Slate's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 1,699 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 44% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 53% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 0.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 Tarnation
Lowest review score: 0 The Nutcracker
Score distribution:
1699 movie reviews
  1. The restored footage, nearly an hour of it, has at once bloated and diluted the work we've known and half-loved, undercutting its still-astonishing strengths while making its flaws leap out with unprecedented clarity. You can now fully appreciate the job that Coppola and his colleagues did in 1979 of salvaging what might have been a dud on the order of … Apocalypse Now Redux.
  2. United 93, as grueling as it was to sit through, left me feeling curiously unmoved and even slightly resentful.
  3. Brokeback Mountain could use a little more of it--by which I mean more sweat and other bodily fluids. Ang Lee's formalism is so extreme that it's often laughable, and the sex is depicted as a holy union: Gay love has never been so sacred.
  4. You could get high on this movie's technique, dizzy on its storytelling. Yet it's one of the most lucid bad trips ever made.
  5. It's hard not to admire Zeitlin's ambitious vision, his do-it-yourself aesthetic, and the commitment of his cast and crew - a kind of utopian collective whose jobs often overlapped, as the local, nonprofessional actors collaborated on set-building and other technical tasks. But that doesn't mean the result of their labor is exactly what you'd call a "good movie."
    • 85 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    These late scenes are over the top, as mean and reductive as editorials in a tabloid, and they nearly extinguish the moral subtlety of what's gone before.
  6. Payne's movie is flat, depressed, and at times -- given this director's talent -- disappointingly curdled; it needs every quivering molecule of Nicholson's repressed rage to keep it alive and humming.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Both actresses deliver vivid, tender performances; they generate all the movie’s fire, but they’re obliged to do it inside a chilly, ritualized framework, the aesthetic equivalent of a softcore mausoleum.
  7. Looper felt to me like a maddening near-miss: It posits an impossible but fascinating-to-imagine relationship...and then throws away nearly all the dramatic potential that relationship offers. If someone remakes Looper as the movie it could have been in, say, 30 years, will someone from the future please FedEx it back to me?
  8. It's such a disappointment that The Descendants isn't a better movie than it is. In this soap opera disguised as a comedy, Payne, who was always a master at balancing sharp satire with an essential humanism, has traded his tart lemon center for a squishy marshmallow one.
  9. The trouble is that the movie in which Poppy does, in fact, exist never quite rises to her level.
  10. Full of clever one-liners, winning performances, and wistful indie music. It's impossible not to like it, which is precisely what's so annoying about it.
  11. Marathon of misery.
  12. It's a movie that's thought-provoking without being intelligent and candid without being truthful. The same aesthetic choices that Toback seems convinced will set his documentary apart are also what diminishes its credibility.
  13. Frances Ha feels like a collaboration between two people in love, and not always in the best way. There are too many scenes in a row that make the same point.
  14. A peripatetic comedy about two comedians on a jaunt around the north of England, alternately amuses, bores, and annoys, just like its two hilariously intolerable protagonists.
  15. It's true that the movie, arrested between documentary and drama, doesn't quite do justice to either medium: The actors playing Joe and Simon don't have anything like "lines" to simulate "drama," or even just "conversation," while the real guys often fall back on bland English understatement.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Watching it, I was excited that such a strange piece of science fiction got made—and disappointed to realize that it is strange in just about all the ways that Interstellar is. But while even Nolan’s detractors couldn’t deny his skill at manufacturing awe, the primary emotion that Arrival evokes is puzzlement.
  16. The movie slips into a familiar rut and the scenery fades into the background.
  17. Through two viewings of Jackie, I was never able to pin down whether it was Portman’s performance or Larraín’s way of framing it that left me emotionally shut out.
  18. Django Unchained provoked a lot of contradictory feelings in me, including some that don't usually come in pairs: Hilarity and boredom. Aesthetic delight and physical nausea. Fist-pumping righteousness and vague moral unease.
  19. Skyfall leaves you wondering whether this incarnation of the character has anywhere left to go. It's the portrait of a spy at the end of his rope by an actor who seems close to his.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    As an allegory of racial conflict and mass immigration, District 9 never really goes anywhere: The appealing premise fades into the background before 20 minutes have elapsed.
  20. I found the film -- excruciatingly flat-footed, with one of the most exasperating scores (by Philip Glass) ever written. The most fascinating thing in the movie is a nose.
  21. It's almost criminal the way the central relationship of High Fidelity has been left such a void.
  22. A most curious movie, one with nearly all the elements of a classic crime-family saga and yet somehow lacking the moral complexity and emotional heft of the films to which it pays fastidious aesthetic homage: the New York–set urban thrillers of Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Prince of the City) and Coppola’s Godfather series.
  23. Unfortunately, Simien’s many smart, relevant thoughts on race are more often wrapped up in an impassioned, didactic bow that rarely feels fresh—or, more damagingly, funny.
  24. Whatever the working balance is between mystery and revelation, Annihilation, the new sci-fi–horror drama from Ex Machina writer-director Alex Garland, never quite pulls it off.
  25. It feels disrespectful to say it, but this kind of war movie, like war itself, is starting to feel sickeningly familiar.
  26. This is a bleak, unresolved film, with no release. What keeps it from being a mortal bummer is the music-exquisite sacred choral works, plus Mozart.
  27. The movie is a collision between inspiration and tastelessness, between the defiantly quirky and the wholesomely homogenized. I hated it in principle--I hate most modern Disney cartoons--but adored a good deal of it in practice.
  28. This seesaw of shame and self-justification might not speak for the most murderous segment of the German populace, but it's a peculiarly eloquent representation of the silent, obedient majority.
  29. The movie's energy peters out in a series of book-club conversations about divine will, the power of storytelling, and the resilience of the human spirit. The ending's pious dullness is enough to make you wish you were back on that lifeboat, where the most pressing questions weren't spiritual but gastronomic: What's on the menu for lunch, and what can I do to make sure it isn't me?
  30. Portman toils slavishly to realize Aronofsky's mad vision. It isn't her fault that, despite Black Swan's visual splendor and bursts of grand guignol excess, this emotionally inert movie never does grow wings.
  31. As drama, Hilary and Jackie is merely sketchy and superficial. As a portrait of the artist, it's puritanical crap.
  32. I can't recall another movie that cries out so incessantly for running commentary.
  33. Swinton is good enough to take your mind off the not-too-compelling ambiguities.
  34. Jasmine attains the paradoxical state of being fascinatingly tiresome. The same pair of words might be used to describe Blue Jasmine, which, whether you like it or not, surely counts as one of Allen’s more unexpected films of the past decade
  35. At over two hours and forty minutes long, with repeated scenes of bone-crunching violence and a maddeningly unrelenting percussive score by Hans Zimmer, The Dark Knight Rises is something of an ordeal to sit through.
  36. Given Fawcett’s trailblazing achievements — and Gray’s choice to film in difficult circumstances deep in the Colombian jungle — the film is oddly restrained.
  37. The director's beautiful detachment suggests a kind of cowardice.
  38. I don't know what Pollock is supposed to be about, but as it stands—by default—it's the most blood-freezing Jewish-mother nightmare ever filmed. Pollock would give Woody Allen the willies.
  39. From an aesthetic and technical perspective, her achievement is laudable, but there’s something underfurnished about this movie, a lack of historical, intellectual, and thematic richness. For all its elaborate design and carefully calibrated mood, it comes down to the tale of a randy fox in an impeccably preserved Greek Revival henhouse.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    For a movie about the policing of borders, couldn't this one have policed a firmer one, between credibility and incredibility? Between seriousness and self-seriousness?
    • 76 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Audiences are likely to embrace Breaking the Waves as something rare and fierce and innovative, a passport into the depths of passion, but some people will reconsider when they get home.
  40. For all its tasteful spareness and eerie, diaphanous mood, Blue Caprice feels, in the end, insubstantial. It’s a true-crime story that illustrates little about the crime in question and a character study whose characters, even when haunting, remain stubbornly opaque.
  41. Midnight Special eventually sputters to a conclusion that confuses vagueness for ambiguity. The most compelling questions it leaves behind don’t have to do with its plot but with its creator: How much time should a young director have to make good on his potential?
  42. Nightcrawler, like its entrepreneurial-to-a-fault protagonist, is ambitious but ultimately hollow, eager to dazzle and shock us but reluctant to let us inside.
  43. As lurching, awkward, and dirty-minded as the three horny man-boys at its center--but not, in the end, quite as funny or endearing.
  44. Putting them together was a bold casting move, but as good as they both are in their roles--she (Gerwig) in the flustered, galumphing mode of early Teri Garr, he (Stiller) in the clenched and mumbling one of late Woody Allen--they never quite seem to be sharing the same movie.
  45. What saves Zatoichi is that it ends -- for no clear reason -- with a foot-stomping ensemble dance number that is both delightful and unhinging: It sends you home with spasmodic giggles, convinced this Japanese imp has discovered a new path to your unconscious.
  46. Cameron has never been known for his dialogue, but Titanic carries some stinkers that wouldn't make the final draft of a "Days of Our Lives" script.
  47. Epic in size but claustrophobically narrow in scope, The Wolf of Wall Street maintains a near-exclusive focus on the greed and self-indulgence of its proudly rapacious hero.
  48. Some people are finding it difficult to live with the idea that Kaleil could put his employees through hell, lose $60 million of other people's money, and wind up a movie star.
  49. I think Levinson missed a chance to get something unique and audacious on screen.
  50. Martha Marcy May Marlene took a good hour to start really getting on my nerves. Up till then, I kept cutting this maddening little psychological thriller break after break, because it has the outer form of a promising debut.
  51. If you see Okja, and I hope you do, stay for the final credits. It’s not often that a stinger scene pops up at the end of a movie, not to pre-sell the inevitable sequel, but to leave you with something to think, wonder, and worry about.
  52. This is the kind of movie that often racks up more than a few walkouts but also makes for passionate postscreening conversations.
  53. Apart from Theron and Christina Ricci as her lover, there's nothing in Monster that rises above the level of doggedly well-meaning, although the film is worth seeing for the acting and as a sort of palate-teaser for Broomfield and Churchill's documentary.
  54. An autopsy for The Town would list multiple causes of death.
  55. Mining the incest prohibition for laughs in what's essentially a light romantic comedy is a bold move, and for the first two-thirds of the movie, it works surprisingly well. But as long as the Duplasses are willing to go there, I can't help but wish they'd gone a little further.
  56. Sully can feel like a dutiful, hagiographic slog, even though its actual running time barely tops 90 minutes and both Hanks and Eckhart give warm, understated, funny performances in the only two roles developed enough to qualify as real characters.
  57. There's too much miserable reality and not a lot of transcendent dance, and the director, Stephen Daldry, doesn't cover the action from enough angles.
  58. As a non-South African, I can't speak to the accuracy of the movie's racial politics, but they feel insultingly vague.
  59. Especially when Baymax is onscreen doing his adorable-puffy-robot thing, Big Hero 6 qualifies as a better-than-average kids’ movie with enough cross-generational appeal to make it a fine choice for a family weekend matinee. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that this film was designed to function as a starter kit for future Marvel aficionados.
  60. Hanks and Zemeckis (and writer William Broyles Jr.) are so intent on making an epic of the spirit that they can't bring themselves to acknowledge the comic, narcissistic side of their desert island fantasy. And so on simple, human terms, the picture gets all gummed up.
  61. Araki is trying to work from the inside out; and he captures feelings about sexual exploitation that I've never seen onscreen--not all of them negative.
  62. It's hard not to feel that Penn is stacking the deck heavily in his favor and losing out on the chance for a more sober meditation on the ambiguity of McCandless' quest.
  63. Throughout The Imitation Game, there’s a sense the filmmaker is trying to shield viewers from the story’s most difficult parts — whether it’s the horrors of war, the technical complexity of the Enigma code and its solution, or the bleakness of Alan Turing’s final fate. I wish Tyldum had trusted the audience enough to let us in on the worst. It would have made his movie so much better.
  64. The whole movie starts to feel like a dare or elaborate game, the characters shuffling obediently about the board with no rules to guide them. Myths grow out of a need to understand the world, and to pass on an understanding of how to make our way through it, but Lanthimos just teaches you to be more cautious about his next film.
  65. Too long, too sexist, and too--shall we say--flaccid. But it has its moments.
  66. Notes on a Scandal is a wobbly film that never settles on its tone or, perhaps more precisely, its voice. It can't figure out what kind of movie it wants to be: a high-camp melodrama, a realistic psychological portrait of a troubled female friendship, or a vampire-lesbian horror film.
  67. Law gives a doozy of a performance: He's fond of bulging his eyes, curling his head like a gargoyle, and displaying a set of rotten yellow teeth. This is some of the most flamboyantly bad acting since Brad Pitt in "Twelve Monkeys" (1995). An Oscar nomination would appear inevitable.
  68. Something appalling about the way he turns to the camera with a look of sorrow: Michael Moore as a suffering Christ. It's an insult to his own movie, which at its considerable best transcends his thuggish personality.
  69. Pure misery.
  70. The film's most striking repeated effect, in which the caped hero dangles dejectedly in space as the Earth turns below him, emphasizes the passivity and loneliness of the character: This Superman's version of flight seems almost indistinguishable from a helpless freefall. Fair enough, but what's he got to be so existentially glum about?
  71. Fascinating for the issues--ethical, aesthetic, psychoanalytic--it raises. But it doesn't fully come together.
  72. I was onboard with the gentle charm of Safety Not Guaranteed until these last few scenes, when the genuine trauma suffered by these characters - especially Kenneth, whose paranoia and isolationism seem like symptoms of real mental illness - gets glossed over in an unconvincingly Spielbergian happy ending.
  73. Scene by scene, 50/50 can be both amusing and moving, with the tightly wound Gordon-Levitt and the boundaryless Rogen forming an oddly complementary pair. But as a whole the movie never quite coheres, seeming to skitter away at the last minute from both full-body laughter and full-body sobs.
  74. Super 8 is at its best when it dwells in this secret childhood empire, and at its worst when it juices up its essentially simple story with increasingly senseless action set pieces.
  75. Apart from a few choice flashbacks, the action is crawlingly linear--and opaque.
  76. There's something too refined and emotionally neutral about Nowhere in Africa, as if Link had directed with white gloves. Maybe she knew how loaded this African-Jewish subject was and didn't want it push it too hard. Maybe that's why she won an Oscar.
  77. Ultimately, Inland Empire left me angry at David Lynch, but it was the kind of intimate anger you feel when disappointed by someone you love. If you can tolerate its lack of narrative cohesion, Lynch's film will continue to reward you with visual and auditory surprises right up till the end.
  78. Michael Fassbender's portrayal of Brandon, the rootless Manhattan sex addict in Steve McQueen's Shame, may lay claim to this year's title of most outstanding performance in a mediocre movie.
  79. I'm not sure what Kontroll adds up to, but if you're looking for a rackety journey into the bowels of urban life, this is your movie.
  80. To work onscreen, Thank You for Smoking needed to be fast, scruffy, and offhand. But even the good lines here last a self-congratulatory beat too long. Aaron Eckhart is likable, but he's too hangdog and naturalistic for a part that could have used a brisk young Jack Lemmon type.
  81. The movie gets funnier and less obvious as it goes along, and Zooey Deschanel is a hoot as a disdainfully bored co-worker who ritually insults the zombie chain-store shoppers -- but what is The Good Girl saying, exactly?
  82. The glibness exhausts you, and the Coens are emotionally so far outside their subject that Intolerable Cruelty is finally no different from most of the other dumb slapstick spoofs that pass for screwball comedy these days.
  83. An appropriately generic title for a droning, high-toned little heist picture with no dash and no raison d'être.
  84. Fincher is a master of mood and atmosphere, but this chilly, efficient movie never transcends the shallowness of its source material.
  85. It's just too bad the end result isn't a better movie.
  86. There are times when Dafoe's accent strays into Billy Crystal Yiddish, but the notion of Vlad the Impaler aging into a finicky old Jew has its own kind of piquancy.
  87. It's too bad that halfway through, Collateral turns into a series of loud, chaotic, over-the-top action set pieces in which the existentialist Mann proves he's lousy at action.
  88. Grbavica is a surprisingly vibrant, at times even joyous, study of the way life goes on even after the most intolerable suffering.
  89. Ozon devises tantalizing scenarios and immerses himself completely--then seems happy to tread water.
  90. It's like spending an afternoon--a long one--at a beautifully lit wax-museum display inspired by earlier gangster movies.
  91. Pitt's great in character roles, as a comic grotesque or an unrepentant scoundrel. (See Burn After Reading or, for that matter, Fight Club.) But as a passive, introspective leading man like Benjamin, he's just dull.
  92. It's a daring and original effort, yet so noncommittal--so purposely vague--that it's apt to leave you flummoxed: at once stricken and etherized.
  93. The most memorable element of The Winter Soldier, besides Redford, is probably Scarlett Johansson, whose dryly funny Natasha at times comes perilously close to being … a well-developed female character?
  94. Heartfelt but muddled film.

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