Steve Persall
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For 549 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 69% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 29% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 8.1 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Steve Persall's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 68
Highest review score: 100 Buck
Lowest review score: 0 The Change-Up
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 53 out of 549
549 movie reviews
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Toy Story 3 isn't merely the best movie of the summer -- even with summer just kicking in -- but an immediate candidate for best of the year.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The movie grabbed me and wouldn't let go during a bravura set piece at a soccer game when Campanella's camera glides into the stadium, finds Benjamin's face in the crowd and doesn't stop moving (with only a couple of edits) for six breathtaking minutes.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Lawrence is in every scene of Winter's Bone, leaving her plenty of opportunity to make false moves. I dare you to find one, in a performance to be remembered during awards season.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Restrepo is about soldiers, not politics. The question of whether U.S. troops belong there isn't posed. Their devotion to duty and each other is unquestioned.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Hands down and body parts floating, the most irresistibly sick movie in years is Piranha 3D, which should be retitled Piranha 3D, Double-D and C for all the topless cuties director Alexandre Aja feeds the fish and audience.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    This is a remarkable film for more reasons than its antihero, from the cyberspeed wisdom of Aaron Sorkin's screenplay to Jeff Cronenweth's camera prowling the excesses of youthful genius gone wild.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    One of the year's best documentaries.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Like Bertie's struggle, there's so much wonderment to articulate about this film that being mistaken for a stammering idiot is a risk. See it, then say it for yourself: The King's Speech is the best movie of 2010.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Think "Catch Me If You Can" mashed up with "Brokeback Mountain" if Mel Brooks directed and you'll get the idea.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Sounds depressing, although Rabbit Hole isn't, with David Lindsay-Abaire presenting a perceptive, subtly dark-humored adaptation of his Pulitzer Prize-winning play.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Sounds depressing, but Blue Valentine is a reminder that well-measured and expertly acted pain is as thrilling to watch as 3-D spectacle.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The soundtrack is a small marvel of music hall tunes and dialogue that is mostly garbled, allowing expressions and body language to be interpreted.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Rango is wild, woolly and weird, and the first movie of 2011 that I must see again.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Rio
    Bursting with color and rippling with samba rhythms, Rio makes you wonder why animated films haven't spent more time in Brazil.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    A movie of here-and-now thrills, goosed by judicious CGI effects that never overpower the humanity of the situation.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Allen eventually gets to the heart of this matter: the allure and danger of nostalgia.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Incendies is a gallery of nightly news atrocities - a bus massacre, rape, children with guns - yet it's made intensely personal under the director's steady hand.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The funniest comedy of degeneracy since "Bad Santa," and a career-changer for Aniston and Farrell if they'll only keep following their perverted muses. Horrible Bosses spins hostile work environments into a movie surpassing "9 to 5" and "Office Space" as the touchstone flick for disenchanted drones.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Buck is a movie to be revisited again and again, like passages from a satisfying self-help book. Riding experience isn't necessary to realize how extraordinary this man and his calling are.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Considering Parts 1 and 2 of Deathly Hallows as a single enterprise, as they should be, this is a rare franchise that just kept getting better.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The weight of Carlos' world shows on his rugged face, even with rare half-smiles. This is a masterfully understated performance that should be remembered during awards season.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    It's irreverent about cancer and that could be inspirational. And it's surely one of the most enjoyable movies I've seen all year.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Yes, Kermit does reprise The Rainbow Connection, surely one of the loveliest movie songs ever and, yes, it still brings tears to your eyes. Happy tears, realizing some marvelous things never change.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The Descendants would still be a splendid movie without him; with Clooney, it's one of 2011's very best.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    It's the most unsettling nice surprise of 2011.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Hazanavicius crafted more than a replica of the silent era; this feels like a time capsule found 80 years later, right on time to be revolutionary in a louder world. Yet The Artist is a masterwork that likely won't be imitated. How many movies in 2011 can you say that about? Only the best one.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    In a movie year of more than two dozen animated films, this and "Rango" tower over all others. Welcome to America, Tintin. It's great getting to know you.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    It's a mystery wrapped inside an enigmatic nation, flawlessly acted and difficult to predict. I'm always impressed when a movie informs about a foreign culture while it entertains, and this one is powerful art in that regard.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The Cabin in the Woods isn't merely another "Scream" exercise in self-awareness, or a "Scary Movie" spoof of the same. It's a wickedly smart hybrid mutation, biting the severed hand feeding the genre.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Monsieur Lazhar becomes a deeply affecting film not for pathos but for the way sadness is conveyed so subtly. It's a small triumph of restrained compassion, coaxing throat lumps rather than jerking tears.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    It's more amusing than you might expect, and ultimately more touching than an eroding society around them deserves.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Hushpuppy carries a lot of emotional weight on her slender shoulders, and Wallis makes one wish to climb into the screen to lighten the load with an embrace. Do not miss this performance, or this quietly astonishing, life-affirming masterpiece.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    This is a rapturous cinematic experience, a spellbinding expression of shrouded ideas and exposed talent, top to bottom.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    I adore The Perks of Being a Wallflower for its honest, unsentimental feel, which gets stretched a bit in the revelatory finale, but by then I didn't mind.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Argo works superbly on two levels, first as a white-knuckle re-enactment of events in Iran and scrambling strategies in Washington.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    I've watched Sleepwalk With Me twice now, each time impressed with Birbiglia's confidence in revealing so much about his craft and himself, and the freely associated style with which he does it.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The movie's assured direction by Sam Mendes can't be underestimated.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The Sessions is often brazenly funny, not from shocking dialogue but characters speaking and reacting the way real people do, especially with such a flustering subject as sex.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Silver Linings Playbook is a bracing shaken cocktail of awkward failure and accidental success, with Pat and Tiffany making a refreshing and unlikely couple to root for. We just want them to be abnormal together, share their favorite antidepressants, maybe even dance to Stevie Wonder.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The last thing we see in Zero Dark Thirty is Maya's face and it is also ours, silently crying tears of reflection.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    With Amour, it's the rare feeling of watching a masterpiece unfold.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    42
    One of the all-time great sports movies — primarily because it's one of the all-time great sports stories.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Yes, this one is even better: funnier, brawnier and ingeniously constructed for appeal to both devoted fans and reluctant converts.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Man of Steel is more than just Avengers-sized escapism; it's an artistic introduction to a movie superhero we only thought we knew.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Pacific Rim gives big, dumb and loud an exemplary name and summer audiences something to cheer.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The jokes are often double-edged, the performances always spot-on. The Way, Way Back doesn't re-invent the teenage turning point genre, but Faxon and Rash offer a breezy new spin. You'll see more inventive movies this year but few more endearing.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    A movie as direct and devastating as a point-blank bullet to the back, like the one that killed Oscar Grant on the first morning of a new year, 2009.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite creates a fascinating character study of Tilikum, part of a revered species without a single confirmed kill of a human in the wild. Captivity is where Blackfish's evidence continually points the blame for Tilikum's deadly behavior.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Blue Jasmine is Allen's 44th movie in 47 years, an amazing run with storied highs and notorious lows along the way. This one ranks among his finest dramas, his best since "Match Point."
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    What "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" did for zombie and cop flicks The World's End does for sci-fi fatalism, respecting its doomsday tropes while presenting them with cheeky wit and a refreshing strategy of sensory underload.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The movie's finest performance is Daniel Bruhl's unapologetic bluntness as Lauda, and his subtle conveyance of jealousy the driver — whose resemblance to a rat is often noted — must have felt about Hunt's popularity and handsomeness.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Gravity is a game-changer like "Avatar" in the realm of digital 3-D special effects, inventing trickeries to be applied by future filmmakers and possibly never improved upon. Yet its spirit is closer to Avatar's smarter descendants, "Hugo" and "Life of Pi," with the gimmicks embellishing, not driving, the material. Less Cameron, more Kubrick.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    At this point in his celebrated career, there shouldn't be much new that Hanks can show us. But there is, as the actor reaches deep inside to express the relief of dodging death as I've never seen it played before. He's in shock; we're awed.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Chandor and Redford make an illuminating procedural of Our Man's response to calamity... Our Man is everyman, revealed by beautifully filmed and edited action without exposition.
    • 97 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    There has never been a movie like 12 Years a Slave, which is Hollywood's shame. Miss it, and that mistake is yours.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Not much happens to Woody in Payne's movie, compared to modern penchants for rushed narratives and easily defined characters. Yet patience pays off, with a suitably minor triumph for such an unassuming man. And a major acting triumph for Dern.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Russell and co-writer Eric Warren Singer lay out these deceits and double-crosses with precision but American Hustle isn't merely a procedural. Defining these outsized personalities, tracing their unconventional connections and affections, is where Russell's movie finds its irreverent heartbeat.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The Coens fashion an atmospheric descent for Llewyn, a meticulous re-creation of Greenwich Village's folk scene in 1961, around the time Bob Dylan hit town.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Her
    So many things could go terribly wrong with Spike Jonze's Her, and it's a small cinematic miracle that nothing does.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The jokes fly at a pace demanding viewers to either refrain from laughing (highly unlikely) or see The Lego Movie again to catch all the wondrous sights and amiable wit sliding by the first time.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    With The Past, Farhadi again displays a gift for poking into corners of nondescript lives and discovering unique drama.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    This is a gorgeous production, even by Miyazaki's standards.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The Grand Budapest Hotel is as artistically manicured as any of his seven previous movies, and richer comically and emotionally than most.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Kaur and Khan, who was robbed of a IIFA nod, scarcely share a frame of The Lunchbox, yet the emotional connection of their characters is palpable.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Herbert's tale is twisted into a barely recognizable rush of pretentions made entertaining by Jodorowsky's glee in describing them. At age 85 he remains a madman with immense personality, a pinhole visionary insisting his Dune would be a prophecy shaping generations. Jodorowsky's Dune makes a viewer wish he'd gotten the chance.
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Hoop Dreams is what sportwriters would call "the total package:" intimate and illuminating in its depiction of two Chicago high-school basketball players and their goals, while never allowing an audience to forget that these boys and the families who support their struggles are part of the American fabric which hasn't received its due. [13Jan 1995, p.6]
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Yet for all of the technological genius at work here, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes maintains a remarkably human core, even under digital makeup.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Life Itself impressively covers the elements of Ebert's memoir.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Gone Girl is a terrific movie, everything the book and its fans deserve.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    It's a refreshing change from run-of-the-kill horror. Nothing in Splice feels done merely for the moment -- it's to creep you out later.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    What's fun is how the new Karate Kid embraces and vastly improves the cliches, keeping the plot cleverly updated for a generation that never heard of Ralph Macchio.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Rapace is a magnetic presence in a far-ranging mystery requiring such a solid character to orbit around.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    There's much more to the adventure, a deft balance of fantasy and teen angst that never loses its contemporary sense of humor.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    The A-Team is literally a blast, from the opening credits containing more thrills than the average shoot-'em-up (and more laughs than some comedies), to a climactic orgy of CGI destruction.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Quirky to the brink of exhaustion, the latest from Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a live-action Looney Tune complete with Acme contraptions and wily coyotes.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Tangled would be a satisfying adventure on plot and 3D sensations alone.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    It's gory and gut-wrenching but strangely life-affirming.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Redford proves that at 75 he can still choose meaningful projects and deliver them with intelligence.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    The plot is a piffle but Ozon's presentation is gloriously romantic.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Part two is even more gorgeous to behold, and deeper in substance.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Warrior is a surprising gut punch, a modern-day "Rocky" saga with two mixed martial arts pugs trying to beat, choke and kick the system.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Scott briskly blends the high-minded stuff with impressive boo-and-goo sequences, ratcheting tension in tight spots and dark caverns.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Robot & Frank occasionally strains for emotion and stretches credulity, even for such fantasy circumstances. But it has two hearts - one human, one not - in the right place, and intelligence that is anything but artificial.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Johnson keeps it simple, yet never stupid. Looper is a puzzle engaging your brain, rather than frying it, as one character describes the process. Obviously he has seen enough movies on the subject by 2024 to know how frustrating that is. This one plays fair with the fantasy.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Exhilarating drama, and a triumphant return to glory for both Zemeckis and Washington.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Never has 3-D illusion been used to such pure storytelling effect.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Thanks to Jackson's involvement as a producer, Berg has time and access Berlinger and Sinofsky didn't, allowing expansion of whatever material that's repeated.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    It's a story languorously told in three chapters, the first two in the late 1980s and the third 15 years later. Each could be a movie unto themselves. Together they prove Cianfrance to be an effectively unobtrusive storyteller, crafting without artifice what book critics would call a page turner.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    A feel-good movie in the most positive meaning of that term, thanks to the Motown music and O'Dowd's cheeky charm.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Ready to Wear is a comedy - one of Altman's funniest - but it's the humor of humiliation, of the characters and the industry. [23 Dec 1994, p.16]
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 91 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Plenty of secrets are uncovered before the fadeout, plus another nugget dropped midway through the end credits that may render nearly everything beforehand to be false. That's the nature of intimacies submerged so long then revealed.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    The East is a crackling thriller and a political statement tough to peg.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    World War Z presents an abundance of relatively plausible action, smart solutions and one useful piece of information: When the zombiepocalypse comes, the undead are flying coach.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is movie escapism made with intelligence, and that doesn't come around often enough. As I sensed this movie ending I wished it wouldn't, and when it did I wanted the next one now. Take that, Bilbo.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    As a wisely devised teenage drama, The Spectacular Now treats kids and adults respectfully, even their foolish weaknesses. That respect extends to the audience.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    The pointlessness of Jep's journey is Sorrentino's point, richly made.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Despite wild deviations in spiritual themes and execution, nothing in Noah approaches sacrilege or surrender, making this an acutely sensible biblical epic. It may simply be too strange for the masses to notice.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    There's something fairly malignant in the way Glazer's strange movie holds attention, against the urge to give up and leave. There is no doubting its boundless artistry or pretension, a dangerous position for any movie in today's love-me pop culture to place itself in. Under the Skin is exactly where it gets.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    If he made The Ghost Writer under a pseudonym, it might be roundly hailed as the classy white-knuckler it is. But it's Polanski's name above the title, with his own ghosts haunting each frame.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    The Runaways isn't just about rock 'n' roll; it IS rock 'n' roll, as loud, sexy, sometimes sloppy and ultimately exhilarating as the music can be.