Lawrence Toppman

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For 1,585 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 2.8 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Lawrence Toppman's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 65
Highest review score: 100 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Lowest review score: 0 Left Behind
Score distribution:
1585 movie reviews
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    There’s not a great theme, a great performance or even a great scene in Boyhood. But I think it might be a great picture.
    • 99 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    It may cast a spell on anyone who has known loneliness, exclusion, feelings of inferiority or a desire to be encased in a hard shell to protect a soft interior.
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    We don't find out until the last scene how reality and fantasy intersect, when the meaning of the first shot of the film gets driven home. How many movies have you seen with a payoff like that?
    • 97 Metascore
    • 63 Lawrence Toppman
    It makes "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu" and "12:08 East of Bucharest," the last glum Romanian movies about life under dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, seem merry.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    Ran
    All that matters is that emotions be real, and so they are: wracking grief, harrowing madness, unquenchable hate. Composers have tried and failed to turn "Lear" into a workable opera, but Kurosawa has found the visual equivalent. Yet the last image of a man, solitary and silent, is more haunting than all the destruction. [10 Aug 2001, p.7E]
    • Charlotte Observer
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    Most nations, ours included, still tolerate some form of slavery or indentured servitude. And 12 Years shows the cruelty of denying not only someone’s freedom but his identity. Take away the essence of a human being – whether he’s in fetters or not – and you destroy him.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    The most difficult task in Pixar's 20-year history: to make an un-Mickey-like rodent appealing enough to admire.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The songs are pure joy, for them and for us.
    • Charlotte Observer
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    You can’t exactly call Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity the best film of its kind, because it has no kind: It stands alone as an extraordinary balance of 3-D effects, heroes-in-jeopardy storytelling and emotional depth.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    Yet its visual surrealism, identity-bending and strong social/ecological message make it as much an allegory as a fable.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    David Fincher obsesses about obsessive people.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    The film's proudest boast is that nary a frame comes from documentary footage...Every riot, every explosion, every seemingly spontaneous gundown in the streets of Algiers was staged, then shot in black-and-white stock that intentionally echoes newsreel footage.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    A potent environmental message wrapped up in an irresistibly cute romance between robots.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    I think the trilogy has come to its natural conclusion: However you interpret the ending, we’ve spent enough time with these two people.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    Rampling carries the film, appearing in virtually every scene.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 91 Lawrence Toppman
    Relaxed editing and well-researched set and costumes give us a firm feeling of the period, and Dick Pope (who has worked with Leigh 10 times) excels. It’s a cliche to say a cinematographer does painterly work, but Pope suffuses the screen with light in the way Turner did his canvases.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    I haven’t seen a movie this year with a more brilliant combination of imagination, emotionally moving moments, witty writing, visually interesting details and psychologically accurate behavior than Inside Out.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    U.S. geography doesn't matter to Payne. He always charts the terrain of the human heart, and he's among the wisest of mapmakers.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    Jackson had the vision, persistence, insight and patience for this mighty job, plus the smarts to shape stage veterans and overlooked film actors into a seamless cast. He's made himself as immortal as a movie director can be.
    • 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.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    Director Tom McCarthy, who wrote the script with Josh Singer, has made a film without heroes.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Yi Yi is an intimate movie, for all its length and complexity.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    If “Whiplash” was Damien Chazelle’s bullet train through dark regions of the New York jazz world, La La Land is his leisurely bus tour through sunlit fantasies of life in Los Angeles.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    It's mostly a disturbingly believable portrait of a psychopath whose true depths of rage are buried where none but he can see. The ironically named Plainview does not come into plain view until the last scene, and the lupine, scowling Day-Lewis is mesmerizing in the role.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    Moviegoers are turned off by depressing topics, yet "Diving Bell" supplies something film fans claim they want: pure escapism, the chance to experience extreme sensations virtually none of us will ever have.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    Jackson surpasses the expectations anyone might have had for him with The Fellowship of the Ring, the first installment of his trilogy devoted to J.R.R. Tolkien's masterwork.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    It’s the first Pixar effort that feels less like a creative outpouring and more like an obligation met to satisfy a distribution schedule.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The film moves slowly, yet at exactly the right pace. Long holds on faces let us ponder what’s said and look for visual clues that it may be a lie.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    If you're put off by deliberate filmmaking (or subtitles, though the movie doesn't have much dialogue), you're in the wrong spot. If not, you'll see why voters gave "Atanarjuat," as it's officially called, a 2002 Oscar nomination for best foreign film.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    Like waves lapping quietly at a beach, After Life makes its subtle effect, as we wonder which memory we'd choose. [8 Oct 1999, p.7E]
    • Charlotte Observer
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    Just as moving, uplifting and funny as ever in its slightly modified form. [2002 re-release]
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    It's encouraging to see a nation so aware of its public image and defensive about its military decisions examine a dark day in its history.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    The Coen brothers have never really accepted the idea that a movie has to have a plot. Offbeat characters, sure. Oblique dialogue that sounds meaningful and occasionally is so, absolutely. Eye-catching cinematography and a subtle, mood-reinforcing soundtrack, no question. Irony layered on thickly as cheese in good lasagna, yes. But a narrative that makes sense from end to end? Well, one doesn't have room for everything.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    A spruced-up version has been re-released after 22 years, and the addition of 43 minutes means the story really has room to breathe.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    Her
    Phoenix gives a performance as convincing as he did in “The Master,” and in exactly the opposite direction: gentle, meditative and cerebral, instead of angry, closed-minded and baffled.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    Pixar's employees, masters of computer-generated animation, capture the look of the ocean like no artists before.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    A tribute to anyone who ever picked up a score, a pen, a paintbrush or a grease pencil - or a movie camera.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    It's among the most inventive, screwily funny and consistently surprising movies I've seen in years.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The ex-lovers' new conversation is stimulating and banal, selfish and broad-minded, affectionate and recriminatory, insightful and obtuse - in short, the kind of dialogue two people might have while pouring out their hearts and poring over their pasts.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Among the handsome explosions, wacky effects, slapstick comedy and zooming action sequences of The Incredibles, writer-director Brad Bird is attempting to start a revolution.
    • 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.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    A feature film as odd, personal and sometimes mundane as his (Pekar) comics.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    Qualifies as a solid double, maybe a triple.
    • 90 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.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    This isn’t a history lesson. It’s pure entertainment, an excuse for good actors to romp through a twisting, well-told tale.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 63 Lawrence Toppman
    Coppola lacks a firm grip on this material, and it starts to get away from her midway through.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    He's (Yimou) like a painter combining bloody reds, sunshine yellows and pale blues in the harmony of a masterpiece.
    • 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.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    Cohen and his gang are smart enough to know when to quit. Like a loud but amusing guest at a dinner party, Borat collects his coat and goes home just as his hosts are starting to fidget.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Hungarian writer-director László Nemes makes an extraordinary feature-length debut with this film, which requires us to put together bits of information and leaves us guessing at a few missing pieces.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 91 Lawrence Toppman
    The Dardennes know how to tell low-key stories effectively, and Cotillard’s Academy Award-nominated performance builds toward the unexpected ending.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Talkies may have killed silent movies, the way TV serials and soap operas wiped out radio dramas. But there are stories most effectively told in the old style, and The Artist is proof.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    For all the silliness, Kaufman is posing a serious question: Are we better off forgetting things that brought us pain, especially if we didn't change or grow as a result? You may not agree with his conclusion, but who else in Hollywood would pose this query at all, or explore it in such a daffy, gratifyingly inventive way?
    • 89 Metascore
    • 63 Lawrence Toppman
    Letters covers less emotional ground than its predecessor, because Eastwood and first-time writer Iris Yamashita (who shares a story credit with Paul Haggis) allow Japanese soldiers only three modes of behavior.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    Whatever you feel about Truman Capote, you won't be able to turn away from him here.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 83 Lawrence Toppman
    Anderson leavens the lunacy with a few acts of sudden and extreme violence or avert-your-face sex, which seem as extravagant as the rest of his notions. Perhaps they’re in there to change the flavor of the humor, the way Mendl might put a bitter coffee bean in a chocolate torte to keep it from cloying us.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    A director needs to know how to pace the tale, where to place the camera, how to draw out a shy actor or get out of the way of a strong one. Those skills are rarer than you'd think. Sarah Polley, who never wrote or directed a feature film before Away From Her, has them all.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    Seeing Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is like having a second date with the woman who made you fall in love at first sight.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The longer film makes Donnie's intentions clearer, explains the time-travel theme better and also leaves us in no doubt as to Frank's identity.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Polished, thoughtful and touching.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 50 Lawrence Toppman
    Unlike David Foster Wallace in “End of the Tour,” a masterful look at depression, Stone’s just a self-centered, unaware bore. He doesn’t merit attention from the kindly, cheerful, anxious Lisa – or from us.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The sequel is faster, funnier and wilder, with more cunningly contrived computer effects.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 83 Lawrence Toppman
    Keaton reminds us what a fine actor he could always be.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    You won't forget Nobody Knows, the quietly harrowing tale of four abandoned Japanese children.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    The giddiest and funniest animated film of the year.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    You don’t often hear the adjective “uncomfortable” used as a compliment. But you’re seldom going to come across a movie that makes you as uncomfortable as The Diary of a Teenage Girl yet seems as true to life.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    The presence of Robert Redford gives the character weight, if not depth, because we bring to the film everything we know about the actor from other movies. Redford’s characters have seemed unflappable for more than 40 years: sometimes cool, sometimes cocky, but almost always master of a situation. To see him beginning to flounder is to see a new Redford, one who catches us off guard.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Marston doesn't develop the characters, except for the strong-willed and quick-witted Maria.
    • 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.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    An experience as tender and troubling as any you're likely to get - or not likely, if this subject puts you off.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    Writer Steve Kloves, who adapted all of J.K. Rowling's novels except "Order of the Phoenix" over the last 11 years, neither wastes a word nor leaves out any essentials.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    One of those documentaries about a family train wreck that makes you wonder how people consented to have their tawdry laundry washed so publicly.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Almodovar still populates his work with characters you'll see nowhere else in movies.
    • 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.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    The first movie I'd have enjoyed more asleep. That's not because it put me to sleep, but because it may be the most dreamlike film I've ever seen.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    Spielberg has never made a more sophisticated and less sentimental picture. He and writer Tony Kushner craft it like a historical thriller.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    The two most frightening concepts in Room, one of the most remarkable movies of 2015, are freedom and the lack of it.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    The most atmospheric thing in the movie is Farnsworth's face.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    Reveals the drama and degredation so powerfully that it ranks among the all-time heavyweights of sports movies.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    I spent The Kids are All Right wondering whether director Lisa Cholodenko was affectionate toward her self-absorbed characters or gently mocking them. In the end, I thought she was both and liked the film more.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    For a movie that ends in the profoundest depths of sadness, Boys Don't Cry contains one of the year's purest moments of joy.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Field does what most American directors don't: He shows people at work, in the day-to-day activity unmarked by excitement.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    I can't recall the last film that so wholly, honestly and movingly explained what it means to be a Christian.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    Among many things that make the taut thriller Argo remarkable is this one: It depicts a 1980 rescue of American hostages from Iran yet begins by pointing out that the United States was partly responsible for the situation.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    He's (Soderbergh) among the few directors working today who makes me wonder what he'll do next - and draws me into the movie house, whatever it may be.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 63 Lawrence Toppman
    I do wonder why a gay director's best-known movies about straight guys, Talk to Her and "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!," suggest that satisfying relationships with women are most easily achieved if they're 1) unconscious or 2) in bondage.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    Anderson tells this story slowly, inexorably, with a sense of control I've never felt from him before. This is the least violent of his five dramas, the first where nobody dies. It's also the bleakest.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    (Mendes') film debut shows he can shock not only with noise and nakedness but with subtle observations.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    For once, I didn't feel cheated by an unresolved ending, but let's hope this is the end. Robert Ludlum wrote three Bourne novels, and this is one series that ought not to be dishonored by inferior sequels.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    After an hour, The Pianist stops being the Holocaust movie and becomes a Holocaust movie.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 91 Lawrence Toppman
    Moore makes no attempt at visual reality. The colors and drawings employ the flat design of a handsomely decorated book, and the children have the huge eyes, disproportionately large heads and small bodies you sometimes see in Japanese animation.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 83 Lawrence Toppman
    Amy
    Had Amy Winehouse not been a briefly famous musician – had she been an architect or a teacher or even a woman who mopped floors – the documentary Amy might have been nearly as compelling.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Lawrence Toppman
    The Tony-winning Bosco, one of the great stage actors of the last 50 years, does a lot with a little in his restricted role; he's haughty, almost dignified by his angry silence. Linney and Hoffman stay pitch-perfect in their noisy desperation and sullen withdrawal.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 75 Lawrence Toppman
    Most of the movie feels like a loose, sometimes improvised lark among friends.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    One of the most heartbreaking, unforgettable dramas in years.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 50 Lawrence Toppman
    Scorsese in his prime might've made better use of this hamming, but this picture feels like an exercise by a Scorsese clone who has tackled the master's themes - without his energy and economy of style.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Lawrence Toppman
    This meditation on spirituality, loneliness and accountability could touch your heart's core.

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