Variety's Scores

For 8,920 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 53% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 44% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 1.8 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 60
Highest review score: 100 At Berkeley
Lowest review score: 0 Reasonable Doubt
Score distribution:
8,920 movie reviews
  1. The film pulls no punches, takes no prisoners and flies in the face of feel-good pictures.
  2. An altogether smashing sequel to 2011′s better-than-expected “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” this vivid, violent extension of humanoid ape Caesar’s troubled quest for independence bests its predecessor in nearly every technical and conceptual department.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    One of the wildest fabrications any author has ever tried to palm off on a gullible public. But the fascinating thing is that, from uncertain premise to shattering conclusion, one does not question plausibility of the events being rooted in their own cinematic reality.
  3. A magnificent tapestry of sounds and images, this documentary interweaves multiple leitmotifs that flow through the film like familiar old friends, surging to the forefront only to be reabsorbed and casually encountered farther on.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The Black Stallion is a perfect gem.
  4. An astute, intelligent family picture, the film is a potent reminder that you can have your heart in the right place and still produce a gripping, satisfying entertainment.
  5. Righteous, captivating and entirely successful as single-issue-focused documentaries go, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s film draws on startling video footage and testimonies from former orca trainers, building an authoritative argument on behalf of this majestic species.
  6. In the hands of a master, indignation and tragedy can be rendered with clarity yet subtlety, setting hysteria aside for deeper, more richly shaded tones. Abderrahmane Sissako is just such a master.
  7. An exhilarating slalom through the wormholes of Christopher Nolan’s vast imagination that is at once a science-geek fever dream and a formidable consideration of what makes us human.
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Emerges as a sumptuously produced period piece that is also a rich tapestry of childhood memoirs and moods, fear and fancy, employing all the manners and means of the best of cinematic theatrical from high and low comedy to darkest tragedy with detours into the gothic, the ghostly and the gruesome. (Review of Original Release)
  8. Rourke creates a galvanizing, humorous, deeply moving portrait that instantly takes its place among the great, iconic screen performances. An elemental story simply and brilliantly told, Darren Aronofsky's fourth feature is a winner from every possible angle.
  9. As certain to get auds singing as the man himself, Pete Seeger: The Power of Song is a terrific, multilayered portrait of a singer whose legacy extends beyond music and into every major social action movement since the 1940s. Always enjoyable, this docu proves that a few rare people actually deserve the hagiography treatment.
  10. Paolo Sorrentino, with Youth, delivers his most tender film to date, an emotionally rich contemplation of life’s wisdom gained, lost and remembered — with cynicism harping from the sidelines, but as a wearied chord rather than a major motif.
  11. Working about as far as possible from the commercial mainstream of the movie business, Costa has again made a singular docu-fiction hybrid that defies classification as readily as it reimagines the possibilities of cinema for the post-spectacle, post-theatrical era.
  12. A gloriously cinematic documentay of epic, poetic sadness.
  13. So tastefully mounted and brilliantly acted that it wears down even the corset-phobic’s innate resistance to such things.
  14. A stunning work, revisiting controversial events with journalistic objectivity and a meticulous eye for detail.
  15. A prodigious achievement that conveys the fabric of modern American life, aspirations and incidentally, sports, in close-up and at length, Hoop Dreams is a documentary slam dunk.
  16. Porumboiu is one of the few helmers working today who so completely understands both the power of language and the power of visuals.
  17. The opening of Sicario unfolds at such an anxiety-inducing pitch that it seems impossible for Villeneuve to sustain it, let alone build on it, but somehow he manages to do just that. He’s a master of the kind of creeping tension that coils around the audience like a snake suffocating its prey.
  18. Stunningly made and incisively acted by a large and terrific cast, Michael Mann's ambitious study of the relativity of good and evil stands apart from other films of its type by virtue of its extraordinarily rich characterizations and its thoughtful, deeply melancholy take on modern life.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Repulsion is a classy, truly horrific psychological drama in which Polish director Roman Polanski draws out a remarkable performance from young French thesp, Catherine Deneuve. (Review of Original Release)
  19. An enormously entertaining slice of biographical drama, The Aviator flies like one of Howard Hughes' record-setting speed airplanes.
  20. The pic is a superbly crafted collage whose soundtrack is as complexly textured as the curation and editing of visual elements.
  21. DuVernay’s razor-sharp portrait of the Civil Rights movement — and Dr. King himself — at a critical crossroads is as politically astute as it is psychologically acute, giving us a human-scale King whose indomitable public face belies currents of weariness and self-doubt.
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Italy's top bestseller of recent literary history, Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa's The Leopard comes to the screen in a magnificent film, munificently outfitted and splendidly acted by a large cast dominated by Burt Lancaster. (Review of Original Release)
  22. Result is pure-grade art cinema destined primarily for the delectation of Malick partisans and adventurous arthouse-goers.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A richly textured and thoroughly engrossing drama that ranks with indie filmmaker John SaylesJohn Sayles' finest work.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A mesmerizing thriller that will grip audiences from first scene to last.
  23. It's a thrilling, at times brilliant piece of staging that never forgets the emotional pull of either the tragic personal tale or the ramifications of history.
  24. Not merely a story of interspecies hierarchy, then, White God also puts forward a simple but elegant metaphor for racial and class oppression, as the outcast (or even outcaste) masses, sidelined in favor of the elite few, band together to assert their collective strength.
  25. A rock-ribbed sense of committed, personal cinema and a core belief in people being able to pull themselves out of misery supports Ballast, an extraordinary debut by editor-writer-director Lance Hammer.
  26. A brilliant portrait of adventure, activism, obsession and potential madness that ranks among helmer Werner Herzog's strongest work.
  27. Up
    A captivating odd-couple adventure that becomes funnier and more exciting as it flies along.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A dazzlingly successful addition to his (Kurosawa's) distinguished career.
  28. Talky in the best sense, the film exhilarates with its lively, authentic classroom banter while its emotional undercurrents build steadily but almost imperceptibly over a swift 129 minutes. One of the most substantive and purely entertaining movies in competition at Cannes this year.
  29. One of Wiseman’s best, a summation of sorts of a career’s worth of principled filmmaking from a director in his ninth decade.
  30. Intelligently written, brilliantly cast and thesped story of a German mail order bride in a Norwegian-American community in Minnesota just after WWI never hits a wrong note.
  31. Brief Encounters reps a must-see for art lovers.
  32. In every sense, I Am Love is a stunning achievement.
  33. This spirited and often very funny lark accomplishes something that most films in the bygone Hollywood studio era used to do but is remarkably rare in today's world of niche markets: It offers entertainment equally to viewers from 4 to 104.
  34. A kind of classic of American sports history.
  35. Ever-eclectic director Jon Favreau, who briefly pops up onscreen as a Stark minion, maintains a brisk but not frantic pace, and, in concert with lenser Matthew Libatique, production designer J. Michael Riva and the first-rate visual effects team, has made an unusually elegant looking film for the genre.
  36. The director’s long-overdue follow-up to “Children of Men” is at once a nervy experiment in blockbuster minimalism and a film of robust movie-movie thrills, restoring a sense of wonder, terror and possibility to the bigscreen.
  37. Putting the "intelligence" in MI6, Skyfall reps a smart, savvy and incredibly satisfying addition to the 007 oeuvre, one that places Judi Dench's M at the center of the action.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A dramatically moving and technically breathtaking American art film, one of the great cinematic achievements of the 1970s.
  38. The concert film has never looked or sounded classier than Jonathan Demme's superbly crafted Neil Young: Heart of Gold.
  39. Originally conceived as one film, the two-parter that has finally emerged can now be seen as a truly epic work.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Possesses a stylistic boldness and verisimilitude that is virtually matchless.
  40. As deliriously smart escapist fare, The Incredibles is practically nonpareil.
  41. Fearsomely visceral and impeccably performed, it’s a brisk, bracing update, even as it remains exquisitely in period.
  42. Reveals Soderbergh in peak form, as he endows Leonard’s postmodern yarn with a meticulously detailed mise en scene that helps each member of his terrific ensemble soar.
  43. Isn't only an outstanding documentary -- it's also a powerful personal drama.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Anthropology and entertainment are marvelously married in Rolf de Heer's Ten Canoes. The first feature in an Australian Aboriginal language feels authentic to the core as it tells a cautionary tale set 1,000 years ago.
  44. Her
    What begins like an arrested adolescent dream soon blossoms into Jonze’s richest and most emotionally mature work to date, burrowing deep into the give and take of relationships, the dawning of middle-aged ennui, and that eternal dilemma shared by both man and machine: the struggle to know one’s own true self.
  45. As in “Water Lilies” and “Tomboy” before this, Sciamma pushes past superficial anthropological study to deliver a vital, nonjudgmental character study.
  46. Represents that filmmaking rarity -- a third part of a trilogy that is decisively the best of the lot. With epic conflict, staggering battles, striking landscapes and effects, and resolved character arcs all leading to a dramatic conclusion to more than nine hours of masterful storytelling.
  47. A wickedly funny protest against societal preference for nuclear coupledom that escalates, by its own sly logic, into a love story of profound tenderness and originality.
  48. Eco-activist documentaries don't get much more compelling than The Cove, an impassioned piece of advocacy filmmaking that follows "Flipper" trainer-turned-marine crusader Richard O'Barry in his efforts to end dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan.
  49. An astonishingly good and daring film that richly develops several intertwined thematic lines, The Crying Game takes giant risks that are stunningly rewarded.
  50. The gleefully assured tale of a professional knife-thrower who finds a quirky new target... hits the bull's-eye.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Oliver Stone again shows America to itself in a way it won't forget. His collaboration with Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic to depict Kovic's odyssey from teenage true believer to wheel-chair-bound soldier in a very different war results in a gripping, devastating and telling film about the Vietnam era.
  51. While a hopelessly awkward-looking Hill provides fish-out-of-water laughs, Pitt gives a genuinely soul-searching performance.
  52. A searingly visceral combat picture, Steven Spielberg’s third World War II drama is arguably second to none as a vivid, realistic and bloody portrait of armed conflict.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Spielberg has deftly veiled proceedings in a sense of mystical wonder that makes it all the more easy for viewers to suspend disbelief and settle back for the fun.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    He (Allen) makes nary a misstep from beginning to end in charting the amorous affiliations of three sisters and their men over a two-year period.
  53. Utterly unpretentious and deeply touching.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    An outstanding rock documentary.
  54. A powerfully intimate domestic drama, Ordinary People represents the height of craftsmanship across the board.
  55. A captivating 1930s-set caper whose innumerable surface pleasures might just seduce you into overlooking its sly intelligence and depth of feeling.
  56. Anderson’s seventh feature film is a groovy, richly funny stoner romp that has less in common with “The Big Lebowski” than with the strain of fatalistic, ’70s-era California noirs (“Chinatown,” “The Long Goodbye,” “Night Moves”) in which the question of “whodunit?” inevitably leads to an existential vanishing point.
  57. A gemlike picture crafted with rare and immaculate precision.
  58. Mike Leigh is at the peak of his powers with Vera Drake, a compassionate, morally complex drama that stands easily alongside his best work, "Secrets & Lies" and "Topsy-Turvy."
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    An outstanding picture.
  59. A mesmerizing slow burn of a martial-arts movie that boldly merges stasis and kinesis, turns momentum into abstraction, and achieves breathtaking new heights of compositional elegance: Shot for shot, it’s perhaps the most ravishingly beautiful film Hou has ever made, and certainly one of his most deeply transporting.
  60. An intensely political film so wildly inventive and witty that it will become a touchstone for years to come, Il Divo is a masterpiece for maverick helmer-scribe Paolo Sorrentino.
  61. A mesmerizing companion piece to his 2008 debut, "Hunger," this more approachable but equally uncompromising drama likewise fixes its gaze on the uses and abuses of the human body, as Michael Fassbender again strips himself down, in every way an actor can, for McQueen's rigorous but humane interrogation.
  62. A scorching blast of tense genre filmmaking shot through with rich veins of melancholy, down-home philosophy and dark, dark humor, No Country for Old Men reps a superior match of source material and filmmaking talent.
  63. A handsomely mounted adaptation of the like-titled Portuguese novel, Ruiz's 4 1/2-hour epic establishes the essential ambiguity of its chameleonic characters from the get-go and proceeds thereby, with riveting results and revelations that continue right to the end.
  64. Watching *Corpus Callosum and marveling at its sprightliness, its joyous, imaginative air, its effortless attenuation to all that is wonderful and horrible and comical about modern technology, makes you want to jump up and shout for joy, too.
  65. Dramatically spellbinding and intellectually stimulating, picture abstractly manipulates multiple layers of representation to shattering effect.
  66. Emotionally powerful and stylistically sure-handed, this true story-inspired drama begins small with the disappearance of a young boy, only to gradually fan out to become a comprehensive critique of the entire power structure of Los Angeles, circa 1928.
  67. Even high expectations don’t quite prepare you for the startling impact of Carol, an exquisitely drawn, deeply felt love story that teases out every shadow and nuance of its characters’ inner lives with supreme intelligence, breathtaking poise and filmmaking craft of the most sophisticated yet accessible order.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A spectacularly entertaining piece of pop culture, Pulp Fiction is the "American Graffiti" of violent crime pictures.
    • Variety
  68. Uproarious. Line for line, minute to minute, writer-director Judd Apatow's latest effort is more explosively funny, more frequently, than nearly any other major studio release in recent memory.
  69. One of the most wildly entertaining docs of recent years.
  70. King of the Hill has all the rich satisfactions of a fine novel.
  71. A fascinatingly fractured glimpse into a disengaged mind and a biopic-in-reverse of its subject, quite unlike any documentary seen before.
  72. Blasting onto the screen at warp speed and remaining there for two hours, the new and improved Star Trek will transport fans to sci-fi nirvana.
  73. The first-ever screenplay written in the Inuit language, Inuktitut -- and the first time's a charm.
  74. Surgically precise, grimly funny and entirely mesmerizing over the course of its swift 149-minute running time, this taut yet expansive psychological thriller represents an exceptional pairing of filmmaker and material.
  75. Nuri Bilge Ceylan is at the peak of his powers with Winter Sleep, a richly engrossing and ravishingly beautiful magnum opus that surely qualifies as the least boring 196-minute movie ever made.
  76. James cuts — as in all of his best work — straight to the human heart of the matter, celebrating both the writer and the man, the one inseparable from the other, largely in Ebert’s own words.
  77. An immensely satisfying taste of antebellum empowerment packaged as spaghetti-Western homage... A bloody hilarious (and hilariously bloody) Christmas counter-programmer.
  78. The love child of Bollywood and Hollywood, Gangs of Wasseypur is a brilliant collage of genres, by turns pulverizing and poetic in its depiction of violence.
  79. Staying at the top of his game when most of his contemporaries have long since hung up their gloves, Clint Eastwood delivers another knockout punch with Million Dollar Baby.
  80. Inside Llewyn Davis is a revelatory showcase for Isaac, who sings with an angelic voice and turns a potentially unlikable character into a consistently relatable, unmistakably human presence — a reminder that humility and genius rarely make for comfortable bedfellows.
  81. So involving is the raw content of The Look of Silence that some might view its formal elegance as mere luxury, yet the film reveals Oppenheimer to be a documentary stylist of evolving grace and sophistication.
  82. If Inception is a metaphysical puzzle, it's also a metaphorical one: It's hard not to draw connections between Cobb's dream-weaving and Nolan's filmmaking -- an activity devoted to constructing a simulacrum of reality, intended to seduce us, mess with our heads and leave a lasting impression. Mission accomplished.
  83. Managing to be both extremely rational and extremely humane, the film works so well thanks to an intelligent, superbly understated script and a feel for naturalism that extends beyond mere performance.

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