Observer's Scores

  • Movies
For 923 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 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 57
Highest review score: 100 Prisoners
Lowest review score: 0 mother!
Score distribution:
923 movie reviews
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Fortunately, this is a filmmaker as talented as he is brave and stubborn. Hostiles breathes fresh oxygen into a genre as old as a Confederate cough.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. In a movie without adults, the children are spontaneous and natural. And Ms. Ronan is captivating throughout.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. The Descendants is a soap opera with Hawaiian shirts.
  12. It all sounds dreadful, like the pilot for another brainless comedy series on network TV, but it grows on you.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    Peel away the big budget genre film’s veneer of Western Civ citations—embodied by references to artist and inventor Michelangelo, composer Richard Wagner and the romantic poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, among others—and what you have is rather conventional Lego blocks of sci-fi horror.
  16. It’s sexy, violent and creepy, but damn if it didn’t keep me glued to my chair with tension.
  17. There’s nothing else to watch or care about in the entire film anyway. Once again, a great actress is on her own.
    • 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.
  18. My reservations about Copperhead are outweighed by the noble intentions that inspired it.
  19. The result is an old-fashioned play turned into an old-fashioned movie that looks like an old-fashioned play. Nothing happens and everybody talks incessantly.
  20. 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.
  21. A mixed bag of dumb jokes and unspeakable violence that is a big improvement over his (McDonagh) other work (it towers over Seven Psychopaths, which was one of the worst movies ever made) but not good enough to write home about at today’s inflated postal rates.
  22. 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.
  23. Five Nights in Maine is too inconsequential to spend money on in a major release, which, I predict, will be brief.
  24. 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.
  25. Beautifully shot and reeking with style, Last Night is as slow as sorghum; nothing ever really happens.
  26. Nothing to line up for or write home about, but it’s a pleasant time-passer, not a regrettable time-waster.
  27. 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.
  28. Watching Richard Gere’s charm and sweetness, as he turns into a metaphor for the nobodies of the world who hock their souls to be somebodies, is something very special indeed.
  29. A well-meaning, expertly acted film, it unfortunately drowns in its own sorrow.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. It does have a dark, satisfyingly sinister feeling of gothic creepiness that I somewhat reluctantly admit appealed to my enjoyment of perversity as entertainment.
  33. 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."
  34. 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.
  35. Hack director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) is lucky to engage Cruise’s box-office appeal for a tale that otherwise would never have seen the light of day.
  36. 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.
  37. I found Contagion both flawed and fascinating, but it's not an entertainment.
  38. 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.
  39. I found Howl a fascinating and imaginative evocation of mid-20th-century liberation, a mere and merciful 90 minutes long.
  40. Historians are already calling Anonymous preposterous humbug, but I found it a complex cornucopia of ideas and panache. You go away sated.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    The film ends up getting stuck in a no man’s land between fiction and documentary, never quite coming together as a complete narrative.
  43. The film works because of Mr. Harrelson's magnetism.
  44. 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!”
  45. 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."
    • 68 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    It’s not quite enough to completely undercut what had been an engrossing and well crafted chamber play of a movie, but it does leave you with the profound sense that all of these characters, the angels and the devils, deserve better.
    • 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. American Pastoral tries to be loyal in its adaptation, but the material is film-resistant and flat as cardboard.
  52. Even though it does so through a dull and talky haze of cigar smoke, it is always Gary Oldman’s phenomenal performance that keeps the film airborne.
  53. Grousing aside, this is a disarmingly sweet movie, enjoyable to the hilt, with music that really stomps.
  54. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Kindergarten Cop," but better.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    In the end, Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a mixed bag: a ripe visual adventure of limitless imagination hamstrung by an undercooked plot propelled by lackluster heroes.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. A middling attempt to peek through a lace curtain for a glimpse of the other Upstairs/Downstairs staff members only leads to too many distracting social functions that fail to relieve the film's otherwise solemn pacing.
  63. It’s a forgettable film, but what it says about the debilitating effect of technological abuse is sickening enough to make you think twice about upgrading your smartphone.
  64. In this overly familiar and ultimately meandering exercise in tedium, Mr. Burns also plays the lead.
  65. After Words is part adventure, part love story, part travelogue, and all as synthetic as rayon.
  66. It’s a movie that knocks itself cross-eyed trying to be hip, clever and today about acerbic seniors, but instead it only makes you long for old ladies in aprons exclaiming “Land sakes alive, I smell something burning in the oven!”
  67. 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.
  68. It's a Clint Eastwood role that only proves you can't send a boy to do a man's job.
  69. The generic title In Secret is as uninspired as the movie itself.
  70. Far from the offbeat satire on the American dream gone sour it aims to be, The Brass Teapot is more like a dark flirtation with the American nightmare that backfires.
  71. Admirable and respectable, it engages you while you’re watching it, then leaves you empty and wanting more.
  72. It's when the music stops that we run into problems. For starters, there are so many questions left unanswered.
  73. Pan
    It’s not about Peter Pan, but about what happened before Peter Pan. The noise you hear is J. M. Barrie turning over in his grave.
  74. Dirty Girl is a bad movie with no insights that is broadly drawn and genuinely plagued by filthy dialogue. You don't laugh. You just wince, and wonder how the whole thing ever got financed.
  75. 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.
  76. The entire movie is about as sexy as a root canal.
  77. 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.
  78. Too small and dark to appeal to a large audience, it's not a movie to cherish.
  79. Because it’s written and directed by slick slasher king Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel), expect some genuine, well-executed thrills that keep the adrenaline going. This is a good thing, because Keanu Reeves has the adrenaline rush of road kill.
  80. It's a fatiguing, low-key character study that drags along annoyingly and pleads for patience, but stick with it and you'll find the engrossing centerpiece performance by Ms. Theron a captivating reward that is well worth the effort.
  81. It’s so sincere and admirable that it seems churlish to voice objections, but the fact remains that it isn’t very good.
  82. A well-meaning but desultory descent into darkness based on a memoir of the same name by Amy-Jo Albany, daughter of Joe Albany, the great jazz pianist who died in 1988 at age 63. The book, published in 2003, was subtitled Junk, Jazz and Other Fairy Tales From Childhood, and that just about covers it.
  83. This dumb movie turns from dubious to preposterous.
  84. The best thing here is the muted cinematography, which caresses the wet leaves and cloudy purple Tuscan skies like an old Italian master oil painting that comes to life. In the desultory Voice From the Stone, it’s the only thing that does.
  85. One thing that defies debate: Zac Efron is going places as an actor of value. But he deserves better movies than Charlie St. Cloud.
  86. The movie, which has all the freshness and insight of a Movie of the Week on the Hallmark channel, is a first for the writer-director, which probably accounts for its lack of any definitive style or focus.
  87. My boy Viggo is always fascinating, but the movie is a concept searching for a story.

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