For 626 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 4.4 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

David Denby's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 Mystic River
Lowest review score: 10 Dreamcatcher
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 47 out of 626
626 movie reviews
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 69 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
    • 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.
    • 94 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    No one could mistake the movie for a documentary, but the picture has some of the rectitude of a good documentary--a tone of plainness without flatness.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    In truth, I’ve never seen so much lovemaking in an aboveground film, but the revelation, and great triumph, of Lou’s work is that these scenes are never pornographic--that is, never separated from emotion.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The Barbarian Invasions might be called an idyll of death. Without excessive sentiment (but without slighting sentiment, either). [24 November 2003, p. 113]
    • The New Yorker
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Langella is superb, and Starting Out in the Evening is a classy film.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Coraline is a beautifully designed, rather scary answered-prayer story.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Mario Van Peebles creates what can only be called a lucid fantasia; the movie quickly reaches a pitch of manic activity and stays there. It’s an exhausting, and exhaustingly pleasurable, entertainment. [31 May 2004, p. 88]
    • The New Yorker
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    For all its missteps, the movie powerfully suggests that Wal-Mart is capable of demoralizing a community so thoroughly that it doesn't have the spirit to carry on its life outside the big box.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Furious and entertaining little morality play.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    He [Bahrani] encloses his two characters in a motel room, but he doesn't make them buddies, as a Hollywood movie would. They are characterized in great detail as separate beings.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Fury is literally visceral— a kind of war horror film, which is, of course, what good combat films should be.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The principal suspense in this fascinating movie is generated by the polite, and then not so polite, ferocity of the arguments between the two men.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Reichardt is trying, as she was in her previous film, "Wendy and Lucy," for a mood of existential objectivty. She takes us from the florid grandiosity of Western myth to the bone-wearying stress of mere life. [11 April, 2011 p.89]
    • The New Yorker
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    This documentary film, about the deconstruction of a great American city, is surprisingly lyrical and often very moving.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Source Code is a formally disciplined work -- a triumph of movie syntax -- made with rhythm and pace. Jones, unlike most commercial directors, accelerates the tempo without producing visual gibberish. [11 April, 2011 p. 88]
    • The New Yorker
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    They also try to one-up each other as men, vying for professional success and for the attention of the invariably lovely women they meet. Sharks have duller teeth than Coogan and Brydon. Both movies, in fact, are about the impossibility — and the necessity — of male friendship.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    A deeply satisfying aesthetic and pedagogic experience--though Americans may find themselves wondering how such terrific children can grow into such irritating adults.
    • The New Yorker
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Part thriller, part character study, Arbitrage is Nicholas Jarecki's first feature, and it moves swiftly and confidently, with many details that feel exactly right. [24 Sept. 2012, p.98]
    • The New Yorker
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Ayer should have dropped the movie-within-a-movie, which is confusing in an unproductive way -- we share the men's point of view without it. [24 Sept. 2012, p. 98]
    • The New Yorker
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    This austere production has fire enough; it captures the elemental Bronte passions. [14 March 2011, p. 79]
    • The New Yorker
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Watergate has never really gone away for those of us who lived through it, and, in Penny Lane's Our Nixon, a shrewdly edited collection of news footage and "home movies" taken by members of the Nixon White House staff, there they are again, our familiars. [9 Sept.2013, p.91]
    • The New Yorker
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    After we’ve heard three or four versions of the joke, the words no longer shock. They describe not acts but fantasies, and the movie becomes a celebration of the infinite varieties of comic style.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The 40-Year-Old-Virgin is a hit, I would warrant, because it’s truly dirty and truly romantic at the same time, a combination that's very hard to pull off.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The movie is simultaneously a police procedural, an analysis of language and imagery, a philosophical debate about law and justice, and a very, very dry Romanian Martini--so dry that, at first, one doesn't quite taste much of anything.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Antal has concocted a phantasmagoria-outlandish and jumpy-but, at the same time, the movie is three-dimensional and weighted, with a melancholy soulfulness that becomes surprisingly touching.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Ray
    Vibrantly intelligent and tough-minded bio-pic.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Bellocchio gets the opera-buffa and the carnival side of Italian Fascism, and parts of the movie are excruciatingly funny.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Observant and true. The pleasure of it lies not in its emotions, which are distinctly on the tepid side, but in the intimacy of its reporting. [28 July 2003, p.94]
    • The New Yorker
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Combines pulse-of-the-city drama and comedy with an elaborate revenge plot, but mostly the movie is about New Yorkers talking.
    • The New Yorker
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    A tender, indignant, but also very worldly movie.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Vital, honest, and engaging.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The movie was not written for Eastwood, but it still seems to be all about him--his past characters, his myth, his old role as a dispenser of raw justice.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    When he follows his nose -- say, by tracing his own connections to Eric Harris, one of the Columbine shooters -- he implicates himself in what he hates and fears, and he emerges as a wounded patriot searching for a small measure of clarity. [28 October 2002, p. 119]
    • The New Yorker
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The movie is exhilarating in a way that only hard-won knowledge of the world can be.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The trouble with experimental comedies is that it's often impossible to figure out how to end them. But at least this one is intricate fun before it blows itself up. [9 December 2002, p. 142]
    • The New Yorker
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    For the battered American independent cinema, Linklater's movie is the highest form of life seen in the last couple of years. [12 Nov 2001, p. 138]
    • The New Yorker
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    In all, this is a movie that is partial to youth as a state of being. The grownups seem finished, as frozen in their lifetime roles as creatures out of myth or the Bible. But Oliver and Jordana have the freedom to go anywhere, do anything, become anything. Submarine is an exhilarating surprise.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    It feels fresh, almost improvised, mainly because Mills doesn’t drive his scenes toward an obvious resolution.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    One might call Neil Young: Heart of Gold soothing, even becalmed, but mellowness and ripeness, when they exist at this high level of craft, should have their season, too.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    As this matron on the loose, Allen is rancorously funny.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Audiard's work is tense, vivid, and alert, and he's got the right actor as Tom, an irresistibly attractive guy who's pushing thirty yet has no more control over his impulses than a chaotic boy.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Red Eye, which is exactly eighty-five minutes long, has been made with classical technique and bravura skill, and it's leaving moviegoers in a rare state of satisfaction.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Not one of Scorsese's greatest films; it doesn't use the camera to reveal the psychological and aesthetic dimensions of an entire world, as "Mean Streets," "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull," and "Goodfellas" did. But it's a viciously merry, violent, high-wattage entertainment, and speech is the most brazenly flamboyant element in it.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Up
    The movie is packed with lovely jokes, some of them funny in inexplicable ways.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Some of the episodes are ripely satirical, others almost heartbreaking. Allison Janney appears as a coarse drunk who taunts her kids; Maggie Gyllenhaal is a pushy New Age mom whose aggressive virtue saps the strength of everyone around her.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    It’s a well-crafted, handsome period piece, and pleasant to watch, but the intensity of an obsessional style--something that matches Florentino’s crazy single-mindedness--is beyond Newell’s range. The director of “Donnie Brasco” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral” doesn’t paint with the camera; he doesn’t seize on certain visual motifs, as he should, and turn them into the equivalent of a lover’s devotion to fetishes.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The actor Tony Goldwyn, directing his first movie, and working from a fine screenplay by Pamela Gray, beautifully captures a moment in which the straitened moral world of the lower-middle-class Jewish characters is beginning to open up -- with necessarily painful results.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    What happens at the dam, filmed at night, with only shimmering light, is the most nerve-racking sequence in recent movies. Reichardt, despite the film’s absences, has achieved an impressive control over the medium.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The movie is a methodical and entirely absorbing thriller, featuring a complicated plot (Brian Helgeland adapted the Michael Connelly novel) in which clues are carefully planted, and understanding slowly gathers in the mind of the hero. [19 & 26 August 2002, p. 174]
    • The New Yorker
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    This square movie, at its best, is very powerful.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    A seriously scandalous work, beautifully made, and it deserves a sizable audience that might argue over it, appreciate it -- even hate it. [1 April 2002, p. 98]
    • The New Yorker
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The movie re-creates Sam's miserable days with enough sympathy to come within hailing distance of such emblematic works of American disillusion as Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" and Saul Bellow's "Seize the Day."
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The sinews in Holly Hunter's neck and arms tighten like cables hauled in by a winch; she's all wired up, and in Richard LaGravenese's lovely comedy about loneliness in New York she uses the tension as a source of comedy.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Shot by shot, scene by scene, Mann, whose recent work includes “Heat” and "The Insider," may be the best director in Hollywood. Methodical and precise, he analyzes a scene into minute components.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Marvellous, though it is smaller in emotional range than such earlier Mike Leigh films as the goofy bourgeois satire "High Hopes" (1988), the candid and piercing "Secrets & Lies" (1996), and the splendid theatrical spectacle "Topsy-Turvy" (1999).
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The movie is expert piffle for grownups, directed with great energy by John McTiernan and written with verve by Leslie Dixon and Kurt Wimmer.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Ali
    Michael Mann is a fluent, evocative filmmaker, and the movie is well written, expertly staged, and beautifully edited. [24 & 31 Dec 2001, p. 126]
    • The New Yorker
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Eastwood has become tauntingly tough-minded: “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” he seems to be saying. And, with the remorselessness of age, he follows Chris Kyle’s rehabilitation and redemption back home, all the way to their heartbreaking and inexplicable end.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Offers considerable insight into the Nixon mystery, without solving it; the movie is fully absorbing and even, when Nixon falls into a drunken, resentful rage, exciting, but I can't escape the feeling that it carries about it an aura of momentousness that isn't warranted by the events.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    At first, you may think, Oh, it’s that damn prison movie again, but Starred Up has a much more intimate texture of affection and disdain than most genre films. You’re held by every exchange, every fight.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    At the end of the movie, when Gloria looks at herself appraisingly in a mirror, we seem to be seeing her for the first time. [20 Jan. 2014, p.79]
    • The New Yorker
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    For many of this movie's likely viewers, the sting built into Food, Inc. is the realization that, without unending effort, they are not all that much freer in their choices than that hard-pressed family.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Like a finely wrought short story, and it's all but perfect.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    It’s all fascinating. Gilroy is an entertainer.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Contagion is serious, precise, frightening, emotionally enveloping.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The pace of the movie is rapid, almost hectic, the touch glancing. Until the confrontation between Frank and Richie at the end, nothing stays on the screen for long, although Scott, working in the street, or in clubs and at parties, packs as much as he can into the corners of shots, and shapes even the most casual scenes decisively.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The Counterfeiters is a testament to guile. Ruzowitzky scored the picture with tangos, and the tangos are meant to be Sally’s music--seductive, insolent, triumphant.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    This is a movie of great spirit and considerable charm. It’s about the giddiness of promise--the awakening of young talent, after years of the Depression, to a moment when anything seems possible.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    To Rome with Love is light and fast, with some of the sharpest dialogue and acting that he's put on the screen in years. [2 July 2012, p.84]
    • The New Yorker
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    If Ross had merely told his story and re-created the media folk culture of the thirties, the movie might have been a classic. [4 August 2003, p. 84]
    • The New Yorker
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, for all its terrible matter-of-factness, produces tumultuous feelings of amazement and revolt.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Not much happens, but Coppola is so gentle and witty an observer that the movie casts a spell. [15 September 2003, p. 100]
    • The New Yorker
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    All in all, this twerpy little movie is one of the most entertaining pictures to be released so far this year.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Spielberg must have sensed that he owed us some fun, and the movie has a sleek and carefree look -- the lightness of a sixties comedy, made with the extraordinary speed and panache of our most fluent director. This is a true holiday film, a gift from some genuine pros who know how to entertain without sweat. [23 & 30 December 2002, p. 166]
    • The New Yorker
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    You come out of the movie both excited and soothed, as if your body had been worked on by felt-covered drumsticks.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    By far the best spectacle movie of the season, and one of the few films to use digital technology for nuanced dramatic effect.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The Spanish director Isabel Coixet works with candor, directness, and simplicity. She isn't afraid of lengthy scenes of the two actors just talking to each other, mixed with lavish but respectful attention to Cruz's body, especially her bare chest, which is treated as one of the wonders of all creation.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The plot, with its matched, escalating acts of revenge, may be a contrivance, but within that contrivance Changing Lanes plays earnest and well. [6 May 2002, p. 138]
    • The New Yorker
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Infinitely charming new romantic comedy.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Zodiac is superbly made, but it's also a strange piece of work.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The faults of the movie, semi-excusable as self-vindicating ploys, are nothing compared with its strengths.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Powerful, concise, fully sustained.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Central Park is at first discomforting, then enraging, then illuminating.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    In this movie, Fonda really is iconic. 3:10 to Yuma may be familiar, but, at its best, it has a rapt quality, even an aura of wonder.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Burnett used many kinds of African-American music on the soundtrack, and the movie itself has the bedraggled eloquence of an old blues record. The amateur actors, who occasionally burst into fury, combined with the black-and-white cinematography, bring the poverty of Watts closer to us emotionally.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    You can see the jokes coming well in advance, but you still laugh uncontrollably.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The movie is also about a man without fear. It is often funny and stirring, but as you are watching you know what the game will lead to; dictatorships are not known for their sense of humor. [5 March 2012, p. 86]
    • The New Yorker
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Claudel turns out to be very good at the psychology of intimacy. An observant man, he has assembled a large (and, to us, unknown) cast of actors around his star, and he dramatizes her slow reawakening with an infinite number of small, sharply etched details.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Eminem does not come off as a megalomaniac in 8 Mile, but he expects people to be very, very impressed. I doubt he could lend himself to a fiction that said anything else: his eyes couldn't tell any story but his own. [11 November 2002, p. 195]
    • The New Yorker
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    A genuine love story might be difficult for a young audience to handle, but this fantasy is blissful madness--an abstinence fable sexier than sex.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Abrupt and fragmentary, but powerful. [Dec 10 2001, p. 111]
    • The New Yorker
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    This is tricky, ambiguous material, seemingly better fitted to a short literary novel than to a movie, and it could have gone wrong in a hundred ways, yet Baumbach handles it with great assurance.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    A wonderfully entertaining movie.

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