New York Observer's Scores

  • Movies
For 726 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 Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
Lowest review score: 0 Rock of Ages
Score distribution:
726 movie reviews
  1. As a realistic political thriller about Americans in harm's way it is not half as suspenseful or entertaining as "Argo." We may never know the truth about how we found bin Laden, but I still believe what we do know makes a strong enough story on its own without Wonder Woman.
  2. Mr. Spall, winner of the Cannes and New York Film Critics Circle best-actor awards, does his best to bring an unpleasant character to life — grunting and snorting like a boar ready to charge, spitting on his canvases and dragging around with a constant wince like a fat baby with colic. With all due respect, he’s too repulsive to watch for 150 minutes.
  3. Lincoln is also a colossal bore. It is so pedantic, slow-moving, sanitized and sentimental that I kept pinching myself to stay awake - which, like the film itself, didn't always work.
  4. Amy
    Never failed to hold me spellbound, even when I saw obvious spots where easy cutting would reduce the agony to a much more comfortable running time.
  5. 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.
  6. Despite the title, which relates to a song by Van Halen, it is never clear what everybody wants some of, but the film does feature a cast of obviously talented, charismatic unknowns.
    • 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.
  7. Preposterous, illogical, senselessly over-plotted and artificial as a ceramic artichoke, David Fincher’s Gone Girl is another splatterfest disguised as a psychological thriller about the disintegration of a murderous marriage that I find one of the year’s grossest disappointments.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!”
  10. A dreary bummer.
  11. I can't imagine what attracted these two megahunks to such a bore.
  12. Enough is enough. One good thing: The jungle scenes were shot in Hawaii, so at least they all got a paid vacation.
  13. 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.
  14. Its eye is on the dirt floor of dullness.
  15. Dreary, depressing and desultory, A Most Wanted Man is not my cup of Schokolade mit Schlagsahne.
  16. 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...
  17. This three-hander has an honesty and a momentum that I found grudgingly rewarding.
  18. Director McQueen shares no primal truths, offers no resolutions, and the movie seems pointless. It seems almost wicked to spread on all that enticement and titillation, and then throw the sandwich away.
  19. 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.
  20. Not everything from Ireland travels as well as the whiskey. Like mud-thick porridge, Shadow Dancer, another dreary, confusing conspiracy thriller about the Irish “troubles,” is one of them.
  21. Surreal but disappointingly drab, it's still not the best Almodovar in years. Despite the usual Almodovar plot twists, kinky sex and themes of sexual identity reversal, gender bending and mad desire, the cult auteur has gone off the tracks and lost his compass.
  22. The results are variable, exasperating, challenging, often both disappointing and exhilarating. These elements surface throughout Happy Christmas, often simultaneously. Mr. Swanberg is not a total amateur, but he is called “a doodler” for obvious reasons, all of them on red alert here.
  23. Unfortunately, Hide Your Smiling Faces is so slow it could use a few action sequences to speed things up.
  24. 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?
  25. A good cast and the speed-dial theme of eco-terrorism should really add up to a film of more substantial mind over matter than the dull, talky and ultimately pointless espionage thriller The East.
  26. Another eccentric example of style over content, The Double stars creepy Jesse Eisenberg in two roles, when one is always more than enough.
  27. The director’s vision is so dark — and Mr. Crowe’s grumbling, sour-stomach persona so much like a Tums commercial — that you don’t care much what happens to him or his ark, which looks like a big barge with a stove pipe in the middle.
  28. I found the whole thing pokey and plodding, but there’s no denying the fact that even when sitting through Mr. Holmes seems numbing, Mr. McKellen is a force so powerful he’s his own reward.
  29. He (Gordon-Levitt) can act, and there’s a possibility he can also direct, but there’s no evidence in Don Jon that he can do both at the same time.
  30. It's when the music stops that we run into problems. For starters, there are so many questions left unanswered.
  31. Something is missing here, like a clear perspective.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. Of course, you can’t really make a movie that combines elements of the metaphysical, zombie and haunted-house genres without a few splatter-movie clichés, but Mr. Geoghegan makes them creepier and more unpredictable than I thought possible.
  35. It shouldn’t happen to a dog — or to an audience of dog lovers.
  36. A bleak and pointless exercise in pretentious existentialism.
  37. The Innkeepers, a desultory indie-prod poorly written and lamely directed by Ti West, and filmed on the cheap at the actual location, is a poor-man's rip-off of Stanley Kubrick's hotel spookfest, "The Shining," promising paranormal horrors to all who dare to enter. Where is Jack Nicholson when we need him?
  38. Lazy, eccentric, chain-smoking and accident-prone, Mr. Murray gives ’em what they clamor for. His eventual redemption as a saint in disguise is predictable. The direction is negligent and the jokes are mild. It’s an O.K. little picture that doesn’t really go anywhere, but it has a resonance that is easy on the heart.
  39. 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."
  40. More bitter, bleak lives of American mill workers without a compass and no place to go if they had one are showcased in the pessimistic drama Out of the Furnace. It’s getting to be a dismal film director’s obsession bordering on cliché.
  41. This is not a movie for everybody, but that assessment is not exactly intended as a thumbs down. Alarming thrills are guaranteed.
  42. 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.
  43. This movie is not without its moments of visual interest, but for a more comprehensive study of Baker’s life and career, read James Gavin’s book Deep in a Dream, or better yet, curl up with the real deal and a glass of wine and listen to what used to be.
  44. In this overly familiar and ultimately meandering exercise in tedium, Mr. Burns also plays the lead.
  45. When this sick, ludicrous cocktail of sex, violence and mayhem was first unveiled a year ago at the Toronto International Film Festival, one wag aptly described it as "the ghost of Tennessee Williams meets the spirit of Quentin Tarantino."
  46. The lugubrious pop songs by Gregg Alexander are execrable. Ms. Knightley isn’t remotely believable as a bike-riding pop singer. The saving grace is Mark Ruffalo, the only actor on the premises who shows any grit or passion for his character or for the music business.
  47. Boring and sedentary, not to mention only occasionally coherent, this creaking-door mystery is not much of a vehicle to display young Mr. Radcliffe's range and charm.
  48. It's a Clint Eastwood role that only proves you can't send a boy to do a man's job.
    • 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.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The movie achieves the kind of rhythm of an opera, alternating between arias of animated poetry and the recitative of normal speech.
  49. A 2½-hour art film that is something of a well-intentioned mess.
  50. The realism is honorable, the acting is exemplary, and all do good work, but life among the unlucky and disenfranchised who exist without hope is not a subject that will put a glow in your heart or a smile on your face. Be forewarned: The depression is inescapable.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    While the movie may not, in the end, be so effective in tapping into our current class anxieties, that hardly seems to matter. Like a trip to Elysium, it’s a wild ride.
  51. Despite a plot trajectory that changes so often they seem to be making it up as they go along, everyone on and off the screen seems to be doing it by the numbers.
  52. Except for the admirable testosterone on display that represents hours in the gym instead of the acting class, the rest of Magic Mike XXL is seriously stupid.
  53. A stupid waste of time and talent, but it might be just what his (Damon) fans are waiting for.
  54. Disappointingly tedious, On My Way is a contrived vehicle for Gallic icon Catherine Deneuve. At 70, she’s still the embodiment of placid ripeness we know and love, but the movie has little substance.
  55. I expected more from a movie about the most feared man in America for half a century. Whatever else you think about him, in retrospect, he had balls of brass - an essential quality replaced in J. Edgar by dull indifference.
  56. 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.
  57. A movie only a hedge fund manager could love.
  58. As agreeable as she is to watch, the disappointing thing I feel is that she plays everything the same way. For a film about one person that reveals so little about the subject, 94 minutes is longer than it sounds. My advice is to wait for the DVD. This is definitely a movie to watch with a remote control.
  59. In the often illustrious career oeuvre of Clint Eastwood, Trouble with the Curve is a minor entry, a cinematic footnote.
  60. Danny Collins is nothing to write home about, but it kept me entertained without too much guilt, and I didn’t wince. By today’s American movie standards, that’s becoming very high praise indeed.
  61. 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.
  62. Rambling, well-shot but inconsequential curio.
  63. It stars Woody Allen, but it still drags along like an oyster trying to walk.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. Trading in her red locks for kohl-lined eyes like a raccoon and the vampire look of Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, [Chastain] is the spookiest thing in Mama. Everything else is cable television.
  67. 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?
  68. By my rough calculation, the real Jack Ryan should be approximately 103. Preposterous but moderately engaging, Jack Ryan has outlived his welcome, and there’s no end in sight.
  69. As good as Citizen Gangster is, it would be even better if you could understand the dialogue.
  70. In a footnote to history that is still too close for comfort, he’s the real meaning of paradise lost.
  71. There are some lovely and moving things here, but over the long haul it’s more like watching an hour and a half of someone’s weekend trip to Knott’s Berry Farm.
  72. The situations in Little Accidents cry out for more clarity than the script delivers, but the carefully observed performances are worth perusal, and the dark, industrialized joylessness of Rachel Morrison’s cinematography is a somber mirror to the sad dead-end life of Appalachia.
  73. Johnny Depp is dismally miscast as the alter ego of the rebellious author with the "screw you" attitude.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Why tell the Sleeping Beauty story anew? With this half-hearted film, Mr. Stromberg, the visual effects wizard behind such big-budget blockbusters as "Oz the Great and Powerful," "Alice in Wonderland" and "Avatar," can’t provide an answer.
  74. A dull, pretentious trifle from director David Gordon Green with Al Pacino in another of his late-career mishaps that does nothing to elevate his fading film status. How I wish he would stick to the stage.
  75. Redundant, unnecessary and a colossal waste of talent and money, you can pretty much sum up Man of Steel in the scene in which a lady police officer watches with her mouth wide open as Superman tosses aside tanks like Tinker Toys. “What are you smiling about, captain?” asks another cop. “Nothing, sir — I just think he’s hot.”
  76. The actors are so good, though, that they make you want to see what they could do in a better movie than this tedious acting-class experiment.
  77. The script may be flawed and the narrative storytelling mechanical, but the period details are fascinating, the camerawork swaggers across a maze of squalid row houses and nightclub floors with visual velocity, and whenever either one Tom Hardy (or both) is onscreen, Legend is engrossing stuff indeed.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80. Anesthesia is a pile of incomprehensible existential gibberish by the vastly untalented actor-writer-director Tim Blake Nelson about the meaning of life in an age of technology, told in the tiresome style of multiple characters who intersect at odd angles in a follow-the-dots plot centered on a single tragic action.
  81. The D Train is so confusing it’s hard to track what anyone had in mind.
  82. 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.
  83. To Rome with Love has moments of isolated charm, but it's only moderately entertaining, it isn't very funny, and it's entirely too long.
  84. Like any good cautionary tale, Puncture tells a suspenseful story responsibly, creating food for thought and leaving the audience both enlightened and entertained.
  85. May not appeal to every taste, but it marks an arresting feature debut for Jordan Scott, a director who is well worth watching.
  86. Written by Emma Thompson, it’s literate and respectful, but a dose of lithium in a champagne glass that is too stolid to ever come alive.
  87. Let it be said that Ms. Streep is galvanizing, even as the film slogs through too much information and not nearly enough illumination.
  88. 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.
  89. If you’re patience doesn’t wear out, the movie culminates in that clever shock ending that not only explains everything but gives what you’ve just seen a rewarding jolt.
  90. I wish all the agony in The Big Year was leading up to something fascinating in the end, but the most inviting thing in the movie was the exit door.
  91. Armstrong is played by Ben Foster with an astonishing lack of animation or personality, and his literary prosecutor is played by the usually colorful, award-winning Chris O’Dowd with a dreariness that is stripped bare of his usual dynamism.
  92. Too small and dark to appeal to a large audience, it's not a movie to cherish.
  93. It is not a sequel, just another retread of tired material in a franchise that is more than ready for the big comic book bonfire. And why the title? There is nothing amazing about it.
  94. 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.
  95. The good twin/bad twin conceit in 2014 doesn’t have a shred of the original surprise, and Zoe Kazan doesn’t have the chops to carry it off anyway.

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