The A.V. Club's Scores

For 5,619 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 Holy Motors
Lowest review score: 0 Sorority Boys
Score distribution:
5,619 movie reviews
  1. In the spirit of the original, Linklater closes with one of the best endings of its kind since George Romero's "Martin."
    • 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Dazzling cinema-essay.
  4. 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.
  5. The sociological angle of Festival Express is a narrow one--perhaps too narrow--and doesn't overwhelm the film's real selling point, which is some of the best-looking and best-sounding footage of counterculture icons ever screened.
  6. 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.
  7. As an imaginative visual experience, there's nothing like it. Today, at least.
  8. 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.
  9. Good comedies are rare, but rarer still are those that conflate laughter with intimacy.
  10. Minimizes music and effects, relying on artful, informative screen titles to explain the action and letting the action explain the rest.
  11. Tsai's latest, What Time Is It There?, runs his usual themes and obsessions through a whimsical premise worthy of Wong Kar-Wai, striking such an exquisite balance between humor and despair that the moods comfortably coexist, just as they do in real life.
  12. 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.
    • 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.
  13. The glacially beautiful new documentary March Of The Penguins confirms that no computer-animated or hand-drawn penguin could ever match the curious majesty of the genuine article.
  14. It takes enormous skill to pull off such a high-wire act without diminishing the gravity of the situation, but Bong and his first-rate cast are up to the task.
  15. 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.
  16. Murray and Jarmusch, two modern masters of minimalism, triumphantly join forces in Broken Flowers, a bittersweet tour de force about a wealthy, deeply depressed lothario.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Breakdown is just a skillfully constructed, smartly conceived, escapist thriller that does just about everything right.
  17. For his first feature, Canadian director Vincenzo Natali has, like the setting of his film, created a complex piece of work around an essentially simple foundation.
  18. Like all Burton's best work, it takes place in a distorted, vividly colored, meticulously crafted world where whimsy and gleeful ghoulishness mix freely.
  19. 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.
  20. Deliberately paced at the outset, the film slowly establishes a sense of hatred that makes the violent explosion of the film's second half as plausible and inevitable as the laws of physics.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Breaking from the Spielberg oeuvre, Munich isn't a particularly hopeful movie, but it's a fair and morally dignified one.
    • 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.
  24. 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.
  25. An important act of historical preservation, a focused and effective film that brings back a dark, important moment in history with startling clarity.
  26. Though The President's Last Bang is undeniably dense-with more than a dozen significant characters-the particulars aren't too tough to understand.
  27. The Descent sustains a level of intensity that most horror films can barely muster for five minutes.
  28. Comes closer than most to seeing the whole picture.
  29. While the film doesn't dig deep, or hit particularly hard, it neatly achieves its modest goals: presenting a real-life heroine in real-life terms. A film this fictionalized rarely feels this much like fact.
  30. Workingman's Death's primary pleasures are aesthetic. Glawogger is an extraordinarily elegant filmmaker with a photographer's eye for striking compositions.
  31. Block Party is largely a giant love-fest, which is fitting given the staggering amount of simpatico musical and comic talent on display, though some conflict surfaces nevertheless.
  32. Mexican writer-director Fernando Eimbcke got his start in short films and documentaries, and his first feature reveals a gift for concision: It doesn't overexert itself trying to come to big conclusions about these characters, and even the comedic scenes settle for gentle quirks over broad guffaws.
  33. Much like his father Ivan (Ghostbusters), first-time director Jason Reitman has a broad, anything-goes comedic sensibility that allows silly gags and incidental humor to sneak in alongside the satirical barbs.
  34. So polished that it might pass for a scripted narrative feature, but that's not a bad thing. They found a remarkable spokesman in Bolivian teenager Basilio Vargas, and while his cogent, organized descriptions of his life, beliefs, history, and ambitions sometimes seem too calculated, at least they're calculated to communicate efficiently and appealingly.
  35. With juicy supporting roles for Chiwetel Ejiofor and Willem Dafoe as Washington's fellow officers, the film works best when the characters are just sitting back and shooting the breeze, which is what they're doing much of the time. Here, puzzling out a robbery is more fun than stopping it.
  36. Mermin presents all this without editorial comment, and her film would be worth watching if only for its look at a profound culture-clash. But it goes one better, and delves into one of those clashing cultures, capturing it in a moment of change that goes far beyond one beauty academy's superficial concerns.
  37. Though it occasionally dips too deep into a well of redneck humor, Slither cleverly exploits the nervous laughter that fills a theater whenever a horror movie gets too frightening to bear.
  38. Zahedi isn't afraid to put himself out there, even when his thoughts and actions are profoundly unflattering; his self-effacement makes the film a reflection on narcissism and misogyny rather than an exercise in both.
  39. Yes, it's fundamentally business as usual, but it's the best kind of business as usual, and it finds everyone working in top form. Abrams imports and enlarges "Alias'" smooth, stylish, yet remarkably visceral approach to action, and the actors pack a satisfying amount of drama into the moments between action scenes.
  40. For all Dead Man's Shoes' well-paced, well-observed boondocks melodrama, its premise seems simultaneously slender and overheated.
  41. Cars is a fine example of the formula, with pleasant chemistry, the patented Pixar cleverness, and the usual sweetly melancholy nostalgia courtesy of songwriter Randy Newman.
  42. Altman and Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion is fittingly both a celebration and a winning example of the joys of collaboration.
  43. The War Tapes falls just short of greatness, because its scope is too limited.
  44. Like the best independent films, The Motel realizes that life is made up of minor pleasures and tiny epiphanies, not sweeping character arcs or big dramatic moments.
  45. Edmond would probably be completely unapproachable were it not spiked with so much dark wit, much of it coming from Macy's painful naïveté and cheapness, which comes through in negotiations with various women of the night.
  46. The film accomplishes a remarkable feat of creative alchemy by breathing life and depth into characters that, in lesser hands, could easily have come across as grating caricatures.
  47. While it never approaches the richness and gravity of a great Mann film like "Heat," Miami Vice blurs the thin blue line to similar effect, and he features a couple of bravura setpieces, including a tense raid on an enemy hideout and a shootout with chaotic, you-are-there immediacy. If only all summer movies were this majestically slight.
  48. The Bridesmaid goes slack at times, as it follows multiple Magimel family subplots, but as always, Chabrol stages everything with an elegant economy, moving the camera in short bursts that direct the eye but don't distract. Still, the movie would fail completely if not for the dynamic between the two leads.
  49. Svankmajer's nihilistic story isn't for everyone, but he skillfully manages its disturbing execution in ways no one else could, and he brings it across in a darkly comedic way that encourages simultaneous laughter, horror, and thought. If that isn't art, what is?
  50. Zhang Yimou is a master of intimate character pieces.
  51. It thoroughly eviscerates the MPAA and makes a solid case that the culture has paid the price for its censorious practices. His (Dick's) attacks are the equivalent of shooting ducks in a barrel, but these ducks had it coming.
  52. Anyone who's been closely involved with a wedding knows exactly how these beleaguered schmucks feel. Those who haven't may just take Confetti as a lighthearted but convincing argument for elopement.
  53. Developed by Mitchell and the actors, the characters don't always seem consistent from moment to moment, but a sharp sense of humor and comfortable performances by a committed and--it must be said--remarkably limber cast help smooth over the rough edges.
  54. While all the "Up" films hold a fascination akin to a Christmas letter from an almost-forgotten friend, 42 Up didn't show much progress from "35 Up." Even fans of the series had to wonder whether the faces of England were going to remain permanently frozen.
  55. The surreality is distancing, but authentic, believable performances and a low-key affect keep Running From Scissors from turning shrill.
  56. While Jonestown lacks the power of revelation, it's a first-rate piece of journalism, as fascinating and thorough as any magazine article.
  57. In choosing cheap gags over incisive cultural commentary, Borat scores more as scatology than satire, but it's easy to overlook its ramshackle nature in light of the explosive laughter.
  58. Though Climates lacks "Distant's" haunted, poetic melancholy, it has a vivid, sensual texture that's unmistakably Ceylan's. He's one of those rare directors who doesn't need a credit for identification.
  59. Ultimately, Cocaine Cowboys' lesson isn't that crime doesn't pay, but that it maybe pays too well.
  60. As with the Wallace & Gromit films, most of the fun is in the deft characterizations, the zippy banter, and the joyous sight gags.
  61. Viewers not attuned to his (Aronofsky's) heartfelt, bombastic Richard Wagner-by-way-of-"2001: A Space Odyssey" lyricism might be better off looking elsewhere. But they'll never see anything else quite like it.
  62. The whole film is too reliant on action-movie cuts and zooms, plus James Horner's insistent score, but it's beautifully rendered and convincingly exciting.
  63. With a few self-conscious exceptions, Soderbergh makes an earnest attempt to return to that place and time in both history and American filmmaking, and his risk-taking pays fascinating dividends.
  64. It's hard to explain exactly why Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima is so much better than its companion World War II film "Flags Of Our Fathers," except to say that Flags tries too hard to emphasize the ironies of selling a war, while Letters deals with the ins and outs of the war itself.
  65. O'Toole is frail and probably won't make many more movies. So Venus is pitched partly as a fond farewell to a beloved artist, and his whole beautiful generation.
  66. This is Csupo's feature directorial debut, but as creator, producer, and writer of "Rugrats" and "The Wild Thornberrys," among several other series, he's had a long career in animation, and he handles the CGI setpieces masterfully.
  67. A beautifully observed coming-of-age story.
  68. Most of all, The Host functions as a popcorn movie par excellence, loaded with the most familiar conventions, but shot through with such conviction and visual panache that even its clichés seem invigorating.
  69. Still, no matter how Grebin and Nigro are selling it, American Cannibal isn't about the horrors of reality TV. It's about guys like Roberts and Ripley, who convince themselves that ANY job in show business would be preferable to waiting tables.
  70. A little too neat, and self-consciously vague at the end. But it's fascinating to observe and try to interpret François' mysterious smile as she eyes her boss.
  71. The Lookout's thriller elements could stand to be more surprising, but they're ultimately in service of a better understanding of the characters. Usually, it's the other way around.
  72. Meet The Robinsons takes a large step toward making 3D a sustainable format, the CinemaScope of tomorrow.
  73. Like the best of its forebears, Grindhouse contains thrills to keep viewers in their seats, plus moments to think about on the ride home, which will probably seem unusually fraught with peril.
  74. It's an accomplished potboiler entertainment, as calculated and clever as the stories Irving spins to stay afloat in the growing sea of his own lies.
  75. If modern art-lovers want to understand what the Jack Smith experience was like, Jordan's documentary may be their best chance.
  76. Begins by living up to its fans' rabid expectations, and ends by justifying skeptics' doubts. In between lie roughly equivalent levels of tedium and hilarity.
  77. Resnais and Ayckbourn care primarily about observing these characters' private and public faces, who they are and who they present themselves as. To that end, they've achieved a mood of enchanting intimacy.
  78. These moments, enjoyable and arcane, may not add up to a masterpiece. But they're uniquely Weerasethakul's.
  79. Has its heartbreaking moments and its surprise giggles, particularly thanks to Ron Hewat's minor role as a former hockey play-by-play announcer now narrating his nursing-home life.
  80. Kasdan's moody tribute to cinema's dark past set a gold standard for neo-noirs that has seldom been equaled.
  81. Under Fresnadillo's assured direction, 28 Weeks Later blurs the line between genre entertainment and a photojournalist's shots of the next urban catastrophe.
  82. ShowBusiness is a smart, highly entertaining piece of cinema-reportage, but it never quite rises to the level of penetrating insight or emotional catharsis.
  83. The final effect is less haunting than was probably intended, but Butterfly Kiss is worth a look.
  84. Like many French films of its kind, Private Property remains content to simply observe a situation without tidying up the narrative, which in this case leaves some big questions unanswered. But Lafosse knows that problems that beg for a resolution sometimes don't get one.
  85. A film so joyfully insane that it feels like Kon is overcompensating.
  86. The pleasure here, as before, comes from watching skilled professionals team up for a job well done.
  87. Like a lot of folk tales, Ten Canoes peters out into something more prosaic than profound, but it flows like water, and has a deceptively gentle pull that proves hard to escape.
  88. The director deserves kudos for setting her movie during such a gray, dreary Toronto winter. It couldn't have been easy to find a climate that so resembles adolescence.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    Their bond lends this more or less conventional POW escape film resounding emotional depth.
  89. Time could almost be written off as misogynistic, except that it's so specific about its rage. It's almost as though Kim was so fed up with having the same argument with his girlfriend, all he could do was make a movie.
  90. Though the filmmaking is pedestrian, The Camden 28's timeless truths come through with resounding power.
  91. It's a cogent, often infuriating explication of how the execution of the war went awry.
  92. Though it never regains the inspiration or comic density of its brilliant first 20 minutes, The Simpsons Movie keeps the laughs coming from start to finish, a feat as rare and wonderful in film as it has been through 18 years of television.
  93. Besides the restless style, Dans Paris is remarkable for being more about familial bonds than French cinema tends to be.
  94. A funny, boozy, ramshackle party.
  95. Nothing about Exiled is as resonant as To's best work, but it's a clever homage to Sam Peckinpah, right down to the clouds of bloody mist that fill the barroom as To's anti-heroes make their last stand.

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