation house has ever produced. And that’s really saying something, what with "WALL-E" on the books.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    The result is less portrait of an artist than snapshot of a brief, meaningful encounter, shared between two men enjoying different stages of professional success. That one of these men happens to be a modern literary hero is almost, if not quite, incidental.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    The footage, edited by Actress director Robert Greene, coheres into what feels like one long, chaotic school day. You can practically feel the pulse of grown-up veins, the fraying of last nerves.
    • 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.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    Believe it or not, though, the real horror of this superb Aussie monster movie has almost nothing to do with the title fiend and everything to do with the unspoken, unspeakable impulses he represents. Remove the Babadook from The Babadook, in other words, and something plenty terrifying remains.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 91 A.A. Dowd
    This is clearly the work of a master in the making, an artist on the cusp of greatness. Farhadi may be fixated on fibbers, but there’s almost no one working today who makes films so emotionally honest.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    At its core, Wild Canaries is a reminder that relationships require a sense of adventure, and maybe a little mystery, to keep the magic alive. Indie comedies, as the film proves, benefit from the same.
    • 79 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.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    Given the material, it’s fitting that Mr. Turner is the director’s most visually ravishing movie. With cinematographer Dick Pope behind the lens, every shot is gorgeous enough to hang in a museum.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 88 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    Laying out its anxieties right there in the title, While We’re Young is Noah Baumbach’s midlife crisis movie, a funny, talky portrait of an aging artist reaching for the vitality he sees in some younger friends.
    • 61 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.
    • 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    A gripping dramatization, The Stanford Prison Experiment puts its audience in the same position as the head researcher, Dr. Philip Zimbardo: We watch with equal fascination and dread as a group of fresh-faced undergraduates adapt with scary speed to the roles they’re assigned.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    Macdonald exhibits a rewarding interest in the mechanics of running a sub—the complicated series of manual-labor tasks and coordinated analog processes required to keep one of these mighty boats afloat. It’s a submarine movie that cares how submarines work.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    The best Marvel film since "The Avengers."
    • 65 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    Dumb fun is rarely this smartly delivered.
    • 82 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.
    • 91 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    All this nesting-doll storytelling might feel hollow if Blind didn’t possess such a solid emotional foundation.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    The M:I films remain blessedly, unfashionably self-contained: They’re stand-alone popcorn entertainments that can be watched in any order, with only the thinnest of connecting continuity between them.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    The filmmakers here completely commit to their gimmick, turning its limitations into benefits and exploiting the chosen technology for maximum effect. In the process, they hit the refresh button on the entire found-footage format.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    An eye-opening, often-infuriating new documentary.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    Shot on gorgeous black-and-white 35 mm that only seems to enhance the melancholic drabness of the events it depicts, Tu Dors Nicole is an especially wispy, French-Canadian addition to an irresistible genre.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 83 A.A. Dowd
    The artificiality is funny but also thematically resonant: This is a film about fake feelings, the invented romance for which two strangers forfeited their futures. And to Hausner, such a colossal waste of potential deserves not a melodramatic tribute, but the cinematic equivalent of an eye-roll.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    A film about taking chances takes its own big chance, risking ridicule with a third act that’s at once sweet, amusing, lackadaisical, and more than a little preposterous.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    If Ponsoldt can step beyond the 12 steps, he might make something truly spectacular.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    One reason that The Tribe “works” is that it presents a story so simple and familiar, so cliché even, that one doesn’t need to understand what the actors are saying to follow along.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    At heart, The Rover is something of a buddy road movie, albeit one almost completely devoid of humor.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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."
    • 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.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    As cinema, Selma is commendable; as cultural barometer, it’s beyond reproach.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    The pleasure of the movie lies in the way it both rewards and subverts expectations, delivering on the risqué possibilities of its premise while also coming up with something smarter and a little deeper than a log line might suggest.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    It’s the cathartic, even meditative qualities of metal that are explored in A Spell To Ward Off The Darkness, a new documentary whatsit that frequently resembles nothing so much as an adaptation of some imaginary black-metal record.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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
    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.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    The filmmakers have cannily structured this crazed collection of shorts, using running time and general quality as organizational criteria. The best segments serve as bookends. The worst ones are buried in the middle.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 75 A.A. Dowd
    This RoboCop earns its stripes, mostly for the seriousness with which it treats its Frankenstein story.
    • 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.

Top Trailers