The A.V. Club's Scores

For 6,885 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 2.7 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 The Devil Inside
Score distribution:
6885 movie reviews
    • 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. As with the Wallace & Gromit films, most of the fun is in the deft characterizations, the zippy banter, and the joyous sight gags.
  7. 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.
  8. Lottery Ticket gets far on the strength of its star's charisma and a likeable tone.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. A lovely, sweet, funny, romantic, and supremely worthwhile endeavor that unfortunately takes longer to wrap up than it should.
  13. It's a beautifully shot, beautifully acted piece of fluff.
  14. 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.
  15. In essence, Timbuktu is about how farce turns into terror.
  16. 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.
  17. As a musical, the film is often thrilling.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Sentimental, and plotted with the elegance of a silent film, Mountains is nearly hamstrung in its futuristic final section by one very bad performance and a whole lot of tin-eared English dialogue.
  21. The film emerges as a powerful, even shattering look as music's power to unite where it once divided.
  22. It's a funny, sweet-natured humanist character piece.
  23. Amid all the images of celebration and joyful physical abandon—including a showcase solo dance performance that functions as a kind of climax—the most lingering images are the ones depicting daily routines.
  24. It's also poetic and meditative in a way that never feels pretentious.
  25. Evolution is the sort of film that doesn’t require you to “turn off” your mind, but does ask that you surrender certain expectations. Most of all, this is a vision that no other director would have imbued with such a potent amalgam of tender and twisted. It’s a pleasure to have her back.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    The different techniques Decker uses — the improvised dialogue that feels like listening to one side of a phone conversation, the woozy cinematography and sound design, the disorienting editing — create a sense of claustrophobia. The film’s world is beautiful and scary, but also as intimate as a childhood sleepover.
  26. Margot has a kitchen-sink realism that's genuinely unsettling, like a John Cassavetes movie populated by the hyper-articulate. If nothing else, Baumbach deserves credit for refusing to cozy up to the audience.
  27. While some of the trappings and even some of the plot elements could easily be called unoriginal, Bayona and screenwriter Sergio G. Sánchez arrange them in a fresh way, crafting an emotionally resonant, nerve-jangling experience.
  28. It’s difficult to imagine what a script for all of this would even look like. Whatever The Alchemist Cookbook has to express, it expresses through scenes that feel as though someone were dared to do something while a camera rolled, in the near-extinct tradition of the transgressive underground movie.
  29. 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.
  30. Besides the restless style, Dans Paris is remarkable for being more about familial bonds than French cinema tends to be.
  31. It's the perfect material for Russell, who not only deals perceptively with the dizzying swings of manic depression, but makes it the fabric of a big, generous, happy-making ensemble comedy.
  32. Tonally, The Band's Visit steps gingerly on the line between “sweetly humane” and “cloyingly quirky.”
  33. "Boyhood" has the natural endpoint of its lead growing into a young adult, while Girlhood stretches out in front of Marieme, an uncertain path into a haze.
  34. Like few of his filmmaking peers, McCarthy understands and respects the power of quiet, and how a whisper can be as explosive as a shout.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    The result is the most unexpectedly riotous comedy in years — one with more bite than usual.
  35. For all Dead Man's Shoes' well-paced, well-observed boondocks melodrama, its premise seems simultaneously slender and overheated.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    Mea Maxima Culpa is not gentle about placing blame on a structure that elevates priests above the rest of mankind and prioritizes maintaining an appearance of pious perfection over addressing some grievous wrongs committed.
  36. Much of the fun of Baghead is that it's unclassifiable, by turns a movie-movie lark, an Eric Rohmer-like relationship comedy, and a surprisingly effective "Friday The 13th" kids-in-the-woods slasher film.
  37. Like his underappreciated "Haywire," Side Effects screws around in its own thriller architecture, toying with feints of structure and clever bits of misdirection, and otherwise playing the audience like a fiddle. At this point in his career, Soderbergh pulls it off with the unpracticed ease of a maestro.
  38. The documentary seems a little structureless and unfocused at times, as Akers moves from dramatic moment to dramatic moment, not always taking care to connect them.
  39. Though Circo is pretty bleak, Schock doesn't skimp on the exotic wonder of a life on the road, surrounded by color and danger.
  40. In Caesar Must Die, the characters are both actor and audience, looking at themselves through the lens of a centuries-old fictionalization of history.
  41. Like "All The President’s Men," it’s a muckraker movie that celebrates the power of the press by actually showing journalists doing their job, pen and notebook in hand.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. In Queen of Earth, writer-director Alex Ross Perry—who does snippy black comedy better than just about anyone else on the current American indie landscape—dials down the humor that has defined his work to this point, and turns up the queasy psychological currents that have always gurgled underneath it.
  45. In its own small way, by documenting the petty panic of two people who want to be together but are otherwise entangled, 28 Hotel Rooms is often masterful.
  46. Like other great pastiche artists, Gomes has created a time machine to a cinematic era that never quite existed, so it feels simultaneously borrowed and new.
  47. Bi is a poet as well as a filmmaker, and some of his verse is in the film. He treats almost every shot as an opportunity to further develop the movie’s plainspoken lyrical vocabulary, in which disco balls and side-view mirrors take on metaphorical significance and water stands in for time.
  48. Though Prometheus follows "Alien's" story beats, it's a looser and less satisfying story, more intellectual than visceral, and not fully satisfying on either level. But in part, that's because it's trying to do so much more.
  49. Citadel is plenty scary: a bare-bones man-against-his-worst-fears white knuckler, shot through deep, menacing shadows.
  50. In its funky, aimless, winningly juvenile way, Everybody Wants Some is about as inclusively celebratory as any college comedy in memory: Per its title, it really does want everybody to get some.
  51. It’s easier to define what R100 isn’t than what it is. First of all, despite the presence of ninja dominatrices, it’s not a steamy thriller, and the raincoat crowd should apply elsewhere.
  52. 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.
  53. Up
    Up is challenging, emotionally and narratively, but it trusts viewers to keep up; Pixar has never been interested in talking down to children or their parents.
  54. Chronicle becomes what "Hancock" wanted to be - a dark superhero story with firm footing in the everyday. Perhaps now the found-footage gimmick has been fully exploited; let us never speak of it again.
  55. 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.
  56. Unlikely as it may seem, though, Blue Jasmine finds Allen charting bona fide new territory.
  57. Pervert Park never demands forgiveness, only an attempt to understand and to maybe see where these dark impulses come from.
  58. The War Tapes falls just short of greatness, because its scope is too limited.
  59. This as one of the director’s most pitiless visions—a drama as pitch black as the night that envelops its characters.
  60. A Secret is suitably tense, sad, and deeply poignant as it moves toward an epilogue exploring the idea that everything rots and decays, no mater how well-maintained.
  61. The subject matter is unrelentingly sordid yet the storytelling is so deadpan and understated that it's difficult, if not impossible, to dismiss it as exploitation or sexist provocation.
  62. If the film has a significant flaw, it's that Venditti never explains in the film how she found Billy, or why she's interested in him. Billy The Kid often plays more like an extended home movie than something intentional and artful.
  63. Thoroughly populist and middlebrow, full of all the high wigs, thick powder, perfect diction, and straightforward dialogue that define bodice-ripping prestige pictures about silently suffering souls.
  64. Just as a document of the sheer physical labor that goes into covering a giant canvas with color, Gerhard Richter Painting is never less than absorbing.
  65. What keeps the story fresh isn't so much Guadagnino's swooning sense-reveries, which sometimes flow with dreamlike wonder and sometimes just drag; instead, most of the power comes from Swinton, who always makes the most of characters imbued by passion, but straitjacketed by expectations.
  66. Sleepwalking through a role is just about the worst insult you could level at an actor, professional or otherwise, but that’s more or less what Ventura — again playing a poetic representation of himself — does here.
  67. The movies may be, in part, about fantasy, but they always look like they’re from somewhere very real.
  68. Lavishly expanding on the first film’s comic-book-esque internal mythology and its sense of the absurd, it’s less of a pure genre movie than its predecessor—more gothic, more narratively stylized, its superlative stuntwork sometimes taking a back seat to visual gags and vignettes of deadpan comedy.
  69. Whenever all the pieces are in place, though, Lee reverts to the kind of storytelling he does best.
  70. It’s not always easy to sort out the legitimately inspired touches from the merely campy ones, but the film has a deranged, go-for-broke spirit that makes such distinctions irrelevant.
  71. To some extent, if you've seen one Swanberg film, you've seen them all; Nights And Weekends contains the usual mix of frank, awkward sex scenes and couples talking passive-aggressively around each other.
  72. In a timid comic world, Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie feels genuinely dangerous and transgressive: it makes a virtue of going way too far because other comedies don't go far enough.
  73. Broadly speaking, Canner hails from the Michael Moore school of first-person editorializing, but Orgasm Inc. isn't given to vanity or cheap shots.
  74. Mysteries Of Lisbon is an odd kind of epic: It's digressive and even trifling at times, and though a large cast wanders through the frame, the individual scenes tend to be focused on just two or three people, having winding conversations about political intrigue and affairs of the heart.
  75. At its heart, The Martian is an unapologetically stirring celebration of our ability, as a species, to solve even the most daunting problems via rational thought, step by step by step. It’s basically "Human Ingenuity: The Movie."
  76. 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.
  77. If anyone's likely to have trouble with Carancho, it's fans of Trapero's previous films, who won't be able to help noticing the sizeable step he's taken toward conventionality.
  78. 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.
  79. Head Games is particularly devastating when it shifts from the NFL and NHL, where brutality and headshots are a given, to girls' soccer and under-14 football leagues, where still-developing young necks and skulls make kids perhaps more vulnerable to head trauma than their professional counterparts.
  80. For Michael Keaton, Birdman is some kind of gift from the movie gods, a license to have his cake and messily devour it too.
  81. The frequent outbursts of comedy help alleviate a tone that's appropriately muted and sad, and Jenkins should be credited for refusing to tack smiley-faces onto a tough, possibly lose-lose situation.
  82. Viewers' interest in Boxing Gym will likely wax and wane, depending on their interest in martial arts.
  83. The series will doubtless continue on with Diesel, Rodriguez, Johnson, and the rest, but in the meantime, Furious 7 comes to the most conclusive and emotionally satisfying ending since, fittingly, the very first film.
  84. It's a film where the feelings and experiences of young people are highly specific in detail, yet fundamentally universal and timeless.
  85. Altman and Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion is fittingly both a celebration and a winning example of the joys of collaboration.
  86. Drawing on a wealth of footage from inside ACT UP meetings and protests, David France's powerful documentary How To Survive A Plague pays tribute to their courage and relentlessness, but it's even better as a record of the tactics of effective activism.
  87. This is a film set entirely in places where people aren’t meant to stay for very long, a world of continual transit and gratification, with no endpoint. Maybe it’s the world that money creates for itself.
  88. Revanche is, first and foremost, a good story, craftily told.
  89. The Woman With The 5 Elephants isn't flawless; as articulate and fascinating as Geier could be, she was also dry at times. But Jendreyko cleverly parcels out her personal history, and he isn't afraid to break up the talkiness with long silences and luminous images.
  90. Every new movie by Jafar Panahi is a miniature coup, an act of fearless political defiance.
  91. Laying out its anxieties right there in the title, While We’re Young is Noah Baumbach’s midlife crisis movie, a funny, talky portrait of an aging artist reaching for the vitality he sees in some younger friends.
  92. Perturbed and darkly funny.
  93. Steeped in centuries of custom and dependent on the ever-fickle relationship between soil, weather, and human craftsmanship, the work is likened by Francis Ford Coppola to a “miracle,” and one that tells a story about the time, place, and circumstances that gave each vintage its birth.
  94. Attempts to address grief frankly, gently, and without didacticism, and it largely succeeds.

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