Lisa Schwarzbaum

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For 1,914 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 71% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 27% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 7.7 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Lisa Schwarzbaum's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 69
Highest review score: 100 Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench
Lowest review score: 0 Gun Shy
Score distribution:
1914 movie reviews
    • 72 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    A film of uncommon originality.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Resonant examination of friendship, fame, cultural trends, and the creative process.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Xavier Dolan is back with another madly stylish Montreal-made delight.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    A curious case indeed: an extravagantly ambitious movie that's easy to admire but a challenge to love.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Bean's commitment to serious theological examination is exciting, Gosling's performance is riveting, and this fiery and imperfect feature shines as a demonstration of independent filmmaking at its most uncompromising.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    The vivid fictional specifics, and the simple loveliness of the artless performances by nonactor Mongolian nomads, attest to the filmmakers' abundant artistry.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    This is a beautifully built, classically framed movie, shot with the unshowy natural expressiveness of a John Ford Western by Spielberg's great cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Reprise is kissed with the breath of French New Wave sensibility, sweet with verve and a love of forward movement. The mood of joy in the midst of youthful pain is enhanced by the freshness of the first-time lead actors.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Writer-director Jeff Nichols builds his elegantly shot, weather-sensitive horror story in waves of tension that crest as if pulled by tempests.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    There are no zombies out of ''28 Days Later'' to alleviate the slow creep of realistic doom in this chilly, tense corker.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    The amazingly natural first-timer was discovered, in a gift of publicity-ready truth, while having an argument with her boyfriend at a train station.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Minghella makes an enticing, intelligent, well-shaped picture about the extreme perils of class envy and sexual panic.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    The whole cast is museum quality, and the ''music'' performances are pitch-perfect in their dissonance.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Each an actor of distinctive delicacy, Duplass, DeWitt, and Blunt do some of their subtlest, most sweetly calibrated work ever, playing off one another with the kind of ease and trust that is, in itself, a demonstration of love.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    André Téchiné's beautifully ambiguous, exquisitely underplayed drama Strayed has less to do with the events and moral choices of the era that continue to shape French identity than with the timeless psychological effects of finding oneself unmoored from the familiar.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    As she did in her striking 2005 debut, "Me and You and Everyone We Know," July creates a fluid cinematic universe.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Using the droll, wise stories of Etgar Keret as her guide, Israeli filmmaker Tatia Rosenthal concocts an artful film that expresses deep thoughts, lightly.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Acompelling, cant free drama about clashing class systems and challenged family relationships that's all the more engrossing for its organic, near documentary style.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    While the young people chatter about life and literature with sometimes overbearing self-satisfaction, the astute filmmaker observes their pretentious gum-flapping with a mixture of amusement, compassion, and wised-up rue.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Grant is the rare actor who can mix the characteristics of sex appeal and ambivalence in believable, rather than irritating, proportions.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Realer and more consequential than much being packaged for TV and movies these days as ''reality,'' the fictional In This World unfolds with the deceptive dispassion of a documentary, but builds with a sure sense of dramatic epic.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Completing his wonderful French cultural trilogy that also includes portraits of the Comédie-Fran¸aise and the Paris Opera Ballet, indefatigable documentarian Frederick Wiseman freely, unobtrusively prowls the joint to create a movie that respects the serious work involved in simulating the sensations of pleasure.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Intelligent conversation about the interplay of erotic and destructive urges takes place over cups of tea in fine bone china. Yet the movie is a radically modern story about sex.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Funny, ungirdled romp - a buddy picture about buddies who actually know what women want.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    There aren't many at all like Spielberg and Kubrick, directors willing to lasso dreams (that's Steven) and nightmares (that's Stanley) or die trying. A.I. is a clash of the titans, a jumble, an oedipal drama, a carny act. I want to see it again.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Hard to say who's luckier -- those who have seen the work of Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin before and know what to expect, or those who haven't and for whom The Saddest Music in the World serves as an eye-popping introduction.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    A story in full billow; it sails through stretches of bloody battle, anxious waiting, wine-soaked relaxation, and marvelous scientific discoveries by the remarkable Maturin (Paul Bettany, well matched again with his ''A Beautiful Mind'' costar).
    • 85 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Mitchell directs and stars in the riotous, loving, and only occasionally pathos-milking film adaptation of his own acclaimed Off Broadway play, with great up-your-ante music and lyrics by Stephen Trask.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    It exchanges the narrative fluidity of the page for visual composition of such strong beauty that the slowness of the storytelling becomes its own eccentric strength.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    A muscular, honorable, unflinching translation of Collins' vision. It's brutal where it needs to be, particularly when children fight and bleed.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Consider Primer a successful lab experiment with, as they might say in techie chat rooms, significant indie-cred applications, IMHO. Oh, and :-).
    • 69 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    The charming movie, already an international success, seduces.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Serendipity has no business working, but it does. And by the way, Eugene Levy has no business almost stealing the show, but he does, too.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    The power comes from Winterbottom's rigorous sense of storytelling, which manages to show and tell terrible tales without telegraphing emotionalism
    • 79 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    One of the great virtues of Disney's most elegant animated ''classic'' in years is how blessedly sermon-free this zippy, dignified retelling of Edgar Rice Burroughs' ripping 1914 yarn is.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    This dazzling reverie of a kids-and-adults movie, an unusual collaboration between lord-of-the-cult multimedia artist Dave McKean and king-of-the-comics Neil Gaiman (The Sandman), has something to astonish everyone.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Cagey, high gloss comedy.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    There are many places a visitor may go astray in 2046 -- places where the filmmaker appears to be a bit at loose ends too. Still, Wong's invitation -- ''Let's get lost'' -- is irresistible.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    A surreal, elegantly melancholy, and yet witty ensemble story.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    There are no zombies to distract from the plausibility of Right at Your Door. And that's what makes this smart, coolly horrifying American indie thriller one of the scariest movies you're likely to see all year — a post-9/11 nightmare about terrorism, panic, and paranoia with real, waking-life implications.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Hanks towers as a near naked, near biblical man. Zemeckis tells his story -- the screenplay is by William Broyles -- with a control magnificent in what isn't shown as much as in what is.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    The chattering smarty-pants who ran the U.S. government on "The West Wing" are slow talkers compared with the motormouthed and hilariously imperfect power elite in the brainy British comedy In the Loop.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    A work of American art as classic as it is modern. Note to tourists: Leave before the very end of the credits and you'll miss some of the best and funniest roadside sights.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Although the talent of a kid with the last name of Culkin may not, at this point, register as such a novelty -- Rory follows brothers Macaulay and Kieran -- there is something precociously mature but natural about the work of this youngest Culkin sibling that stands apart.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    This is a dark story as well as a frothy one. But the bubble of absurdist self-absorption in which Menzel places this specimen of man-child is exquisite.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Under the direction of "Bend It Like Beckham's" Gurinder Chadha, this festively busy and exuberantly multicultural charmer is its own intriguingly postmodern creation.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Anna's thoughts matter because, as played by the wonderfully nuanced newcomer Alycia Delmore, the no-bull responses of this perceptive woman are a key to Humpday's sly, wised-up feminist outlook.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    As a sharky, gay TV journalist investigating the story, Tom Selleck charms by playing in contrast to his own determinedly hetero persona.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Kenan directs with a zingy sense of kids, comedy, fright, and visual perspective. But the movie also shimmers and shakes in all its motion-capture animated beauty with the slyly deep sensibilities of executive producer Robert Zemeckis.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    In a season of bulging Movies Earmarked for Importance, it is almost startling to come across something as unhyped - and perfectly swell - as The Ice Harvest.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 91 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Bolt breaks no great new stylistic ground -- and yet it's a sturdy beaut.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    A gaily busy kid flick.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Not coincidentally, African Cats opens on Earth Day. Meeting these magnificent fellow creatures might be a fine way to celebrate.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    How exceptional a film actor is Russell Crowe? So exceptional that in Cinderella Man, he makes a good boxing movie feel at times like a great, big picture.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Rodrigo Santoro (Paulo on Lost, Xerxes in 300, and even better, Raúl Castro in Che) is mighty matinee-idol charismatic himself in the title role, alternating between swaggering lady-killer and ravaged victim of self-destruction.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    In the very funny cop comedy Hot Fuzz, overachieving London police officer Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) commits a very British sin: He's too good.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    It's agony, in a rewarding way, to squirm and cringe and groan through an ordeal so realistically re-created.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Crowe sometimes summons up one of the most powerful depictions of mental illness I have ever seen with barely an eyelid flicker separating manifestations of sickness from utterly sane displays of creative concentration.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    A smart, playful, informative pleasure.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Among Gosling's many star-making qualities is his nuanced mastery, since "The Believer," of a facial expression of infinitely adaptable, imperturbable, sustained calm that can read as chilling or ardent, hard or soft, as the role demands.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    It isn't easy to get close to these two women. But the effort yields a rewarding take on the resiliency and therapeutic importance of friendship.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Elf
    The disarming comedic tone -- silly and novel in its lack of cynicism -- is driven by the fearless, cheerful unself-consciousness of Will Ferrell, a big man last seen streaking (all too unself-consciously) through ''Old School.''
    • 75 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    For kids, blessedly unironic by nature until wised up by nurture, the movie is just shiny, funny, and filled with songs.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Cloverfield, a surreptitiously subversive, stylistically clever little gem of an entertainment disguised, under its deadpan-neutral title, as a dumb Gen-YouTube monster movie, makes the convincingly chilling argument that the world will end -- or, at least, Manhattan will crumble -- with a bang and a whimper.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Among all the chess-piece players on the board, the star is the only one who really builds a solid emotional foundation for his character.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Eight months of interrogation and torture in fetid Abu Ghraib followed before he was released, innocent. None of The Prisoner's showy flourishes -- animation, sound effects, fancy editing -- can match the power of Abbas' stillness as he describes one man's agony in one huge hell.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    A delightfully weird, if occasionally too arty, documentary as darting in its structure as a dragonfly's flight.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Ong-Bak (taken from the name of the sacred statue) is delivered raw, with an on-the-fly compositional approach from director Prachya Pinkaew that includes dim lighting and jumbled editing.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    There's wit but never a wink in this smartly shot production, which pays homage to the 1980s without fetishizing the era.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    A peculiar combination of willful meandering and matter of fact violence, and it occasionally confounds in its attempts to exalt.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Excels at creating a keen, creepy sense of a civilization stopped dead in its tracks -- vaporized, almost, except for those disemboweled bodies left still undisposed.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    The son is obsessive and petulant, punishing and self-pitying, and by the time he gets to a talk with his hurt old mother, we understand why.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    A fine example of Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier's (Brothers) talent for weaving together accessible domestic melodrama and issues of ethical awareness of the world beyond our doorstep.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    There are no big thrills, only gentle laughs in this light story by Hugh Wilson and Peter Torokvei (Wilson also directed).
    • 84 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    It's a merciless and mirthlessly funny antiwar weapon from a filmmaker who has seen battle firsthand and has lived to make art from memories of hell.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    At a little over two hours, this is a pared-down but no less essential Dickensian feast.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Anderson's big, showy flower of a movie unfurls brilliantly, each plot petal a thing of exquisite design. Then it ripens. Then it disintegrates, leaving a mess of color and a faint whiff of rot.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    I'm as touched and charmed by its failures as I am transfixed, at times, by its successful inventiveness and audacity.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    This is an origami story, really, about what a construction of chance the big world is.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    This is a gentle, engaging narrative of constancy and devotion against all odds, both natural and bureaucratic, in which the past represents enduring family values and customs.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Very ''Waking Ned Devine.'' There's shrewd wit to Pouliot's gentle, no-bull farce.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    An irresistibly vibrant concert-tour documentary.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    The title Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is a brain banger. But as sci-fi nomenclature goes, it's easy to read--no twistier, certainly, than "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow."
    • 68 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Jacquot economically conveys the small, painful sacrifices both lovers -- but particularly the woman -- must make, and the constant, ongoing negotiations of power required to maintain no-strings freedom.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Here's a scare-the-crap-out-of-you medical thriller about a viral pandemic that will have the immediate post-screening effect of causing a handwashing stampede.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    The soft-spoken, impressionistic documentary (with a hypnotic score built from the sounds of construction) climaxes with a six-minute helicopter-cam view of the colossal structure to which these somebodies have been dedicating their sweat, and sometimes their very lives.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    It's a psychological thriller that actually thrills.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Writer-director Jim Sheridan, co-screenwriter Terry George, and Sheridan's favorite actor (and Oscar winner for My Left Foot) Daniel Day-Lewis reunite in The Boxer with a mellower political message that translates, roughly, into ''Can't we all just get along?''
    • 65 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Yet precisely because this is by Roman Polanski, it's irresistible to read his sorrowful and seemingly classical take, from a filmmaker known as much for the schisms in his personal history as for the lurches in his work, as something much more personal and poignant.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    There's nothing nice about 30 Minutes or Less. It's got no redeeming social value. It just ticks away, exploding all notions of where you think it's going to go. It blew me sideways.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    The true pleasures of Bound lie in the Wachowskis' inventive updated take on film noir traditions, sensuously realized by cinematographer Bill Pope ("Clueless").
    • 77 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    The grand old filmmaker frames each scene like a fine painting. And fake snow falls with happy artificiality between rueful vignettes.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Bug
    The enjoyably icky heart of Bug is still contained within the airless, increasingly ''bug-proofed'' room that becomes Agnes and Peter's whole world.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    It's as if the star (Douglas) finally gets to integrate all his onscreen personas, all at once.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    The film excels in small scenes of cannily chosen Indian everydayness.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    May be the most kick ass demonstration yet, for the majority of American moviegoers, of what the fuss is all about.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Malick clings to the promise of grace: His vision of the afterlife is a dreamy beach, enhanced by an excellent playlist of fine classical music, and promising the peace that surpasses all understanding. Plus a beautiful sky.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    I do wish the movie's ending weren't so squishy. It's been changed from the finale that Sundance audiences saw earlier this year and now reeks of focus-group testing.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Ineffably Australian and intriguingly (rather than annoyingly) artsy, Look Both Ways introduces a handful of people gobsmacked by life-changing crises, all of them trying to make sense of responsibility, mortality, and connection.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 83 Lisa Schwarzbaum
    A helluva lot happens in 16 Blocks - an outrageous amount, really, along with a coda that deposits the audience squarely at a movieland finale. Who knew that looking both ways before crossing is where the real action is?

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