New York Observer's Scores

  • Movies
For 813 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 5.9 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 56
Highest review score: 100 The Judge
Lowest review score: 0 The Baytown Outlaws
Score distribution:
813 movie reviews
  1. 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.
  2. The point of The Iceman is “Even monsters are human,” but it takes a great actor to make a dubious theme convincing.
  3. So it’s less bloody and gruesome than "12 Years a Slave." But make no mistake about it; the legion of protestors with no plans to see The Birth of a Nation is growing.
  4. 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.
  5. As a film, it’s uneven and clumsy, but as a responsible political statement about the chaos we live in now, it’s both enlightening and troubling.
  6. Unlike most alleged Hollywood rom-coms, Like Crazy is delicate, uplifting and definitely worth investigating.
  7. This is one terrific movie about one terrific horse. It enthralls on so many levels-emotional, cinematic, historic.
  8. Good acting and plenty to think about, but a better director than Mike Binder would have made a better film.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Life is not a great film, but it has its thrills.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. The screenplay, by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith, seamlessly captures two different eras with overlapping story lines that never intrude or confuse.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Not a great film in the same vein as "Badlands" and "Pretty Poison," but a very good one that is well worth seeing.
  18. 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.
  19. It's all about personality and Joan's inimitable style, which fills every second of its 84 minutes.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. There are humorous intrusions (e.g., an art show at Jeanne’s gallery that includes Nazi symbols constructed from penises), and great performances throughout.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. It's uneven, but its optimistic message-lost causes can find strength through friendship and bonding-is contagious.
  30. The best thing about Gangster Squad is how they got the 1940s accoutrements right.
  31. Surprising, inventive and crisply, merrily written and directed by Derrick Borte, The Joneses is a brisk, captivating entertainment. Think Ozzie and Harriet on speed.
  32. 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Both Hosseini and Alidoosti underplay their parts with an apparent naturalism. And, yet, Farhadi constantly reminds the audience that they are watching a movie, that these handsome folks are actors playing actors in a film.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. Turns out to be more suspenseful and keenly plotted than most, with a compelling centerpiece performance by Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) that deserves attention.
  37. When it finally ended, I felt like I had traveled the distance in the next sleeping bag. It’s exhausting but exhilarating.
  38. The senior set deserves a few crumpets with their tea, and Part Two, which takes up where the original left off, aims to satisfy.
  39. Its virtues are many and this filmed version of Hardy’s fourth novel is well worth seeing. It rises head and shoulders above most of what we’ve been seeing lately.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. In a movie without adults, the children are spontaneous and natural. And Ms. Ronan is captivating throughout.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. Better films about senior citizens displaced by a greedy housing market have been made. (Anyone for Vittorio De Sica’s Umberto D, or Ira Sachs’ recent heartbreaker Love is Strange, about a homeless elderly gay couple?) But the humorous script by Charlie Peters (based on a novel by Jill Ciment), fluidly directed by Richard Loncraine, makes this an agreeable experience.
  47. 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.
  48. The Descendants is a soap opera with Hawaiian shirts.
  49. It all sounds dreadful, like the pilot for another brainless comedy series on network TV, but it grows on you.
  50. Overwhelmed by bad country-western ballads, Two Step is flawed but it makes you laugh and cringe at the same time, and passes 90 minutes painlessly.
  51. This movie is so raw and depressing that in one brutal scene Ms. Connelly is so desperate for a fix that she injects a hypodermic needle into her vagina. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  52. 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.
  53. It’s sexy, violent and creepy, but damn if it didn’t keep me glued to my chair with tension.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    It is just that when some of its lines fall flat, pulling in portents of a future we all know well, it wakes us from a dream few of us want to be over.
  54. My reservations about Copperhead are outweighed by the noble intentions that inspired it.
  55. Written and directed with precision and sensitivity by Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent), it revives the pleasant art of storytelling most of today’s young filmmakers have all but abandoned, and cures (temporarily, anyway) my allergy to Adam Sandler.
  56. 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.
  57. Five Nights in Maine is too inconsequential to spend money on in a major release, which, I predict, will be brief.
  58. Die Another Day is the most thrilling, lavishly designed and imaginative Bond picture in years. It is also the most preposterous.
    • 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.
  59. Beautifully shot and reeking with style, Last Night is as slow as sorghum; nothing ever really happens.
  60. Nothing to line up for or write home about, but it’s a pleasant time-passer, not a regrettable time-waster.
  61. In this case two mesmerizing performances by Clive Owen and his astounding co-star, a remarkably adroit child actor named Jaeden Lieberher, who is going places fast.
  62. The violence is intense, and at two hours and 12 minutes the movie is too long and the pace too leisurely to sustain it, but I wasn’t bored. When in doubt, bring on the Troglodytes.
  63. 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.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    Has brief moments of levity and charm, but mostly it's depressing.
  64. It does have a dark, satisfyingly sinister feeling of gothic creepiness that I somewhat reluctantly admit appealed to my enjoyment of perversity as entertainment.
  65. 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."
  66. 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.
  67. 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.
  68. I found Contagion both flawed and fascinating, but it's not an entertainment.
  69. 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.
  70. I found Howl a fascinating and imaginative evocation of mid-20th-century liberation, a mere and merciful 90 minutes long.
  71. Historians are already calling Anonymous preposterous humbug, but I found it a complex cornucopia of ideas and panache. You go away sated.
  72. It’s a late-life coming-of-age story, and it’s not great. But she gives it all she’s got, and she’s never been sunnier or funnier.
  73. Despite the work of a first-rate cast, it doesn’t feel real to me.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    The Grandmaster offers welcome relief from a moviegoing summer spent in sensory overload.
  74. The film works because of Mr. Harrelson's magnetism.
  75. 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!”
  76. This is a movie about action, not acting, and although, under the circumstances, the cast does yeoman work in roles that can only be called generic, in the long haul they can’t save the script and direction from being sometimes boring and always predictable.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    A Teacher is more in the vein of Michael Haneke’s brooding 2001 film, "The Piano Teacher."
    • 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.
    • 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.
  77. A debut feature by American writer-actor Brady Corbet, the film is sketchy, confused and too self-consciously aimed at arthouse audiences to thrive commercially, but it has a chilling impact.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    As a thriller, The Imposter is gripping. As a documentary, it provokes confusion and annoyance.
  80. At an obvious crossroads in his life, Woody Allen has been thinking about guilt, morality, consciousness and the limitations of the intellect. I wish he had done it in a more entertaining and satisfying film than Irrational Man.
  81. 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.
  82. American Pastoral tries to be loyal in its adaptation, but the material is film-resistant and flat as cardboard.
  83. Grousing aside, this is a disarmingly sweet movie, enjoyable to the hilt, with music that really stomps.
  84. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Kindergarten Cop," but better.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    If it all seems a bit familiar, that doesn’t mean it isn’t also funny and pleasingly transporting, thanks to a game and attractive supporting cast and a transfixing setting that seems cut out of the pages of Conde Nast Traveler.

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