L.A. Weekly's Scores

For 3,655 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 46% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 51% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 6.1 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 55
Highest review score: 100 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Lowest review score: 0 Year One
Score distribution:
3,655 movie reviews
  1. Part poem, part jungle blossom, all brilliance.
  2. At the end of a decade defined by much bellyaching about "the death of cinema" (including, on occasion, by this critic), Avatar concludes, appropriately enough, with an image of rebirth.
  3. No parent who's been roped into leading the troops to a matinee need fear being bored: gags are, Simpsons-like, conceived to tickle several generations at once.
  4. I suspect that Death Proof will throw some of its director's admirers for a loop, though it may be the most revealing thing Tarantino has yet done -- a full-throttle expression of a singular artistic temperament disguised, like so many gems of grindhouses yore, as a glittering hunk of trash.
  5. Not just one of the best Hollywood movies about race, but, along with "Collateral," one of the finest portrayals of contemporary Los Angeles life period.
  6. The film is a virtuosic triumph, but parlor tricks don't make movies, and it's Jackson's unwavering sincerity that elevates The Fellowship of the Ring into the increasingly rare Valhalla of the rousing, well-told tale.
  7. DiCaprio harnesses a terrific, buggy intensity reminiscent of "GoodFellas'" hopped-up Henry Hill (Ray Liotta).
  8. Japón, isn’t just the wildest eruption of the current Mexican film boom, it's the most fascinating new picture I've seen this year.
  9. What ultimately makes Before Sunset so special (and maybe the most resonant, least self-conscious “great movie romance” of its era) is its deep-rooted honesty -- the way it takes the bitter with the sweet and somehow leaves us feeling elated.
  10. The Godfather traces the arc of this doomed idealism with a beauty that is still fresh.
  11. It is the highest compliment I can pay Greengrass to say that he is a master of the mundane, the routine and the everyday.
  12. At his best, Altman turns us into interlopers who have stumbled into a world that seems to predate us and persuades us it will continue to teem with life long after we leave the theater.
  13. This isn't a profound film, or even an important one, but then it isn't trying to be. It's so diverting and so full of small satisfying pleasures, you don't realize how good it is until it's over.
  14. The Incredibles creates so seamless a mood of exhilaration that we resent being pulled out of it.
  15. One of the best films of the year thus far.
  16. This divinely eccentric movie feels as if it came straight to the screen from one man’s wild and wantonly free imagination.
  17. But for all its bleakness, Nightmare is a film that demands to be seen. In unflinching terms, it captures the hellish existence endured by the many so that the few may wallow in privilege.
  18. The bleakness and poignancy are inescapable in About Schmidt, a character study that has the emotional richness of the great Italian and Eastern European films of the 1960s, in which humor and pathos rode up and down on the seesaw together.
  19. Superman Returns is a lush and enthralling piece of adventure storytelling that's both revisionist AND reverential, putting a timely spin on a timeless character without violating his primal appeal.
  20. The deep satisfaction of The Return of the King is in surrendering ourselves to the finale, in letting Jackson's superb storytelling (with due credit to co-screenwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens) surround us like a blazing campfire tale -- which it does, gloriously.
  21. One of the great movies about childhood innocence accidentally violated by adults...Reed, an often inconsistent filmmaker, handles the brutal mechanics of the plot superbly, with the marbled interiors of the embassy contrasting sharply with his almost neo-realist outdoor shots of postwar London.
  22. What he’s (Jonze) ended up with strikes me as one of the most empathic and psychologically acute of all movies about childhood -- a "Wizard of Oz" for the dysfunctional-family era.
  23. Talk to Her is as melodramatic -- and, sporadically, as funny -- as any Almodóvar comedy, but its mood is one of muted, aching loneliness, while the color scheme leans less to hot reds and magentas than to rich, elegant shades of ochre.
  24. I’m Going Home is as much an ambiguous poem to Paris as it is a study in artistic and physical mortality, and an elegy for a more decent past as it gives way to a brassier, more corrupt new century.
  25. On a purely visual level, Finding Nemo is as gorgeous a film as Disney's ever put out, with astonishing qualities of light, movement, surface and color at the service of the best professional imaginations money can buy.
  26. Fraught with a deep sadness and sense of yearning. Yet, it is also an enormously -- at times, even uproariously -- comedic film, not because it feels any obligation to be "funny" in some contrived, screenwriterly sort of way, but because Coppola has set out to make a movie set to the rhythms of real (rather than reel) life.
  27. By turns comic and tender, tragic and absurd. But throughout, it gives off what is surely one of the greatest of moviegoing pleasures -- the sense of an artist seeing the world from some private vantage that is as original as it is truthful.
  28. Sex holds in perfect tonal balance, and without cynicism, a brew of maliciously transgressive comedy and tender sympathy for its tortured characters, all gripped by terror of love, or sex, or both.
  29. To see this seamless "reconstruction" - consisting of some 15 entirely new sequences as well as augmentations to 23 others - is to behold a masterpiece revealed.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    High art, low comedy, hard labor and royal prerogative are here thrown together in an elegant unity, a breathtaking demonstration of Russian cinematic -- hence artistic -- brilliance.
  30. Remains the most popularly successful film ever to render the inner life of an artist.
  31. The story's charming, the set pieces are wildly inventive, and even the throwaway one-liners, about everything from movie-animation pioneer Ray Harryhausen to the old Oscar Meyer jingle, are hilarious.
  32. To look at Apocalypse Now is to realize that most of us are fast forgetting what a movie looks like -- a real movie, the last movie, an American masterpiece.
  33. The result is a brilliant and relentless thriller, painted in Melville's trademark shades of charcoal and midnight blue, marked by daring escapes, unimaginable moments of self-sacrifice and unconscionable acts of betrayal.
  34. Ensemble casts like this are not easy to come by. Adams is something more than that -- a brilliant young comedian bursting into bloom.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It's a climax of truly epic proportions.
  35. Making an altogether impressive big-screen directing debut, Jones exudes quiet control over this full-bodied Western, taking pleasure in his measured pacing, mixing somber authority with flashes of surrealist wit and luxuriating in the magnificent, vanishing vistas of his home state.
  36. For those of us who prefer to judge Gibson solely in terms of his art, the movie is a virtuosic piece of action cinema -- particularly in its second half...And while there has been no shortage of recent films that decry the horrors of war and man's inhumanity to his fellow man, I know of none other quite this sickeningly powerful.
  37. Does full honor to Miyazaki’s teeming and often unsettling landscape, and to the conflicted complexity of his characters: Not a single frame was cut, and the voice casting and performances are uniformly excellent.
  38. Politically shrewd, unexpectedly funny yet immaculately tasteful docudrama.
  39. That tragedy looms heavily in Behind the Sun only makes its life-affirming moments -- resonate more deeply and powerfully in a film that is one of the year's best.
  40. Not just everything you want in a David Lynch movie, but damn near everything else you want in ANY movie.
  41. Astringently funny masterpiece.
  42. The movie refers glancingly to dozens of Hollywood classics, from "West Side Story" to "City Lights," but at heart it is a debt of honor richly paid by Stephen Chow to his martial-arts forebears and to the traditions that shaped his sensibility. His gong fu is the best.
  43. The movie's scale is minuscule, but the physical and emotional landscapes it travels are as broad, deep and mysterious as the human psyche itself.
  44. An effortlessly complex portrayal that relishes the contradictions and complexities of someone capable of both exalted and debased behavior, a shape-shifter it is possible to be fascinated, repelled and compelled by, all at the same time.
  45. With There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson has taken a stab at making The Great American Movie -- and I daresay he’s made one of them.
  46. In one of the sweetest ironies of the entire film year, Sam Raimi has made an A-movie with the soul of a B-movie classic.
  47. Pan's Labyrinth Like his terrific 2001 "The Devil’s Backbone," Mexican horrormeister Guillermo del Toro's new movie offers us both real-life and fantastical monsters, and if you know his work, you won't waste time figuring out which to root for.
  48. There are moments here that are so distinct in emotional timber it's as if they were directed by someone who'd skipped the last two decades of American genre film and opted to get back to basics -- like character, and the ways in which two actors can sit in a smoke-filled car and turn an everyday conversation into art.
  49. Mitchell retools his play magnificently, opening it up into a vibrant cinematic work.
  50. Though the frighteningly late-term abortion at its center hints at larger sins in the last gasp of Nicolae Ceausescu’s iron-fisted regime, it’s no metaphor, but a sordidly visceral transaction conducted in the next best thing to a back alley.
  51. Absolutely exhilarating...Pound for pound, it's more kinetically thrilling than anything Hollywood has produced in years, not least of all because it's real.
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The Conformist is a great film, drunkenly beautiful and deeply disturbing.
  52. For Denis’ film - which may be her most intricately constructed and intensely beautiful to date - is one that transcends words and stories, a movie to be felt rather than rationalized.
  53. Of the many excellent animated features Disney has produced over the past decade, this is the one that feels the freest, and sweetest.
  54. The film's real power to move flows from its low, childlike angles, which, rather than infantalize its audience, bring it down to where the hurt and fear, and hence the comfort, loom larger.
  55. The music, it goes without saying, is great.
  56. It's a cheerfully deranged stunt, executed in a spirit of infectious lunacy that powers the resulting film to its strongest laughs, and weirdest depths.
  57. For most of its running time, it's an enjoyably unpretentious celebration of the guilty pleasure we can take from a stupid-as-all-get-out car chase or from watching things blow up real good. Then, in its final half hour, Wright and Pegg ratchet up the absurdity tenfold and enter the realm of the sublime.
  58. Writer-director Gianni Amelio masterfully chronicles the ways two people can betray each other, and especially themselves, in the name of love.
  59. May turn out to be the finest American indie of the year.
  60. Above all else, though, Capturing the Friedmans is a vividly personal, devastating story of a family that was hopelessly compromised years before it was scapegoated for crimes that two of its members may or may not have committed.
  61. Payami uses an exquisitely delicate juxtaposition of long shots and close-ups, mobility and stillness, music and found sound, comedy and pathos to suggest both the longing for self-expression and communication, and its limits in a repressive society.
  62. It's an unconscionably funny sex farce that, by its end, turns into a tender and honest romance, an acute portrait of loneliness and, believe it or not, a musical. This is a movie Blake Edwards might have made.
  63. Almereyda has crafted an uncannily revealing portrait of a major American artist at work, all the more remarkable for the deceptive casualness with which it unfolds, as if Almereyda had just shown up.
  64. A terrifically clever film; has a soft-boilded heart.
  65. Honeydripper is classic Sayles cinema: an insightful sketch of assorted common folk whose criss-crossing dreams and agendas unfold against larger, more powerful (and sometimes crushing) sociopolitical and cultural forces.
  66. Ramsay has made a movie in which a universe of hopelessness and decay is penetrated by shafts of light that remake these bleak surroundings in strange and beautiful ways.
  67. Laced with brilliantly knotted ideas on race, masculinity and cults of violence.
  68. Makes no attempt to entertain us. Much of this extraordinarily tactful movie, like "Rosetta," is shot in close-up, focusing on the back of Olivier's neck, as if inviting us to see the world as he does.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Jolts with a quiet intimacy.
  69. Gibson has made a big, bold, nightmarishly beautiful film not just about the dawn of the Christian faith, but about the awful tendency of human communities (wherever and whenever in the world they may exist) toward self-preservation, intolerance and mob rule.
  70. As it turns out, Shrek 2 is one of the funniest movies I've seen in years. But I'm far from sure that it's a kids' movie anymore, even though, like its predecessor, it's a thoroughly sugared-up reading of the book, by veteran New Yorker cartoonist William Steig, on which both films are based.
  71. Three words of advice to those who haven't yet seen it: Run, don't walk. Composed of excerpts from hundreds of locally shot movies past and present -- from grade-A prestige pictures to unrepentant grade-Z schlock -- Los Angeles Plays Itself serves as Andersen's exhaustive but never exhausting attempt to reconcile the myriad identities of the world's moviemaking capital.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Tanovic steers his story away from feel-good brotherhood clichés and toward the darker reaches of human nature. The principal cast is excellent.
  72. Exquisitely calibrated domestic drama.
  73. A trenchant American satirist in his previous films, Payne moves in a different direction with Sideways -- one less mordant but just as pointedly observant.
  74. Disarmingly funny new film with a doozy of a twist ending... may be his best, cruelest, most vital act of confrontation yet.
  75. Lilya is the more genuinely unsettling film because Moodysson seems to actually know something of what it is to take and stumble beneath a crushing blow. You feel that here. And you feel it for days after.
  76. The movie is thrillingly subjective, teeming with the fullness of everyday proletarian life that one finds in the work of the directors who most influenced Marston in the making of this movie: Hector Babenco and the Brazilian realists, Ken Loach and Mike Leigh.
  77. The deeper strength of Smoke Signals rests on the sensitivity and truthfulness of Farmer’s performance as the ebullient, self-hating alcoholic father, and that of Irene Bedard as the young woman he knew in later life.
  78. Like Proust's madeleine unleashing a flood of reminiscences in the narrator of his novel, Wong works the elements of his aesthetic — music, beautiful people and emotion — into a mood that so overtakes you it's nearly impossible to emerge from his films without feeling slightly drunk.
  79. Ten
    One of the year's finest movies, it's not quite the masterpiece that some of Kiarostami's cultists want it to be.
  80. To Be and To Have works in the grandest tradition of documentary filmmaking -- it keeps company with a small, specific place going about its business, and from it parses the whole world.
  81. In a film that verges on greatness, it is a sign of terrific faith, as well as of Anderson's promise as a director, that when one of the characters in The Royal Tenenbaums wears hospital pajamas after a detour into grief, the words over his heart read "recovery area."
  82. Culkin, a revelation here, mines every last nuance of the confusion and anger that results. Bursting with grenadelike one-liners and full-bodied performances, particularly from Sarandon (batty) and Goldblum (creepy) -- Igby Goes Down inaugurates a career that should be well worth following closely.
  83. The film unfolds at a deliberate pace, with a soundtrack occupied less by dialogue than by the sounds of water flowing and crickets chirping. And if you listen carefully enough, you might just hear the sound of one hand clapping.
  84. Has the sprawling canvas of an epic and the emotional heat of classical melodrama.
  85. It works its magic with such exuberance and passion that the film's length becomes a part of its fun.
  86. Black's cool-headed but blistering indictment of globalization and the racist international economic policies that have shoved that country into crushing poverty.
  87. A meta-horror film that hilariously parodies the genre's clichés with smarts to spare. It's also the scariest fucking movie Craven has made since the first "A Nightmare on Elm Street."
  88. Melville seems to peer out from behind the camera with a reassuring wink and nod. Le Cercle Rouge is the most self-consciously cool of his famously underheated films noirs.
  89. A great sports drama first and a heart-wrenching triumph-over-adversity weepie almost never.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    A rare treat -- a mix of politics that avoids reductive simplicity and a story that's entirely engaging.
  90. Superbly adapted by Fred Schepisi from the Booker Prize-winning novel by Graham Swift, Last Orders pays quietly passionate tribute to the unsung working-class generation that fought World War II and survived to take up apparently humdrum lives.
  91. This fluidly paced film, with its keen observation of the confused longing for love, family and stability in an inherently unstable world, nonetheless keeps faith with the Czech genius for holding the tonal line between tragedy and the absurd.
  92. It makes a convincing argument that Dowd's personal history is a kind of history of the 20th century itself, encompassing the era's art, science, commerce and politics.
  93. Adaptation is hardly profound, but it's one of the most soulful and loopily romantic movies I've seen all year.
  94. The result is a film marked by eruptions of brutal violence, but also passages of extraordinary tenderness.

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