The A.V. Club's Scores

For 5,545 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 2.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 A Christmas Story
Lowest review score: 0 The Nut Job
Score distribution:
5,545 movie reviews
    • 81 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    The result is the most unexpectedly riotous comedy in years — one with more bite than usual.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. His outrageous, self-destructive journey lands him in a place just as ironic as Rupert Pupkin’s in "The King Of Comedy," but it’s haunting and mysterious, too, reflecting the dream that consumes his life.
  5. It’s all lovely and sweet, and while this story might’ve been just as engaging in live action, Miyazaki’s animation does clear away the extraneous detail, re-creating the world of 50 years ago and instilling it with the poignancy of a family snapshot.
  6. Gavilán’s performance bears out Parra’s advice to “hate mathematics and embrace chaos,” and falls between private and public, assurance and self-doubt.
  7. It’s hard to imagine a more potent symbol of good intentions gone to seed than the decrepit Buenos Aires building that gives White Elephant its title.
  8. Berger also shows a dark wit and a faith in old-fashioned melodrama that puts Blancanieves more in the camp of Pedro Almodóvar than Guy Maddin’s golden-age pastiches. (And aside from being silent and a period piece, the movie has almost nothing in common with "The Artist.")
  9. In spite of its attention-grabbing opening and provocative title, Free Angela And All Political Prisoners is less a work of agitprop than straightforward history, intriguing but never unsettling.
  10. While Raimi’s Stooges aesthetic — which was really more prominently displayed in the sequels than in 1981’s The Evil Dead — isn’t played up here, there’s enough outrageous unreality to make the brutality go down a little easier. It isn’t quite a cartoon, but it’s close enough.
  11. Still, there’s no doubt that To The Wonder is a fans-only proposition, continuing Malick’s evolution (or devolution, for some) from the narrative grounding of "Badlands" to much more abstract, poeticized notions of the human condition.
  12. It’s a dark, grim, suffocating story that only missteps by overplaying its hand, making the larger message about prostitution increasingly overt.
  13. Terence Nance’s playfully experimental feature An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty is both stunning and stymieing — a film so effusive that it’s hard to separate its signal from its noise.
  14. Like "Upstream Color," Sun Don’t Shine owes a sizable debt to the philosophical lyricism of Terrence Malick. Working wonders on a tight budget, Seimetz uses handheld cameras and tight compositions to create an air of claustrophobic intensity interspersed with moments of ragged beauty.
  15. It plays like the kind of movie you’d stumble onto watching TCM late at night and get sucked into against your will, amazed that something you’d never heard of, with no purchase in film history, could be this absorbing.
  16. Because of its autobiographical slant, Something In The Air has been compared to Assayas’ 1994 breakthrough, "Cold Water," which gazed upon roughly the same period of the director’s life.
  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. Twenty Feet From Stardom touches on fascinating issues, but too often it does no more than that.
  19. The movie captures a moment when the lines separating anonymity, fame, and notoriety are finer than ever. And as Watson’s social climber prattles on to reporters about what a great “learning lesson” her criminal experience has been, it’s easy to see another star in the making.
  20. Not a drop of blood is spilled in Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio. Even so, Italian-horror buffs may feel a flush of nostalgia watching this bewitching genre whatsit, which manages to evoke the crimson-splashed shockers of the 1970s without so much as a single frame of actual carnage.
  21. 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.
  22. It’s a brief wisp of a movie, but one that’s not easy to shake.
  23. For once in a Dolan film, an actor upstages the camera moves. That’s a promising precedent, as well as a hint that artistic adulthood won’t spoil this hotdogging prodigy.
  24. Essentially an essay film, Museum Hours is less interested in plot than in using its characters as a way to give ideas shape and voice; however, because their performances are natural and improvisatory, the movie never seems didactic.
  25. For a moment, Crystal Fairy looks like it’s going to be a real fish-in-a-barrel satire, its rifles aimed at two very easy targets. But once a coked-out Cera invites Hoffmann on his road trip, a voyage he hopes will culminate with the consumption of a psychotropic cactus, the film gains a ramshackle quality that’s difficult to resist.
  26. In nearly every respect, V/H/S/2 improves on its predecessor. Free of poky mumble-horror filler, it offers four fruitful variations on the original’s best chapter.
  27. As Refn counts down the days and ratchets up the tension, Pusher shifts from a subdued lowlife sketch, with lots of raunchy conversation between Buric and his horndog ex-con buddy Mads Mikkelsen, to a nail-biting look at a man running out of options.
  28. As an exercise in classical scare tactics, delivered through an escalating series of primo setpieces, The Conjuring is often supremely effective.
  29. Unlikely as it may seem, though, Blue Jasmine finds Allen charting bona fide new territory.
  30. By going back to nature — and to his indie roots — the director of "George Washington" has reconnected with his poetic side. The Malick comparisons seem appropriate again.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. [The] aesthetic structure creates a haunting sense of the simultaneously wonderful and sad feelings both men have about lives and loves now gone, never to be recaptured.
  34. It plays less like a contemporary horror film than an increasingly gruesome drama, building to a climax — completely original to this version — where the movie’s core themes are expressed through grotesque imagery.
  35. If nothing else, Gravity makes the case for throwing immense resources at true visionaries; the blockbuster craftsman as adventurer, Cuarón expertly blends the epic with the intimate. For every stunning 3-D setpiece involving a dangerous hailstorm of metallic debris, there’s a moment of small tenderness.
  36. An eye-opening, often-infuriating new documentary.
  37. This as one of the director’s most pitiless visions—a drama as pitch black as the night that envelops its characters.
  38. For fans of wushu flicks — or action movies in general — Man Of Tai Chi presents a rare appreciation for the art of conveying movement on screen, while also serving as an impressive physical showcase for its star, stuntman Tiger Chen.
  39. Once viewers adjust to the cognitive dissonance between intense Flemish dialogue and English performances of country and bluegrass songs,The Broken Circle Breakdown is a film that will likely stick with them long after the credits roll.
  40. This tale of a creepy pedophilic relationship is the most tender, nuanced, and deeply felt picture Seidl has ever made. What’s more, there’s no need to have seen the other two films, as Hope works beautifully all by its lonesome.
  41. Beautifully shot by Amélie cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis is instantly recognizable as the work of its sibling auteurs. But it’s also something of a departure — looser and more rambling than the average Coen concoction, with a lovingly recreated period setting.
  42. The question of why Cooke’s career never materialized hangs over the movie, but is never answered. What emerges instead is a portrait of a talented teenager being readied — by coaches, basketball camps, and the media — for a future that doesn’t arrive.
  43. The film also applies a deft touch as it addresses the morality of violent sports, like snowboarding and football, that entertain the many who watch while endangering the few who play. Rather than cast the athletes as pure victims, Walker acknowledges their agency, depicting them as prideful competitors who choose to risk their well-being — or even insist on doing so, as Pearce does.
  44. That The Selfish Giant feels familiar rather than groundbreaking makes it seem to some degree a step back for its talented director, but she’s avoided the sophomore jinx with aplomb.
  45. Keenly observed, geographically specific portraits of adolescence are always welcome, but there’s definitely something to be said for charging the genre’s usual tender lyricism with an ever-present threat of life-altering violence.
  46. 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    Effervescent in style, conveying a substantive message without ever devolving into saccharine preachiness.
  47. Once upon a time, a movie like this would have seemed a minor pleasure, enjoyable, but unremarkable. Today, it looks more like a treasure.
  48. Part locked-room mystery, part political allegory, Non-Stop is one of the most purely enjoyable entries in the ongoing cycle of Liam Neeson action-thrillers.
  49. What May is really after, in other words, is a glimpse at a post-Columbine America, where punishments don’t always fit crimes, cures are often worse than diseases, and the courts are frequently being used as a catchall solution to very normal discipline problems.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. The most shocking thing about Nymphomaniac, with its cock-shot montages and frankly descriptive narration, is how flat-out funny it often is.
  54. While it’s heartbreaking that the movie never got made (son Brontis Jodorowsky, who would have played Paul Atreides, is particularly poignant imagining his alternate life as a superstar), Jodorowsky’s Dune posits that the raw materials nevertheless left an enduring mark on cinematic sci-fi, providing the basis for famous aspects of "Alien," "Star Wars," and "Contact."
  55. 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.
  56. The best Marvel film since "The Avengers."
  57. Director Declan Lowney does an admirable job making a confined film look cinematic without overblowing it into action-comedy mode.
  58. The Final Member boasts a stranger-than-fiction subject so odd and funny it almost couldn’t miss. But Bekhor and Math make the film much more than a limp gag.
  59. It’s remarkably assured and subtle work, worthy of comparison to Catherine Deneuve’s brilliantly blank turn in Buñuel’s film.
  60. Ida
    Over an efficient 80 minutes, no shot feels wasted, and no one says much that couldn’t be better communicated through their placement in the artfully arranged frame.
  61. The performance, one of Hoffman’s last, is unostentatious, but sensitive. Hoffman inhabited lifelong losers better than any other actor.
  62. Aided by three-dimensional performances that exude a convincing mixture of bitterness, selfishness, desperation, and hate, Ayouch film casts a sharp gaze on tragedy, and the larger socio-economic issues that beget fanaticism.
  63. This Godzilla doesn’t tap into deeper cultural anxieties the way its 60-year-old ancestor did. Nor does it engender much dramatic investment in its hero... Yet as pure popcorn entertainment, Godzilla delivers plenty of goosebumps.
  64. Effectively portrays New York City as a cacophonous collision of disparate voices, sidestepping the nightmarish outcome of that child’s story in favor of a different, more enduringly visible disaster.
  65. The film’s surface is as spiky as its protagonists’ hair and wardrobe, but the overall effect can only be described as downright endearing.
  66. Director Megan Griffiths, best known for the grim human-trafficking drama "Eden," proves surprisingly adept at this lighter material, maintaining a slightly loopy tone that serves to make the occasional dramatic moments all the more piercing.
  67. An entertaining, effects-driven black comedy, with shades of "Starship Troopers" in its depiction of warfare as a futuristic turkey shoot, the movie is distinguished more by how fluidly it handles its high-concept premise than where it takes it.
  68. Rossi’s scathing (yet seemingly fair) documentary doesn’t just illustrate the institutional ironies of modern education. It also strives to understand why tuition is at an all-time high when knowledge is practically free.
  69. This understated indie deepens its portrait of growing up by suggesting, ultimately, that anyone who thinks wasting time is a reasonable course of action needs to wake up.
  70. The result is an uncommonly clever genre movie, reliant not on special effects — of which there are basically none — but on heavy doses of paranoia.
  71. Polanski isn’t a miracle worker. Venus In Fur works where the facile "Carnage" largely didn’t because the play itself is something of a delight — a straightforward but sharply comic twofer about roleplaying and control-based relationships (be they artistic, romantic, or otherwise). The casting, too, is impeccable.
  72. It comes across, instead, as a directorial flight of fancy, an imaginatively goofy take on an already goofy idea, exaggerated by Besson’s blunt style and an uncommonly fast pace.
  73. As a portrait of a life lived strangely — and if you asked its subject, perfectly, with no regrets — The Dog is charming.
  74. At its best, the film is a staggering underwater spectacle, a cinema of attractions that outclasses each of Cameron’s previous technical achievements.
  75. 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.
  76. Setting several scenes to the famously poignant plinks of pianist Frédéric Chopin, Love Is Strange never achieves the sheer emotional resonance of "Make Way For Tomorrow"; it’s gently affecting, not deeply heartbreaking — in part because Sachs builds to a less devastating punctuation than McCarey did.
  77. Dumb fun is rarely this smartly delivered.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    One thing that ties all his projects together is a grainy, cinematic quality, which is partly the reason why 20,000 Days On Earth works so beautifully.
  78. In an age when most cartoon companies have traded pens for pixels, the magicians at Laika continue to create fantastically elaborate universes out of pure elbow grease.
  79. 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.
  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. Their use of Kaleida’s sparse, slinky “Think” — one of the most effective and eccentric sound track choices in a recent action movie — underscores the sense that what the viewer is watching is essentially a very loud and bloody dance piece.
  82. Unlike Wiseman’s greatest films, National Gallery never quite finds an overarching theme. There’s a fair amount of material regarding the art/commerce divide, but many scenes have no bearing whatsoever on that subject, and the film generally lacks urgency.
  83. Alternately candid and cagey, Robert Greene’s documentary turns the chores and frustrations of a modern-day homemaker into a study in roles — social and personal, conscious and unintentional, on-camera and off. It isn’t, by any means, a difficult movie, but neither does it take any easy routes.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    This is feel-good populist entertainment at heart.
    • 61 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.
  84. Rounders is such a smart, tough little film that its strengths override its fairly serious weaknesses.
  85. Loaded with smart sight gags and endearing secondary characters, it effectively mixes slapstick splatter and deadpan satire...Pretty damned irresistible.
  86. A funny, tightly plotted, well-conceived comedy that transcends both Crystal's '90s curse and its horrible title.
  87. Jeong's movie is at its best when it forgets about everything but the interactions of its cast, whether they're together or communicating via one of Cat's cleverly orchestrated cell-phone scenes.
  88. A funny, unexpectedly inspiring story of excess, poor choices, and unwavering high-mindedness, all tied to that quintessential bit of rock wisdom: Icarus did fall, but first he flew.
  89. Touching and wise, with fine performances and impeccable widescreen photography, The Rookie is a rare family film that encourages kids to pursue their dreams, but not before giving full weight to the consequences.
  90. A triumph of craft and narrative economy, the darkly funny Undisputed is as lean, mean, and skillful as its competing heavyweights.
  91. "I knew the children here had something to say," Goldberg says in voiceover early in the film. That statement may sound slightly maudlin, but the film that follows is anything but.
  92. Ali
    Ali becomes less the story of a boxer than the story of one man hanging onto his soul. With so many wrong ways to dramatize that process, Mann's approach seems all the more right.
  93. Posed somewhere between a fairy tale and harsh reality, the film pulls off a daring feat by turning Blancan into an almost abstract monster as a way of getting into the deeply unhealthy situation that created him.
  94. Nicole Kidman -- continuing the string of remarkable performances that have followed "Eyes Wide Shut" -- finds plenty of fodder in the long-delayed Birthday Girl. A grimy thriller with a wicked streak of humor.
  95. It's a doozy of a story, too, about a group of musicians who use the technology of the present and the mindset of the future to make a delicious hash out of the best parts of the past.

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