Dallas Observer's Scores

  • Movies
For 1,518 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 47% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 50% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 4.6 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 Welcome to Sarajevo
Lowest review score: 0 Bewitched
Score distribution:
1518 movie reviews
    • 99 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Deeply engrossing and deep in numerous other ways that one scarcely encounters at the movies anymore.
  1. Kubrick's comic gem sparkles with enduring relevance.
    • Dallas Observer
  2. It would be a masterpiece in any language.
  3. This astonishingly gritty film maintains its strong niche between Roberto Rossellini's "Open City" and Paul Greengrass' "Bloody Sunday" as a pinnacle of war-torn neo-realist drama.
  4. For the most part, Sideways is a great movie--impeccably written, directed and acted--that takes its characters on a journey toward something new.
  5. This film is a miracle, an extravaganza equal to its predecessors and in some ways more stunning. It is a profound testament to the extraordinary power of moving images and sound.
  6. What about Ronny Yu's 1992 masterpiece "The Bride With White Hair," of which Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a decent facsimile?
  7. So enchanting it takes your breath away.
  8. It's not easy to pull off a good morality tale. That's why Moolaad, the new film from 81-year-old Senegalese writer-director Ousmane Sembene, feels like such an exceptional success. Its moral center is painfully clear, but so is its humanity.
  9. An animated extravaganza of Gallic wit and soul that delivers more wild humanity than many of the year's live-action features. In a word: go.
  10. It was Melville's second-to-last feature, and it shows him in top form, with a more generous dose of humor than usual.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Secrets & Lies is all about wounds and our tendency to embrace placebos rather than the harder courses of treatment.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    He's (Hanson) never before generated the kind of heat inside a picture--and out of it--that he has with L.A. Confidential.
  11. Amazingly, almost every note of every performance in Bloody Sunday rings true.
  12. He (Spielberg) commemorates the soldiers in that vast Normandy cemetery in the most absolute and honorable way possible.
  13. The whole thing is absolutely beautiful to look at, even when it has a bad case of the cutes.
  14. A masterful film about the magic of performance and the foibles of the artists behind it.
  15. Smart people will relish its temerariousness, average people will smile awkwardly and comment that it's "kinda different," and dimly lit people may mistake it for the Elmo movie and drool quietly in the back rows. It's a movie for everyone.
  16. Yes, yes--The Incredibles is beautiful to look at, but even more lovely beneath the computer-generated surfaces.
  17. The first relevant film about rock and roll and the music industry, the first film that lets you in on the secret.
  18. A gentle, frank, and often hysterical love story about two people destined, and occasionally doomed, to be together forever. Some of us should be as lucky, as blessed, as Harvey Pekar.
  19. May be the most wrenching, profound and perfectly made movie nobody wants to see.
  20. The film is a nightmare but an oddly comforting one.
  21. Capturing the Friedmans does not end after its credits roll; audiences will try the case over and over again in their heads. Jarecki does not judge, but leaves only tragic clues for us to ponder.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Eminently watchable, The Best of Youth nonetheless lacks the devastating emotional gut punch of its obvious inspiration, Visconti's "Rocco and His Brothers."
  22. Its exquisiteness can overwhelm in a single sitting.
  23. Feels like something entirely brand-new; such are the gifts of Kaufman and Gondry, inventors and magicians.
  24. How often does one see a masterpiece about a masterpiece?
  25. The year's greatest adventure, and Jackson's limited but enthusiastic adaptation has made literature literal without killing its soul.
  26. Gleefully blurs the line between species. Vive la révolution!
  27. In this bolder, longer new cut, characters are allowed to finish scenes previously left as DVD extras, effects are creepier, and the theories of "the Tangent Universe" are explored in greater depth. Friends and neighbors, this is a Great American Movie.
  28. The story is just as funny and touching. The only problem is the inevitable one: The freshness -- the novel delight -- is a little faded now.
  29. A beautiful but depressing film.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Tough as it is, L'Enfant nudges both its protagonist and its audience toward unlikely affection. Tough as it is, L'Enfant commands our care by practicing what it preaches. No wonder the brothers call it a love story.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    It respects its characters, its source material, and its audience, and its inherent melodrama is ennobled by the scrupulous intelligence of its director.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    These filmmakers have taken a historical figure and made him into a hot-blooded romantic hero. Shakespeare did that a time or two himself.
  30. The result is an experience rich in pleasure and surprise, one that easily stands up to multiple viewings.
  31. Be forewarned: Scenes of the protagonist learning to swallow the drug pellets will make many viewers queasy. Rarely has the power of suggestion been so unsettling.
  32. If, in its groundbreaking assault on the mythology of the American West, Brokeback Mountain gets a lot of people into a furious lather, so be it.
  33. In this case, the subject and director are one and the same, and the result is a degree of intimacy--really of rawness--rarely achieved in film.
  34. One of the most remarkable things about Murderball, which is easily among the year's best movies, is how little of its time is filled with the playing of the game.
  35. The gaga uplift in Shine knocks the malaise right out of your head--along with just about everything else.
  36. Herzog is primarily interested in Treadwell the filmmaker, but you'll likely be fascinated with him as a human being.
  37. The unfettered comedy of life bubbling up from the Spanish unconscious continues to be proudly liberationist, gloriously extreme, and achingly human.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    This intelligent, affecting work is squishy at the core.
  38. Turns out to be more than simply a near-miracle of filmmaking, however; it is also an astonishing work of art, a historical epic that drifts through one's consciousness like a reverie.
  39. Indeed heartwarming, though not simplemindedly so.
  40. Baby may not be quite as compelling as Mystic River or Unforgiven, but there's something so stirring, and disquieting, too, in his quest that we cannot help but pay close attention to him. In the middle of his long career's third act, he's still searching for the secrets in things with striking resolve. You certainly can't ask more than that of any 75-year-old ex-gunslinger.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    That's possibly Peirce's best trick of all, telling a true story so well that you can't remember how it ends. And when you remember, you hope that you were wrong.
  41. It is a remarkable achievement in filmmaking, a beautiful and brutal work.
  42. No one can blend melodrama and heightened emotion with laugh-out-loud wackiness the way Almodóvar does.
  43. There are no hearts and flowers in Loach's hard-edged world, no kindly interventions, no signs from heaven. Instead, he gives us the unvarnished facts about working-class exploitation and the failure of ambition in low places.
  44. If not the best superhero movie ever, it's definitely in the top 3. Reeve will forever be Superman to most of us.
    • Dallas Observer
  45. It gracefully defies the usual categories, gets under your skin in ways you cannot anticipate, then works its way straight toward the heart. It's far and away the bravest and best movie of the year.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Arenas' story is a downer that doesn't produce despair. That's because of the exceptional bravery of Arenas himself, and the understanding that both Schnabel and his extraordinary leading man, Javier Bardem, have of him, his world, and his time.
  46. Spielberg can never top this. Period.
    • Dallas Observer
  47. In this modest but brilliant little movie, we find ourselves immersed in life itself.
  48. There have been other films dealing with the Jewish ghettos during the Nazi occupation of Poland -- some very good -- but The Pianist, the latest feature from Roman Polanski, may be the best.
  49. It's a deeply divided film--hugely ambitious and uneven, with sequences that seem to point to a new, comically flagrant movie sexuality and others that drag one into the funky muddle of the dreariest dopehead downers from the '70s.
  50. Wong weaves a spell that no other director could create.
  51. Spinal Tap is still on the right side of the fine line between stupid and clever.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This subtly entrancing paean to seasons earthly and emotional is to the developing male psyche what "Whale Rider" is to the female, and deserves equal acclaim.
  52. A piece of rock-and-roll history--but it isn't perfect.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Fargo is a concert performance--an illuminating amalgam of emotion and thought. It glimpses into the heart of man and unearths a blackly comic nature, hellishly mercurial and selfish, yet strangely innocent. If it weren't so funny, it would be unbearably disturbing.
  53. What makes About Schmidt so extraordinary is how ordinary its tale is; it's a gray picture about gray people looking for some kind of meaning in their gray lives.
  54. Hero keeps its characters stiffly archetypal, like chess pieces sent whizzing through outrageous maneuvers. Unfortunately, this apparent choice of spectacle over intimacy put me at a slight remove.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    An unpretentious, funky, fast-moving work every bit as enchanting as the book.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Sling Blade is perhaps the year's most impressive debut because it is an uncompromisingly told tale with a minimum of frills.
  55. Touching, frequently hilarious.
  56. When all is said and done, Far from Heaven proves an easier film to appreciate than to emotionally embrace. It fails the test of being, in the descriptive phrase of Pauline Kael, "compulsively watchable."
  57. The performances are uniformly remarkable.
  58. The final product is great populist entertainment and may even leave audiences with a feeling of comfort, however fleeting, in the knowledge that corrupt corporations don't always win
  59. The film, from its deadpan start to its languorous finish, provides the most joyous moviegoing experience in years.
  60. Unsettling, morally complex and timely view of American power abroad. Many will find it courageous and some, no doubt, will absolutely revile it, but no one is likely to look away from the screen.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Creates a sense of understanding that crystallizes the essence of the drug subculture with startling clarity.
  61. This is provocative stuff--and not just for its searing indictment of Brazilian society.
  62. For the most part the film is a miracle of accomplishment, elegant and bold and artful in a world devoid of resources.
  63. The movie's scares are intense, but the notion that the Terminator would move on to politics is even more frightening.
    • Dallas Observer
  64. While Sollett provided cast members with a detailed breakdown of the story--a kind of narrative guide--he wanted them to improvise their own dialogue based on how they would react to a similar situation in their own lives....The result is quite extraordinary.
  65. Not just great fun but high art.
  66. Where Peter was yee-ha giddy with the discovery of his newfound powers in the first film, he's crushed by the weight of responsibility that comes with them in its far superior successor.
  67. The documentary is, in essence, not much more than a record of what happened in Zaire, but it has been assembled with a real feeling for the historical moment. It's literally a blast from the past.
  68. It takes an especially fine-tuned director and an inventive actor to cut as close to the bone as Spider does.
  69. This is the breakout role for Sigourney (née Susan) Weaver, whose iconic presence still propels this ride beyond the scores of substandard imitations that followed. Why see it on the big screen? Because it's bloody brilliant.
  70. If Steven Soderbergh taught Clooney how to act in "Out of Sight," then Reitman has taught him how to stop acting. This is the most vulnerable, the most playful, the most human performance of his career.
  71. The first Kill Bill was nothing but violence--swordfight upon swordfight, till the clanking of steel blades drowned out anything anyone said. The second is its emotional counterpart, the heart without all the blood drained from it.
  72. Vera Drake is so patient, assiduous and attentive to emotional accuracy that it betrays the utter sloth of most of what we see when we go to the movies.
  73. It isn't your typical scary movie--there are no "boo!" moments--but it may gradually creep you out and perhaps even more after you've seen it.
  74. The horrors therein are vivid, even if the movie is a bit plodding.
  75. Happily, this irreverent, sharply observant comedy sweeps us into the maelstrom too. Amid the glut of teen movies rolling out of the studios every week, Election deserves special attention.
  76. A thoroughly professional, frequently spectacular piece of muckraking.
  77. Face/Off wouldn't work without two great actors, and it doesn't always work with them. But their gifts justify the whole loony enterprise.
  78. There's something more REAL about this version, more human, more lived-in; though their words may have been penned 200 years ago, when Austen was a young woman writing about her idealized self, this cast and crew nudge the material into the now.
  79. That's what directors do when they have nothing new to say: They go back and rewrite the past, if only to avoid facing the future
  80. The fractured structure, which moves from one species to another while following a generally chronological overall arc, can occasionally leave your mind to wandering, but for a film with no plot or characters to focus on it is remarkably gripping.
  81. Treacherously funny and wrenchingly sad.
  82. School of Rock, populated by bright-shiny faces given a "Revenge of the Nerds" happy ending, is light and meaningless but never worthless. It merely aspires to be a good time and is just that and nothing more, a grin-worthy buzz that wears off in the parking lot.
  83. In the Harry Potter film series thus far, The Sorcerer's Stone remains the strongest, perhaps because the first look at any rich new world is almost always going to be more groundbreaking than its sequels. But Prisoner of Azkaban is a worthy and stylistically different follow-up, where Chamber of Secrets often felt like an unimaginative retread.
  84. This is a grim and sometimes guilt-ridden examination of the Third Reich in collapse. But it's also weirdly sympathetic, and not just to the peripheral figures in Hitler's twisted world.

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