The A.V. Club's Scores

For 6,933 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 50% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 47% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 2.6 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 60
Highest review score: 100 There Will Be Blood
Lowest review score: 0 Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
Score distribution:
6933 movie reviews
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The numerous, extended revival scenes are amazing, with Duvall a dynamo of divine energy and devout dedication.
  1. By tackling one man’s sense of right and wrong (or lack thereof), Oppenheimer is ultimately tackling human nature.
  2. 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.
  3. The results are nothing short of magical.
  4. 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.
  5. Building to an emotional wallop that’s almost on par with anything found in one of Miyazaki’s or Takahata’s films, The Kingdom Of Dreams And Madness is pornographically interesting for Studio Ghibli fans; as a delicate depiction of the artistic spirit, it’s equally essential viewing for everyone else.
  6. 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.
  7. Manchester By The Sea sweats the big stuff and the small stuff, and that’s key to its anomalous power: This is a staggering American drama, almost operatic in the heartbreak it chronicles.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. The thing is, Listen Up Philip is a comedy — a howlingly funny black comedy with really sharp teeth.
  11. Haneke’s latest is essentially an inquiry into the roots of a certain kind of evil.
  12. Above all a masterpiece of sustained tone, a tightrope act that pays off in rich and unexpected ways.
  13. A devastating and deceptively simple tale adapted from 10th-century folklore, Isao Takahata’s The Tale Of Princess Kaguya distills a millennium of Japanese storytelling into a timeless film that feels both ancient and alive in equal measure.
  14. 4 Months unfolds like one of those street-level Dardenne brothers movies (Rosetta, L'Enfant).
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. It isn't particularly original--for one, it owes an unacknowledged debt to the French film "Them"--but as an exercise in controlled mayhem, horror movies don't get much scarier.
  18. Blue Ruin rarely resembles anything but itself. Much of the singularity can be attributed to the film’s atypical hero, surely one of the year’s great characters.
  19. More about well-observed moments of everyday life than it is about heightened melodrama.
  20. WQholly a Coen brothers movie, in that it’s full of exaggerated characters and comic cruelty, anchored to a way of looking at the world that seems to posit a fundamental absence of meaning. And yet there’s something sweet and even a little heartening about the movie, too.
  21. Bujalski's brand of stylized dialogue sounds genuinely fly-on-the-wall.
  22. It's a complex fusion of film history and personal history, filled with dazzling embellishments and unabashed sentiment about the glories of cinema.
  23. While the subject matter is difficult, the documentary itself is easy to watch and exciting to grapple with. Its biggest strengths are Jackson’s voice and Baldwin’s commentary, which combine to create a distinctively world-weary tone.
  24. The Case Of The Grinning Cat is a sequel of sorts to Marker's epic three-hour 1977 documentary on the decline of the left, "A Grin Without A Cat"--though this new work is both shorter and more playful.
  25. What the film lacks in specificity and interest in taking sides, it makes up for in style, authentic emotion, and terrific performances.
  26. Resnais’ new film, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet, is ostensibly an adaptation of two unrelated plays by Jean Anouilh: "Eurydice" (1941) and "Dear Antoine": Or, "The Love That Failed" (1971). However, Resnais’ methods of adaptation — placing one play within the other, and then refracting its dialogue across multiple characters and layers of reality — quickly eclipse the source material.
  27. Anyone who enjoys overpowering cinematic sensation and watching people do a job will be predisposed to like Leviathan, Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel’s avant-garde documentary about life aboard a commercial fishing vessel. Leviathan is an immersive experience, plunging viewers into darkness and chaos, amid a rush of vivid color and rapid movement.
  28. This film doesn’t lionize Weiner or justify anything he did. What it does is capture the frenzy of politics, the iron-clad egos of politicians, and the failure of the media to cover the parts of campaigning and government that actually matter.
  29. If there’s any fault to find in this expertly directed, frequently hilarious study of imploding male ego, it’s that Östlund basically arrives upon a perfect ending — one that brings the movie full circle, both dramatically and visually — and then bypasses it in favor of a more muddled one. But as climactic missteps go, it’s not exactly disastrous.
  30. What’s special about Logan is that it manages to deliver the visceral goods, all the hardcore Wolverine action its fans could desire, while still functioning as a surprisingly thoughtful, even poignant drama—a terrific movie, no “comic-book” qualifier required.
  31. Everything an action-comedy should be. It achieves through parody what most films in the genre can't accomplish straight.
  32. The power to provoke may not always have a smoke-to-fire relationship with greatness but with Scorsese's film, a testament of faith that leaves in the question marks, it undeniably does.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    The film, and the films within the film, are like a dream with a message about savoring existence: Learn to love in life, or risk leaving it without leaving an impression.
  33. Timberlake himself is a stunner, whether he’s smoothly pirouetting his way through “Suit & Tie” or he’s choking back tears during his stirring set closer “Mirrors.” But his team is well-matched by Demme’s.
  34. For all the chaos erupting at all times, we never lose track of what’s going on, because it’s been staged not just with diabolical mischief, but also total clarity. What a movie.
  35. Polley’s fledgling foray into documentary filmmaking is also an investigative mystery, a real-life soap opera, and — most compellingly, perhaps — a searching “interrogation” (the director’s word) of the hows and whys of storytelling itself.
  36. What’s more, it’s fun, generating pleasure not from canned jokes or clichéd plot twists but simply from a sense of unhindered freedom.
  37. In the end, Black Book may be one of the most fun movies ever made about how people basically suck.
  38. Slumdog Millionaire features the simplest story Boyle has ever told, which may explain why its many pleasures are so pure.
  39. If The Love Witch simply raised the profile of its director, Anna Biller — a true auteur who not only wrote, directed, produced, and edited this film but also designed and hand made its sets and costumes — then it would be a success.
  40. It's mysterious and bold at every turn, and refreshingly removed from the commonplace.
  41. War Witch is a remarkably mature portrait that trusts its audience to have their own reactions to its material; it doesn’t yank at the heartstrings so much as expertly strum them.
  42. Skyfall doesn't forget it has to be an exciting spy film above all, but from its first scene, it ratchets up the drama in ways that have little to do with action.
  43. What distinguishes Starless Dreams is Oskouei’s voice, heard from off screen, getting these girls to be honest about where they’ve come from and why they’re less than anxious to return.
  44. What the two actors lack in vocal polish they make up for in commitment — and chemistry. La La Land is the third film to romantically pair Gosling and Stone, after "Crazy, Stupid, Love" and "Gangster Squad," and that history of onscreen relationships fortifies their playful rapport:
    • 77 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    The film's strength lies in just how far it's willing to go-and to not go-in the pursuit of mythologizing its subject, a group of aging but unrepentant punks who treat the very idea of mythology like a bad joke.
  45. This movie offers the kind of effortless Euro-adventure, full and fleet, that Steven Spielberg tried and mostly failed to deliver with his big-screen The Adventures Of Tintin.
  46. Many will guess the resolution of Michael and Lisa’s affair well in advance. That scarcely matters, though, given how beautifully distinctive Anomalisa is from moment to moment.
  47. There's genuine pain at the core of Heidecker's character - or at least a numbness where the pain used to reside - but the film is keen on obscuring it.
  48. Yet another celebrity-voiced animal adventure, but it stands out from the crowd of similar films with its lightning wit and whirlwind brio.
  49. In many respects, Adam and Eve are nocturnal cousins to the angels from Wim Wenders’ "Wings Of Desire": They’re secret observers of history, living records of the past with little control over the future. But Jarmusch has no interest in the kind of guilt and grief Wenders wove through his movie; Only Lovers comes in a hipper, sexier shade of melancholy.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    One Lucky Elephant would make an affecting pairing with James Marsh's upcoming "Project Nim," another film about an animal treated like a human until its essential wildness made that impossible.
  50. Again as with Bong's earlier films, Mother is a genre exercise that honors convention, yet weaves around it whenever possible. Bong carefully turns Mother into a classic gumshoe tale, with red herrings, interrogations, and moments of sublime suspense.
  51. Louder Than A Bomb is a different kind of high-school movie, brimming with life and hope instead of social-climbing, bullying, and furtive first kisses.
  52. It's the most glorious, wonderful mess put onscreen since Terry Gilliam's "Brazil."
  53. Boasts one of the most expertly crafted screenplays of the ’90s.
  54. Staying Vertical is distinguished largely by its poker-faced playfulness. Bonnard is a wonderfully quizzical presence in the lead, expertly creating the impression of a person who has no idea what he wants but is nonetheless determined to get it.
  55. It puts human faces on the victims of mass destruction, faces that might easily have been yours or mine, staring down the maw of something we don't understand.
  56. No comic trope, however musty or studded with whiskers, is off limits, including bad puns, physical shtick, pie fights, goofy names and accents, song-and-dance numbers, Jewish Indians, or just having a bunch of cowpokes farting around the campfire. Some of the jokes drop like lead, but the film's anarchic spirit carries a lot of excitement, because Brooks' anything-goes philosophy means that no comedic possibilities go unconsidered.
  57. Looper is a remarkable feat of imagination and execution, entertaining from start to finish, even as it asks the audience to contemplate how and why humanity keeps making the same rotten mistakes.
  58. Directors Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (best-known for their Terry Gilliam behind-the-scenes docs Lost In La Mancha and The Hamster Factor) have made The Bad Kids in the “fly on the wall” mold of Frederick Wiseman, crossed with the “year-in-the-life” storytelling of Hoop Dreams. The structure of Black Rock itself is one of their biggest narrative assets.
  59. It's a righteously nasty piece of work, and a rare example of a movie that traffics in B-movie grime without a trace of "Grindhouse"-style self-consciousness.
  60. The performances are winning, the story is surprising without relying on unlikely twists, and the relationships are the richest and most nuanced since Leigh's "Secrets & Lies."
  61. Director Peter Nicks puts faces, names, and heartbreakingly relatable stories to a social problem that can all too often feel abstract and academic.
  62. In the propaganda-filled realms of politics, sports, and the military, that kind of no-bullsh-- -allowed truth feels cathartic. No wonder the Tillman family has spent much of the last 10 years fighting for it.
  63. Though Dick focuses heavily on just a few women, The Invisible War builds to a stunning montage of victim after victim telling their story to the camera without pseudonyms or silhouettes.
  64. McKinney may well be a madwoman, but Morris connects so deeply to her obsessions that the film's tone never seems exploitative or mocking.
  65. Winnie The Pooh is a storybook brought to life with intelligence, wit, and palpable affection; where so many kids' films try desperately to come off as hip and timely that they often feel tacky and instantly dated, Winnie The Pooh is bravely quiet, old-fashioned, and wry.
  66. Above all, Frances Ha is a wry and moving portrait of friendship, highlighting the way that two people who know everything about each other can nevertheless grow apart as their needs change.
  67. It’s also just magnificently goofy, unafraid to court ridicule and confident enough to take captivating detours.
  68. Taut, tense, and self-consciously stylish.
  69. Yet in his despair, there's something Kudlow misses, and it's what makes Anvil! as moving as it is hilarious.
  70. The plight of this struggling family unit weighs more heavily on the heart with each passing minute, making Stray Dogs the rare marathon-length art film that seems to grow less oppressive the longer it goes on.
  71. Without soft-pedaling it in the least, Bonello nonetheless mourns the passing of a time where prostitutes didn't control their destinies, but at least had each other.
  72. It is grotesque and deranged and Hieronymus Bosch-like, and damn if it isn’t a bona fide vision — but of what, exactly?
  73. The brilliance of Long Strange Trip is that Bar-Lev allows for multiple interpretations.
  74. If one were to watch this jagged, restless movie with no knowledge of who made it, guessing that it sprung from the same mind that created "Old Joy" or "Meek’s Cutoff" would be impossible. Intuiting that this gifted novice filmmaker would go on to bigger and better things, however, would be child’s play.
  75. It’s not easy to make a movie as beautiful as Brooklyn, where the stakes are low but the outcome really matters. This is an old-fashioned entertainment, but one so masterfully crafted and heartfelt that it’s hard not to love.
  76. White's gently perceptive film is a funny, poignant, emotionally honest minor-key character study.
  77. Easily one of the year’s best comedies, the movie thrives off the chemistry between its leads, with Pegg painting a very funny portrait of emotional paralysis and Frost demonstrating a heretofore unseen talent for intimidation.
  78. The beauty of The Class is that it puts the lie to the one-teacher-can-make-a-difference myth propagated by so many other films.
  79. For the first hour or more, The Hurt Locker boldly forsakes any conventional narrative hook beyond the ongoing tensions between these men and the terrifying grind of defusing bombs day after day.
  80. Hartnett and co-star Scarlett Johansson--that most fatale of current filmic femmes--are naturals for this kind of noir-hued material, but the pairing of Ellroy and De Palma proves a marriage made in hardboiled heaven.
  81. The first third of Iraq In Fragments is so intense--a masterpiece in miniature, really--that audiences may not have much emotion left for the rest.
  82. Explicit lesbian lovemaking aside, Blue is, at heart, a somewhat ordinary coming-of-age romance, pulled and stretched nearly to its breaking point.
  83. Carlos is mostly tense and thrilling, revealing the poisonous side of global citizenship.
  84. As loose and playful as major studio movies get.
  85. Finds connections deeply embedded in a soccer culture fueled by the country's thieving cocaine trade.
  86. Tasked with meeting the many requirements necessary for any Avengers movie to work, Whedon checks off all the boxes, then sets about creating new expectations for what a big superhero movie ought to be.
  87. Viewers may not realize how far they've been pulled in until the movie ends, and they might feel a sense of loss that it can't keep going just a little while longer.
  88. It’s a film of stunning beauty and deep underlying sadness, a self-financed labor of love filled with impossibly gorgeous, oft-unclothed men and dazzling eye candy.
  89. Drug War brings to mind Soderbergh’s recent "Side Effects", a film defined by similar changes in perspective and genre. However, while "Side Effects" is best at its midpoint, before the viewer has really figured out what kind of movie it is, Drug War becomes both weightier and more playful with each transition, building to a harrowing finale.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    The film is also an earnest, big-hearted ode to friends as support and salvation, and to the talismanic quality a favorite song, treasured hang-out, or shared tradition can take on for a teenager.
  90. Like "The Aristocrats," Looking succeeds smashingly both as a comedy and as a savvy deconstruction of comedy.
  91. So James White’s title character is an entitled, self-centered a--hole. But the movie about him is still a marvel: an honest, moving, and occasionally even funny portrait of what happens when a cripplingly immature young man gets hit with one reality check after another.
  92. Christopher Nolan’s terrific new film, Dunkirk, is powered by an engine of combusting contradictions: it’s at once minimalist and maximalist, cynical and dopey, a big-boy white elephant art film that is actually a lean and mean suspense set-piece machine.
  93. To an extent, Greenfield tries to have it both ways with her film: she allows us to enjoy the fantasy of being rich, while also letting us see the bastards suffer a little.
  94. It's an ambitious premise and a risky approach, but Cahill and his cast execute it beautifully.
  95. As Cruise clings to the side of the building using malfunctioning equipment, and a sandstorm looms in the distance, the question shifts from whether Bird can direct an action film to whether there's anyone out there who can top him.

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