For 639 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 63% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 34% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 11.2 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

David Ansen's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 Out of Sight
Lowest review score: 0 Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 34 out of 639
639 movie reviews
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    There's neither coyness nor self-importance in Brokeback Mountain--just close, compassionate observation, deeply committed performances, a bone-deep feeling for hardscrabble Western lives. Few films have captured so acutely the desolation of frustrated, repressed passion.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Brings history to life with an uncanny sense of realism.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Once again, the Pixar wizards have pushed the animation envelope in unexpected directions and come up with a winner. Wondrously inventive, funny and poignant, WALL*E is part sci-fi adventure, part cautionary fable, part satire and part love story, which may be the best and most improbable part of all.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    As he did in “The English Patient,” Minghella artfully weds movie-movie romanticism with a dark historical vision. The man knows how to cast a spell.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    In Sideways, Payne has created four of the most lived-in, indelible characters in recent American movies. This deliciously bittersweet movie makes magic out of the quotidian.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    This is comedy from the danger zone, and it will genuinely offend some folks who feel certain subjects are not to be laughed at. They'd best stay at home. Fans should be warned as well: Borat can make you laugh so hard it hurts.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    At once elegant and sublimely silly, contemplative and gung-ho, balletic and bubble-gum, a rousing action film and an epic love story, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is one bursting-at-the-seams holiday gift, beautifully wrapped by the ever-surprising Ang Lee.
    • Newsweek
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    It's one of the richest movie experiences of the year, a spellbinding American epic that holds you firmly in its grip for nearly three hours.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Few films have explored the complicated bonds of love and resentment between brother and sister with such delightful honesty.
    • Newsweek
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Urgently, without sentimentality, "La Promesse" shows us the birth of a conscience, and its cost. This fleet, powerful movie may prove to be a classic. [30 June 1997, p.79]
    • Newsweek
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    The superrealist images beguile us with their bold wit, and the storytelling is so tight, urgent and inventive there doesn't seem to be a wasted moment. Which makes you wonder -- why can't scripts this clever be written for human beings?
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    The compositions, the editing, the lighting, the sound, the music: everything seems meticulously considered, conjuring up a hushed intimacy that instantly sucks you in.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    The Movie Works. It has real passion, real emotion, real terror, and a tactile sense of evil that is missing in that other current movie dealing with wizards, wonders and wickedness.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    The Departed is Scorsese's most purely enjoyable movie in years. But it's not for the faint of heart. It's rude, bleak, violent and defiantly un-PC. But if you doubt that it's also OK to laugh throughout this rat's nest of paranoia, deceit and bloodshed, keep your eyes on the final frames. Scorsese's parting shot is an uncharacteristic, but well-earned, wink.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    JFK
    If history is a battlefield, JFK has to be seen as a bold attempt to seize the turf for future debate. It is also "just" a movie, and one that for three hours and eight minutes of dense, almost dizzying detail, is capable of holding the audience rapt in its grip. [23 Dec 1991, p.50]
    • Newsweek
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    An inspired flight of fancy, an oddly poignant examination of the creative process, a rumination on adaptation (orchids to their environment, books to the screen and misfits like Charlie to life) and, in its ultimate irony, a story in which our hero learns a life-altering lesson.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Lucky for us there are no ordinary circumstances in this smart, tasty adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel and it gets quirkier, funnier and sexier as it goes.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Hilarious and captivating.
    • Newsweek
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    It's a passionate, serious, impeccably crafted movie tackling a subject Clooney cares about deeply: the duty of journalism to speak truth to power. It also happens to be the most compelling American movie of the year so far.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    A hugely entertaining thriller shot through with dark shards of agony and paranoia. It takes nothing away from the original while delivering pleasures all its own.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    A piece of spectacular silliness, but that's not meant with disrespect. The key word is spectacular.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    An excruciatingly entertaining portrait of the filmmaking process that no Hollywood studio would ever allow to be shown. But Gilliam, bless his impish, obsessive heart, is anything but a Hollywood type.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    The second installment was better than the first, and this one is best of all. It has spectacular action scenes and imaginary creatures, and it’s by far the most moving chapter. The performances have deepened.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    The great Spanish director's fourth triumph in a row--following "All About My Mother," "Talk to Her" and "Bad Education"--Volver (which means "coming back") flows effortlessly between peril and poignancy, the real and the surreal, even life and death.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Far from being a period piece, this love story/murder mystery/political thriller couldn’t seem more timely.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    A superbly taut and well-made thriller that jumps from Geneva to Rome, from Paris to Beirut, from Athens to Brooklyn, each lethal assignment staged with a mastery Hitchcock might envy.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    This powerfully contained, painfully funny performance has to rank with the greatest work Nicholson's ever done -- This road movie gives you emotional whiplash, and you’ll be glad you went along for the ride.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Judd Apatow is making the freshest, most honest mainstream comedies in Hollywood.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Courtney Love's performance as stripper Althea Leasure is an amazement. Funny, unfettered and almost scarily alive in front of a camera, she's the definition of a "natural."
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Schnabel, screenwriter Ronald Harwood and Spielberg's great cinematographer Janusz Kaminski have found a way to take us inside Bauby's mind--his memories, his fantasies, his loves and lusts--transforming a story of physical entrapment and spiritual renewal into exhilarating images.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    It's a bravura, all-stops-out, inexhaustibly inventive performance. I don't know how much was improvised, and how much comes from White's sharp screenplay, but Black may never again get a part that displays his mad-dog comic ferocity to such brilliant effect. He, and the movie, kick ass.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Leon Gast's remarkable film -- which is intercut with terrific recent interviews with eyewitnesses Norman Mailer and George Plimpton -- is about much more than one stupendous fight.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Depp is such a soulful presence he gives you a glimpse of this maniac's pain and pathos. Bonham Carter is extraordinary. She reinvents Mrs. Lovett from the inside out.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    This powerful, lyrical meditation on Arenas's life achieves a kind of hallucinatory urgency as it leaps and twists through his life.
    • Newsweek
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    This brilliantly disturbing movie is constructed with surgical precision. Haneke lets no one off the hook least of all the viewer.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Eastwood takes the audience to raw, profoundly moving places. If you fear strong emotions, this is not for you. But if you want to see Hollywood filmmaking at its most potent, Eastwood has delivered the real deal.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    It's not to be missed in any language. In a year that has given us such marvelous animated movies as "Ratatouille" and "Paprika," this vibrant, sly and moving personal odyssey takes pride of place.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Smart, generous, as subtle as it is expansive, this is storytelling of a rare order. Six hours may seem like a big investment, but the emotional pay-back is beyond price.
    • 99 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Infused with the bleak romanticism of Melville's gangster movies ("Le Samouraï," "Bob le Flambeur"), and deepened by his own experiences in the Resistance, this hard-bitten tribute to freedom fighters makes most current movies look flabby and undisciplined. Don't miss it.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    A technological triumph. [19 May 1980]
    • Newsweek
    • 73 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Singleton's powerhouse movie has the impact of a stun gun. [15 July 1991]
    • Newsweek
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Unnerving because it forces us into uncharted waters: Solondz doesn't tell us how to feel but makes us thrash out our responses for ourselves. In doing so, he has made one of the few indelible movies of the year.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Mike Leigh's stunning, corrosive Naked is one of the best movies of the year, and one of the toughest... Its manic mix of tenderness and degradation, hilarity and scariness, keeps you dangerously off balance.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Howl's Moving Castle has the logic of a dream: behind every door lie multiple realities, one more astonishing than the next.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    There Will Be Blood is ferocious, and it will be championed and attacked with an equal ferocity. When the dust settles, we may look back on it as some kind of obsessed classic.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Harrowingly intense odyssey.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    It's unprecedented, a sorrowful and savagely beautiful elegy that can stand in the company of the greatest antiwar movies.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    The movie belongs to Hudson as the proud, self-destructive Effie. When she's center stage, Dreamgirls transports you to movie musical heaven.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    What's remarkable is how immediately, after a full year, The Two Towers seizes your attention, and how urgently it holds you through three seamless, action-packed hours.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    Creepily beautiful, acted with relish, Barton Fink is a savagely original work. It lodges in your head like a hatchet. [26 Aug 1991]
    • Newsweek
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    No two-hour film could ever capture all the riches of McEwan's masterly novel. But Wright and Hampton's Atonement comes tantalizingly close, while adding sensual delights all its own.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    By the end of this white-knuckle movie, you stand in awe at the depth of man's will to survive. Touching the Void leaves you emotionally and physically spent, and grateful it was only a movie, not a mountain, you had to endure.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    A meticulous, spellbinding, provocative depiction of the final days of the Third Reich.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 David Ansen
    A film as rich as a sauce béarnaise, as refreshing as a raspberry sorbet.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    I don't know how a movie this original got made today, but thank God for wonderful aberrations.
    • Newsweek
    • 52 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Eastwood is at his effortless, slyboots best and the film is as preposterous as it is delightful.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    This powerful, precision-made movie offers hope as well -- an act of kindness from a German officer that saves the pianist’s life, the music that sustains his soul.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    For anyone who grew up worshiping at the shrine of Julie Christie, the notion that she could be playing a white-haired woman drifting into senility is a jolt to the system. But her radiance, beauty and talent are undiminished: she's hauntingly, heartbreakingly good.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    It's a deliciously outrageous premise, and director Barry Levinson and writers David Mamet and Hilary Henkin know just how to spin it, savaging Washington and Hollywood with merciless wit. It's a hoot.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Anyone who cares about ravishing filmmaking, superb acting and movies willing to dive into the mystery of unconditional love will leave this dark romance both shaken and invigorated.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Traffic doesn’t quite come to a full emotional boil at the end. Soderbergh is too knowing to offer easy solutions. But what a journey it takes us on: disturbing, exciting, completely absorbing.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    What sets Jerry Maguire above any other romantic comedy this year is Crowe's writing. He captures the venal, high-stakes world of pro sports with deadly wit and an ex-journalist's sense of detail.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    At its best, Magnolia towers over most Hollywood films this year.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    The best movie of the last 20 years about young people in love is 1989’s.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Rabbit Hole deftly sidesteps sentimentality and still wrenches your heart.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Think of it as an epic poem, in which Scorsese's swirling, headlong baroque camera searches paradoxically for the stillness at the meditative heart of Buddhism. [22 December 1997, p. 86]
    • Newsweek
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Urgent, gritty, sometimes weirdly funny, The Fighter might be considered his first feel-good movie. But Russell's too honest and acute an observer to serve up affirmation without leaving a subversive aftertaste of ambivalence and unease.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    It's hard to believe this is von Donnersmarck's first feature. His storytelling gifts have the novelistic richness of a seasoned master. The accelerating plot twists are more than just clever surprises; they reverberate with deep and painful ironies, creating both suspense and an emotional impact all the more powerful because it creeps up so quietly.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    A languorous, funny and lovingly detailed memory film.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    A stunning crime drama that shares its protagonists' rabid attention to detail—and love of adrenalin.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    DiCaprio is astonishing.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy are both in peak form.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Summer hasn't arrived, but the funniest riff on a summer movie genre has already landed.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Full of bravura moments and high-wire performances.
    • Newsweek
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    The payoff comes at the end, when the myriad threads pull together with a shock like a noose tightening around your neck. Built with old-fashioned craftsmanship, Lone Star is not a movie you'll quickly forget. [8 July 1996, p.64]
    • Newsweek
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    A great horror movie is like a good shrink--and a lot cheaper, too. It purges us through petrification. That horror movie, thankfully, has arrived. It's called The Orphanage," and it is seriously scary.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    The beauty of this extremely clever movie, directed with fleet, robust theatricality by John Madden, is how deftly it manages to work on multiple levels.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    It has the feel of a classic coming-of-age story. It's the sleeper of the summer.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Tropic Thunder is the funniest movie of the summer--so funny, in fact, that you start laughing before the film itself has begun.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Filled with funny, gritty Tarantino lowlife gab and a respectable body count, but what is most striking is the film's gallantry and sweetness. Tarantino hits some new and touching notes with Grier and Forster.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Desplechin is an inspired impurist. His Christmas Tale is untidy, overstuffed and delicious: a genuine holiday feast.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    The movie puts us in Maria's shoes, taking us step by suspenseful step through her physical and spiritual ordeal.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    It sounds grimmer than it plays, thanks to Jenkins's sardonic, deadpan humor and the superb cast, who invest these damaged characters with rich, flawed, hilarious humanity. This bittersweet X-ray of American family dynamics may not be a Hallmark-card notion of a holiday movie, but it's one any son or daughter can take to heart.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    World Trade Center celebrates the ties that bind us, the bonds that keep us going, the goodness that stands as a rebuke to the horror of that day. Perhaps, in the future, the times will call for more challenging, or polemical, or subversive visions. Right now, it feels like the 9/11 movie we need.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Forest Whitaker, uncorking the power that he usually holds in check, gives a chilling, bravura performance as Ugandan tyrant Idi Amin, whose bloody regime slaughtered more than 300,000 people. This intelligent, sometimes gruesome thriller is based on a novel by Giles Foden.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    The images of war that Folman and his chief illustrator, David Polonsky, conjure up have a feverish, infernal beauty. Dreams and reality jumble together.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    A hauntingly beautiful tone poem.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    The movie's slight, anecdotal structure is deceptive; you wouldn't guess how big an emotional wallop it packs.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    This delightful film, with its surprising depth charges of emotion, has the feel of a movie that's going to lodge itself in the public's affections for a long time to come.
    • Newsweek
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    This indie, a sweet, tart and smart satire about a family of losers in a world obsessed with winning, is an authentic crowd pleaser. There's been no more satisfying American comedy this year.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    The mordant, deadpan humor that streaks through Dead Man is echt Jarmusch, but it's in the service of his most mysterious and deeply felt movie, a meditation on death and transfiguration that, by the end, has thrown off the protective veil of irony. [03 Jun 1996, Pg.75]
    • Newsweek
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    This Superman, which infuses its action with poetry, soars as a love story filled with epic yearnings, thwarted desires and breathtaking imagery.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Comedy and suspense, satire and shame are all mashed together--with breezy confidence.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Barry Sonnenfeld's bouncy, immensely likable adaptation.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Face/Off is a summer movie extraordinaire: violent, imaginative, crazily funny and, oddly moving. Hollywood has finally wised up and let Hong Kong auteur John Woo strut his stuff in all its undiluted, over-the-top glory.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    This is the most personal, deeply felt film from the gifted director of "Under the Sand" and "Swimming Pool." Ozon leaches his melodrama of all sentimentality, and moves us all the more.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    There hasn't been a studio movie as unapologetically adult, sophisticated, and nuanced as Up in the Air in some time.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    The true allure of Titanic is its invitation to swoon at a scale of epic moviemaking that is all but obsolete.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Exuberantly theatrical yet every inch a movie, and some numbers ("The Cell Block Tango") are so entertaining you might want to applaud.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 David Ansen
    Noyce uses his Hollywood craft to unfold this primal, powerful story, he has an epic feel for the harshly beautiful Australian landscape and he gets wonderfully natural performances from the three girls. His bold, lyrical images stay in your head, like an unaccountably beautiful nightmare.
    • Newsweek

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