New York Observer's Scores

  • Movies
For 736 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 47% higher than the average critic
  • 1% same as the average critic
  • 52% 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: 56
Highest review score: 100 Django Unchained
Lowest review score: 0 Everly
Score distribution:
736 movie reviews
  1. A grim, toxic, psychological British thriller, brimming with surprises, that always manages to be quite a bit more than it appears on the surface.
  2. 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.
  3. What emerges is time pleasantly spent with a slice of life that examines a romantic détente between two cultures. Like smoke from an Egyptian hookah, the melancholia lingers.
  4. Solitary Man comes on the heels of last year's "A Serious Man" and "A Single Man," so it's small wonder that confusion reigns. But this film, co-directed by David Levien and Brian Koppelman (who also wrote the screenplay), is the best of the three.
  5. 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.
  6. The best kind of horror film, about innocent people plunged into mind-boggling circumstances beyond their control.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    A head-spinning, whirling dervish of an action movie.
  7. While the folks back at the Pentagon say stuff like “Where are our Navy Seals?” the audience is treated to jaw-dropping action sequences, enhanced by awesome special effects and staggering cinematography.
  8. The film investigates a gallery of kinks, fetishes, oddball turn-ons, and pent up sexual repressions like somnophilia (sex with someone who is asleep), dacryphilia (tears and sobbing), unconventional role-playing, and worse. The results are sad and often laugh-out-loud funny.
  9. 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.
  10. A sweet, honest, well-acted and carefully constructed little film that truly lives up to its title.
  11. 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.
  12. Diary of a Chambermaid doesn’t quite add up to the chronicle of decadent abuse endured by the servant class in turn of the century France that it hopes to be, but it’s still worth seeing as another entry in the rise of Léa Seydoux, a star of Gallic charisma if ever I’ve seen one.
  13. 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.
  14. Downbeat, depressing and heavy as lead, Calvary is nevertheless an unusual film that never bores. Impeccable performances by Chris O’Dowd, Aiden Gillen, M. Emmett Walsh and Kelly Reilly are riveting. And Mr. Gleeson is a bear-like centerpiece of conflicts and contradictions who anchors the floating pieces of the Irish puzzle in faith and doctrine, while mercifully refusing to sermonize.
  15. Accept Gravity as pure, popcorn-munching show business fun and nothing else, and you won’t go away disappointed.
  16. It’s one of the most powerful films about the Arab-Israeli conflict that has ever been attempted on the screen.
  17. It overcomes inescapable boxing and martial arts clichés and leaves you thoroughly sated, energized and wanting more.
  18. 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.
  19. A documentary so real and unflinching (and at times deeply frightening) that it's hard to watch, but it is one of those film experiences that you'll feel glad about getting through.
  20. Soberly and responsibly, a small but significant film called Inhale, starring the underrated, charismatic and terrifically accomplished Dermot Mulroney, has arrived without fanfare or big-budget ad campaigns to capture some well-deserved attention.
  21. 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.
  22. Despite occasional flaws, Disconnect is filled with fine performances, informed by an often sophisticated script and directed with passion.
  23. All told, Equals is a feast for the eye that leaves you with a troubling contemplation of the future.
  24. Five Star Day is a respectable and intelligent little film.
  25. Equally touching and disturbing, the French film Standing Tall is an outstanding work of social realism by actress and writer-turned-director Emmanuelle Bercot.
  26. The effect is genuinely creepy, but do not even think of seeing Buried if you suffer from claustrophobia.
  27. The case is revisited with painstaking detail, and a riveting picture emerges once again about misunderstood outsiders.
  28. The result is the kind of harrowing suspense that doesn’t come around very often, charged and informed by another powerful, galvanizing performance by the great Christopher Plummer.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. It is all very-very-very entertaining.
  34. 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.
  35. Fair Game is an important exposé of corrupt political power gone toxic. It's good enough that it deserves to be better.
    • 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."
  36. It has warmth, humor and an understated sweetness that is not to be taken for granted.
  37. 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.
  38. The power in this movie is the way Chris Weitz trusts us to discover the facts for ourselves.
  39. It’s a tormented Tony Perkins at the Bates Motel, re-imagined by "Saturday Night Live," with all the risks implied.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
    • 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.
  42. The best thing about Beginners is the way it accepts every character in a nonjudgmental way.
  43. Aiysha Hart delivers a mesmerizing performance.
  44. It's still worth seeing for its two dazzling centerpieces.
  45. 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.
  46. Has more charm and wit than most of its J.D. Salinger-inspired cousins in the same genre, and is undeniably engaging.
  47. The film, written and directed by Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz, is slow as Christmas, but the two protagonists grow on you, like a Virginia creeper vine climbing a garden wall.
  48. 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.
    • 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.
  49. This is a rare feel-good treat that nudges the heartstrings and makes you feel optimistic about the human race.
  50. A first film by theater director Thea Sharrock, it goes down smooth as sherry.
  51. You get compassion and intelligence instead of cracker-barrel homilies. And you get mesmerizing performances.
  52. It's a fascinating film that I enjoyed thoroughly.
  53. 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.
  54. The May-December romance is an overworked genre, but steady hands guide this one with intelligence to a sad but satisfactory conclusion.
  55. Mr. Baumbach has a knack for capturing real-life dialogue--particularly and hilariously how people tend not to listen to the person on the other side of the conversation.
  56. 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.
  57. This movie will undoubtedly be compared to the Brangelina mashup Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and with good reason-it has the same combo of quips and physical tricks, the same somewhat overwhelming chemistry between its two leads.
  58. 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.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    As much as May in the Summer is a comedy — May and her mischievous sisters may remind you of The Three Stooges — it is also an intimate and demystifying look at life in Amman, where the movie was actually filmed.
  59. 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.
  60. The point of The Iceman is “Even monsters are human,” but it takes a great actor to make a dubious theme convincing.
  61. 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    The most striking thing about the love between Ben and George, the two men the movie focuses on, is how natural it seems.
  62. Unlike most alleged Hollywood rom-coms, Like Crazy is delicate, uplifting and definitely worth investigating.
  63. This is one terrific movie about one terrific horse. It enthralls on so many levels-emotional, cinematic, historic.
  64. Good acting and plenty to think about, but a better director than Mike Binder would have made a better film.
  65. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl treats a serious subject with wackadoodle humor that is endearingly contagious. It’s tender, clever, wise and highly recommended.
  66. It’s a high-class thriller without a single goose bump, but between the mother, the daughter, the lawyer, the Mafia, and the investors determined to separate Renée from her money and power, there’s enough material to juggle several balls in the air at the same time.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    It’s "Sideways" meets "My Dinner With Andre" — a low-key, sensual affair punctuated by off-the-cuff moments of brilliant wit and wordplay — and the result is delectable.
  67. It never scales the cinematic heights or reaches the same groundbreaking level as "Saving Private Ryan," but it’s intensely ferocious and relentlessly rough on the senses. You’ll know you’ve been to war, and not on the Hollywood front.
  68. 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.
  69. The screenplay, by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith, seamlessly captures two different eras with overlapping story lines that never intrude or confuse.
  70. It’s rare to see a film directed by a woman who knows more about men than they themselves do. With Handsome Harry, the widely respected independent filmmaker Bette Gordon has hit a bull’s eye.
  71. 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.
  72. 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.
  73. It's all about personality and Joan's inimitable style, which fills every second of its 84 minutes.
  74. It’s a universal, American “anyone can make it” success story that has uplifting appeal onstage, and in Mr. Eastwood’s capable hands, the joy spreads like apple butter.
  75. 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.
  76. There are humorous intrusions (e.g., an art show at Jeanne’s gallery that includes Nazi symbols constructed from penises), and great performances throughout.
  77. A mildly entertaining but well acted, sumptuously photographed and smartly written comedy with dark undertones about culinary addiction that can only be called “delicious.” See it and then check your cholesterol.
  78. 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.
  79. It’s all so confusing that I found it next to impossible to keep up with who’s who, how they’re related to each other, and why—and I found the script too baffling and sentimental to care.
  80. The movie moves as slowly as the oncoming fog, but Juliette Binoche is always a pleasure to watch, despite an awkward coda set in London that I found jarring.
  81. 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.
  82. The result is a film so personal you watch transfixed, caught up in a life that is constantly enthralling, with a universal appeal that extends beyond the exclusive Hills of Beverly.
  83. It's uneven, but its optimistic message-lost causes can find strength through friendship and bonding-is contagious.
  84. The best thing about Gangster Squad is how they got the 1940s accoutrements right.
  85. Surprising, inventive and crisply, merrily written and directed by Derrick Borte, The Joneses is a brisk, captivating entertainment. Think Ozzie and Harriet on speed.
  86. You have to admire the sheer physical scope of this epic, even if there are no animals in it.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    The real pleasures are not to be found in the sweeping shots of the Great Smoky Mountains but in seeing how Mr. Redford and Mr. Nolte’s characters learn to get along.
  87. Anthony Hopkins plays the king of the hops, and he is excellent. So is the rest of the movie, a sober, no-frills account about the highest ransom ever collected up to that time — $10 million and counting.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Thankfully, refreshingly, The Spectacular Now never once feels like a cautionary tale.
  88. Directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), it’s basically another tough genre workout that is all too familiar, with enough tension and violence to keep an audience alert if not riveted.
  89. Depression is a tricky subject for a movie aimed at a target audience that is depressed enough already. But this one justifies its challenges to feel-good escapism through honesty and integrity.
  90. Turns out to be more suspenseful and keenly plotted than most, with a compelling centerpiece performance by Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) that deserves attention.
  91. When it finally ended, I felt like I had traveled the distance in the next sleeping bag. It’s exhausting but exhilarating.

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