Los Angeles Times' Scores

For 8,040 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 59% higher than the average critic
  • 4% same as the average critic
  • 37% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 0.2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 61
Highest review score: 100 The Grifters
Lowest review score: 0 Left Behind
Score distribution:
8,040 movie reviews
  1. A very small film but a sweet one, an easygoing venture of the feel-good variety. What sets it apart is something even larger pictures often lack: an excellent performance by its star.
  2. A seamless model of form and content. (My only quibble is the poor quality of the digital video, which doesn't do justice to Johnson's work.)
  3. With Manhunter, there seems to be some danger that style has overrun content, leaving behind a vast, chic, well-cast wasteland. [15 Aug 1986]
    • Los Angeles Times
  4. This is a film that insinuates itself deeply into our awareness. It's that rare pulp story with something on its mind, an unnerving, socially conscious thriller with a killer sense of narrative drive.
  5. An art film to the core. If it's an epic, it's an intimate, dream-time epic, an elliptical, episodic film, dependent on images and reveries, that treats war as the ultimate nightmare, the one you just cannot awaken from no matter how hard you try.
  6. It leaves you stirred and uplifted not only by its music but also by the determination and courage of the people who sang and danced it on the way to a freer life.
  7. Charming and outlandish by turns, this misfit love story of disconnected people trying to find one another in an antagonistic world is a comedy of discomfort and rage that turns unexpectedly sweet and pure.
  8. This is a gentle comedy, both funny and melancholy, about a timid soul who discovers the necessity of embracing life in all its absurdity and unlooked-for joy.
  9. Not Yet Begun to Fight is barely an hour long, but it justifies a theatrical release with a lyrical meditation on nature and war.
  10. One of the truly heartening international political stories of recent years.
  11. Dance purists might dismiss Streb's work as circus gymnastics, but a bracing aesthetic is inseparable from the corporal shocks, as is an insistence on challenging accepted constraints. Through Gund's film, a wider audience stands to be not just amazed but provoked.
  12. Watching this film feels like a genesis moment — of sci-fi fable, of filmmaking, of performance — with all the ambiguity and excitement that implies.
  13. The Counterfeiters demonstrates that no matter how many Holocaust stories the movies tell, there are always new and unexpected ones waiting to be revealed.
  14. After the Wedding would never pretend to have any answers, but in hands this skilled the act of exploration itself couldn't be more illuminating, or more dramatic.
  15. Potent, persuasive and hypnotic, The Dark Knight Rises has us at its mercy. A disturbing experience we live through as much as a film we watch, this dazzling conclusion to director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy is more than an exceptional superhero movie, it is masterful filmmaking by any standard.
  16. 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.
  17. With the ambitious and ominous The Devil's Backbone, Del Toro rises to a new level of accomplishment, adding history and politics to his distinctive blend.
  18. A film of simplicity and power, beautifully shot and effortlessly acted by nonprofessionals.
  19. There isn't a single performance in Midnight Run that doesn't have a pulse, that doesn't show the actors at their best or near-best, especially De Niro. [20 July 1988]
    • Los Angeles Times
  20. Makes for gripping, merciless drama.
  21. What you see is pretty much what you get. Fortunately, what we see is often vivid and lovely.
  22. Shrewdly imagined and persuasively made, Ex Machina is a spooky piece of speculative fiction that's completely plausible, capable of both thinking big thoughts and providing pulp thrills. But even saying that doesn't do this quietly unnerving film full justice.
  23. The film, which plays like "The Help" minus the safety net of nostalgia, provides a powerful reminder that as we all carry history with us, it is still possible for each of us to change it.
  24. Though its title suggests an exposé on Dodger Dogs, the movie is the moving, inspirational account of John Peterson's discovery of an almost divine calling in the land beneath his feet.
  25. This one-of-a-kind film cycle has become as comfortable and reliable as an old shoe, providing a degree of dependability that's becoming increasingly rare.
  26. Concerned with fathers and sons, expectations and dreams, ideals and reality, this completely engrossing film gets more involving as it goes on.
    • Los Angeles Times
  27. Has both bark and bite. Its low-key but sharp and amusing sense of humor is a nice fit with the frenetic world of competitive dog shows.
  28. Too short by half, Lost Boys of Sudan affords frustratingly little by way of real analysis and history. But it does introduce us to two extraordinary young men whose faith in this country is almost as unbearably sad as their stories.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. Na captures at once the fragility of the human body and the deep-rooted darkness of the human soul. The Yellow Sea is easily one of the films of the year for underserved action-heads.
  32. It feels like a blessing to have this production at all and we are fortunate it turned out as well as it did.
  33. Buoyed by an unreserved humanism and a cheerful sense of the absurd.
  34. The Catherine Breillat-directed period piece is an extreme cinematic pleasure, a well-told yarn of merciless desire.
  35. Insomnia shows an equally welcome ability: a gift of creating intelligent, engrossing popular entertainment.
  36. It's all terribly tortured, often laugh-out-loud, absurdly funny and, as with all of Maddin's movies, conveyed through images that are as lush and beautifully over the top as the story's emotions.
  37. Leisurely yet intense (Sayles does the editing himself), Lone Star reveals a director whose mastery does nothing but increase. Perhaps now his audience will as well.
  38. What Live-in Maid offers is a pitch-perfect observation of life on a continent where forms are adhered to, distances aren't really kept, and your best friend is the person who knows to pour the cheap domestic whiskey into the empty bottle of imported stuff before your bridge buddies show up to judge you.
  39. The desert trek in Tracks is as brutal as it is beautiful; the performance by Mia Wasikowska as raw as the reality. And the camels? If they don't steal your heart it must be stone-hinged.
  40. Epic and intimate, historical and contemporary, moving and thought-provoking, the impressive The Princess of Montpensier has something for all and sundry but especially for those who like to believe that films can be as boldly intelligent as they are entertaining.
  41. By its bittersweet end, Fifi Howls From Happiness has stayed almost entirely in one apartment and yet somehow unveiled both a life in full and a blank canvas.
  42. Zodiac is primarily a complex character study, despite the film's grim and gruesome subject matter. It's a role reversal of sorts for a director who normally emphasizes the brutal tension in his movies.
  43. Emotional and analytical by turn, The Case Against 8 is a thoroughly engaging documentary.
  44. In its gently atmospheric camerawork and nicely underplayed moments between Mike and Chris, Resolution manages to keep its eerier moments surprising and its emotional life arresting.
  45. Mr. Death, which is shot through with one dark absurdity after another, emerges as a cautionary tale if ever there was one.
  46. Although there is real pain and suffering in It All Starts Today, it is too impassioned, too brisk and too embracing of life and human foibles to be depressing.
  47. Gathering its forces slowly, this careful, thoughtful film, quietly but deeply moving, is dramatic without seeming to be.
  48. Ramsay reaches out boldly with a film that is as unsettling as it is minimalist.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's a highly enjoyable spree that doesn't add up to a whole lot by the end. But you don't necessarily want it to add up to anything -- that's part of its charm. [24 Sept 1993]
    • Los Angeles Times
  49. Denis and Testud, in a wondrous collaboration of a gifted director and equally gifted actress, succeed in making Christine a tragic figure.
  50. If you believe that bringing the questionable virtues of "American Idol" to Afghanistan would do that beleaguered nation no favors, the remarkable documentary Afghan Star will change your mind in an instant.
  51. Mysterious and original.
  52. Sublime psychological thriller.
  53. The most hopeful — and the best — of this solid and unsettling series.
  54. Exploring a Lao family's experience during and since the Vietnam War, the film chronicles the treacheries of geopolitics and the upheaval of exile.
  55. Wong brilliantly blends musical styles and eras to create an intoxicating mood.
  56. The introduction of a baby that Tonny supposedly fathered feels worrisome initially...but in Refn's skilled street-realist hands, the child becomes a potent, wailing metaphor for Tonny's own dilemma of rudderless need.
  57. Brilliantly choreographed and shot, Kung Fu Hustle is often grisly, visually spectacular and unabashedly silly, sometimes all at once.
  58. No matter what you've been used to, Idaho is something completely different, a film that manages to confound all expectations, even the ones it sets up itself. [18 Oct 1991]
    • Los Angeles Times
  59. A lot of this is quite well done, but Bromell has a tendency to have too schematic an aesthetic agenda for his story: treating film noir like kabuki is not necessarily the best way to go, no matter how beautifully you do it.
  60. It's Patinkin who scores a special triumph. In his role there's a poignant strain of weariness beneath the leaping bravado, a pain under the braggadocio. [25 Sept 1987]
    • Los Angeles Times
  61. Tainted or not, Hughes' life was a remarkable one, and, flawed or not, Scorsese's film version deserves the same accolade.
  62. With clinical dispassion and narrative elegance, Breillat has constructed what she calls "a thriller about denial."
  63. Intelligent, involving and serious, it is as honestly emotional as Hollywood allows itself to get, a story of the search for wartime truth whose own concern for the genuine makes all the difference.
  64. Aside from a riveting adventure story that Herzog tells in all of its terrifying, stripped-down simplicity, Rescue Dawn is a fascinating study of human particularity.
  65. No film with as many elements as Happy Feet is successful with all of them, and the romantic-emotional elements of this story feel overly familiar. But the music and dancing are fresh and new, and this strong an ecological message has not been seen since Hayao Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke."
  66. A compelling piece of work that turns out to have unexpected relevance to the current world situation.
  67. As essential in its own way as Anton Karas' celebrated zither work was to "The Third Man," Lola's music is perfectly suited to the film's aims and just about addictive in its throbbing, insinuating rhythms.
  68. There's nothing much to the movie, except for the amiability of the actors and the layers of feeling Linklater provides, but that's just almost enough.
  69. Self-conscious about its heroism with portrayals that lean toward the glib and the professionally uplifting, the film milks our sympathies too readily to be emotionally convincing.
  70. With observant fluidity and that grounding point of Qi's desire to fight once again, Chang roots the film in personal, individual stories, keeping larger metaphors for the nation at the edges.
  71. Even if you don't fancy raw fish, "Jiro" is a captivating film.
  72. Though much of the movie was shot in secret to protect the filmmakers, Bailey and Thompson managed to create a remarkably vivid portrait of a land and its people, while bringing us two unforgettable heroes in Campbell and Freeth.
  73. Artfully and cleverly, the sweet spirit of that young bear from darkest Peru and his many London misadventures materializes brilliantly on screen in the very good hands of writer-director-conjurer Paul King.
  74. Chungking Express ravishingly, seductively exudes the immediacy of everyday life as its spins its classically timeless tales of love lost and almost regained.
  75. It is the kind of distinctive, culture-driven drama from emerging filmmakers that I wish we saw more of.
  76. Director and co-writer David Wnendt is after serious comedy here, a character study of psychic pain, wounds hereditary and self-inflicted, and body-conscious absurdity that treats the human condition with wry intelligence, not empty prurience.
  77. This modest film has virtues that come out of nowhere. It takes familiar material and develops it with such tact and skill that we find ourselves moved and sort of amazed at the same time.
  78. Ulee's Gold stands out for its sureness, its quiet emotional force and writer-director Victor Nunez's ability to find and nurture the mystery and power in the events of an ordinary life.
  79. Stands out among creative bio-pics for an ability to show art being made in a way that's as realistic and exciting as it's ever been on screen.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    What makes 51 Birch Street a moving revelation rather than a therapeutic exercise is Block's commitment to understanding his parents, Mike and Mina, on their own terms, regardless of what it does to his image of them.
  80. It is to González-Rubio's credit that he can celebrate nature so joyously, yet suggest neither the preferred lifestyle of either parent is superior to the other.
  81. Mam's camera work is exquisite in its immediacy and agility. One of the most striking aspects of her film is the intimacy it achieves without feeling intrusive or turning her subjects into fodder for a message.
  82. Composed of breathtaking images and cheeky bits of humor, Dencik's travelogue reveals a journey with curious traces of the past, eye-popping encounters with a wild present and — in discovering an oil company's ship in the group's midst — a weighted reminder of our future as stewards of the Earth.
  83. The rightfully disturbing Buzzard emerges as a true original.
  84. Hairspray is a deliriously fast and funny satire of the '60s that marks John Waters' best shot yet at mainstream audiences. [25 Feb 1988, p.1]
    • Los Angeles Times
  85. The powerfully disturbing Red Riding trilogy will haunt you waking and sleeping, night and day. If you survive the watching of it, that is, which is no easy thing.
  86. A wholly unexpected film, as heady and surprising in its humor as in its emotional texture.
  87. The gritty, low-budget realism approach of the Dogme manifesto gives immediacy and edge to the raw emotions Bier and her cast uncover. Best of all, Bier never forgets that a little humor can relieve an awful lot of pain.
  88. The film is never more real than when Jimmy unloads his anger on someone close to him, a frequent occurrence. Eminem is an actor with a rare gift for rage, and movie careers, even big ones, have been built on less.
  89. [Filho's] mastery of pacing, theme and stylistic eccentricity throughout Neighboring Sounds is so assured as to be breathtaking. Don't miss it.
  90. The Ghost Writer is the kind of impeccable adult entertainment, able to alternate edge-of-your-seat episodes with bleakly comic moments, that Hitchcock used to specialize in and that Polanski himself realized so successfully in "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby."
  91. Fear of retaliation often keeps faculty and administration from speaking up for students or talking at all, and six university presidents declined to be interviewed here. If it does nothing else, The Hunting Ground should make that kind of evasion more difficult in the future.
  92. Blue Ruin is an uneven film, and there are slip-ups along the way, but the tension that settles in slowly like a low-grade fever keeps you with it.
  93. It's clear that an exceptional body of work is coming out of this country at this particular time and place. It's not necessary to categorize these films to enjoy them, it's just necessary to go.
  94. A film of flowing, redemptive beauty and poetry, at once immediate yet classic in its simplicity of form.
  95. This comprehensive and charming film not only recalls those days exactly, it also manages the wonderful trick of taking us back there along with it.
  96. The Usual Suspects is a maze that moviegoers will be happy to get lost in, a criminal roller coaster with twists so unsettling no choice exists but to hold on and go along for the ride.
  97. What A Bug's Life demonstrates is that when it comes to bugs, the most fun ones to hang out with hang exclusively with the gang at Pixar.
  98. Marvin's performance, much enhanced by "The Reconstruction," is a marvel.

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