NPR's Scores

  • Movies
For 1,029 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 4.5 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 Mr. Turner
Lowest review score: 0 This Means War
Score distribution:
1,029 movie reviews
  1. Page One is an insider's view, but if it isn't raking up any muck, it's not a love letter either.
  2. Saving Mr. Banks does end in tears, but they're Disney tears, as befits a movie about Disney made by Disney. Which doesn't mean you shouldn't see this beguiling piece of pop storytelling, built on half-truths whipped into shape for a storybook ending that never was.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    The film does have a distinctly British cheek; even with a Sony Pictures co-credit over the titles, it's just un-Hollywood enough to feel like a breath of fresh North Pole air.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Mother of George's cinematography, for which it won an award at this year's Sundance Film Festival, is by and large one of its standout features.
  3. The director recut the movie several times as events overtook it. She may yet do so again — although if more major changes occur, they could merit beginning another documentary. As The Square makes clear, Noujaim would not hesitate to rush back into the fray.
  4. And if the narrative does drag in places, Amalric and Del Toro could hardly be better; the contrast between their styles fits ideally the characters of excitable analyst and impassive patient.
  5. Any slack, though is picked up by Shep Gordon, who seems every inch the "supermensch" of the title — splendid company, a sterling storyteller, and yeah, a real mensch.
  6. The end result is that Tiny Furniture plays like situation comedy, but with an overlay of performance art.
  7. Enjoyable and forgettable in equal measure, the lovably cheesy Australian movie Bran Nue Dae is a must for children bitten by the musical-revival fever, for all who heart American Idol, and for anyone who came of age in the late 1960s - and is willing to hear the beloved pop standards of their youth massacred for a new age.
  8. Filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller (who are themselves impressive partners at this point) know enough not to mess with a successful formula.
  9. The Way, Way Back isn't exactly memorable, and strictly speaking it would do just fine on a small screen. But unlike the glib "The Descendants," which is also about, it's smart, funny and moving about human weakness.
  10. Iron Crows isn't the miserablist wallow you might expect. While director Park Bong-Nam observes the hazards of ship-breaking with a thoroughness that borders on fetishization, he also catches the humor and camaraderie of men in the trenches.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    If David O. Russell pulls anything off in Silver Linings Playbook - an almost-comedy about a bipolar high-school teacher who goes off the deep end and isn't sure how to climb back - it's this: He refuses to make mental illness adorable.
  11. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey isn't "unexpected" at all, though between its lighter tone and a decade's worth of improvements in digital film techniques, there should be enough of a novelty factor to delight most fans.
  12. Another Year is a stacked deck of a movie that draws a harshly unforgiving, sometimes smug line between boomers who've made good and those who've fallen by the wayside.
  13. Nobody's idea of "Mr. Holland's Opus," but it winds up in a similar place, more or less.
  14. It's a fun fact that actor Forest Whitaker traces his roots to the Igbo tribe, but that belongs in another film. Re-emerging speaks for itself as an uplifting portrait of an exuberant subculture that doesn't just practice its faith — it revels in it.
  15. Style over substance? Well, yes, but Dolan's a precocious talent (a decent actor, to boot), and at the advanced age of 21, has all the time in the world to deal with weightier matters. Heartbeats, meanwhile, is fluff - engaging, moody, visually snappy fluff.
  16. The narrative trots all over the globe, including stops for labor exploitation in the Marianas Islands, dealings with Russian mobsters, ripping off Indian tribes in the desert southwest, and jetting to Scotland for rounds of golf with impressionable politicians.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 73 Critic Score
    There's a quiet audaciousness about it. Schepisi still seems to believe that if you tell a good story in an artful, straightforward way, people will come to it. He may be wrong, but thank goodness he's still in there pitching.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 72 Critic Score
    And yet: Thanks for Sharing is such a relaxed, good-humored movie that it's tough to complain about its tendency to ... well, overshare.
  17. Machete works because at no time does it ever ask the audience to take any of this too seriously, yet the nudges and winks are never so forceful that it feels like it's begging for your laughter.
  18. Ultimately, Winocour does stage an instance of what could be called love. It's unconvincing narratively, alas, and an odd disruption of the tone in a film that is otherwise bracingly clinical.
  19. Though cinematographer Flavio Labiano turns the city into an alien maze of steel and glass, his chilling work is undercut by a script with more logical craters than Martin's.
  20. A veteran film editor making her first feature, Israel emphasizes the area's low-key beauty.
  21. The movie is a sharply observed if formally bloated addition to the canon of visceral tales from the Baltimore city - if "tale" is the right word for a movie that puts so much energy into the avoidance of plot.
  22. Tabloid spins a heck of a yarn, while implicitly warning viewers not to be so entertained that they believe every gamy detail.
  23. The film's bluntness doesn't diminish the power of the nature-versus-nurture questions Eva's asking herself. Or of Swinton's harrowing portrait of parental guilt.
  24. This is a special Jersey Boys universe crafted specifically for fans — among whom you can pretty clearly count Clint Eastwood.
  25. 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.
  26. Klapisch is a master of the half-biting, half-soothing farce, and he usually keeps the divergent tones in harmony.
  27. Knuckleball! looks and feels like a standard ESPN documentary, slickly packaged and a little bloodless, and Stern and Sundberg lean a little heavily on music to goose up the excitement.
  28. Would be more satisfying if it were a more definitive look at Guantanamo's workings. All Cote and Henriquez can provide is some glimmers of insight about just one of the men held there. But that's enough to make their movie enlightening, compelling and, finally, heartbreaking.
  29. The Salt of Life is easygoing and naturalistic, but clearly a work of imagination.
  30. Quietly astonishing documentary.
  31. Kaboom's one-liners are snappy, knowing, and unexpected.
  32. The Big Picture has been compared to "The Talented Mr. Ripley," the twice-filmed Patricia Highsmith novel about a sociopath who kills and then impersonates a rich acquaintance. But in spirit it's closer to Michelangelo Antonioni's 1975 "The Passenger," with Jack Nicholson as an existential adventurer who poses as a dead stranger.
  33. The filmmakers wanted to broaden the formula a little, make it more inclusive, do something a little adventurous. Kinda like Earth to Echo's tween heroes.
  34. Good demonstrates the surprising power of character flaws in drama. How else to explain that the portrayal of a good man who does nothing in Good should prove more dramatically compelling than the stories in "Valkyrie" and "Defiance" of good men who did good?
  35. Not even the presence of a goth-chick hotel clerk could turn Nobody Else But You into "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." The movie may teeter on the edge of Switzerland, but its playful sensibility is entirely French.
  36. The lack of chemistry between Hemsworth and Portman, plain enough in the first Thor movie, is still a problem here, but at least they've largely ditched the starry-eyed schoolgirl routine.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    There's something overtly mechanical about McDonagh's approach that keeps it all from being as outrageously fun as it's pretending to be.
  37. If Gibney was looking for contrition, though, he didn't find it. Armstrong is candid about his doping and his legendary belligerence with the press. But he's confessing, not apologizing. And that "maybe not," mumbled to Oprah, is about as equivocal as he gets — on or off camera.
  38. Redmayne is hugely persuasive as a redneck geek -- you'd never guess he's a Brit with credits in classical theater.
  39. Eisenberg lets us see Sam's growing distress, and also the fortitude with which he faces down his fears -- few young actors are as adept at simultaneously conveying panic and bravado.
  40. Deathly Hallows I actually manages to be involving and kind of artful about the boredom and loneliness of heroism, while sounding a long throbbing drumroll for next summer's grand finale.
  41. Me, I wanted to know what these two remarkable young women will obsess about once the whole world has stopped watching, whether they will always be together — and what it would really feel like to be one of their much less famous siblings. We'll probably never know, except in someone else's future fiction feature.
  42. Bhutto is smart and thorough on the inflamed history of Pakistan. But as a portrait of the first woman elected head of state in an Islamic nation, it comes closer to hero-worship than to considered biography.
  43. The movie's first word is oishi, Japanese for "delicious," and what follows is a treat for sushi veterans. First-timers, however, may wish for a little more context.
  44. Effective scares, respectful nods to its inspiration and a few new twists make the question of whether this new Evil Dead succeeds in matching its inspiration superfluous. This is one remake that succeeds on its own blood-soaked terms.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    If it aims to be an inside story of life in Georgia, a kind of people's history of Georgian youth, this documentary sometimes feels like scattershot vox-pop journalism. Its individual threads resonate strongly, but the larger pattern never comes together; the social tapestry meant to be on display seems, to the end, to have holes in it.
  45. Quietly, the film makes the case that "enhanced interrogation techniques" were no enhancement. Interviewing jihadis "by the book," one interrogator testifies, yielded better information than violence and deprivation.
  46. A highly respectable piece of genre entertainment, one with a little more class than most.
  47. Claude Miller's ravishingly shot drama A Secret gives up its titular mystery early, so it may seem odd to speak of the suspense it generates.
  48. Canner's eye-opening, entertaining account of the search for the little pill that supplies the Big O is looney-tunes enough without the cartoon asides.
  49. Strange and uncompromisingly personal. It's also vivid and unforgettable.
  50. Back in Canada, Dallaire tells a psychiatrist that he remembers Rwanda in flashbacks that are "not like memories at all." Shake Hands with the Devil captures something of that sensation; it's a depiction of events that are too painful to remember, too essential to forget.
  51. A creaky, sometimes forced drama that burrows under your skin if you let it, Welcome to the Rileys lurches along like Lois' car as she tries to exit her garage for the first time in years.
  52. The semi-autobiographical, microbudgeted Breaking Upwards is indeed precious. But it's also smart, witty and less self-absorbed than you might reasonably expect.
  53. Before settling into such comfortable territory, however, the movie is propulsive and involving. If The Company You Keep is far from radical, it's pretty audacious by the standards of counterrevolutionary Hollywood.
  54. Kore-eda is himself a father now, which may explain why his work has gotten sunnier.
  55. He's hardly a cuddly figure, but neither does he come across as an intimidating presence. After all, it's hard to think of anyone in cantankerous terms after they've just lovingly described the history of the beloved old hand-knitted stuffed animal that is their oldest possession.
  56. Inescapable is Nadda's first foray into thriller territory, and her inexperience shows in awkwardly mounted fight scenes and clumsy car chases, not to mention an almost fatally explanatory script.
  57. The filmmakers tried to get him to tell his side of the story, but he's unwilling to appear on camera. Which leaves them in documentary limbo, since they've gone to great lengths to raise questions in the audience's mind about the case. The answers they've found are questions, their conclusion, inconclusive.
  58. This is a world of dinner jackets and evening gowns, casual jaunts to Venice and Morocco; it's about elegance, style, money and perhaps too heady a mix of drink, religion and intrigue.
  59. It would be charitable to say Lost In Rio picks up right where "Cairo, Nest Of Spies" left off; in reality all it does is rinse and repeat. Hazanavicius does, however, get the most out of the new backdrop.
  60. It's also a testament to the strength of Claude-Michel Schonberg's music that everything after the show-stopping lament of Fantine's "I Dreamed a Dream" doesn't come across as so much padding.
  61. The Pirogue spends only about an hour on open water, but that's enough to convey the risks that make the trip foolish, and the desperation that makes it inevitable.
  62. Don McKay is a curious hybrid of warring tones that occasionally make peace. When they do, it's quite magical.
  63. A tight, anxious little film that plays like a call to arms for senior citizens, Harry Brown could be "Gran Torino" reimagined as a subdued episode of "Prime Suspect."
  64. Photographed with bare-bones simplicity by longtime Herzog collaborator Peter Zeitlinger, My Son presents yet another Herzogian hero who views insanity as the only logical response to an insane world.
  65. All of which makes the film Noah psychologically credible — his behavior is very much what you might expect of a man who has just condemned millions of screaming souls to watery graves. And it makes the film unpredictably suspenseful, which is dramatically the most welcome thing you could ask of a biblical epic.
  66. Film Socialisme, his (Godard) latest intellectual assault, includes grating noise, scruffy camera-phone video and subtitles in fractured "Navajo English."
  67. The story is carefully constructed, with moments that seem offhand initially, but are later revealed as crucial.
  68. Credit Kondracki and Kirwan with having endowed their picture with considerable, if blunt, force. Their filmmaking suits the real-life atrocities they're exposing.
  69. It's impossible for all of them to work, but the sheer volume of material, delivered by a cast dedicated to the absolute absurdity of the setups — Fantana's new career as a kitten photographer, Kind's side business running a fast-food chain with a specialty in fried bat, Burgundy nursing and training a live shark while blind and living in a lighthouse — is a kind of comedy carpet-bombing. All it takes is a certain percentage of hits for things to detonate.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It's Pierre Richard, however, who anchors All Together, portraying Albert as stubbornly happy-go-lucky, a man bent on retaining his jovial disposition even as he's frustrated by what he's forgotten.
  70. It's a sweet-tempered folly in which all's well that ends well.
  71. The result is complex yet lighthearted, as diverting as it is meditative. Resnais uses contrapuntal editing — one of his trademarks — as well as artificial settings, special effects, split screens, cinematic references and anachronistic devices to keep viewers tipsily off-balance.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Manages to turn the grimmest of grim subjects into something charming, raunchy and improbably uplifting.
  72. Even with its strong supporting cast, I doubt this small, finely observed movie would have seen the commercial light of day without Carlyle in the lead. Amid the deafening roar of big Oscar-bait pictures, I'm glad it's there.
  73. Though it's fun to watch Garcia let out his inner goofball, the jewels in the crown of At Middleton are the dynamic sisters Farmiga.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    There's a compulsion to describe a film with such a slow and unusual pace as poetic - it already has a Netflix blurb calling it "lyrical" - but Bestiaire's best quality is its unpretentiousness.
  74. You'd think the weakest link in Fanboys would be that it's all in-jokes, but they're actually not so "in" that a casual fan won't get them.
  75. Relaxed and goofy in "Dave," "A Fish Called Wanda" and a host of other comedies, Kevin Kline has an endearing way of subverting his own grandee impulses when he's being funny. Give the actor a dramatic role, though, and he comes on all Shakespeare in the Park.
  76. Dragon is partly an homage to "One Armed Swordsman," a 1967 kung fu classic whose star, Jimmy Wang Yu, plays the new movie's arch-villain. But there's much Western influence: Jinxi's plight recalls David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence," and Baijiu's cerebral and flashy style of detection - complete with animated glimpses of victims' innards - suggests Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes series. Dragon is also one of several recent Chinese crime movies that borrow from CSI-style TV dramas.
  77. The film, while unfailingly entertaining, feels a little small for its subject.
  78. To devotees of Al Gore's prophecy of a soon-to-be-parboiled Earth, "Skeptical Environmentalist" author Bjorn Lomborg is the devil. So what does an ecologically incorrect demon look like? Like an aging Danish surfer dude, it turns out.
  79. This mashup of genres and themes doesn't entirely succeed, but it is warm, funny and ably crafted.
  80. It's rare these days to see an old-fashioned, elegant chamber-piece movie about life and art - let alone one with Christopher Walken as, of all things, a steadying influence.
  81. Admirably turns a potentially one-note joke into a consistently funny package.
  82. DeNoble aside, Addiction Incorporated finds most of its heroes in Congress, the White House and federal agencies.
  83. So it's no surprise that this stately but inert biopic wakes up only when von Bingen becomes less of a singing-nun superstar and more of a human unglued by her own flaws.
  84. The movie's storytelling can be as old-fashioned as its appearance. Some sequences are quick and messy, but others are grand and theatrical.
  85. Even by my super-wimp standards, Aron's exit is surprisingly coy, coming from a filmmaker who gets his kicks from goosing the hell out of his audiences.
  86. West's throwback style and disdain for excess allows his characters to shine.
  87. There's not a lot that's new about the terrors he faces - the director uses time-honored techniques to keep you on edge, every one of which graced Hammer films of yore. But happily for the picture, there's a reason they're time-honored. And keep you on edge, they definitely do.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Perfect Sense shines best outside of the bedroom, in sequences that show the human race adjusting to tragedy after tragedy.
  88. The film portrays Plimpton as someone devoted to illuminating how talent and creativity work — both for himself, and for the rest of us.
  89. The movie evokes its time and place so potently that it almost doesn't matter that Hamilton's script proves unequal to her vision.

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