Michael Atkinson
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For 854 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 29% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 68% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 6.7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Michael Atkinson's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 53
Highest review score: 100 Voyage to Italy (re-release)
Lowest review score: 0 The Cat in the Hat
Score distribution:
854 movie reviews
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    You either love it or you love it; in any case, Martin Scorsese's history-making scald is truly a phenomenon from another day and age.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    An organic, childlike wonder, fabulously unpredictable and seethingly inventive.
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    Bertolucci's masterpiece--made when he was all of 29--will be the most revelatory experience a fortunate pilgrim will have in a theater this year is a foregone conclusion.
    • 99 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    Laughton understood Agee's proximity to Grimm vaudeville, and fashioned the most intensely expressionistic movie of its day.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    Ozon -- has finally hit a home run, and Rampling is his most remarkable RBI.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    One of the year's best films, and certainly its most challenging so far: At more than three hours, watching it is less like consuming entertainment and more like living.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    Nonchalantly freaky and uncommonly pleasurable, Warm Water may well be the year's best and most unpredictable comedy.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    Naturalistic, gritty, and unrelenting.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    Achieves an abrading, intimate, primal force his later films only hint at. It's difficult to imagine the Euripides original ever being more eloquently adapted.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    Another unforetold career acme: Christopher Guest's seductive and brilliantly modulatory A Mighty Wind, which trains its laser-sight on the decaying legacy of Peter, Paul and Mary-style pop-folk.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    No other movie released this year is as much of a filmgoing necessity as Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now Redux.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    Safe Conduct -- a rangy, irreverent, episodic odyssey through French filmmaking during the Occupation -- is one of the very best movies ever made about the life of moviemaking.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    In today's digital bog of empty light and marketing deceptions, this is what early-millennium Euro art-film masterpieces feel like--lean, qualmish, abstracted to the point of parable but as grounded as a gravedigging.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    It remains a stunning achievement, if nearly as exhausting and frustrating as the Tex Avery bureaucracy it roasts, but Gilliam's stylistic dysfunctionalities, art-directed out of junkyards, are what still percolate in the forebrain.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    The hard-charging originality of the screenplay—the equivalent of turning "The Hot Zone" into a Farrelly comedy—suggests a deficient legacy of credit to Terry Southern's corner.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    Amid the chaos of this marvelous, uncategorizable film squirms one of the year's best performances.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    One of the year's best films.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai is more than just another bid for respectability, like "13 Assassins" -it may well be Miike's best film, a patient, ominous piece of epic storytelling that conscientiously rips the scabs off the honorable samurai mythology.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    One of the year's most hypnotic and fascinating films.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    It might be the most lonesome film about a tropical vacation we've seen, and the greatest film ever made about the weird socioeconomics of tourism.
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    Voyage to Italy is close to watching actual strangers suffer loneliness despite being together. It can leave an aching bruise, but only if you're paying attention.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Atkinson
    There's little sense in trying to resist the film's relentless boogie-woogie party vibe, its tumultuous visual banquet, its unpredictable sense of switchblade satire, its fools' parade of modern grotesques, or its river of startling melancholy, turning from a wary trickle to a flash flood by film's end. Sorrentino's vision is the size of Rome itself, and his confidence is dazzling.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 94 Michael Atkinson
    The one movie so far this year that every filmgoer should see, if only to get a big dose of what we've been missing from Hollywood.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 93 Michael Atkinson
    So breathtakingly textural, so empathic in its images, that it transcends its context and achieves timelessness.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 93 Michael Atkinson
    The best film we'll see this year.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 70 Metascore
    • 92 Michael Atkinson
    Normal ideas of truth, illusion, and representation are sent into the meat grinder, and the result is consistently disarming and beautiful.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 91 Michael Atkinson
    For the discouraged filmgoer, Erice's tone poem will be a ray of hope itself.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Whatever its oversteps and excesses (I do think Park ran a little amok with the computer gimcrackery), Oldboy has the bulldozing nerve and full-blooded passion of a classic.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    It's an altogether remarkable piece of work, deepening the genre while whipping its skin off, satirizing an entire nation's nearsighted apathy as it wonders, almost aloud, about the nature of truth, evidence, and social belonging.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Mood is everything, trumped up by a score so rich with pop songs, bossa nova drama, and symphonic mournfulness it's almost a movie on its own. 2046 may be a Chinese box of style geysers and earnest meta-irony, but that should not suggest there aren't bleeding humans at the center of it.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    For many the question remains about how Treadwell's eventual death should be regarded--as a tragedy, as a fool's fate, or as comeuppance for daring to humanize wild predators and habituating them to human presence. Herzog's perspective is, of course, scrupulously nonjudgmental.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Keane is a painfully specific figure but at the same time a totem, lean and frightening, for a morass of modern anxieties. That might be this phenomenal film's emergent achievement: Its raw hopelessness is its universality.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Corpse Bride never skimps on the sass (as a good folktale shouldn't). And the variety of its cadaverous style is never less than inspired; never has the human skull's natural grin been redeployed so exhaustively for yuks.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Innocence is not merely the year's best first film, but one of the great statements on the politics of being 'tween.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Binoche and Auteuil are both quietly sensational in their fracturing personae, but the film is Haneke's premier postmodern assault--less visceral, perhaps, than "Code Unknown" and the criminally underappreciated "Time of the Wolf," but more thoughtful and, in the end, deeper in the afterplay.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Beehive is a graceful and potent lyric on children's vulnerable hunger, but it's also a sublime study on cinema's poetic capacity to reflect and hypercharge reality.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Camus's film remains a revivifying experience - and a mid-winter oasis. Born and bred in France, Camus made other films, and lots of French TV, but Black Orpheus may still be the greatest one-hit-wonder import we've ever seen.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    It's still a feat of period filmmaking. More than that, Overlord's revivification of a wasteland Europe offers up a powerful whip lesson for the postwar complacent: that the waging of war, even this most romanticized of conflicts, means bringing a corpse-mountain hell to someone's home neighborhood.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    It seems easily the most valuable piece of film to emerge about the war in all of its three-plus years.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Like nearly every other Kiarostami film, Close-Up takes questions about movies and makes them feel like questions of life and death.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    It's a uniquely lonely film, and one of the year's most memorable.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Suzuki has made the ultimate meta-movie, a self-parodying, surrealist gangster daydream as intoxicating and insubstantial as an absinthe swoon.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    The sense of continuing life is quietly remarkable.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Compare it to what passes for sophisticated filmmaking in this country and the movie becomes a living instrument of cinematic humanism: lovingly intent on observing, not judging; concerned with sympathy, not control; accepting the inevitable ambiguities, not denying them.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    If Otar is, finally, a mite thin and predictably structured, that takes little away from the filmmaker and her cast, who work hard at fashioning the most outlandish special effect of all: believable human life.
    • Village Voice
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Saleem, a Paris-based Kurd, displays the visual confidence and subtle screwball rhythms of a master, exploiting offscreen space, deadpan compositions, and deft visual backbeats, as well as attaining a breathtaking fidelity to real light and landscape.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    The ride is remarkable.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    A prototype of news-footage realism, the film makes shrewd use of handheld sloppiness, misjudged focus, overexposure, and you-are-there camera upset; the payoff is the scent of authentic panic.
    • 100 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Bergman locates a generosity and élan that make F&A feel like his youngest film.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Oasis is utterly beguiling because Lee, like many other percipient Asian filmmakers, is simply more attentive to his characters' emotional tumult than the audience's.
    • 97 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    However familiar, it delivers like a shorted slot machine.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Her (Cheung) gorgeously sad face and slow, lithe frame are the movie's hammer and chisel. One shot of her walking away from a rented room down a hallway is, all by itself, twice the movie of anything else currently in theaters.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    I've seen only a few films in my lifetime that so potently express the golden hopes of childhood and parenthood, as well as the inevitable decimation of that hopefulness -- that forward-looking bliss -- at the hands of catastrophe, or merely age, spite, and exhaustion. Or, as for the Friedmans, all of the above.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    The Truman Show is one of the films for which the '90s will be remembered, and it is not to be missed.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    It might be the scariest movie ever made.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    This is what Woody Allen movies might be like if they were not ruled by narcissism, pretentious point-scoring, cheap observations, and Woody's peculiar speech patterns.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Yamada shoots his movie with a grandfatherly expertise, never squeezing the drama for juice or distancing us too far from the characters -- it's a pleasure to see a movie that makes every shot count, narratively and emotively.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Easily the best directorial debut of the year, and possibly the most mature and haunting film to ever come out of Scotland, Lynne Ramsay's Ratcatcher is a throat-catching masterpiece of lyricism, observation, and stone-cold realism.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Exactly the sort of mysterious and almost holy experience you hope to get from documentaries and rarely do, Jeff Malmberg's Marwencol is something like a homegrown slice of Herzog oddness, complete with true-crime backfill and juicy metafictive upshot.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Takes us through reams of fascinating drama, from the first heroic forest-saving protests to the reactive police violence and resulting dead-of-night firebombs to the core group's implosion after the FBI tightens the net.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    The best film ever made about competitive surfing in Papua New Guinea (and Best Documentary of the year as per Surfer Magazine).
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Garrone's film grows in your head afterward, making royal hash out of a cultural paradigm we'll be loath to remember years from now—if, by then, everything hasn't become "reality."
    • 59 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    A dead-eyed, lyrical art film that kicks you in the throat.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Drug War might arguably be [To's] best film for this reason—it doesn't attempt to raise the stakes on its genre, but instead fully exploits what's there, piecing together an elaborate narc campaign tale out of classic clichés and tight-knot plotting, and letting the disaster of balls-out crime make its own statement.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    The Dance of Reality may be Alejandro Jodorowsky's best film, and certainly, in a filmography top-heavy with freak-show hyperbole and symbology stew, the one most invested in narrative meaning.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    Possibly the Iranian new wave's last meta-man, Panahi is in an ideal position to make the unique methodology of his filmmaking merge with its substance. But he's always been fascinated by how a film's bell-jar bubble can be punctured, leaving a viscous interface between real and cinematic.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Michael Atkinson
    The lovely ball-&-socket meeting of the two artists' sensibilities is what makes the doc sing, even if it is a chronicle of a death foretold.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 89 Michael Atkinson
    Maddin's movie is, frame for frame, the densest and most spectacular (albeit cardboard-cheap) film playing anywhere.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 89 Michael Atkinson
    Easily the year's most trying, tormented, and thrilling movie ordeal.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 76 Metascore
    • 89 Michael Atkinson
    Suzhou River might be more pulpy than profound, but it still sings its old song better than we've heard in years.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 89 Michael Atkinson
    An ingenious, incredibly entertaining, Rorschach-blot meta-comedy based on a spec script (by first-timer Charlie Kaufman) that is completely unlike anything anyone has ever seen before.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 77 Metascore
    • 87 Michael Atkinson
    Lusts for a feel-good ending the material doesn't comfortably provide. One can't help wondering how dismal Jerry and Dorothy's life together will be after the credits roll.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 86 Michael Atkinson
    A superb, wise, and witty Taiwanese film about being single and what to do about it.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 84 Michael Atkinson
    Dumont's movie has virtually nothing wrong with it -- aside from the fact that it drives people crazy. Take the leap, but expect no answers. Just like life, as they say.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 84 Michael Atkinson
    Might be the most original film of the year.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 84 Michael Atkinson
    An explosive experience...and you have to love the movie's rabid energy and lust.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 78 Metascore
    • 81 Michael Atkinson
    Lacks scope and doesn't resonate grandly as a portrait of an American underbelly like Morris' earlier works do. But it still packs a wallop.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 81 Michael Atkinson
    Easily the best millennial movie, Don McKellar's Last Night is also the only one to use the idea of apocalyptic end-time as a vehicle to explore the absurdity of human desire.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 81 Michael Atkinson
    Topsy-Turvy is flawless, borne along by a savagely witty screenplay that Leigh directs like the gears of a clock.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Just as fabulously cartoon-Gothic as "Sleepy Hollow."
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    While the astonishing street footage of "l'affaire Langlois"--perhaps more familiar to the French than to us--is where this exhaustive talking-heads portrait becomes beautifully, bafflingly surreal, the whole project, however conventional, has the allure of a communal embrace, a home movie of a motherland left irrevocably in the past.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    A black-blooded hoot.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Promiscuously inhabiting several planes at once, Reygadas's restless inquisition may already be this year's movie to beat.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    It seems almost incontestably...the most gorgeously photographed film ever made. [23 March 1999]
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Emblematic of the man's (Oshima) career: ironic, ambiguous, sublime.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    However schematic, the movie percolates with immediacy and genuine warmth.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    What a world we'd live in if Argento's Hollywood counterparts -- say, Sarah Michelle Gellar, or even Christina Ricci -- had this much imagination and nerve. Few of them, at any rate, have Argento's reserves of lonesome passion and unspigoted woe.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    Dietrich is the movie's primary cannon: Her amused eyes, open face, and relaxed sensuality monopolize our sympathies.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Michael Atkinson
    A minor triumph of atmosphere and nightmare imaginings.
    • 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

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