Joe Morgenstern

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For 2,155 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 42% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 56% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 1.7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Joe Morgenstern's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 60
Highest review score: 100 Fruitvale Station
Lowest review score: 0 Jupiter Ascending
Score distribution:
2155 movie reviews
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Spectacular for its humanity, austere beauty and heart-stopping urgency.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The level of invention is so high, and the density of detail is so great, that it’s impossible to absorb everything in a single viewing.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    I don’t know how Ms. Arnold works the magic she does with her actors, whether amateur or professional — Mr. LaBeouf inhabits his role with sly charm and explosive ferocity — but it’s an expansion of what she started doing more than a decade ago in her remarkable “Wasp.”
    • 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Ida
    Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida, a compact masterpiece set in Poland in the early 1960s, gets to the heart of its matter with startling swiftness.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    A dulcetly crazy, certifiably hilarious and eerily mysterious little comedy.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The third film of the trilogy turns out to be gorgeously joyous and deeply felt.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The loveliest part of Mad Max: Fury Road is its grungy, quasi-Gothic imagery — the production was designed by Colin Gibson and photographed by John Seale. And the fullest flowering of its images can be found in its muscle cars, muscle trucks, muscle trailers and muscle buggies.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Stunning and, in the aggregate, almost overwhelming. This is not a feel-good travelogue, and Mr. Salgado has never pretended to be a cockeyed optimist.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Movie audiences have never been presented with anything quite like the intertwined beauty and savagery of 12 Years a Slave.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Slumdog Millionaire is the film world's first globalized masterpiece.
    • 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Through it all -- the free-form conversations, the brilliant set pieces, the preposterous gross-outs, the flawless performances -- Kristen Wiig's forlorn maid of honor, Annie, seeks her own destiny with a wrenchingly cockeyed passion.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Only in America, though, could filmmakers illuminate such a dire subject, and the financial debacle that ensued, with the sort of scathing wit, joyous irreverence and brilliant boisterousness that make The Big Short an improbable triumph.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Sideways makes you glad about America, about movies, about life.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    An absolutely phenomenal film by the Korean director Bong Joon-ho.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Exquisite images, poignant humor, echoes of cinema history and a sense of having watched genuine magic.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    A splendid war movie. The combat sequences are harrowing -- all the more so for the director's spare, sharp-eyed style -- and the performances are phenomenally fine.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Rather than dwell on the darkness and squalor, von Donnersmarck has fashioned a genuinely thrilling tale, leavened with sly humor, that works ingenious variations on the theme of cat and mouse, speaks to current concerns about personal privacy and illuminates the timeless conflict between totalitarianism and art.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The film forges ahead, in vivid 3-D, with such energy, expertise and thunderous conviction that you readily accept its basic premise — the pell-mell emergence of great intelligence, plus moral awareness, in primitive bodies — and find yourself exactly where the filmmakers want you to be, swinging giddily between sympathy for the apes and the humans in what threatens to become all-out war.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Ms. Muylaert’s guiding principle seems to have been fearlessness, and her film, which was shot by Barbara Alvarez, is superb on all counts.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Against all odds in an era of machine-made spectaculars, Mr. Jackson and his collaborators have created a film epic that lives and breathes.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    On rare occasions a movie seems to channel the flow of real life. Boyhood is one of those occasions. In its ambition, which is matched by its execution, Richard Linklater's endearing epic is not only rare but unique.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    I thought "Topsy-Turvy" was perfection, a spirited evocation of the partnership of Gilbert and Sullivan, plus a blithely definitive depiction of the artistic process. Happy-Go-Lucky is perfection too, assuming you go along with its leisurely pace, which I did quite happily.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Gleeful and smart, funny and serious, this sequel surpasses the endearing original with gorgeous animation — a dragon Eden, a dragon scourge, an infinitude of dragons — and one stirring human encounter after another.
    • 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
    It isn't saying too much, though, to call Mia Hansen-Løve's French-language drama beautiful, profound and, given the gathering tensions of its story, phenomenally full of life.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Good movies summon up worlds. Son of Saul, a great movie and a debut feature by László Nemes, summons up a world we may think we know from a visual perspective we’ve never encountered — the willed tunnel vision of a Jewish worker in a Nazi death camp.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    All ups with no downs, it’s a motion picture in the truest sense of the term. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and I loved every one of its 72 minutes.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The film is unsparing as history and enthralling as biography.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Foreign films can be as enchanting as ever, and perspective-expanding too. The latest proof is Up and Down, a wonderfully funny, giddily intricate Czech comedy.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The screenplay, by William Monahan, is simply sensational. Scenes play brilliantly. Feelings flow like molten lava. The dialogue overflows with edgy wit and acidulous arias of imprecation.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The kind of movie they don't make any more -- a seriously beautiful, deliberately paced drama that meanders for a while at the pace of a summer romance, then explodes with phenomenal force.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 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.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The Class is clearly a microcosm of contemporary France, beset by social and economic tensions. More than that, though, it's a saga of education's struggles in many parts of the modern world. If only the film were pure fiction.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    A first-rate action thriller, a vivid evocation of urban warfare in Iraq, a penetrating study of heroism and a showcase for austere technique, terse writing and a trio of brilliant performances. Most of all, though, it’s an instant classic that demonstrates, in a brutally hot and dusty laboratory setting, how the drug of war hooks its victims and why they can’t kick the habit.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Right makes might in Takashi Miike's excellent-and exceedingly violent-remake of a 1966 Japanese classic by Eiichi Kudo.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Shall We Kiss? gives us storytelling as art. Emmanuel Mouret's romantic drama, in French with English subtitles, is expert, intricate, ineffably droll, ultimately provocative and entirely enchanting.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    If the story’s psychodynamics are familiar, Mr. Eggers makes them seem newly discovered. The intensity of his writing and direction, as well as the eerie austerity of Jarin Blaschke’s cinematography, Craig Lathrop’s production design and Mark Korven’s music, all conspire to create a film of exceptional originality.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Never before, not even in the claustrophobic submarine epic "Das Boot," has a physical point of view so completely dictated a philosophical point of view.
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    A phenomenal debut feature with a terrific title, David Michôd's Animal Kingdom is both a study in Darwinian survival-in this case survival of the shrewdest-and a group portrait of ruthless predators in the underworld of Melbourne, Australia.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    This exquisite animated feature, directed by Michael Dudok de Wit, has no dialogue, only the sounds of water, wind and birds, the occasional strains of Laurent Perez del Mar’s graceful score; and images of a young castaway living out the stages of his life on a desert island after giant storm waves hurl him onto a beach.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Goes from good to great in 90 minutes, and then it's over, except that it's really not, because this small masterwork grows even deeper and more affecting as it takes up permanent residence in your memory.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Never before, though, have statistics added up to such electrifying entertainment. After the mostly minor-league productions of recent months, this movie, which was directed by Bennett Miller, renews your belief in the power of movies.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    An absolute stunner, a feature-length animated documentary, from Israel, in which the force of moving drawings amplifies eerily powerful accounts of war, shaky remembrance and rock-solid repression.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Genuinely and irresistibly inspirational.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Quite remarkably, though, its clear-eyed view of an unprecedented American tragedy leaves us with emotions that audiences of those earlier days would readily recognize -- love of country, bottomless grief, an appreciation of life's preciousness and fragility. A film that can do this and also teach is to be cherished. And seen. It's time.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The results are nothing less than sensational.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Bergman's Saraband is sublime.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 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.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The gadgetry is absolutely dazzling, the action is mostly exhilarating, the comedy is scintillating and the whole enormous enterprise, spawned by Marvel comics, throbs with dramatic energy because the man inside the shiny red robotic rig is a daring choice for an action hero, and an inspired one.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Rarely has a contemporary movie taken in so much life and revealed it with such depth of feeling.
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Gyllenhaal’s startling portrayal is far from the only distinction in this impeccably crafted feature film. Mr. Gilroy’s directorial debut connects its hero’s tacit madness to the larger craziness of a broadcast medium that teaches vast numbers of viewers to live with a false sense of insecurity.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Here's an entertainment to warm the heart of anyone who grew up (or failed to) on the formative joys of action movies.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Gleason is so powerful in its cumulative effect that it should be accompanied by a consumer advisory — something along the lines of “This documentary may cause sudden alterations of mood and attitude.”
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Sizzlingly smart and agreeably sententious, Mr. Garland’s film transcends some all-too-human imperfections with gorgeous images, astute writing and memorably strong performances.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    A work of huge, if unobtrusive, ambition -- a vision of modern life, appropriate for sophisticated adults as well as for kids, that is both satirical and, of all things, inspirational. It's a great film about the possibility of greatness.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Petzold, directing from a screenplay he and Harun Farocki based on a novel by Hubert Monteilhet, has made a film of light and shadows that sometimes looks like a color version of “The Third Man,” and sometimes feels like a somber ode to Hitchcock. But Phoenix has no precise peers; it’s an original creation, and a haunting one.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    No screen portrait of a king has ever been more stirring-heartbreaking at first, then stirring. That's partly due to the screenplay, which contains two of the best-written roles in recent memory, and to Mr. Hooper's superb direction.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Denis Villeneuve's screen adaptation of a play by the Lebanese-Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad tells a story-masterfully-of courage, cruelty, family mysteries and a chain of anger that can only be broken by love.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    This tale of an English schoolgirl's hard-won wisdom is thrilling --for the radiance of Carey Mulligan's Jenny, who's wonderfully smart and perilously tender; for the grace of Lone Scherfig's direction, and the brilliance of Nick Hornby's screenplay.
    • 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
    Kelly Reichardt's marvelous, minimalist epic, amounts to a master class in the power of observation.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Beautiful (sometimes sublimely so), daring (sometimes outrageously so), seriously crazed and terrifically funny.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The story demanded — and deserves — the services of a singular actress. Ms. Cotillard’s international stardom doesn’t hurt, of course, but the invaluable gift she brings to the production is her ability to play a working woman in naturalistic style while giving a transcendent performance.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The invisible wizard Peter Jackson makes use of every scene to show us the meaning of magnificence. Never has a filmmaker aimed higher, or achieved more.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 77 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The new production, computer-animated except for a living, breathing boy at the center of the action, isn’t pretty or sweet but utterly stunning, as well as very funny; all those vaudeville antecedents haven’t been forgotten.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The movie has done what those who've cherished the book might have thought impossible -- intensified its singular beauty by roving as free and fearlessly as Bauby's mind did.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    This gorgeous film, always tender and sometimes dark, is a deeply resonant comic drama that's concerned with nothing less than life, death, love, sex, guilt and the urban logic of mortality.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Mud
    Jeff Nichols's third feature traffics unerringly in truth, delicious surprise, unadorned beauty and unforced wisdom.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    See this film as soon as you can, preferably with someone you love. Kenneth Lonergan’s third feature as a writer-director is a drama of surpassing beauty, and Casey Affleck’s portrayal of the janitor, Lee Chandler, is stripped-back perfection — understated, unaffected, yet stunning in depth and resonance.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Moodysson's film is little only in physical and financial scale. When measured by the pleasure it confers, We Are the Best! is a big deal that will be winning hearts — and even grownup minds — for a long time to come.
    • 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.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    If watching movie violence is cathartic, then this film amounts to heavy therapy. It's much more than that, however. This is the best film the Coen brothers have done since their glory days of "Fargo" and "The Big Lebowski," maybe the best they've done, period.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Inside Job has the added value, as well as the cold comfort, of being furiously interesting and hugely infuriating. It's a scathing examination of the global economic meltdown that began more than two years ago and continues to affect our lives.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    More than a musical offering, it’s a study in boundless passion, plus a wellspring of wisdom about art and life from a man who sees no dividing line between the one and the other.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    One of the high points of last month's Telluride Film Festival was, as I wrote at the time, spending 5½ hours in a darkened theater-with one short break around the four-hour mark-to watch Olivier Assayas's shocking and edifying epic.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Few actors working today could make emotional sense of such a protean character, but Ryan Gosling does so with calm authority. He's a formidable presence in a film that grabs your gaze and won't let go except for moments when you can't help but look away.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    This account of Facebook's founder, and of the website's explosive growth, quickly lifts you to a state of exhilaration, and pretty much keeps you there for two hours.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    This joyous farce is a big, big deal, and Jack Black is nothing less than majestic as a scruffy, irreverent rocker passing himself off as a pedagogue in a private school.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 69 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Essentially a coming-of-age story set in working-class North Carolina in the 1970s. But it's so startlingly original that it transcends the genre. This is a wonderful film, from puckish start to momentous finish.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 71 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    As wish-fulfillments go, this is a movie lover's dream.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    A drama of rare distinction, and wonderfully funny in the bargain.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    This movie will stir your heart and open your mind. It's a group portrait of practicing patriots.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    James Marsh's documentary raises the bar for the genre to skyscraper height.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    One of those rare and complex dramas that you can enter, not simply watch.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    A magnificent documentary.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Excites us with words not spoken, passions not played out. A mood story more than a love story, it's all about sustaining a state of exquisite melancholy in the face of desire.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    One of those rare collaborations that artists dream of, and that film lovers crave.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Once proves to be as smart and funny as it is sweet; it swirls with ambiguity and conflict beneath a simple surface. In all of 88 minutes, Mr. Carney's singular fable follows its guy and girl through a week of musical and emotional growth that could suffice for a lifetime.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Damien Chazelle’s musical, consistently daring and occasionally sublime, does what the movies have all but forgotten how to do — sweep us up into a dream of love that’s enhanced in an urgent present by the mythic power of Hollywood’s past.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    It’s all too seldom that a feature film combines brilliant acting with a spellbinding flow of language.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The film doesn't play it safe, so neither will I. Instead, I'll say that it finds Mr. Tarantino perched improbably but securely on the top of a production that's wildly extravagant, ferociously violent, ludicrously lurid and outrageously entertaining, yet also, remarkably, very much about the pernicious lunacy of racism and, yes, slavery's singular horrors.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    The members of the cast represent ensemble, naturalistic acting at its finest.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    Against all odds, an unquenchable artist has made yet another piece of powerful art.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Morgenstern
    This isn’t only a wise and graceful film but, in its tossed-off way, a great one, with a debut performance — by a young actress named Lou Roy-Lecollinet — that will prove to be unforgettable.

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