The A.V. Club's Scores

For 5,366 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 49% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 48% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 2.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 The Rabbi's Cat
Lowest review score: 0 Soul Men
Score distribution:
5,366 movie reviews
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    As the story unfolds, carefully and elaborately, what develops is not just a remarkably intricate crime tale but a brilliant and compassionate story of people who struggle to rise above their flawed nature. This may be the best movie of the year; it's definitely one of the greatest crime films of all time.
  1. It's all presented in a detached style that's ultimately much more moving and truthful than any heartstring-slashing weeper. This may be Egoyan's best work yet, and it's surely one of the best films of the year.
  2. Cantet's masterful study of a white-collar businessman in decline.
  3. What makes Towers so staggering is the way it brings the full scope of Jackson's adaptation into focus. Without missing a beat in three hours, the film shifts from epic to lyrical and back.
  4. Conceptually bold and rapturously beautiful Gerry, a minimalist landscape film that's unlike anything on the American independent scene.
  5. Unchecked goodness has its price, after all, and childhood wonder wouldn't be nearly as sweet if it didn't fade. That may explain the film's appeal. It trapped that feeling, and its sense of possibility, in amber -- then, now, and for any time.
  6. While it's very funny, Boogie Nights taps into something much deeper with its on-target depiction of the shifting political and social tides of the '70s and '80s and thoughtful relationships between characters. It's a deeply satisfying movie.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Writer/director Neil LaBute has taken the gender-issues film into uncharted, almost inhuman territory with this malevolently perfect exploration of male cruelty.
  7. Part of Spielberg's skill as a filmmaker comes in choosing the right collaborators. Janusz Kaminski's gorgeous cinematography, Michael Kahn's graceful editing, Jeff Nathanson's clever script, and John Williams' score all work well in unison, but the film's masterstroke is the casting of Walken as DiCaprio's utterly decent father.
  8. Above all a masterpiece of sustained tone, a tightrope act that pays off in rich and unexpected ways.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Heartbreakingly beautiful film, a brilliant adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's equally beautiful novel, is a sort of Casablanca for our time.
  9. The film finds a surprising amount of tenderness and humor beneath the brutality. The laughs may catch in the throat, but that's only a byproduct of City Of God's power to leave viewers breathless.
  10. An excellent movie, as effective in battle scenes as it is in that of soldiers ruminating on an Edith Piaf song.
  11. Kaufman strikes just the right balance between playfulness and sincerity, leaping freely from one absurd situation to another before pulling back on the reins.
  12. At once a devastating condemnation of war and an exciting action film...The additional running time only adds to Petersen's masterfully bleak, claustrophobic atmosphere. Das Boot is by no means a pleasant experience, but it's an intelligent and emotionally gripping one that you won't forget. [Director's Cut]
  13. Savagely funny black comedy.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The numerous, extended revival scenes are amazing, with Duvall a dynamo of divine energy and devout dedication.
  14. The film succeeds by expertly melding the two stages of Tarantino's career. The rambling Tarantino of "Jackie Brown" and "Pulp Fiction" is evident in every lovingly crafted and delivered monologue, each leisurely paced scene and long take. The more action-oriented, fight-intensive Tarantino reappears in the viscerally exciting bursts of ultra-violence that punctuate the stretches of dialogue.
  15. The filmmakers smartly counter heavy drama with goofy comedy, mining a rich vein of humor in the juxtaposition of the mundane and the superheroic. Maguire and Molina excel at opposite ends of the moral spectrum, but the film is stolen once again by J.K. Simmons.
  16. One of the best films of the year.
  17. Virtually every Super Technirama frame of Luchino Visconti's 1963 masterpiece The Leopard could be described as "painterly" in its ornate details and exquisitely balanced color compositions. (Review of DVD Release)
  18. A rousing, reverent, often brilliant re-creation of a seminal comics character, Batman Begins proves Batman is at home in the 21st century as he was in the 20th.
  19. For Kaige, The Promise can't exactly be called a return to form--it's more a return to "Hero" and "House Of Flying Daggers" director Zhang Yimou's form. Either way, it's still glorious.
  20. It's hard to film icons like Young as anything BUT icons, but Demme's film gets past the legend, zooming in on Young's aged, heroic face and finding an artist as human as the rest of us.
  21. L'Enfant is intended as a pointed critique of pop culture's celebration of arrested adolescence. The title could refer to Renier's baby, Renier himself, or even the gang of schoolboy robbers that he's gathered around himself.
  22. The King's perception of religion is hardly friendly, but it's only one aspect of a terrific drama, one that ultimately admits that people can be as much of a terrifying mystery as their creator.
  23. When a director of Scorsese's caliber is working at the top of his game, it's a reminder of why we go to the movies in the first place.
  24. It's a heartbreaking, bullet-strewn valentine to what keeps us human.
  25. Zodiac is the rare serial-killer movie in which the psychosis stems as much from the pursuers (and the filmmaker) as the pursued.
  26. In its own subdued, mellow way, Once is just about perfect.
  27. No one writes for ensembles better than Apatow, and his players are all skilled at giving his work a loose, improvisational feel.
  28. Corey Haim plus Corey Feldman plus Joel Schumacher doesn't seem like a foolproof formula for a good movie, but when the three oft-maligned figures united for 1987's horror-comedy The Lost Boys, the result was briskly entertaining.
  29. The affection audiences feel for A Christmas Story is related to the holiday spirit, yes, but specifically to Clark and Shepherd's awareness of how the true meaning of Christmas manifests in the real world, where a warm meal on a cold, dark day—and a surprising moment of parental grace—can ease a troubled mind.
  30. A peculiar and destabilizing tone that's far from the standard Hollywood oater, but entirely fitting for two larger-than-life characters fulfilling their roles in history.
  31. If nothing else, the film puts the lie to the notion that an abortion could ever be frivolous or lightly considered. On that point, everyone in Lake Of Fire agrees, whether they acknowledge the other side or not.
  32. The ultimate vision here is of a hard world in which civilization is the aberration, and the things we fear are always waiting for an excuse to make life normal again.
  33. Anderson's uncompromising masterpiece will continue to resonate as a harrowing cautionary warning to a country with oil pumping through its veins, clouding its judgment and coarsening its soul.
  34. Burton brings his signature visual style, and a pair of stock players for his stars, into this film adaptation, but he wisely follows Sondheim's lead, letting the music and spirit of the original piece show the way.
  35. 4 Months unfolds like one of those street-level Dardenne brothers movies (Rosetta, L'Enfant).
  36. With Standard Operating Procedure, the Iraq War finally has its Hearts And Minds.
  37. It's Pixar's most daring experiment to date, but it still fits neatly into the studio's pantheon: Made with as much focus on heart as on visual quality, it's a sheer joy.
  38. The film's capes and cowls suggest one genre, but it's a metropolis-sized tragedy at heart.
  39. It may be painful at times, but Rachel Getting Married sure is one heck of a party.
  40. At bottom, Silent Light is less about faith than matters of the heart, and in Reygadas' hands, the ache is bone-deep.
  41. The results are nothing short of magical.
  42. It’s essentially a stroll through a fantastically detailed pastel world, in which the plot is little more than an excuse for Miyazaki to dive into a world teeming with colorful (and sometimes prehistoric) life.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The movie seems like a perfect found object, as if it had always existed and was just waiting to be uncovered.
  43. The film evolves into a simple, intimate, acutely emotional portrait of a family reaching a painful crossroads.
  44. The film never lets banter, visual gags, or the usual manic kid-flick running about interfere with its more delicately handled thoughts on loyalty, longing, broken relationships, and generational continuity. It honestly earns its emotion, moment by painstakingly executed moment.
  45. There are many layers to the man and the movie, and it’s hard not to leave the theater shaken.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The result is not to make the emperor sympathetic so much as it is to tug at the mask of despotic glory. In the end, he is only a man.
  46. Haneke’s latest is essentially an inquiry into the roots of a certain kind of evil.
  47. Granik has no taste for noir archness, opting for a chilly, shot-on-decaying-locations naturalism that feels as lived-in as Lawrence's performance.
  48. It's an exhilaratingly unpredictable experience, and not an easy one to shake.
  49. It's an emotionally claustrophobic drama, played with frayed nerves and raw emotions, and it serves as an unrelenting glimpse into relationship hell. It could easily have devolved into sweaty, pretentious melodrama or ersatz John Cassavetes if Cianfrance and his actors didn't maintain perfect control over the material.
  50. A moving, gently reassuring tale that softens the boundaries between humanity and nature, life and the afterlife.
  51. Though it's dominated by two people walking and talking, after a point it's as difficult to parse what's real and what's constructed in Certified Copy as it is in the home stretch of "Inception" (although "Before Sunset" and Roberto Rossellini's "Journey To Italy" provide closer models).
  52. Meticulous and immersive, Meek's Cutoff feels like history in three dimensions.
  53. In terms of scale, The Tree Of Life recalls the mammoth ambition of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," but it's also more intimate and personal than Malick's previous films, rooted in vivid memories of growing up in '50s Texas.
  54. Poignant and powerful, complex and melancholy, the film ends with rehearsals for yet another money-grubbing comeback tour.
  55. The film is little more than an exercise in style, but it's dazzling and mythic, a testament to the fundamental appeal of fast cars, dangerous men, and tension that squeezes like a hand to the throat.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Bittersweet, achingly authentic, and so intimate it almost feels invasive.
  56. To create his disarmingly earnest film, Spielberg draws from the past. Its tone is humanistic and its technique classic.
  57. Beyond the impeccable performances and direction, it's foremost an exceptional piece of screenwriting, so finely wrought that the drama seems guided by an invisible hand.
  58. The Turin Horse has a burnished beauty that's awe-inspiring, like a clear window into a faraway world as it dangles, and then falls, off the precipice.
  59. There's a suffocating air to The Deep Blue Sea that makes it harder to access than other period romances of its kind, but Davies aligns himself wholly with Hester.
  60. Moonrise Kingdom is Anderson's most completely satisfying film since the one-two of "Rushmore" and "The Royal Tenenbaums," in part because it's the perfect distillation of both.
  61. It's a feisty, contentious, deliberately misshapen film, designed to challenge and frustrate audiences looking for a clean resolution. Just because it's over doesn't mean it's settled.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It's a glorious dream-epitaph.
  62. The film feels as beautifully calibrated as a great piece of short fiction, only with visual accents and emphases filling in for the prose. It's a relationship movie where the most important exchanges remain unspoken.
  63. It's a wildly exciting ride, the fastest-moving, most enthusiastically kinetic kids' action film since "The Incredibles."
  64. While the scenes don't always fit together thematically or tonally, each one is its own polished gem.
  65. Zero Dark Thirty stands to become the dominant narrative about this important historical event, no matter its distortions, composites, or other slippery feints of storytelling. In that, it wields a dangerous power.
  66. A director known for the icy classicism and genre subversion of films like "Funny Games" and "Caché," Haneke has a pitilessness that could not be more perfect for Amour, which would collapse at any whiff of sentimentality.
  67. Petzold handles personal, formal, and political concerns in such perfect balance, it's difficult, and not especially desirable, to separate one from the next. The movie is dense but never feels it, assembled with easy mastery and engrossing throughout.
  68. It's Malick's particular genius to make viewers feel like they're seeing the world, with all its beauty and danger, for the first time. [28 Nov. 2007]
  69. A chilly and extraordinarily controlled treatise on film violence, Funny Games punishes the audience for its casual bloodlust by giving it all the sickening torture and mayhem it could possibly desire. Neat trick, that.
  70. The audience is indicted for its bloodlust. There's perversity in paying admission to get harshly scolded, and Funny Games is not for the squeamish, but this may be one time to step up and take the licking you deserve.
  71. It might be fair to argue that the resonances of Upstream Color are too obscure and internal — many viewers have and will be baffled by it — but it’s the type of art that inspires curiosity and obsession, like some beautiful object whose meaning remains tantalizingly out of reach.
  72. Just as swoon-worthy, and essential, as its predecessors, Before Midnight reveals the full scope of Linklater’s ambition. This is not just another stellar follow-up, but the latest entry in what’s shaping up to be a grand experiment — the earnest attempt to depict the life of a relationship onscreen, decade by increasingly tumultuous decade. In the process of justifying its own existence, Before Midnight redeems the very notion of sequels.
  73. By tackling one man’s sense of right and wrong (or lack thereof), Oppenheimer is ultimately tackling human nature.
  74. An exhilarating, four-hour immersion in life at the University Of California campus.
  75. It manages to convey a desire for power in abstract terms, divorced from material gain or a need to be admired. What’s more, it manages to do it with energy and a good deal of weird humor.
  76. If it weren’t for "The Act Of Killing," Narco Cultura would be the year’s queasiest documentary. The film — which counterposes Quintero’s day-to-day life with that of Richi Soto, a crime-scene investigator in Juarez — is both an unflinching record of Mexico’s drug war and an investigation of how violence becomes unreal and glamorized.
  77. Her
    Four films into a sterling career, the director’s made his most beguiling, profoundly human work yet.
  78. Michael Mann’s Thief is one of the most confident directorial debuts of its era, the product of an unprecedented amount of research and preparation.
  79. What’s uniquely remarkable about The Long Day Closes, Terence Davies’ 1992 return to his own childhood, is how gloriously disorganized its story feels.
  80. The visual and thematic palette immediately brings to mind Michael Cimino’s once-maligned "Heaven’s Gate" — except that The Immigrant accomplishes more in two hours than Heaven’s Gate did in nearly four.
  81. There’s a cumulative power here that transcends any rough patches. Boyhood isn’t perfect, but it’s an astonishing, one-of-a-kind accomplishment—and further proof that Linklater is one of the most daring, ambitious filmmakers working today.
  82. Fateless is a strangely beautiful film, enhanced by a typically lyrical Ennio Morricone score and by Koltai's hazy, grayed-out images.
  83. Like "The Aristocrats," Looking succeeds smashingly both as a comedy and as a savvy deconstruction of comedy.
  84. For the most part, Willmott succeeds thrillingly.
  85. Manages to be visually arresting, packed with geeky allusions to everything from Raymond Chandler to "Blue Velvet."
  86. By the time Feuerzeig gets to his final shot--an artful portrait of Johnston's parents, with their son looming over them like a curse--he's emerged with the most harrowing and aesthetically keen portrait of madness and artistic inspiration since "Crumb."
  87. Holofcener possesses a genius for creating exquisitely realized characters who seem to have led full, rich, complicated lives before the film's first scene takes place, and will go on living complex, idiosyncratic existences long after they disappear from the screen. Of course, it doesn't hurt that she has four of the best actresses in Hollywood as the leads, especially Keener.
  88. Filmed in long, quiet takes across gorgeous, all-but-empty landscapes, Mountain Patrol feels more like Gus Van Sant's "Gerry" than like the cops-and-robbers thriller its plotline suggests.
  89. An intoxicating performance piece in which skilled actors pinball off each other with such energy and nuance that the audience almost forgets about the dying man on the edge of the frame. The style alone makes the movie's point.
  90. It's mysterious and bold at every turn, and refreshingly removed from the commonplace.
  91. Over The Hedge stands out as genuinely witty and even a little barbed. Its chipper, sneering outsider's look at suburban sprawl and conformity isn't going to change the world, but it's still self-aware enough to be reasonably smart.
  92. In Chéreau's hands, Gabrielle has an operatic quality that throws the repressive environment into sharp relief; the film works like a pressure cooker, seething with bottled passions that intermittently burst through with startling cruelty and violence.

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