Michael Atkinson

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For 881 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 30% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 67% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 8.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Michael Atkinson's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 54
Highest review score: 100 Apocalypse Now Redux
Lowest review score: 0 The Cat in the Hat
Score distribution:
881 movie reviews
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Like being jacked directly into Linklater's alpha waves, and the experience is bracingly new to movies.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Resuscitates the filmgoing summer with a vital jolt of pure piss and vinegar.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Full of observed life, the movie is also a bit of a vacuum, and once we register our admiration for Lopez, we can hardly help contemplating the cold equations of the students' futures, their uneducated families, and the rapturously desolate farmland around them.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Buoyant with quiet smiles and unpretentious fondness.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Confident, mature, deeply conceived, and convincingly inhabited, it's a surprisingly humane film -- despite the close-range shotgun spray.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Although le Carré's story may seem predictable and unduly focused on the plight of a pale, wealthy Old Worlder adrift in a sea of needy East Africans, the movie's human material is masterfully manipulated.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Faust is not your great-granddaddy's selling-your-soul fable, but something new, a dreamy immersion into the messiness of myth, where hubris and desire can get lost in the chaos of time and retelling.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    On one hand a seat-o'-pants digital-video quickie designed for blunt trauma, and on the other a veritable index of classic genre-stuff, Boyle's film creates an acute sense of movie-viewing danger.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    The kitsch is back in full bloom.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Far from a maxim-expounding sermon, the film is a fresh spring of irrational visual pleasure.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Possibly the most Rorschachian film of all time, a symbol-only text that effortlessly conforms to any political present, and finds a foothold in your social sphere whether you're a free radical or reactionary wing nut.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    It's a small, unassuming movie grasping at whole-hog homo psychopathicus, with its feet planted squarely in Texan grave dirt and its head lost in the ether of Christian derangement.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Something of a wonder, a palm-size ball of banter and irony and earnestness that never stops rolling and almost never misses the sweet spots.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    The cast never skips a beat, particularly Mark Margolis as the most obnoxious dinner customer in cinema history and Summer Phoenix as his unfazed waitress.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    In one movie, at least, the ethical baseline (heisted, you could argue, from "Sweet Smell of Success") gave Fellini's roaming, cluttered mise-en-scène a chilling gravity he could never genuinely locate again.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Dietrich is the movie's primary cannon: Her amused eyes, open face, and relaxed sensuality monopolize our sympathies.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Though we're never allowed a close-up, Hofstätter's performance comes off as an unselfconscious tour de force, painfully real and culturally lost.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    A rambling daydream that aims literally to supplant your life, it's in effect a serial, in eight ninety-plus-minute chapters, TV-ready but defined by Rivette as a consuming theatrical experience. It consumes, all right, like a drug that won't fade, but it's also a lark, a metafiction without any reality, a magnificent irrelevance.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Yamada's decidedly undazzling yet expressive filmmaking approaches classicism, from a sensei training session captured in one lengthy shot to the final showdown, seen with shifting points of view that suggest a relativist unease with the cut-and-dried judgments of war culture.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    It's easily the most disarming and inventive movie made for genre geeks in years.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    It seems almost incontestably...the most gorgeously photographed film ever made. [23 March 1999]
    • tbd Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    What's not recognized enough is the indelible, self-sickened performance of William Holden as Desmond's boy-toy/hired hack.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Good Night, and Good Luck's primary handicap is history itself -- the toe-to-toe televised dialogue between McCarthy and Murrow was, however arguably vital to the Wisconsin senator's eventual retreat, brief and less than epochal. Even so, the wonderfully mustered context wins out.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Because stateside newspapers aren't enough, "The Battle of Chile" (possibly the most riveting and vital historical document ever put on celluloid) should be a prerequisite to Guzmán's new doc, The Pinochet Case.
    • 41 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    The bubble-kid moms can whine all they want, but Bubble Boy is a liberated movie --liberated from tastefulness, of course, but also from logic, suffering, consequence, and temperance.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    With Child's Pose, the Romanian tide enters its Cassavetes phase, where the thin ice of haute bourgeoisie life cracks and opens wide.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Its sluggish, amateur-Kiarostami character would be off-putting if the material weren't so powerful.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Bani-Etemad's generational melodrama observes a blue-collar dynastic collapse worthy of Lillian Hellman, but stays steadfastly fixed on the quotidian of Tehran life.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    In a manner so sly you could overlook it, Porumboiu invests this tissue-thin premise with the shadows of Romanian history.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Broad and pleasantly idealistic, and the evident ardor for 150-year-old graphics (especially Dore's Ancient Mariner masterstrokes) is hard to argue with. But is it a movie or the best-designed episode of "Nova" ever?
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    In a culture clogged with appropriated effluvia and remake cop-outs, Willard is wittier and nastier than we deserve.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Zeta-Jones is merely ravishing, but Clooney owns the film. Ordinarily best at sardonic, man's-man confidence, he strides through Intolerable Cruelty with fantastic screwball zest. To see Clooney tenderize, season, grill, and serve this ham hock of a role is to see an old-fashioned virtuoso in perpetual motion.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    It's a simple pleasure watching an American movie that respects genre, knows its limitations, and genuflects at the memory of Don Siegel in the age of Spielberg.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Based on a memoir by a grown daughter of the eldest girl and rarely digressing from the journey itself, the movie is a dusty, calloused, primal Odyssey, as forceful and single-minded as a bullet train.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Leon’s grungy resume indie is a conscientiously modest deal in the end, with a sweet, mumblecoresque ending, but it glows with unmistakable star power.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Intimations of infection loom (ships pass waving polio quarantine flags) and sexual games are played, but Antonioni was then the most obsessively compositional filmmaker alive, and the movie is all about the scary, foggy, metaphysical negative spaces.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    In the end, this morphing of ideas and styles is more deadpan romantic than sociocritical, and sweeter for it.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Having emerged from his new German cinema heyday as one of the world's most guileless and original documentary filmmakers, Herzog has slowly been crafting a four-dimensional fresco of the planet, its most human-resistant landscapes, and our dubious dramas in confronting the chaos.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    It’s an orgy for film geeks and history jonesers, to be sure, and the revelation of how exactly the prints got waylaid and then buried in the permafrost, saved by virtue of Dawson City’s fading away in the twentieth century, proves a sweet narrative reward.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Confessions keeps its cards close, and Kaufman is perfectly capable of starving his screenplay to save it, and perfectly happy with being misunderstood.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Without the intrusion of voice-overs or interviews, Mylan and Shenk attained a remarkable intimacy with the strapping, earnest, startlingly beautiful teenagers.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Brilliant, mind-boggling.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Kim's movie rocks -- I saw it cold a year ago, and I don't think I've been as entranced and appalled by an Asian film since Shinya Tsukamoto's "Iron Man."
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Emblematic of the man's (Oshima) career: ironic, ambiguous, sublime.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    At its most contemplative, The Trilogy is a stirring and shrewd portrait of lives lived in oblivious parallel. [Note: From a review of the entire trilogy.]
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    It's a heart-sundering vision of preadolescent helplessness that rivals passages of "Landscape in the Mist" and "Ponette."
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    All the same, Eastwood's point of view has been seasoned enough to locate poignancy and respect for his protagonists where you least expect -- saying it's an old man's movie is a serious compliment.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    The new film is more informational than resonant. But you can still sense a vacuum, a rat pit of stories waiting to be unearthed. The dark something that triggered the whole ordeal in West Memphis is still out there.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Skolimowski's Eastern Bloc–existentialist chops finally emerge in the last act, as the futility of looking for a diamond in the snow evolves into a sex-death underwater ballet.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Involuntary doesn't simplify its stories into a single point of view or idea; rather, Östlund is merely visiting these high-pressure moments in which Swedish culture frays, melts down, and betrays its ultra-civilized idea of itself.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Predictably, the holes in the narrative set us up for a twist or three, but, in balance, it's a pleasure to be back in the wet alleys and spy-patrolled streets of the GDR, however vague they seem without '60s black-and-white cinematography.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    A successful novelist and restrained actor's director, Carrére makes the transformation of a silly marital argument into a cosmic upheaval look easy, and profound as well.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    At its most contemplative, The Trilogy is a stirring and shrewd portrait of lives lived in oblivious parallel. [Note: From a review of the entire trilogy.]
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    A black-blooded hoot.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Berberian may sound like it's more fun to pick over afterward than watch, but it's also masterfully crafted.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Distant, enigmatic, fragmented, and possessing a dead-eyed steeliness in the tradition of Michael Haneke, Tsai Ming-liang, and Ulrich Seidl. The Guitar Mongoloid is a quilt of moments, set pieces, and voyeuristic opportunities building to no specific thematic idea.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    A delicacy for mature filmgoers who are able to derive as much pleasure from a perfectly, sympathetically crafted essay as from a well-spun yarn.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    In the Fog has the inevitability of an avalanche, and only our overfamilarity with Nazi-tribulation scenarios, and perhaps its excessively punctuated ending, could slow it down. A better anti-summer blockbuster is hard to imagine.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    The nerviest, oddest, most outlandish and idiosyncratic American indie debut since "Buffalo 66," Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko defies description.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Resnais's lightheartedness is infectious as he dispenses with the cinematic "reality" he never quite trusted, shooting the six-person farce on obvious sets, with curtains for doors and flat theatrical lighting.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Myers has hit upon a genuinely original schtick, and that fact alone is immeasurably groovy.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    At its most contemplative, The Trilogy is a stirring and shrewd portrait of lives lived in oblivious parallel. [Note: From a review of the entire trilogy.]
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    May not quite be more than the sum of its creepy parts, but as a reality-is-fear launch into workaday darkness, it clearly points toward the horror genre's best destiny.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    However schematic, the movie percolates with immediacy and genuine warmth.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Uniquely jacked into a ripe sense of antique-nursery Victoriana and buzzing with a pre-adolescent metaphoric charge, J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan is a primary text of modern culture, and P.J. Hogan's live-action rendition is the only one, screen or stage, to completely uncage this changeling and give it flight.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    As news, it smokes CNN.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Fleder's forgettable thriller has a convincing edge, and Douglas remains unchallenged as Hollywood's most tremulous and disquieting dad-under-pressure.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    The first punk tragicomedy, a chain-whipped cartoon meditation on Good, Evil, and Free Will that is as seductive as it is tasteless. That Kubrick misjudged the distance between comedy and cruelty seems to be unarguable.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    To many eyes, Berlin was the saddest city in 20th-century Europe, divided and lost, and as city symphonies go, Siegert's is pragmatic and optimistic.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Like a Hollywood dolt, Majidi strives to overwhelm us with emphasis, but it's the reality he was savvy to load his movie with that's touching.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Slick and grown-up as Richard Gere himself, this intricate fiscal thriller takes a dead bead on extreme privilege.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Thrusts us into a high school senior year like no other.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Built to outrage, appall, and indict.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Roth never fully exploits the woods around him, and the homes of the locals are far too middle-class, but because so many clichés are discarded amid the flesh rot, even the patented "Night of the Living Dead" coda feels sharp-edged and genuine.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Most of all, it's an early chapter of Demy's courtship with the provincial France of his youth, with the most bewitching generation of French actresses, and with movies.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Because it's so carefully parceled out and so evocatively framed (in widescreen), Wrecked is an absorbing ordeal, perhaps less for its survival narrative than its metaphoric heft.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    My Joy is a maddening vision and one of the year's must-see provocations.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Just as fabulously cartoon-Gothic as "Sleepy Hollow."
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Often stark and ravishing, Nostalgia for the Light is most moving as a manifestation of the filmmaker's stubborn righteousness.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Actually lighter, wittier, and more original than it has a right to be.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Promiscuously inhabiting several planes at once, Reygadas's restless inquisition may already be this year's movie to beat.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Sweet and fiercely humane, Song’s layered family portrait is decidedly Buddhist: silent when it needs to be and steadfast about approaching inevitable tragedy with care and patience.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 79 Michael Atkinson
    Formally astute, visually arresting, and fearlessly horrifying.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 78 Michael Atkinson
    The summer's best cinematic equivalent to a lazy afternoon in the shade with a cool drink.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 58 Metascore
    • 78 Michael Atkinson
    May not have enough story to sustain its narrative momentum, but Gray just might be our best shot at a new Coppola.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 78 Michael Atkinson
    It's a satisfying swan song.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 76 Michael Atkinson
    One of the year's best imports and one of the very few queer movies that transcends its sexual orientation.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 76 Michael Atkinson
    A film that's bound to be loathed for its irrationalities and narrative drunkenness, just as it will be beloved for its original risks and manic visual energy.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 74 Michael Atkinson
    A near-perfect confection, a beautifully executed Hollywood all-you-can-eat salad bar of glamour, plot twists, breathtaking Mediterranean vistas, and jazz.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 74 Michael Atkinson
    An adroitly made, perfectly acted little nightmare.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 68 Metascore
    • 73 Michael Atkinson
    A remarkable debut, and its first half is a genuine jolt.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 73 Michael Atkinson
    Rarely falters but neither does it ever take flight.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 73 Michael Atkinson
    A thoughtful, stunning piece of work in what, of late, has been an otherwise arid indie landscape.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Michael Atkinson
    Has an intemperate vitality that's hard to resist.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 72 Michael Atkinson
    (Paradis) delivers what might be the most affecting film performance ever given by a supermodel.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 64 Metascore
    • 71 Michael Atkinson
    The film's details are spot-on, its tone ludicrously ironic, and its casting deft.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 25 Metascore
    • 71 Michael Atkinson
    Follows a predictable low-comedy path, but does it with such fierce appeal and beautifully wrought wit that it doesn't feel quite like any comedy American theaters have seen since the equally underrated "Grosse Pointe Blank."
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Michael Atkinson
    This is not a movie, really, but a back-rub and a cup of tea for Tsai purists, for whom the filmmaker's company, behind or in front of the camera, is all that's required.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Michael Atkinson
    May be an elaborate stunt, a bungee jump, but even so, it's forceful enough to leave a rare palpitating residue.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 Michael Atkinson
    Ishii's rough-hewn film may be the nastiest entry in its dubious but resonant subgenre since "I Spit on Your Grave." It's a black pearl for anyone who likes a little existential psychosis with their semi-softcore exploitation.

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