For 1,506 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 49% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 49% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 2.9 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

A.O. Scott's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 Last Train Home
Lowest review score: 0 Shoot 'Em Up
Score distribution:
1,506 movie reviews
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    "Print the legend," Mr. Wilson says at one point, both quoting John Ford and laying the foundation for his own often fact-free fabulous fabulism. And this movie is just that -- fabulous.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    There are few concert movies that were filmed were such abiding feeling and respect. It's of a potent vintage that goes down deceptively smoother with age.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Probably the most breathtakingly gorgeous film of the year, dizzy with a nose-against-the-glass romantic spirit that has been missing from the cinema forever.
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    One of the most purely enjoyable films ever made.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    When it's over, the realization of how much the movie means to you really sinks in; you can't get it out of your heart.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Here he (Murray) supplies the kind of performance that seems so fully realized and effortless that it can easily be mistaken for not acting at all.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    You won't come out unaffected, because the depths of intimacy that the Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu plumbs here are so rarely touched by filmmakers that 21 Grams is tantamount to the discovery of a new country.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    It's been a long time since a commercially oriented film with the scale of "King" ended with such an enduring and heartbreaking coda.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The most voluptuous comic-book movie ever made.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    New York becomes a complex character in this vital and sharply intelligent film.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The easy, complacent distance that informs much historical filmmaking is almost entirely absent from this supremely intelligent, unfailingly honest movie.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    A few scenes serve as hinges joining this movie to "Flags of Our Fathers." While Letters From Iwo Jima seems to me the more accomplished of the two films -- by which I mean that it strikes me as close to perfect -- the two enrich each other, and together achieve an extraordinary completeness.
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    A swift and accessible entertainment, blunt in its power and exquisite in its effects.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    An instant classic, a comedy that captures the sexual confusion and moral ambivalence of our moment without straining, pandering or preaching.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    A nearly flawless piece of popular art, as well as one of the most persuasive portraits of an artist ever committed to film. It provides the kind of deep, transporting pleasure, at once simple and sophisticated, that movies at their best have always promised.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    In Summer Palace Lou nonetheless succeeds in finding a cinematic language that does more than summarize the important events of a confusing decade. He distills the inner confusion -- the swirl of moods, whims and needs -- that is the lived and living essence of history.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    No Country for Old Men is purgatory for the squeamish and the easily spooked. For formalists -- those moviegoers sent into raptures by tight editing, nimble camera work and faultless sound design -- it’s pure heaven.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Something close to a masterpiece, a work of extreme -- I am tempted to say evil -- genius.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The first 40 minutes or so of Wall-E -- in which barely any dialogue is spoken, and almost no human figures appear on screen -- is a cinematic poem of such wit and beauty that its darker implications may take a while to sink in.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    A movie that is almost indecently satisfying and at the same time elusive, at once intellectually lofty -- marked by allusions to Emerson, Shakespeare and Seamus Heaney as well as Nietzsche -- and as earthy as the passionate provincial family that is its heart and cosmos and reason for being.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Harvey Milk was an intriguing, inspiring figure. Milk is a marvel.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    An entire family chronicle, along with four decades of French social and economic history, is recapitulated as a lavish, hectic dinner, complete with music and belly dancing. It will leave you stunned and sated, having savored an intimate and sumptuous epic of elation and defeat, jealousy and tenderness, life and death, grain and fish.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Superior entertainment, the most elegantly pleasurable movie of its kind to come around in a very long time.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Grace is also what defines Mr. Bahrani's filmmaking. I can't think of anything else to call the quality of exquisite attention, wry humor and wide-awake intelligence that informs every frame of this almost perfect film.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    It is both sad and hopeful, but the film's sorrow and its optimism arise from its rarest and most thrilling quality, which is its deep and humane honesty.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    In spite of its modest scale, tactful manner and potentially dowdy subject matter, is packed nearly to bursting with rich meaning and deep implication.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The best nondocumentary American feature made yet about the war in Iraq.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    That the film manages to be understated, calm and intelligent in spite of its wrenching subject matter is perhaps its most impressive accomplishment. In avoiding sensationalism, it feels very close to the truth.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    In its modest scope and mellow tone, 35 Shots of Rum resembles Olivier Assayas’s "Summer Hours," another recent film by a French director who has sometimes trafficked in provocation and extremity. Both movies embed extraordinary thematic richness within a simple, almost anecdotal narrative framework, and both achieve a rare eloquence about the state of the world by means of tact and reticence.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    As sweet, as touching, as humane a movie as you are likely to see this summer.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The rare sports movie that deals with -- indeed positively relishes -- humiliation and disappointment.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    It’s an exciting sports movie, an inspiring tale of prejudice overcome and, above all, a fascinating study of political leadership.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    A small movie perfectly scaled to the big performance at its center.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    And the ingenuity of “Sita” — is dazzling. Not busy, or overwhelming, or eye-popping. Just affecting, surprising and a lot of fun.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The movie itself is a nonstop barrage -- somewhere between a riot and an orgy -- of crude, obnoxious gags and riffs. If you are a connoisseur of sexual, scatological or just plain stupid humor, you will find your appetite satisfied, even glutted.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    That it is more -- a small masterpiece, perfect in design and execution -- almost goes without saying, but the film’s profundity and its charm go hand in hand.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    It is outrageously funny without ever exaggerating for comic effect, and heartbreaking with only minimal melodramatic embellishment.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Lebanon is meticulous, nearly clinical in its attention to what happens in war -- specifically what happened in the first days of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 -- but it is also a palpably and intensely personal film.
    • The New York Times
    • 69 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Its speedy, funny, happy-sad spirit is so infectious that the movie makes you feel at home in its world even if the landscape is, at first glance, unfamiliar.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Mr. Fan's documentary is informed by a melancholy humanism, and finds unexpected beauty in almost unbearably harsh circumstances. It tells the story of a family caught, and possibly crushed, between the past and the future - a story that, on its own, is moving, even heartbreaking. Multiplied by 130 million, it becomes a terrifying and sobering panorama of the present.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Inside Job, a sleek, briskly paced film whose title suggests a heist movie, is the story of a crime without punishment, of an outrage that has so far largely escaped legal sanction and societal stigma.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Mr. Boyle has a knack for tackling painful, violent or unpleasant subjects with unremitting verve and unstoppable joie de vivre.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The opening shot of Somewhere, Sofia Coppola's exquisite, melancholy and formally audacious fourth feature, prepares you for what is to follow in a characteristically oblique and subtle manner.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    It is a great movie, by a major figure in world cinema.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Of Gods and Men is supple and suspenseful, appropriately austere without being overly harsh, and without forgoing the customary pleasures of cinema. The performances are strong, the narrative gathers momentum as it progresses, and the camera is alive to the beauty of the Algerian countryside.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Rango, which may take place entirely within its hero's head - that kind of ambiguity worked in "Inception" and "Black Swan," so why not here? - is about the appetite for myths and stories, whether or not they make sense. It is about the worlds we dream inside our fishbowls, helped by the weird reflections on the walls.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    A splendid example of how to tackle the daunting duty of turning a beloved work of classic literature into a movie. Neither a radical updating nor a stiff exercise in middlebrow cultural respectability, Mr. Fukunaga's film tells its venerable tale with lively vigor and an astute sense of emotional detail.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Meek's Cutoff is as unsentimental and determined as Ms. Williams's character, its absolutely believable heroine. It is also a bracingly original foray into territory that remains, in every sense, unsettled.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The strength of Tuesday, After Christmas, Mr. Muntean's fourth feature, lies in its rigorous, artful and humane fidelity to quotidian circumstance.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    With disarming sincerity and daunting formal sophistication The Tree of Life ponders some of the hardest and most persistent questions, the kind that leave adults speechless when children ask them.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    To call The Descendants perfect would be a kind of insult, a betrayal of its commitment to, and celebration of, human imperfection. Its flaws are impossible to distinguish from its pleasures.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    This is not a work of film history but rather a generous, touching and slightly daffy expression of unbridled movie love.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The movie is too beautiful to be described as an ordeal, but it is sufficiently intense and unyielding that when it is over, you may feel, along with awe, a measure of relief. Which may sound like a reason to stay away, but is exactly the opposite.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    How did Mr. Panahi do this? I'm at a bit of a loss to explain, to tell you the truth, since my job is to review movies, and this, obviously, is something different: a masterpiece in a form that does not yet exist.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    To put the matter perhaps more abstractly than such a sensual film deserves, it is about the fate of untameable, irrational desire in a world that does not seem to have a place for it.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    This movie is a blast of sheer, improbable joy, a boisterous, thrilling action movie with a protagonist who can hold her own alongside Katniss Everdeen, Princess Merida and the other brave young heroines of 2012.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    For a film geek this movie is absolute heaven, a dream symposium in which directors, cinematographers, editors and a few actors gather to opine on the details of their craft. It is worth a year of film school and at least 1,000 hours of DVD bonus commentary.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    It is a movie about the lure and folly of greatness that comes as close as anything I've seen recently to being a great movie. There will be skeptics, but the cult is already forming. Count me in.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Manages to be touching as well as silly, thrilling and just a bit exhausting. The secret to its success is a genuine enthusiasm for the creative potential of games, a willingness to take them seriously without descending into nerdy pomposity. I am delighted to surrender my cynicism, at least until I've used up today's supply of quarters.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Go see this movie. Take your children, even though they may occasionally be confused or fidgety. Boredom and confusion are also part of democracy, after all. Lincoln is a rough and noble democratic masterpiece - an omen, perhaps, that movies for the people shall not perish from the earth.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Mr. Wright's Anna Karenina is different. It is risky and ambitious enough to count as an act of artistic hubris, and confident enough to triumph on its own slightly - wonderfully - crazy terms.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    It is a work of obsessive artisanal discipline and unfettered artistic vision. You have never seen anything like it.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Like "Inglourious Basterds," Django Unchained is crazily entertaining, brazenly irresponsible and also ethically serious in a way that is entirely consistent with its playfulness.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Every shot — everything you see, and everything you don’t — imparts a disturbing and thrilling sense of discovery.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Even as Mr. Mungiu maintains a detached, objective point of view, allowing the details of the story to speak for themselves, he also allows you to glimpse the complex and volatile inner lives of his characters.
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    In its time, this film represented the arrival of something new, and even now it can feel like a bulletin from the future.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    What Maisie Knew lays waste to the comforting dogma that children are naturally resilient, and that our casual, unthinking cruelty to them can be answered by guilty and belated displays of affection. It accomplishes this not by means of melodrama, but by a mixture of understatement and thriller-worthy suspense.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Everything depends on the subtlety of the direction and the charisma of the performances. Augustine is intellectually satisfying partly because it communicates its ideas at the level of feeling, through the uncanny power of Soko’s face and body.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    With its swift, jaunty rhythms and sharp, off-kilter jokes, Frances Ha is frequently delightful. Ms. Gerwig and Mr. Baumbach are nonetheless defiant partisans in the revolt against the tyranny of likability in popular culture.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Before Midnight is a wonderful paradox: a movie passionately committed to the ideal of imperfection that is itself very close to perfect.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    What the film makes clear, with unfailing sensitivity and wry humor, is that for Shira and her family the ordinary arrangements of living are freighted with moral and spiritual significance.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Hannah Arendt conveys the glamour, charisma and difficulty of a certain kind of German thought.... The movie turns ideas into the best kind of entertainment.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    From its very first scenes, Mr. Whedon’s film crackles with a busy, slightly wayward energy that recalls the classic romantic sparring of the studio era.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    This movie is rigorously and intensely lifelike, which is to say that it’s also a strange and moving work of art.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The horror of The Act of Killing does not dissipate easily or yield to anything like clarity.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Ms. Bell, who plays Carol with a perfect blend of diffidence, goofiness and charm, has written and directed an insightful comedy that is much more complex and ambitious than it sometimes seems.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    A brilliantly truthful film on a subject that is usually shrouded in wishful thinking, mythmongering and outright denial.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Mr. Heinzerling is an artist too. The window he has opened onto the lives of his subjects is a powerful and beautiful visual artifact in its own right.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Drinking Buddies, Joe Swanberg’s nimble, knowing and altogether excellent new film, refuses to dance to the usual tune.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Line for line, scene for scene, it is one of the best-written American film comedies in recent memory and an implicit rebuke to the raunchy, sloppy spectacles of immaturity that have dominated the genre in recent years.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The ancient Greeks believed that character should be revealed through action. I can’t think of another film that has upheld this notion so thoroughly and thrillingly. There is certainly no other actor who can command our attention — our empathy, our loyalty, our love — with such efficiency.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Mr. Kechiche’s style is dizzy, obsessive, inspired and relentless, words that also describe Adèle and Emma and the fearless women who embody them. Many more words can — and will — be spent on “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” but for now I’ll settle for just one: glorious.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Even though The Square depicts widely covered recent events, it still feels like a revelation. This is partly because of the immediacy of Ms. Noujaim’s approach, which often puts the viewer in the midst of chaos as it unfolds.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    This is not a biopic, it’s a Coen brothers movie, which is to say a brilliant magpie’s nest of surrealism, period detail and pop-culture scholarship. To put it another way, it’s a folk tale.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The great accomplishment of Gloria, the Chilean writer-director Sebastián Lelio’s astute, unpretentious and thrillingly humane new film, is that it acknowledges both sides of its heroine’s temperament without judgment or sentimentality.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Particle Fever is a fascinating movie about science, and an exciting, revealing and sometimes poignant movie about scientists.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The Grand Budapest Hotel, Mr. Anderson’s eighth feature, will delight his fans, but even those inclined to grumble that it’s just more of the same patented whimsy might want to look again. As a sometime grumbler and longtime fan, I found myself not only charmed and touched but also moved to a new level of respect.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Ida
    There is an implicit argument here between faith and materialism, one that is resolved with wit, conviction and generosity of spirit. Mr. Pawlikowski has made one of the finest European films (and one of most insightful films about Europe, past and present) in recent memory.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The Dance of Reality is the work of a highly disciplined anarchist, whose principal weapon against authority is his own imagination.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    There is hardly a shortage of movies about rock ’n’ roll, but there are few as perfect — which is to say as ragged, as silly, as touching or as true — as We Are the Best!.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    It is the work of a director as fascinated by decency as by ugliness, and able to present the chaos of life in a series of pictures that are at once luminously clear and endlessly mysterious.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    By the time the movie is over, you feel as if the people in it were friends you know well enough to tire of, and to miss terribly when they go away.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    There are plot twists, and then there is what Ms. Ferran does here, which is to transform — impetuously, improbably and altogether marvelously — this somber, realistic tale into something else entirely.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The film is slow, rigorously morose and often painful in its blunt reckoning of disappointment and failure. It is also extremely funny.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Cinema, even in the service of journalism, is always more than reporting, and focusing on what Ms. Poitras’s film is about risks ignoring what it is. It’s a tense and frightening thriller that blends the brisk globe-trotting of the “Bourne” movies with the spooky, atmospheric effects of a Japanese horror film. And it is also a primal political fable for the digital age, a real-time tableau of the confrontation between the individual and the state.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    The brilliance of The Babadook, beyond Ms. Kent’s skillful deployment of the tried-and-true visual and aural techniques of movie horror, lies in its interlocking ambiguities.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Mr. Turner is a mighty work of critical imagination, a loving, unsentimental portrait of a rare creative soul. But even as it celebrates a glorious painter and illuminates the sources of his pictures with startling clarity and insight, the movie patiently and thoroughly demolishes more than a century’s worth of mythology about what art is and how artists work.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Her shoulders slumped, her eyes weary, her gait heavy, Ms. Cotillard moves past naturalism into something impossible to doubt and hard to describe. Sandra is an ordinary person in mundane circumstances, but her story, plainly and deliberately told, is suspenseful, sobering and, in the original, fear-of-God sense of the word, tremendous.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    Even if you think you know what’s coming, Selma hums with suspense and surprise. Packed with incident and overflowing with fascinating characters, it is a triumph of efficient, emphatic cinematic storytelling. And much more than that, of course.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 A.O. Scott
    J. C. Chandor, the writer and director of this pulpy, meaty, altogether terrific new film, and Bradford Young, its supremely talented director of photography, succeed in giving this beat-up version of the city both historical credibility and expressive power.

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