Michael Phillips
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For 1,434 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 4.8 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Michael Phillips' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 64
Highest review score: 100 The Class
Lowest review score: 0 I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
Score distribution:
1,434 movie reviews
    • 52 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Like "The Notebook," but with an elephant, the unexpectedly good film version of Water for Elephants elevates pure corn to a completely satisfying realm of romantic melodrama.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The film is not for the frantic of spirit. Its steady rhythm and even-handed tone threaten occasionally to stultify. But little things mean a lot in this universe, as they should.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    I've seen the fabulously acted Italian thriller The Double Hour twice now, and for all its intricate manipulations, it stays with me for a very simple reason: The love story at its bittersweet heart is played for keeps.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Led by Wilson and Cotillard, the ensemble makes the most of the material that works, and makes the best of the rest of it.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    This may be the most overtly Christian mainstream picture since "The Passion of the Christ." Unlike that one, though, Malick's comes with a generosity of spirit large enough to get all sorts of people (including non-believers) thinking about the nature of faith and what it's all about.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Isn't merely joke-funny. It's texture-funny.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The Trip isn't much, but it's more than enough.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Project Nim is practically irresistible. The story keeps getting odder and richer and more complicated.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It's virtually non-stop action, though director David Yates, who has taken good care of these final four, ever-meaner Potter adventures, does a very crafty thing, following adapter Steve Kloves' screenplay.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    One of Morris' swiftest works, yet also one of his saddest, Tabloid reveals among other things what happens when one person's definition of ordinary healthy romance is undone by another's.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The best material, however, keeps returning to the unstable power dynamic between Q-Tip and Dawg.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The most stylish comics-derived entertainment of the year...It's paced and designed for people who won't shrivel up and die if two or three characters take 45 seconds between combat sequences to have a conversation about world domination, or a dame.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Part Joel & Ethan Coen and part John Millington Synge, this grotty little fairy tale casts a deft line and reels you in. I'd see it again just to hear the drug smugglers argue over the use of the Americanism "good to go."
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Frantic, violent and unrelenting, it is all of a piece, its tightly packed storytelling making cassoulet of its own implausibilities and familiar terrain covering a web of political and institutional conspiracy.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The film is a remarkable experience on a purely sensory level, and the best of its archival footage - on the track, in private meetings with drivers before the races, from the white-knuckle, over-the-shoulder perspective of Senna himself - is pure gold.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Both the man and his times resist a compact 93 minutes. This much anguished history, and Aleichem's inspired literary response to that history, has difficulties being confined to conventional documentary feature length. Yet Dorman's touch is sure, his pacing fleet and his chorus of voices marvelous.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Farmiga's film doesn't state things directly, but we sense what is happening to Corinne, and how some turn to fundamentalism for complex and interconnected reasons.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It's a lot. But if you're at all inclined, it's just right.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Here's what I most appreciate about Shannon's work with the writer-director Jeff Nichols: the subtlety.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The acting in Durkin's feature is excellent. Olsen is utilized largely as an object for camera adoration, but not in the usual glamorizing way. Olsen, Hawkes and company play slippery figures with lovely assurance.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Does Kaurismaki believe in his own fairy tale? The movie, a humble delight, suggests the answer is yes.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Much of Melancholia plays, effectively, like a slice of late 20th century Dogme-style realism, in the vein of the film "Celebration" by von Trier's fellow Dane, Thomas Vinterberg.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Young Goethe in Love wants only to engage an audience with a capital-R Romantic ideal of Goethe's first love. It does so very well. And it was well worth the effort.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The wonderful thing about Fassbender and Mortensen? Several things, actually. They're effortlessly convincing in period, and they know how to make recessive characters intriguing.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The Artist may not be great art, but it's pearly entertainment.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The payoffs here begin and end with Oduye, and as we see this character confront her obstacles with bravery, grace and resolve, "Pariah" exhibits many of the same traits, for which filmgoers can be thankful.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    You buy the concept, from start to finish, because it feels strong and purposeful and in sync with Shakespeare's own vision of a malleable, fickle populace and a leader raised by the ultimate stage mother.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Disney TV star Bridgit Mendler brings an effective if limited friendliness to Arrietty; Will Arnett and Amy Poehler are relatively restrained as her parents; Carol Burnett runs through a career's worth of vocal flourishes and aural panic attacks as the housekeeper.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    In relation to the well-made and sensitive confines of "The Messenger," Rampart required a more unruly visual approach. Beginning and ending with Harrelson, this sophomore effort is full of malignant life.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The main thing with Cedar's film, I think, is to approach it not as a farce, not as a drama, not as a mystery, not as any genre in particular. It's a comic nightmare, in the vein of the Coen brothers' "A Serious Man," and Cedar proves masterly at playing the stakes for real.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    This is the first film the Dardennes shot in the summertime. Excellent choice of seasons. I'm not sure I could've handled Cyril's travails without it, or without de France's smile.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    We meet a variety of interdependent characters, from tuna vendors to rice experts, all in thrall to Jiro and his sons. I really wish Tokyo were closer.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It all flows from the shum. The man's musical and political influence was no illusion.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    As in last year's "Bridesmaids," an authentic, dimensional human element animates the jokes and the characters with whom we spend a couple of highly satisfying hours.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    First-time Anderson performers such as Willis, McDormand and especially Norton fold effortlessly into the melancholy end-of-summer vibe.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    One of the pleasures of Magic Mike is its egalitarian spirit and dedication to the ensemble.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The documentary carrying the same name as Schiele's painting works like a suspense drama and a slippery chronicle of ownership, theft and vaguely unsettling resolution.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    At 85 minutes, it's a tight, sharp achievement, yet one of the things I love about it is simple: It moves to a relaxed rhythm, in sync with its slightly otherworldly subject.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Premium Rush is great fun - nimble, quick, the thinking person's mindless entertainment.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The oddly beautiful documentary made by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Gray is subtler and richer than its blunt title suggests.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    From a terrible epidemic comes a beautiful documentary.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    In the populist vein of Ron Howard's "Apollo 13," Affleck's rouser salutes the Americans (and, more offhandedly, the Canadians) who restored our sense of can-do spirit when we needed it.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    John Hawkes is wonderful as O'Brien, as is Helen Hunt as the surrogate whose sessions with O'Brien form the crux of the film. The results are extremely moving and, in general, low on egregiously yanked heartstrings or the usual biopic filler.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    While the protracted third act doesn't kill the two-hour, 23-minute picture, "Casino Royale" remains the best of the recent Bonds, with Skyfall just a notch below it.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Lavant is splendid in the film, and he's essentially the entire film - and yet, Holy Motors is somewhat more than a contraption built for a fearless performer.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Cooper's performance is his best yet. As is Lawrence's (the more crucial role, in fact).
    • 66 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Eighty-four minutes is about right for this style of animation. Even at that trim running time, the silhouette approach won't be for everyone. Ocelot's unity of vision, though, cannot be denied. Your kids, even the preteens, will likely fall headlong into his worlds.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    An unusually good documentary about an outlandish miscarriage of justice.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It's also gorgeously acted by all, and while this may not be one of Kiarostami's finest, the craftsmanship nonetheless is so high, it makes everything else currently in theaters look slovenly.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Of all the movies culminating in a rite of exorcism, Romanian writer-director Cristian Mungiu's remarkable Beyond the Hills stands alone.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    This is a true New York movie, though in its ear and eye for atmospheric beauty it feels more French.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It is a better, more fully felt and moving picture than "Blue Valentine."
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Best of all: the musical score by Alfonso de Vilallonga. It's terrific — witty, symphonically lush and shrewdly informed by flamenco strains throughout.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The new film works. It's rousing.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    You may watch Frances Ha relating to little of it, or a lot of it, but this "road movie with apartments," as the director (shooting here in velvety black-and-white, recalling Woody Allen's "Manhattan" in its texture) so aptly put it, is informed by a buoyant, resilient spirit.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Outrageous-plus, but often hilarious.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Finally! A romantic comedy that works. And not just because of Shakespeare.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The Wall is no endurance test; rather, it presents the facts of the case, adding an eerie low hum to the soundtrack whenever Gedeck's character edges near her outer limits.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The movie belongs to the women, for once, and The Conjuring doesn't exploit or mangle the female characters in the usual ways. Farmiga, playing a true believer, makes every spectral sighting and human response matter; Taylor is equally fine, and when she's playing a "hide-and-clap" blindfold game with her girls, she's like a kid herself, about to get the jolt of her life.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Here's a funny, poignant oddball of a movie, existing on a galaxy far, far away from the likes of "Pacific Rim" or "World War Z" or anything whose computer-generated actions speak louder than words.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The movie is madly, wonderfully at odds with itself.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It's a nerve-wracking visual experience of unusual and paradoxical delicacy. And if your stomach can take it, it's truly something to see.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Even with its limitations it's one of the necessary films of 2013.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Documentary filmmakers can make any number of rookie mistakes with their first features. Casting too wide a net is one of the most common. "La Camioneta" avoids that pothole, beautifully.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Folk standards such "500 Miles," "The Death of Queen Anne" and "Dink's Song" infuse the movie, and as in the Coens' "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" T Bone Burnett has done first-rate work supervising the musical landscape. The film, I think, falls just a tick or two below the Coens' best work, which for me lies inside "A Serious Man" and "Fargo."
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The miracle is that even with a bit of dramaturgical clunkiness The Past is fluid, intimate cinema. Few directors today can shoot in such tightly confined spaces, with such a determined control over his actors' movements, and make the drama work so well.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    This is a big-hearted, absorbing documentary about a writer who kept on writing until very near the end. Anyone who cared about Roger Ebert will find it necessary viewing.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    You wait for months, sometimes, for a movie to show you something new. "7 Boxes" does exactly that, and while it's no more than a briskly managed bit of escapism, it's a really good example of same.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It makes the dream of flight itself a vehicle for bittersweet enchantment.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    An impressive, often enraging feature-length debut from director Robert May, deals carefully and well with the so-called kids for cash scandal.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    To millions, Stritch is the Emmy-winning actress who did "30 Rock," playing Alec Baldwin's mom. Those people who don't know the rest of her story should take the 82 minutes to see this.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    One of Anderson's cleverest and most gorgeous movies, dipping just enough of a toe in the real world — and in the melancholy works of its acknowledged inspiration, the late Austrian writer Stefan Zweig — to prevent the whole thing from floating off into the ether of minor whimsy.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Had this ambitious head trip come to pass, it might've made Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" look like "Go, Dog. Go!"
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Vivian Maier is a great Chicago story. And what she did for, and with, the faces, neighborhoods and character of mid-20th century Chicago deserves comparison to what Robert Frank accomplished, in a wider format, with "The Americans."
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It feels fresh and unpredictable, as quietly strange as the remarkable musical score from first-time feature film composer Mica Levi.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The director thinks visually, which sounds redundant until you realize how many monster movies are flat, effects-dependent factory jobs. Edwards knows how to use great heights for great effect.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Looks, feels and flows like a real movie. It's better than the last few Pixar features, among other things, and from where I sit that includes "Toy Story 3."
    • 71 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Get on Up hits all these high points. But the Butterworths fracture the order, fruitfully. They're more interested in making musical and dramatic connections across time and space — something in the '70s triggering a childhood memory, for example — than in laying them out predictably.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Do not expect dynamic filmmaking from Love Is Strange. It's about other things, and Lithgow and Molina are splendid, their eyes full of wisdom and experience.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    A functioning, funny, weirdly touching fable of artistic angst and aspiration, a meditation on fame and its terrors and the metaphoric usefulness of masks and huge fake heads.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Wasikowska is wonderful here, unaffected and affecting, but then she has long been a young actress conveying a rich and shadowy interior life on screen. She humanized the Tim Burton "Alice in Wonderland," so clearly she can do nearly anything.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    David Fincher's film version of the Gillian Flynn bestseller Gone Girl is a stealthy, snake-like achievement. It's everything the book was and more — more, certainly, in its sinister, brackish atmosphere dominated by mustard-yellow fluorescence, designed to make you squint, recoil and then lean in a little closer.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    We need films such as Kennedy's as a corrective.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    With his thin-lipped grimace and big, soulful eyes, Lindon's an ideal actor for this sort of puzzle.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Danny Trejo plays Sherry's sometime lover and friend, and he's a big asset to a small, sharp film that won't be for everyone. That's a compliment.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    The director is Kevin Macdonald, a documentary filmmaker making his fiction film feature debut. (He won an Oscar for his Munich Olympics hostage chronicle, "One Day in September.")
    • 86 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    The Departed exists in a movie-place about as far from personal statements as a storied director can get. Maybe those days for Scorsese are long gone. But Scorsese's sense of craft remains sure.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    It's refreshing to see a non-mainstream movie that wears its heart and lust on its sleeve, and has anything but violence on its mind.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Guaranteed to make you think twice about what you're paying for what you're drinking.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    The film has a compelling way about it. All five of the immediate Block family members emerge in full and affecting portraits.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    When Ferrell and Hoffman do their thing together, a charming bit of whimsy becomes something more. It becomes really, really funny.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    A lot of director George Miller's film is gorgeous and exciting. Its craftsmanship and ambition put it a continent ahead of nearly every other animated feature of the last couple of years.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Linklater's working-class mosaic is seriously interested in how most of this country gets by for a living. And that, sadly, makes it distinctive.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    True to form, Guest's newest doesn't pull out the long knives. On the gentleness scale, this one's way over here, as opposed to the film of the moment, "Borat," which is way, way over there.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    The film is worth seeing, if you have any fondness for the writer who co-created "Beyond the Fringe" and who is second only to Stoppard in his sprightly but mellow wit.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Dreamgirls is performed, shot, edited and packaged like a coming-attractions trailer for itself. Ordinarily that would be enough to sink a film straight off, unless you're a fan of "Moulin Rouge." But this one's a good time.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    It may not look like anything he's done before, but Inland Empire joins "Mulholland" and the whatzit "Lost Highway" (1997) to form the strangest show-business triptych around. All three concern artists whose identities demand more than one body. The films give new meaning to the phrase "dual citizenship."
    • 62 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    There's something very right with Off the Black in terms of pure emotion and performance craft.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    The Chinese locations ache with beauty. And when Watts and Norton focus, intently, on Maugham's often dazzlingly vindictive characters, The Painted Veil really does feel like a story worth filming a third time.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Now, about the spider. Julia Roberts voices Charlotte in a way that suggests ... not much, I'm afraid. She may be a genuine movie star and can be a good actress, but her voice -- and what she does with it -- never has been one of her strengths.