The Dissolve's Scores

  • Movies
For 1,459 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 34% higher than the average critic
  • 7% same as the average critic
  • 59% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 7.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 55
Highest review score: 100 To Be and to Have
Lowest review score: 0 Lovesick
Score distribution:
1459 movie reviews
  1. If the movie is about any one idea in particular, it’s about how parents do their best to stay on top of how their children grow, by taking pictures and documenting the memorable occasions, only to learn too late that most of life happens between the posing.
  2. [McQueen's] film is a tough, soul-sickening, uncompromising work of art that makes certain that when viewers talk about the evils of slavery, they know its full dimension.
  3. The film uses the cutting edge of technology to take viewers to the far reaches of the human experience, but also to create a sense of empathy, of investing in the life of another person. It’s a remarkably complex film, but an admirably simple one, too.
  4. Leigh’s generous approach to capturing the fullness of Turner’s life, through unhurried rhythms and scenes, makes Mr. Turner memorable.
  5. Inside Out has a rich, unpackable story. But like all Pixar’s best films, it’s fleet and accessible, trusting the audience to keep up with an adventure that unfolds at a breakneck pace.
  6. First Cousin Once Removed doesn’t come across as overly demeaning or exploitative, because Berliner himself is so kind to Honig in their meetings. But it’s hard to deny that Berliner is using Honig’s deteriorating condition as fodder for his art, just as it’s hard to deny that Berliner’s willingness to risk that criticism is what makes First Cousin Once Removed such a great film.
  7. Where Barton Fink sometimes resembled a horror movie, Inside Llewyn Davis plays like an elegy. Its conclusions are more regretful than angry, and while the conflict between art and commerce is no less central, there’s much more emphasis on that conflict’s personal toll.
  8. Timbuktu’s delicate tone is totally unexpected and specific to Sissako, who keeps finding notes of vulnerability.
  9. Leviathan itself feels like a brave, lonely act of rebellion against the system, deeply pessimistic about the possibility of it ever working in the people’s favor. It advocates for a stiff drink.
  10. Ida
    Ida’s piercing intimacy makes the deepest impression, but its vision is deceptively wide-reaching despite a scale that’s deliberately pared-down and small.
  11. The Elkabetzes don’t need the audience to have any firsthand experience of what Viviane and Elisha are actually like at home. Gett works better if the viewer has to puzzle out the truth from testimony, asides, and outbursts.
  12. Her
    Her is a 21st-century love story that perfectly captures the mood of the times and finds new inroads into the exhilaration and heartbreak that have existed since the first “I love you.”
  13. Thankfully, Big Men doesn’t have heroes or villains. It’s a deep dive into an endless pool of moral and political ambiguity in which very little is clear-cut, except that the desire for wealth and power.
  14. If Fury Road were only interested in action, it would still be a stunning achievement, but the film has more on its mind.
  15. There’s no other movie quite like it.
  16. It’s both unfailingly exciting and overly familiar, a restless but risk-averse film that’s a little too content to borrow from what’s worked before.
  17. The Act Of Killing raises all kinds of provocative questions about the sins of nations in transition, and about how important it is for those in power to control the narrative.
  18. The thrill of The Overnighters is in witnessing a heartrending payoff that could not be anticipated nor written—and, miraculously, closes the movie on a perfect irony.
  19. As specific as the film is to Italy at the turn of the turbulent 1970s, it’s also a film about how power first corrupts, then makes mad those who possess it.
  20. Throughout The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya, even when it gets bogged down in too much story, the animation is so gorgeous that any given frame could pass for a masterwork.
  21. It’s a film that captures humanity at its best and its worst, sometimes simultaneously.
  22. The ultimate value of the famed filmmaker’s latest documentary—a subject National Gallery turns into a reflexive concern—is not that Wiseman makes it possible for a broader audience to see these priceless works of art, but that the scope of his project invites all audiences to look at them through an illuminating new lens.
  23. DuVernay stages well-known public events like the “Bloody Sunday” march with scrupulousness, scope, and a gut-wrenching visceral power. But Selma’s true success is as a chamber piece, not a thundering historical epic.
  24. The digressiveness of Y Tu Mamá También is its masterstroke.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Rasoulof’s dissident return to filmmaking is ultimately little more than a sporadically searing, though more often unfocused and listless treatise on the pervasive censorship enforced by the autocratic Iranian government.
  25. The film’s aversion toward clichés and hitting expected beats lends it a rare, welcome edge of danger.
  26. There’s nothing lost in his continued refinement of style; if anything, it makes the pleasures of his work that much more acute.
  27. This isn’t merely about the follies of a misanthrope, it’s an epic tragedy about life in the Ivory Tower and the inability to understand—much less empathize with—other human beings.
  28. It’s emotionally and sexually explicit, as raw as an exposed nerve at times, but Adèle and Emma have public lives as well as private ones, and the film’s great achievement is holding them in balance and observing how they relate to each other.
  29. Poitras fashions Citizenfour into a spy thriller whose intrigues bleed into everyday life. She doesn’t want the audience to feel like Snowden’s revelations are limited to him and potential enemies of the state—or even to activist journalists like her and Greenwald. She makes the threat feel as pervasive as they believe it to be.
  30. Alejandro González Iñárritu is a pretentious fraud, but it’s taken some time to understand the precise nature of his fraudulence.
  31. This film confirms that Panh approaches the past not as a historian, but as an artist, and an exceptionally vital one at that.
  32. This movie is a portal, leading to a living museum of childhood at its most poignant.
  33. It’s a richly imagined drama that gives everyone involved a specific and understandable set of motives for acting the way they do.
  34. Level Five doesn’t achieve the poetic heights of Sans Soleil, but that might be because its project is more desultory; where the earlier work merely hints at the difficulty of looking at history without a filter, this sister film all but gives up the ghost.
  35. As vibrant and ingratiating as We Are The Best! is, the movie lacks the more satisfying fullness of Moodysson’s Together and Lilya 4-Ever.
  36. It’s a classic tale of survival that draws on how movies, in the right hands, can make viewers see the world through others’ eyes, and to feel what keeps them grasping as it threatens to slip away.
  37. As much as any documentary since Errol Morris’ A Brief History Of Time, Particle Fever excels at expressing advanced scientific theory through graphics that are simple, attractive, and utterly approachable.
  38. Death is a part of life—one that informs everything we do, on some level or another—and watching Ebert characterize whatever time he has left as “money in the bank,” from what viewers know is his deathbed, is life-affirming and heartbreaking in equal measure.
  39. Seen today, The King And The Mockingbird doesn’t have the tight pacing or propulsive narrative of modern animated stories, or the consistency of a film made to a specific house style. It’s recognizably the work of an idiosyncratic artist dealing in bizarre caricature, and exploring weird ideas... But its visual design and movement are striking, and its story beats are intriguingly unpredictable.
  40. What makes The Duke Of Burgundy so affecting is how deftly Strickland and his remarkable actresses bring something as exotic as lesbian S&M into the realm of the ordinary and relatable. Viewers can see themselves in Cynthia and Evelyn, whether they’re hand-washing each other’s undergarments or not.
  41. Östland writes the conflict between husband and wife beautifully, like a scab that gets picked at until it bleeds, and he does things cinematically, too, to suggest the growing distance between them—an already-cool visual palette broadens like a yawning chasm.
  42. Nebraska is one of Payne’s best films, a near-perfect amalgam of the acrid humor, great local color, and stirring resonances that run through his work.
  43. Though it has the dramatic apparatus of fiction, the film unfolds with a documentary-like openness to the world around it.
  44. It would be enough for The Babadook to get by on scares alone—the eponymous spook is eminiently franchise-able—but Kent doesn’t give the audience that kind of distance. Her agenda is more personal.
  45. By turning her attention to an underreported chapter in recent history, Kennedy has found a trove rich with unreal imagery and stories of heroism in the face of defeat.
  46. Manakamana is both calming and imagination-sparking, forcing viewers to look at human faces for 10-minute stretches, whether those faces are talking excitedly or quietly looking around.
  47. Part period piece and part coming-of-age story, King Of The Hill balances an incident-packed script with muted tones, painting a rich, absorbing picture of one boy’s struggle to live by his wits.
  48. While Drug War is ultimately more an exercise in craft than a movie with a lot on its mind, it’s a remarkably skillful exercise, and hardly devoid of ideas.
  49. Little beyond Servillo’s presence gives the film any ballast, which is both asset and liability, freeing Sorrentino to pepper the screen with wild setpieces and fits of inspiration while encouraging a certain shapelessness.
  50. Ernest & Celestine isn’t just cute or thrilling, though: It’s openly funny, in a wry, unpredictable way.
  51. Let The Fire Burn is a fascinating look at official overreaction, government overreach, and the corrupting effects of prejudice on powerful institutions.
  52. Song Of The Sea is a triumph of design and animation, populating lavishly detailed, patterned backdrops with characters so simplified that they could’ve been cut-and-pasted from a newspaper comic strip.
  53. Amy
    She was, the documentary argues, a complex artist, one of awe-inspiring talent and many frustrating contradictions, and one who deserved better than to become just another punchline on her way to the grave. Kapadia provides a heartbreaking reminder of what we lost when we lost her.
  54. Both Water Lilies and Tomboy explored similar material—fluctuating sexual/gender identity and adolescent heartbreak—but Sciamma’s touch is lighter and more nuanced in Girlhood, which refuses to pin any of its characters down, even in their vacillations.
  55. It’s a cinematic love song, pure and simple, and Weber isn’t about to let ugly facts get in the way of a parade of gorgeous images and intoxicating ideas.
  56. The film is an appropriately dour and intense indictment of a law-enforcement community that did not value the lives of some victims enough to devote anything but the slimmest of resources to tracking their killer down.
  57. Farhadi isn’t interested in judging his characters so much as comprehending them in all their complexity, and registering the consequences of their actions, particularly on children.
  58. A singularly beautiful nostalgia piece that radiates with love and sadness, and doesn’t extract one type of feeling from another. It’s a film of aching bittersweetness, impeccably realized, past perfect.
  59. Coogler isn’t exactly an invisible hand. He pokes and prods his audience at every turn: Neither the false moments nor the powerful ones leave much mystery about how we’re supposed to feel.
  60. It isn’t a hopeful story, but it is a story of how committed people have fought and struggled to create the possibility for hope in the future.
  61. Maddin mixes personal reminiscences with elaborate fantasies of Masonic rituals and collectivist brothels, to construct a vision of Winnipeg as a city of sleepwalkers, roaming through mazes of snowbanks. In the end, it’s the “my” that matters more than the “Winnipeg.”
  62. It catches, in the most authentic and democratic way possible, a collection of people who’ve developed a strong taste for revolution, but are still trying to figure out what to do with it.
  63. Evans is a revelation here, delivering a haunted performance that his previous work has only suggested he had in him. He gives the film a solid center, allowing others in the cast to explore the extreme.
  64. It’s a formulaic story that takes full advantage of these broad, familiar formulas to win viewers, but finds enough unique detail to retain its own identity.
  65. Stray Dogs evokes the whole of Tsai’s filmography, but also pays off his collaboration with Lee, who shows a side of himself that’s been hidden away for all these years.
  66. Fantastic Mr. Fox may be his most purely pleasurable film to date, evoking the Dahl books and Rankin-Bass productions that so transported him as a kid.
  67. Showing the best of humanity and the worst of humanity doesn’t mean denying one in favor of the other; taken together, Salgado’s photographs have the scope and perspective of someone who can genuinely say he’s seen it all.
  68. '71
    A master class in structure, a meticulously constructed period piece, a powerful anti-war film, and rarest of all, a thriller whose tension and suspense feel genuinely earned.
  69. Taken as a whole, Blackfish does an admirable job of preaching without force-feeding, seamlessly blending opinion with reportage, and addressing its central issues from enough angles to make a series of end-runs around dubious viewers.
  70. Burning Bush is a rare accomplishment. It’s a political film with clear heroes and villains, and true to its HBO roots, it works as a fleet-of-foot juicy plot-delivery system.
  71. While the film’s individual moments and images are often fantastically wrought, the story elements often seem as unintegrated as the moral exegesis.
  72. Morgen isn’t interested in rehashing the facts and highlights of Cobain’s life and career, or in providing chin-scratching insights via music scholars and other talking heads. He’s made an impression of Cobain, which is a much more intuitive and vital enterprise.
  73. Captain Phillips could have stopped at simply depicting what happened; it’s the steps it takes to examining why it happened that make it extraordinary.
  74. For a film that clearly required a small army to make, it often feels thrillingly off-the-cuff, which keeps with The Lego Movie’s themes of creativity and weirdness: Nobody’s following an instruction book with this one.
  75. While Gloria lacks impact, urgency, or any sense of rising and falling action, it’s beautifully rendered through Benjamín Echazarreta’s warm lens and García’s subtle performance.
  76. The Selfish Giant is a harsh movie, but it isn’t devoid of hope, because Barnard understands that everything has value—even if it can’t be realized until after an object’s been tossed out.
  77. Teerink’s reserved, spare form mirrors LeWitt’s work, which gives it tremendous impact.
  78. Alternating interviews, observational passages, and conversations with past students, Hawke’s low-key film never pushes too hard for effect and lets any drama emerge slowly.
  79. Cutie And The Boxer chronicles a marriage that’s extraordinary in many ways, and ordinary in one—it’s a constant work in progress.
  80. If nothing else, this film makes the case that the Cold War—however Fetisov or Polsky respectively choose to define it—robbed American sports fans of the chance to watch and appreciate one of the greatest collections of athletes ever assembled.
  81. Mitchell’s deft handling of the relationships in It Follows gets threaded into an ingenious and exceedingly skillful creepshow.
  82. While 20,000 Days On Earth never finds the real Nick Cave, it’s because it knows better than to try to look for it.
  83. Viewers can walk away with something more precious than factoids: an emotional, aesthetically striking experience that cuts more deeply than words. And if they crave more information, that’s what the Internet is for.
  84. This is a small film about a society of castoffs, and while it’s beautifully acted and often moving, it’s also predictable, because it keeps wresting itself into familiar forms.
  85. Though Rebels Of The Neon God is missing the austerity and discipline that would make Tsai’s master-shot style so effective—and funny—its relatively conventional approach (including a recurring musical theme!) doesn’t obscure the beautiful, enigmatic tone that’s long set him apart.
  86. Once that rock gets rolling, Levitated Mass turns into a fun, loopy portrait of one crazy idea that became a SoCal public-art cornerstone.
  87. Even in its rougher patches, The Spectacular Now has a disarming earnestness that keeps it on the level, helped along by two superb lead performances that add up to more than their sum.
  88. The original musical holds up well, and Marshall and Condon’s adaption doesn’t wreck it.
  89. Much of the observational brilliance of Approaching The Elephant comes from how closely form relates to content: Out of chaos comes order, both at Teddy McArdle and in the film, which brings the personalities and conflicts into sharper focus as it goes along.
  90. Neither Molina nor Lithgow are stranger to big performances, but here, they offer studies in restraint, underplaying dramatic moments in ways that make them all the more powerful.
  91. Even when the plot kicks in and the stakes get raised, there’s a casualness to Guiraudie’s approach that’s singular and admirably defiant of genre expectations. He’s setting a scene. Tension insinuates itself later.
  92. George Washington is a mood piece first, and its triumph is in bottling up the intense feeling of early adolescence, and watching how tragedy transforms it.
  93. It’s easier to tell the story of a smashing success or an utter failure, because there’s drama inherent to either scenario, but what Hansen-Løve accomplishes with Eden is trickier, a feeling of being adrift in a scene where people are already invited to lose themselves to dance.
  94. There’s a real fascination in watching the gears of this massive machine grind. Once the student protest comes to dominate the film’s second half, however, things get dicier.
  95. Wadjda is an object of stark beauty, an oasis of free-spirited cinema emerging from the desert.
  96. It’s a big leap forward for Rock as both an actor and a filmmaker, written and directed with the nervous, live-wire energy that has eluded his on-screen work for so long.
  97. The film is essentially a war of attrition between emotion and pragmatism, the rare thriller fueled by stress rather than speed.
  98. Director Bennett Miller and screenwriters E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman have thought through every scene and every line in Foxcatcher. Nothing is irrelevant. The film proceeds like a well-constructed argument.
  99. Little about [Östlund’s] work is simple-minded or cut-and-dried. His films marinate in viewer discomfort.

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