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. This is one vintage film that fully lives up to its classic status and should play with outstanding success to contemporary audiences of all ages.
  2. Decidedly not revolutionary cinema, Something in the Air instead quietly demystifies its subject. The tone of the piece is wryly affectionate but never indulgent; the experiences depicted feel emotionally true and lived-in without ever catching the viewer up in a rush of intoxication or excitement.
  3. An irresistible treat with enough narrative twists and memorable characters for a half-dozen films.
  4. Adapting the cold language of data encryption to recount a dramatic saga of abuse of power and justified paranoia, Poitras brilliantly demonstrates that information is a weapon that cuts both ways.
  5. Bravura narrative filmmaking on a hugely ambitious scale, Carlos is a spectacular achievement.
  6. As in all Godard’s best work, precise meaning is subsumed in an exhilarating tide of sound and light, impish provocations and inspired philosophizing.
  7. The film manages to educate without ever feeling didactic, and to entertain in the face of what would, to any other character, seem like a grim life sentence.
  8. Miyazaki is at the peak of his visual craftsmanship here, alternating lush, boldly colored rural vistas with epic, crowded urban canvases, soaring aerial perspectives and test flights both majestic and ill-fated.
  9. This is the director’s most accessible and naturalistic film, using everyday characters to test how well modern-day Russia is maintaining the social contract with its citizens.
  10. Mel Gibson is always good for a surprise, and his latest is that Apocalypto is a remarkable film. Set in the waning days of the Mayan civilization, the picture provides a trip to a place one's never been before, offering hitherto unseen sights of exceptional vividness and power.
  11. A spellbinding, sensationally effective thriller with a complex moral center.
  12. The mesmerizing performance of Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the celebrated writer dominates every scene, while director Bennett Miller and screenwriter Dan Futterman's penetrating study enthralls in every aspect.
  13. Leigh has made another highly personal study of art, commerce and the glacial progress of establishment tastes, built around a lead performance from longtime Leigh collaborator Timothy Spall that’s as majestic as one of Turner’s own swirling sunsets.
  14. An instant ancillary classic for music fan.
  15. A profound, elemental and hauntingly beautiful period drama that makes an intimate story of endurance into a metaphor for an entire culture.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Magnify James Bond's extraordinary physical powers while curbing his sex drive and you have the essence of Superman, a wonderful, chuckling, preposterously exciting fantasy.
  16. But the filmmakers have invigorated and enriched the story through the use of a thousand details, a strong sense of time and place, outstanding characterizations and a display of energy and cinematic flair that marks an advance on "My Left Foot."
  17. The film’s turn toward the tragic is hardly untelegraphed, but its emotional blows still land with crushing precision.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A sexy, nuanced, beautifully controlled examination of how a quartet of people are defined by their erotic impulses and inhibitions.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    One of the most entertaining, best executed, original road pictures ever.
  18. An out-and-out charmer. It's almost impossible to do justice in words either to the visual richness of the movie, which melanges traditional Japanese clothes and architecture with both Victorian and modern-day artifacts, or to the character-filled storyline, with human figures, harpies and grotesque creatures.
  19. Though the film brims with memorable characters, the show ultimately belongs to Ejiofor, who upholds the character’s dignity throughout.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Pitch-perfect, terrifically written.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Brilliant cinema theatre.
  20. Throughout, Payne gently infuses the film’s comic tone with strains of longing and regret, always careful to avoid the maudlin or cheaply sentimental.
  21. Grounded by a performance of monumental soul from Gleeson as a tough-minded Irish priest marked for death by one of his parishioners, the film offers a mordantly funny survey of small-town iniquity that morphs, almost imperceptibly, into a deeply felt lament for a fallen world.
  22. An act of cinephilic homage that transcends pastiche to become its own uniquely sensuous cinematic object, Strickland’s densely layered, slyly funny portrayal of the sadomasochistic affair between two lesbian entomologists tips its hats to such masters of costumed erotica as Jess Franco, Tinto Brass and Jean Rollin, without ever cheapening its strange but affecting love story.
  23. Honoring all that was memorable about its forebears while taking the story to new depths of catharsis, Before Midnight stands as a unique and uniquely satisfying entry in what has shaped up to be an outstanding screen trilogy
    • tbd Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Words can't do justice to the visual masterpiece Baraka.
  24. Rachel Boynton’s extraordinary Big Men should come tagged with a warning: The side effects of global capitalism may include dizziness, nausea and seething outrage.
  25. A wonderfully acted, acutely observed psychological drama.
  26. For all the tyrannical disdain he's shown other filmmakers over the years, von Trier once again demonstrates a mastery of classical technique, extracting incredibly strong performances from his cast while serving up a sturdy blend of fly-on-the-wall naturalism and jaw-dropping visual effects.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The Untouchables is a beautifully crafted portrait of Prohibition-era Chicago.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Evinces an artistic rigor and unsentimental intelligence unlike anything the world's most successful filmmaker has demonstrated before.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    War is hell, and Patton is one hell of a war picture, perhaps one of the most remarkable of its type ever made.
  27. The brilliantly edited tapestry of actions and reactions exposes a pattern of prejudice and fear capable of infinitely repeating itself.
  28. Boldly and magnificently strange, There Will Be Blood marks a significant departure in the work of Paul Thomas Anderson.
  29. A triumph on every creative level, from casting to execution.
  30. Handsomely produced and never less than hugely entertaining, Ascher's film is catnip for Kubrickians and critics both professional and otherwise.
  31. Rarely do you find such self-plunging material beyond the realm of documentary or far-fringe museum fare, and despite his background in that arena, Mills sheds all preciosity in service of genuinely revealing introspection.
  32. Sans dialogue or translation, each interaction effectively becomes a puzzle to be solved, and Slaboshpytskiy is brilliant at using ambiguity to heighten rather than dull the viewer’s perceptions. Even when the meaning of a particular exchange eludes us, a greater sense of narrative comprehension begins to take hold.
  33. Haneke demonstrates profound insight into the essence of human behavior when all humility is pared away, raw panic and despair are the order of the day, and man becomes more like wolf than man.
  34. In attempting to make his first film for all ages, Martin Scorsese has fashioned one for the ages. Simultaneously classical and modern, populist but also unapologetically personal, Hugo flagrantly defies the mind-numbing quality of most contempo kidpics.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Annie Get Your Gun is socko musical entertainment on film, just as it was on the Broadway stage. (Review of original release)
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A mesmerizing reconstruction and investigation of a senseless murder. It employs strikingly original formal devices to pull together diverse interviews.
  35. It’s a simple, even predictable story, yet textured so exquisitely and acted so forcefully as to feel almost revelatory.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Substance is here in spades, along with the twisted, brilliantly controlled style on which filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen made a name.
  36. The Dardennes once again find a richness of human experience that dwarfs most movies made on an epic canvas.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A blazing, cinematic comic book, full of virtuoso moviemaking, terrific momentum, solid performances and a compelling story.
  37. di Florio emerges with a serenely powerful, handcrafted film that navigates into a place Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once called "the tangled discords of our nation."
  38. Not just one of the great racing movies of all time, but a virtuoso feat of filmmaking in its own right, elevated by two of the year’s most compelling performances.
  39. Far from abandoning his trademark humor, however, the writer-director skillfully enlists it in the service of an emotional story, charting the heroine's journey from loss and torment to rediscovered strength and hope. Propelled by stellar performances and a script that resonates with intelligence, subtlety and surprises, this is by far Almodovar's best film in years.
  40. The fun that Schlesinger and his first-rate ensemble must have had while working on this production is infectious, for there isn't one dull -- or quiet -- moment in the film.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Balkan probably gives her best performance to date to create a woman tormented by instability, sexual drive and psycho demons -- disjointedly portrayed in the script.
  41. Remarkably funny and entirely convincing, film pulls off the rare accomplishment of being an in-drag comedy which also emerges with three-dimensional characters.
  42. Exhilarating, heartbreaking and righteous, Waiting for Superman is also a kind of high-minded thriller: Can the American education system be cured?
  43. Trenchantly witty and acutely insightful.
  44. This educational eye-popper should prove an excellent draw for science lovers of all ages.
  45. Ratatouille is delicious. In this satisfying, souffle-light tale of a plucky French rodent with a passion for cooking, the master chefs at Pixar have blended all the right ingredients -- abundant verbal and visual wit, genius slapstick timing, a soupcon of Gallic sophistication -- to produce a warm and irresistible concoction that's sure to appeal to everyone's inner Julia Child.
  46. Rare proof that a gigantic production in contemporary Hollywood can possess a distinctive personality and its own approach to storytelling, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World proves as bracing as a stiff wind on the open sea.
  47. Continues Fincher's fascinating transition from genre filmmaker extraordinaire to indelible chronicler of our times.
  48. The film is a master class in comic timing, employing pacing and repetition with the skill of a practiced concert pianist.
  49. As always, Techine is excellent at exploring “tiny” personal flashes that assume larger meaning when placed against the broader historical context.
  50. Looks and sounds wonderful, and while more information about these giants of African-Latin music might have been welcome, the music's the thing.
  51. Wrenchingly acted, deftly manipulated and terrifyingly well made.
  52. Charles Ferguson's sophomore film Inside Job is the definitive screen investigation of the global economic crisis, providing hard evidence of flagrant amorality -- and of a new nonfiction master at work.
  53. The pleasure is doubled in Spider-Man 2. Crackerjack entertainment from start to finish, this rousing yarn about a reluctant superhero and his equally conflicted friends and enemies improves in every way on its predecessor and is arguably about as good a live-action picture as anyone's ever made using comicbook characters.
  54. Rarely has a book sprung so vividly to life, but also worked so enthrallingly in pure movie terms, as with Atonement, Brit helmer Joe Wright’s smart, dazzlingly upholstered adaptation of Ian McEwan’s celebrated 2001 novel.
  55. Enthralling...An ambitious, full-bodied crime epic of gratifying scope and moral complexity, this is seriously brainy pop entertainment that satisfies every expectation raised by its hit predecessor and then some.
  56. Tilling some of the same conspiracy turf he explored in "All the President's Men," Pakula has improved on Grisham's book by excising much of the detritus, crafting a taut, intelligent thriller that succeeds on almost every level.
  57. Clint Eastwood has crafted a tense, hard-edged, superbly dramatic yarn that is also an exceedingly intelligent meditation on the West, its myths and its heroes.
  58. A film of quiet but profound outrage, laughing on the surface, but howling in anger just beneath.
  59. Eye-poppingly intimate footage of various critters evolving from the fetal stage or eating, strolling, fighting and courting that can only be obtained via infinite patience with special equipment in exotic locations.
  60. The Usual Suspects is an ironic, bang-up thriller about the wages of crime. A terrific cast of exciting actors socks over this absorbingly complicated yarn that's been spun in a seductively slick fashion by director Bryan Singer.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    In every respect it is outstanding.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A magnificent film. George Lucas set out to make the biggest possible adventure fantasy out of his memories of serials and older action epics, and he succeeded brilliantly.
  61. Boasting a narrative of extraordinary complexity and density, stuffed with irony, humor and tales-within-tales, the imaginative animated memoir Rocks in My Pockets merges a mini-history of 20th-century Latvia with that of helmer Signe Baumane and her forebears.
  62. Pitch perfect and brilliantly acted, 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days is a stunning achievement, helmed with a purity and honesty that captures not just the illegal abortion story at its core but the constant, unremarked negotiations necessary for survival in the final days of the Soviet bloc.
  63. Devilishly inventive and so far out there it's almost off the scale.
  64. Enormously ambitious and masterfully made, Traffic represents docudrama-style storytelling at a very high level.
  65. An exquisite ode to a working-class hero, Cinderella Man takes the almost impossibly perfect elements of the saga of underdog boxer James J. Braddock and fills it with emotional gravitas, wrenching danger and a panoramic sense of American life during the Great Depression.
  66. Had the aura of an instant classic when it was released, and the good news is that it looks at least that good, if not better, on the eve of its 20th anniversary reissue.
  67. "Cloverfield" director Matt Reeves hasn't ruined the elegant Swedish vampire story by remaking it. If anything, he's made some improvements, including the addition of a tense action-horror sequence in the middle of the film.
  68. If the screenplay, by Dan Futterman (“Capote”) and E. Max Frye, is relatively spare in terms of dialogue, it’s satisfyingly rich and thorny in its conception of the tightly wound triangle at its center, while Miller’s direction evinces the same sustained intensity and consummate control of his material that defined his first two features.
  69. With plenty to appeal to boys and girls, old and young, Walt Disney Animation Studios has a high-scoring hit on its hands in this brilliantly conceived, gorgeously executed toon, earning bonus points for backing nostalgia with genuine emotion.
  70. A faithful adaptation that captures the haunting spirit and religious nature of the 1951 novel.
  71. This edition of the seminal example of genre sensationalism refined by the cream of Hollywood craftsmanship is more complicated than a standard director's cut.
  72. A film of tenderness and humor married to the unlikeliest of subjects.
  73. Its modest surface belies the depths of a lovely seriocomedy that concisely lays bare all kinds of uncomfortable dynamics in seemingly casual, low-key fashion.
  74. An endearingly schizoid Frankenstein of a movie, by turns relentlessly high-spirited and darkly poignant.
  75. Superior historical soap opera that shrewdly sidesteps all the cliches of British costume drama with its bold, often modern approach.
  76. Though targeted at tots, Ponyo may appeal most to jaded adults thirsty for wondrous beauty and unpackaged innocence
  77. A gritty, intense and supremely accomplished sci-fier.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The Disney artists have created a vivid palette for the picture.
  78. If John Cassavetes had directed a script by Eric Rohmer, the result might have looked and sounded like Mutual Appreciation.
  79. There's a kind of rawness on the screen that most movies never approach.
  80. The result is just about the most fun you can have while learning, partly because it strips away any tangents beyond the task at hand, offering a lean, 80-minute account of how this crazy guy erected his own Everest and then proceeded to climb it.
  81. Avatar is all-enveloping and transporting, with Cameron & Co.'s years of R&D paying off with a film that, as his work has done before, raises the technical bar and throws down a challenge for the many other filmmakers toiling in the sci-fi/fantasy realm.
  82. Well contextualized and sensitively shot with extraordinary access, the pic reflects the personal, moral and ethical struggles of the doctors as well as their patients.
  83. This plays almost like an academic master class, meticulously exploring the event's ramifications but only catching full fire at the end.

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