Michael Phillips
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For 1,530 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 4.6 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Michael Phillips' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 64
Highest review score: 100 Alexandra
Lowest review score: 0 Bratz
Score distribution:
1,530 movie reviews
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It is that rare futuristic thriller: grim in its scenario, yet exhilarating in its technique.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Sweeney Todd may haunt you in ways you’re not used to with a movie musical. At least not since “Mame.”
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Talk to Me has a great subject and a great actor working in tandem, reminding audiences that once upon a time media personalities used to fight The Man, not be The Man.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It makes the dream of flight itself a vehicle for bittersweet enchantment.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    A real charmer, Me and Orson Welles is the work of a director who takes nostalgia, romantic possibility and the theater seriously, without being a pill about it.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It all flows from the shum. The man's musical and political influence was no illusion.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    This is the most satisfying thriller of the year, capping the Bourne trilogy.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    A rich and troubling documentary highlight of the year.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The film is unusually free of cant and the usual trappings of war docs. There is no voice-over narration and very little dramatic underscoring. Right or wrong, the filmmakers shave matters of political policy and contextual analysis clean off the finished product, which runs a tight 94 minutes.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    After the Wedding defies the odds: For once, the bigger the emotion, the truer the moviegoing experience.
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Project Nim is practically irresistible. The story keeps getting odder and richer and more complicated.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It is a fine and plaintive experience, more modern-day folklore than ethnographic study, and a wonderfully assured piece of cinema.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Polanski turns a conventional conspiracy thriller into a triumph of tone, ensemble playing and atmospheric menace.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Finally! A romantic comedy that works. And not just because of Shakespeare.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The movie putters near the end, but it's a film lover's delight.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    For me, it's a sign that a filmmaker is on to something if you love hanging out with the characters as they eat and drink and talk and reveal little bits of themselves through everyday action.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It's worth seeing just for the banter between Segel and Hader, which recalls the peak conversational riffs from "Knocked Up."
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The actors, predictably, are superb in roles shaped by screenwriter David Seidler, and directed by Tom Hooper. Yet they are unpredictably superb as well.
    • 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
    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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It is craftsmanship incarnate and the embodiment of tonal unpredictability.
    • 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."
    • 66 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Premium Rush is great fun - nimble, quick, the thinking person's mindless entertainment.
    • 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.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    A seriously entertaining highlight of the fall season.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The Messenger is not itself grueling, which is practically a miracle. Rather, this pungent little chamber piece offers a full yet delicate range of emotions, and it humanizes its characters so that polemics are left in the background.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Hinds has been ready for a role of this size and shape for years; it was simply a matter of finding it, and its finding him.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    A triumph of ambience, Rachel Getting Married is the first narrative feature since the 1980s from director Jonathan Demme that feels like a party--bittersweet, but a party nonetheless.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Kim evokes everything from "Seconds" to "Nip/Tuck" here, but his sureness of touch and lack of melodrama make the themes pertinent and vivid. A heartening step up from Kim's previous film, "The Bow."
    • 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.
    • 82 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
    The National Society of Film Critics recently cited Jean-Luc Godard's Goodbye to Language, the nuttiest lil' picture ever released in 3-D, as the best film of 2014, nosing out "Boyhood" by a single vote.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    More than any previous screen role, this one affords Damon a chance to work his sly comic chops.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The story of Harvey Milk is a tragedy, but not since Jeff Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" has Sean Penn played such a serenely happy individual.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Good and creepy, The Mist comes from a Stephen King novella and is more the shape, size and quality of the recent “1408,” likewise taken from a King story, than anything in the persistently fashionable charnel house inhabited by the “Saw” and “Hostel” franchises.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    A tough-minded, empathetic portrait of dreamers on the edge.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Deeply personal, wryly funny and fantastically cinematic.
    • 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.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    As is, Cotillard (nominated for best actress) scrupulously avoids melodrama. There's enough without it, in watching a story of an ordinary woman argue for her dignity, her colleagues' better instincts and her own livelihood.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    A welcome surprise: a supernatural romantic comedy that works, graced with a cast just off-center enough to make it distinctive.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Is Black Swan high-minded? I'm happy to say: No. It is extremely high-grade hokum, which is to say it offers several different and combustible varieties.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Be warned: Thirst is one of those pictures that tacks on another chapter just when you think it’s wrapping up.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The film is gripping---an honorable and beautifully acted addition to the tradition of homefront war stories.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    An unusually strong crime thriller, Eastern Promises comes from director David Cronenberg, a meticulous old-school craftsman of a type that is becoming increasingly rare.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It's good for the soul, and composer Joe Hisaishi's themes are so right they sound as if they came straight out of the ground with the girl in the bamboo.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Except for the tractors, and the tanks in the later desert battle sequences, Flanders could be taking place centuries ago. Or centuries from now.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The picture's visual style is clean, exact and beautifully photographed by Yorgos Arvanitis.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Seeing "Dragon" in 3-D really is a must. Its formidable realm of Vikings and dragons and nerds (oh my!) should be enjoyed to the fullest extent theaters allow.
    • 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.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It is a better, more fully felt and moving picture than "Blue Valentine."
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The brilliantly untrustworthy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop reminds us that a film can start out in one direction and then change course so radically, it becomes an act of provocation unto itself.
    • 74 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."
    • 70 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Like Charles Ferguson's excellent Iraq documentary "No End in Sight," "Countdown to Zero" has an agenda but has the cogent, reasoned rhetoric to support it.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The film is a singular achievement.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Ellen Page is key to its success, as much as Cody, or director Jason Reitman.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    An unusually good documentary about an outlandish miscarriage of justice.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Happy Valley might've fleshed out some of these larger implications. The film could've benefited from another 15 or 20 minutes of detail and nuance. What's there, though, is strong, thoughtful and disturbing.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    A Prophet pushes its protagonist into circumstances he did not choose but in which he watches and learns and kills and eventually becomes all he can be, albeit criminally. Certainly Muslims living in France have embraced the movie and Malik, played by Rahim
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The film works, whatever your ethical stance on Snowden, because it's more procedural than polemic.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Isn't merely joke-funny. It's texture-funny.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    A gripping documentary.
    • 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.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Like "Lincoln," written by Tony Kushner and directed by Steven Spielberg, DuVernay's Selma ushers us into the world of the backstage, back-room and back-scratching political process, dramatizing how the sausage was actually made.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It pulls audiences into a meticulously detailed universe, familiar in many respects, wacked and menacing in many others.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Tommy Lee Jones is marvelous in the film. He has one scene in particular, a simple two-person encounter, that's as good as it gets in the realm of American screen acting.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Hampton and Wright have been more than sensible when it comes to Atonement. They’ve responded intuitively to a tale that is half art and half potboiler, like so many stories worth telling.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Pulls you into a well-observed world and its characters.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Outrageous-plus, but often hilarious.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Raimi knows how to modulate his technique, as with the coolly controlled morality tale "A Simple Plan," but he's a firm believer in the power of an active, expressive camera, as well as the value of insinuation.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    A remarkable downer-upper paradox: a bruising tale of teenage resilience, honest and emotionally complicated and alive.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Is director David Fincher's film the stuff of greatness? Not quite. But the picture is very, very good.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    As a director, Kaufman isn't yet his own best salesman. He's not enough of a visual stylist to sell his script's most challenging conceits. But the cast rises to a very strange and rich occasion.
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It's a big ice cream sundae, this one -- not great documentary filmmaking but tasty all the way.

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