The Playlist's Scores

  • Movies
For 2,028 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 56% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 42% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 1.5 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 64
Highest review score: 100 Holy Motors
Lowest review score: 0 United Passions
Score distribution:
2028 movie reviews
  1. The great, unifying success across all ten shorts is Kieślowski’s representation of Poland, which is political, social, and personal all at once. Each movie is its own experiential encounter.
  2. Warm, soulful, funny and quietly insightful, Boyhood shines in its engrossing, experiential understanding and it’s a special achievement that should be cherished and acknowledged.
  3. Like Brokeback Mountain a decade ago, Moonlight is a piece of art that will transform lives long after it leaves theaters.
  4. Outside of a few short moments in Ismail Merchant and James Ivory’s “Maurice,” and Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain,” the love and intimacy between two male characters has never truly felt this real or emotionally heartbreaking in a theatrical context. It’s almost revolutionary. It’s cinematic art.
  5. The superb Vega’s steady, liquid, fathomless gaze is so direct that we come to understand that behind it, behind the barricade of defenses she’s built up against an unfriendly world, she is no enigma at all: she is completely known to herself.
  6. This revolving door of graphically rendered brutalities might feel like its own punishment if not for an array of astonishing performances that’s practically a one-stop Oscar-nomination shopping spree.
  7. Manchester by the Sea is the kind of movie that doesn’t seem to be headed anywhere in particular for long stretches. And then, almost unexpectedly, it arrives.
  8. Gravity is about as visceral an experience as you can have in a cinema, it’s a technical marvel, and it’s a blockbuster with heart and soul in spades.
  9. Made of crystal and suppressed tears, shot eternally through windows and mirrors and half-closed doors, Todd Haynes' Carol is a love story that starts at a trickle, swells gradually to a torrent, and finally bursts the banks of your heart. A beautiful film in every way, immaculately made, and featuring two pristine actresses glowing across rooms and tousled bedclothes at each other like beacons of tentative, unspoken hope.
  10. An electric, sprawling and ambitious effort that's easy to become absorbed by, and a picture that should impress those keen on the director's intelligent, composed and determined brand of filmmaking.
  11. Richard Linklater's Before Midnight isn't the most digestible picture, but its challenging, funny, painful, very present and alive depiction of relationships at 40 is so honest and real that we wouldn't have it any other way.
  12. A movie so simple, so elegant, and yet so devouringly empathetic that you might not notice its full magic until a few hours later.
  13. Mr Turner, though not without flaws, is something of a twilight culmination of Leigh's work, and very much one in which the filmmaker turns his lens on himself, as is so often the case when directors make movies about artists.
  14. Inside Out is not just fun and breezy, it's also truly weird and wicked smart in its thoroughly heartfelt conclusions.
  15. Amour is nevertheless the work of a filmmaker who isn't afraid to ask the big questions about human nature, and coming out of Amour it seems the director has hope for us yet.
  16. Every family is its own country with culture and customs and embarrassments that seem alien beyond its borders, but the genius of Maren Ade‘s brilliantly funny and slyly crushing Toni Erdmann is that it makes the utterly foreign nation of its central father/daughter relationship feel so much like home.
  17. It's the best film McCarthy has ever made: restrained, intelligent and grown-up, but unfolding with the pacing and rhythm of a thriller.
  18. La La Land is a film you simply never want to stop watching. It has wisdom and joy and sadness and such magic, from the evocative power of music to the transportative power of movies.
  19. Inside Llewyn Davis isn't about someone trying to make it big, but someone just trying to make it, and the Coens celebrate the hard road that can inspire great art.
  20. This is a virtuosic piece of filmmaking art that also happens to be almost unbearably moving. Actually, there is no “almost.”
  21. Heineman has a unique ability to condense and explain complicated information and political events without straying from the deeply personal journeys of his subjects or relying on talking heads or text.
  22. For all its value in bearing witness to the kind of atrocious acts that get but little attention on the world stage, this is not mere testimony, this is cleverly crafted and remarkably affecting storytelling.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A marvelous experience for any devoted cinephile.
  23. If there was ever any doubt as to Zvyagintsev's position as one of world cinema's foremost auteurs, it's put to rest here. His filmmaking has always been superb, but he's never taken on the state of his nation in the way he does here. And that makes "Leviathan" not just masterful but also hugely important.
  24. The film does not stab as deeply in laying bare the schizoid moral hypocrisy of the perpetrators of the Indonesian genocide as its peerless predecessor, but instead offers an extraordinarily poignant, desperately upsetting meditation on the legacy of those killings, and on the bravery required to seek any kind of truth about them.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Although “Olli Mäki” ostensibly belongs to the boxing film genre as much as it is functions as a romantic drama, it never seems truly invested in the underdog narrative of its title character.
  25. Fans of Polley’s work to date will be delighted by a documentary that serves simultaneously as a gripping mystery, a moving record of a family and a fascinating investigation into the nature of truth, memory, and the documentary form itself.
  26. An insightful, enjoyable, absorbing ride that stands as a testament to its director's lively, ungovernable storytelling imagination.
  27. Ida
    If it does suffer slightly from an overall lack of urgency that will mean those looking for a more directly emotive experience may find it hard to engage with, the more patient viewer has rewards in store that are rich and rare indeed.
  28. With Only Yesterday, Takahata not only succeeds in transmitting how years can flash by, but also the way that passage of time makes clearer the moments that define our character, and go on to influence how we choose to live later.
  29. The overwhelming force of The 13th is such that as the movie moves into its third act it becomes more and more heartbreaking in all its countless examples of injustice and abuse.
  30. Her
    It’s an incredibly melancholy, intimate and yet often hilarious look at relationships and connection that provides a surprisingly great deal of insight into the human condition. It’s both sweet and considered, as well as observant about our fears, masks and growing alienation.
  31. Boynton's film is refreshingly complex.
  32. There's vision here, clearly, and through the use of eye-catching frames and a standout score, "The Fits" works like magic as an experimental performance piece. As an engaging work of well-rounded cinema, however, there are more than a few missteps.
  33. Come for the blistering, full-tilt action, stay for the thought-provoking consideration of the post-apocalypse.
  34. Although movies like “Goodfellas” are indisputable forebears for Russell’s decadent tale of crime and punishment, the filmmaker distinguishes himself by creating a complex and compelling web of manipulation between the characters that eventually supersedes any of their scheming or con artistry.
  35. An unfeasibly charming film full of little wisdoms and quiet comforts where we might expect to find provocations, its only deception is that it is so much richer than it seems at first glance.
  36. Presenting a terrifying view of a hidden holocaust and a moral apocalypse in which the most basic humanities have become twisted beyond recognition, The Act of Killing is a towering achievement in filmmaking, documentary or otherwise.
  37. The Overnighters is starkly bleak and devastatingly humane, and an indelible American documentary.
  38. A Ghost Story has the structure and rhythm of a musical suite, with Lowry working variations on the same themes, the same characters, and the same location. The result can be lyrical and poetic, or more naturalistic and minimalist. In both cases, A Ghost Story is absolutely mesmerizing, with an anything-goes quality that’s endlessly fascinating.
  39. The list of the film’s transgressions against the culturally acceptable is almost gratuitously long. But the spine of self-aware intelligence that runs through even its most grotesque, exploitative, and offensive twists, and the basically incredible, irreplaceable central performance from Isabelle Huppert, make this queasily hilarious mass of contradictions just about cohere.
  40. It's a remarkably gorgeous piece of work.
  41. Though it has a few elements of its construction that might be questionable, it's mostly a powerful, thoughtful, and visually striking picture.
  42. perhaps the greatest achievement is in how brilliantly the film balances the trademark Dardennes social conscience with a conceit that plays out almost like a ticking-clock thriller, as well as being a deeply felt character study.
  43. Wiseman's film is the most nourishing example of cinematic brain food you'll have all year.
  44. Petzold distills a familiar atmosphere to create a work veiled in vibrant, cohesive, sensitively stimulating power.
  45. Somehow one of the effects of our current state of topsy-turviness has been to bring us closer into alignment with Kaurismäki’s skewed vision; if his movies are all, in their way, like pictures hanging crooked on a wall, with The Other Side of Hope we don’t have to tilt our heads anymore: the whole house has moved around us.
  46. In Western, the filmmaking philosophy remains the same, but the subject is new and different, and the storytelling is deeper, nuanced, and honed by experience.
  47. Selma is vital correspondence, filmmaking lived on the streets where brutal facts were ignored then reported, and now snatched back from history to sustain a spirit few films can or will possess. It is stunning humanistic cinema on a mainstream scale... It has inventiveness, urgency, humor, and most of all emotion that draws effortless parallels rather than leaving its lesson up on the screen.
  48. Nielsson’s documentary portrait is a tragic look at the broken political process in Zimbabwe.
  49. More than anything else the film becomes a celebration of these two lives and the era of music that both created and destroyed them.
  50. The quest to be the best is a familiar film story, but if director-writer Chazelle has achieved anything here, it’s a deeply and richly different take on that journey—not only examining the cost of struggle but the reward of it, showing both what it takes to be great and what happens when you don’t have it.
  51. Mostly this is a thrillingly compassionate, deceptively simple, and wholly invested look at a capable older woman with a lively mind coping with a series of common misfortunes. Where that could be depressing, or at least overridingly melancholy, here it is strangely hopeful.
  52. As off-kilter affecting as we found its nostalgia for a world of charm and dash that really only ever existed in the movies, and as terrific as almost all of the performances are, as a whole package it fell just slightly short of the promise of its parts.
  53. The overwriting of every single discussion smacks less of realistic debate than of a writer/director in the throes of a fit of didacticism who simply never trusts his audience to get his meaning without it being iterated and reiterated to the point of white noise.
  54. Blue is the Warmest Color is a masterpiece of human warmth, empathy and generosity, because in a mere three hours, it gives you a whole new life to have lived.
  55. This is a movie primarily concerned with numbers and the way that information is fed, processed, and acted upon. But it plays like the greatest paranoid thriller since "All the President's Men."
  56. Hell or High Water might walk over familiar ground with second-hand boots in terms of character development and structural beats, but it does so with great personality and zero pretension of wanting to be anything more.
  57. Kaufman and fellow director Duke Johnson strike the right balance here, deftly mixing spiritual crisis and despondency with moments of painful awkwardness and biting hilarity.
  58. It’s borderline miraculous.
  59. This film is an important historical record, and an important reminder of an event in American history that could have changed everything, that should have changed everything. There’s no reason why it still can’t. Newtown is a crucial reminder of that.
  60. Out 1 isn’t just exploratory in its filmmaking methods; exploration is its dramatic essence.
  61. If some elements are more successful than others in achieving a balance between the public and the private, between the story of a nation’s ruination and that of a family’s annihilation, it remains a shocking, poignant and soulful tribute to lives ended and to innocence lost in the country’s notorious Killing Fields.
  62. Braga is simply riveting in this gift of a role.
  63. A heartbreaking and poignant story about choices, country, commitments, sacrifice, and love, Brooklyn is a superb, luminous, and bittersweet portrayal of who we are, where we’ve come from, where we’re going, and the places we call home.
  64. Despite all the craft and care it seems just slightly deflating that Fire at Sea can elicit a relatively complacent reaction when it is such a thoughtful, deeply-felt and exquisitely observed film, set right in the eye of a raging storm.
  65. While perhaps not perfect by Farhadi’s standards, About Elly is a classic tragedy that can be devastating and draining, and in that sense is an immersive, almost emotionally exhaustive experience.
  66. The theories in Level Five simultaneously thrive in realms of computer science, ethnography, and cognitive psychology, while the picture remains cloaked by the emotional weight of a historical tragedy that marked an entire nation.
  67. The film is a breath of fresh air — there is a lovely awkwardness to the coming-of-age tale that makes it feel almost like an enthusiastic early effort from a talented neophyte as opposed to the eighth feature from an established, albeit arthouse, director.
  68. As uneven as it can be at times in its last fifteen minutes, Marielle Heller has crafted a super promising debut that evokes the idea of unlocking the secret world of teenage girls and letting us live inside the special little jewel box if ever so briefly.
  69. All Is Lost is a taut, superbly crafted addition to the survival story genre.
  70. This is Brando on Brando, and it's scintillating stuff.
  71. Porter's film is not just a stirring testament to those taking on a Herculean task of bringing some sense of fairness and balance to an out of whack structure, but a reminder that there is still a far distance to go before everyone is equally represented in front of lady justice.
  72. It is so lived-in and authentic in its real-world detail, and so enigmatic and mysterious in its diversions and sidelong glances, that it's difficult not to see it as overridingly personal, not just to the director but to the viewer. It's a true act of the most optimistic communication and communion.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    James tells this unapologetic story with little sympathy, as per Ebert’s wishes, and a lot of passion—he wants the audience to really know who Roger Ebert was, and understand the importance of his work.
  73. A work of immense and intense emotional vigor, sprinkled with fun-loving traits and intellectually stimulating prowess, The Duke of Burgundy is the stuff dreams are made of.
  74. The film doesn't reinvent the wheel: it is, ultimately, a middle-class-white-boy coming-of-age tale of the kind that the cinema of France, and elsewhere, has never been lacking. But it's written, shot, cut and performed with such palpable joy, intelligence and warmth that it ends up feeling entirely fresh.
  75. Beckinsale’s performance is so funny in fact that it sucks a lot of the air out the room for her co-stars. Whenever she’s in a scene, she delivers so many pithy putdowns per second that it’s hard to pay attention to anyone else. And whenever she’s not around, the movie dims.
  76. Force Majeure is a brutally smart and original film.
  77. There's something deeply poetic about Lincoln making his way through a changed nation to meet his demise. Such poetry is nowhere to be found in Lincoln.
  78. Room has unforgettable, must-witness performances, and its soulful mother and son narrative is one of the most touching dynamics you’ll see in theaters this year.
  79. Nebraska is a small-scale quixotic adventure about the importance of dreams, no matter how pie-eyed, in which the outlined flaws could all be forgiven, if it just went somewhere a bit more surprising.
  80. The sincerity and earnestness of Stand Clear of the Closing Doors are brave and true.
  81. Dreamcatcher is a love letter to a true American hero who roams our streets.
  82. A stunner of a directorial debut.
  83. Humanity permeates Cameraperson, thanks to Johnson’s presence, so as experimental as it is, it’s also stirring and poignant, with a tangible sense of empathy intact in every frame.
  84. The Babadook is a smart, respectful horror that puts character and emotional issues first, yet never at the cost of a delightful and haunting fright.
  85. It’s a searing series of accounts from dignified patriots, weary politicians, and desperate civilians stuck in a frantic situation, and a remarkable piece of work that should be seen by everyone who thinks they know everything about the Vietnam War.
  86. The beauty of Little Men — and of the director’s work in general — is that it displays a rare understanding of how the world works.
  87. There’s a certain flat indie artlessness to “The Big Sick,” but it’d be shortsighted to discount how well-written and well-acted it is. This is a very funny movie, yet always plausibly so—never throwing in jokes just for the sake of a laugh.
  88. One of the best documentaries, and best films, of the year, it is required viewing for anyone with a desire for making their own world a better place, inspiring you to act up and fight back.
  89. Though maybe a bit too stiff and straight-laced, Barbara is a frequently subtle, moderately interesting character study set in a grievous East Germany during the 1980s.
  90. If you have the patience to play the role of silent witness for the full two hours, Maidan is a rewarding experience and an alarmingly important wake-up call for those still in the dark about one of today's most critical situations.
  91. The low-key nature of what's come before simply serves to render all the more effective the final shootout, when the film careens completely, and bloodily, off the rails.
  92. The Red Turtle is poetry made cinema, an exquisite existential allegory that says everything without having to say anything at all.
  93. La Grande Bellezza washes over you in series of scenes, visages, sensations and impressions, and although in this case it doesn't quite gel into a cohesive whole, it's nonetheless a journey worth taking; a travelogue through memory and dreams, in which life is greatest fiction we could ever create.
  94. Extraordinarily suspenseful, extremely well-told and effortless in its complex tonal balance.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    Even amongst its most wrenching scenes of unfettered anger and broken loyalty, a volatile sensuality nonetheless invades every frame of Paul Thomas Anderson's arresting The Master.
  95. We’re left with a prickly kind of harmony that blends mundanity with profundity. There’s no more perfect a note for a film as intelligent, compassionate, and complex as “My Happy Family” to end on than that.
  96. Gemini is deliriously entertaining, an intriguing gem and as Katz graduates to the next level, his best film to date.

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