L.A. Weekly's Scores

For 3,656 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 6.2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 55
Highest review score: 100 Russian Ark
Lowest review score: 0 Lost & Found
Score distribution:
3,656 movie reviews
  1. The Godfather traces the arc of this doomed idealism with a beauty that is still fresh.
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The Conformist is a great film, drunkenly beautiful and deeply disturbing.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. A classic of politically engaged filmmaking, based on a book by Saadi Yacef, a former FLN leader who also produced the picture and played a version of himself.
  9. A trenchant American satirist in his previous films, Payne moves in a different direction with Sideways -- one less mordant but just as pointedly observant.
  10. 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.
  11. In the nearly 30 years since the movie was released (it won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1972), one forgets how falling-about-funny is this mad caper.
  12. Has the sprawling canvas of an epic and the emotional heat of classical melodrama.
  13. Remains the most popularly successful film ever to render the inner life of an artist.
  14. Generous, soulful film.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Almayer's Folly is lush and dreamy (if not quite dreamlike), but it never feels unanchored or given to pointless meandering. However hypnotic it at times becomes, this is a sober(ing) endeavor that never strays far from its post-colonial backdrop.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Quite possibly the most buoyant, exuberant film ever made on such an unpleasant topic.
  18. The first REALLY great mythic film of the summer has arrived.
  19. This divinely eccentric movie feels as if it came straight to the screen from one man’s wild and wantonly free imagination.
  20. 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.
  21. Politically shrewd, unexpectedly funny yet immaculately tasteful docudrama.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Leaving the theater, you feel not only as if you've been in a foreign country, but as if you'd gone there inside someone else's skin.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Save for one startlingly staged battle sequence. . .might as well have been titled "Also Ran."
  22. If Steven Spielberg's emotional intelligence matched his visual genius, his honorably flawed new film might qualify for one of the greatest-ever American WWII movies.
  23. 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.
  24. A scrupulously even-handed account, free of ideological or tribal partisanship, based on eyewitness accounts by survivors and the anonymous "Paras" themselves.
  25. Has power not only as film scholarship, but as an inquiry into cinema's interplay with our collective memories and the nature of history itself.
  26. 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.
  27. We never seem to be looking at actors, but at people; never at scenes, but at life unrehearsed.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. The Incredibles creates so seamless a mood of exhilaration that we resent being pulled out of it.
  31. Crowe has made a hugely entertaining, nearly pitch-perfect film about rock & roll.
  32. It’s our great good fortune, and Pekar's, that this movie -- which won the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival, followed by the FIPRESCI Award at Cannes -- is as true to the dyspeptic spirit of its source as anyone could have imagined.
  33. 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.
  34. It is the highest compliment I can pay Greengrass to say that he is a master of the mundane, the routine and the everyday.
  35. Carrey is a genius at registering the rage behind television's sunny smile, while Laura Linney excels as his wife.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. And like all great family sagas, The Best of Youth, while tipping its hat to the painful confusion of living life forward, reels it backward to give it the thrilling significance of time and place.
  39. The Lives of Others wants us to see that the Stasi -- at least some of them -- were, like their Gestapo brethren, “just following orders." You can call that naive optimism on Donnersmarck's part, or historical revisionism of the sort duly lambasted by the current film version of Alan Bennett's "The History Boys." I, for one, tremble at the thought of what this young director does for an encore.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The film is artfully made, its occasional excesses of style moderated by the plain force of the content and the passion of the testimony.
  40. The most seamless piece of sensuous expressionism Zhang has created since "Ju Dou" (1990).
  41. The movie survives beautifully both as an elegant thriller and as a study of the twisted infantilism that shapes the fanatic heart.
  42. The gimmick is simple but devastatingly effective: Never once breaking character or acknowledging that he’s in on the joke, the Jew-fearing, grammatically challenged reporter ingratiates himself with his unsuspecting, average-American victims before uproariously turning the tables on them.
  43. So daring, well-made and tirelessly inventive that I kept asking myself, “Why isn't this even better? Why isn't it moving me?” One huge problem is the hero... he's played by 42-year-old Jim Carrey, whose still-bottomless need to be loved invariably smacks of desperation and self-pity.
  44. Why Capote liked the movie so much (or said he did) isn't entirely clear, for though it's a gripping piece of American Gothic, it's as thematically timid as it is formally flamboyant.
  45. Once feels handmade in the best sense, an impressionistic feast for the senses cobbled together from lovely grace notes and a warm palette of reds and yellows.
  46. To see the film in this meticulously restored and remixed version is like watching it for the first time, so clear is the sound, so vivid the sights.
  47. Zwigoff pulls off something in Ghost World that seems a minor miracle -- he creates someone with a complex inner life.
  48. The triumph of Capote is that it both grants and shares with him that twisted brew of obsessive identification and monstrous detachment that is the fertile burden of the artist.
  49. Easily the most brilliant of the genuflections bestowed on the American gangster movie by the French New Wave.
  50. 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Falters precisely because there's not enough stumbling, and far too much striding gallantly forward.
  51. A delirious fable about every creature's need for espace.
  52. Up
    Up emerges as a gentle hymn to adventure of both the soaring, storybook variety and the smaller, less obvious kind -- the perilous, unpredictable and richly rewarding journey of ordinary, everyday life.
  53. 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.
  54. Unfolds with such leisurely, terrible beauty, it takes a while to realize that what we are witnessing is the children's long slide into beggary, exacerbated by the slow torture of faint hope.
  55. As Dardenne films go, with their slow, minutely observed journeys from despair to faint hope, L'Enfant is a horror movie of sorts, and for a few minutes at least, a kind of thriller.
  56. Good fun, though not more than up-market situation comedy studded with the usual leaps out of period-speak to swipe at contemporary Hollywood.
  57. The five interwoven narratives in this visceral but disciplined and beautifully acted movie show to devastating effect how ordinary men and women -- and especially vulnerable boys desperate for masculine role models -- get caught up in the seductive violence and are ruthlessly destroyed by the network's hardened henchmen.
  58. 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.
  59. Who could resist a movie in which a garden gnome holds the front line in high-tech home security?
  60. 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.
  61. Like "The Pianist," Fateless painstakingly builds up the reality of what it is like to be drawn into a perfectly arbitrary hell you can neither comprehend nor rationalize.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Morris is a more talented filmmaker than he is an interviewer. Mean-while, McNamara is a subject so complex and so rich in nuance that he requires no cinematic embellishment.
  62. Brokeback Mountain is at once the gayest and the least gay Hollywood film I've seen, which is another way of saying that Lee has a knack for culling universality from the most specific identities.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It's a climax of truly epic proportions.
  63. Caouette lifts his story clear out of the victimized whine that bogs down so many confessional memoirs and offers the viewer instead an intimate look inside his ravaged yet loving head, at once street-smart and haloed by the naiveté of a young saint.
  64. A great sports drama first and a heart-wrenching triumph-over-adversity weepie almost never.
  65. While Grizzly Man is never less than a fascinating portrait of a troubled Peter Pan who couldn't function in human society and tried to remake the animal kingdom into his own private Hanna-Barbera cartoon, it fails to establish Treadwell as much more than a serious headcase, let alone a titanic figure.
  66. Just about everyone worth knowing in All About My Mother is female in spirit, which is to say they're all sexy, impossible, powerfully durable souls, quarrelsome and loyal, inventive at navigating the tragedies.
  67. The two films bursting out of The English Patient (a chamber piece and a David Lean dune epic) require a juggling of tone, pace and scale that might easily defeat a director more seasoned than Minghella.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Occurring as it does amid a surge of tragedy and bitterness, its comic effect is powerfully mitigated.
    • 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.
  68. "Nothing happening" is everything happening between the lines, in the gap created between what is unstated onscreen and what we bring to the story ourselves.
    • L.A. Weekly
  69. That nothing more monumental than an everyday life has occurred to any of the subjects is perhaps the film's most compelling aspect.
  70. Inspirational...unfolds gently with an evenness and rural patience.
  71. A beautifully off-center movie.
  72. Free of the disclaiming jokey sneer that defaces so much of contemporary neo-noir.
  73. 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.
  74. Goes the distance to avoid banalizing the dilemma of a reasonable couple unhinged by unreasonable events.
  75. Ten
    One of the year's finest movies, it's not quite the masterpiece that some of Kiarostami's cultists want it to be.
  76. Powerfully enigmatic study of the fundamental opacity of human relations.
  77. His (Soderbergh's) work has taken on echoes of a classier, bygone age of cinema, at once more literate and lighthearted.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80. The result is a film marked by eruptions of brutal violence, but also passages of extraordinary tenderness.
  81. Simply put, it represents the work of a filmmaker so exhilaratingly in command of his craft that he can, among other things, turn a single image of two people standing next to each other -- fully clothed, their bodies not quite touching -- into one of the most sublimely erotic moments we have ever beheld on the screen.
  82. It's not a happy film, but there's much incidental, quotidian happiness in it. Like Lynne Ramsay's lovely "Ratcatcher," the movie is far from sentimental about children.
  83. 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.
  84. DiCaprio harnesses a terrific, buggy intensity reminiscent of "GoodFellas'" hopped-up Henry Hill (Ray Liotta).
  85. Surprises you with a kind of hardheaded romanticism.
  86. Faster and, if possible, furiouser than its predecessors.
  87. (Linney and Ruffalo) are just beautiful enough, in fact, to be in the movies and still remain convincing as authentic folk, and their performances are tremendously moving.
  88. Polanski, wisely, doesn't interpret or explain. He seems to have decided that in the face of such meticulously planned horror, the best one can do is get the details right.
  89. Not only relates the astounding story of the expedition and its unimaginable hardships, it presents a thoughtful study of a time when there were adventurers who might actually respond to an advertisement reading "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold . . ."
  90. It is undeniable in its poignancy, an ecstatic vision of what might have been, though as much for its story as for the fact that the whole thing dissolves like a paper fan in rain, an evanescent masterwork.

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