The A.V. Club's Scores

For 7,094 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 2.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 61
Highest review score: 100 The Double Life of Veronique
Lowest review score: 0 Speed 2: Cruise Control
Score distribution:
7094 movie reviews
  1. A surprisingly intimate behind-the-scenes documentary.
  2. Ramon Zürcher’s miniature debut, The Strange Little Cat, is one of the most confident and unusual first features in recent memory.
  3. The generous, sharp performances, especially Garai's, deepen the story's emotional impact, as does Wright's assured, frequently astounding direction.
  4. It’s a credit to both Mackenzie’s talent as a director of actors and to the underlying humaneness of his vision that he argues that the right option is the more difficult and less predictable one — and that he does so without relying on sentimentality, unearned sympathy, or a happy ending.
  5. Because the movie plays on so many common fears - including fears of being in a remote house with big windows when intruders arrive - the confusion of Martha Marcy May Marlene proves effective, not sloppy.
  6. Believe it or not, though, the real horror of this superb Aussie monster movie has almost nothing to do with the title fiend and everything to do with the unspoken, unspeakable impulses he represents. Remove the Babadook from The Babadook, in other words, and something plenty terrifying remains.
  7. The Red Turtle nevertheless remains throughout a simple, gripping story of survival, deriving its sense of adventure from the most basic plot imaginable: Here’s a human being, stranded in a strange place, using his strength, intelligence, and courage to forge some kind of a life for himself.
  8. Shannon, best known for playing weirdos and crazies, is uniquely good at playing restrained everymen, and he inhabits the role of Roy as a man of unspoken internal conflicts and complicated feelings.
  9. At just 82 minutes, Krisha wouldn’t have hurt for a little more meat on its bones; the last act blows through a shitstorm of confrontation almost too abruptly.
  10. 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."
  11. 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.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    It’s enough for Workman to simply assemble a patchwork of Welles in his myriad incarnations (as the hearty Falstaff in Chimes At Midnight; as an arched-eyebrow spokesman for Paul Masson wine; as The Third Man’s cynical Harry Lime; as a sharp, vital youth and a sharp, frail elder) and allow the many faces to confirm, contradict, and, ultimately, speak for themselves.
  12. Never to be confused for the rom-com starring Amy Adams - though that would be the mother of all video-store mix-ups - Leap Year lets actions speak louder than words, and the actions here are shockingly explicit.
  13. After two hours of dazzlingly fantastical images and stomach-turning gore, del Toro winds around, and finds his story's center.
  14. These stylistic tricks open windows into the hearts and minds of the characters. They also make a movie about people grappling privately with their emotions feel energetic, even thrilling, in its own melancholic way.
  15. This is clearly the work of a master in the making, an artist on the cusp of greatness. Farhadi may be fixated on fibbers, but there’s almost no one working today who makes films so emotionally honest.
  16. Soderbergh isn’t exactly hiding a secret drama inside his barrel of laughs and twists. But his comeback project keeps quiet about being one of the sweetest, most affirming movies he’s ever made.
  17. Enigmatic and often mesmerizing, super-saturated with color, drawn like a still plain ripped by brief, unexpected gusts of wind—The Assassin is one of the most flat-out beautiful movies of the last decade, and also one of the most puzzling.
  18. 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.
  19. In The Loop floats above its chaotic world on wave after wave of beautifully profane dialogue.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    All the performers are superb, though as the title suggests, this is Viviane’s show, and Ronit makes for an exceptional martyr (she gets a Passion Of Joan Of Arc-worthy close-up or two) who never loses her very human shadings.
  22. 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.
  23. It's an exercise in metafiction that, while providing grisly fun, never distances viewers. And it's entertaining, while asking the same question of viewers and characters alike: Why come to a place you knew all along was going to be so dark and dangerous?
  24. The movie’s most tantalizing mystery is the question of what’s really going on in their heads. It remains unanswered.
  25. It might just be the most poignant, moving film ever made about one man's surprisingly noble efforts to get laid.
  26. I Wish is still amply Kore-eda-esque, full of life, heart, and funny little details about daily existence, as it meanders its way toward moments of real profundity.
  27. There's not a weak performance in Secrets And Lies, a fact made more notable by the seeming ease with which the cast performs as an ensemble.
  28. By turns playful, harrowing, intensely moving, and uproariously funny, Chain Camera cuts away all documentary artifice and goes straight to the source, allowing these kids to reveal themselves with the utmost directness and candor.
  29. Minimizes music and effects, relying on artful, informative screen titles to explain the action and letting the action explain the rest.
  30. Driven by Dominique's personal magnetism, The Agronomist is a haunting, inspirational valentine to free speech and human resilience.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Though it certainly has faults, which only the extremely nostalgic could ignore, the film bests its contemporaries through its ability to unite childlike comedy and adult concerns without ever obscuring one with the other.
  31. Dazzling cinema-essay.
  32. Riveting, eye-opening issue film.
  33. First-time director Jarecki, better known as the co-founder of MovieFone, skillfully integrates the home-movie footage with his own thorough inquiry, weaving past and present into a patient, deeply engrossing piece of storytelling that's rich in ambiguities.
  34. Like all Burton's best work, it takes place in a distorted, vividly colored, meticulously crafted world where whimsy and gleeful ghoulishness mix freely.
  35. Ten
    Nobody handles unvarnished interactions quite the way Kiarostami does, and for much of Ten, it's a kind of austere thrill to watch him focus so intently on one aspect of his craft.
  36. Lee at his best, a virtuoso piece of filmmaking that's stylish, substantial, and rich in detail.
  37. Despite years of imitators, sequels (some great, some not so), and edited-for-television broadcasts, Alien has lost none of its power, and the big screen only intensifies its impact.
  38. Good comedies are rare, but rarer still are those that conflate laughter with intimacy.
  39. It's a measure of the film's brilliance that it strips away the trappings of superstardom and allows audiences to see these men as flawed human beings first, musicians second, and rock gods a distant third.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    A strange and thoughtful story, told in unhurried conversations and artful flashbacks. The things people keep from themselves are just as important to this mystery as the things they keep from each other, and that transforms Lone Star from a mere mystery into something much richer.
  40. Through quietly fiery performances by Day-Lewis and Watson, as well as novel-like depth and complexity, The Boxer not only avoids these pitfalls but emerges as a thoroughly engrossing movie.
  41. The Dardennes sustain that tension through a masterful closing drive that resembles the final third of "In The Bedroom," only without the same dreadful inevitability.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    What's truly remarkable about Smoke Signals is the depth of the narrative, a touching tale of self-discovery.
  42. Finely crafted, tense, scary thriller from start to finish.
  43. Though glazed in chilly surfaces -- the Kubrickian spaces, Cliff Martinez's gorgeous ambient score, the elliptical editing rhythms of Soderbergh's recent work, particularly "The Limey" -- the film contains a surprising depth of feeling within its egg-shaped head.
  44. Provides one of the rare glimpses of the upper class to come out of recent Iranian cinema--the last one in memory was 1996's exquisite, Ibsen-esque melodrama "Leila"--and director Jafar Panahi (The Circle) captures it vividly through his hero's wounded obsession.
  45. A harsh (though slightly toned down from Moody's book), deeply moving, emotionally rich and intelligent film about the difficulty of rebelling against social restrictions--and the inescapable consequences of such attempts when they do succeed--The Ice Storm should not be missed.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Liam Neeson's performance as Collins is at once stirring and blood-curdling, as befits the role of a man who murdered for a cause he believed was just, but was willing to stop when he believed his objective was reached.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    With solid, stately acting, and landscapes that could convert atheists, The Horse Whisperer tugs heartstrings without seeming self-conscious.
  46. Emerges as something rare, an issue movie that's so honest and keenly observed that it doesn't feel like one. It earns its thesis statement through minute details and a unique grasp of a commonplace problem.
  47. The most exciting thing about Jackie Brown is the director's seamless transition to a less flashy, revealing style; it's well-suited to the more character-oriented focus of the film... an assured, accomplished, and very good film.
  48. In the spirit of the original, Linklater closes with one of the best endings of its kind since George Romero's "Martin."
  49. Works both as a great romance and a great, unconventional crime thriller. But step back from such distinctions, and it just looks like a great movie.
  50. The Wachowskis do it so playfully well, keeping The Matrix's potentially confusing plot intelligible, intelligent, and suspenseful, that it doesn't matter.
  51. Smashing family entertainment: The whole thing is quick-witted, fast-paced, and loaded with clever sight gags and colorful, engaging supporting characters.
  52. Shockingly, he's (Jonathan Demme) pulled it off, replicating the original's tricky feat of investing a paranoid plot with timeliness, psychological complexity, sociopolitical acumen, and almost frightening conviction.
  53. Though shorn of 20 minutes for its U.S. debut, the film's wry comic portrait of the Japanese Occupation during WWII hasn't lost any of its incendiary brilliance, both as a political provocation and as a brusquely humane take on the horrors and absurdity of war.
  54. There are moments when Velvet Goldmine threatens to collapse under the weight of writer/director Todd Haynes' (Poison, Safe) ambition. But, sometimes amazingly, it doesn't, becoming in the process one of the year's freshest, most exciting films.
  55. Movies can't exactly replicate the feeling of reading a book, but Jun Ichikawa's adaptation of Haruki Murakami's short story Tony Takitani comes remarkably close.
  56. Seasoned with amusing bits of fantasy, like a pizza topping that briefly curls into a smile, Friday Night captures the city at its most inviting, alive with the feeling that wonderful things can happen to ordinary people.
  57. An unpredictable, often funny, always winning film, Love And Death On Long Island is filled with low-key humor and sharp observations about the state of art at the close of the millennium.
  58. Uncompromising in her art, her teaching, and her professional relations, Boyd makes for a classic tough old bird of a character.
  59. Gets most of its legs from the acting and the dialogue, which has such a rhythmic grace that scenes from the movie can be played and replayed with no loss of thump.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    That the familiar story of the Titanic disaster is told with suspense is not as surprising as Cameron's clear-headed balance of truth and fiction, spectacle and tragedy.
  60. Jarmusch's superb Down By Law can be described as many things–a minimalist fairytale, a modern twist on '30s prison dramas, an existential comedy–but it's memorable first and foremost as a richly textured look at old New Orleans and the enchanted bayou surrounding it.
  61. Verbinski knows when to break out the stunning action sequences and when to let his characters dominate the film, and he handles both modes expertly.
  62. Finds the right balance between reverence and wit.
  63. This material could easily have devolved into soap opera or romantic melodrama, but Wilkinson and Watson's superb, subtle performances lend it tremendous depth and gravity.
  64. A Trojan horse of a teen comedy that balanced lowbrow gags with subtle humor, genuine insight—Crowe spent a year undercover as a high-school student—and pathos.
  65. Harsh, unsparing, unsentimental, and uniformly well-acted, The Mother bravely and intelligently tackles subject matter widely ignored in cinema--the sexuality of a plain-looking woman edging toward the twilight of a life of quiet desperation.
  66. The film is best treated as a one-of-a-kind wonder: an ingenious contraption that dazzles, teases, attracts, and repels with all the mystery and sublimity of a miniature world.
  67. As the film takes shape, the form and the subject develop a fascinating symbiosis, with Derrida cast as an active participant in the deconstruction of his own documentary.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Spider-Man brings the beloved comic-book character to the screen with both angst and action undamaged by the move.
  68. All in all, it's a fitting conclusion to the series, and yet there are disappointments built in. For one, Jackson has opted not to film Tolkien's downbeat "Scouring Of The Shire" epilogue.
  69. Malick's powerful intermingling of brutality and beauty, his signature cutaways to indigenous flora and fauna, and the gentle lyricism of his disjunctive narration and painterly images are too rich to fully register in a single viewing.
  70. Payne, the great satirist behind "Citizen Ruth" and "Election," loves to populate his films with throwaway details, which in About Schmidt accumulate into a portrait of Midwestern life that's almost chilling in its exactitude.
  71. Summer Phoenix has a screen presence that's simultaneously distancing and transfixing, an inscrutability that makes her seem either mysterious or a complete blank.
  72. Breaking from the Spielberg oeuvre, Munich isn't a particularly hopeful movie, but it's a fair and morally dignified one.
  73. Few directors are capable of marrying ideas and entertainment—one is often sacrificed for the other—but Spielberg peppers one gripping action setpiece after another with trenchant details about a near-future robbed of the most basic freedoms and privacy.
  74. With startling clarity and dreadful logic, Loach and Laverty make sense of every bad choice Compston makes until he runs out of options, locked into a destiny that he can't escape, mainly because his good intentions are clouded by tragic naivete.
  75. The 33-year-old Koreeda, who began his career in documentary, has a gift for observing life as it's lived, accumulating simple, seemingly banal scenes into an unforgettable reflection on the frustration and helplessness of trying to explain the ineffable.
  76. Nonetheless, Marvin's Room is not only sharply written and well-acted, but it's also the rare sort of film that takes an honest and uncompromising look at death and dying.
  77. Stillman's arch, clever dialogue is as strong as ever, and he conveys in every frame a genuine affection for his characters, however insipid their actions may be at times. These gifts make it easy to forgive Stillman's tendency to let his story meander, especially in Disco's second half.
  78. Beyond giving a human face to Uganda's crises, Kiarostami attempts to capture the actual place, a swirl of contradictions as vibrant and beautiful as it is troubled.
  79. After a start heavy on exposition, the film strings one action setpiece after another, each realized with the breathless excitement of an adventure pulp cover. It's as if Jackson set out to bring to life every fantasy of the last moment before earth gave way to space as the site of the final frontier.
  80. A viscerally punishing study of repression and masochism, carried out with the utmost discretion and chilling reserve.
  81. The marvelous new Talk To Her has elements that wouldn't have seemed out of place in an Almodóvar film of 20 years ago
  82. Much like "School Of Rock," Bad Santa salvages a tired, paint-by-numbers formula by resisting it every step of the way, stubbornly refusing to stop its juvenile fun until the last possible moment.
  83. A surprisingly bittersweet love story at heart, Eternal Sunshine values the sum of experience, which in this case means a thorns-and-all openness to romantic possibilities.
  84. As a film composed entirely of nine continuous long takes, Nine Lives certainly qualifies as unique. But what makes it rarer and more auspicious is that it offers such a rich bounty of great roles for middle-aged women.
  85. In the end, it's that reserve that makes it work. Keeping his distance, the director lets viewers see in full the moments in which grief turns the world into a narrow, never-ending tunnel.
  86. An old-house thriller retrofitted for the 21st century without any touch of unneeded flash, Panic Room is scary enough to do for downtown living what Jaws did for beaches.
  87. As an imaginative visual experience, there's nothing like it. Today, at least.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Deft filmmaking that allows the special effects to help, not be, the story combines with an actual script to make Volcano a smart, self-aware, and most of all fun disaster movie.
  88. Gorgeously shot by Lance Acord, who makes Toyko a gaudy dreamscape that's both seductive and frightening, Lost In Translation washes away memories of "Godfather III," establishing Coppola as a major filmmaker in her own right, and reconfirming Johansson and Murray as actors of startling depth and power.
  89. Far from the solemn earnestness of most Holocaust documentaries, Fighter addresses the war and its oft-toxic reverberations with refreshing impudence and candor.
  90. The film's absolute conviction keeps it from feeling formulaic.

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