Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 41
  2. Negative: 0 out of 41
  1. 100
    This is one of the year's best films.
  2. Sumptuously exciting, glowing with expertise, seething with life, gorgeously designed and thrillingly articulated.
  3. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Despite the film's sporadic lulls, both director and star are on full beam. The first and third hours of this 20th-century epic are as dazzling as big-scale movies get.
  4. 100
    If you didn't know that Martin Scorsese made The Aviator, the enthralling new adventure-biography of Howard Hughes, you might think it was the calling card of a neophyte visual genius.
  5. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    An enormously entertaining slice of biographical drama, The Aviator flies like one of Howard Hughes' record-setting speed airplanes.
  6. 100
    Brilliantly entertaining.
  7. 91
    The Aviator, though, if not prime Scorsese, is the closest thing in a long time to the old Scorsese. What a splendid year-end gift!
  8. It's not his (Scorsese) best film, but it's his most accessible and most thoroughly entertaining.
  9. Reviewed by: Chris Barsanti
    This is Scorsese’s "Schindler's List", for better and for worse (mostly the better).
  10. The result is an admirably bumpy ride of a biopic, a rare one that leaves you feeling not safe but bracingly unsettled.
  11. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    DiCaprio is astonishing.
  12. 88
    When it flies, it soars.
  13. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    So breathtaking is the action.
  14. Scorsese has crafted a rip-roaringly gorgeous-looking, beautifully acted biographical epic. But while firing on all cylinders, there's something oddly distancing about the picture.
  15. Reviewed by: Simon Braund
    DiCaprio shines, dispelling fears that he hasn’t the weight to carry such a complex, forceful role.
  16. 80
    Hugely entertaining and extravagantly empathetic.
  17. 80
    A frenzied, sometimes overreaching biopic that paints in bold colors on a huge canvas, the film stars a never-better Leonardo DiCaprio--as perfectly cast here as he was miscast in "Gangs."
  18. Tainted or not, Hughes' life was a remarkable one, and, flawed or not, Scorsese's film version deserves the same accolade.
  19. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    But Cate Blanchett ... ahhhh. She doesn't impersonate Katharine Hepburn, she channels her.
  20. 78
    It’s bravura, classic Hollywood filmmaking, and you like to think that Hughes himself would have viewed it, if not appreciatively, then at least with a sense of kinship.
  21. Has to be called one of the year's best movies. Credit goes partly to the built-in fascination of its subject and partly to its excellent cast.
  22. 75
    Scorsese has crafted a luxurious entertainment that goes down like a flute of sparkling, silky champagne.
  23. 75
    The movie equivalent of a lavish coffee-table book, a love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood from one of its foremost students.
  24. Scorsese's most accomplished, most disciplined movie since GoodFellas. His most gorgeous, too, with the peaches'n'strawberries'n'cream palette of early Technicolor films.
  25. The Aviator has a hole in its center, and Scorsese fills it the only way he can, with spectacle. He makes The Aviator colorful and entertaining from beginning to end. There are worse things.
  26. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    As luscious as the filmmaking craft here is, it lacks the rude vitality, the unpredictability, the pure American craziness of the films that should have won him (Scorsese) the Oscar: "Mean Streets," "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull," and "GoodFellas."
  27. 75
    A flawed but entertaining (and perhaps informative) tale.
  28. Running at about three hours, The Aviator is long, and the momentum occasionally flags. The depiction of Hughes's first mental breakdown feels a little obsessive-compulsive itself.
  29. Martin Scorsese understands one character better than any other American director: the man who rises in the world to wealth or prominence without attaining what he wants most. That's why Howard Hughes is an ideal subject for this director.
  30. Scorsese, I think, is so invested in making The Aviator upbeat and rousing that the movie never quite reveals, the way that "Kinsey" or "Ray" or "A Beautiful Mind" or even a good E! True Hollywood Story do, how its hero's vision and his grand torments could be flip sides of the same temperament.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 303 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 29 out of 149
  1. PlixikW.
    Jul 13, 2006
    amazing movie. awesome directing by scorsese and awesome acting by dicaprio.
  2. annonymous
    Jan 6, 2006
    Great movie slow in some parks but it was so good All of you who gave it a 0 2 or 3 have no life!!!!!
  3. Aug 25, 2014
    The great detail and enormity of The Aviator is astonishing. Leonardo DiCaprio's portrayal of the billionaire and mad-man is unmatched. Martin Scorsese will instantly engage you, and you'll remember this one. Full Review »