NPR's Scores

  • Movies
For 1,022 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 4.2 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 The Tree of Life
Lowest review score: 0 This Means War
Score distribution:
1,022 movie reviews
  1. Nash and Joel Edgerton, haven't exactly remade "Blood Simple," but they put a fresh spin on the classic Coen premise of amateurs in over their heads.
  2. If Ken Loach and Roberto Benigni went into a bar, drank themselves into a stupor and emerged the next morning with a screenplay, it might look a lot like The Misfortunates.
  3. The filmmakers -- mumblecore moguls, if such a thing can be said to exist -- prefer a squirmy kind of comedy that's all about the awkward situations real people find themselves in. And with these performers, the vibe stays down-to-earth and almost entirely unpredictable.
  4. It's all thoroughly adorable, and with an overlay that's nearly as odd as Carell's accent.
  5. The director wants him to engage his "audience," but Rebney -- as misanthropic as one would expect of a man who lives alone in a remote rural cabin -- only wants to talk about politics.
  6. The documentary is powerful, as far as it goes, but would be stronger if the filmmakers had been able to follow the story further.
  7. If your sole image of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is that of a lanky, silk-jammied sybarite strolling the grounds of his mansion with a jiggling blond on either arm, Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel will knock your socks off.
  8. Handsomely and vividly mounted, in a palette of period chocolates and golds, Get Low opens with an image of a burning man running from a house on fire -- an enticing promise of Southern Gothic that the movie never quite fulfills.
  9. Like most second parts of trilogies, this movie is more or less all middle.
  10. A film that's sweet, inclusive and sunny, a charmer filled with people who seem every bit as surprised as we are when they manage to look past surface differences, and find reasons to bond.
  11. Ondine plumbs the country's most resonant fairy tale and plays impishly along the borders of postcard fantasies of Ireland.
  12. Despite its fanciful premise, Never Let Me Go looks and feels utterly real.
  13. The trick to enjoying The Town, Ben Affleck's follow-up to his impressive 2007 directing debut, "Gone, Baby, Gone," is to expect nothing but pulpy entertainment.
  14. It's brilliantly silly entertainment whose flaws are glaring only in hindsight; in the moment, you'll have much more fun if you stop looking for holes in the script and join Paul in looking for a way out.
  15. Douchebag has the intensity and taut circularity of a short story told with economy and style.
  16. Despite some dark undercurrents, the movie emphasizes humor, and its best moments are more than kind of funny.
  17. Inspector Bellamy is dedicated to the memory of two famous Georges: the drily ironic singer Brassens, and Georges Simenon, whose crime novels go for the jugular of bourgeois France - and dig deep into the black hearts of those who, just when they imagine they have hit bottom, can always sink lower.
  18. "Liar Liar" meets Obi-Wan? Who'da thunk even fearless star power could make these two work as a romantic pair? But both stars prove to be enormous fun in a gay love story played straight in a thoroughly crooked context.
  19. At its best, The Fighter takes on the chasm between televised boxing and its mostly working-class, aspirational origins with grit and intelligence.
  20. Undertow, for all its narrative tricks, has been given the rhythm and texture of real life, as well as emotional undercurrents that are haunting.
  21. Soderbergh imposes a shape until the film begins to feel less like puzzle pieces in search of their place and more like one seamless picture: It's almost as if, with this collage of the artist's past work, he's created an entirely new final monologue for Gray.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A good-hearted, funny movie.
  22. If The Lincoln Lawyer has nothing new of substance to offer in its tale of life on the judicial margins, it has relaxed L.A. atmosphere to burn.
  23. Director Spencer Susser doesn't try to make Hesher anything other than a sociopath - a walking, profanity-spewing id - and to his credit, neither does Gordon-Levitt.
  24. It's not the artistry of X-Men: First Class that's particularly striking; though it's finely crafted, the film feels less the product of a visionary director than of the Marvel movies machine working at maximum efficiency.
  25. Promoting understanding and appreciation of the beauty of the bees and our intertwined relationship with them is also presented as a vital part of the equation.
  26. More than anything, though, Another Earth is an impressive calling card for Brit Marling, who wrote and produced the movie with Cahill, a classmate from Georgetown University. Marling also steals the movie as Rhoda Williams.
  27. It's customary to describe this kind of thriller as "adrenaline-fueled," but this is the first time apart from "Pulp Fiction" I can recall there being an actual shot of adrenaline on screen. Samuel uses it to wake Hugo from his coma, then kind of wishes he hadn't.
  28. As the comedy in 50/50 turns darker, Gordon-Levitt, who's maybe the most natural, least affected actor of his generation, makes prickly plenty engaging.
  29. I'm pretty sure that the terrific British actress Janet McTeer never meant to act Close out of every frame they share, but she surely does as Hubert, a cheerful bruiser who brings his own secrets to the party, as well as a monumentally fake broken nose, a kind heart and a practical gift for converting adversity to advantage.
  30. This is a film built around its star, just as surely as any of its cheesier '80s forebears.
  31. Wiseman's fragmented approach misses the continuity of the show, which mixes erotic dance with comedy, magic and even a little soft shoe, and tells an overarching story that Crazy Horse never quite communicates. Yet there's more than enough compensation in the scenes Wiseman does catch.
    • NPR
  32. Writer-director Michael K. Roskam takes his time in revealing why Jacky needs to shoot up, but that LaMotta restlessness is unmistakable - this bull here can rage.
  33. And then there's the simple fact of De Niro, playing a delusional taxi driver. It's easy to imagine Being Flynn's story turning precious in the wrong hands, but Weitz and his cast spin it just right - as a narrative that is both emotionally real, and just writerly enough to suit its leading men.
  34. The crisply sweet banter and the halting intimacy that grows between two shy people with a common goal more than makes up for a wildly implausible plot.
  35. The Kid With a Bike feels as vulnerable as Cyril's unformed character. Within its tight 87 minutes, not a lot happens, unless you count the saving of a life.
  36. Propriety and recklessness make for uneasy bedfellows in The Deep Blue Sea, a shimmering exploration of romantic obsession and the tension between fitting in and flying free.
  37. Arguably the most dynamic Asian action film since the 1990s peaks of John Woo and Tsui Hark, The Raid: Redemption works as sheer gladiatorial ballet.
  38. Even were it not so delightful, Damsels in Distress, set at a fictional upper-crust college, would deserve a watch for its dialogue alone.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Feels poignant and real in a way few raunch comedies are.
  39. As humane as it is disturbing.
  40. The Well-Digger's Daughter offers a fervent poem to the region's abundant beauty.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    More often Planet of Snail evokes, in radiant detail, the mutual reliance that makes good partnerships work.
  41. Unfolding in somber tones and among hard surfaces, Arbitrage has the slickness of new bank notes and the confidence of expensive tailoring.
  42. End of Watch is one thriller where the adrenaline rush, considerable as it is, is almost always put in the service of character. Happily, the character on display turns out to be considerable, too.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    One of the finest sequences is a "riff-off" between the boys and the girls, a West Side Story-style showdown that plays out with shards of songs instead of switchblades.
  43. What makes you sit up straight is that The Oranges takes seriously everyone's unhappiness, including the home-wrecker's, without letting anyone off the hook of responsibility for their own becalmed misery.
  44. For once in an American movie, the uplift feels earned.
  45. Sleep Tight is a nifty little thriller that dances on the boundary between plausible and preposterous.
  46. One of the big reasons Flight is so satisfying is that it moves with the no-frills, meat-and-potatoes conventions of a first-rate procedural while being awash in ambiguity.
  47. This Lincoln isn't an abstracted, infallible ideal, but rather a deeply conflicted, often lonely leader simply trying to do the right thing - even if that means few wrong things along on the way.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Hong's fast-and-loose narrative silliness does require a certain amount of patience from the viewer. Plot details conflict, and assumptions about a character's role and relationships will probably be upended - but all to fascinating or greatly comic effect.
  48. Starlet shows enough of her unbalanced, unsustainable situation to make sense of her connection to Sadie, however frail a ballast her new friend might be. Their need for each other is disarmingly sweet, but far from sticky.
  49. The script I did question; it takes awhile to get going, and it feels strangely flat at the very end. But in between, Lee is very skillfully employing cinema's most advanced digital techniques in the service of an adventure yarn that is gloriously old-fashioned - and often just glorious.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Killing Them Softly has more unruly energy, and less art-house pretension, than "The Assassination of Jesse James." Its disreputability does come with a faintly arty sheen sprayed on - the picture could be a little grubbier, but let's not split hairs, especially such nice, greasy ones.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Somehow, without soft-pedaling the nastier angles of Wagner's life and legacy, Wagner & Me lands on the side of joy and defiance - broadly speaking, Fry decides not to let the terrorists win.
  50. Written and directed by David Riker, who built his 1998 drama "La Ciudad" around immigrants in New York City, The Girl is stingy with backstory but rich with visual clues.
  51. Though the film eventually caves to sentiment and stereotype, its alert performances and muted rhythms offer much to enjoy in the interim.
  52. At bottom, though, Happy People celebrates the hard-won freedoms that living in the Taiga offers those who are willing to confront its challenges. There are few places on the planet where the strictures of society don't apply, and the trade-off for fending off bears and minus-50-degree weather is the opportunity to lead a pure, solitary life.
  53. The Taviani brothers, Paolo and Vittorio, have been blurring the line between reality and fiction in their films for six decades.
  54. A hilarious meta-comedy in which Karpovsky, playing a version of himself, goes on a roadshow tour for a movie he's directed.
  55. His latest, the earthy yet subtly evocative 11 Flowers, is in the same mode as the one that's best known in the U.S., 2001's "Beijing Bicycle." Both are simple, resonant tales of youths who have something taken from them.
  56. For as long as Park and Wasikowska keep it burbling, it's an intoxicating brew.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    There's nothing particularly dynamic about Livia Manera and William Karel's documentary Philip Roth: Unmasked. For some 90 minutes, it's pretty much just one guy talking. But what a guy!
  57. After all, the documentary itself stands as a thrilling testament to the fact that art is — and should be — open to interpretation.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    There are certain plot points in Starbuck, it's true, that either don't make much sense or are simply underexplained. But the picture is so breezily warm, without being too insistently ingratiating, that those flaws don't matter much.
  58. In the House is often mordantly funny. Luchini is France's master of deadpan comedy: When he does farce, it carries an undertow of sorrow, and vice versa.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Despite his flashes of bitterness, the Helm captured here seems like a man at peace with where he ended up — however taxing the road that brought him, however many friends lost or discarded along the way.
  59. Like television's "Breaking Bad," At Any Price is about the slow, insidious corruption of a regular guy, about the rot that grows around him and within him, allowing him to become complicit in a crime of biblical proportions.
  60. (Marsh) downplays political questions of ideological rights and wrongs. Rather than making a film about terrorism, or about war, Marsh looks at how they affect the people caught up in their machinery.
  61. That film is far more interesting in concept, and infinitely more elegant in execution, than what Rogen and his buddies have cooked up in This Is the End — but I've gotta admit, it's not nearly as funny.
  62. A Hijacking is mostly about the excruciating process of getting to "yes" when language is the least of the barriers between two very different mindsets.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Whether or not you agree with its underlying critique of existing drug policy, How To Make Money Selling Drugs is an ambitious, creative attempt to talk in a single film about everything from the disparate treatment of black and white dealers to the influence of asset forfeiture on law-enforcement strategies to the devastation of Mexico's drug war.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    On their own, Crystal and Jamie might be two of the worst road-trip companions imaginable; when one gets going, it's easy to identify with the other's frustration. But together — fueled by drugs, forced to share a space, separated from what they take for granted — they reconsider how they value the people who are not ... them.
  63. Marc Guggenheim's script is capable and funny, but the film's finest wit is vehicular.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Such an of-a-piece series of visual monuments in one year means that Ain't Them Bodies Saints has a pretty strong chance of striking some viewers as cliched or affected. Its golden-hour cinematography and persistent awe-and-wonder score sit precariously between stirring and obtrusive, inspiring and derivative.
  64. There is something weird about the twins, something that will fuel a bar room brawl until it goes quite literally global, that will let director Wright take a leap into another genre entirely and that will allow The World's End to spin into ever grander comic mayhem, even as it becomes a surprisingly effecting look at the folly of trying to recapture one's youth.
  65. Moors' film is at its best when it worries at notions of how evil is born, fostered and brought to bloom.
  66. Among other things, this powerfully confused man is a study in American extremity.
  67. All is Lost is as quiet as "Margin Call" was chatty; at a minimum, you might call this film a procedural. But like the best of the genre, its relentless focus on the material and the practical also gestures subtly at a life of the soul, however battered.
  68. They flail and they thrash, and Krokidas' film is just like them — as jazz-inflected and freewheeling as the Beat poetry these guys were about to unleash on the world.
  69. Director Stephen Frears, working from a book by the real Martin Sixsmith, isn't about to let the Irish church off the hook for a monstrous (and well-documented) chapter in its history. In flashbacks, he pictures the young Philomena as a sort of proto-Katniss, doing battle with a tyranny of nuns.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    More directly, In Bloom follows on 2012's "The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear," a documentary by Tinatin Gurchiani that offered bleak vignettes about the lives of young Georgians.
  70. Generation War holds the line admirably in showing how totalitarianism corrupts almost everything in its path, individual responsibility included, and creates an appalling space where sadists and conformists alike can flourish and break every rule of war at will.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The Lego Movie maybe be one giant advertisement, but all the way to its plastic-mat foundation, it's an earnest piece of work — a cash grab with a heart. Made for, with and about Legos, the movie is also made for, with and about imagination, and when that association seems completely natural, it's a win all around.
  71. It's the sort of film that feels so authentic that even knowing it's a fiction, the morning after seeing it, I found myself scanning headlines to see if there were any new developments.
  72. 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.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Ernest & Celestine is a tale of found family, sweetly realized and supported by clever writing and talented voice work, but it's the animation that really makes this Academy Award-nominated movie
    • 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.
  73. Resolutely descriptive, It Felt Like Love doesn't exactly have a plot, which feels absolutely right for a film whose elliptical yet intensely focused visual style seem to flow directly from Lila's consciousness.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Hide Your Smiling Faces is a striking companion piece to "It Felt Like Love," another recent coming-of-age story, this time about two young girls, from a first-time director. Hide Your Smiling Faces is not as dark as "It Felt Like Love," but like last year's "Sun Don't Shine," the films share a strong sense for the sinister, for how flirtations with new experiences, with excitement, carry a nerve-racking risk of disaster.
  74. The German Doctor is never showy or melodramatic — just a kind of true-life horror story about the helpful, soft-spoken monster in our midst.
  75. Turturro's direction owes a little something to Spike Lee, and a lot to Allen, who reportedly had a hand in helping refine the script — certainly his own lines sound as if he's simply riffing in character. Together they succeed in keeping the mood light, even as the filmmaker is gently tugging the plot in other directions — to look at loneliness, and longing, and heartbreak.
  76. 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.
  77. 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 ...
  78. It says something that 30 years after the events it depicts, Pride should feel so unexpectedly rousing. People cooperating across ideological lines? Finding common cause with folks they don't 100 percent agree with? What a concept.
  79. What the women are there for in Listen Up Philip is to be truth-tellers to these childish novelists — especially Philip's eventually assertive girlfriend, who ends up using his books as coasters in a long (and welcome) mid-movie detour from the story of his self-involvement.
  80. By the end of Somewhere, all I could summon up was a fervent wish-you-well - not for him, but for his beguiling elf of a child.
  81. In one of the film's most fascinating moments, Klosterman asks Murphy what his biggest failure was. After uncomfortably dodging the question at first, Murphy admits that the only thing he thinks he might regret is quitting.
  82. Everything that felt clumsy in The Hunger Games has been improved upon here. That's most apparent in the clarity of the action, but it also extends to how efficiently the film establishes so many new ensemble members.

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