For 1,761 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 1.6 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

A.O. Scott's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 64
Highest review score: 100 The Salesman
Lowest review score: 0 The Love Guru
Score distribution:
1761 movie reviews
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Mr. Herzog’s film is a pulpy, glorious mess. Its maniacal unpredictability is such a blast that it reminds you just how tidy and dull most crime thrillers are these days.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    There are no simple answers or obvious conclusions to be gleaned from this movie, which, like its soundtrack, is both sad and vibrant, meandering and formally sure-footed. It is an exciting debut, and a film that, without exaggeration or false modesty, finds interest and feeling in the world just as it is.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Nimble and self-assured as Mr. Daniels’s direction may be, he could not make you believe in “Precious” unless you were able to believe in Precious herself. You will.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    It's a fine, tough little movie, technically assured and brutally efficient, with a simple story that ventures into some profound existential territory without making a big fuss about it.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    A memoir, a history lesson, a combat picture, a piece of investigative journalism and an altogether amazing film.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Mr. Peck's gambit works, and the result is a great film and a great performance.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    The movie is full of juices that give it a healthy, pungent flow.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    There is no doubt that Nim was exploited, and also no doubt that he was loved. Mr. Marsh, by allowing those closest to Nim plenty of room to explain themselves, examines the moral complexity of this story without didacticism. He allows the viewer, alternately appalled, touched and fascinated, to be snagged on some of its ethical thorns.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    There's more to everyone here than we're initially led to think. The Good Girl is like a neurotically charged post-millennial take on the trailer-park comedies that Jonathan Demme once claimed for himself.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Tchoupitoulas does explore the border between innocence and experience. It is alive with the risk and curiosity of youth, and unapologetic in insisting that the pursuit of fun can be a profound and transformative experience.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    This is not a fable of assimilation or alienation, but rather the keenly observed story of two people seeking guidance in painful and complicated circumstances.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Melancholia is emphatically not what anyone would call a feel-good movie, and yet it nonetheless leaves behind a glow of aesthetic satisfaction.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Bully forces you to confront not the cruelty of specific children - who have their own problems, and their good sides as well - but rather the extent to which that cruelty is embedded in our schools and therefore in our society as a whole.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Love & Mercy doesn’t claim to solve the mystery of Brian Wilson, but it succeeds beyond all expectation in making you hear where he was coming from.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    More of a hoot than any picture dealing with the bloody, protracted fight between the Soviet Army and the Afghan mujahedeen has any right to be.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    It is marvelously romantic, even though - or precisely because - it acknowledges the disappointment that shadows every genuine expression of romanticism.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    The messiness of the film seems appropriate to its subject, which is the attempt to bring at least a measure of order - and even a touch of grace - to a chaotic and frequently ugly reality.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Volver, full of surprises and reversals, unfolds with breathtaking ease and self-confidence. It is in some ways a smaller, simpler film than either "Talk to Her" or "Bad Education," choosing to tell its story without flashbacks or intricate parallel plots, but it is no less the work of a master.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Who would have expected Ms. Zellweger --- and Miramax -- to come through in a musical? And it's one of the few Christmas entertainments to run under two hours. Who couldn't love that?
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Though the movie is playfully postmodern in its pastiche of styles and its mingling of sincerity and self-consciousness, there is also something solidly old-fashioned about the way it tells its story.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Rust and Bone is a strong, emotionally replete experience, and also a tour de force of directorial button pushing. Mr. Audiard is a canny showman, adept at manipulating the audience's feelings and expectations with quick edits and well-chosen songs.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    It is all perfectly dreadful and at times appallingly funny. Mr. Solondz winds thin tendrils of narrative around the dinner-table conversations, and allows everyone a chance to be earnestly foolish, unguardedly selfish and also, almost by accident, cruelly honest.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Ms. Holland, working from a script by Stepan Hulik, a Czech screenwriter born in 1984, turns a sprawling story into a tight and suspenseful ethical thriller.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    It is a deeply personal piece of art that never descends into the confessional or the therapeutic, and a work of social and literary criticism that never lectures or hectors, but rather, with melancholy, tenderness and wit, manages to sing.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    It is a crowded, complex crime story that is also a tale of sexual awakening and an understated exercise in kitchen-sink realism. In short - or rather at mesmerizing, necessary length - this film has everything, and is well worth a day of your life.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    This Lady Chatterley, winner of five César awards in France, feels bracingly fresh, vital and modern.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Might be described as an epic landscape film, a sweetly comic coming-of-age story or a lyrical work of social realism. But the setting -- a windswept, sparely populated steppe in southern Kazakhstan -- gives the movie a mood that sometimes feels closer to that of science fiction.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    In spite of its limited perspective on Vietnam, its churning, term-paperish exploration of Conrad and the near incoherence of its ending, (it) is a great movie. It grows richer and stranger with each viewing, and the restoration of scenes left in the cutting room two decades ago has only added to its sublimity.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Sweet Sixteen shows that he's (Loach) as capable of anger as his protagonist and just as eager to draw attention to an unchanging problem: the blight of generational poverty.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Encountered in an appropriately exploratory frame of mind, it can produce something close to bliss.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Mississippi Grind itself may be a bit of a throwback to the lived-in, character-driven, landscape-besotted films of the 1970s, but it’s less a pastiche or a homage than the cinematic equivalent of a classic song, expertly covered.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    The film is a cat-and-mouse game in which each player thinks he’s the cat, making it both thrilling and disconcerting to watch. It is also a nature documentary about behavior at the very top of the imperial food chain and a detective story about the search for a mystery that is hidden in plain sight.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    It is baffling and beautiful, a flurry of musical and literary snippets arrayed in counterpoint to a series of brilliantly colored and hauntingly evocative pictures.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    The history presented in The Wind That Shakes the Barley hardly feels like a closed book or a museum display. It is as alive and as troubling as anything on the evening news, though far more thoughtful and beautiful.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    [A] sensitive and devastating portrait of a long, happy marriage in sudden crisis.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Something not seen in movie theaters for a long time: an intelligent, modern screwball comedy, a minor classic on the order of competent, fast-talking curve balls about deception and greed like Mitchell Leisen's "Easy Living" and Billy Wilder's "Major and the Minor."
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    A sharp, small-scale comedy of male misbehavior that turns out to be one of this dreary spring’s pleasant cinematic surprises.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Mr. Affleck, in one of the most fiercely disciplined screen performances in recent memory, conveys both Lee’s inner avalanche of feeling and the numb decorum that holds it back.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    You are not Doug Block, of course. Except to the extent - measured by the depth of your absorption in this remarkable film - that you are.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Delicate and altogether satisfying romantic comedy.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Ms. Campion, with her restless camera movements and off-center close-ups, films history in the present tense, and her wild vitality makes this movie romantic in every possible sense of the word.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    In his memoir Mr. Bauby performed a heroic feat of alchemy, turning horror into wisdom, and Mr. Schnabel, following his example and paying tribute to his accomplishment, has turned pity into joy.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Everybody Wants Some!! is more than just nostalgic. It’s downright utopian, a hormonal pastoral endowed with the innocent charm of a children’s book. There are plenty of movies about lust-addled youth, but it’s unusual to find one that feels truly wholesome.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Maybe, beneath the stylistic flourishes and bursts of operatic emotion, it is a simple story of psychological struggle, about a man in midlife reckoning with the damage of his past. But to settle on that interpretation is to deny or discount the splendid strangeness of Mr. Sorrentino's vision - and also, therefore, of the curious corners of reality he discovers along the way.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Peculiar and sneakily brilliant.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    The Kindergarten Teacher — the film as well as the character — yearns for different values, for intensity, beauty and meaning. Its sobering lesson is that the search for those things is most likely to end in madness, confusion and violence.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    This movie is graceful, subtle and sure-footed, much as its English title implies.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Thorough, understated and altogether enthralling documentary.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    City of Gold transcends its modest methods, largely because it connects Mr. Gold’s appealing personality with a passionate argument about the civic culture of Los Angeles and the place of food within it.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Art is a fairy tale we choose to believe in, and this movie, a fiction confected about real people, is too good not to be true.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    It is a truism that academic arguments are so passionate because the stakes are so small. Footnote, a wonderful new film from the American-born Israeli director Joseph Cedar, at once affirms this conventional wisdom and calls it into question.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    “Dawn” is more than a bunch of occasionally thrilling action sequences, emotional gut punches and throwaway jokes arranged in predictable sequence. It is technically impressive and viscerally exciting, for sure, but it also gives you a lot to think, and even to care, about.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Prisoners is the kind of movie that can quiet a room full of casual thrill-seekers. It absorbs and controls your attention with such assurance that you hold your breath for fear of distracting the people on screen, exhaling in relief or amazement at each new revelation
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    The story is full of emotion and danger, heroism and treachery, but it is told in a mood of rueful retrospect rather than simmering partisan rage.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Lorna's Silence is engrossing and powerful, which may be just another way of saying it's a film by the Dardenne brothers. If it falls a bit short of the standards of their best work, that is only because it is not quite a masterpiece.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Its low-key affect and decidedly human scale endow Once with an easy, lovable charm that a flashier production could never have achieved. The formula is simple: two people, a few instruments, 88 minutes and not a single false note.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    It is to Mr. Gibney’s great credit that while he pays due attention to the outsize, cartoonish celebrity persona Thompson fell back on when his literary powers began to wane, this film concentrates on the bold, innovative journalism that secured Thompson’s reputation and assures his immortality.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Neither sensationalistic nor sentimental, Ms. Berg’s film is clear-sighted, tough-minded and devastating, a portrait of individual criminality and institutional indifference, a study in the betrayal of trust and the irresponsibility of authority.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    As the war in Afghanistan returns to the front pages and the national debate, we owe the men in Restrepo, at the very least, 90 minutes or so of our attention. If nothing else, this film, in showing how much they care about one another, demands the same of us.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    You may find yourself resisting this sentimental pageant of early-20th-century rural English life, replete with verdant fields, muddy tweeds and damp turnips, but my strong advice is to surrender.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Broken Embraces leaves the viewer in a contradictory state, a mixture of devastation and euphoria, amusement and dismay that deserves its own clinical designation. Call it Almodóvaria, a syndrome from which some of us are more than happy to suffer.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    A rich, thought-provoking film.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Mr. Assayas’s method is observant and immersive. His camera moves among young bodies like an invisible friend, and his somewhat messy narrative is propelled by fidelity to feeling rather than by the machinery of plot.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    One of the reasons that Hereafter works as well as it does - it has the power to haunt the skeptical, to mystify the credulous and to fascinate everyone in between.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    There hasn't been a film in years to use creative energy as efficiently as Monsters, Inc.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Equity pulls off a difficult balancing act with an elegance that should not be underestimated. It turns its unflappable gaze on a maddeningly complex reality and transforms it into a swift, clear and exciting story.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Persepolis, austere as it may look, is full of warmth and surprise, alive with humor and a fierce independence of spirit.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    It is only fitting that a movie concerned with the power and beauty of drawing -- the almost sacred magic of color and line -- should be so gorgeously and intricately drawn.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Director Alfonso Cuarón works with a quicksilver fluidity, and the movie is fast, funny, unafraid of sexuality and finally devastating.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    This is historical filmmaking without the balm of right-thinking ideology, either liberal or conservative. Gangs of New York is nearly a great movie. I suspect that, over time, it will make up the distance.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Deftly swings to a spartan, engrossing climax, and the final twists spell out what the murderers are made of and the setting responsible for creating them. It is a true piece of film magic.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Among its many achievements, Todd Haynes’s I’m Not There hurls a Molotov cocktail through the facade of the Hollywood biopic factory.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    This sense of intimacy makes And Everything Is Going Fine both vibrant - what amazing company this man was! - and terribly sad.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    The triumph of Results is that it pretends to be loose, lazy and lived-in when it’s actually disciplined, hard-working and in almost perfect shape.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    This film has a conquering spirit. The dankness is replaced by an optimistic blast of sunlight at the end, a contrast to the earlier lighting dimmed with human misery. Mr. Frears blasts away the blight, though he doesn't have to work to restore Okwe's dignity. It shines through from the start.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    With solid bodywork, clever feints and tremendous heart, it scores at least a TKO, by which I mean both that it falls just short of overpowering greatness - I can't quite exclaim, "It's a knockout!" - and that the most impressive thing about it is technique.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    May not advance any grand new thesis about the South and its history, but it turns an old house into a rich and strange repository of local knowledge.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    It’s a small movie, and in some ways a very sad one, but it has an undeniable and authentic vitality, an exuberance of spirit, that feels welcome and rare.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    No movie can convey the truth of war to those of us who have not lived through it, but The Messenger, precisely by acknowledging just how hard it is to live with that truth, manages to bring it at least partway home.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    While the plot may be predictable (and more than a little preposterous) in retrospect, Mr. Soderbergh handles it brilliantly, serving notice once again that he is a crackerjack genre technician.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    One of the funniest, and most telling, films of the year. The filmmakers call "Kid" a documentary, but the movie is one of the unusual kind that is firmly lodged inside the subject's perspective.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Things worked out between Joe and Valerie, and for their real-life models, who are now the subjects of a terrifically entertaining movie. But that does not mean that justice was done, or that truth prevailed.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    “Shoah” remains a heroic reckoning with the limits of collective understanding, but The Last of the Unjust is something smaller, stranger and more paradoxical: the portrait of an individual whose actions still defy comprehension, and the self-portrait of an artist consumed by the past.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    A handmade dream, cobbled together from dirt, wood and more imagination than most of us can muster in our most fevered states. Because this Czech master refuses to work in the scrubbed, antiseptic manner of most animators, this fable comes to life as hilarious and creepy.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Bronson invites you to admire its protagonist as a pure, muscular embodiment of anarchy. And perhaps you will, but you may also be glad that he’s still behind bars.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    In Ms. Nair’s hands, Phiona’s story has a richness and unpredictability that separates it from other, superficially similar movies. It also has the buoyant, cleareyed feel for the particulars of culture and place that is among this director’s great gifts.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Their comedy gives audiences that have never seen anything like it a hilarious window on a new world.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    A show not simply preserved by Mr. Lee’s camera, but brought, somehow, to its fullest, strangest, most electrifying realization.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Hedges's intelligent and touching farce, Pieces of April, makes an important contribution to a small and insignificant subgenre: Thanksgiving Day failure. It does so by raising the bar.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    In its thrilling disregard for the conventions of commercial cinematic storytelling, Wild reveals what some of us have long suspected: that plot is the enemy of truth, and that images and emotions can carry meaning more effectively than neatly packaged scenes or carefully scripted character arcs.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Mr. Solondz brilliantly - triumphantly - turns this impression on its head, transforming what might have been an exercise in easy satirical cruelty into a tremendously moving argument for the necessity of compassion.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    Less a parable of literary ethics than a showcase of literary personality, and it is in the end more touching than troubling.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 A.O. Scott
    It may get a few things wrong, but it aims at, and finally achieves, an authenticity at once more exalted and more primal than mere verisimilitude.

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