Los Angeles Times' Scores

For 7,619 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 59% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 38% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 0.1 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 Silver Linings Playbook
Lowest review score: 0 The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
Score distribution:
7,619 movie reviews
  1. Achieves its success through a combination of attitude and technique, uniting, to exceptional effect, a way of viewing the world morally while looking at it physically.
  2. While most films are fortunate if they succeed on any level, The Return works easily on several, making as powerful a mark emotionally as it does visually and even allegorically. Yet the film so catches you up in its compelling story, you're almost not aware of how masterful a piece of cinema you're watching.
  3. One of the bloodiest and most beautiful reflections on atonement in the Scorsese canon... It is still one of cinema's most breathtaking films.
    • Los Angeles Times
  4. The most convincing war movie ever made.
    • Los Angeles Times
  5. At once vigorous and old-fashioned, a piece of expertly crafted entertainment that gets the job done with skill and panache. [25 July 1997]
    • Los Angeles Times
  6. Few filmmakers love movies as intensely; fewer still have the ability to remind us why we fell for movies in the first place.
  7. A brilliantly conceived epic fable.
  8. An unforgettable experience from yet another filmmaker who is making South Korean cinema one of the most vibrant of any emerging on the international scene.
  9. For Tian, who was banned from directing by Chinese authorities for a decade, it marks a triumphant return; for those who have loved the filmmaker's work in the past, few resurrections have seemed as welcome.
  10. A complete original. This ingenious, almost indescribable film won't remind you of anything else because there's nothing else like it.
  11. The Manchurian Candidate proves that its fascination is intact. [12 Jan 1998, p.C1; Re-Release]
    • Los Angeles Times
  12. Every element of The Mother, directed by Roger Michell and written by Hanif Kureishi, fits together with perfection. The film's staging -- the way its settings create a world that allows for striking images that echo the psychological interplay of its people, the way in which every performance could not be any better -- is awe-inspiring.
  13. Because Linklater now wears his heart on his sleeve, he has made a film that in its joy, optimism and aesthetic achievement keeps faith with American cinema at its finest.
  14. A powerhouse. Highly dramatic and intensely emotional, blessed with strong themes and an unstoppable narrative drive, it is adult, intelligent entertainment of a kind we rarely see these days.
  15. In its vitality and finesse, Maria Full of Grace is all of a piece -- and both artistically and spiritually itself full of grace.
  16. Charged by a passion for life, A Home at the End of the World is a major achievement.
  17. Anderson, who makes as impressive a directing debut as has been seen in some time, creates a perfectly modulated mystery that doesn't even feel like one. It's a character play, and Hall, Reilly and Paltrow are so convincingly damaged they take on the properties of fine china.
  18. It is a remarkable work, quite likely the best documentary on the City of Angels ever made.
  19. The strength of sensational material joined to excellent acting, superior filmmaking and uncanny political relevance has made The Manchurian Candidate into exceptionally intelligent entertainment and a high point of director Jonathan Demme's career.
  20. The film is a glittering triumph of personal expression at its most elegant and opulent.
  21. Led by director Zhang Yimou and dazzling cinematographer Christopher Doyle, the unseen Hero production team has made what just might be the most artistically sophisticated, most formally beautiful martial arts film the genre has seen.
  22. “Donnie Darko" was one of the best pictures released in 2001. Now that it has returned in a 20-minute longer--and richer -- director's cut, it seems sure to be ranked as one of the key American films of the decade.
  23. Exactly written, directed with a surgeon's precision and transcendently acted, Sideways brings emotional reality to a consistently amusing character comedy, making it something to be cherished like the delicate Santa Ynez Valley wines that are the story's vivid backdrop.
  24. As unspoiled in its key elements as the day it was made, "On the Waterfront" is indisputably one of the great American films, its power undiminished. Even more today than half a century ago, it demands to be seen.
  25. House of Flying Daggers finds the great Chinese director at his most romantic in this thrilling martial arts epic that involves a conflict between love and duty carried out to its fullest expression.
  26. Bird has created the unprecedented film that is not just a grand feature-length cartoon but a grand feature, period, a piece of animation that's involving across a spectrum of comedy, action, even drama.
  27. Perhaps the director's most touching, most elegiac work yet, Million Dollar Baby is a film that does both the expected and the unexpected, that has the nerve and the will to be as pitiless as it is sentimental.
  28. The musical biography of comedian Fanny Brice emerges as a true classic, as enthralling as the day it was released in 1968. It is a superb example of Hollywood craftsmanship in which all elements have been blended to perfection with inspired artistry.
  29. Almereyda imagines Hamlet taking place in present-day Manhattan with such vigor, insight and originality that the power and immediacy of his film makes Shakespeare accessible in an exciting and provocative manner beyond all expectations.
  30. Engaging and consummately entertaining.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A brilliantly written black comedy in the tradition of "To Die For" and "Flirting With Disaster," The Opposite of Sex was worth the wait.
  31. Impeccably made, uncompromising in its implacable vision of the deranging power of love, sex and controlled substances, this savage and staggering film knows how to take our breath away.
  32. Those who see it will, quite frankly, not believe their luck. It is that satisfying, that engrossing, that good.
  33. It's hard to imagine many films surpassing or even equaling the effect of this supple, breathtakingly direct, small French film.
  34. As extraordinary as all of this imagery is, it is the film's sound design that takes it to another level. A quirky, electric mix of ambient sound, effects and music by composer Bruno Coulais and sound designer Laurent Quaglio gives the film its heart and its sense of humor.
  35. Parse it any way you like, Miyazaki's gifts as an animator place him in a category of his own. To see his latest film is to be somehow reminded of Italians who could hear Verdi's operas as soon as they were sung or English readers who could experience the novels of Dickens episode by episode.
  36. Working in the spirit of his predecessors but with the kind of uncanny special effects they could barely dream of, Spielberg has come up with an impressive production that is disturbing in the way only provocative science fiction can be.
  37. What has resulted is a blistering film you feel in the pit of your stomach, a jumpy, edgy piece of work that thrusts us into a personal maelstrom so tortured and intense, the emotions could be spread with a knife.
  38. A consummate entertainment rich with the romantic atmosphere of Paris in the 1950s. Coming at a turning point in French cinematic history, it drew upon several major talents - director Louis Malle, star Jeanne Moreau, cinematographer Henri Decaë, musician Miles Davis - and achieved near-legendary results with all of them.
  39. Bergman has never been an ordinary filmmaker, and what he's given us is no genial last hurrah but rather an intensely dramatic, at times lacerating examination of life's conundrums that is exhilarating in its fearlessness and its command.
  40. An exquisite film, as elegant and precise as an impeccably cut diamond. It's small in scale but wholly mesmerizing, holding us captive as it demonstrates how much enveloping richness can be conveyed with a minimalist style.
  41. Lemmons' command of cinematic style, her appreciation of the chimerical aspects of life and her ability to inspire actors to give remarkably faceted portrayals mark Eve's Bayou a first film of exceptional promise.
  42. A string of unlikely events and coincidences set off Night Falls, and Lumet makes them believable the old-fashioned way: through interaction with a screen full of strongly drawn, fully dimensioned, psychologically valid characters.
  43. Seems every bit the masterpiece it was when first released by Paramount. In this dazzling film, Bertolucci manages to combine the bravura style of Fellini, the acute sense of period of Visconti and the fervent political commitment of Elio Petri -- and, better still, a lack of self-indulgence.
  44. Confidently directed by Ang Lee and featuring sensitive and powerful performances by Jake Gyllenhaal and a breathtaking Heath Ledger, this film is determined to involve us in the naturalness and even inevitability of its epic, complicated love story.
  45. Incisive yet supple, wrenching yet deeply pleasurable, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada easily ranks among the year's best pictures.
  46. Never has Denis demanded so much from audiences as with this shimmering enigma, at once intimate and epic, but it's worth the effort and then some.
  47. A work of breathtaking imagination, less a movie than a mode of transport, and in every sense a masterpiece.
  48. The result is a top-drawer melodrama, a polished example of commercial movie-making that manages to improve on the original while retaining its best-selling spirit. [30 Jun 1993 Pg. F1]
    • Los Angeles Times
  49. Director Spike Lee has made some of the most hard-edged and unsettling American films on racism and its effects. Yet none has been as moving as this. [24 Oct 1997, Pg.F2]
    • Los Angeles Times
  50. 15 minutes into it, you are spellbound, heartbroken and unaccountably cheered -- your faith and admiration in humanity restored.
  51. The Belgian directing brothers deal with themes they have made their own: the difficulty of being moral in an amoral world and the grinding, unforgiving nature of reality for those forced by poverty to live on the margins of society. These are not easy films to experience, but they are uncompromising and unforgettable.
  52. As someone who was part of the Resistance, Melville knew enough to neither melodramatically glorify nor cynically devalue the heroism he presents. This is people doing what needed to be done, Army of Shadows says, this is the way it was.
  53. A period chamber drama drawn from a Joseph Conrad short story and of such intensity and passion that it transcends a specificity of time and place to achieve timelessness and universality.
  54. As ambitious, honest and subversive as any American movie since "Election."
  55. What is different about Half Nelson is the execution, the kind of subtlety in writing, directing and acting (by costars Shareeka Epps and Anthony Mackie as well as Gosling) you seldom see.
  56. The movie is one of the few films I can think of that examines the baffling combination of smugness, self-abnegation, ceremonial deference and status anxiety that characterizes middle-class Gen X parenting, and find sheer, white-knuckled terror at its core.
  57. It's the film's glowing visual qualities, a striking performance by Denzel Washington and the elegant control Carl Franklin has over it all that create the most exotic crime entertainment of the season.
  58. As he did in "Unforgiven," "Mystic River" and "Million Dollar Baby," Eastwood handles this nuanced material with aplomb, giving every element of this complex story just the weight it deserves. The director's lean dispassion, his increased willingness to be strongly emotional while retaining an instinctive restraint, continues to astonish.
  59. It's been brought to the screen by director John Schlesinger and writer Malcolm Bradbury with such deftness, giving it a life of its own, that it's not necessary for audiences to be familiar with the literature it satirizes.
  60. Langley's impeccably nonjudgmental camera knows exactly what details to record. Drawn from more than 300 hours of footage, the film's all too brief 94 minutes mesmerizes with its insight and, rarer still, its beauty.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Those who can surrender to the Quays' poetic logic will find The Piano Tuner to be nothing short of a masterpiece.
  61. Despite this lack of narration, Our Daily Bread never fails to enthrall because of the impeccable eye -- for composition, for color, for movement within the frame -- of filmmaker Geyrhalter.
  62. Letters From Iwo Jima, takes audiences to a place that would seem unimaginable for an American director. Daring and significant, it presents a picture from life's other side, not only showing what wartime was like for our Japanese adversaries on that island in the Pacific but also actually telling the story in their language. Which turns out to be no small thing.
  63. Told with wit, genuine poignancy and all kinds of humor, Venus charts the unlikely relationship between a man in his 70s and a young woman more than half a century his junior.
  64. Made with palpable energy, intensity and excitement, it compellingly creates a world gone mad that is uncomfortably close to the one we live in. It is a "Blade Runner" for the 21st century, a worthy successor to that epic of dystopian decay
  65. A magnificent film almost no one knows about, this hidden classic offers a wider variety of pleasures than most contemporary works can even aspire to.
  66. When it comes to unflinching, riveting looks at a compulsive artist who can't be other than who he is, nothing comes close to Crumb.
  67. A masterpiece by any measure, is fresh, immediate and contemporary, but its wintry yet warm perspective is suffused with the wisdom and experience of a great filmmaker who turns 85 on June 2.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    What makes The Fly such a stunning piece of obsessive film making is the way Cronenberg deftly allows us to identify with his monstrous creation. [14 Aug 1986]
    • Los Angeles Times
  68. The City of Lost Children is a stunningly surreal fantasy, a fable of longing and danger, of heroic deeds and bravery, set in a brilliantly realized world of its own. It is one of the most audacious, original films of the year. [22 Dec 1995]
    • Los Angeles Times
  69. The music is so rich and completely satisfying and the characters so appealing Once makes us believe that this is all happening right in front of our eyes. We fall for each of these young people at the precise moment they are falling for each other, and what could be better than that?
  70. An impeccably acted character drama revolving around a mother and her teenage twin sons, Private Property shows how strong and how terrifying the bonds within families can be. Directed by Belgium's Joachim Lafosse, it etches the line between love and hate with a savagery that is almost unprecedented.
  71. Ratatouille is as audacious as they come. It takes risks and goes places other films wouldn't dare, and it ends up putting rival imaginations in the shade.
  72. An intense, nihilistic thriller as well as a model of implacable storytelling, this is a film you can't stop watching even though you very much wish you could. That's because No Country escorts you through a world so pitilessly bleak, "you put your soul at hazard," as one character says, to be part of it.
  73. Intelligent, involving and conspicuously adult, Starting Out in the Evening is almost shocking in its distinctiveness, its ability to create high drama from an unlikely source.
  74. A brutal encounter with mortality told with uncommon humanity, wit and humor.
  75. This is one of the few adaptations that gives a splendid novel the film it deserves.
  76. This is a film with a commitment to reality unlike any we're used to seeing.
  77. A Walk to Beautiful will leave you speechless two times over -- first with despair, then with joy. Neither unmentionable subject matter nor nonexistent commercial prospects can keep this documentary from having a power over your heart that is unparalleled.
  78. Jacques Rivette has brought the Balzac short story to screen as a superb chamber drama. His is a graceful work of austerity and formality that perfectly captures the chaos of repressed emotions that see beneath the rigid conventions of aristocratic society.
  79. Youth and death meet again in Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, a gorgeously stark, mesmerizingly elliptical story told in the same lyrical-prosaic style that has characterized his latest films.
  80. Daring and traditional, groundbreaking and familiar, apocalyptic and sentimental, Wall-E gains strength from embracing contradictions that would destroy other films.
  81. Del Toro is almost alone in his ability to re-create on screen the wide-eyed exhilaration and disturbing grotesqueness that is the legacy of reading comics on the page.
  82. May be the most hopeless, despairing comic-book movie in memory. It creates a world where being a superhero is at best a double-edged sword and no triumph is likely to be anything but short-lived.
  83. This is a police procedural, if you will, about what's been called the artistic crime of the century.
  84. As the summer heats up, let Frozen River wash over you; let its bracing drama and the intensity of its acting restore your spirits as well as your faith in American independent film.
  85. Impeccably made and uncompromisingly adult, Claude Chabrol's A Girl Cut in Two is unquestionably the work of a master.
  86. What results is a captivating portrait of the most gorgeously fractious dysfunctional family.
  87. Provocative, hallucinatory, incendiary, this devastating animated documentary is unlike any Israeli film you've seen. More than that, in its seamless mixing of the real and the surreal, the personal and the political, animation and live action, it's unlike any film you've seen, period.
  88. A remarkable feat of imagination, a magical tale with a genuinely sinister edge.
  89. Up
    Rarely has any film, let alone an animated one powered by the logic of dream and fantasy, been able to move so successfully -- and so effortlessly -- through so many different kinds of cinematic territory.
  90. The fingerprints of the Camorra are everywhere, this film wants us to know, and its grip is lethal.
  91. District 9 is very smart sci-fi, but that's just the beginning; it's also a scathing social satire hidden inside a terrific action thriller teeming with gross aliens and regrettable inter-species conflict. And it's a blast. . . .
  92. Overwhelmingly tense, overflowing with crackling verisimilitude, it's both the film about the war in Iraq that we've been waiting for and the kind of unqualified triumph that's been long expected from director Kathryn Bigelow.
  93. With that fire in his belly, Raimi's Drag Me to Hell does everything we want a horror film to do: It is fearsomely scary, wickedly funny and diabolically gross.
  94. Filmmaking at its most fearless, with Ostergaard creating a suspenseful, harrowing account of his original key subject, known only as "Joshua."
  95. What makes Seraphine, directed and co-written by Martin Provost, so exceptional is that it neither condescends to nor romanticizes its subject.
  96. Essential viewing.
  97. You'll be planning to see Ponyo twice before you've finished seeing it once. Five minutes into this magical film you'll be making lists of the individuals of every age you can expose to the very special mixture of fantasy and folklore, adventure and affection.

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