Joe Morgenstern

Select another critic »
For 2,178 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 The Social Network
Lowest review score: 0 Manderlay
Score distribution:
2178 movie reviews
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    This remarkable piece of antiwar cinema honors its theme, and the movie medium.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    The movie's metaphorical dimensions rarely interfere with the concrete, quirky pleasures of its story. The Flower of My Secret is Mr. Almodovar's most entertaining work since his phenomenal "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown." [15 Mar 1996]
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    What it's about is also what it requires for proper appreciation -- the ability of the human mind to hold, and even cherish, diametrically opposite thoughts.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Toward the end of this loose-jointed and endearing new film, a freshman says to her boyfriend, “It’s kind of beautiful that we get to feel passion in this world—about anything.” She and he, and everyone around them, have passion to burn, and we get to feel great about them.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    This isn't entertainment in any conventional sense, but it's a mesmerizing film all the same.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    While the film handles itself well in the ring, it's brilliant in the arena of a blue-collar family that brutalizes its younger son and best hope for worldly success in the name of sustaining him.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Meticulously crafted and beautifully performed.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    In what I think may be the filmmaker’s plan, all that stuff — that maddeningly cacophonous Stuff — is what we’re meant to cut through and get past in order to become as alert and alive as the star of Mr. Godard’s movie. In this interpretation, it’s the pooch who points the way toward perceiving beauty by learning to live in the vibrant, fragrant present.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A captivating entertainment for the holiday season and well beyond.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A marvelous story.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    The Dark Horse brings Cliff Curtis back home, and he gives a performance that’s transcendent in more ways than one.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Judged, though, as the action extravaganza it means to be, Rise of the Planet of the Apes wins high marks for originality, and takes top honors for spectacle.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    The Past plays out within narrower bounds than "A Separation," and often at lower velocity — a few moments feel almost Chekhovian. Yet the film is commanding in its own right, another exploration of a volatile situation — an estranged husband returning from Iran when his wife requests a divorce — in which flashes of insight or understanding lead to new mysteries.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A magnificent concert film of Latino jazz.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A spectacular record of rehearsals for a show that wasn't to be.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Never lacks for extravagance — the film looks as striking as it sounds — and some of the tales certainly seem outlandish. Yet they’re part of a truly remarkable origin story that the film and its subjects explore with uncommon thoughtfulness and depth of feeling.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    This is only the second feature for the director: the first was "True Adolescents." But Mr. Johnson's work with his actors is impeccable, and his style is freewheeling.
    • 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Real life is not the movie's concern. Mr. Anderson's lovely confection — that's a pastry metaphor — keeps us smiling, and sometimes laughing out loud. Yet acid lurks in the cake's lowest layers.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Hardy's Brooklyn accent is not only flawless — a Londoner by birth, he's a vocal chameleon who played a Welshman in "Locke" — but tinged, I do believe, with a blithe, spot-on tribute to a blue-collar guy from another borough, Ernest Borgnine's immortal Marty. Here's a far-from-minor performance by a major star in the making.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Deeply affecting.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    A thrillingly, thoroughly wonderful film.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    This is hardly a film to recommend as entertainment. As an act of remembrance, though, it is singular and, in its way, soaring.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Nair's movie, far from being paste, is a string of small, exquisite gems.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Blissfully funny, terrifically intelligent and tender when you least expect it to be.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    I can't say enough about the way Enough Said keeps its scintillating sense of humor as it grows deeper and more affecting.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    What makes the film enthralling is the wisdom and grace with which it addresses the twin subjects of grief and healing, and the quiet beauty of Mohamed Fellag's performance in the title role.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    The energy is genuine, and the level of invention is remarkable, sustained as it is by Mr. Baseman's genially garish art, Timothy Bjoerklund's direction from a script by Bill and Cherie Steinkellner, and Nathan Lane's madly passionate performance as the canine who was famously born on the wrong end of a leash.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Remarkably accomplished and self-confident. In dramatic terms The Attack borrows a page from Alfred Hitchcock's playbook — an innocent in a strange land, delving into dangerous matters he doesn't understand. In political terms, though, the script is unsparing and ultimately bleak. It doesn't justify terrorism, but it does dramatize the rage and despair that dominate life in the occupied territories.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    Why, then, am I so pleased with Easy A? Because the movie, despite a few flaws, seems to have been made by higher intelligence, and because it catapults Emma Stone into a higher place reserved for American actors who can handle elevated language with casually dazzling aplomb.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    These miniatures magnify their subjects, and ennoble them. The picture is anguishing to see, but it isn't missing anymore.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Joe Morgenstern
    As a thriller, The Town has what it takes and then some.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Delightful and insightful romantic comedy.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Diane Keaton has the crucial role, and she makes the most of it.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    News management is the main issue. Control Room shows how coverage is tailored to fit the audience, both by al-Jazeera and its Western counterparts.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Growth is the film's subtext, and finally its subject. Never has a line of dialogue been more freighted with symbolism, or more grounded in literal reality, than when Barbu says, ever so quietly, "Mother, please unlock me."
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    What's exceptional is the orchestration of color, form, light and dark (lots of dark), 3-D technology and digital effects into a look that amounts to a vision.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    From start to almost finish, Man Up, directed by Ben Palmer from a terrific script by Tess Morris, sustains a remarkably high level of verbal invention. Mr. Pegg, a superb comic actor in his own right, serves as an endearingly frantic foil to Ms. Bell, whose lips, larynx, facial features and thought processes all move at Mach 2 speed.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    She is revealed in all her complexity by Mr. Björkman’s film, in which passages from his subject’s letters, notes and diaries are read by the fine young Swedish actress Alicia Vikander. “I don’t demand much,” the film quotes her as saying. “I just want everything.” She got a lot, and gave immeasurably more.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    With someone else in the central role, Gloria might have been cloyingly sentimental or downright maudlin. With Ms. García on hand, it's a mostly convincing celebration of unquenchable energy.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    "Just One More Chance," Billie Holiday implores on the soundtrack. The nice paradox of Arbitrage is that we're interested to see whether Robert gets one, even though he's the villain-in-chief of a suspense thriller whose plot turns on generalized scurrilousness. That's a tribute to Mr. Jarecki's smart writing, and to the take-no-prisoners performance of Mr. Gere.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    A fine, heartfelt film, sometimes harrowing in its violence but blessedly free of pretension or bombast, even though it aspires to -- and achieves -- the stature of a classic Western.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Clark Terry the teacher sometimes talks like a trumpet, even though he's dealing with a pianist—"daddle-leedle-daddle-loodle" is how he wants Justin to play one phrase. Clark Terry the man personifies generosity, and it's lovely to behold.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    If Dope were as earnest as Malcolm seems to be, you might expect it to be a bit of a bore. No worries on that count, though. Mr. Famuyiwa has a sleeve full of aces.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Mark Ruffalo is yet again a revelation in Infinitely Polar Bear, and he’s not the only one. This is a first feature by Maya Forbes, yet many of its accomplishments put far more experienced filmmakers in the shade.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Quietly affecting and surprisingly dramatic, so long as you're willing to watch it unfold at its own deliberate pace.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Pandya tells a story of conflicted assimilation that's been told before, but he and his exuberant cast invest it with fresh energy and winning humor.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Pride may not be a model of impeccable craftsmanship, but it's a fine example of turning a terrific subject into a gleeful event. It's also an example of the power of entertainment — of entertainment within entertainment.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    The payoff is sneakily profound — sneakily because this small-scale drama grabs you when you least expect it, often with the help of the dog.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Ms. Miller proves to be an original, setting her comic characters in motion like mini-planets that spin in eccentric but overlapping orbits.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    It’s really funny, though, an animated sendup of comic-book epics that vanquishes solemnity with the power of supersilliness.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Like Father, Like Son has still more on its mind — a vision of a Japan in which work will be balanced with leisure and love.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    A harrowing lesson in unintended -- and intended -- consequences.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    It's tempting to see Beyond the Hills solely as an indictment of religion, but the film is more ambitious than that. Ignorance and superstition aren't confined to the convent; people in town, including the cops, drop casual references to witchcraft as if it were part of everyday life. The broader subject is possession by primitive ideas.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Long and winding though it may be, Road to Perdition gets to places that are well worth the trip.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    The movie is serious, intelligent, intentionally claustrophobic and awfully somber -- you remember it in black and white, though it was shot (by the masterful Tak Fujimoto) in color. But you'll remember Mr. Cooper's performance for exactly what it is, an uncompromising study in the gradual decay of a soul.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Training Day can be simplistic, formulaic and absurdly melodramatic -- but Mr. Washington is flat-out great.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    An enchanting documentary by Ceyda Torun, operates on three levels, and we’re not speaking metaphorically here.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    What's on screen is a gorgeous grab bag of notions: ardent love, a salute to Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain," a bit of "Camille" and a lot — I mean a lot — of nuts-and-bolts stuff about nuts and bolts.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    The film's point of view is inevitably that of an outsider, which Danny Pearl was, and menace is the essence of this shattering story, which has been told with skill and urgent conviction. A Mighty Heart makes the terms of the terrorist threat palpable.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    The film grows on you too, a later-stage version of "The Big Chill" that starts schematically and ends as a stirring celebration.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Doubt leaves none in one respect: John Patrick Shanley was the right person to direct this fascinating screen version of his celebrated play.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    A genuinely eccentric comedy that explodes with funny ideas and expresses most of them in wildly original animation.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    The hurtling action, speaking louder than any dialogue, gives a stirring sense of the suffering and heroism that flowed from the terror at the Boylston Street finish line.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    An act of expiation, Land of Mine is honorable, harrowing and stirring.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Blink your eyes and you've lost track of them, but one of the interesting things about the experience is that you don't want to lose track; though the film moves as slowly as its hikers, it demands, and deserves, to be watched closely. (The cinematographer was Inti Briones.)
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    For him (Schneebaum) it's a journey of stunning rediscovery. For us it's the discovery of a brave soul.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Ron Howard's Depression-era movie also works from the inside out, building a classic underdog drama from depth of character, rich texture, vivid detail and stirring performances.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    The film, produced in conjunction with NASA, also fulfills its inspirational function with screen-filling, soul-filling views of the main space station in the story — the one that harbors all our lives and hopes.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Black Book is its own kind of thriller. The film is filled with the genre's conventions -- suspense, betrayal, melodrama, violence, music -- and it's hugely enjoyable from start to finish.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    I laughed myself silly through most of A Mighty Wind, and was pleasantly surprised when it took a turn toward genuine feeling near the end.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    The director, Kevin Macdonald, searches for clarity amid the contradictions of Marley's life and reaches no conclusions, but that's a tribute to his subject's complexity in a film of fascinating too-muchness.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    A surprising, entirely beguiling little film.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Period pieces can be marvelous or musty, depending on the period, as well as the piece. Soul Power is marvelous.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Like Crazy develops slowly, and threatens at first to be just another movie about beautiful young people in the Age of Fraught Relationships. It's much more than that, though. Without belaboring any issues, it speaks volumes about fear of commitment.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    What’s admirable about Pioneer is its succession of interesting environments, both below and above the water’s surface, and the quietly appealing figure at the center of the international intrigue.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    [Kore-eda's] latest film, though, has a special warmth and grace. It unfolds slowly, sneaks up on big questions about intertwined mysteries of family and personal destiny, and pretty much answers them, though the biggest question for Ryota is whether he’ll be changed by what he learns.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    The BFG has fizz to spare. It’s an effervescent charmer.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    For all its awkward structure, the film is heartfelt and deeply affecting.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    The performances are nothing less than astonishing. It's easy to understand why the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival went to both actresses, though not easy for me to see why the movie itself was included in the unprecedented joint award.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Uncommonly smart and interesting.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    One of the wittiest comedies to come our way in a very long time.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Any movie with these two comics is a trip and a half. How about France for the next one? A perfect way to revisit Michael Caine.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    A surprisingly agile and delightfully warm romantic comedy.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Wonderfully fresh and affecting fable from India.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Director, Darren Aronofsky, and the writer, Robert D. Siegel, have turned the story of this washed-up faux gladiator into a film of authentic beauty and commanding consequence.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    It's a fleeting but memorable image in a film that defines Leonard Cohen largely through the admiration of fellow artists, who performed his songs at a tribute concert last year at the opera house in Sydney, Australia. Their admiration borders on the reverential, but reverence doesn't get in the way of their performances, which are varied, impassioned and thrilling.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    The film is neither kind nor cruel, but wise, great-spirited and wonderfully enjoyable. It’s an addled dream of beauty unlike any other.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Z for Zachariah asks us to suspend a good deal of disbelief. Ann is absurdly beautiful, and Ms. Robbie emerges as a full-fledged star, even though her performance is precise and understated.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    The violence is graphic, the dialogue can be awfully arch and the style is often mannered, but this long, dense adventure takes surprising side trips into thoughtfulness, ruefulness, whimsy and romance. It's high-grade entertainment sustained by a buoyant spirit.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Unexpectedly thoughtful, as well as touching.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    A win-win situation in which a mainstream feature works equally well as stirring entertainment and a history lesson about a remarkable convergence of sports and statesmanship.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    The film, directed with exceptional flair and elegant concision by Scott Cooper, even comes from Warner Bros., the studio that specialized in psychopathic monsters played by such stars as James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson during Hollywood’s golden age.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    Talladega Nights may be brash, unbridled, even unhinged, but its cornpone humor is rich in parody, and its craftsmanship is superb -- smart writing, shrewd direction, precisely calibrated performances (whether the calibration calls for delicacy or broad-gauge burlesque), inventive language, inspired silliness and all-but-flawless timing.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    One of the film's best moments of deliciousness comes with the revelation that Yoshikazu, rather than his father, made the sushi that won the Michelin inspectors over; so much for working humbly in the old man's shadow.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    This is not a drama of shadings, but of ever-increasing intensity.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Joe Morgenstern
    What makes "The Winter Soldier" so enjoyable, though, and what will make it so profitable, is its emotional bandwidth — all the vivid, nuanced life lived by its characters in between their frenzied escapades.

Top Trailers