The A.V. Club's Scores

For 5,227 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 2.1 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 Children of Men
Lowest review score: 0 Bruce Almighty
Score distribution:
5,227 movie reviews
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. As an exercise in classical scare tactics, delivered through an escalating series of primo setpieces, The Conjuring is often supremely effective.
  7. Unlikely as it may seem, though, Blue Jasmine finds Allen charting bona fide new territory.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. [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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. An eye-opening, often-infuriating new documentary.
  15. This as one of the director’s most pitiless visions—a drama as pitch black as the night that envelops its characters.
  16. 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.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Once upon a time, a movie like this would have seemed a minor pleasure, enjoyable, but unremarkable. Today, it looks more like a treasure.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    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.
  28. The most shocking thing about Nymphomaniac, with its cock-shot montages and frankly descriptive narration, is how flat-out funny it often is.
  29. 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."
    • 73 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    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.
  30. The best Marvel film since "The Avengers."
    • 66 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    Director Declan Lowney does an admirable job making a confined film look cinematic without overblowing it into action-comedy mode.
  31. 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.
  32. It’s remarkably assured and subtle work, worthy of comparison to Catherine Deneuve’s brilliantly blank turn in Buñuel’s film.
  33. Rounders is such a smart, tough little film that its strengths override its fairly serious weaknesses.
  34. Loaded with smart sight gags and endearing secondary characters, it effectively mixes slapstick splatter and deadpan satire...Pretty damned irresistible.
  35. A funny, tightly plotted, well-conceived comedy that transcends both Crystal's '90s curse and its horrible title.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. A triumph of craft and narrative economy, the darkly funny Undisputed is as lean, mean, and skillful as its competing heavyweights.
  40. "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.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    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.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's absorbing stuff, with some of the dishy quality of Andy Warhol's diaries and an almost humorous single-mindedness whenever Nijinsky returns, yet again, to the subjects of his vegetarianism, or how much he loves Russia (and France, and England, and just about everywhere he's ever been).
  44. In keeping with his concept that the mind and the body are inseparable, Sade builds to an extraordinarily powerful centerpiece when the two come together, fusing fear and desire, pleasure and pain, innocence and enlightenment.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The film offers plenty of powerful impressionism to make up for its lack of a coherent statement.
  45. Needs to be seen to be believed, and even then defies belief.
  46. "Adolesence can kill you," Birot has said in an interview. In a film that leaves the "you" intentionally vague, moment after moment she shows how.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The opportunity to dig into the trove of Johnson's art is an ultimate reward beyond all offbeat attempts to understand the artist himself. At its best, How To Draw A Bunny amounts to a shadow history of the American avant-garde.
  47. An oddly effective mixture of technical prowess, well-executed cliché, and unexpected political poignancy.
  48. Immensely likable.
  49. One the truest-feeling political portraits in years, as well as a fine piece of drama.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Both simplifies and brings into focus the already simple and effective thriller.
  50. Sandler's best movie, a surprisingly touching and consistent comedy that finds him reaching out to new audiences without abandoning the transgressive meanness that has enlivened his best work.
  51. Though Cronenberg makes some creepy insinuations, eXistenZ is more effective as a black comedy than as a visceral shocker.
  52. A daring and immediate debut feature for Koshashvili, Late Marriage could lead two likeminded people to opposite conclusions, and that may be its greatest strength.
  53. Fontaine gives her film the tone of a psychological thriller, with the potential of violence always lurking beneath the surface.
  54. A winning mix of humor and poignant character examination, and a satisfying film.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Swingers has something genuinely rare: a fine script and realistic characters.
  55. A lean, well-contained slice-of-life at 83 minutes, 'R Xmas finds the director making a confident return to the hard-nosed realism on which he's staked his maverick reputation.
  56. Well matched both to the material and each other, Cage and Beach capture Windtalkers' true struggle, the fight to hold on to values like honor, friendship, and tenderness in an environment that demands otherwise. This is as much a Woo trademark as the carefully orchestrated gunplay.
  57. Director Zacharias Kunuk captures that feeling well, but he never quite develops it into a theme epic enough to fill Atanarjuat's scope. His film is by turns mesmerizing and trying, with enough of the former to make the latter worthwhile.
  58. It only takes rat trainers and CGI artists to create swarms of vermin, but it takes a twisted kind of genius to treat them as equals.
  59. Propelled by a fine Tomandandy score and a savvy assortment of seductive new-wave hits, Attraction is top-notch trash, a guilty pleasure designed for the decadent 14-year-old in everyone.
  60. With Scott playing the perfect foil to Leary's exasperated sage, the fantasy sequences are hilariously caustic, but as they accumulate more rapidly, the distinction between real and imagined situations becomes disturbingly vague.
  61. With a lovably cantankerous sense of humor and an honest strain of hard realism and pathos, the film thrives on the tension that comes from an artist who devotes himself to the truth, but watches his image get away from him.
  62. Often uproariously funny, even though much of its queasy power comes from its acknowledgment that some matters are too horrifying to be washed away with cheap laughter, or packaged into soundbites.
  63. Emerges as an improbably hopeful tribute to the human spirit.
  64. Even without its bleak and affecting story, Beijing Bicycle would work beautifully as a travelogue alone.
  65. Uses the serial killer's life as the starting point for a hypnotic examination of the farthest reaches of loneliness and alienation.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Devastating in part because it's so chillingly familiar.
  66. Smith delights in these offbeat personalities and their jerry-rigged accoutrements, but the real joy in the film comes from the happy interaction between the subjects and their creations.
  67. From his wonderfully idiosyncratic bits of silent comedy at a storefront window to a brilliant one-take of Malkovich watching a calamitous scene unfold, de Oliveira seems determined to exit on his own terms.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Evans has as distinctive an American voice as Mark Twain or Vin Scully, and the directors wisely let him do the talking.
  68. Tightly plotted and well-acted, the film litters its brisk run time with darkly funny and haunting setpieces.
  69. Its protagonists' hearts aren't lawless so much as stuck in various states of quiet desperation, and the modest charms of this observant, affecting film fortunately bear little relation to the sensationalistic label.
  70. What makes Raising Victor Vargas so special, beyond its irresistible charisma, is how Sollett and his cast capture the thrill of first love.
  71. Though comparisons to "The Blair Witch Project" are inevitable, the impeccable first-person camera technique not only makes sense dramatically, but also facilitates a complex and queasily ambiguous relationship between the conspirators and the audience.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    But Evil Dead 2's rampant inventiveness and manic energy have ensured that it will endure as a cult classic.
  72. At once bitterly funny and devastating, Lost In La Mancha sides with Gilliam in form and spirit, piecing together the train wreck with snaky humor and interludes that cleverly mimic his Monty Python collage animations.
  73. Out of that clever setup, Changing Lanes pulls both the promised taut suspense and a much deeper film: an ethics thriller.
  74. Witherspoon's broad, obsessive comic performance is bound to get the most attention, but Broderick does the best work of his career, finding an affecting spot between the all-purpose defiance of Ferris Bueller and the put-upon foil of his recent work.
  75. Much like David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive," which it resembles in more ways than one, Femme Fatale makes a rich bouillabaisse out of De Palma's trademark themes and obsessions, stacking references to the heavens and operating with an internal logic that may take several viewings to fully unpack.
  76. Chabrol handles the upended family dynamic beautifully until the final third, when a wildly implausible sequence of events lessens the suspense just as he should be turning the screws.
  77. Ledger is a charismatic, conflicted hero who internalizes his character's shame and anguish to powerful effect. Wes Bentley is similarly strong as Ledger's best friend turned romantic rival, and Kapur makes the most of Africa's breathtaking desert, crafting a gorgeous spectacle that's at once stately and hyper-real.
  78. Though some of Slaughter Rule's conclusions are overly tidy, the film's powerful meditation on masculinity gets much of its credibility and punch from the two leads, especially Morse, a reliable character actor who sinks his teeth into a role with heavy physical and psychological demands.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Technologically, the film is impressive, and it readily overwhelms the senses with frenetic computer-generated activity, an apocalyptic grand finale, and a bombastic jazz score. But unlike its classic predecessor, it doesn't leave much in its wake but ringing ears and unanswered questions.
  79. A joyously demented musical-comedy built on a macabre foundation, like "The Sound Of Music" with a kickline of corpses.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It all adds up to a compelling, deftly executed film that thoughtfully examines the actions and motivations that draw people together, directing their uneasy relationships.
  80. Gives the impression of spontaneity while being meticulously planned. Most importantly, Steers and Culkin know that the best way to evoke sympathy is never to beg for it; by the end, their achievement seems hard-won.
  81. Drifting through time and space without firmly situating the viewer, Iwai's elliptical style requires patience, but also a willingness to be carried along by its gorgeous, dreamy lyricism.
  82. Morvern Callar not only attempts to reveal an interior life, usually the province of novels, but also focuses on the interior life of a woman who refuses to open up to anyone.
  83. Riveting testimonial.

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