The A.V. Club's Scores

For 5,503 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 2.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 The Leopard (re-release)
Lowest review score: 0 Best Night Ever
Score distribution:
5,503 movie reviews
  1. It's mysterious and bold at every turn, and refreshingly removed from the commonplace.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Gosling excels at playing contradictory characters like this one, having kick-started his career as a Jewish neo-Nazi in "The Believer," but here, his inner turmoil rarely gets vocalized. It's a remarkably subtle performance.
  5. The gut-churningly nasty Pusher III practically justifies the whole series, as it digs deep into the angst of a drug kingpin—a junkie himself—nagged by a thousand little business details and taunted by all the young, carefree libertines he sees enjoying themselves at his drug dens.
  6. Bujalski's brand of stylized dialogue sounds genuinely fly-on-the-wall.
  7. There's a good chance that Judge's smartly lowbrow Idiocracy will be mistaken for what it's satirizing, but good satire always runs the risk -- of being misunderestimated.
  8. 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.
  9. Old Joy doesn't try for too much, but its subtle victories leave plenty to savor.
  10. An indie version of Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," albeit with none of the star power, a quarter of the budget, half the angst, and twice the charm.
  11. Mirren begins the film having her portrait painted, looking every inch the monarch and proud to play the part. By the end, she's let the pressure of one week, and maybe a lifetime, show in her eyes.
  12. Almodóvar is still one of the few directors worth watching just for how he uses color on the screen. But the pleasures have always run much deeper, and now they run deeper still.
  13. 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.
  14. It's a gorgeously rendered marvel that pulls out all the stops to wow its viewers, but in spite of its crowd-pleasing ploys, it holds onto its integrity with a smart and surprisingly deep story.
  15. History Boys boasts a dazzling verbal cleverness--the gleeful rat-a-tat of snappy banter expertly executed--that doesn't keep it from also being deeply, exquisitely sad.
  16. After two hours of dazzlingly fantastical images and stomach-turning gore, del Toro winds around, and finds his story's center.
  17. 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.
  18. The film begins like a Frank Capra movie--pure-hearted idealist takes on corporate fat cats against impossible odds and triumphs--but ends like a Shakespearean tragedy.
  19. It's a sports film unlike any other, and a political film that makes the personal profound.
  20. In the end, Black Book may be one of the most fun movies ever made about how people basically suck.
  21. White's gently perceptive film is a funny, poignant, emotionally honest minor-key character study.
  22. Everything an action-comedy should be. It achieves through parody what most films in the genre can't accomplish straight.
  23. Like the best crime stories, this one isn't about how the bad guys live, it's about how WE live.
  24. 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.
  25. Porumboiu starts off making a mordant slice of life, but he gradually entwines the personal and the historical, then ends on a poignant note. The story and situation are slight, but in the best possible way.
  26. Grease is a pure pop construct, fueled by movie-star poses, hit songs, and persistent audience fantasies of being an acceptable kind of "bad." Barry Gibb-penned disco theme aside, Grease doesn't really belong to any one era. It's like it's always existed.
  27. Bird and his co-writers leave room for quiet moments and gentle morals, but for the most part, they send visual gags and verbal punchlines tearing past at an enjoyably demanding speed, whipping up the film's energy at every turn.
  28. Taut, tense, and self-consciously stylish.
  29. Damon's minimalist style is key to why the Bourne movies have become an oasis from other blockbuster action fare.
  30. A compelling, well-researched, beautifully assembled document.
  31. Gordon's feature directorial debut mostly stops being about video-game obsession and turns into a film about what it takes to make it in America.
  32. There's a bittersweet quality to McCandless' story that Penn captures intuitively.
  33. When others can't see what parents see, there's an inescapable ache. As much as anything, My Kid Could Paint That is about that ache.
  34. Though its procedural goes a little soft in the middle, Gone Baby Gone quietly accumulates in power, leading to one of the more subtly devastating final shots in recent memory.
  35. Schnabel's sleepy, drifty, at times morbidly funny film tackles something more ambitious, by getting into the head of someone who's trying to get out of there himself.
  36. After Hours is a caffeinated black comedy with an emphasis on speed. With a small crew and a tight shooting schedule, Scorsese transformed limited means into a staccato burst of creative energy, playing up the extreme paranoia and frustration of a data processor stranded in Soho.
  37. The generous, sharp performances, especially Garai's, deepen the story's emotional impact, as does Wright's assured, frequently astounding direction.
  38. The two main points Persepolis makes are that strife is relative, and all politics are personal.
  39. 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.
  40. Woman On The Beach is a stripped-down, witty explication of how we all get stymied by the impulses and options inherent in the simple act of living.
  41. When it's funny, it's hilarious; when it's serious, it's powerful; and either way, it's an endless pleasant surprise.
  42. It's a film assembled from moments out of time, destined forever to weigh down the boy at their center.
  43. Stop-Loss is a human story first and foremost, and Peirce and her stellar young cast ensure that the message never gets in the way of the storytelling.
  44. The film unravels a bit in the last few moments, amid unanswered story questions and a simplistic climax, but until that moment, Redbelt is Mamet's richest film of the decade.
  45. It's the most glorious, wonderful mess put onscreen since Terry Gilliam's "Brazil."
  46. How can a freethinking father mandate his ideals without violating them? Pray covers it all, and movingly so.
  47. 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.
  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. 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.
  50. Maddin talks at length about Winnipeg's hidden layers, but what makes My Winnipeg perhaps his best film to date is that so much of it is right out in the open.
  51. As loose and playful as major studio movies get.
  52. Full Battle Rattle works just fine as a two-fisted combat story, with unexpected bursts of violence peppering that old universal message that war is hell.
  53. Trumbo sexes up Trumbo's already dramatic story with a massive infusion of star power.
  54. It's rare to find a work that explores issues of faith without veering into religious fundamentalism or militant atheism, which is reason enough to revisit Brideshead one more time.
  55. In a masterful performance, Langella highlights Nixon's oily charm and guile.
  56. Slumdog Millionaire features the simplest story Boyle has ever told, which may explain why its many pleasures are so pure.
  57. Kross and Winslet's intense performances and Daldry's deliberately placid control of tone make the material work as a love (and hate) story as well as a metaphor.
  58. Having the dog around raises the emotional stakes tenfold, and develops a kinship with Vittorio De Sica's Italian neo-realist classic "Umberto D.," which also revealed societal ills through a poignant dog-owner relationship
  59. Che
    In both halves, Soderbergh emphasizes observation over ideology with an eye toward the mundane details of life on the front lines of a revolution.
  60. 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.
  61. Gomorrah takes place in a world where decency can't take root and we can only watch in horror as crime overwhelms society's most vulnerable-- women, children, law-abiding citizens, and the conscientious few who want to get out of the game.
  62. Jesse Eisenberg stars as a kinder, gentler version of the insufferable faux intellectual he played in "The Squid And The Whale."
  63. Yet in his despair, there's something Kudlow misses, and it's what makes Anvil! as moving as it is hilarious.
  64. It'd be silly to call Crank: High Voltage over the top: The top is so far below that it isn't even visible. But at this mostly unexplored altitude--only 2007's inferior "Shoot 'Em Up" comes close.
  65. In tone and plot, Julia often resembles an extended episode of the AMC series "Breaking Bad"--except that Swinton's character is never NOT bad.
  66. 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.
  67. Spike Jonze has recently said in interviews that his chief goal ...was to try to capture the feeling of being 9. By that measure--by just about any measure, really--he succeeded wildly.
  68. Raimi’s new film feels distinctly unburdened and fun, happily frolicking in its own pulp silliness.
  69. Humpday carefully raises the stakes until it hits a finale loaded with humor, tenderness, and delicious ambiguity. It’s like "Old Joy" by way of Judd Apatow.
  70. The Informant! chooses to earn its exclamation point with giggles as well as shock, and the results are thoroughly entertaining.
  71. There’s a purpose to all this madness--though to talk about the primary reason the film succeeds would be giving the game away--but it should be appreciated first as a vivid, waking nightmare.
  72. In The Loop floats above its chaotic world on wave after wave of beautifully profane dialogue.
  73. A remarkably nuanced, ever-evolving performance (María Onetto).
  74. Lee doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel when it comes to filming live theater, but he moves the camera artfully and edits with an energy that matches the music.
  75. 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.
  76. 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.
  77. An Education shares with Hornby’s best work trenchant insight into the way smart, hyper-verbal young people let the music, films, books, and art they love define themselves as they figure out who they are and what they want to be.
  78. Afterschool wears its many influences on its sleeve, but it’s very much a movie of the moment. The passing of time and the evolution of technology may give it an expiration date, but more likely, Campos’ film stands to be an essential document of what it was like to be a young person in the late ’00s.
  79. It isn't pretty to witness, but the pain of it smarts.
  80. Broken Embraces welds Douglas Sirk melodrama to the most gracefully unsettling elements of Alfred Hitchcock, wrapping both in the stylish, hushed elegance that’s become Almodóvar’s trademark since his mid-’90s reinvention.
  81. 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.
  82. If a team of clever screenwriters tried to script a cautionary tale about the politics of fame (and the fame of politics), they likely couldn’t come up with anything odder or more apt than Erik Gandini’s documentary Videocracy.
  83. A Prophet has been compared to American TV series like "Oz" for its episodic plot and large cast, but it’s more like a Gallic "Goodfellas": thoroughly absorbing, exciting, even poetic. It’s a full evening’s entertainment.
  84. Tattoo is as much mood piece as mystery, and the mood is almost always disturbing.
  85. Bittersweet and beautifully realized, harsh but humane, Greenberg is a self-consciously small film that nevertheless leaves an indelible mark.
  86. A surprisingly intimate behind-the-scenes documentary.
  87. A documentary that doubles as a comic thriller, and it’s as entertaining as it is thought-provoking.
  88. Some people might find it distasteful to make a movie about guilty rich folks who give themselves permission to splurge. Others will rightly appreciate the honesty.
  89. A Piece of Work is the antithesis of Jerry Seinfeld's engaging but superficial 2002 documentary "Comedian": where the innately private Seinfeld holds nearly everything back, Rivers loudly broadcasts the kind of fears, anxieties, and ambitions most people would do anything to hide.
  90. Restrepo can be tedious at times and nerve-racking at others, but why shouldn't it be? That's exactly what Junger and Hetherington saw on the front lines, so that's what they show, with very little filter.
  91. The film is an imposing, prismatic achievement, and strongly resistant to an insta-reaction; when it’s over, Nolan still seems a few steps ahead of us.
  92. So what happens when people forget about all those people he stalked and snapped? Will his collection still be seen as an invaluable store of late 20th-century art, or the work of a celeb-obsessed hoarder?
  93. It acknowledges grief, horror, and loss, but never lets it get in the way of a big, bright laugh.
  94. Cholodenko's casually observant style perfectly matches the cast's thoughtful work, though the film ultimately proves more successful at creating messy situations than trying to resolve them.
  95. 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.
  96. Zuckerberg's story ends up feeling bigger than his own life.
  97. Carlos is mostly tense and thrilling, revealing the poisonous side of global citizenship.
  98. Finds connections deeply embedded in a soccer culture fueled by the country's thieving cocaine trade.
  99. 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.
  100. A florid, often lurid, completely enthralling film held in place by a disarming Portman, who rarely leaves the frame.

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