For 628 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 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

David Denby's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 Before Midnight
Lowest review score: 10 Wild Wild West
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 47 out of 628
628 movie reviews
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    The most familiar movie in the world is still fresh; it has so many little busy corners to nestle in... Casablanca is the most sociable, the most companionable film ever made. Life as an endless party.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    12 Years a Slave is easily the greatest feature film ever made about American slavery.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    In Ratatouille, the level of moment-by-moment craftsmanship is a wonder.
    • 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
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Brilliantly entertaining and emotionally wrenching.
    • 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.
    • 95 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.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Mr. Turner is a harsh, strange, but stirring movie, no more a conventional artist’s bio-pic than Robert Altman’s wonderful, little-seen film about van Gogh and his brother, “Vincent and Theo.”
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    An enthralling and powerfully eccentric American epic.
    • 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
    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.
    • 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
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Ida
    This compact masterpiece has the curt definition and the finality of a reckoning—a reckoning in which anger and mourning blend together.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 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
    Greengrass’s movie is tightly wrapped, minutely drawn, and, no matter how frightening, superbly precise.
    • 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
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Nebraska” are the current standards of what a serious Hollywood movie looks like. American Hustle offers so many easy pleasures that people may not think of it as a work of art, but it is. In the world that Russell has created, if you don’t come to play you’re not fully alive. An art devoted to appetite has as much right to screen immortality as the most austere formal invention.
    • 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
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Though the facts in No End in Sight are well known, the movie is still a classic.
    • 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.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    This is cinema, more rhetorical, spectacular, and stirring than cable-TV drama: again and again, DuVernay’s camera (Bradford Young did the cinematography) tracks behind characters as they march, or gentles toward them as they approach, receiving them with a friendly hand.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The project lacks the variety of sensuous pleasures that a great movie has to provide.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    The movie, Polley's feature début, is a small-scale triumph that could herald a great career.
    • 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
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Up
    The movie is packed with lovely jokes, some of them funny in inexplicable ways.
    • 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
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Unimaginable as anything but a movie. It’s largely wordless, sombrely spectacular, vast and intimate at the same time, with a commitment to detailed physical reality that commands amazed attention for a tight hundred minutes.
    • 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.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    When the movie was over, a young boy sitting behind me said, "That was great!" He was satisfied, and rightly so.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    A brilliant documentary about an American saint and fool--a man who understands everything about nature except death.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Statistics and their alleged true meaning are at the heart of Moneyball, but it's also one of the most soulful of baseball movies - it confronts the anguish of a tough game.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Bob Nelson wrote the script, which Payne has been mulling over for nine years, and some of it, enhanced by the deliberate pacing of his direction, is funny in a deadpan, black-comedy way. But the absurdist atmosphere feels thin: the movie is like a Beckett play without the metaphysical unease, the flickering blasphemies and revelations.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, for all its terrible matter-of-factness, produces tumultuous feelings of amazement and revolt.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The movie is about preservation and restoration and the power of art. But with what gain in knowledge? It's as if Szpilman had no soul, and no will, apart from an endless desire to tickle the keys. [13 January 2003, p. 90]
    • The New Yorker
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Vital, honest, and engaging.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    An Education is perceptive and entertaining, but it doesn’t have the jolting vitality of, say, “Notes on a Scandal,” which dramatized an even more unconventional liaison--older woman, fifteen-year-old boy.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    In the end, Assayas, shooting the film with relaxed, flowing camera movements, gives his love not to beautiful objects but to the disorderly life out of which art is made.
    • 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
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Fruitvale Station is a confident, touching, and, finally, shattering directorial début.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    The movie dramatizes the destruction of a society from within that society. Watching “Hell on Earth” is not an easy experience; I can’t recall another documentary with so many corpses. It’s a grief-struck history of cruelty, haplessness, and irresponsibility—a moral history as well as a history of events.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 84 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    This movie, however incomplete and frustrating, is also fully alive and extraordinarily intelligent.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Furious and entertaining little morality play.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    If you don't mind the gore, you can enjoy Snowpiercer as a brutal and imaginative piece of science-fiction filmmaking. [7 & 14 July 2014, p.94]
    • The New Yorker
    • 84 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The movie is not an argument for chaos; it's an argument for making one's way through life with a relaxed will and an open heart.
    • 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
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    It has a gentle, unforced rhythm, and what’s there is good and true. But there’s not enough of it--the movie needs more plot, more complication, more conflict.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Kechiche digs a good story out of the flux, and, in the movie's final forty minutes, the suspense is terrific.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    The movie is an outright miracle. [8 March 2004, p. 92]
    • The New Yorker
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Nothing very important happens, but, moment by moment, the movie is alive with the play of gesture and glances, aggression and withdrawal. [31 March 2003, p.106]
    • The New Yorker
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 David Denby
    Hugo is superbly playful.
    • 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
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    In all, these men and women don't seem to have the seething ambitions and the restlessness of so many Americans. They don't expect to get rich, somehow, next year. They may be happier than we are but they're also less colorful. [28 Jan. 2012, p.80]
    • The New Yorker
    • 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).
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The movie makes it clear that, for all his snarls and outbursts, he is intelligent, candid, and easily wounded; that he is by turns inordinately proud and inordinately ashamed and, above all, intensely curious about himself, as if his own nature were a mystery that had not yet been solved.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    One of the most eloquent records we have of a tragedy that brought out some of the most impressively alive men and women in New Orleans.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The movie is best when it calms down and concentrates on the sinister peculiarities of the experience, and when it focuses on Franco's face. [8 Nov. 2010, p . 93]
    • The New Yorker
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    It’s Cluzet’s intense performance that makes this genre piece a heart-wrenching experience.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Sex is the subtext of everything that happens, yet this may be one of the least erotic movies ever made. It's stern and noble, very much in the Rattigan spirit. [26 March 2012, p.108]
    • The New Yorker
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    In all, Steve McQueen is a master of fascination rather than of drama--he creates stunning shots rather than an intricate story.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    It’s all fascinating. Gilroy is an entertainer.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    The Spectacular Now goes a little soft at the end, but most of it has the melancholy sense of life just passing by — until, that is, someone has the courage to grab it and make it take some meaning and form.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Along with “No End in Sight,” this movie is one of the essential documentaries of the ongoing war.
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 David Denby
    Juno is a coming-of-age movie made with idiosyncratic charm and not a single false note.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 David Denby
    Fish tank may begin as a patch of lower-class chaos, but it turns into a commanding, emotionally satisfying movie, comparable to such youth-in-trouble classics as "The 400 Blows." [18 Jan. 2010, p. 83]
    • The New Yorker

Top Trailers