Michael Phillips

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For 1,751 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 57% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 41% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 3.5 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Michael Phillips' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 65
Highest review score: 100 I Like Killing Flies
Lowest review score: 0 Sucker Punch
Score distribution:
1751 movie reviews
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    In completing this simple, beautiful project Linklater took his time. And he rewards ours.
    • 99 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The reason it's distinctive has less to do with raw emotion, or a relentless assault on your tear ducts, and more to do with the film medium's secret weapons: restraint, quiet honesty, fluid imagery and an observant, uncompromised way of imagining one outsider's world so that it becomes our own.
    • 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.
    • 96 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
    The movie's neither hopeful in contrived ways, nor hopeless in different contrived ways. Somehow it manages to be wonderful.
    • 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.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    This movie isn't just a tribute to Baldwin. It's a warning bell regarding leaders who, in Baldwin's words, care only about "their safety and their profits."
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    This excellent film works the way Blanchett's characterization of Carol works: It's meticulous about appearances, while fully aware that appearances can deceive.
    • 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.
    • 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
    It's more than a first-rate film showing up and doing its job. It's cathartic, and moving, without any of the usual obvious contrivances or manipulations.
    • 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
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Leigh's film — one of the year's best — honors its subject in all his tetchy ambiguity.
    • 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
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The life of Riley is not exotic; her troubles are not unique. But they are rendered with serious imagination by Docter and company.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Small, sure and stunningly acted, this is a picture of exacting control.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It has found a considerable, gratefully discombobulated audience all around the world, and it deserves one here.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Director and co-writer Tom McCarthy played a weasel of a journalist in "The Wire." Now he has made a meticulous, exacting procedural on real-life journalists who excelled at their job; had the resources to do it properly; and in early 2002, published the first in a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of grim, carefully detailed stories of pedophile priests.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Stone is spectacular, and she's reason enough to see La La Land. Chazelle is a born filmmaker, and he doesn't settle for rehashing familiar bits from musicals we already love. He's too busy giving us reasons to fall for this one.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Nina Paley's delicious Sita Sings the Blues finds solace in autobiography and an animated gold mine in the caverns of an ancient Sanskrit epic.
    • 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
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It's a small story set in a memorably desolate location. The actors, all quite magnificent, enlarge it, just as cinematographer Mikhail Krichman illuminates the vistas and roadways and even the furtive kitchen table glances between clandestine lovers.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Though uneven and less witty than the first two, Toy Story 3 delivers quite enough in two dimensions.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Painful and unforgettable — a serious and honorable form, perhaps the highest, of "gotcha" journalism imaginable.
    • 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
    From its initial first-person, behind-the-wheel viewpoint to its final implication of all-pervasive surveillance, Panahi creates a fascinating hybrid that becomes a microcosm of Tehran.
    • 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.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Ida
    One of the year's gems.
    • 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 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 creator of the original "Mad Max" trilogy has whipped up a gargantuan grunge symphony of vehicular mayhem that makes "Furious 7" look like "Curious George."
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The whole movie, a feast of ensemble wiles and stunning hair, is juicy, funny and alive.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    A rich and troubling documentary highlight of the year.
    • 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
    • 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
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    This is a small, tight, starkly claustrophobic film, closer in impact to Elie Wiesel's first-person account of the concentration camps, "Night," than to the artful, slightly suspect emotional catharsis of director Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List."
    • 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.
    • 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
    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.
    • 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 filmmaker's documentary training pays off in detail after detail.
    • 88 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.
    • 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
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    I love it, not simply because I love Chekhov or because I've loved so much of Ceylan's earlier work. I love it because the director, having come into his own as a master international filmmaker years ago, gives us so much to see and think about, so many astringent observations about life's compromises and longings.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Even with its limitations it's one of the necessary films of 2013.
    • 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
    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
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    What the movie has, above all, is a dramatic line, clean and straight. In its faces, its scenery and its plain satisfactions it makes us feel like we've been somewhere, when we get to the end of that line.
    • 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
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It's Chekhovian screwball, a perfect little tale of love (or thereabouts) in bloom among the weeds of an ordinary life. It feels like a classic already.
    • 88 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.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Braga isn't quite the whole show in Aquarius, but she's certainly a lot of it.
    • 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
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It's one of the most satisfying films of 2015.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Uncommonly good ensemble storytelling.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Movies concerned with the life, the mind, the body and the dawning self-respect of a 15-year-old girl running every sort of risk — these are rare. The Diary of a Teenage Girl is one of them, and it's terrific.
    • 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
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The naked emotions, when they finally break loose, carry serious weight, akin to a John Cassavetes psychodrama.
    • 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
    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.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Whit Stillman's Love & Friendship is compact, modestly budgeted, sublimely acted and almost completely terrific.
    • 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.
    • 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
    The parent/child relationship at the movie's core is endlessly fascinating.
    • 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
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Here's one of the strongest feature film debuts in a long time, in any genre.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    We need films such as Kennedy's as a corrective.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Any film with Jennifer Ehle, perfect as the tightly wound but loving therapist, tends to be worth seeing in the first place.
    • 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
    The grace, elegance, carefully muted color palette and gradual acknowledgment of life's milestones lift The Red Turtle far above the average so-called "family-friendly" animation.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It's a beauty, all right. It's more a style show than a deep philosophical treatise, but with surfaces this sleek and faces this interesting, I'll take style over substance any day.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The acting is wonderful throughout, but Alidoosti creates an especially haunting depiction of one woman's adversities in a country, and a marriage, that may not have her best interests at heart.
    • 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
    • 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.

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