Variety's Scores

For 8,768 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 Hugo
Lowest review score: 0 Vulgar
Score distribution:
8,768 movie reviews
  1. Exploding Raymond Carver's spare stories and minimally drawn characters onto the screen with startling imagination, Robert Altman has made his most complex and full-bodied human comedy since "Nashville."
  2. Sam Mendes' much-anticipated second effort after his Oscar-winning "American Beauty" finds him working in a very different key while displaying an even more pronounced attentiveness to tone, genre variations and artistic niceties.
  3. A seductively structured and superbly acted suspenser that breathtakingly piles swindle upon scam without giving away the game until the very end.
  4. Driven by fantastic energy and a torrent of vivid images of India old and new, Slumdog Millionaire is a blast.
  5. Utterly engrossing dual-character study, unfolding with a serene disregard for indie quirkiness, Goodbye Solo radiates authenticity.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    A film of challenging ideas, and not salacious provocations, The Last Temptation of Christ is a powerful and very modern reinterpretation of Jesus as a man wracked with anguish and doubt concerning his appointed role in life.
  6. A riveting, thematically probing, richly atmospheric and just occasionally troublesome work, a deeply inquisitive consideration of the extent of trust and mutual knowledge possible between a man and a woman.
  7. The beauty of the footage is undeniable, and the aimlessness never overstays its welcome as the film documents that strange stretch in our lives when nothing seems to matter more than the present moment, suspended in a sort of idle immortality.
  8. Eschewing character arcs and talking heads in favor of a more poetic approach, this lyrical exercise in avant-garde entomology is the work of an intuitive filmmaker with an often hypnotic sense of composition.
  9. A delightful experience.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    A vastly amusing satire of heavy metal bands.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Decidedly odd, even by Japanese standards, this mockumentary about an electrically charged, skyscraper-high superhero saddled with misfortune, bad press and even worse TV ratings is tears-down-the-face funny and a genuine, jaw-dropping oddity.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Fresh, colorful and inventive, Married to the Mob is another offbeat entertainment from director Jonathan Demme.
  10. Working on a richer and more intricate canvas than she's previously attempted, Kelly Reichardt has pulled off a rare thing with Meek's Cutoff -- a low-budget period Western with a bracing feminist spin.
  11. Brilliance of the action and effects are supplemented by a consistently superior and resourceful score by Tan Dun.
  12. Los Angeles may be the most photographed city in the world, but it has never have been captured with such complex layers of meaning and fascination as in Thom Andersen's remarkable Los Angeles Plays Itself.
  13. Bracingly original, alarming and droll, the righteously ribald Rid of Me should prove a breakthrough for helmer James Westby and his producer and leading lady, Katie O'Grady.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The most satisfying epicurean feast since "Big Night."
  14. This fascinating portrait of an eccentric visionary and his chaotic triple family life is an accomplished, enormously satisfying non-fiction work.
  15. A feature debut that packs a knockout punch.
  16. A carefully constructed and beautifully acted tale of two very different sisters brought together when their aging father falls seriously ill.
  17. Imamura's square-framed, black-and-white imagery, in all its various stylistic incarnations, proves as compelling through the docu's myriad detours as in any of his better-known psychological thrillers.
  18. At once raucously free-wheeling and meticulously contrived, picture satisfies as a boys-gone-wild laff riot that also clicks as a seriocomic beat-the-clock detective story.
  19. While Leon’s script can’t help but be episodic as the characters scheme their way out of one scrape after another, their shenanigans are compulsively watchable, brimming with enough details to make this modest film grow large in the memory.
  20. Blending smart fantasy elements, broad comedy, tender romance and an atypically slow-burning apocalypse, the directorial debut of “I Heart Huckabees” co-writer Jeff Baena is charming, thoughtful and laugh-out-loud funny.
  21. An entrancing ensemble piece, directed with calm assurance, acted by a fine ensemble, and structured and scripted with wit and precision.
  22. A skillful blend of fire and ice that subtly conveys the emotional extremes fraught in the relationship.
  23. Johnny Depp isn't the sort of star to blend in, so it's saying something that his turn as the world's most conspicuous chameleon in Rango is so full-bodied, you forget the actor and focus on the character.
  24. Bright and sassy, The Full Monty is a treat.
  25. A rousing, well-crafted romp packed with ingenuity, duplicity, close calls and heroic gestures, Bon Voyage is true to its title.
  26. A beautifully observed, small-scale study of personal foibles, romantic uncertainty and two sides of the sadly predictable male animal.
  27. Ominously atmospheric study of police corruption dangles danger and sinister motives at every turn.
  28. A full-bore zombie romp that more than delivers the genre goods.
  29. Ten
    10 dazzling and perceptive snapshots of women with which femmes everywhere can identify.
  30. The wrenching tale has something for anyone who likes their melodrama spiked with palpable tension and genuine suspense.
  31. Develops into a powerfully emotional experience thanks to a career-best performance by Toni Collette.
  32. The Internet’s Own Boy is a beautifully crafted film that opens a window on a world not everyone has entered yet, and exposes ways in which both the legal system and the U.S. government is lagging hopelessly behind technology.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The most successful version yet of this familiar premise.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The Harrison Ford-Sean Connery father-and-son team gives Last Crusade unexpected emotional depth, reminding us that real film magic is not in special effects.
  33. Two minor problems in the closing reels hold the film back from instant-classic status.
  34. One of the best Westerns of the 1970s, which represents the highest possible praise. It's a magnificent throwback to a time when filmmakers found all sorts of ways to refashion Hollywood's oldest and most durable genre.
  35. The result is one of Sayles' best films. The music, a mix of blues, seminal rock and newcomer Gary Clark Jr.'s performance, will be an obvious draw, as will the performances by some leading African-American actors.
  36. Though he's sure to deny it, Alexandra is Alexander Sokurov's most directly political work for years. Featuring a performance of monumental depth by opera legend Galina Vishnevskaya, pic presents war for what it is: brutal, crushing, and ugly, and yet Sokurov doesn't lens any battles.
  37. Performed with matchless aplomb and made with plush professionalism, pic serves up pure pleasure from beginning to end.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Hard-hitting, dark and tragic story that rarely lets up.
  38. Less of a comedy than a hilarious tragedy, I Love You Phillip Morris stars Jim Carrey in his most complicated comedic role since "The Cable Guy."
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The screws are tightened expertly in this suspenseful meller about a flipped-out femme who makes life hell for the married man who scorns her.
  39. Focusing on the absurdly ultraviolent tit-for-tat tussles among a trio of Tokyo crime families, the film is a beautifully staged marvel that confidently reasserts Kitano's considerable cinematic gifts.
  40. Any negative stereotypes viewers might harbor about education in rural communities are sent packing by this magnificently lensed and cumulatively touching account from documaker Nicolas Philibert.
  41. Julianne Moore guides us through the tragic arc of how it must feel to disappear before one’s own eyes, accomplishing one of her most powerful performances by underplaying the scenario.
  42. A resoundingly old-fashioned and well crafted study of evil infecting an American family, Frailty moves from strength to strength on its deceptive narrative course.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Tom Burlinson is very effective as the shy stable-boy who becomes devoted to the courageous horse. Martin Vaughan is impressive as the grimly determined trainer who leases the horse in the first place, as is Celia de Burgh, luminous as his loyal but neglected wife. Ron Leibman practically walks away with the picture as Davis, the smooth American horseowner, and Judy Morris is quietly effective as his naive, talkative wife.
  43. It’s an inspiring picture, particularly given the difficulty of imagining one of today’s sports superstars going so far out on a limb for unpopular beliefs.
  44. An exemplary and dynamic work that goes about as far as a narrative film can in both analyzing a complex personality and portraying a cultural scene.
  45. Pons has aimed for a performance-driven drama whose virtues are of the small-scale, low-key variety, with the director working within narrow dramatic limits as always but here doing so brilliantly.
  46. Toy Story 2 is to "Toy Story" what "The Empire Strikes Back" was to its predecessor, a richer, more satisfying film in every respect.
  47. Wim Wenders’ mastery of the documentary form is again on display in The Salt of the Earth.
  48. A frank, intimate look at a phenomenal popular artist and his extraordinarily dysfunctional family, Crumb is an excellent countercultural documentary.
  49. This at first slow-moving and then wildly kinetic actioner possesses a cool classicism that will appeal to offshore audiences as well as those at home.
  50. A treat, a delicious blend of perversity, playfulness and deadly passion concealed beneath the tranquil, moneyed surface of the Swiss bougeoisie.
  51. Expert story construction and compelling thesping and direction make all the narrative elements pay off as if calculated by a precision instrument in which all the parts are working perfectly.
  52. Lively, intelligent collage, both richly complex and immediately accessible.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Sings whenever Williams is onscreen.
  53. The issues come clashing together in an explosive package that, despite some snafus, remains fairly riveting to the end.
  54. In the Fog explores the moralities of wartime with restraint and exacting execution.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Exquisitely acted, tightly directed and impressively assembled.
  55. An extraordinary docu achievement. Handsomely filmed on silvery 35mm and high-definition by Kaye himself, the shrewdly edited picture balances a full spectrum of views from all sides of the abortion debate without obviously taking a position itself.
  56. A breathlessly involving tale of urban indifference, rampant hypocrisy and the difference a little human decency can make, superbly played pic is a black comedy that's frequently funny but never frivolous.
  57. Narco Cultura is as overwhelming as it is absorbing.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Chillingly hilarious.
  58. After undergoing some unfortunate mutations in recent years, a beleaguered Marvel movie property gets the smart, stylish prequel it deserves in X-Men: First Class.
  59. Even more than in "Our Beloved Month of August," Miguel Gomes begins Tabu in a seemingly ridiculous vein and unexpectedly shifts to something surprisingly enriching and poetic.
  60. Barry Levinson goes deep with Liberty Heights, and the result is a grand slam.
  61. Although the story is built around the automatically emotional situation of an imperiled kid, scripters Richard Price (who appears briefly as an uncomfortably handcuffed victim of Sinise in the early going) and Alexander Ignon and director Ron Howard largely steer clear of milking the easy melodrama.
  62. Rock is enormously appealing here, balancing his patented comic abrasiveness with a real tenderness, the faint bewilderment of an ordinary man blindsided by his own success. And Dawson makes an excellent foil.
  63. Gripping, highly dramatic thriller that more than confirms the distinctive talent of young Brit helmer Christopher Nolan.
  64. A deeply rewarding throwback to the unself-conscious days when cinema still strove to be magical, The Secrets in their Eyes is simply mesmerizing.
  65. Stevens offers a couple of revelations that bring the documentary to a dramatically and emotionally satisfying conclusion — and, not incidentally, leave a viewer with the pleasing sensation of discovering a worthy individual.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Separating Housebound from most films of its type is super-smart plotting and confident tonal control, as Johnstone’s screenplay throws one terrific curve ball after another and never allows its goofy humor to compromise its genuinely scary components.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    An intense, schematic, superbly made Vietnam War drama.
  66. The filmmakers clearly value their public, crafting a splendid period swooner that delivers classic romance and an indelible insider's view of 1930s circus life.
  67. A very entertaining get-tough fantasy with political and feminist underpinnings.
  68. Anchored by a strong cast, including Samuel L. Jackson (also credited as a producer), Lynn Whitfield and Diahann Carroll, this talented debut by a black female writer-director is a well-made, if also old-fashioned, multi-generational drama.
  69. Tension flows organically from every phase of this dangerous endeavor, making for a highly entertaining outing for operaphiles and operaphobes alike.
  70. This reworking of a popular Hong Kong picture pulses with energy, tangy dialogue and crackling performances from a fine cast.
  71. Very much in line with his maiden screen efforts "In the Company of Men" and "Your Friends and Neighbors"...ends with a satisfying shudder of recognition at the extreme cruelty possible within human relationships, particularly those conceived by Neil LaBute.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    It is literate, bawdy, sophisticated, sensual, cynical, heart-warming, and disturbingly thought-provoking.
  72. For Scientologists, going clear refers to a coveted status awarded to those who have completed a certain level of auditing. But for the men and women on screen here, it means something else: reclaiming their own voices and demanding to be heard.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The performances are uniformly excellent. Mastroianni is perfect in the key role of the basically good and honest boy who succumbs to the sweet life. Ekberg is a revelation as the visiting star, while Furneaux almost runs off with the picture as the reporter's instinctive, possessive mistress. (Review of original release)
  73. A fastidiously grim ghost story that rattles the bones of the haunted-house genre and finds plenty of fresh (but not too bloody) meat.
  74. Dowd's graciousness and enthusiasm, and the enormous respect afforded him by industryites on record here, make this a thorough and satisfying acknowledgement of one man's unique contribution to popular music.
  75. Assembled from three years’ worth of visits to one of the world’s most volatile hot zones, the format of Stolen Seas is as every bit as exciting as its content, raising beguiling questions about how the team managed to acquire the footage so stunningly interwoven by editor Garret Price.
  76. Last year's "The Prisoner of Azkaban" seemed dark, but this excellent fourth film derived from J.K. Rowling's books is the darkest "Potter" yet, intense enough to warrant a PG-13 rating.
  77. Joyously re-creates the brief but resplendent reign of the legendary freakadelic drag troupe.
  78. A sensitive, intimate, enormously touching drama.
  79. Emphasis on its combustible emotions, suspense and surprising humor should help draw sophisticated audiences who, once lured, will quickly find themselves hooked for the duration.
  80. Writer-director Sean Baker’s sun-scorched, street-level snapshot is a work of rueful, matter-of-fact insight and unapologetically wild humor that draws a motley collection of funny, sad and desperate individuals into its protagonists’ orbit.
  81. A hilarious farce.
  82. Zoo
    A breathtakingly original nonfiction work by Seattle-based filmmaker Robinson Devor (whose "Police Beat" was among the highlights of Sundance's 2005 dramatic competition).
    • 96 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    George C. Scott as the fiery Pentagon general who seizes on the crisis as a means to argue for total annihilation of Russia offers a top performance, one of the best in the film. Odd as it may seem in this backdrop, he displays a fine comedy touch.

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