For 618 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 47% higher than the average critic
  • 1% same as the average critic
  • 52% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 6.1 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

David Denby's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 Time Out
Lowest review score: 10 Wild Wild West
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 47 out of 618
618 movie reviews
    • 65 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    An Altman-influenced movie made without the master's acrid bitterness. The Last Kiss may come out of Italian opera and comedy, but in spirit it's Shakespearean -- objective, impassive, and at peace with a world in which men and women manage to be both ordinary and extraordinary. [5 August 2002, p.80]
    • The New Yorker
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Judged both as reporting and as art -- many of Wiseman's films have a poetic density of structure -- it is a series without parallel in movie history. [11 Feb 2002, p. 92]
    • The New Yorker
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    This movie makes one grateful that a serious European art cinema still exists. [15 April 2002, p. 88]
    • The New Yorker
    • 74 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    I've rarely seen so selfless a collection of performances and, in a war movie, so general an absence of rhetoric or guff. [25 & 31 Dec 2001, p. 127]
    • The New Yorker
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Field achieves so convincing a picture of everday normality that when violence breaks out one feels the same disbelief that one feels when it breaks out in life. [26 Nov 2001, p. 121]
    • The New Yorker
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Altman achieves his dream of a truly organic form, in which everyone is connected to everyone else, and life circulates around a central group of ideas and emotions in bristling orbits. [14 Jan 2002, p. 92]
    • The New Yorker
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    For the viewer, the miracle of Bloody Sunday is that firm moral judgment can exist side by side with a wild and bitter exhilaration in the sheer physicality of violence. [7 Oct 2002, p. 108]
    • The New Yorker
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    To begin your career with a masterpiece is so remarkable a feat that one can only hope Jarecki finds another subject as rich as this family, which was obsessed with itself but needed a filmmaker to begin to see itself at all. [2 June 2003, p. 102]
    • The New Yorker
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Almodóvar has brought an extraordinary calm to the surface of his work. The imagery is smooth and beautiful, the colors are soft-hued and blended. Past and present flow together; everything seems touched with a subdued and melancholy magic. [25 November 2002, p. 108]
    • The New Yorker
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    The twin themes of The Hours are the variety of human bonds, especially the bond of love, and the gift that the dying make to the living. The miracle is that such sombre notions fit together as surely and lightly as the dancers in a Balanchine ballet. [23 & 30 December 2002, p. 166]
    • The New Yorker
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    As close as we are likely to come on the screen to the spirit of Greek tragedy (and closer, I think, than Arthur Miller has come on the stage). The crime of child abuse becomes a curse that determines the pattern of events in the next generation. [13 October 2003, p. 112]
    • The New Yorker
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    The movie is an outright miracle. [8 March 2004, p. 92]
    • The New Yorker
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Marston would probably have made an interesting movie no matter how he had shot it, but the way he dramatized the material seems instinctively right: he goes detail by detail, emotion by emotion, eliding nothing, exaggerating nothing.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Brilliantly entertaining.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Has a beautifully modulated sadness that's almost musical. Eastwood once made a movie about Charlie Parker ("Bird"), but this picture has the smoothly melancholic tones of Coleman Hawkins at his greatest.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    A perfect family movie, a perfect date movie, and one of the most eye-ravishing documentaries ever made.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    If Sauper is fired up by anti-globalist conviction, his instincts as an artist and as a man rule out any kind of rhetoric or cheapness. Darwin’s Nightmare is a fully realized poetic vision.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    A brilliant documentary about an American saint and fool--a man who understands everything about nature except death.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Small-scaled and limited, Capote is nevertheless the most intelligent, detailed, and absorbing film ever made about a writer's working method and character--in this case, a mixed quiver of strength, guile, malice, and mendacity.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    In brief, Marshall Curry, the young director of Street Fight, has hit the documentary jackpot: the movie will become the inescapable referent for media coverage of the new campaign. And rightly so.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Greengrass’s movie is tightly wrapped, minutely drawn, and, no matter how frightening, superbly precise.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Essentially a romantic adventure story with politics in the background--an old-fashioned movie, I suppose, but exciting and stunningly well made.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    The sigh you will hear across the country in the next few weeks is the sound of a gratified audience: a great movie musical has been made at last.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    One of the most impressive movies ever made about espionage.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    In Ratatouille, the level of moment-by-moment craftsmanship is a wonder.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Schnabel’s movie, based on the calm and exquisite little book that Bauby wrote in the hospital, is a gloriously unlocked experience, with some of the freest and most creative uses of the camera and some of the most daring, cruel, and heartbreaking emotional explorations that have appeared in recent movies.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    An enthralling and powerfully eccentric American epic.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    I would be surprised if this brilliant and touching film didn't become required viewing for teachers all over the United States. Everyone else should see it as well--it's a wonderful movie.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    A small classic of tension, bravery, and fear, which will be studied twenty years from now when people want to understand something of what happened to American soldiers in Iraq. If there are moviegoers who are exhausted by the current fashion for relentless fantasy violence, this is the convincingly blunt and forceful movie for them.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    This production, directed by Michael Hoffman, is like a great night at the theatre--the two performing demons go at each other full tilt and produce scenes of Shakespearean affection, chagrin, and rage.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    It's powerfully and richly imagined: a genre-busting movie that successfully combines the utmost in romanticism with the utmost in realism.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    In its lived-in, completely non-ideological way, Winter's Bone is one of the great feminist works in film.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    The movie is stunningly intelligent; the concluding passages, in which the game abruptly ends for both men, are frightening and, finally, very moving.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Brilliantly entertaining and emotionally wrenching.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Many documentaries are good at drawing attention to an outrage and stirring up our feelings. Ferguson's film certainly does this, but his exposition of complex information is also masterly. Indignation is often the most self-deluding of emotions; this movie has the rare gifts of lucid passion
    • 69 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Hyper-articulate and often breathtakingly intelligent and always brazenly alive. I think it's easily the strongest American film since Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River," though it is not for the fainthearted.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Margin Call is one of the strongest American films of the year and easily the best Wall Street movie ever made.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Hugo is superbly playful.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Nothing has exploded on the screen in recent years as violently as that mad quarrel in a tiny room - a room that is Israel itself. [16 April 2012, p.86]
    • The New Yorker
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    It's hard not to see Beasts as an expression of post-affluent America. And here's the surprise: the grinding Great Recession may never offer up a movie as happy, or as inspired by poetry and dream, as this one. [23 July 2012, p.80]
    • The New Yorker
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    What follows is astounding: a thirty-minute fight, which, in its bitterness, complication, and psychological revelation, recalls episodes from Ingmar Bergman's "Scenes from a Marriage." [27 May 2013, p.86]
    • The New Yorker
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Fruitvale Station is a confident, touching, and, finally, shattering directorial début.
    • 97 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    12 Years a Slave is easily the greatest feature film ever made about American slavery.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    I can’t think of another film portrait of higher education that matches this one for comprehensiveness, intellectual depth, and hope.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Quiety sumptuous movie. [15 April 2002, p. 98]
    • The New Yorker
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    The movie comes closer to pure happiness than anything else in the theatres at the moment, and it has an intriguing and moving subtext: the Cubans' buried but irrepressible love of things American.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    At its best, the movie is an exhilarating, surf-topping ride. With Minnie Driver providing the voice of a deliciously flirtatious Jane.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    This movie is an emotionally coherent work--a burning experience of desperation and fleeting exhilaration. [1 September 2003, p. 130]
    • The New Yorker
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    In this handsomely traditional movie, Kevin Costner has tried to fix the Western myth for all time in the stern contours of Duvall’s face and the guttural beauty of his voice. [1 September 2003, p. 130]
    • The New Yorker
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Trashy and opportunistic as some of it is, Training Day is the most vital police drama since "The French Connection" or "Serpico."
    • The New Yorker
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    A blood-soaked, hellish experience -- a midnight special for lovers of a violent genre -- yet it has been made with a mixture of ferocity and sweetness which leaves one exhausted but at peace. [27 January 2003, p. 94]
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    The movie turns into a serious and rather audacious study in the sexiness of a nonsexual relationship, though by the end the audience may be rooting for the two to quit risking life and limb and just go to bed together. [15 July 2002. p. 90]
    • The New Yorker
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    An intimate epic.
    • The New Yorker
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Consistently beautiful and often exciting -- despite some dead passages here and there, it's surely the best big-budget fantasy movie in years. [24 & 31 Dec 2001, p. 126]
    • The New Yorker
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    This Franco-Italian-Scottish co-production, directed by Damian Pettigrew, is an extraordinarily controlled piece of film. [14 April 2003, p.88]
    • The New Yorker
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    It captures the city's bitter, wire-taut mood after September 11th, and I hope that Disney -- finds some way to bring this acrid and brilliant little picture to the large audience it deserves. [13 January 2003, p. 90]
    • The New Yorker
    • 63 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    All in all, Pirates of the Caribbean is the best spectacle of the summer: the absence of pomp is a relief, the warmth of the comedy a pleasure. [28 July 2003, p.94]
    • The New Yorker
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    A new kind of affectionate satire which is all but indistinguishable from an embrace. [5 May 2003, p. 104]
    • The New Yorker
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    A much better movie about the South during the Civil War than “Gone with the Wind”--visionary, erotic, and tragic where the older movie is flossy, merely ambitious and self-important. [22 & 29 December 2003, p. 166]
    • The New Yorker
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    If the notoriously squeamish and slumberous members of the Academy can pull themselves together and face Monster, they should know whom to vote for as the best actress of the year. [26 January 2004, p. 84]
    • The New Yorker
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    The movie is an O. Henry-like conceit--the slenderness of the initial premise is part of the charm--but the anecdote becomes almost momentous as it goes on.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Easily the best American movie so far this year.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    In this role Giamatti gives his bravest, most generously humane performance yet. Women may be repelled, but men will know this man, because, at one time or another, many of us have been this man.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Playful and happy and even naughty. It's partly a scientific brief, partly a song of sex, and it's enormously enjoyable.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Complex and devious beyond easy recounting, Bad Education is about the fallout from the ending of a "pure" love between boys, consecrated in an Almodóvaran temple--a movie theatre.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    The film turns into a triumph for Don Cheadle, who never steps outside the character for emotional grandstanding or easy moralism.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    As a piece of acting, Ganz’s work is not just astounding, it’s actually rather moving. But I have doubts about the way his virtuosity has been put to use.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Moreau's nocturnal wanderings are made unbearably poignant by an exquisite Miles Davis jazz score that became famous in its own right.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    A satirical comedy--ruthless and heartbreaking, but a comedy nonetheless. The movie is also about disintegration and the possibility of rebirth. In other words, it’s a small miracle.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    This is an elegant and stirring entertainment about the hard-drinking, hard-smoking reporters of "See It Now," the show that Murrow and the producer Fred Friendly put together every week.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    A sharply intelligent and affecting view of suburban blues.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    A sombrely beautiful dream of the violent Irish past. Refusing the standard flourishes of Irish wildness or lyricism, Loach has made a film for our moment, a time of bewildering internecine warfare.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    The movie, Polley's feature début, is a small-scale triumph that could herald a great career.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    The brilliant Paprika, directed by Satoshi Kon--a masterly example of Japanese anime, intended for adults--is partly hand drawn, and features multiple areas of visual activity layered at different distances from the picture plane.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Though the facts in No End in Sight are well known, the movie is still a classic.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    An uproarious and touching picture.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Juno is a coming-of-age movie made with idiosyncratic charm and not a single false note.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Apparently, the movie has caused annoyance in some quarters because it criticizes the American way of life. This it does, and with suavity and supreme good humor. WALL-E is a classic, but it will never appeal to people who are happy with art only when it has as little bite as possible.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Hancock suggests new visual directions and emotional tonalities for pop. It's by far the most enjoyable big movie of the summer.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    It’s Cluzet’s intense performance that makes this genre piece a heart-wrenching experience.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Milk is a rowdy anthem of triumph, brought to an abrupt halt by Milk's personal tragedies and the unfathomable moral chaos of Dan White.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    An enormously enjoyable hybrid, a romantic comedy set at the center of a caper movie. But the froth arrives with steel bubbles--the tone is amused and mordantly satirical.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    This tenacious artist has now given his father a proper memorial and has reasserted, with power and grace, the history and identity of his nearly effaced country.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    One of the gentlest, most charming American movies of the past decade. Its subject is less food as something to cook than food as the binding and unifying element of dinner parties, friendship, and marriage.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    The movie's story may be a little trite, and the big battle at the end between ugly mechanical force and the gorgeous natural world goes on forever, but what a show Cameron puts on! The continuity of dynamized space that he has achieved with 3-D gloriously supports his trippy belief that all living things are one.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    What makes the movie extraordinary, however, is not so much the portrait of a poet as the accuracy and the detail of the period re-creation.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    This is a fully felt, morally alert, marvellously acted piece of work. Despite the grim subject, it's a sweet-tempered movie, with moments of explosive humor-an entertainment.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    An exhausting, morbidly fascinating, and finally thrilling experience.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    An extraordinarily precise and well-made political thriller--the best thing Polanski has done since the seventies, when he brought out the incomparable “Chinatown” and the very fine “Tess.”
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    For the Coens, the plot elements are a given; the telling is all. [20 & 27 Dec. 2010, p. 144]
    • The New Yorker
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    When The Company Men stays with its real business -- the calamity of joblessness -- it is first rate. [20 & 27 Dec. 2010, p.145]
    • The New Yorker
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    This is a bleak but mesmerizing piece of filmmaking; it offers a glancing, chilled view of a world in which brief moments of loyalty flicker between repeated acts of betrayal.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Compliance is a small movie, but it provides insight into large and frightening events, like the voluntary participation of civilians in the terrible crimes of the last century.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Life of Pi, at its best, celebrates the idiosyncratic wonders and dangers of raw, ravaging nature, and Lee wrings more than enough meaning from the excitement of that spectacle; we need nothing higher. [26 Nov.2012, p.86]
    • The New Yorker
    • 95 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    The virtue of Zero Dark Thirty, however, is that it pays close attention to the way life does work; it combines ruthlessness and humanity in a manner that is paradoxical and disconcerting yet satisfying as art.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    What Maisie Knew sees things that most of us manage to hide. James might have been shocked by the movie's profane taunts, but he would have recognized the system of betrayals, large and small, that he dramatized so well. [27 May 2013, p.87]
    • The New Yorker
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Villeneuve has what I keep looking for in directors: a charged sense of the way the world actually works.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Gravity is not a film of ideas, like Kubrick's techno-mystical "2001," but it's an overwhelming physical experience -- a challenge to the senses that engages every kind of dread. [7 Oct. 2013, p.88]
    • The New Yorker
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    It's a movie that approaches novelistic richness. [7 Oct. 2013, p. 89]
    • The New Yorker
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    As the real-life Ronald Woodroof, he (Mcconaughey) does work that is pretty much astounding. [4 Nov. 2013, p.116]
    • The New Yorker

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