The Playlist's Scores

  • Movies
For 1,316 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 point higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 Wuthering Heights
Lowest review score: 0 Getaway
Score distribution:
1,316 movie reviews
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. An insightful, enjoyable, absorbing ride that stands as a testament to its director's lively, ungovernable storytelling imagination.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. This is Brando on Brando, and it's scintillating stuff.
  11. Inside Out is not just fun and breezy, it's also truly weird and wicked smart in its thoroughly heartfelt conclusions.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A marvelous experience for any devoted cinephile.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Petzold distills a familiar atmosphere to create a work veiled in vibrant, cohesive, sensitively stimulating power.
  19. 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.
  20. A deeply impressive first film by director Robert Eggers, “The Witch” is immaculately constructed, evinces an exquisitely ominous tone, and is unequivocally haunting. It’s exacting look at the dissonance of human nature is terrifying.
  21. 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.
  22. Though it has a few elements of its construction that might be questionable, it's mostly a powerful, thoughtful, and visually striking picture.
  23. Boynton's film is refreshingly complex.
  24. The current of informed anger, directed at those who stand by while injustice and bigotry flourish, is unmistakable and turns the whole film into a kind of clever folk fable-cum-protest song.
  25. A movie so simple, so elegant, and yet so devouringly empathetic that you might not notice its full magic until a few hours later.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. The Overnighters is starkly bleak and devastatingly humane, and an indelible American documentary.
  29. 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.
  30. It's a remarkably gorgeous piece of work.
  31. Wiseman's film is the most nourishing example of cinematic brain food you'll have all year.
  32. 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.
  33. Come for the blistering, full-tilt action, stay for the thought-provoking consideration of the post-apocalypse.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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."
  40. Tremendously evocative and inherently enchanting, Horse Money is one of the year’s most profound films and an essential step forward for both Ventura the Cape Verdean, and Pedro Costa the artist.
  41. It’s borderline miraculous.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. All Is Lost is a taut, superbly crafted addition to the survival story genre.
  46. A protagonist of stunted emotional growth is simply assumed from Apatow at this stage, but Schumer’s perspective and voice translates to a wealth of gags that breathe new life into the idea.
  47. 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.
    • 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.
  48. 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.
  49. Force Majeure is a brutally smart and original film.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. The sincerity and earnestness of Stand Clear of the Closing Doors are brave and true.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Dreamcatcher is a love letter to a true American hero who roams our streets.
  53. Utilizing underseen subjects, [Baker] captures their world in a thoughtful and artful way, and it also happens to be a damn fun ride.
  54. 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.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
  63. Baumbach’s sharp examinations of the limitations of the callow arrogance of youth and the fatuous nature of egocentricity are pointed and riotously enjoyable.
  64. As Night Will Fall shows, even in the darkest hour, sometimes the greatest heroes are those willing to stare bravely into humanity's worst depths and tell the world what happened.
  65. Girlhood is a fascinatingly layered, textured film that manages to be both a lament for sweetness lost and a celebration of wisdom and identity gained, often at the very same moment.
  66. Wisely, Broomfield doesn’t harp on alleged police incompetence, beyond letting a handful of activists and locals repeatedly raise it as an issue; Tales is far from overbearing as far as agitprop goes, letting the outrage quietly seep in.
  67. It isn't really about the people as much as about the pictures, and for once that does not seem to be a trade off that compromises the power of the resulting film at all.
  68. Aided by intensely committed performances from a uniformly brilliant cast, all fielding Scottish accents, Kurzel's genius is to be able to find clean lines of dramatic connection and motivation within the existing text and then to interpret those imaginatively, without becoming simplistic and without compromise.
  69. This is a tremendously well written piece of work, with impressively developed characters, with scene after scene that further enriches and deepens our comprehension of their actions, yet never judges any of them. It certainly helps that Farhadi gets quartet of excellent, pitch perfect performances.
  70. Fruitvale Station is impressive for a debut, and displays the unimpeachable intent to involve us all in the human story behind a headline. And it certainly displays great promise from its director and accomplished performances from its cast.
  71. Holy Motors keeps kicking into a different gear, much like an eternally waking dream.
  72. Blending a surrealist perspective of battle-tinged faith with the harrowing tale of one girl's resilience, the film is a laser-focused fable threatened occasionally by its drifts into character shorthand, but equaled by a wrenching lead performance by Rachel Mwanza that results in one of the finest of the year.
  73. A visionary, thrilling work.
  74. Perhaps the most thrilling thing about Looper is watching Johnson really grow leaps and bounds as a filmmaker.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    It’s a film that’s endured more than enjoyed, even with Du Welz’s oily black sense of humor and his skill for skipping between genres.
  75. The Square gives us the context of Egyptian uprisings, full of heart and hope, but the crux of the Revolution remains muddy.
  76. Mond’s film doesn’t feature traditional structure or many familiar character beats of self-improvement, but as a visceral, in-the-moment portrait of struggle and suffering, it’s a striking first film.
  77. Despite the fine performances from McConaughey and Leto, tightly coiled editing that keeps the story moving and a nicely measured balance between drama and comedy (McConaughey is often a hoot), Dallas Buyers Club still sometimes feels like it's missing one more grace note.
  78. It’s a journey deep into the psyche of the tormented genius, that is as all-encompassing and expressive of Cobain's spirit as a film could possibly be. It's a true achievement, both in documentary filmmaking, and in preserving the memory and legacy of Cobain.
  79. Amy
    It's a gripping and thoroughly effective, perhaps even brilliant piece of biographical documentary filmmaking.
  80. The filmmaking here is almost impossibly well-realized, right down to the evocative sound design, adding up to an fairly unforgettable experience.
  81. If it presents an accurate picture of this reality, then it feels like it’s a reality that is unstable, so far cut off from the mainstream of life that it has begun to fray into the surreal and the magic at the edges.
  82. Amazing to look at, amazing to listen to, yet just a bit underwhelming to really think about, Sicario Denis Villeneuve's Mexican drug cartel drama is superlatively strong in every conceivable way except story.
  83. It succeeds not just because of the gripping footage and troubling stories of the spectators and trainers close to the incidents, but also because it consults experts in the field who offer insights into killer whales’ biology and psychology.
  84. Political thriller, procedural, emotional drama and rousing cry for basic human rights and values.
  85. It might not be the director's most immediately accessible films, but it's among his most fascinating and beguiling.
  86. '71
    ‘71 is more than just a performance showcase, delivering a gripping, at times almost unbearably tense, incredibly involving anti-war statement, made the stronger for being set against the less cinematically familiar backdrop of Belfast in the year 1971.
  87. It’s a breathlessly told movie; both meticulous and frenetic, sweat-soaked and methodical. It will take hold and won’t let you go, and it’s one of the most engaging movies of the year.
  88. The Lego Movie is an absolute blast—a whip-smart, surprisingly emotional family film where the toy property is seen less as a concrete template than a tool for seemingly limitless potential.
  89. Gloria is an endlessly watchable creation—a wonderful example of an actress melting into a role, and a co-writer/director with almost superhuman levels of sensitivity and empathy for his characters.
  90. The Selfish Giant preaches compassion by showing us in its very closing moments, the fathomless goodness that can lie beneath even the spittingest, snarlingest exterior.
  91. The Salt of The Earth is a mesmeric and unforgettable look at the world and it sufferings through the eyes of a remarkably insightful and honorable artist.
  92. As a documentary and a love story, Cutie and the Boxer is nothing short of breathtaking.
  93. It Follows worked like gangbusters as an exercise in atmosphere and allusion, but a little less so as an out-and-out supernatural horror, and only at certain times did it achieve a perfect synthesis of the two.
  94. While the doc should prove essential for Nick Cave fans, it should be inspiring for those interested in the creative process or anyone searching for their muse.
  95. In the end, all the strangeness adds up towards something genuinely significant: an atypically rich and substantial comedy that's stuffed with great scenes and performances even before you start to chew on its bigger questions.

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