The A.V. Club's Scores

For 6,697 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 2.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 60
Highest review score: 100 The Sun
Lowest review score: 0 Daddy Day Camp
Score distribution:
6697 movie reviews
  1. In his best film since "Unforgiven," Eastwood ultimately lets observations on character, community, and the tidal patterns of tragedy shoulder a burden an ordinary murder mystery never could.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    The line between "highly personal" and "navel-gazing" varies depending on one's feelings toward the person offering up the serving of self-contemplation, but Silver Bullets' introspection feels earned.
  2. Though Chop Shop is an American film, it feels more like an Iranian movie or the Dardenne Brothers’ "Rosetta"; Bahrani introduces something like a plot point in the late-going, but he mostly focuses, to riveting effect, on how his young hero hustles and claws through everyday life.
  3. Patience reveals through images and tone as well as through the interviews how Sebald yearned for restorative meaning in the places he toured, only to end up lost in thought.
  4. In an era of high-falutin’ tentpole sci-fi, there’s something to be said for a filmmaker still devoted to crafting plain old genre pleasures.
  5. 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.
  6. At its core, Wild Canaries is a reminder that relationships require a sense of adventure, and maybe a little mystery, to keep the magic alive. Indie comedies, as the film proves, benefit from the same.
  7. Copti and Shani show characters of different backgrounds interacting peacefully as individuals, then show how those characters subtly change when their affiliation with a group becomes an issue. And always the threat of violence looms.
  8. It's a remote location, but Frammartino's canny eye, wry humor, and careful sense of rhythm make it feel like the best possible spot to observe the workings of the world, from ashes to ashes.
  9. deWitt's script is much better than anything Jacobs has worked on before, with a story that gets richer as it goes.
  10. For the first time in years, it feels like Disney has done its namesake proud.
  11. It’s remarkably assured and subtle work, worthy of comparison to Catherine Deneuve’s brilliantly blank turn in Buñuel’s film.
  12. Chris Morris' corrosive black comedy Four Lions explores the lighter side of jihad. It's a ballsy romp through one of the least lighthearted subjects imaginable.
  13. Mistaken For Strangers is as much a film about its director as it is about The National, which may qualify it as an entirely new kind of rock doc.
  14. Through the ceaseless efforts of two dedicated pro bono lawyers-both with personal reasons to keep up the fight for five or six grueling years-director Yoav Potash follows every revelation and setback with an urgency most fiction films can't muster.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. So kudos to the cast of Much Ado About Nothing, Joss Whedon’s scrappy, snappy take of one of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies. With little exception, the players assembled here — most of them veterans of the Whedonverse — pull off that difficult balancing act with gusto.
  18. Anyone could make a film about a theater full of naked women; only Wiseman would take equal interest in the person who handles the ticket-ordering, and the one who makes sure there's a bottle of champagne on every table.
  19. Wajda makes the murders look horrific and jangled, like something out of "Hostel," then ends Katyn with extended darkness and silence, allowing the audience to mourn for the death of a nation.
  20. Everything signals birth—of Argentina, cinema, the nuclear family—until Dinesen descends into a womb-like cave and Jauja takes a hard left turn into enigma. Even the title is a mystery, the Spanish byword for a land of plenty.
  21. Taylor and Frankel go too broad when they try for comic relief - and the on-the-nose soundtrack is borderline criminal - but Hope Springs handles marriage and advanced-age sexuality with a refreshing, down-to-earth candor. In today's Hollywood, that counts as radical.
  22. Crude is so crammed with facts and figures that it can be a little dizzying, but what’s more important is what Berlinger records between all the talking-head interviews and vérité footage.
  23. Anyone already planning on seeing Stoker, the English-language film debut of Oldboy and Thirst director Park Chan-wook, shouldn’t read this review. Or watch a trailer. Or read anything about it at all, really...It’s best taken one tense, exhilarating moment at a time, without anticipation or expectation.
  24. The film tells such a compelling, expansive story that its unwillingness to plumb its subject's psychological depths feels forgivable, though regrettable.
  25. "Death Of A Salesman" does indeed figure into the story, as the film’s main characters, a married couple, are playing Willy and Linda Loman in an amateur production. On the whole, however, this starkly confrontational melodrama has more in common with the Charles Bronson classic "Death Wish," even if it’s angry words rather than bullets that go whizzing across the screen.
  26. Doubt is a complex, thematically loaded piece of work, and though it isn't enhanced on film, it deserves the wider exposure.
  27. It's no insult to say that the fine documentary Bill Cunningham New York resembles one of those minor profiles found in The New Yorker's "Talk Of The Town" section: a slight, glancing, yet subtly wrought slice of New York life. And it seems likely that the exceedingly modest Cunningham would want it that way.
  28. Kusama expertly manipulates the tone throughout, ratcheting up tension and releasing it in quick bursts of nervous laughter, only to build it up again.
  29. If nothing else, Ti West’s retro “Satan rules!” thriller The House Of The Devil gets the look and tone of early-’80s horror schlock exactly right.
  30. While the improvisatory movement of the camera helps create a sense of ambiguous tension in the scenes where the crew interacts with the pirates, it also undercuts several more overtly dramatic moments. However, this shortcoming of filmmaking imagination is largely redeemed by the pessimistic wallop of the movie’s ending.
  31. It’s a brief wisp of a movie, but one that’s not easy to shake.
  32. Arrival has come, like a visitor from the cosmos, to blow minds and break hearts.
  33. From Nowhere, a measured but fundamentally sorrowful drama about three undocumented teens applying for asylum, receives an ideally timed release this week, almost a year after its SXSW premiere. Back then, with Clinton an apparent shoo-in, the film was merely perceived as excellent. Today it also seems urgent.
  34. The truths revealed in this film have more to do with the North Korean government’s self-consciousness about how they’re perceived by foreigners. Here, they seem desperate to appear productive, congenial, devoted, and above all, happy.
  35. Workingman's Death's primary pleasures are aesthetic. Glawogger is an extraordinarily elegant filmmaker with a photographer's eye for striking compositions.
  36. Identity is the film’s true subject: As much as he pokes fun at the foibles of a privileged white America, Simien is more interested in the ways his protagonists conform, or refuse to conform, to society’s idea of them.
  37. All told, Ellison is a fascinating person to spend 96 minutes with. But you probably shouldn't risk that 97th.
  38. Ficarra and Requa are more comfortable being bad: The nastier the film gets, the better it is.
  39. Shot with tiny digital cameras to minimize the sense of intrusion, The End Of Love sometimes feels like a home movie, but that’s also the source of its strength.
  40. 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.
  41. James Brown, B.B. King, and a dazzling array of top African, Afro-Cuban, and African-American talent finally gets its own solo spotlight in Soul Power.
  42. Over the years, Porumboiu (Police, Adjective) has come to be considered an acquired taste, but this droll comedy is his most accessible movie since the breakthrough "12:08 East Of Bucharest"; its left turns and sense of humor shouldn’t seem alien to anyone who appreciates, say, early "Louie," even if the style is a heck of a lot more minimalist.
  43. It's to the film's credit that its inescapable conclusion seems in doubt until the very end.
  44. The movie’s dedication to girls everywhere is unnecessary; it already feels so specific and true without it.
  45. The Expedition To The End Of The World courses with the zeal of Robert Flaherty, the fearlessness of Werner Herzog, and the fatalistic humor of Lars Von Trier. While individual moments echo with a familiarly mordant sense of alpha-male adventure, together they cohere into something wild and new.
  46. Welcome To Pine Hill is a short, docu-realistic film, with very little plot and scenes that play like loose improvisations. Miller is mainly interested in the various spaces Harper inhabits, and how he inhabits them.
  47. Prodigal Sons comes packed with multiple hooks. Aside from the sex-change angle, the movie takes a turn when Marc---whom Reed’s parents adopted before she was born--learns that he’s the biological son of Rebecca Welles, and the grandchild of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth.
  48. Ultimately, the film is just a smart caper picture with some good performances, but at times it's VERY smart, and Hoffman's performance in particular is one of the most natural and unexpectedly affecting that he's given in years.
  49. Zhang Yimou is a master of intimate character pieces.
  50. Plenty of horror movies are willing to settle for making audiences jump. Mama is more ambitious by far: It makes sure viewers are emotionally committed even when they aren't clutching their armrests or covering their eyes.
  51. This is a movie about the casual ways people know each other, even when their relationships are hard to explain-or perhaps even justify.
  52. Operation Filmmaker takes a thrilling left turn from its original conceit, and Davenport does a nice job rolling with the punches.
  53. A beautifully observed coming-of-age story.
  54. Newcomer Følsgaard is the wild card, but he manages to make the king both villain and victim, sometimes a vindictive schemer, at others far-eyed and helpless, a puppet for the forces behind him.
  55. Mostly though, the movie feeds off Rourke, who plays a genuinely decent guy who never lets his dawning self-awareness interfere with his responsibility to give the fans a show.
  56. The movie ends abruptly, setting up an epilogue that viewers will have to provide for themselves. Jerichow's sparseness, tiny cast, and minimal plot can make the film seem a little elusive, but there’s a certain elegance to Petzold's concision, too. He shows all he wants us to see.
  57. The tone and subject at times recall David Lynch's "Lost Highway" and "Mulholland Dr.," but the approach is Hellman's own.
  58. Hunger may be criticized for being willfully arty, or for reducing a complex political situation to a broadly allegorical vision of martyrdom, but it's never less than visually stunning.
  59. The performance, one of Hoffman’s last, is unostentatious, but sensitive. Hoffman inhabited lifelong losers better than any other actor.
  60. A clever, exceedingly wonky procedural about a undercover cop (Dragos Bucur) who quietly refuses to do what he's told.
  61. Looking for poetry in a live-action family film is usually about as futile as hunting for dragons in your backyard; the vast majority of them wager on the indiscriminate tastes of kids and their dutiful chaperons. But Pete’s Dragon has poetry in spades.
  62. 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?
  63. Given the material, it’s fitting that Mr. Turner is the director’s most visually ravishing movie. With cinematographer Dick Pope behind the lens, every shot is gorgeous enough to hang in a museum.
  64. Because the audience isn’t privy to the hero’s thoughts, the final 15 minutes or so of Big Fan are white-knuckle.
  65. Comes closer than most to seeing the whole picture.
  66. Arthur Christmas gets a little sappy toward the end - it is a Christmas movie, after all - but it otherwise strikes just the right combination of naughty and nice, reverent and irrelevant, holiday-sweet and Aardman dry.
  67. Under Fresnadillo's assured direction, 28 Weeks Later blurs the line between genre entertainment and a photojournalist's shots of the next urban catastrophe.
  68. If nothing else, Scheinfeld captures the essence of the Nilsson experience, and how, according to his attorney, "He would turn up at your door at 4 in the morning, and you knew that the next three days were going to be an adventure."
  69. The artist's arresting images speak for themselves, even though now only the bystanders are left to tell his story.
  70. 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.
  71. Peepli Live has a lot in common with Billy Wilder's black comedy Ace In The Hole, in that it explores the cynicism of modern life with wit and honesty.
  72. It’s the movie’s quietest, softest moments that register most strongly, be it Alexandra’s low-key performance of Victor Herbert’s “Toyland” to an almost empty bar, or the final scene, which finds her and Sin-Dee alone in a Laundromat at the end of a long, bad night.
  73. Soul Kitchen plays everything big and loud-and sometimes too doggedly conventional-but it's the rare example of a crowd-pleaser made without cynicism or calculation.
  74. Typically, Leigh withholds his own judgment as to whether Hawkins is a delight or a terror. But he does create a noticeable tension between the audience's expectations and the way the story plays out.
  75. In a real sort of way, Gilliam IS Parnassus, carrying his tatterdemalion show forward from year to year and trying to get people to pay attention, and the mingled sense of bitterness and hope in his story makes this whole crazed fantasy into something far more real.
  76. Despite those superficial similarities, though, Neruda is ultimately a very different film than "Jackie," and arguably the bolder of the two. Its palette is darker, even as its sensibility is less somber, more playful.
  77. Well-plotted, with a strong lead performance by Michael Shannon, and a fair amount of authentic regional flavor. It isn't really meant to be a treatise on Southern life. At heart, it's a country-fried genre film, minus the peppery white gravy.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    At its simplest, She’s Lost Control is a tale of girl meets boy (where “boy” is the lead’s latest client, Johnny, played by Marc Menchaca), and at its potential worst, just another attempt to probe the line between sex and self though the figure of the sex worker.
  78. The occasional missteps (some overly precious symbolism, the grimy DV look) rarely get in the way of the film’s many winces, gasps, and breathless, cringing anticipation.
  79. This is the most epic of the Harry Potter movies, the one that finally dispenses with side-quests and open-ended plotlines and offers up all the final payoffs.
    • The A.V. Club
  80. This is Laika’s least droll, least ghoulish feature so far; the plotting is even more dreamlike than "Coraline."
    • 64 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    The two amateur ghost-hunters hope to document evidence of the spirit of Madeline O'Malley in their last days of employment, though they get far more than they bargained for when she starts actually showing up.
  81. Anderson’s latest invention, The Grand Budapest Hotel, may be his most meticulously realized, beginning with the towering, fictional building for which it’s named.
  82. Nobody moseys like Viggo Mortensen. In "The Road," "Appaloosa," "Jauja," and the new French Western Far From Men, the erstwhile Aragorn masters the tricky art of being a figure in the landscape.
  83. As with the Wallace & Gromit films, most of the fun is in the deft characterizations, the zippy banter, and the joyous sight gags.
  84. 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.
  85. Lottery Ticket gets far on the strength of its star's charisma and a likeable tone.
  86. Superficially similar to Hany Abu-Assad’s Oscar-nominated Omar, it’s a considerably more complex and nuanced examination of the conflicted loyalties and dangerous relationships that characterize daily life in the Middle East, featuring remarkably strong, charismatic performances by a host of mostly non-professional actors.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    Like the real Trump, [Depp] delivers a bizarrely magnetic performance, and that magnetism is enough to hold the whole enterprise together, even as the intentional incompetence of the film-within-the-film threatens to sink the final act.
  87. If nothing else, Afghan Star offers a reminder of how much has changed in Afghanistan from the late ’70s--when Kabul was a secular-oriented city with co-ed universities and a thriving nightclub scene--to the rise of the Taliban.
  88. Particle Fever, to its great credit, is very rarely dry. There’s a palpable excitement throughout, even as the work moves slowly, and the physicists themselves are charming and straightforward enough (“We won’t know how, but it’s gonna change everything”) to make it a compelling, if sometimes difficult to follow, story.
  89. A lovely, sweet, funny, romantic, and supremely worthwhile endeavor that unfortunately takes longer to wrap up than it should.
  90. It's a beautifully shot, beautifully acted piece of fluff.
  91. At times, Soldini gets so wrapped up in his characters' suffering that the movie loses perspective; it's a little hard to sympathize when the couple's needs grow so great that they're forced to sell their boat.
  92. In essence, Timbuktu is about how farce turns into terror.
  93. Movies about middle-aged women are so rare that it’s tempting to praise them on that basis alone. Thankfully, the Chilean drama Gloria, which won Paulina García the Best Actress prize at last year’s Berlin International Film Festival, doesn’t require much critical mitigation.
  94. As a musical, the film is often thrilling.
  95. Vincere starts to run dry of stunning visual gambits and become redundant in its second hour, as the madhouse sequences dominate, but Bellocchio’s central premise retains its power and poignancy throughout.
  96. Trolls may have a low bar going in, but the movie scales it quickly and admirably by defying conventions, adding both new and familiar musical numbers, and hiding a valuable, Zen-like message in plain sight.

Top Trailers