For 726 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 59% higher than the average critic
  • 4% same as the average critic
  • 37% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 6.9 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Joe Williams' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 Django Unchained
Lowest review score: 25 After Earth
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 56 out of 726
726 movie reviews
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    Up in the Air may not end up as the best picture -- that will be decided by the Academy -- but it has landed in the middle of the discussion because it's laser-focused and right on time.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    The combination of a literate script, an adroit cast and an economical style is simple addition that achieves an alchemical feat: the best film of the year.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    An exciting cloak-and-dagger thriller.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    Winter's Bone is the best film of the year.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    The Tree of Life is a religious experience. Overtly. Audaciously. Unashamedly. No film has ever reached as high toward the face of God and, in our commodified future, few are likely to try.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    Beauty comes to us unexpectedly. That's the message of Poetry, a Korean movie about an aging housemaid that turns out to be one of the best films of the year.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    Not just a reboot - it's a rejuvenation. From the first image of sensory awakening to the final acceptance of adult responsibility, it pulses with the warm blood of a very human hero.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    That action is bloody, but Fiennes' choices as director are unassailably apt and artful. Coriolanus is a triumph.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    The conclusion of Christopher Nolan's superhero trilogy is a hugely ambitious mix of eye candy and brain food. If it doesn't have the haunting aftertaste of the previous serving, that's only because Nolan couldn't clone Heath Ledger. But beefy substitute Tom Hardy is a hell of a villain.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    The best film of the year and perhaps the purest love story in cinematic history.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    With a fearless director and his mighty pen freeing a talented cast to attack a vital theme, Django Unchained is damnation unleashed.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    With such supercharged material under the hood, a magnetic man behind the wheel and a nimble director manning the pits, Senna is simply the greatest sports film I have ever seen.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    When films are good, actors and directors get a lot of the credit that should go to the screenwriters. In the case of Silver Linings Playbook, which is one of the best films of the year, there is a popcorn bowl of glory to go around.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    The Master is not a schematic attack on a particular religion. It is a brilliantly conceived and powerfully realized work of art, with complex characters, exquisite images and ambiguously big ideas.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    It starts as a bittersweet parable about the cruelty of commerce, but the wonder of Searching for Sugar Man will not soon slip away.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    Surrender, earthlings. It’s the Guardians’ world and you’ll be happy to live in it.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    Perilous incidents have riveted audiences since Pauline was tied to the railroad tracks, but in the hundred-year history of cinema, few thrillers have been as emotionally compelling as The Impossible.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    With a title taken from an American Indian word for "life out of balance," Godfrey Reggio's wordless documentary lured dreamers into the sacred cave of cinema, where they ingested the serial music of Philip Glass and the time-lapse imagery of cinematographer Ron Fricke.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    As much as anything, the wildly entertaining ’70s flashback American Hustle is a triumph of style.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    Her
    Her may be the most technologically astute movie since Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: a Space Odyssey.” And as the friendly ghost in the machine, Samantha is a more inviting companion for the great leap forward than HAL9000 could ever dream of being.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    After feeding on this sweet buffet, sated cinephiles will want to call the front desk to extend their stay.
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Joe Williams
    The film would be incalculably different if the lead role had been divided between two or three young actors for a conventional shoot. But Linklater’s patience allows us to see a thoughtful personality being formed both on and off the screen.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    What makes it special is Eastwood's ability to artfully and concisely tell a story, and Morgan Freeman's wonderfully understated turn as South African President Nelson Mandela.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Although Precious is based on a novel, it's an act of truth-telling on behalf of a character in hellish enslavement.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    The reason District 9 reverberates so loudly is because its moral indignation is cranked to 11.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    As they build up steam, two powerful actors keep us wondering whether this train is bound for war or peace.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    With its exploded notions of heroism, torture-rack dramatics and kamikaze gusto, it's a fiendishly entertaining flick.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    For the many mavens who aren't familiar with Varda, this autobiographical documentary will be puzzling, in the best and most literal sense.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    A movie that will be discovered, embraced and shared with friends like a favorite record album.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    By turning a whistle-blower into a tragicomic figure, Soderbergh sustains our interest in a complicated financial scheme and rewards it with a kickback of ghastly laughs.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Although it's sly and sardonic, Police, Adjective is as rigorous as a tea ceremony -- or a Stalinist re-education camp.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    With exquisitely simple images and minimal dialogue, Seraphine is both haunting and humane.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    It sustains a palpable fatalism in such recurring details as a whirring buzz saw and the cry of a loon, while the static camera and lack of musical cues enable some unforeseeable plot twists.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Anyone suggesting that an Italian film could rival the style and grandeur of "The Godfather" might end up sleeping with the fishes. But Il Divo delivers.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Soul Power is both a funk-tastic time capsule and a timeless celebration of the human spirit.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    This is a kaleidoscopic valentine to a great city from a director who knows and loves his subject.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Maybe I enjoyed the similarly themed Kick-Ass because it took me back to that innocent time. Or maybe it's because this is the most brazenly funny bloodbath unleashed on the public since "Pulp Fiction."
    • 89 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    A miniaturist's masterpiece, the ebb and flow of familial love distilled to its essence.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Near the two-minute warning, Big Fan becomes chillingly unpredictable.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Ajami is neither a puzzle nor a polemic. It's an admirably even-handed portrait of life in an occupied ghetto that is bounded by checkpoints. Everyone we meet is a more or less honorably motivated victim of circumstance. That the circumstances were inscribed centuries ago makes Ajami a tragedy of biblical proportions.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    A charming throwback filled with authentic characters.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Vincere, which translates as the battle cry "Win!" is like invisible ink on the ledger of war, a secret record of love and loss.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    For a public that's been bullied by the tastemakers, the mystery is a gift. Once we exit this fun house, the only giant left to obey is ourselves.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    An evolutionary leap forward, a visually exquisite film that doesn't ignore the truths of pollution and predatory survival.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    It's a wholly successful sequel - audacious, entertaining and bracingly pertinent.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    May be too sterile and stylized to elicit real tears, but it's got brains and heart to spare.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    It's a well-earned curtain call for some of the most beloved characters in one of the best-sustained feats of recent cinema.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Although it alludes to romantic conventions, with overt references to Hollywood history and an overemphatic jazz soundtrack, Wild Grass is neither poignant nor zany. It's an exercise in artifice, not unlike David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive" set in the City of Lights. I'm sure the French have a word for it, but je ne sais quoi it is.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    The funniest movie of the year.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    There's a running joke that this epic of also-ran heroism is set in eternally modest Toronto; but its real locale is an alternate universe without parents or the unhip.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Builds beautifully from a farcical premise that requires a suspension of disbelief to a musical climax that washes away our cynicism in a wave of honest tears.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Nowhere Boy is too astutely written and directed to go to predictably melodramatic extremes.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    A distinctly European exercise in observational nuance and tonal restraint in which Coppola stretches static images to the breaking point.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    It's true that the movie is both emotionally violent and sexually explicit. Yet these scenes from a marriage are crafted with such attention to detail and overarching honesty that Blue Valentine touches the heart.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Whether true or a hoax, I'm Still Here represents real risk-taking that I can only applaud.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    You might expect a cartoon about a man and his dog to be strictly for kids, but My Dog Tulip, based on a memoir by J.R. Ackerley, has a psychological richness and anatomical explicitness that is very grown-up.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    For a nation at war with its own values, Fair Game is a compelling, pertinent and scrupulously true political thriller in the honorable tradition of "All the President's Men."
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Hogancamp's alliance with director Jeff Malmberg in this artful and poignant film marks a victory in the war against the self.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    The King's Speech is the epitome of prestige cinema, an impeccably crafted and emotionally compelling drama that deserves the many laurels it surely will receive.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    True Grit is just a couple bloody gunfights removed from an old-fashioned Disney yarn. Yet it's still unmistakably a Coen brothers movie, from the stray weirdness of a bearskin-clad dentist to the bulls-eye delights of the dialogue.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    The Illusionist has surprises up its sleeve that are unusually nuanced for an animated movie.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    This humane movie is an ode to joy, albeit of the mature sort.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Rango is iconic like a spaghetti Western, smart like a '70s conspiracy thriller and lively like a Coen brothers comedy.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    To ensure customer loyalty, Hollywood should promote more movies about workaday life in the provinces, but until there's a new wave of midcoast comedies, Cedar Rapids is the big kahuna.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Like the previous seven movies, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 obliviates the line between art and craft, but the witchcraft conjured for this satisfying finale is uniquely generous.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    The best kind of comic-book movie. It's stylish and spectacular, yet it's rooted in history and human emotions. It's smart yet it's funny. It's wise yet it kicks ass when it has to. Just like the U.S. of A.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Kristen Wiig is the best sketch comic alive, and Bridesmaids should finally make her a movie star.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Although you don't have to be a sports fan to enjoy it, Moneyball is one of the best baseball movies imaginable.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    An Oscar-ready collaboration between a great director and a star at the peak of his powers, but at its heart is a message in a bottle reading: "Trapped in paradise. Please send help."
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    For cinematic sojourners, Hugo is a trip to the moon.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Notwithstanding the characters’ spiritual camaraderie, Salles’ emphasizes the hard physical labor and loneliness in Sal’s story, including the jittery rigors of the writing process. When he reaches a crossroads choice between down-and-out Dean and his own rising career, Sal senses that except for the words on a typewritten scroll, his life on the road is gone, real gone.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    As an homage to an influential director, Submarine blows "Super 8" out of the water.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Ferrell's dryly understated performance is a shorthand for an alcoholic's denial and repressed rage, and as Nick grows increasingly desperate for a drink, he keeps his anger stashed like a last beer for emergencies.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Notwithstanding exquisite images that evoke Terrence Malick's "Days of Heaven," city-slicker audiences may find themselves getting saddle sore. But those with the courage to explore uncharted territory will be rewarded with a rough gem of a movie.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    The performance is both an eerie imitation and a touching revelation. Oscar voters who overlooked Williams for her camouflage roles in "Brokeback Mountain," "Wendy and Lucy" and "Blue Valentine" should now throw diamonds at her feet.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    An artfully observant and unexpectedly moving documentary.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Both arduous and artful, City of Life and Death is the best imaginable movie about the genocidal siege that's now called the Rape of Nanking. Anything more explicit would be unwatchable; anything more contemplative would be a betrayal of the sustained suffering.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    The action is contained within a coherent dramatic structure and the puzzle-box paranoia of spy-agency protocol.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Imagine an opulent movie palace that was 30,000 years old, with posters preserved on the curving walls and the bones of the Stone Age patrons peacefully sleeping in the fairy dust. That's essentially what archeologists found in a French canyon in 1994 and what Werner Herzog brings back to life in the extraordinary documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Ultimately Skyfall is rooted in tradition - and in British soil. A pastoral drive to Bond's boyhood home (in a kind of car that will delight purists) opens the gates to some psychological background, and given the true-love subtext of "Casino Royale," it's not surprising that there's an emotional payoff here.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    A blast, the best action movie of the summer.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    The richly constructed first hour is so superior to any feat of sci-fi speculation since "Minority Report" that the bland aftertaste of the chase finale is quickly forgotten.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    There's so much higher intelligence in Project Nim that simply digesting it feels like evolutionary progress.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    An eye-opening primer in cross-species similarity. We learn that apes are violent and territorial but also that they are capable of creativity and tenderness.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    When the two men compare impersonations of Michael Caine or Sean Connery, Brydon's version is always slightly better - and Coogan knows it.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Beautifully but simply wrought by director Cindy Meehl, this deft documentary is a poignant reappraisal of what it means to be human.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    It's not warm and fuzzy, but for kids who comprehended "Coraline" and babysitters who savored "The Corpse Bride," this stop-motion marvel from some of the same animators is like an early Halloween treat.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    May be too cute to qualify as high art, but it's highly entertaining.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    An art-history lesson and a spiritual exercise disguised as a movie.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Shannon's powerfully imploded performance ignites one of the best films of the year.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    At the confluence of altered states and state-sanctioned violence, this drug-fueled thriller is Stone's most successfully provocative picture since "JFK."
    • 72 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Star Trek Into Darkness offers much of what the fans expect and not much of what they don't. This character-driven vehicle is a supercharged example of cinematic craftsmanship.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Clear-eyed, fearless and ferociously funny, Young Adult is mature filmmaking.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Refusing to hold our hands, director Lynne Ramsay ("Morvern Callar") pushes far beyond the boundaries of topical drama into the realm of the surreal.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Even as it looks to the heavens, Gravity is bound to earth, where the beauty is in the details.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Although it's slow to unfold, this courtroom drama is so timelessly humane and even-handed it feels like it came from the dockets of Solomon - by way of Sidney Lumet.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Before it turns into a great escape flick, Argo is an amusing spoof of the movie biz.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    The tonal shifts, the "Amelie"-style voiceover and the punk-retro soundtrack may jar some viewers who expect uninterrupted violins, but Declaration of War is alternative therapy that really works.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Despite the obvious mismatches involved, this isn’t a simplistic smackdown. Freighted with weighty issues, Captain Phillips is a film worth debating.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Until a devastatingly effective finale, Monsieur Lazhar is an exercise in delicacy, carried by Fallag's gentle performance and a fine cast of kid actors.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    When a place and its people are this stylish, we can't help but be drawn to them.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    To keep serious cinema from going extinct, this could be sold as "The Hunger Games" cross-bred with "The Lorax," but it's better and more mature than either of those hit movies.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Among recent documentaries, First Position soars to the head of the class.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Do yourself and your kids a favor. On the way to multiplex to see "The Avengers," tell them The Fairy is about an all-powerful superheroine. Someday, they'll find the words to thank you.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    A marvelous piece of work.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    A one-joke movie, but it’s a joke whose recurring rimshots grow as loud as our laughter.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    We can quibble about the punitive punchline of John Gatins' script, but keeping complexity aloft for so long makes Flight a miraculous feat.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Although it's a guilty pleasure, The Queen of Versailles is artful enough that both the prosecution and the defense could invoke it when the peasants cry "Off with their heads!"
    • 67 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Richly photographed and featuring an attractive cast, Farewell, My Queen is a layer cake of royal pleasures, rote protocols and revolutionary politics. For skeptics who thought this story had grown stale, let them eat their words.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Although the story is mournful, the movie is buoyed by a heaven-scented surrealism.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Although the brazen lovers, bellicose ministers and backstabbing handmaidens are familiar elements, the film is so handsomely mounted that we happily endure the ride until the turning of the screws in the tragic last act.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    The film is so masterfully controlled, we feel like we’ve eavesdropped on something like life.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    In its cross-cultural breadth, director Ridley Scott’s smart and violent film merits comparison to Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic,” but the dialogue delivered by the stellar cast is incomparably McCarthy’s.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    The most exhilarating film of the year is also the most exhausting.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    For those who appreciate fiery dialogue delivered by fine actors, August: Osage County is heaven-sent.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Director Lindholm is a graduate of the Dogma school, and he is able to maintain tension with a documentary camera technique, virtually no music and minimal on-screen theatrics.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    It’s not only a fresh and funny spoof of the movie business, it represents a real-life triumph within it.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    A co-star deserving special mention is Nebraska itself, which Payne films in black-and-white to mirror the austerity of life on the de-populated prairie. These corners of the Cornhusker State are as empty as the promise of a sweepstakes prize. In this land of ghosts, one old pioneer tries to grab his stake before he becomes another windblown husk.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    I’m pretty sure it would still be one of the best films of the year if the explicit lesbian sex scenes were censored, but it wouldn’t earn a penny in Peoria.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Best of all is Favreau. Instead of mass-producing another superhero epic, he has given the overfed public a dish of right-sized comfort food.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    It’s a party where we want to stay, until we’re dragged out kicking and screaming.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Iowa-native Gurira has had roles in TV’s “Treme” and “The Walking Dead,” but Mother of George should be the birth of a brilliant film career.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Garcia’s performance, which won the best actress award at last year’s Berlin International Film Festival, is a marvel of self-effacing artistry.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    With a mad captain at the helm, this documentary version of Jodorowsky’s “Dune” is probably more entertaining than what Hollywood would have done to it, with a clearer message: Our lives are like sands though an hourglass, so dream the impossible dream.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    He’s like a globe-trotting Richard Linklater. And with Winterbottom’s first-ever sequel, his “Trip” films now rival Linklater’s “Before” series in charting how a twosome evolves over time. Plus, they’re bloody hilarious.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Directed by Steve James, whose “Hoop Dreams” Ebert hailed as the best film of the 1990s, it’s the kind of documentary the dying man wanted — honest, humane and inclusive.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    One part personal mystery and one part art-appreciation class.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    Co-directors Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos let the painful stories emerge naturally, without prodding questions or talking-head experts who place the boys’ grim lives in the larger context of the post-industrial economy.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 88 Joe Williams
    The Rover is a sterling example of the new Australian noir.