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 Lore
Lowest review score: 0 Only God Forgives
Score distribution:
527 movie reviews
  1. A flawless film of heartrending realism about the eternal chord that binds parents and children and the emptiness when they are separated.
  2. Everything works miraculously here, making Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky one of the most bountiful experiences of the year.
  3. I Am Love fuses the past with the changing future in a marvelous traditional narrative without a shred of the sloppy trends of contemporary filmmaking.
  4. Resonating with warmth and sardonic wit and containing a majestic performance by Robert Duvall.
  5. This first-cabin director returns to top form, with this revelatory film his best in years. More than that, Mao's Last Dancer is a masterpiece.
  6. For a story about a man who cannot move, the ordeal unfolds at a pace that keeps you breathless.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Made in Dagenham is a retro romp with heart, smarts, soul and wit that will restore your faith in the power of the picket line.
  7. As the actor of the year in the film of the year, I can't think of enough adjectives to praise Firth properly. The King's Speech has left me speechless.
  8. A true masterpiece of visual enchantment. One of the most original and unique geniuses in cinema today, Mr. Chomet directed, wrote, illustrated and composed the music for this holiday jewel, an homage to the sweet, sad melancholia of the legendary French comic Jacques Tati.
  9. Blue Valentine is about real life, warts and all, over narrative conventions like action and plot mechanics. It is brutal, compassionate, beautiful in its ugliness and one of the bravest films of the year.
  10. No matter where your political leanings lie, the great thing about The Conspirator is that Mr. Redford is wise enough to let the audience decide what the parallels are. See it, enjoy a ripping good yarn and learn something.
  11. In a film so ripe with temptations for posturing, exaggeration and satirical overacting, nobody is anything less than natural, unpretentious and funny as hell.
  12. A grisly, authentic, meticulously researched, pulse-quickening political chiller about a hot-button topic that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
  13. What an extraordinary thrill to leave a movie exhilarated instead of drained, sated instead of empty, rejuvenated instead of depressed. It's a magical experience.
  14. Get ready for a smash hit. Gimmicky but delicious, this is a valentine to the movies I promise you will cherish.
  15. War Horse is a don't-miss Spielberg classic that reaches true perfection.
  16. Wake in Fright is the closest a movie can get to a primal scream.
  17. Argo is a triumph. It has tension, sincerity, mystery, artistic responsibility, entertainment value, technical expertise, a narrative arc and a thrilling respect for the tradition of how to tell a story with minimum frills and maximum impact. It's a great footnote to history, one of the best films of 2012 and a sure-fire contender on Oscar night.
  18. The Sessions is fascinating, informative, engaging and heartbreaking stuff. Its easygoing, matter-of-fact tone makes it subtle and rewarding, not weird. Roses all around to all and sundry for one of the year's most captivating films.
  19. This is one of the best movies of 2012. With rich performances, a riveting and articulate screenplay, meticulous direction and enough grounded emotional intensity to keep your pulse pounding, Hitchcock grabs you by the lapels like a suspense classic by Hitch himself - a knockout from start to finish.
  20. In beauty, tone, technical achievement and cinematic artistry on every level, Hyde Park on Hudson is a movie unto itself - funny, believable, historic and hugely entertaining.
  21. Put a staggering accomplishment called The Impossible, from Spanish director J. A. Bayona, at the top of the season's must-see list.
  22. Don't let Amour join the legion of "Best Films You Never Saw." I urge you to share its sweetness and wisdom, and learn something.
  23. Exactly what you might expect from the fearless, controversial director of "Pulp Fiction" - it's overlong, raunchy, shocking, grim, exaggerated, self-indulgently over-the-top and so politically incorrect it demands a new definition of the term. It is also bold, original, mesmerizing, stylish and one hell of a piece of entertainment.
  24. It’s a remarkable accomplishment.
  25. I think you’ll find it as fresh, original and breathlessly exciting as I did.
  26. It’s only April, but this is one of the best films of 2013.
  27. Acutely observed, subtly but sharply written and expertly acted.
  28. Richly chronicled characters, sharp dialogue and that stupendous centerpiece performance by Cate Blanchett are contributing factors in the best summer movie of 2013 and one of the most memorable Woody Allen movies ever.
  29. When it comes to thrillers, this one is as good as it gets. Not for the squeamish, but for anyone who loves movies, it’s too exhilarating to miss.
  30. If the best films hold you in a captive vise, entertain you, keep you spellbound and teach you something at the same time, then 12 Years a Slave is outstanding — brave, courageous and unforgettable.
  31. All Is Lost is movie magic on many levels but most importantly as the rare opportunity to watch a seasoned actor at the pinnacle of his power.
  32. Dallas Buyers Club represents the best of what independent film on a limited budget can achieve — powerful, enlightening and not to be missed.
  33. It’s profoundly moving and thoroughly mind provoking, but despite the poignant subject matter, I promise you will not leave Philomena depressed. I’ve seen it twice and felt exhilarated, informed, enriched, absorbed and optimistic both times.
  34. Sensational entertainment. This $100 million extravaganza is — let’s face it — rampantly over the top. Hell, it’s by Martin Scorsese, who is always over the top.
  35. It resonates with delicacy, passion and restraint, touching the heart in places where cynics fear to go.
  36. At 88, after nearly seven decades in show business, Ms. Stritch is sharp, funny, brittle, caustic, demanding, exaggerated, critical (especially of herself) and infuriating. She is also elaborately unique and awesomely brilliant.
  37. They are two intelligent, sophisticated people searching for the spicy condiment they need to keep their relationship fresh during a bittersweet weekend in Paris, and, like the film that frames them, they are smart, substantial and enchanting.
  38. Wrenching, profound and beautifully made, The Railway Man is one of the stunning don’t-miss surprises of the still-young 2014.
  39. A master stroke of enchantment from one of the few legitimate cinematic geniuses of the modern cinema, with a nimble and tender performance of enormous elegance and charm by Colin Firth that is heart-meltingly romantic.
  40. Every complex member of the writer’s legacy has an agenda, with varying gains and losses, and the power of the film rests in the way it captures so many tangled lives as they cross and intersect at curious angles. The camera is literal, so the film sometimes fails to escape its roots of literary inspiration. This did not bother me. How many times do you get the chance to curl up with a good movie?
  41. Among the most gripping, well-paced, acted and directed, and generally thrilling of anything that I've seen (yet) this year.
  42. Enhanced by superb writing and direction and nuanced performances by an ensemble of great actors, and enough take-home food for thought to keep the mind and senses totally focused from start to finish, The Company Men is pretty damn close to as good as it gets in a disappointing year at the movies.
  43. This meticulously nuanced, sensitively acted film version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire gives Nicole Kidman her best role in years, and she chews it like raw steak.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Despite extremely unpleasant material, he (Schwimmer) coaxes subtle, incredible performances from his cast and builds a tense, arresting narrative.
  44. Too bleak and wrenching to recommend unconditionally. You need a strong constitution to watch it soberly, but it is a gripping experience that left me weak in the knees.
  45. This is a subtle, elegant and altogether triumphant film about a subject I thought I was tired of, told with an artistry and freshness that is positively thrilling.
  46. A cynical, polished and deeply disturbing look at the kind of camera-ready liberal dreamboy who gets elected in 60-second sound bites, it is one of the most important films of the year.
  47. In Darkness is gloomy and hard to take for a running time of 145 minutes, but it's an important film, related with deep conviction, and uncompromising in its understanding of the remarkable things members of the human race have done - to, for, and against each other - in the wilderness of war.
  48. Lee Hirsch is certainly one who is making a difference. I endorse him and his brave, powerful movie and urge you to see it for yourself. You might leave Bully with rage, but you will not leave Bully with indifference.
  49. It's a delectable slice of Southern Gothic humor, a side show of rednecks and Bubbas and Aunt Tooties.
  50. Considering the subject, ripe with titillating possibilities, it's surprisingly about as sexy as a week-old meat loaf. Tastefully directed by Tanya Wexler, it is a total joy from start to finish.
  51. Don't miss this one. A brave and inspired antidote to time-wasting mainstream movies, it is unlike anything you've seen before or will likely ever see again. In short, it is unforgettable.
  52. I think everything about the movie is too subtle and real to appeal to the "Batman" demographic, but for mature audiences who have forgotten how to smile, it takes up where "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' left off.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Laugh-out-loud funny and somewhat melancholic.
  53. The result is a movie of enormous intelligence.
  54. As a bare-knuckle assault on the corruption that has come to define the creeping rot of American politics, Knife Fight is neither as satirical as Barry Levinson's "Wag the Dog" nor as incisive and wrenching as George Clooney's "The Ides of March," but it's a noble, shocking and inspired film worthy of attention.
  55. Flawed but different, well-crafted and consistently powerful, At Any Price is the best film about impoverished farmers in the economic agricultural crisis since Jean Renoir’s "The Southerner."
  56. In one of the most wrenching performances I have seen on the screen in some time, it’s thrilling to watch a young actor with passion and charisma explore so many avenues of damage control with so much depth, allowing the viewer to grapple with an unsettling variety of personal emotions.
  57. World War Z towers above every other alleged summer blockbuster. It’s the real deal.
  58. Not since "The Straight Story," when Richard Farnsworth traveled all the way from Iowa to Wisconsin by lawn mower to see his dying brother, have the wisdom, innocence and pride of a senior citizen combined so powerfully as a metaphor for the courage to face mortality. Unforgettable.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Lovelace may be a movie about a porn star, but it’s not pornographic. At least, not sexually.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    What is truly amazing, especially in this age of Ponzi schemes and the misappropriation of people’s life savings, is the fact that Herb and Dorothy have never sold a single piece in their collection.
  59. Mr. Hanks, in yet another in a long line of diverse character studies, does a beautiful job as the voice of reason and logic, trying to inspire bravery and maintain order amid the noise and panic. In the big emotional scenes, as well as the small, nerve-jangling scenes, he is an artist at the top of his skill.
  60. The movie is wrenchingly slow — you know from the start that nothing is ever going to happen — but Nebraska has a charm that grows on you like a lichen, a wicked sense of humor that makes you laugh in spite of yourself, a concealed heart soft as a Hostess Twinkie, and a generous, welcome respect for the basic decency of the human race, more valuable than any lottery ticket.
  61. American Hustle is an essay on the brilliance of corruption.
  62. This is their story. It is true. It is history. As a film, it is riveting, suspenseful, harrowing and exciting, and somehow, it also manages to be something rare among war pictures—a big-scale entertainment.
  63. The end result of this stoned-cold picnic is both haphazardly successful and somewhat disappointing, but it’s worth seeing, thanks enormously to the tremendous charisma of Sam Rockwell.
  64. An upscale, high-concept $40 million futuristic epic by the visionary South Korean director Bong Joon-ho. It’s too gruesome to recommend to everyone without reservation, but if you love movies, you can’t afford to miss it.
  65. It’s a feel-good film with an infectious sense of fun and inspiration that brings out the best in people instead of catering to their lowest instincts.
  66. The best kind of horror film, about innocent people plunged into mind-boggling circumstances beyond their control.
  67. Wonderful, honest and low-key performances inform and enhance The Yellow Handkerchief, an otherwise unexceptional little drama.
  68. 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.
  69. A film of maturity and courage, one that kept me consistently engaged. Quite an accomplishment, really, for a new filmmaker on her first date with a camera.
  70. La Mission, carefully directed by Peter Bratt and beautifully photographed by award-winning cinematographer Hiro Narita (Never Cry Wolf), explores the human side of a culture we know almost nothing about, in a world usually exploited on film to depict drugs and danger.
  71. 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.
  72. Surprising, inventive and crisply, merrily written and directed by Derrick Borte, The Joneses is a brisk, captivating entertainment. Think Ozzie and Harriet on speed.
  73. It is all very-very-very entertaining.
  74. 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.
  75. It's uneven, but its optimistic message-lost causes can find strength through friendship and bonding-is contagious.
  76. The story behind Touching Home is more inspiring than the film itself, but don't let that deter you. It's the kind of can-do miracle that reminds us all that anything can happen and everything is possible.
  77. 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.
  78. It's all about personality and Joan's inimitable style, which fills every second of its 84 minutes.
  79. 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.
  80. The kids make stunning debuts, but their accents are thicker than porridge, rendering a good 90 percent of the dialogue so unintelligible that it might as well be in Swahili. Some subtitles are provided out of necessity, but not enough.
  81. The movie is about how he learns to show what's in his heart even when he can't find the spoken words to express his feelings aloud. Under the careful guidance of Mr. Nunez, Mr. Becker does both, in ways that reminded me of a Hispanic James Dean.
  82. A grim, toxic, psychological British thriller, brimming with surprises, that always manages to be quite a bit more than it appears on the surface.
  83. 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.
  84. Some people might blindly and inaccurately accuse this movie of attacking family values, but it has exactly the opposite effect. Touching and funny in their upheaval, the people in The Kids Are All Right open the door to a brand new examination of family values that leaves you charged and cheering.
  85. It's still worth seeing for its two dazzling centerpieces.
  86. The effect is genuinely creepy, but do not even think of seeing Buried if you suffer from claustrophobia.
  87. This film transcends its trendy, obvious limitations with enough vitality and vitriol to make it as informative and breathless as it is entertaining.
  88. Kristin Scott Thomas breathes new life into a woman who was invented by Flaubert and copied by Francoise Sagan.
  89. This is one terrific movie about one terrific horse. It enthralls on so many levels-emotional, cinematic, historic.
  90. There is plenty of excitement and pulse in Hereafter, as well as a reluctance to provide easy answers to life's great mysteries. I'm happy to see a great director take on the challenge of new and different material with his customary grace and impressive two-fisted technique intact.
  91. Filled with nuance, intricate emotion and a refreshing absence of melodramatics, Conviction is a moving exploration of light and love shining through the darkness of despair. Its impact cannot easily be shaken.
  92. 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.
  93. You go away exhilarated. The movie has been through as many hurdles getting here as dear, sweet Jolene, but sometimes the most engaging movies are the ones worth waiting for.
  94. You go away slack-jawed with shock and sated with the chilling bedtime-story elements of a great unsolved mystery novel you can't put down.
  95. These are characters so repulsive that it's hard to care what happens to them, but it's to the credit of a superb cast that you do end up caring.

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