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 6.2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 55
Highest review score: 100 Wake in Fright (1971)
Lowest review score: 0 Seven Psychopaths
Score distribution:
527 movie reviews
  1. Heading toward his destination as a decent man facing ruin by doing the right thing, Mr. Hardy does a great job acting out the phases of anxiety frustration, confusion, exasperation and ultimate resolve — while working overtime to save a movie that takes place entirely on a cell phone from getting boring.
  2. Walking With the Enemy is a powerful piece of filmmaking that examines history and heroism with big-screen artistry, imagination and thrills.
  3. Elegant and understated, Belle is a true story about the effects of slavery on 18th-century England, told in the style of a sweeping romantic saga by Jane Austen or the Brontë sisters.
  4. The case is revisited with painstaking detail, and a riveting picture emerges once again about misunderstood outsiders.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    It has a seedy underbelly that will appeal to hard-core Mickle fans; it’s more deranged than it initially seems.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Words and Pictures doesn’t possess the tender grace of "Enough Said," Nicole Holofcener’s wonderful film about middle-aged love. Nor does it have the kinetic energy of a high school movie like "The History Boys", adapted from Alan Bennett’s play. But it’s a winning effort from a director whose varied oeuvre has consistently charmed viewers.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    You will take pleasure in the performances of three top-notch actors — Dakota Fanning, who has matured into a fine young film star, Jesse Eisenberg, frighteningly brooding, and the always excellent Peter Sarsgaard.
  5. You get compassion and intelligence instead of cracker-barrel homilies. And you get mesmerizing performances.
  6. 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.
  7. Aiysha Hart delivers a mesmerizing performance.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Linus Sandgren’s lush camerawork and the glittering, throbbing musical score by A. R. Rahman contribute a distinctive flavor of their own. The performances are superb.
  11. The intelligence and unhackneyed humor of the believable, unself-conscious screenplay by fledgling director Mr. Zwick (son of veteran director Edward Zwick) deserves special praise. It never hits a false note.
    • 76 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.
    • 58 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.
    • 83 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.
  12. This gruesome thriller set in a fogbound insane asylum is incomprehensible and fatally flawed, but having said all of that, I will also say this: It never seems anything less than the work of a skillful film buff. Mr. Scorsese may be a smart aleck, but he’s a professional smart aleck.
  13. But the direction by Joe Johnston (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) sacrifices originality for computer graphics and stop-motion camera tricks, and the script, by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self, bulges with real howlers: “I didn’t know you hunted monsters.” “Sometimes monsters hunt you!”
  14. Has moments of heart-pounding suspense and brief glimmers of greatness, thanks to fine performances by Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan and Olivia Williams, but overall feels uneven, sprawling and strangely incomplete.
  15. Mr. Gere is miscast as Eddie, too naturally regal in bearing to be the screw-up he’s supposed to be, and for a broken man, he still moves with the same confidence as his younger self did in "An Officer and a Gentleman."
  16. With a different cast and director, this movie would be just another fuzzily lit made-for-TV movie. But because of the performances and the rather gorgeous cinematography, one is left wishing that it just could have been something more.
  17. I found Howl a fascinating and imaginative evocation of mid-20th-century liberation, a mere and merciful 90 minutes long.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    Has brief moments of levity and charm, but mostly it's depressing.
  18. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Kindergarten Cop," but better.
  19. Beautifully shot and reeking with style, Last Night is as slow as sorghum; nothing ever really happens.
  20. I found Contagion both flawed and fascinating, but it's not an entertainment.
  21. Historians are already calling Anonymous preposterous humbug, but I found it a complex cornucopia of ideas and panache. You go away sated.
  22. The Descendants is a soap opera with Hawaiian shirts.
  23. The film works because of Mr. Harrelson's magnetism.
  24. The great screenwriter Steven Zaillian's elaborate, convoluted script, so muddled that even after it's over you still don't know what it's all about, is a drawback - but the movie is a master class in sinister style, tense and deeply uncomfortable.
  25. Certainly not a bad movie, but a disappointing one. It knocks itself out trying to break your heart, but it's too starched and blow-dried for its own good. Maybe if it had manipulated me less, it would have moved me more.
  26. Grousing aside, this is a disarmingly sweet movie, enjoyable to the hilt, with music that really stomps.
  27. Not a great movie, but satisfying enough to hold attention and win your affection - a rare blue-plate combo on today's overcrowded menu of movie chaos that sticks to your ribs and stays there.
  28. Although they are no longer together and are living their own separate personal lives, their story, fictionalized but still autobiographical, bonded them for life. Apparently, they are best friends whose dedicated collaboration was the only way they could tell this harrowing story. It's a brave effort any way you slice it.
  29. This futuristic tale of teenage violence is so not my kind of movie that I approached it grudgingly, so imagine my surprise when I ended up being totally exhilarated and enjoying it immensely.
  30. It all sounds dreadful, like the pilot for another brainless comedy series on network TV, but it grows on you.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    As a thriller, The Imposter is gripping. As a documentary, it provokes confusion and annoyance.
  31. A structurally messy but emotionally effective coming of age movie that gets a lot of it right. High school is an ordeal only the fittest can survive.
  32. Playing the cello is such a pleasant change of pace that he (Walken) eventually grows on you, scene by scene, proving for the first time since his role as Leonardo DiCaprio's troubled father 10 years ago in "Catch Me If You Can," that he really can act. He - along with the rest of the elegant cast - keeps A Late Quartet in tune when it threatens to go flat.
  33. Proving again that her Best Actress Academy Award for playing Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose" was no fluke, the marvellously sensual Marion Cotillard, with her wounded doe eyes and look of permanent unfulfilled longing, delivers another kidney punch as a double amputee in love with an illegal bare-knuckle fighter in the French shocker Rust and Bone.
  34. It's a slow, repetitive, meandering, mostly overacted little picture - perfectly agreeable but nothing special, and directed with a steamroller by David O. Russell. Go figure.
  35. It does have a dark, satisfyingly sinister feeling of gothic creepiness that I somewhat reluctantly admit appealed to my enjoyment of perversity as entertainment.
  36. The Girl sounds like a real mess. It isn’t. It’s just a slow, well-made human interest story on a very small scale, ultimately touching but as inconsequential as a slice of pineapple at a Hawaiian luau.
  37. There is no way I would call this a good movie. But! I was indeed entertained the whole way through, and there were enough genuinely interesting scenes to almost make up for the incredibly clunky moments provided by a very wooden screenplay.
  38. The trajectory consists of one damn thing after another, with the able Mr. Walker giving it all he’s got without getting out of the vehicle to catch his breath.
  39. My reservations about Copperhead are outweighed by the noble intentions that inspired it.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    Mr. Green has managed to turn a story about two road workers doing roadwork into something compelling. Sometimes that is a credit to his quirky script, but mostly it happens when he lets the dramatic scenery speak for itself.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    Mr. Arestrup gives a full-bodied performance as the film’s most intriguing character, who blurs the line between senile irascibility and out and out malice.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    The Grandmaster offers welcome relief from a moviegoing summer spent in sensory overload.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    A Teacher is more in the vein of Michael Haneke’s brooding 2001 film, "The Piano Teacher."
  40. If your own expectations are not too high, you crave period-costume drama and you’re one of those unfortunate people who refuses to watch anything in glorious black-and-white, this Great Expectations is worth the time and effort.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    In the small-town-conspiring-on-a-big-lie genre, The Grand Seduction doesn’t get near the mastery of 1998’s "Waking Ned Devine," but the shots of the village in Newfoundland, where it was filmed, are beautiful, and the local accents are convincing.
  41. Despite the work of a first-rate cast, it doesn’t feel real to me.
  42. Nothing to line up for or write home about, but it’s a pleasant time-passer, not a regrettable time-waster.
  43. Shot by Barry Ackroyd, the same cinematographer who filmed "The Hurt Locker," and using the same camera techniques, this movie looks like outtakes from a much better film.
  44. Not a masterpiece, perhaps, but technically polished, with inspired performances and enough suspense that by the time Mr. Hamm found the redemption that freed him from his own demons, I was so wired I needed a Valium.
  45. It's when the music stops that we run into problems. For starters, there are so many questions left unanswered.
  46. Don’t be misled by the title Leaves of Grass. Do not expect literacy, either. This stoner comedy has nothing whatsoever to do with Walt Whitman or poetry of any kind.
  47. For the Edgerton brothers and for their protagonists, The Square works on several levels, as it shows how far two people will go for love and profit--in more ways than one.
  48. One of the least likable characters (Cox) in recent memory--irascible, but with moments of real tenderness--he’s the reason this strange movie takes on a perverse charm that is uniquely its own.
  49. Michael Caine is such a consummate actor that it's a major cause of concern to see him in Harry Brown, another hateful vigilante flick the wags in England have already labeled Dirty Harry Brown for reasons that are immediately obvious.
  50. Letters to Juliet comes off as just another movie that makes you long for a trip to Northern Italy-but not with any of these people.
  51. Young Mr. Eisenberg and a fine cast give Holy Rollers the ballast it otherwise lacks, but we've been down this road so often that there are times when I could only wonder why I was watching it at all.
  52. One thing that defies debate: Zac Efron is going places as an actor of value. But he deserves better movies than Charlie St. Cloud.
  53. What will happen to the man-boy when he's all man and can no longer slouch about in baggy pants and hoodie sweatshirts with perpetually flushed cheeks?
  54. Legendary is a soap opera with steroids.
  55. A movie only a hedge fund manager could love.
  56. Despite its good intentions, this earnest little film seems embalmed.
  57. This exercise in hysteria is so over the top that you don't know whether to scream or laugh. Despite an emotionally gripping performance by Natalie Portman, it's nothing more than a lavishly staged "Repulsion" in toe shoes.
  58. This is an oddball tale that is well worth telling, but Mr. Carrey simply cannot resist turning it into a Three Stooges routine in drag.
  59. It's a Clint Eastwood role that only proves you can't send a boy to do a man's job.
  60. You can't fault the theme that life's darkest moments brighten when two people need each other, but there's no drug strong enough to get me through another movie like Love and Other Drugs.
  61. Burning Palms is too sick to attract the masses, but he's onto something subversively valid, and the film is never boring.
  62. Too relentlessly depressing to recommend to the everyday audience. It seems to be on automatic pilot. Horrible, sad things keep happening, but it just goes on.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The Mechanic runs on violence, and when no one's being riddled with bullets or getting their hand shoved into a garbage disposal, it lags. That said, the "action" sequences are so frequent and bloody that they render plot nearly obsolete.
  63. The actors work hard to convey terror-especially Mr. Christensen, who proved he could act when he played disgraced journalist Stephen Glass in the marvelous, underrated "Shattered Glass"-but the panic that overtakes the characters never quite grips the audience.
  64. A stupid waste of time and talent, but it might be just what his (Damon) fans are waiting for.
  65. Directed with a pulsating fervor by Neil Burger, Limitless is absurd but entertaining action-adventure escapism. Bradley Cooper is versatile and virile, and a valiant leading man.
  66. May not appeal to every taste, but it marks an arresting feature debut for Jordan Scott, a director who is well worth watching.
  67. It's definitely worth seeing for Ms. Cattrall. This gal can really act.
  68. The movie is not great, but the star is not bad. This, in some quarters, is high praise indeed.
  69. An odd, confusing, ugly and mostly indigestible movie about religious hysteria and rock 'n' roll-two subjects I find about as interesting as opening a tattoo parlor. I wish I liked the movie half as much as I like the actor.
  70. If you have already begun to suspect that Something Borrowed may be something less than the sum of its parts-all of which do indeed seem borrowed from other movies and TV rom-coms too numerous to mention-you are right.
  71. Everything Must Go is the one for the Gipper-the movie in which he steps out of character for his own sake and works hard to lose Will Ferrell. The results are mixed, but I admire the guy for making an effort.
  72. I'm sure there is much to be learned from Forks Over Knives (the title means fruits and veggies can be forked, but anything you cut with a knife is lethal), but what does it have to do with real life?
  73. Content to make movies for himself (Malick) that nobody else wants to see as long as he can find someone to foot the bill, he's also an iconoclast searching for significance. So am I, but not 138 minutes worth. Anyone seeking symmetry in this cinematic taffy pull risks emerging from it with a pretzel for a brain.
  74. The best thing about Super 8, by far, are the kids, all perfectly cast. The script does a much better job making them believable and real than the adults...The rest of the movie steals shamelessly from...
  75. It eventually fails, not because of its philosophical ideas, but because it introduces so many of them at the same time that even a viewer with a score pad can't keep up.
  76. The film is awkward, the situations tenuous and underdeveloped, the pacing torturous as a slow drip from a leaking faucet, and the narrative just plods along, with the body count rising for no clear reason.
  77. A benign slice of life about suburban angst on Long Island. It's not much, but thanks to the noble efforts of a very good cast, I've seen worse.
  78. Cowboys & Aliens is one of the silliest movies ever made, but so many otherwise serious people have attached their names to it that, as Arthur Miller wrote in Death of a Salesman, attention must be paid.
  79. Gun Hill Road is worth seeing for the acting. The great character actress Miriam Colon makes a brief but memorable appearance as the strong matriarch of the household, and Ms. Santana, a true transgendered teen who has never acted before, is especially wrenching.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Senna's accomplishments are impressive, but his story seems more suited to an ESPN special than a feature-length film.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    If you can suspend your disbelief that a cute 22 year-old had the power to succeed with civil rights where Martin Luther King and President Kennedy failed, The Help actually has a lot to offer.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It's a sweet, harmless, meandering tale with an engaging gimmick, but a great love story - or a great movie - it's not.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    In the end, 30 Minutes or Less is a tidy, entertaining nerd action movie that should provide a good distraction for viewers this summer.
  80. The two-handed duet at the center of Love Crime radiates, but the parade of easily parodied men who stomp in and out of their corporate offices just seem like script rejects from "Mad Men."
  81. Like any good cautionary tale, Puncture tells a suspenseful story responsibly, creating food for thought and leaving the audience both enlightened and entertained.
  82. A 2½-hour art film that is something of a well-intentioned mess.

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