Michael Phillips
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For 1,467 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 5 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Michael Phillips' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 64
Highest review score: 100 Little Children
Lowest review score: 0 A Good Old Fashioned Orgy
Score distribution:
1,467 movie reviews
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    In completing this simple, beautiful project Linklater took his time. And he rewards ours.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Is director David Fincher's film the stuff of greatness? Not quite. But the picture is very, very good.
    • 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.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The film is a singular achievement, a piece of realist cinema with the pull of a suspense thriller.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Leigh's film — one of the year's best — honors its subject in all his tetchy ambiguity.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Delpy has always challenged Hawke to find a simpler, more direct form of acting in Linklater's films, which gives them their unique suspense and rolling tension.
    • 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.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Vivid, assured and extremely suspenseful.
    • 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.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Small, sure and stunningly acted, this is a picture of exacting control.
    • 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."
    • 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.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    This is one of the screen's most rewarding explorations of the teacher/student relationship in any language.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Day-Lewis... the role of a lifetime.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Though uneven and less witty than the first two, Toy Story 3 delivers quite enough in two dimensions.
    • 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.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It is personal filmmaking of the highest order, recognized with an Academy Award nomination for best foreign film.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    As pure craftsmanship, No Country for Old Men is as good as we’ve ever gotten from Joel and Ethan Coen. Only “Fargo” is more satisfying (it’s also a comedy, which this one isn’t).
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 90 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    The way Lawrence captures a young woman's fear and resolve, often non-verbally, well … this is a considerable talent well on her way to a great career. It's for performances like this that moviegoers find themselves taking a chance on a title that doesn't have a fast-food tie-in.
    • 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.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    A rich and troubling documentary highlight of the year.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Ida
    One of the year's gems.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The whole movie, a feast of ensemble wiles and stunning hair, is juicy, funny and alive.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The film itself is perfectly poised between artistry and audacity. It's beautiful.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Borat is a rarity: a comedy whose middle name is danger, or as the Kazakhs say, kauwip-kater.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Birdman proves that a movie — the grabbiest, most kinetic film ever made about putting on a play — can soar on the wings of its own technical prowess, even as the banality of its ideas threatens to drag it back down to earth.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    May be the best and saddest film of the year so far.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The acting's so true, and Bahrani's so observant, you find yourself caring about everyone onscreen.
    • 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.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The Artist may not be great art, but it's pearly entertainment.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The film works, whatever your ethical stance on Snowden, because it's more procedural than polemic.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The filmmaker's documentary training pays off in detail after detail.
    • 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Even with its limitations it's one of the necessary films of 2013.
    • 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Matt Damon narrates, and I do wish the narration didn't end on such a generalized, throw-the-bums-out note, over footage of the Statue of Liberty.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    We need films such as Kennedy's as a corrective.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    The film has a quietly relentless quality. Redford is fully engaged and vital. I'll leave it to others to read greatness into All Is Lost. It's enough that it's good.
    • 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.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Here's one of the strongest feature film debuts in a long time, in any genre.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Moneyball is the perfect sports movie for these cash-strapped times of efficiency maximization.
    • 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.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It is enraging yet nuanced, an elusive combination for any documentary.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Much of Nebraska is ordinary prose, but the best parts are plain-spoken comic poetry.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    After last year's black-hearted "No Country for Old Men," the Oscars may well be in the mood to embrace a fairy tale sampling every imaginable genre, with a note of triumph accompanying even the worst suffering, capped by the snazziest ending money can buy.
    • 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-.
    • 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.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    From a terrible epidemic comes a beautiful documentary.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Phillips
    But even with the great good efforts of Wallis, the results, to some of us, betray a distrustworthy slickness reminiscent of a British Petroleum oil spill clean-up commercial.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    This is the most satisfying thriller of the year, capping the Bourne trilogy.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    It's a vivid ensemble experience, and the acting is wonderful.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It's an uncompromising drama, not easy to watch. And it is one of the year's highlights.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Knocked Up is more verbally adroit than it is visually. But Apatow's awfully sharp as a chronicler of contemporary romantic anxieties.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The film version of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” came out in the year in which An Education is set, and beyond the hairstyles, there’s something of the willful, gleeful Golightly reinvention expert about Jenny.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Here's what I most appreciate about Shannon's work with the writer-director Jeff Nichols: the subtlety.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It's unlike any other war film, in any language.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Fruitvale Station works because Coogler and his leading man present a many-sided protagonist, neither saint nor unalloyed sinner.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    It has the air of an officially sanctioned tribute rather than a probing study, but it's stirring all the same.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Deeply personal, wryly funny and fantastically cinematic.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It is that rare futuristic thriller: grim in its scenario, yet exhilarating in its technique.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Revanche has an unusual rhythm: Once it leaves the grotty urban despair behind for the deceptive calm of the countryside, it relaxes and explores the character’s interior lives.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    It is an actors' showcase, without being showy, and Moreau and Tukur reveal radically different personalities with just enough in common to make things interesting.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It all comes together as formidably detailed and easy-breathing craftsmanship.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    For about an hour Looper really cooks. Its second half is more of a medium boil, and less fun. But watching it, I realized how few commercial entertainments hold up straight through to the end-point.
    • 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.

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