Michael Sragow
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For 1,035 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 51% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 47% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 4.4 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Michael Sragow's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 64
Highest review score: 100 Harvard Beats Yale 29-29
Lowest review score: 0 CJ7
Score distribution:
1,035 movie reviews
    • 92 Metascore
    • 42 Michael Sragow
    Anderson and Day-Lewis strip themselves of their natural talents for invention and poetry, as if any hint of romance, nobility or fun would soften the film.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Wants to be a bittersweet comedy about erotic loss and memory loss. But it doesn't have the heart or brain.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Even with the great Ken Watanabe lending command and compassion to the role of General Kuribayashi, it's a formless slog across a treacherous field.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Romanticism fights stoicism to a draw, and the movie grows ever more static, too. Down to the quasi-ambiguous hate-crime finish, Brokeback Mountain comes as close to being a still life as you can get with human characters.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    In a boxing soap-opera way, Eastwood is trying to do for himself as a performer what Sergio Leone did for him in a spaghetti-western way: douse his rough-hewn banality with reflected emotional coloration.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Starts out as a barbed, poignant little movie and turns into an excruciating slow-motion car wreck.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    In "Jaws," you didn't know whether to laugh or to scream. In The Host, the yocks rarely mesh with the yucks.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Mystic River wants to be a Bruce Springsteen-like anthem of life and death in blue-collar America. It's no more than a doggerel rendition of poetic injustice.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Spider as a character is a fantasizing detective, but the movie is no Singing Detective (the high-water mark of the sub-genre). This film rarely rises above a murmur.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    Cache is the feel-guilty movie of the new millennium.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Strip away the portentous style and lush views of nature in The Return and all you've got is a slender nightmare of a family gone haywire in an outing that turns into survival camp.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    A handsome, accomplished piece of work, but it drove me from absorption to excruciation within 20 minutes, and then it went on for two hours more.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Eastern Promises is intensely anti-dramatic.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    A History of Violence is a hollow story from an empty graphic novel.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    The movie has been hailed and marketed as this year's Little Miss Sunshine, but it has none of that movie's empathy and comic surprise. Too much of it is like a subpar episode of Freaks and Geeks, padded out to 92 minutes with pseudo-witty dialogue.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    You have to grasp at straws to make even "poetic" sense of the narrative.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    It's a bad joke that District 9 will be hailed for its "originality."
    • 81 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The movie gets as overblown and masochistic as the worst Joan Crawford vehicle. Its saving grace is that Bernal really does have his own deep-set, smoldering variation on Bette Davis eyes.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Whale Rider is one long, sensitive downer capped by an uplifting finale. A martyr fantasy that turns victorious -- it's a surefire recipe for arthouse crowd-pleasing.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The movie dramatizes a social-sexual sea change with an out-of-control blend of cartoon farce and melodrama and clinical, often ludicrous sex scenes.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 42 Michael Sragow
    Flags of Our Fathers fails as fact or legend. It's woefully incompetent as narrative moviemaking.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    All the Coens come up with is a movie about bad things happening to limited people.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    It lacks even Tarantino-esque vitality. It moves more like a busted concertina.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    The movie comes together like a nihilistic jigsaw puzzle - with a few pieces removed for that special, indefinable dash of pseudo-density.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    Misplaced hero-worship and glibness get in the way of its amazing true story.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Holofcenere genuinely wants to make pictures that plug into an audience's need for intimate contemporary comedies. But she doesn't do enough to quench that thirst.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    There's no innocence left in Shrek 2. The helter-skelter story and throwaway gags emerge from a sensibility that confuses gossipy knowingness and jadedness with wit.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Instead of being supple and expansive like the book, this Little Children is heavy-handed and snarky.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Falls victim to flimsy characters and a love story that strains reality.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 42 Michael Sragow
    Munich is so broad-stroke it cuts itself at every turn. It's also a thoroughly lifeless movie.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    And the movie, likable for short stretches, ends up seeming worn and frayed, like Christmas decorations left hanging until spring.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Despite its director's skill at staging trash with dash, Oldboy is too long and portentous to be an enjoyable B movie. The movie's self-seriousness short-circuits its sensationalism.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    A Mighty Heart has the surface tension of a first-rate docudrama but neither the passion nor the vision to encompass its powerhouse subject.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Sin City is a seedy tribute to rugged masculinity disguised as a rogue's gallery, all the better to please college boys who like their sentimentality slicked with grunge.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    If any man should be more than the sum of his parts, it's an artist. But Todd Haynes' I'm Not There makes Bob Dylan less than the sum of his parts. It's like a tony art-school parlor game.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The blend of chic histrionics and ultra-bright daylight imagery make much of the movie resemble a network soap opera with an on-location interlude. It looks as cheap as life is held in Medellin.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    Notes on a Scandal isn't humorous or witty enough to sustain black comedy, and it isn't insightful or deep enough to suggest a contemporary tragedy. All it does is put an eloquent veneer on petty meanness.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    On screen, Road to Perdition becomes a lace-curtain shoot-'em-up about fathers and sons. The graphic novel is more kinetic and more powerful than the motion picture.
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Shallow and one-sided.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Webber's film offers painstaking reproductions of the town of Delft circa 1665 in all four seasons. That's just the problem: you feel every pain he took. Girl With a Pearl Earring is an art movie in the worst way.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    Contains a dozen winning moments of humor, uplift or exhilaration. But are they enough to justify a 154-minute running time?
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Johansson bequeaths the welcome sight of a talent in full bloom to this wilted, dark whimsy of a movie.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    What's fatal to the film is that De Niro's character, though compelling, is so temperate and wise he gives no indication of why he was drawn to a life of crime.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Despite its adrenalized actors, Tape is a tired return to the roots of the American indie movement's popular surge a dozen years ago. It could have been called "sex, lies and audiotape."
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Those who come to the movie cold will find it an exasperating assembly of brutal pedantry and whimsies, boasting far less charm or grace than even the first Harry Potter picture.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Batman Begins is obvious from the get-go - and almost no fun.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The movie doesn't complete itself, in the sense of filling in our knowledge of its people (who are more like passengers). It simply comes to a stop.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Although the acclaimed documentary Gunner Palace contains some electrifying vignettes of the Iraq war, its jaggedly elliptical and hopped-up style lands it in a limbo between ragged and slick.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    In Curse of the Golden Flower, Zhang Yimou tries to top the breathtaking poetic spectacle of his masterpiece, "House of Flying Daggers," and instead plummets into self-parody.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Luckily, Penn, Watts and Leo carry more weight than that; they keep this movie's two hours and five minutes from seeming like lost time.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Denzel Washington does a cocksure turn in Training Day -- That may be enough to transform a shallow picture with delusions of grandeur into a crowd-pleasing hit.
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    New York critics have anointed Crash in advance as the Second Coming, but it's just another over-ambitious first movie.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    What's frustrating is that the movie should be so much better, or at least more entertaining. With Baldwin, Macy and Bello, director Kramer is holding three of a kind.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The only gold in Sunshine State comes from its three female stars.
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Divided We Fall has a lot going for it, but its Places in the Heart ending, sentimental and incongruous, helps ensure that it will not find a place in a demanding audience's heart or mind.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    It bears roughly the same resemblance to the Bennett Miller-Dan Futterman-Philip Seymour Hoffman masterpiece as the now-forgotten "Valmont" did to "Dangerous Liaisons."
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The problem with Doubt is its dramatic certainty.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 42 Michael Sragow
    But even those who succumb to his primitive, survivalist vision may resent the way he presents every kind of atrocity at least twice without illuminating any of the exotic details once.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    Kate Beckinsale is too good for any of the guys in Snow Angels and too good for this movie. Her inventiveness exposes just how puny this movie is.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    As the movie rambles along with its own brand of quasi-magical surrealism, the links to real experience grow scarcer and more frayed.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The problem is not merely that Moore preaches to the choir. It's that, at his worst, he's so bumptious and bullheaded that he helps keep that choir small and strident. In Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore is so anti-Bush that he becomes a Bizarro-world version of Bush himself: tone-deaf, spluttering, incapable of framing an intelligent debate.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    Anderson creates a deluxe train set, for sure. All he neglects is building up an electric current or a head of steam.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    So minimalist that you wouldn't miss much if you watched semi-awake and listened to a friend's running commentary.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Auto Focus is a gutless wonder.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    As a documentary, the film is woefully underdeveloped.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Dubowski's movie is an act of hope that the basic human needs of the gay Orthodox will someday be reconciled with their faith.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    It wants to be like no other movie you've ever seen. It's more like every movie you've ever seen.
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    In Spy Kids 2, Rodriguez tries to hold his family-spy saga together with the digital equal of rubber bands and chewing gum.
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    All Fey does is apply a smattering of wit to the story.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The credits list a couple of dozen medical and scientific consultants. What this film really needed was a script doctor.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The word "yuppie" has fallen out of favor from overuse, but Closer's young urban professionals are so vain and superficial they may bring it back as the ultimate putdown. This movie is a yuppie nightmare.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    In the Valley of Elah is too inept and diffuse to be a howl against the war in Iraq. At best, it is a manly whimper.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    Despite the dominant air of foolishness, the filmmaking is lush, lively and intelligent, but the gap between the direction and the script is appalling.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    In the end, the movie proves to be, like Brosnan's character, a tarted-up cliche: a whoremonger with a heart of gold.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The kind of joyless, over-calculated hit that may leave viewers feeling not haunted but headachy.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The most grievous flaw in Richard Linklater's remake of Michael Ritchie's 1976 misfit juvenile baseball comedy The Bad News Bears is that it over-relies on Thornton's willingness to play an irredeemable degenerate.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Find Me Guilty flat-lines early.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The movie never generates the authority it needs to be all that it can be.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    At the end of Napoleon Dynamite, you're glad the geeks have their day (even Kip's chat-mate turns out be a winner); you're also relieved to be rid of them.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    It's one big miss.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Gory but lifeless.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Che
    The title and length suggest a biographical epic, but it's neither biographical nor epic. It's as if the director, Steven Soderbergh, wanted to take tissue samples of Ernesto Che Guevara's political life.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Jarrold's reduction of the story is so archetypal that it's indistinguishable from soap opera.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The movie fails at the primary steps of turning Rejas' mind inside out and dramatizing the contradictions in his heart and soul.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 42 Michael Sragow
    As an action comedy, it's just a bad trip.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The movie is edited and, worse, narrated in ways that sabotage the magic and even undercut the movie's message.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    What's hilarious about the build-up is that Secretary proves to be the softest, most middle-of-the-road movie that could have been made about this subject.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    It makes for quite a rumpus, but the material never catches fire.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Despite the cunning mixture of live-action footage and animatronic effects in Two Brothers, there's more imagination and wonder in a good old Sabu picture like "The Jungle Book" (1942). Two Brothers is more like a tacky jungle comic book.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The Assassination of Richard Nixon makes Bicke suffer the greatest indignity: it turns him into a relentless bore.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Stripped of texture, even the sharpest comments come off as bromides.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    This movie's biggest contribution to film history will be resurrecting Davies' reputation as a natural comedian stuck in deadly costume pictures because her lover wanted her placed on a pedestal.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    This movie asks us to "accept the good" in life - not a bad message. But to overpraise Things We Lost in the Fire would be to accept the mediocre.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Sragow
    It's doubly disappointing that all the subplots about Ace and Wallace and their fathers intertwine in increasingly predictable ways.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Yet it's pretty in all the wrong ways: pretty slight, pretty preachy and pretty affected.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    With all the good will in the world, I couldn't warm up to Kit Kittredge. The movie is like a 1930s or 1940s short about Americans pulling together, stretched out to feature length.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    Bubble is the moviemaking equivalent of the worst narrative journalism. Every bit of "human interest" is so painstakingly planted, so determined to be applauded for its observation and sensitivity, it ends up seeming as slick and bogus as the worst Hollywood blockbuster.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    The problem isn't the history that the filmmakers leave in, but how much they leave out.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    In Robert Gordon's script, Handler's hilariously literate bouts of psychological torture develop no consistent tone, voice or momentum.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Sragow
    As a whole, The Matrix Reloaded is thin on magic, charm, surprise and fun. It's less like an all-out escape, or even a thrill ride, than a sensory workout. At best, it's a treadmill-like bridge to the hoped-for splendors of episode three, The Matrix Revolutions.

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