Michael Phillips
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For 1,460 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 58% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 40% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 4.9 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Michael Phillips' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 64
Highest review score: 100 My Kid Could Paint That
Lowest review score: 0 Did You Hear About the Morgans?
Score distribution:
1,460 movie reviews
    • 71 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The self-taught man behind the griddle, his wife, Eve, and their five seen-it-all kids emerge as the ensemble of the year.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Unnervingly good, Little Children is one of the rare American films about adultery that feels right--dangerous, hushed, immediate.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Borat is a rarity: a comedy whose middle name is danger, or as the Kazakhs say, kauwip-kater.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The beauty of the Turkish film Climates, a small but indelible masterpiece, is more than skin-deep. No 2006 film meant more to me. It's as sharp and lovely as the best Chekhov short stories.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The word masterpiece costs nothing to write and means less than nothing in an age when every third picture and each new Clint Eastwood project is proclaimed as such. After two viewings, however, Letters From Iwo Jima strikes me as the peak achievement in Eastwood's hallowed career.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The style is brash, and it works. Tucker and Epperlein illustrate Yunis' account of his eight-month imprisonment, much of that time spent at the notorious Abu Ghraib compound, with literal illustrations--pages seemingly torn out of a Frank Miller graphic novel.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Burnett's documentarian empathy, coupled with his easygoing skill as a dramatic essayist, result in a film that doesn't look, feel or breathe like any American work of its generation.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Arnold reminds us that the best thrillers don't settle for taking the audience away from their everyday experience; rather, they burrow inward and, by sheer power of cinematic observation, make it hard for us to look away lest we miss something--on a screen or off.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It's a very small piece, working in a deceptively casual storytelling style. But it's my favorite music film since "Stop Making Sense," and it's more emotionally satisfying than any of the Broadway-to-Hollywood adaptations made in the last 20 years.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Its sense of humor is more sly, more sophisticated and more interesting than most PG-13 or R-rated comedies at the moment. The film may be animated, and largely taken up with rats, but its pulse is gratifyingly human.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    May be the best and saddest film of the year so far.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It is a wonder, marked by a sense of wondrous skepticism that has nothing to do with cynicism.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It is wonderful: a rhapsodic adaptation of a memoir, a visual marvel that wraps its subject in screen romanticism without romanticizing his affliction. It left me feeling euphoric.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Baumbach’s achievement stings. It also has the sureness of tone and direction of a Chekhov story.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Day-Lewis... the role of a lifetime.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The first great film of the year. It’s beautiful but so much more—full of subtle feeling, framed by a monstrous, eroding landscape.
    • 97 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The result is a mixture of unified atmosphere and lived-in character study, and while Vasiliu’s role is not as indelible as that of her co-stars, Marinca’s Otilia and Ivanov’s steely abortionist are just about perfect.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Green is a rare bird in American filmmaking: a humanist who knows how to tell a story.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It's unlike any other war film, in any language.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    A gem made by a filmmaker who loves life, and knows how to capture its ebb and flow and sweet complication.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    A kinetic delight, Reprise comes from director Joachim Trier, born in Denmark but raised in Oslo, Norway, and it’s a highlight of the filmgoing year so far.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    While I may argue with the little guy's taste in musicals, it's remarkable to see any film, in any genre, blend honest sentiment with genuine wit and a visual landscape unlike any other.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Sensational, grandly sinister and not for the kids, The Dark Knight elevates pulp to a very high level.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    This is a superb picture, sharp, open-minded, wised-up and cinematically accomplished.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The film itself is perfectly poised between artistry and audacity. It's beautiful.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Trouble the Water is so much better and truer and deeper and more illuminating than either of them ("Bowling for Columbine"/"Fahrenheit 9/11").
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It works from a specific place and lets audiences relate to that place, and the people in it, like trusted intimates.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Ballast strikes me as one of the few American pictures of 2008 to say what it wants to say, visually and narratively, about a specific situation and part of the country, in a way that transcends regional specifics.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    This is one of the real finds of 2008.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Desplechin's films are great, chaotic, unsettling fun. This one's scored, elegantly, to a mixture of standards and classics and original music by Gregoire Hetzel.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    This is one of the screen's most rewarding explorations of the teacher/student relationship in any language.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It is personal filmmaking of the highest order, recognized with an Academy Award nomination for best foreign film.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Even with its limitations, I find Silent Light spellbinding.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Up
    Some of the comic inventions are inspired: Muntz has a pack of dogs equipped with electronic voice boxes, which means they're talking dogs, only they speak as if they've learned English from a poorly translated Berlitz guide.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The characters in Gomorrah may lack an extra dramatic dimension: Garrone errs, if anything, on the side of detachment. Yet that detachment is also the key to the film's success. There's so little hooey and melodramatic head-banging here.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    A sweet, sharp coming-of-age romance, Adventureland is a little warmer, a little funnier and a lot more truthful than the last 20 or 30 of its ilk. Especially its Hollywood ilk.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    This one slice of the American experience amounts to one of the best films of the year.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It all comes together as formidably detailed and easy-breathing craftsmanship.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Not since Robert Altman took on “Popeye” a generation ago, and lost, has a major director addressed such a well-loved, all-ages title. This time everything works, from tip to tail.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The stories we hear in 24 City belong to its specific place, but they are universal.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    A tart, brilliantly acted fable of life’s little cosmic difficulties, a Coen brothers comedy with a darker philosophical outlook than “No Country for Old Men” but with a script rich in verbal wit.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The Sun sheds only so much literal light on its chosen subject; it's a film of shadows and silence, the calm before and after the storm. But everything you see and hear carries weight and an eerie poetic undercurrent.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Some films aren't revelations, exactly, but they burrow so deeply into old truths about love and loss and the mess and thrill of life, they seem new anyway. A Single Man is one such film, one of the best of 2009
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It's not for all tastes; it requires some patience. The more your own job involves absurd, time-consuming bits of minutiae, the more familiar (and amusing) it'll seem.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Extraordinary.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    What are the odds that the year's most compelling mystery would end up hanging its hat on the year's richest love story
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    "All right" doesn't begin to describe it. The Kids Are All Right is wonderful. Here is a film that respects and enjoys all of its characters, the give-and-take and recklessness and wisdom of any functioning family unit, conventional or un-.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It's an uncompromising drama, not easy to watch. And it is one of the year's highlights.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It takes something like a miracle to unlock the magic in his exquisite aggravations, the essence of the human comedy. This film is indeed something like a miracle.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It is enraging yet nuanced, an elusive combination for any documentary.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Extremely moving, exceedingly droll, flawlessly voice-acted.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Incendies is no mere riff on a Greek mainstay. It is its own entity, delicate and fierce. Already I've risked making it sound like homework. It's not; it's an enthralling drama of survival.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The cave exists to provoke awe in mere mortals. The camera pauses at one point to take in a stalagmite reaching up to touch, nearly, a stalactite and the inevitable association is with Michelangelo's Adam and the hand of God.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Moneyball is the perfect sports movie for these cash-strapped times of efficiency maximization.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It's one of the year's most pleasurable American movies.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    This is one of the finest achievements of the year, and while it's easy to lose your way in the labyrinth, I don't think Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is most interesting for its narrative pretzels. Rather, it's about what this sort of life does to the average human soul.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    In both theatrical environments and open-air ones, with Wenders paying close attention to the geometrics as well as the psychology of the movement, Pina is the best possible tribute to Bausch, and to adventurous image-making.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The film is a singular achievement, a piece of realist cinema with the pull of a suspense thriller.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The wondrous cinematography is by Gokhan Tiryaki. It is not an easy picture. Not many masterpieces are.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    An indelible portrait of an American family at its most blithely macabre.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The Master is brilliantly, wholly itself for a little more than half of its 137 minutes. Then it chases its own tail a bit and settles for being merely a fascinating metaphoric father-son relationship reaching endgame. It may not all "work," but most of it's remarkable.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Flight is exciting - terrific, really - because in addition to the sophisticated storytelling techniques by which it keeps us hooked, it doesn't drag audience sympathies around by the nose, telling us what to think or how to judge the reckless, charismatic protagonist played by Denzel Washington.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    See it, and I dare you not to care about what happens to these kids, these Yankees of chess.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It blends cinematic Americana with something grubbier and more interesting than Americana, and it does not look, act or behave like the usual perception of a Spielberg epic. It is smaller and quieter than that.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The key American film of 2012 ... Its stance is extremely tricky. It's not a documentary. It's not a load of revenge nonsense. It's not '24.' I'm still arguing with myself over parts of it. And that's a sign that a movie will endure.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Small, sure and stunningly acted, this is a picture of exacting control.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Dense like a detailed graphic novel in the Chris Ware or R. Crumb vein, but a real movie in every way, Consuming Spirits is a strange and wormy accomplishment, the sort of personal epic only the most obsessive of cinematic madmen undertake, let alone complete.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    This is a great and necessary document in support of a two-state solution. Even those who don't believe in such a solution may find their minds changed by The Gatekeepers.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    No
    No succeeds, wonderfully, because it knows how to sell itself. It is cool, witty, technically dazzling in a low-key and convincing way.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Your kids may will fall in love with it, if you help them find it.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Yes, for every star there are five more also-rans and maybe-next-times. But there is honor and glory in being part of the blend. And, at the film's midpoint, when Clayton talks about the late-night recording session in 1969 of "Gimme Shelter," the memory takes on the glow of myth.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Fruitvale Station works because Coogler and his leading man present a many-sided protagonist, neither saint nor unalloyed sinner.
    • 97 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    While this is very much a McQueen picture, with visual flourishes and motifs unmistakably his, the historical urgency and staggering injustice of the events keep McQueen and company utterly honest in their approach and in their collective act of imagining Solomon Northup's odyssey to hell and back.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Some may find the film underpowered. Not me. With elegant understatement, Cohen creates a humane testament to reaching out, whatever our habits and routines.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The whole movie, a feast of ensemble wiles and stunning hair, is juicy, funny and alive.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Her
    A delicate, droll masterwork, writer-director Spike Jonze's Her sticks its neck out, all the way out, asserting that what the world needs now and evermore is love, sweet love. Preferably between humans, but you can't have everything all the time.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Finally! A comedy that works.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Ida
    One of the year's gems.
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    In completing this simple, beautiful project Linklater took his time. And he rewards ours.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Whiplash is true to its title. It throws you around with impunity, yet Chazelle exerts tight, exacting control over his increasingly feverish and often weirdly comic melodrama.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Dear White People isn't perfect. And yet the flaws really don't matter. This is the best film about college life in a long time, satiric or straight, comedy or drama.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Writer-director Perry has made a bracing and very Roth-y study of ambition and itchy literary yearning. In another time and another world, Robert Altman captured the essence of William Faulkner's landscape by filming a non-Faulkner crime story, "Thieves Like Us." This is comparable to what Perry has done here.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Both funny and sad, often in the same glance-averted instant. See it with someone you'd trust to stick around in an avalanche. It's one of the highlights of 2014.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    No halves about it: Half Nelson is a wholly absorbing and delicately shaded portrait of an educator played by Ryan Gosling, a young man harboring an offstage secret.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The film goes pretty easy on the royals in the end, and it's a flattering portrait of Blair. But it's not credulous. Frears may swim in the political mainstream with The Queen but he does so like a champion channel crosser.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Deliver Us From Evil has a few things wrong with it, including an egregious musical score, but without resorting to sucker punches, it takes your breath away while making your skin crawl.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    An exorcism movie for the rest of us, the gripping German drama Requiem contains not a single special effect. It doesn't need one. It has terrific actors fully invested in a casual-seeming, docudramatic brand of storytelling, notably Sandra Hueller.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    A seriously entertaining highlight of the fall season.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    You always get more than one genre with this filmmaker. Volver draws upon all sorts of influences -- a little Hitchcock, a little Douglas Sirk, a little telenovela -- but from those sources Almodovar and his collaborators, both on screen and behind the camera, make an improbably organic whole.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Eleven years ago director Campbell made "GoldenEye," the first of the Brosnan Bond pictures. Casino Royale trumps it every which way.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It is that rare futuristic thriller: grim in its scenario, yet exhilarating in its technique.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Earns its happy ending like few other contemporary dramas concerned with the fate of a child. It puts you through hell for that ending, in fact, hell being modern-day Russia.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Mafioso is shaped like a comedy, and it is one, but its intentionally jarring clashes of tone and rhythm are truly out there.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Sissako has an unusual camera eye, patient and alert to the ebb and flow of both the courtroom sequences and the outside scenes. The music is wonderful as well.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The most charming comedy in town, writer-director-editor Katsuhito Ishii's 2003 piece is a modern Japanese variation on "You Can't Take It With You," with some lovely fantastical flourishes.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It's fascinating and unexpected both in its simple, looming images and its storytelling priorities, which may not intersect with the priorities of audiences who couldn't get enough of "Se7en."
    • 71 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    If Beyond the Gates were merely a well-intentioned bore, the reality might seem jarring. As is, the coda fits and feels like the only possible ending--proof that surviving to help tell the story of a genocidal nightmare is the best revenge.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The tone of The Host is slippery in the best way; you're never sure if you're in for a joke or a shock, yet nothing feels random.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    After the Wedding defies the odds: For once, the bigger the emotion, the truer the moviegoing experience.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    I prefer my horror with a chaser of wit, and Severance, a modest but very lively British import, serves it up in harsh but high style.

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