Austin Chronicle's Scores

For 5,048 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 38% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 60% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 7.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 54
Highest review score: 100 Force Majeure
Lowest review score: 0 Jack
Score distribution:
5,048 movie reviews
  1. Narco Cultura smartly and movingly focuses on the cultural cycle of violence, beginning with a young, Los Angeles-based rapper, Edgar Quintero, whose main job is penning lyrics celebrating the orgiastically violent lifestyles of the drug thugs for his band Buknas de Culiacán.
  2. Sometimes people grow up sane despite the best efforts of society to drive them mad. This is the case for filmmaker Jonathan Caouette.
  3. It ends up seeming more real and more artistically, morally, and spiritually honest than any dozen bedrock documentary films you'd care to name.
  4. The Dogme pedigree rarely distracts; there is too much emotional investment to care much about dogmatic fidelity.
  5. The quiet respect Venus displays toward lions in winter, defanged though they may be, is rare enough; the film's respect for unfinessed lionesses-to-be is rarer still. Wherever they're going, no one here is going quietly.
  6. You can't help but feel conflicted watching this superb documentary about the seminal New York-based punk rock vanguard, the Ramones.
  7. It’s a spooky, moody doozy of a debut, lensed by Director of Photography Lyle Vincent in a radiant monochrome that somehow makes even the darkness sparkle.
  8. That they were just hormonally blitzkrieged kids at the time, unaware of their role in history, only makes Peralta's superior doc that much more winning.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 89 Critic Score
    A revealing, heart- and mind-engaging insight into a uniquely American character type many of us may have known.
  9. Fresh and raw like a blown-out vein, Narc takes a walking-dead, cop-flick subgenre and beats new life into it.
  10. 12
    12 is every bit as much of a moral powerhouse as its predecessors but with the added bonus of being simultaneously intellectually riveting and, at times, almost indescribably poetic.
  11. Provides that rarest of documentary accomplishments: a glimpse into the artists' sunny, dark hearts.
  12. The sum is something deeply profound: about awkwardness, culture clash, failed connections, and – ultimately – the strength that comes from surviving a trial by fire.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 89 Critic Score
    The relative restraint of Beyond the Lights is practically a godsend, presenting audiences with a fairy tale grounded in something resembling reality and fractured by external circumstance as much as internal doubts.
  13. The Immigrant is two hours long, but I stayed even longer in my seat, through the credits, still in thrall to it all. The title is singular, but the scope is not so easily quantifiable.
  14. This second incarnation of the Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt-produced animation anthology is, if anything, even better than the first.
  15. Gets under your skin with its graceful edits and poetic elisions, lovely performances, and faded imagery.
  16. Amid the increasingly horrific images of daily ghetto life are moments of utterly unexpected, haunting beauty, including a reel of color film that does more to humanize an inhuman situation than anything I've ever seen.
  17. Jacquet's penguins are as absorbing and incredible as any man-made phantasmagoria you'll find in the multiplex this summer, and it's all real.
  18. The film can feel a touch overscripted, but Polley and her actors effect true-to-life rhythms of speech.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 89 Critic Score
    Metaphorically speaking, Strictly Ballroom celebrates individuality over homogeneity; for all its melodramatic flourishes and grotesque exaggerations, it never mocks the hero's dream of self-expression.
  19. The movie's ending at the train station and the modern-day epilogue feel protracted and indulgent...Apart from the ending though, this is Spielberg's most articulate movie ever.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 89 Critic Score
    Thrilling, a grand cinematic adventure -- beautifully handled myth-making from Gibson, who, by the way, is just fine in the lead.
  20. Fiercely original in every respect.
  21. Don't let the near-impossible-to-remember title keep you away from this singular and slightly surreal Tommy Lee Jones scorcher.
  22. With such a frenetic, brain-melting load of images to ponder, it's easy to forget that there are also some terrific actors at work here, not the least of whom is the amazing Vinnie Jones.
  23. Funny and sweet and guaranteed to flood you with good feeling.
  24. Blisteringly entertaining.
  25. The Queen is palace intrigue at its finest.
  26. The film is a sure winner for arthouse audiences enamored of the new Argentine cinema, but it has crossover appeal for venturesome viewers in search of a good mystery, as well.
  27. Nearly a perfect film, from its bold and epic man-vs.-nature conflict to the breathless scripting, editing, acting, and direction.
  28. God forbid this should ever play on an IMAX screen -- the concussive soundtrack and relentless visuals would likely strike viewers deaf and blind (but what a way to go!). Simply breathtaking.
  29. From the second it begins, Boogie Nights seizes your senses and pulls you right in: no turning back, no time for debate, no regrets.
  30. The set and art direction are superb, evoking Sixties and Seventies décor with a dazzling precision.
  31. Depp, as the the fragile but irresistibily fabulous title character, is a delight.
  32. Far from being atypical, the events of June 12 and the litany of tiny nightmares that led up to that day are brutally obvious.
  33. Whether strutting like a bantam rooster for the Lord, fervently calling himself a “genuine Holy Ghost, Jesus-filled preaching machine,” or humbly acknowledging the folly of his actions, Duvall inhabits the character of Sonny, completely disappearing into the man's skin.
  34. It was the greatest rock & roll party you never heard of.
  35. Fonda brings all of his childhood frustration and angst to the screen in one of the year's most unexpectedly brilliant acting performances.
  36. Close is a true joy. Without question, she's the heart and soul of Cookie's Fortune.
  37. Castle-Hughes and Paratene are nothing short of remarkable in their roles.
  38. A devastating portrait of impoverished Calucutta children.
  39. It’s endlessly arguable and open for debate. At the very least, we can all agree that Banksy has found a new wall on which to plaster his art – that of the silver screen.
  40. Let Me In is by far one of the best-looking films of the year, genre or no genre. It's a nightmare, sure, but what childhood isn't?
  41. Could be summarized as a vampire tween romance, but that cheap and tawdry sum-up does zero justice to the magnificent emotional resonance of this gemlike bloodstone of a film.
  42. With this artlessly profound and affecting story of love, von Trier emerges as one of those blessed filmmakers who've managed to blend their early stylistic flamboyance with enough human empathy to make their work both visually and emotionally compelling.
  43. This isn't some pomo arthouse picture looking to score points by subverting the gangster paradigm; it's a killer film about killers who idolize film but are unable or unwilling to parse the doom that always crops up come Act III.
  44. Niccol's futuristic fable is a gorgeous construct, from its cast on down to the brilliant, clinical nature of the set design that reflects a future in which even a particle of saliva can be one's undoing.
  45. Gravity is a major filmmaking accomplishment, no doubt, although it would have been interesting to see how it might have played sans dialogue. Unthinkable to Hollywood, sure, but still … Kowalski and Stone’s backstories and banter are, in the end, secondary to the film’s jaw-dropping visuals.
  46. Corrosively funny yet emotionally devastating.
  47. Just the thing to clear your Capra-glutted holiday movie palate.
  48. Fight Club's dirty little secret is it's one of the best comedies of the decade.
  49. Big Night is, in a word, delicious.
  50. It's enough to make you weep.
  51. Death and the Maiden is a streamlined razor-ride of a movie: taut, riveting, and a psychological horror show that will leave nail-marks in your palms for days afterwards.
  52. This is Iranian cinema at its most accessible: a bit slow even in its 92 minutes, with more environment than story, but deeply immersive and thought-provoking, and quite often funny.
  53. It's Cronenberg's film, but it's the actors who elevate Eastern Promises from mere thriller to some other, more disturbing plane.
  54. Cavite isn't a horror film, per se – its nightmarish sense of unreality is thoroughly grounded in the geopolitical here and now – but the emotions it conjures from the audience can be traced straight back to Shockers 101.
  55. In its cinematic incarnation, Sex and the City has lost none of its bawdiness yet gained a more profound sense of soberness. Parker, especially, who in the last season of the show bordered on insufferable in her affected squeaks and shrieks, is allowed to go to very dark places – to be, in fact, quite unfabulous.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 89 Critic Score
    In the end this movie belongs to Del Toro. He imbues Jerry with such life, such ambiguity, such unsentimental complexity and depth that you can’t help but feel you’re watching the most intricately mapped depiction of addiction and strained humanity the film world has ever given us.
  56. Wisely, a lot like the real event. No answers are given, barely any questions are asked, and the film unfolds at a leisurely, inexorable pace that stymies the traditional filmmaking tropes of tension and release.
  57. The result is total immersion in the moment of the music, sure to send jazz fans over the moon.
  58. The performances of all the central and secondary characters match the passionate intensity of the film's behind-the-scenes collaborators.
  59. Herzog outdoes himself with Rescue Dawn, making his most popularly accessible film yet and proving at the same time that he is among the most daring of all filmmakers and capable -- like his characters -- of almost anything.
  60. Dreamlike, disjointed, and possessed of a stunningly complex sensual and narrative poetry that may confound audiences not familiar with Chinese director Wong's defining stylistic tropes, Ashes of Time Redux is, simply, one of the most gorgeous films ever made.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 89 Critic Score
    Second Skin might just be the most accurate and entertaining glimpse of the economy and psychology of technology since Tron.
  61. In many ways, A Field in England is a funhouse mirror of audience expectations and something of a filmic Rorschach test.
  62. It's an out-of-this-world, real-life adventure for kids of all ages, budding Neil Armstrongs and Ray Bradburys alike.
  63. It comes as little surprise that Errol Morris and Werner Herzog, both masters of sly documentaries in which the subjects nail themselves with their own words, are the executive producers of Oppenheimer’s film.
  64. It's a veritable shoo-in for an Oscar nod this year, and one of the more disturbing films to come out of a major studio in ages.
  65. Nothing short of horror-hound heaven.
  66. I can't remember the last time I felt so seduced by a film.
  67. Honestly, this ultra-noir adaptation of Frank Miller's black-and-white cult comic series is a visual feast ripped straight from the original medium's blood-soaked pages.
  68. Sellbinding, distressing, and possessed of a dark and terrible beauty.
  69. The film is a startlingly original and haunting take on our ageless fear of otherness.
  70. Even when it feels packaged like a holiday entertainment that aims to please, watching Dreamgirls is like being on cloud nine.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 89 Critic Score
    Hoffman and Bancroft are phenomenally cast in a script co-written by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham that is by turns sly, touching, and amazingly fresh 30 years later. [Review of re-release]
  71. Cyberpunk meets renegade romance, à la Orwell.
  72. Crowe has created a genuine love song for all those who've ever felt their lives to have been saved by rock & roll.
  73. An immersion into the characters' world in toto, from the "Oh geezes" and the "Oh, yaahs" to the dark and flinty core beneath.
  74. Pixar's animation is simply flawless; colorful, deeply realized, and ably conveying both the chaos of the kitchen, and the sensual allure of food well prepared.
  75. A handsomely constructed and executed movie, the kind of effort that deserves appreciation, on its own terms, for what it both dares and accomplishes.
  76. Remarkably fresh and exciting.
  77. Terribly Happy isn't, but it is wonderfully unhinged, and a painstakingly constructed meditation on a place where good and evil meet, mate, and make sour times sublime and, dare I say it, beautiful.
  78. Keeping with the spirit of its lead characters, Oscar and Lucinda is a movie best met with a gambler's faith: You may not be certain what it means in the end, but its magnificent payoff is nevertheless a sure thing.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 89 Critic Score
    Director Alfonso Cuaron, in his first American movie, has fashioned a world so real and so engaging that you can feel it and smell it and taste it as surely as if you were there.
  79. Alternating between color footage and the genius interplay of startlingly lovely sequences of Stanton singing and playing harmonica in granular black-and-white, Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction perfectly captures the essence of the man.
  80. McCarthy’s film is rich in tone and subtlety, but has precious little dialogue. It feels less like a modern motion picture than some odd poem long lost and then discovered in another age, a timeless, ageless gem of hard-resined emotions melting into real life.
  81. Which ultimately is what Applause is really about: applying the greasepaint of the daily mundane over the scar tissue of a damaged life, striving for a reality outside of a bottle (and off the stage) while still maintaining some semblance of what made this particular lion roar in the first place.
  82. A film that wants you to get happy.
  83. This is Pixar's finest and most emotionally powerful film yet, and it draws on a wealth of cinematic resources that run the gamut from Chaplin's best to Buster Keaton, Jacques Tati, and even Martin and Lewis.
  84. A wholly original creation, crossed with shadows and light and the everyday madness of Savannah and its remarkable citizens.
  85. Lodge Kerrigan is one of the great, though largely unheralded, filmmakers of our time, and with Keane, his third feature, he finally shows himself to be in full command of his uncompromising talent.
  86. Honest and unflinching, Daughter From Danang isn't always pleasant to watch, but it is powerful and memorable.
  87. Never devolves into the type of “man's man” adventure story that has become so fashionable again over the last couple of years, but instead trusts the power of its unembellished images and words to tell its tale.
  88. The humanistic approach makes Eastwood's movie a war story for the ages.
  89. Frankenweenie is that rare film that's both kid- and adult-friendly.
  90. The Kids are All Right, a grin-cracking great portrait of a modern American family in minor and then major crises.
  91. Mud
    With American independent film teeming with so many shaky-cam snarksters, what an electric riposte to the status quo is Nichols, whose films are classically constructed and deadly serious. In his short but potent career, he’s mastered a wide-vistaed eye for the epic and the elemental.
  92. A third-act revelation will knock viewers silly and cause them to reevaluate everything that’s come before, but even without that jaw-dropping information, Moss’ film is a righteous piece of empathetic, of-the-moment documentary filmmaking.

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