New York Observer's Scores

  • Movies
For 527 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 46% higher than the average critic
  • 1% same as the average critic
  • 53% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 6.3 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 55
Highest review score: 100 Le Week-End
Lowest review score: 0 All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
Score distribution:
527 movie reviews
  1. Fair Game is an important exposé of corrupt political power gone toxic. It's good enough that it deserves to be better.
  2. Some of the on-camera bitchery between Mr. Ford and Ms. Keaton is laugh-out-loud witty. For the most part, Morning Glory is a delicious movie that will make you jump for joy.
  3. Director Dolan gets the feeling of emptiness so right that anyone who has ever known the heartbreak of a crushing affair can easily identify, even with subtitles.
  4. We know about Anne Frank's diary and Paul Verhoeven's masterpiece "Black Book," but director Martin Koolhoven has shed new light on what happened in Holland with a powerful and touching film.
  5. A thoughtful coming-of-age story with bracing performances, solid writing and direction by John Gray and inescapable take-home values that give you a feel-good lift.
  6. Ms. Deneuve has been directed by everyone from François Truffaut to Roman Polanski, but she has gone on the record saying she has a special rapport with Mr. Ozon (the 2002 film "8 Women" remains a classic). He brings out such a loopy delicacy in her that she shines-a charming, witty centerpiece from start to finish.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    The psychological payoffs outweigh any implausibilities. And what's the harm in logging off your network for a few hours to indulge in some good old-fashioned science fiction?
  7. The actors are so exemplary that it is difficult to imagine this is not a documentary. They might not be household names, but they will be.
  8. In the avalanche of junk about aliens, alternate universes, digital effects and comic-book superheroes, it is a rare treat to see a sweet, low-budget film about real people that is as ingratiating as Lebanon, Pa.
  9. Written and directed by Mike Pavone, with a fine, understated, atypical performance by Ed Harris, it may be a feel-good family picture centered on kids, but it offers talismans to live by for people of all ages.
  10. Whatever you think of Mr. Gibson, whatever he has lost, he still has talent, and here displays acting of power and resonance. It's a pleasure, for a change, to see the best side of his split personality at work.
  11. Hey, Boo solves the mystery of Boo, and also, to some degree, the mystery of Harper Lee. It's a fine film, well worth seeing.
  12. The best thing about Beginners is the way it accepts every character in a nonjudgmental way.
  13. Has more charm and wit than most of its J.D. Salinger-inspired cousins in the same genre, and is undeniably engaging.
  14. The power in this movie is the way Chris Weitz trusts us to discover the facts for ourselves.
  15. It's one of those revolting, raunch-fueled movies churned out in their sleep by the Farrelly brothers and Judd Apatow that I usually hate, but with real cleverness, off-center wit and edgy imagination. Imagine an X-rated Three Stooges farce, and you get the picture.
  16. The awesome effects take over where the plot used to be, and although this is the end, my guess is that it will fire the imagination for years to come. What fun to feel like a kid again. I had a marvelous time.
  17. Director Gilles Paquet-Brenner has done an elegant job of reducing a complex piece with many components into a riveting narrative that grabs you by the lapels and refuses to loosen its grip.
  18. You won't find yourself yawning. It's a great double stretch for an actor and Mr. Cooper plays both the smoldering Latif and the bombastic Uday with combustible energy.
  19. Good Neighbors is a hotbed of twisted ideas with a straightforward yet novel approach to the Gothic horror in the hearts of mistakenly everyday people. Stressful and disconcerting but highly recommended, it gave me nightmares.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Mr. Rudd imbues Ned with an easy, charming sweetness and unpatronizing wisdom that make him seem simply guileless, not stupid. Indeed, the greatest flaw of Our Idiot Brother is in making Ned too saintly - despite the title, it's clearly the sisters who are the morons.
  20. It overcomes inescapable boxing and martial arts clichés and leaves you thoroughly sated, energized and wanting more.
  21. The movie often seems too good to be true, but by the end I wanted a dolphin just like Winter for my own swimming pool.
  22. Like "Moneyball," this is real movie making that packs a solid entertainment punch.
  23. Creepy and serenely suspenseful, Martha Marcy May Marlene is a riveting study in what it's like to escape from a physically, psychologically abusive cult, and how hard it is to return to normal life after being brainwashed.
  24. Unlike most alleged Hollywood rom-coms, Like Crazy is delicate, uplifting and definitely worth investigating.
  25. Five Star Day is a respectable and intelligent little film.
  26. I tend to forget how marvelous Ellen Barkin can be until she gets the rare chance to pull out all the stops in a movie like this.
  27. Scathing and funny and cynical about contemporary society and the hypocritical way we live now, Carnage may not be the dream movie I expected, but it has a dream cast of pure, unimpeachable ensemble perfection.
  28. We Bought a Zoo has more soul than substance, but I'll be darned if it didn't put a smile on my face and keep it there.
  29. It's a special film of sacrifice, redemption and hope in the shadow of a holocaust that packs an emotional wallop from which there is no escape. I can't get it out of my thoughts, and I recommend it highly.
  30. The Grey avoids smug clichés, takes you to places you least expect and settles for no comfortable solutions, while it explores the dark shadows of the male psyche and finds more emotional fragility there than you find in the usual phony macho myths from Hollywood.
  31. Flawed but bittersweet and enjoyable, this film may be the final chapter in a colorful and illustrious life.
  32. No contemporary film that promotes love instead of war should be overlooked. Private Romeo will undoubtedly be regarded by some as a curio, but it's a sweet, sympathetic and surprising one, highly recommended to the adventurous spirit in an enlightened and changing world.
  33. I can tell you only that this is a film unlike anything I've seen before-harrowing, haunting and sordid. Be forewarned, it is not for the squeamish. But take a chance and you will be rewarded with a work of nightmarish force that is unforgettable.
  34. The Vow is not exactly a woman's picture. It's more about how a man falls in love, loses his love and gives up everything in life to focus on regaining his love. Maybe it's a woman's picture from a male point of view. However you slice it, it's a welcome loaf-far from perfect, but as filling as a home-cooked meal.
  35. The result is a film of great humanity that reveals Albania as a primitive region struggling to bridge the gap between medieval European customs and the tide of progress.
  36. Neither another bland biopic about a self-destructive artist nor an historical scrapbook about a country in the grip of slavery, Black Butterflies is a dark, moving depiction of the life and death of a brave rebellious, idiosyncratic woman who made significant strides toward changing the world around her and paid a heavy toll for her passion.
  37. Seeking Justice is an intense thriller so full of shocks it keeps you wired from start to finish.
  38. In retrospect, it's preposterous. But while you're gasping for air, it's one hell of a thrill ride, like being stuck on a malfunctioning roller coaster for an hour and a half at top speed, and unable to get off.
  39. It is quirky, dark, much maligned by feminists and too slow for some tastes, but it's a work worth seeing again, and Ms. Weisz is wonderful in it.
  40. It has warmth, humor and an understated sweetness that is not to be taken for granted.
  41. Pop songs, beautiful bucolic scenery and the joy of watching Jane Fonda fizz in a fun role that looks like a no-brainer are elements that a skilled director like Australia's polished Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy) blends with perfection.
  42. Intelligent, dignified and emotionally satisfying.
  43. It's a fascinating film that I enjoyed thoroughly.
  44. Ted
    Most of Ted eludes description, analysis and explanation. You just have to hold onto your own certifiable sense of humor and let Mr. MacFarlane take you where he wants to go. Then get out of the way and enjoy it.
  45. This is a rare feel-good treat that nudges the heartstrings and makes you feel optimistic about the human race.
  46. The Magic of Belle Isle is a warm, human, feel-good experience about bringing out the best in people, one that brings out Morgan Freeman's best performance in years.
  47. Sensitively acted, carefully written and directed with heartfelt compassion, Bringing Up Bobby is an engrossing little independent film made on an austere budget in 22 days.
  48. It's a film that deserves to be seen, savored, debated and given serious attention.
  49. Jane Fonda's first French-speaking film in 40 years finds her leading a joyous ensemble of septuagenarians in a sweet, thoughtful and spirited examination of how to grow old with dignity and pride in a regrettable era when senior citizens have been reduced to the status of a political agenda.
  50. The film is a deeply heartfelt experience that addresses the struggles of everyday people in a strange land most of us know nothing about. You will not go away unmoved. See it, and learn something.
  51. Sleep Tight is a creepy - but highly effective and superbly made - horror movie from Spain in which the monster is spine-tinglingly human.
  52. My biggest problem with Flight is not the unanswered questions it raises, but the eleventh-hour epiphany just in time for a happy ending. Maybe I'm naturally cynical, but I simply don't believe that people are basically good at heart - and I don't buy into sudden salvation. Otherwise, Flight is one hell of an entertainment.
  53. Best of all, I applaud the director's triumph of intimate terror over preposterous puppets and noisy computer-generated effects. In The Bay, the mayhem is both fresh and thrilling.
  54. Bond is back, and so is high-octane entertainment.
  55. In a bravura performance that is the primary don't-miss reason for its existence, he (Carlyle) gives California Solo all he's got; even in scenes that just exist to pass the time, his presence informs the essence of the man he plays and the humanity of the film itself.
  56. Deadfall is an above-average genre piece with a terrific cast that builds to a bloody Thanksgiving dinner shoot-out I found pretty close to unforgettable.
  57. The best thing about Gangster Squad is how they got the 1940s accoutrements right.
  58. The remarkably expressive Mr. Siddig is sympathetic and true as the tortured father, communicating reams of emotion with his eyes, and Ms. Tomei is totally charismatic as his discarded lover who helps him out of a sense of humanity.
  59. Nothing in it comes close to the magic, the originality or the everlasting entertainment value of the original, which only cost $2.777 million and didn’t use a single computer-generated graphic. This says more about how much better movies were in 1939 than they are today. Still, I had enough fun to predict that history (or at least a tiny piece of it) seems destined to repeat itself. People just can’t get enough of this stuff.
  60. The real star of the film is the magnetic, forceful and charismatic Matthew Fox, who steals the entire film as easily as if he were pitching a softball.
  61. True originality is so rare that it’s a treat to welcome a movie as completely different and provocative as Upside Down. It’s unlike anything you have ever seen.
  62. It’s far superior to what usually comes out of the British slums in the genre of gangland thrillers.
  63. Leonie is a rich tapestry of cross-cultural revelations, released to the public at last, and a welcome addition to an otherwise dreary movie season.
  64. 42
    It’s a perfectly unexceptional but slickly made, sincerely acted, often entertaining, sometimes manipulative and always watchable blend of action on the diamond and bravery behind the scenes that will please baseball fanatics more than movie historians. It’s a good enough biopic to make you wish it were a better motion picture.
  65. Despite occasional flaws, Disconnect is filled with fine performances, informed by an often sophisticated script and directed with passion.
  66. There are humorous intrusions (e.g., an art show at Jeanne’s gallery that includes Nazi symbols constructed from penises), and great performances throughout.
  67. As an epic of awesome achievement, it never bores.
  68. The point of The Iceman is “Even monsters are human,” but it takes a great actor to make a dubious theme convincing.
  69. Under Craig Zisk’s frisky direction, the entire cast is superb and wrinkle-free. The screenplay, by husband-wife team Dan and Stacy Chariton, is thin as a poker chip but as clever as it is contrived.
  70. Okay, The Prey is ridiculous hokum that proves the French can make overwrought Hollywood thrillers with the same indefatigable energy and implausible realism as anyone else. It is also a slick, suspenseful adrenalin rush disguised as unexpected, nerve-wracking fun.
  71. Unfinished Song moves too slowly for its own good (mourning is doubly taxing in a country where it’s always raining), but it’s a great showcase for Terence Stamp.
  72. It’s not perfect, but when it works, Byzantium towers above all of the romantic vampire slobber we’ve been getting lately. I fear that Dracula is watching from some moldy crypt somewhere, nodding approval.
  73. Fruitvale Station lacks the same global impact as Milk, but it’s still a harrowing film worth seeing and honoring for boldness and insight. It’s one of the most sobering must-see movies of the summer.
  74. It’s to the star’s immense credit that his spellbinding appeal provides a tension that the script’s funereal pace often lacks.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    There is much violence in The Devil’s Backbone , but there is also catharsis and redemption. As ghost movies go, The Devil’s Backbone is much less self-indulgent than the wildly overrated The Others.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Thankfully, refreshingly, The Spectacular Now never once feels like a cautionary tale.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    David Lowery’s quietly beautiful new film, his most ambitious to date, is at first glance a standard love story, set in the American West of what appears to be the early 1970s. Over time, however, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints transcends its plot, revealing itself as a cinematic meditation on the daunting power of loneliness.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    It doesn’t happen all at once, nor does the film imply that coming to terms with one’s past is any kind of panacea. Grace’s problems are long term, but, like her adolescent charges, one has the sense she’ll get by.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Despite a too-long third act, dragging action sequences and an epilogue that would have been better left on the cutting room floor, the wordy wit and ingenuity of The World’s End is a sloppy triumph over this summer’s other alien/robot hybrid flick, "Pacific Rim."
    • 76 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Blue Caprice, a disturbingly intimate look at the Beltway sniper attacks of 2002, isn’t a horror film, but it certainly feels like one.
  75. Although Enough Said never really surmounts its TV sitcom style and structure, the director provides a nuanced entertainment that is enjoyable. She is aided beyond measure by the charisma of her two stars — especially Mr. Gandolfini, who reveals a side of himself we’ve never seen before.
  76. Sensitively written and carefully directed with keenly observed nuance by Leland Orser, who also plays the grief-stricken husband driven to the brink of madness by the sudden death of his son, it’s a film that touches the heart with the tenderness of understatement.
  77. Accept Gravity as pure, popcorn-munching show business fun and nothing else, and you won’t go away disappointed.
  78. It’s one of the most powerful films about the Arab-Israeli conflict that has ever been attempted on the screen.
  79. A sobering, documentary-style film commemorating eyewitness accounts of what happened in the aftermath of the tragedy, some of them fresh as a new wound, all of them painful but vital to a deeper understanding of one of the darkest chapters in American history.
  80. In a movie without adults, the children are spontaneous and natural. And Ms. Ronan is captivating throughout.
  81. The screenplay, by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith, seamlessly captures two different eras with overlapping story lines that never intrude or confuse.
  82. The brilliant screenplay by Mr. Letts sets up the narrative story of the Weston clan in a carefully constructed series of episodes in which the family history is finally revealed. There’s great acting in every frame, but by the end of the ordeal, the viewer may be too exhausted to care.
  83. Mr. Fiennes admirably humanizes the characters while exploring their contradictions and emphasizing their feelings. But his no-frills direction is a bit stodgy for my taste, and although this is not the Dickens you’d ever pay to hear read "Little Dorrit," there’s more vitality in his performance than the film itself.
  84. Unpredictable, with a twisted surprise around each corner, Big Bad Wolves is a clever and arresting shocker from a country where blood and gore on the screen are least expected.
  85. As much as I liked it, I have to admit Run & Jump is a work of no action — of love unrequited, feelings unexpressed and goals never reached. Sitting through it requires great patience. I don’t think this is an Ireland that would interest John Ford.
  86. It’s not for the squeamish, but thanks to a riveting central performance by Vanessa Hudgens and a compassionate screenplay by Ron Krauss, who also directed, this is a far more sobering and substantial exposé of homeless teenage girls on the dangerous edge of society than you might expect.
  87. Entertaining dialogue and a collection of tightly knit performances — especially a wonderful, unexpectedly funny star turn by Andy Garcia — make At Middleton a nice surprise.
  88. Ms. Bening does a touching, masterful job of conveying real emotional pain.
  89. For sure, it’s another example of style over substance — a richly deserved accusation that is always leveled at this kindergarten cop of a director, but I confess it’s a lot of scattered and disjointed fun.
  90. Although the going is so sluggish at times that the film often looks like it needs artificial respiration, stick it out. The end result is oddly entertaining.
  91. The May-December romance is an overworked genre, but steady hands guide this one with intelligence to a sad but satisfactory conclusion.
  92. It’s so elegant and dreamlike — such a departure from most vampire epics — that you won’t be bored. It also has a wicked sense of humor you usually don’t find in the genre.

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