Lawrence Toppman
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For 1,442 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 56% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 41% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 4.5 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Lawrence Toppman's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 64
Highest review score: 100 Touching the Void
Lowest review score: 0 Left Behind
Score distribution:
1,442 movie reviews
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    What director Jan Hrebejk and writer Petr Jarchovský are talking about is the Czech Republic, ravaged for decades by communism and then left to fend for itself in a world to which it can scarcely adjust.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Rodriguez' inner peace wins us over. He seems to have enjoyed recording music, fathering kids, cleaning houses, playing sold-out gigs and simply strumming a guitar in his kitchen. Searching for Sugar Man reminds us that a wise man knows lasting riches are never the result of record sales.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Though the writing isn't always specific, Williams is. He differentiates between the murderer in "Insomnia," who wants a cop to understand his motives, and Sy, who realizes no one ever could.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Like a story-spinner from the "Tales of the Arabian Nights," Steven Spielberg begins by demanding we accept impossible things. If we do, his spell can enchant us; if not, it must vanish like colored smoke.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The result owes a little to the 1927 "Metropolis," a little to film noir, a little to early depictions of H.G. Wells' science fiction -- notably the 1936 "Things to Come" -- and a little to lovably far-fetched sci-fi serials.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Wallenda once said, "Life is being on the wire; everything else is just waiting." This film makes that motto ring true.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Anyone who saw the Oscar-nominated Mulligan in "An Education" knows what she can do. If you didn't, you're in for the kind of quietly revelatory acting that portends a brilliant career.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Disney's updated, animated version respects its source material while aiming at kids who grew up with extreme sports and edgy music.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    This documentary makes a terrible kind of sense. It reminds us that something we take for granted, like air, can be sold to us – if we can afford it. And if we can't, what happens then?
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Mikkelsen, like Jimmy Stewart, projects emotions with a slight twitch of a lip or narrowing of an eye. His long face - often handsome, sometimes plain, always cryptic - yields secrets slowly; you have to watch an entire film to know how his character feels and how you feel about him.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The director lingers over images, watching builders at work or Baran at her chores; the camera often seems to daydream, like Lateef. No grand climax caps the film, but the small incidents have a cumulative effect.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    It gives such a down-to-Earth view of the joys, terrors, boredom, anxieties and camaraderie in a war zone.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Each major character is complex, none more so than Bill. He's almost Shakespearean in scope.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Director Stephen Frears...drops down to the underclass in "DPT," examining the ways in which educated illegals fight off despair, poverty and extradition.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    I've heard that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. By that standard, the U.S. "War on Drugs" seems crazy indeed in The House I Live In.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    No matter what character Don Cheadle has played in his 23-year career, he's always seemed to be holding something back...Until Talk to Me.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The film's main virtue, a large virtue indeed, is that it does not give anything away before its shockingly apt time.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The terrific Spellbound really isn't about the ability to tear words apart letter by letter. It's about nerve-wracking competitiveness.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Kandahar found itself in real-life controversy last December, when one of its actors was accused of murder.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    One of those rare thrillers where the cops aren't fools, villains don't turn stupid at crucial moments, and career assassins seldom miss targets.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    You won't forget Nobody Knows, the quietly harrowing tale of four abandoned Japanese children.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Charming Stuart Little improves on original tale.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Finally! For the first time, Hollywood has made a whimsical, witty, feature-length version of Dr. Seuss that's neither overblown nor smutty nor emotionally hollow.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Haneke peels back the layers of Georges Laurent as slowly and dispassionately as a scientist dissecting a diseased mouse. The ending arrives with the power and inevitability of Greek drama.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Nolan’s tale is not only a trip through mental labyrinths but a reminder that memories may cripple us, unless we learn to let them go.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    It's a unique vision of war from the point of view of a Marine who never pulled a trigger against a foe.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Max
    Menno Meyjes' provocative film might be called an example of the haphazardness of evil.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    A lot of chaotic fun.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The simple, utterly satisfying Premium Rush delivers just what the title promises.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Perhaps Zeitlin isn't really making an issue of class distinctions. Maybe he's just suggesting that we don't know these people very well, and our lives would be richer if we did.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The film's full of in-jokes, from the Spanish-language billboards to the name of Banderas' character.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The saga regains its grandeur with a complicated but easy-to-follow story. The characters are as satisfying as the effects.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    This film has two of Fincher's happiest trademarks: It's full of information and stretches over a remarkably long time (165 minutes), yet it's neither confusing nor overextended.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    It's tense, strangely funny in a lot of spots and – if you grew up loving old-fashioned, seat-of-the-pants baseball, as I did – the most depressing movie of the year.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    You may not realize the imprint it has left until its last season comes to a close.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The writer-director waited until he had the clout, budget and prestige to attract a top-flight cast, then turned Colored Girls into a movie with a little less darkness but plenty of heart and guts.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The best war movies don't preach against war: They remind us of the costs for soldiers and families and ask us to consider whether those costs are worth paying. The Messenger does that without firing a bullet or putting us on a battlefield.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Fierce, fast and funny.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Evans makes a terrific raconteur, imitating voices and putting us behind the scenes.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    In an era when most scripts are written by committees of monkeys, hearing one man's intelligent voice is an almost forgotten pleasure.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    It's an approachable film that handles a serious topic deftly and offers a fresh take on a familiar subject.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    McNamara's too mentally adroit to let Morris pin blame or guilt on him, and the director's not interested in shaming him.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Writers Rasmus Heisterberg and Nicolaj Arcel are known in America for the original version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." This film is the exact opposite: stately instead of propulsive, emotionally warm instead of chilly, lit by candles and sun instead of flashlights and neon.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The two male leads, bulwarks of the Danish film industry for more than a decade, play off each other like the veterans they are.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Bizarrely entertaining and brilliantly designed.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    You can say nothing of Castle-Hughes except that she's already a movie star: The camera loves her and we do, too.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Plays out like a sprinter competing in his first distance race: It bursts forth with tremendous energy, sustains itself for quite a while, loses steam near the end but finishes ahead of most of the pack.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The best action movie of the month contains chase scenes, fights, a love story, exotic locations - well, one exotic locale, snow-blasted Antarctica - and a battle for survival against long odds amid brutal conditions.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Supplies the three key elements of the best political thrillers: suspense, credibility and the feeling that you're really sitting in the Oval Office.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Whatever you think of gay people (or politicians), you may find the movie compelling viewing.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Every time it starts to feel like something we have known, we realize how unlike us these Iranian characters are.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    But as cynical as I may have been going in, I came out a believer.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    British director Stephen Walker approached this project with wide-eyed good humor.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Why on earth didn't Warner Bros. release this movie in time for Oscar consideration? Sure, it's bleak, depressing, sometimes painful to watch. But it would have been one of the best pictures of the year, and Nicholson (who hasn't done work of this caliber since "The Crossing Guard") might have been on the podium again.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    When I first heard about Wordplay, I assumed I wouldn't have an ort of interest.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Zero Dark Thirty, like the mission that inspired it, commands respect, admiration, even awe in places for the logistical nightmares that had to be overcome to get it done. But it's a hard movie to love.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Raymond Wong, who has become Chow's favorite composer, iced this cake with music that sounds like Beethoven, Henry Mancini's jazz and all the James Bond themes run together in a blender.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Crowe gave Kate Hudson one pointer while making Almost Famous: Her character simply had to light up every room as soon as she walked into it.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The most violent scene is dreamlike, and more direct killings are often seen at an angle or from a distance. The camera placement is thoughtful and effective, never titillating.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Gibney also made the Oscar-nominated "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," and he gets remarkable access to people you wouldn't expect to talk to him (including U.S. interrogators charged with crimes at Bagram).
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The result is one of the twistiest thrillers in recent memory.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Can there be higher praise for a motion picture designed to capture a beloved book with fidelity, thoroughness and affection? Only this: They made it better.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The superb Trintignant and the Oscar-nominated Riva – who would win, in a just world – embody once-vigorous people in inevitable decline. Yet as another critic has said, the film is sad without being depressing.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Did we need another Spider-Man this quickly? Debatable. But if you wanted a new interpretation – especially one where story and action stay in the right balance – this is it.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Impassioned concert sequences with Ben Harper, Chaka Khan, Gerald Levert and especially Joan Osborne prove the Brothers' balanced approach still works on Motown chestnuts.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The results require immense patience but also reward it immensely.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    A richly satisfying adaptation of Louis Sachar's novel.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Perelman and Otto make auspicious, nearly flawless debuts.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The coolest film in town offers industrial espionage, power struggles, thwarted romance, betrayal and suspense - and best of all, it's true.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    If this new film doesn't quite go to 11, it's a healthy 8½.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Most movies about people passing themselves off as the opposite sex can't sustain the illusion, but "Nobbs" does.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    A feature film as odd, personal and sometimes mundane as his (Pekar) comics.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    (Cusack) has never been more effective onscreen.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    His height didn't stop independent writer-director Thomas McCarthy from casting his friend in The Station Agent, scoring a triumph for both.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Another of Charlotte native Ross McElwee's musings about his family, history (this time the tobacco industry) and life. It may be his best.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    A wicked comedy with just the mildest amount of pathos to season the blend.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Penn, one of Hollywood's most famous iconoclasts, must have felt instinctive sympathy with someone who told the whole world in general to leave him alone.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    W.
    You'll be disappointed if you expect famed leftist Oliver Stone to apply a coup de grace to this man.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The movie is the usual kind of film biography of a respected figure from the distant past - honorable, oversimplified, handsome.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    South African director Neill Blomkamp set and shot the film around his native Johannesburg, so parallels to apartheid leap to mind. Yet the script he wrote with Terri Tatchell applies to any culture that bluntly excludes another.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    A potent environmental message wrapped up in an irresistibly cute romance between robots.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Examines Muslim family's religious warfare.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The film's an irresistible time capsule of that Camelot summer, blending girrrrrl power, social consciousness and faux-'60s pop with the fizz of a soda jerk whipping up a root beer float.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    I have never seen elementary schoolers more passionate about education than the ones I met at a school in rural Kenya, not far from the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    A love story more involved than I can easily explain.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Has more twists than the Pacific Coast Highway and more layers than a stack of silver-dollar pancakes. If you can wrap your mind around one unlikely condition, the picture provides unalloyed pleasure for connoisseurs of cinematic con artists.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The film was reputedly inspired by Japanese teens who trolled chat rooms to find predators, made assignments, then ganged up to beat offending adults.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The songs are pure joy, for them and for us.
    • Charlotte Observer
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Reflective, touching, intimate portrait of a samurai facing action in his waning years.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Brilliantly interweaves stories that take place decades apart, and features stellar work by three of the best English-speaking actresses: Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    A taut, consistently surprising political thriller with a sting in its tail.
    • Charlotte Observer
    • 84 Metascore
    • 83 Lawrence Toppman
    If we admire anything about him, it’s entrepreneurship; there’s something uniquely American about a guy outrunning his own death by turning suffering into profit. And as a judge asks, why shouldn’t a dying man be allowed to try any remedy for his disease?
    • 56 Metascore
    • 83 Lawrence Toppman
    Once you accept that he (Neeson) has the badge and gun, you’re in for an exciting trip.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 83 Lawrence Toppman
    Is “feel-good” a bad word? Critics often think so. But when a movie explores real emotions en route to its gladdening end, when it takes time to touch on serious issues along the way, it earns the right to make us feel good.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 83 Lawrence Toppman
    Whitaker’s performance reveals a man who unobtrusively changes white people around him – perhaps without trying or even knowing it – through his demeanor and ability.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 83 Lawrence Toppman
    Now comes director Baz Luhrmann, who’s incapable of taking anything literally, and what do we get? The “Gatsby” that, of three I’ve seen and two I’ve read about, seems most faithful to the spirit of Fitzgerald’s superbly sad book. His audacity pays off in a way that may not exactly reproduce the novel but continually illuminates it.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 83 Lawrence Toppman
    Career Girls is a chamber piece: intimate and direct, two voices performing monologues and duets of irony, despair and hope. [29 Aug 1997, p.11E]
    • Charlotte Observer
    • 74 Metascore
    • 83 Lawrence Toppman
    This may be yet another variation on the usual coming-of-age/sisterhood themes so familiar in Disney movies, but who does those better?
    • 72 Metascore
    • 83 Lawrence Toppman
    Eastwood has directed five war movies and acted in others, and he knows there’s no single truth to convey about combat.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 83 Lawrence Toppman
    Miller’s not interested in character development, plot twists or social commentary, with one possible exception. He wanted spectacular stunts, which he achieves with tremendous skill, and a bad-guys-vs.-less-bad-guys pursuit that goes through countless exciting permutations.

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