NPR's Scores

  • Movies
For 1,021 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 60% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 37% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 4.3 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 The King's Speech
Lowest review score: 0 This Means War
Score distribution:
1,021 movie reviews
  1. The director makes clear that everyone means well — the headmistress, protective of her students; the parents, trying to shield children from things they shouldn't know about just yet; the investigators asking questions carefully, trying to see their way through ambiguous answers.
  2. More than anything, though, Living in Emergency leaves us wanting to know more about what makes these four people tick differently from the rest of us -- we who balk at anything riskier than signing petitions and joining Facebook protest groups.
  3. A waka is a traditional Japanese style of poetry, and this documentary does take a lyrical approach. Although barely an hour long, Tokyo Waka leaves room for offhand observations and humorous asides.
  4. Delightfully, Kinshasa's streets are alive with music, and snippets of sidewalk performances are integrated into the movie. The musicians are unidentified, alas, but then after 35 years, the filmmakers probably don't know who they are.
  5. Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akin isn't exactly known for slapstick, so Soul Kitchen has the feel of a palate cleanser. After the hard-edged drama of "Head-On" and "The Edge of Heaven," this boisterous comedy milling with scruffy misfits goes down more easily than an oyster on the half shell.
  6. The filmmakers have been telling interviewers they have sufficient additional material for a whole other movie. And The Dog is eye-opening enough to make you kind of hope that's true.
  7. Even the movie's title, or rather the source of it, is a surprise. Not to spoil the fun, but it's neither Assange nor one of his allies who nonchalantly acknowledges that "we steal secrets."
  8. Undertow, for all its narrative tricks, has been given the rhythm and texture of real life, as well as emotional undercurrents that are haunting.
  9. For all its rhetorical whimsy and hipster dressings, (500) Days of Summer is a thoroughly conservative affair, as culturally and romantically status quo as any Jennifer Aniston vehicle.
  10. The Lunchbox is a first feature for director Ritesh Batra, but it nicely captures the almost overwhelming crush and noise of contemporary India, and it plays cleverly and delicately with the tension of whether its two correspondents might eventually meet. Theirs is one "virtual" romance that has nothing to do with social media.
  11. As with Six by Sondheim, Tim's Vermeer works at capturing on film how artists work their miracles. And it will have you, long after the credits fade, puzzling out questions of invention, creativity, science, talent, painstaking craft, and the magic that comes of putting all that together.
  12. Director Dean DeBlois has been saying this installment is the middle movie in a How to Train Your Dragon trilogy. It's clear that he took inspiration from the first Star Wars trilogy — not a bad model for breathing new life, and yes, a bit of fire, into one of Hollywood's more nuanced animated franchises.
  13. The star of the film is a matter-of-fact, highly perceptive Indian woman, Soma Mukhopadhyay, whose autistic adult son is now a published author.
  14. The story is carefully constructed, with moments that seem offhand initially, but are later revealed as crucial.
  15. The clinical style doesn't play to the director's strengths. A Dangerous Method didn't have to be another "Naked Lunch," but Freud plus Jung plus Cronenburg should have equaled something a little more dissonant and troubling.
  16. Mitchell brings respect, tenderness and a generous helping of his antic wit to Rabbit Hole, not to mention a rare gift for adding visual radiance to a talky stage play.
  17. Grohl's jovial presence is the hook; playing interviewer and emcee as well as director, he's the catchy bit you welcome every time it returns. The star-studded interview list provides much of the personality and attitude, as does a fantastically tense behind-the-scenes video of Petty and his band laboring long hours to craft their breakthrough record.
  18. Greenberg is on every level the work of a more mature filmmaker, and quite possibly a happier man.
  19. Lisbeth, pierced, tattooed and played by Rapace with a sometimes uncontrolled ferocity, qualifies as both a victim of male violence and a violent avenger of it. This makes her a lot more compelling than her comparatively passive partner -- something that Hollywood will doubtless find it necessary to "remedy" when Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is remade in English.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Robert May, a producer on "The Station Agent" and "The Fog of War," makes his directing debut with a carefully measured, admirably precise account of this sordid business.
  20. It's a campy rampage that runs a few minutes shy of four hours, dooming what otherwise would likely be a bright future as a midnight movie.
  21. An animated western that's effortlessly the most exhilarating flight of computer-drawn fancy since "Ratatouille."
    • 75 Metascore
    • 85 Critic Score
    A swift-moving, character-rich biopic whose kinetic Grand Prix sequences are constantly being overshadowed by genuinely riveting scenes of ... people talking.
  22. Jack, as played by Andrew Garfield, comes across as agonized, desperately anxious to get things right -- something you might also say about the filmmakers, who have turned Boy A's very particular story into a scary, universal and wrenching social statement.
  23. At its best, The Punk Singer tells the story of one pivotal life in a whole movement. Both Anderson and Hanna are at pains to avoid giving the impression that one singer carried the movement single-handedly.
  24. What's not fictional in their Trip to Italy is the gorgeous Italian coastline director Michael Winterbottom has them romping through, or the food they barely notice (though it'll have you famished by film's end), or the yacht they commandeer, bellowing all the while ...
  25. Boyega is absolutely riveting, leading with a stern glower, and constantly trying to prove himself. Yet Moses has a deep well of tenderness and honor beneath the façade, and Boyega almost single-handedly makes you care not just about his character, but about everyone in any gang that would align itself with him. He's that magnetic.
  26. Only the genre's most studious followers will be able to watch Muscle Shoals without being regularly astonished: Even if it sometimes gets lost in its byways, Greg "Freddy" Camalier's documentary tells an extraordinary story.
  27. All these characters make a beautiful mess together, even if McCarthy spends too much time tidying it up.
  28. The wonder of Black's performance here is its empathy and balance: inasmuch as he can disappear into any role, he dissolves into this one with no hint of mocking remove. It's a beautiful thing to see.

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