For 1,785 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 41% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 57% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 0.3 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Joe Morgenstern's Scores

  • Movies
Average review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 Buck
Lowest review score: 0 The Love Guru
Score distribution:
1,785 movie reviews
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    So what's left for the audience to hook into? Only pounding action, elegant style, steady-state suspense, marvelous acting and, despite that droll pooh-poohing every now and then, haunting explorations of youth, age and personal destiny. It's a lot to claim for a sci-fi thriller, but I was blown away by Rian Johnson's Looper.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    In one form or another, motion pictures have been with us since the middle of the 19th century, but there's never been one like Gravity. What's new in Alfonso Cuarón's 3-D space adventure is the nature of the motion. It's as if the movie medium had been set free to dance in a bedazzling zero-gravity dream sequence.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The members of the cast represent ensemble, naturalistic acting at its finest.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The results are nothing less than sensational.
    • 97 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Movie audiences have never been presented with anything quite like the intertwined beauty and savagery of 12 Years a Slave.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Everything comes together brilliantly in Silver Linings Playbook - for the film's crazed but uncrazy lovers; for the filmmaker, David O. Russell, and best of all for lucky us.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Judged solely as a film, a partially fictionalized account of the decade-long search for bin Laden, it's superbly crafted and relentlessly dramatic. More than that, though, Zero Dark Thirty is a shock to the system, one that's bound to incite discussion of profoundly troubling issues.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Working on a scale that's minuscule by studio standards, the Dardenne brothers have made yet another movie that does what Hollywood used to do - keep us rapt, and leave us grateful.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    There's no trace of calculation, only artistic ambitions and hopes that have come to fruition in the year's finest film thus far.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Against all odds, an unquenchable artist has made yet another piece of powerful art.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Day-Lewis works famously, and phenomenally, from the inside out. The mystery at the core of his gorgeous performance, which is enhanced by Mr. Kushner's script, has to do with his masterly grasp of Lincoln's quicksilver spirit.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    It's a meditation on mortality, with remarkable resemblances to "Gravity," not to mention echoes of "The Old Man and the Sea." It's admirably crafted, with a wealth of detail that illustrates the sailor's resourcefulness.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Michael Haneke's French-language Amour, a perfect film about intertwined lives, proceeds at its own pace, and breathes so deeply that it takes your own breath away.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The Israeli journalist Dror Moreh has hit a documentarian's trifecta with The Gatekeepers. It's an exemplary piece of enterprise journalism, a vivid history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a polemic that's all the more remarkable for the shared experience of the polemicists.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Mud
    Jeff Nichols's third feature traffics unerringly in truth, delicious surprise, unadorned beauty and unforced wisdom.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Cate Blanchett tops anything she's done in the past with her portrait of a fallen woman who's a hoot, a horror, a heartbreaker and a wonder. The mystery of the movie as a whole is that it depicts a bleak world of pervasive rapacity, deceit and self-delusion, yet keeps us rapt with delight.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    It's a joyous movie, the best one I've seen in a very long time.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    At the age of 27 Mr. Coogler seems to have it all, and have it firmly in place a clearsighted take on his subject (no airbrushing of flaws or foibles here, just confident brush strokes by a mature artist); a spare, spontaneous style that can go beyond naturalism into a state of poetic grace, and a gift for getting, or allowing, superb actors to give flawless performances.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    High-energy comedy comes naturally to the filmmaker. He exults in free association, emotional riffs, in the craziness that underlies ostensibly rational behavior. The crosscurrents have crosscurrents in his films, but the current that carries everything along here is announced by the first strains of music from the screen: Duke Ellington's "Jeep's Blues," with one of the most exuberant passages in all of jazz. David O. Russell does buoyancy better than anyone.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    This feature-length documentary, currently entering national release, may be one of the most horrifying films you'll ever see, and one of the most edifying.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Here's an iffy proposition. If A Hijacking was in English, or if U.S. audiences weren't finicky about reading subtitles, or if life was fair, this brilliant thriller, by the Danish filmmaker Tobias Lindholm, would be playing on multiplex screens throughout the country.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Zachary Heinzerling's feature-length documentary gathers force slowly, but with such wisdom and calm mastery that I found myself stunned, toward the end, by the beautiful vastness of it all.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    What's extraordinary is what happens at the intersection of Mr. Payne's impeccable direction and Mr. Nelson's brilliant script. The odyssey combines, quite effortlessly, prickly combat between father and son.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Her
    Mr. Jonze approaches perfection in the department of deadpan humor. In other hands, his premise could have been a clever gimmick and little more. But he draws us into Theodore's world, then develops it brilliantly, by playing everything scrupulously straight.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Elegantly crafted and filled with flawless performances, this mysteriously charged drama comes alive in its very first frames.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Tom Hardy, the actor who plays him, is by turns spellbinding, seductive, heartbreaking, explosive and flat-out thrilling. At a time when the studios are spending vast sums of money on a bigger-is-better aesthetic, here's a chamber piece with the impact of high drama.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    This tale of forbidden friendship between a bear and a mouse is so winning that audiences will cherish it as the classic it's sure to become.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Star Trek goes back to the legend's roots with a boldness that brings a fatigued franchise back to life.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Much of the time, though, you're transfixed by the beauty of a spectacle that seems all of a piece. Special effects have been abolished, in effect, since the whole thing is so special.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Crazy Heart is blessed with so many marvelous moments, lovely lines and vivid characters.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    The best of Up in the Air--meaning most of it--is right up there with the fresh and sophisticated comedies of Hollywood's golden age.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    This is a debut feature, though you'd never know it from the filmmaker's commandingly confident style, or from the heartbreaking beauty -- heartbreaking, then heartmending -- of Melissa Leo's performance as a poor single mother who's living her whole life on thin ice.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A captivating entertainment for the holiday season and well beyond.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    It's been a good while since I've seen a movie whose most powerful sequence was both unforeseen and entirely unpredictable as it played out.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A delicately poetic, essentially plotless vision, unblinking but not unhopeful, of life in Watts, where little but the ghetto's name recognition had changed a decade after the riots.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A spectacular record of rehearsals for a show that wasn't to be.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Jane Campion has performed her own feat of romantic imagination.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Apart from a singer named You who plays Keiko, the members of the cast are non-professionals. You may find that hard to believe when you see this astonishing film, as I hope you will.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    The immensity encompasses such variety, subtlety and intimacy that you may find yourself yearning for more.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A lovely surprise. Ripe with feeling and lush with physical beauty, it's a love story that swings confidently between age and youth, and, like the young Tiger Woods of old, avoids every trap along the way.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A dazzlingly smart and entertaining animated feature by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, looks like a black-and-white graphic novel come to life.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Judd Apatow's high-density, high-intensity comedy of bad (and good) manners is a cause for celebration -- the laugh lines are smart, and they come faster than you can process them.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Proves to be a remarkably lean and incisive film about the fateful power of sexuality.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Marvelously smart, funny and entertaining film.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Beautiful moments abound. In Departures, the contemplation of death prepares the way for an appreciation of life.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Thrillers aren't always so thrilling, but Tell No One is -- and absorbing, sometimes perplexing and often stirring as well.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    While the film itself isn't perfect, who cares about perfection in the face of abundant life, authentic screwiness and lovely surprises by the busload?
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Akin's film is so full of life that it leaves you breathless.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    There's no better fun for movie lovers than a small, unheralded film that turns out to be terrific -- unless it's a small, unheralded sequel that trumps the original.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    For a filmmaker who has made his reputation with such crime thrillers as "Little Odessa" and "The Yards," James Gray reveals an unexpected gift for the mysteries of romance.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    As a piece of filmmaking, it's stunningly effective.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Rousing, provocative film.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    The near-miracle worked by Mr. Boyle, whose exuberant style brings several saints to scruffy life, is a movie that's joyously funny and hugely inventive -- occasionally to the point of preciousness -- yet true to the spirit of the saintly little kid at its center.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Movies as strong and provocative as this one are a special pleasure.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Despite its cargo of meaning, 3-Iron feels marvelously weightless, like the lovers as they stand on a scale that the hero has fixed.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A drama of uncommon moral complexity, unexpected humor, convincing transformations (for good and bad) and, best of all, vibrant, unpredictable energy. In a movie landscape littered with dead souls, here's a live one.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A remarkable though sometimes frustrating film.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A moveable feast of delights.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Bursting with joy and throbbing with music, Rize has a tragic dimension too. When you see the clown cry, you'll be with him all the way.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    With this genuinely big entertainment, powered by a beating heart, Steven Spielberg has put the summer back in summer movies.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    There are remakes and there are remakes. I don't want to belabor the flaws and sexual excesses of the original; its great strength was its explosive energy. Still, this one investigates the unfulfilled potential of the first one so thoroughly, and develops it so audaciously, that it qualifies as a brilliant reinvention.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    This isn't entertainment in any conventional sense, but it's a mesmerizing film all the same.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    This stop-action animated feature is downright sweet and tender, as well as all the other things we've come to expect from him -- funny, bizarre, graphically stunning and blithely necrophilic.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A feature-length documentary, by Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller, of absolutely breathtaking sweep and joyous energy.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    The studio, like plucky Harry, passes with flying colors. The new one, directed by Mike Newell from another astute script by Mr. Kloves, is even richer and fuller, as well as dramatically darker. It's downright scary how good this movie is.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Breaks through the conventions of its biopic form with a pair of brilliant performances and a whole lot more.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    In one sense, Neil Young: Heart of Gold is just a simple concert film -- no cutaways during the music for interviews, no cameras swooping and soaring on giant booms. But simplicity in this case also means no barrier between us and the people on stage, as they sing some of the most soul-stirring pop songs I've seen performed in a very long time.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    The comedian has had his ups and downs recently, but the film is pure up, a wonderfully genial and inclusive record -- not that the music is devoid of anger or social protest -- of a day-long, freestyle show.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    It's a stirring portrait of a singular artist, a gorgeously photographed album of his buildings, and, perhaps most importantly, a film that manages to demystify the way he works without diminishing it.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Both magical and consistently joyous. The director, Robert Altman, and the writer, Garrison Keillor, have, against all odds, transmuted the fatigued public radio institution into a lovely fable about mortality, fleeting fame, fondness for the past and the ineffable beauty of life in the present.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Not since the halcyon days of Archie Bunker and "All in the Family" has so sharp a wit punctured so many balloons.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A documentary of stunning immediacy and marvelous images.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Blissfully silly, triumphantly tasteless and improbably hilarious.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A thrilling -- and harrowing, and beautiful -- celebration of the unpredictability of life.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    This hugely entertaining thriller is what's needed to banish a winter-long case of movie blues.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    This magnificent documentary, directed by David Sington and presented by Ron Howard, rises to the occasion by interspersing its interviews with NASA footage that evokes the grandeur of the whole Apollo adventure.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Viggo Mortensen's performance is flat-out brilliant, and this relentlessly dramatic thriller represents a mid-life growth spurt for its director, David Cronenberg.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    An elegant horror film, starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, that takes pleasure in its own theatricality, gives pleasure with caustic wit, trusts the power of Stephen Sondheim's score and exults in flights of fancy that only a movie can provide.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    It's a new and inspired vision of a familiar state of being -- teenage anomie amidst the crumbling wreckage of a middle-class American family. In the space of 78 minutes, Mr. Van Sant and his cinematographer, the peerless Christopher Doyle, manage to suffuse that state with haunting sadness, ubiquitous danger, pulsing power and flickers of hope.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    What Mr. Hou has done is borrow power and some gentle intimations of a state of grace from one of the most enchanting images in movie history.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Hugely inventive -- and smashingly beautiful.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    I don't know the Mongolian word for panache, but Mongol's got plenty of it. The battle scenes are as notable for their clarity as their intensity; we can follow the strategies, get a sense of who's losing and who's winning. The physical production is sumptuous.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Andrew Garfield's phenomenal performance makes room for the many and various pieces of Jack's personality, whether or not they're securely fastened together.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Philippe Claudel gives his heroine unusual depth, which Kristin Scott Thomas reveals with unusual passion.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Density of detail and intensity of experience are the twin distinctions of A Christmas Tale, a long, improbably funny and very beautiful film.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    One of the best of the genre. If it doesn't serve oysters, per se, this submarine wonder offers marvels in abundance.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    This exquisite film by the Swedish master Jan Troell is about seeing clearly, and fearlessly. It's also about subdued passion, the birth of an artist and a woman's struggle to live her own life.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    What Ron Howard gets, to a degree that's astonishing in a two-hour film, is the density and complexity, as well as the generous entertainment quotient, of Peter Morgan's screenplay.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    The film takes itself frivolously when that's appropriate--some of it is charmingly silly--and seriously when, as is often the case, all sorts of good surprises are unleashed.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    This wonderfully strange and exquisite little feature was created, especially for young children, to celebrate the book through another kind of illumination that's been falling into disuse--hand-drawn animation.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A stunning drama that's distinguished by a magnificent performance; the most powerful scenes are those that play, as recollection or confession, on Lena Endre's lovely face.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    It's astonishing, and moving.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Truly transporting film.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A smart, funny and strangely touching film.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A glorious feature-length documentary -- This film will leave an indentment, and a deep one, on anyone who loves great, joyous music and cares about the people who make it.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Tykwer's hands the movie changes almost magically from drama to chase to romance. As it does so its moral weight lessens; by the end there is less than what first engaged the mind. What meets the eye, though, is unforgettable.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Everything and everyone is observed sharply, succinctly and indelibly.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A huge delight.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Directed with such a confident, delicate touch. Nothing is insisted on, yet whole lives are discovered and revealed in vignettes that seem as spontaneous as a laugh or a gasp.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A romantic comedy of grace notes and mini-epiphanies -- mini, that is, except for Ms. McDormand's Jane, who is memorable to the max.