Michael Phillips

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For 1,691 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 4.1 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Michael Phillips' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 65
Highest review score: 100 My Dog Tulip
Lowest review score: 0 Chappie
Score distribution:
1691 movie reviews
    • 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
    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
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    A genuinely charming comedy about real people challenging themselves to create new realities for laughs and a little truth, one made-up scene at a time.
    • 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 sounds sentimental, icky, even, but Heart of a Dog sparkles with its creator's wisdom and droll philosophical insight.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Much of the action takes place in the couple's haphazard apartment, but the movie really does feel like a movie, with Farhadi's camera unobtrusively energizing the close-quarters exchanges, both verbal and non-verbal. The acting is splendid.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Deeply personal, wryly funny and fantastically cinematic.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    It's one of the year's most pleasurable American movies.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    What you’re left with, finally, is the pleasure of a wily director’s company. In much the same way John Huston defied convention and predictability in the third act of his directorial career, with films as odd and fresh as “Wise Blood” and “Prizzi’s Honor,” Lumet is doing the same, right now.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    There’s something of the harlequin in Leigh’s conception of this bright, manic young woman.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Several aspects of Weiner, from Jeff Beal's sardonic music (interpolating, among other cues, the theme from "S.W.A.T.") to the shock-cut editing strategies, nudge the movie toward entertaining if facile mockery mixed with just enough empathy to prevent curdling. It's pretty irresistible viewing, though, which is a pretty sad thing to concede.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    McConaughey is first-rate throughout, on top of every dramatic and blackly comic situation, even when the character isn't on top of anything.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    The film doesn't so much build as glide, in a pleasing, half-stumbling way, to the first day of school, which links Everybody Wants Some!! to Linklater's previous film, the gentle masterwork "Boyhood."
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Weirdly touching documentary.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    The first 90 minutes of Avatar are pretty terrific - a full-immersion technological wonder with wonders to spare. The other 72 minutes, less and less terrific.
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 63 Michael Phillips
    I’m flummoxed as to why the movie left me feeling up in the air, as opposed to over the moon. Partly, I think, it’s a matter of how Anderson’s sense of humor rubs up against that of the book’s author, Roald Dahl.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    While director Armando Iannucci's brand of satire -- just plausible enough to be painful -- isn't for all tastes, it's a little bit of heaven to hear screen characters spew such eloquently vicious bile.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Is what we see grief porn or an epic, careerlong study in the best and worst we can find on Earth? See the film and decide for yourself.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Small but sure, the film is like Alejandro himself: quick on its feet, attuned to a harsh life’s hardships and possibilities.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    '71
    Swift and exciting, with no taste for the usual war movie heroics, first-time feature film director Yann Demange's film belongs on a short list of immersive, rattling, authentic fictions right next door to the fact of survival inside a war zone.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    The film may be depressing. But even with a terrible, watery musical score, it's also good.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Writer-director Robert Eggers' "New England folk tale" film isn't likely to go bonkers in the popular culture the way "Blair Witch" did. But it's an infinitely richer, more meticulous, more elegant and more unnerving horror film — the best since "The Babadook," and very likely a 21st century classic in its hardy yet malleable genre.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Project Nim is practically irresistible. The story keeps getting odder and richer and more complicated.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It makes the dream of flight itself a vehicle for bittersweet enchantment.
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    “Elephant” may have won the Palme d’Or at Cannes but it really didn’t have anything to say about anything. Modest and artful, Paranoid Park says a great deal.
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Rich and stimulating even when it wanders.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    It is, however, just about perfect in its wrenching emotion, expressed by an actor clearly up to the challenge of acting in a Paul Greengrass docudrama — which is to say, acting with as little capital-A Acting as possible.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Finally! A comedy that works.
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Farmiga has never been better than she is here. Rarely does she get to do comedy, and she and Clooney give Up in the Air's sustained air of engaging disengagement a heartbeat as well as a romantic charge.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    The neatest effects in U2 3D are simple ones. The wow/coolness of watching a revered superstar tilt his mic stand toward the camera creates a simple but irresistible feeling of being there in the flesh, with a phalanx of expensive digital 3-D cameras.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    By the end of Lake of Fire, you know full well you’re in the presence of a deeply conflicted filmmaker, bound to make all sides uneasy, even enraged.
    • 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").
    • 83 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    The issues at play in Mustang are gravely serious but the tone and rhythm is brisk, headlong and intelligently lively, like the women at the center.
    • 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.”
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Half the film, written by Coogler and Aaron Covington, revels in cliches, skillfully. The other half sidesteps them and concentrates on scenes and relationships that breathe easily and draw us in the hard way: not by narrative fiat or bald calculation, but through well-written and shrewdly acted encounters.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Whatever the film's limitations, it's certainly engaging to watch. As is Mohamed Fellag, as Lazhar.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Muylaert's picture relates to many other South American domestic comedies pitting "the help" against the economic overlords, but this one has the grace to humanize everyone on screen. The results are both smart and curious.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 63 Michael Phillips
    127 Hours never calms down. You suspect you're only getting half the truth of what this ordeal must've been like.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Enough talk; enough flashbacks. Sometimes the best thing a mystery can do is give its protagonist a reason to run like hell.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Chomet himself has written the gentle waltz theme and other music. The piece glides by, effortlessly.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    The actor (Segel) creates a dreamy, solemn but subtly vibrant version of Wallace that works for him and for the material.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    This one slice of the American experience amounts to one of the best films of the year.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Everything within the film connects to neighboring elements, performance to performance to cryptic absurdity (the opening is one of the strangest of the year) to surprisingly heartfelt acknowledgment of the power of love. Whether things work out or not.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Breathlessly paced bordering on manic, but propulsively entertaining.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    It's a strength of this carefully composed, almost obsessively controlled picture that it has no interest in the conventional biographical focus on a subject.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    I can't imagine Anvil! not appealing to anyone interested in any aspect of showbiz, and the drug of fame, and the lives people lead in pursuit of the next fix.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The Trip isn't much, but it's more than enough.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Michael Clayton is a here’s-how-it-happened drama, cleverly but not over-elaborately structured.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    The Spectacular Now is rare: a coming-of-age movie featuring a teenage couple about whom you actually give a rip.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    This is one of the real finds of 2008.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 63 Michael Phillips
    The movie, a formidable technical and design achievement, has everything going for it except a sense of Jobs' inner life.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It all flows from the shum. The man's musical and political influence was no illusion.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Haneke’s vision is gripping. The craftsmanship, classically shaped narrative and icy visual beauty cannot be denied.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Does Kaurismaki believe in his own fairy tale? The movie, a humble delight, suggests the answer is yes.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    Sensational, grandly sinister and not for the kids, The Dark Knight elevates pulp to a very high level.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    It's a lot. But if you're at all inclined, it's just right.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Michael Phillips
    The wondrous cinematography is by Gokhan Tiryaki. It is not an easy picture. Not many masterpieces are.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Tone is everything here. While likely influenced by Chilean absurdists of another era, such as playwright Egon Wolff, in The Maid Silva treads an ultra-fine line between caricature and character, leaning toward the latter without weighing down an essentially featherweight creation.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The Coens' film is a wisenheimer, a mordant black comedy. Eden is utterly different, more muted and humane in tone. It won't be enough for some audiences.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Remarkable documentary filmmaking, unflinching and full of unlikely grace.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    Ellen Page is key to its success, as much as Cody, or director Jason Reitman.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    In the scenes between mother and daughter in their apartment, the world outside no longer judging every action, new worlds open up. And therein lies the cinema's role in our lives: It reveals what is concealed to others.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    It's Williams you never question, who makes every detail and close-up and impulse natural. She's spectacularly good.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    In Top Five, you sense Rock trying to load all these disparate talents onto a conventional romantic-comedy structure. It's a close call, but it holds.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 63 Michael Phillips
    Katyn will not join Wajda's list of masterworks. In its final flashback, however, when we're taken back to the forest and the details of what really happened, we see what we must see, the clear-eyed way we should see it.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 75 Michael Phillips
    Twenty minutes in, Hardy notwithstanding, you might be tempted to bail on Locke. Don't.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Michael Phillips
    The film is an anomaly — a confident, slightly square, highly satisfying example of old-school Hollywood craftsmanship, starring a major movie star brandishing a briefcase, and a handkerchief, rather than a pistol.

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