The Playlist's Scores

  • Movies
For 985 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 55% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 43% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 0.9 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 At Berkeley
Lowest review score: 0 The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Score distribution:
985 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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The actions and events are naked to our eyes, not couched in reasons and justifications, not softened by explanations, by words.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. The Overnighters is starkly bleak and devastatingly humane, and an indelible American documentary.
  12. 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.
  13. Petzold distills a familiar atmosphere to create a work veiled in vibrant, cohesive, sensitively stimulating power.
  14. It avoids the trap of simply being a celebrity vehicle about celebrity, by displaying a surprising heart beneath its very funny surface.
  15. 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.
  16. "Pigeon" is a near-perfect cap to a near-perfect trilogy, a cavalcade of oddness, humor, banality and even horror.
  17. 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.
  18. It's a new vampire classic, one to treasure endlessly.
  19. 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.
  20. With Foxcatcher, [Miller] has outdone himself, turning his uniquely meticulous eye to a tiny story in a totally rarefied, specific environment and through whatever alchemy he has perfected, created something so universal and resonant that it feels epic, sprawling, almost ancient in its mythic overtones. Foxcatcher is an enormous film.
  21. Trenchantly reflecting on the mishandling of success, blind ambition, idolatry, hero worship and the complex and competitive nature of artists in romantic relationships, “Listen Up Philip” is brilliantly chock-a-block with resonant observations.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. It’s borderline miraculous.
  25. 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.
  26. Boynton's film is refreshingly complex.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. It's a remarkably gorgeous piece of work.
  34. 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.
    • 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.
  35. All Is Lost is a taut, superbly crafted addition to the survival story genre.
  36. Kumiko The Treasure Hunter is a striking film, a bizarre joy and a beautiful delight.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. The sincerity and earnestness of Stand Clear of the Closing Doors are brave and true.
  41. Force Majeure is a brutally smart and original film.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. Holy Motors keeps kicking into a different gear, much like an eternally waking dream.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. Perhaps the most thrilling thing about Looper is watching Johnson really grow leaps and bounds as a filmmaker.
  56. The Square gives us the context of Egyptian uprisings, full of heart and hope, but the crux of the Revolution remains muddy.
  57. A visionary, thrilling work.
  58. While a truly original comedy, While We're Young is the rare one that also laces rich thematic elements with wonderfully drawn characters to create a picture that's as genuinely hilarious as it is thoughtful about how hopes, ambitions, dreams and ideals of personal and creative accomplishments that ebb and flow across decades.
  59. 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.
  60. The filmmaking here is almost impossibly well-realized, right down to the evocative sound design, adding up to an fairly unforgettable experience.
  61. 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.
  62. Competently directed, and delivered with the expected emotional beats, Still Alice achieves its modest goals, but one wishes it had a grander vision.
  63. 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.
  64. Calling Love Is Strange a great gay love story is both precise and inaccurate; I doubt I’ll see a more finely performed and beautifully crafted love story, with or without any mere modifiers, up on the big screen this year.
  65. 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.
  66. Political thriller, procedural, emotional drama and rousing cry for basic human rights and values.
  67. It might not be the director's most immediately accessible films, but it's among his most fascinating and beguiling.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. 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.
  71. Wiseman's film is the most nourishing example of cinematic brain food you'll have all year.
  72. The proximity, orientation, and monumental nature is what makes Levitated Mass the piece so powerful, and Levitated Mass the film not only captures that but puts those ideals forth as something culturally and socially important, something that happened when the mass met the masses.
  73. It's crisply and cleanly shot throughout, and the filmmaker shows a rare feel for how to not only make comedy land, but also to make it actually feel cinematic too.
  74. Love & Mercy isn't a standard celebration nor a traditional music biopic. Instead, it's a survival story.
  75. “La Camioneta” is at once an insightful documentary and a poignant allegory.
  76. As a documentary and a love story, Cutie and the Boxer is nothing short of breathtaking.
  77. It sounds pretty dull as a logline, but stacked with gossipy, informal anecdotes and opinions from many of the most respected directors, cinematographers, editors, execs, VFX artists and digital wizards in the industry, it proves instead to be highly entertaining and informative, and by its close has presented a thoroughly diverting overview of the debate.
  78. As with real life, there aren't any stock characters, clear morals, or easy solutions in These Birds Walk.
  79. Short Term 12 is a roller coaster of every emotion, managing to be both heartwarming and heartrending at once.
  80. Loose, limber and driven by a fierce energy and staccato/pause rhythm we haven't seen previously from this filmmaker, Noah Baumbach's sublime Frances Ha is a fresh and vivacious near-reinvention of the director/writer's comedic milieu.
  81. The film isn’t a white knuckle ride, and the pacing can be slow at times, but this is one of those cases where that’s sort of the point, and you certainly don’t begrudge it. A Hijacking is an absorbing, highly moving film.
  82. The Spectacular Now is wise beyond its years, charismatic, measured and authentic in its depiction of the pains, confusions and insecurities of the teenage experience, and while its deliberate rhythm may prove to be a harder sell among the teen crowd, it’s a valuable and honest film that’s worth the investment.
  83. 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.
  84. You don’t need to know the resume of Maribel Verdú to know that the “Y Tu Mama Tambien” star is this film’s meal ticket. With an equal division of screentime with her co-star, Verdú’s ferocious sexuality projects that she was meant to become the fairest of them all by sheer force of will.
  85. Guiraudie creates an ambiance of eerie atmospherics that is at once crisp and observant, and oddly dreamlike, or nightmarish.
  86. It's a state-of-the-nation masterwork, a vitally important piece of work, and should be seen by as many people as possible.
  87. One of the best films of the year.
  88. This is avant-garde autobiographical filmmaking at its finest, and the results are stunningly beautiful, and achingly emotional within a lyrical and dreamlike aesthetic.
  89. A very impressive film, one that can only increase the esteem in which both Knight and Hardy are held.
  90. The supporting cast all do excellent work too, but this is Eric’s story, and so it’s O’Connell’s film. His performance is a revelation.
  91. The experience of Leviathan is wholly singular, without context, enveloping and immersive. In some ways, it might very well be the most terrifying picture of the year.
  92. Sister is as bleak and as beautiful as its snowy, mountainous setting.
  93. It's not particularly funny or moving and it's terribly self-indulgent. Flamboyance and cartoonishness rule, there's hardly a moment of genuine emotion, and most overtures in that direction are superficial. As a picture ostensibly about love, revenge and the ugliness of slavery, Django Unchained has almost zero subtext and is a largely soulless bloodbath, in which the history of pain and retribution is coupled carelessly with a cool soundtrack and some verbose dialogue. Though it might just entertain the sh.t out of the less discerning.
  94. Best of all is the bad guy. Javier Bardem was always a tantalizing choice to play a Bond villain, and his Silva is a terrific creation, and certainly the most memorable villain in the series in decades.
  95. The film is generally undramatic. However, that’s hardly a criticism — while Closed Curtain digs deep into the psyche of an artist, it also is full of the ordinary, organic life moments that have populated Panahi's work since the beginning.
  96. Gimme The Loot involves drug-dealing, constant foul language and vandalism, but Hickson and Washington, both attractive and charismatic enough to be stars, carry the film with an air of lightweight pleasure, keeping it light and bouncy.
  97. After years of being a long-lost gem, Cousin Jules has finally been found and is receiving its due as an innovative, meditative case study of rural life.

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