Variety's Scores

For 8,649 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 1.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 60
Highest review score: 100 Inside Llewyn Davis
Lowest review score: 0 Movie 43
Score distribution:
8,649 movie reviews
  1. Technically superb and witty in an old-fashioned, veddy British way that will delight many adults but will sail over the heads of young audiences.
  2. Wonderfully acted and slickly mad. Acutely written with an eye to the motivations and ambiguities involved on both sides in such a relationship.
  3. A superbly wrought yarn set in the milieu of first-generation Russian mobsters in London that is simultaneously tough-minded and compassionate about the human condition, Eastern Promises instantly takes its place among David Cronenberg's very best films.
  4. Both fascinating as a glimpse at the not so distant past, and provocative as an account of what arguably was an early step in the decline of political discourse on television.
  5. Smart, droll and dazzling to look at and listen to, writer-director Tony Gilroy's effervescent, intricately plotted puzzler proves in every way superior to his 2007 success "Michael Clayton."
  6. A triumph of indie casting of unknowns, Good Housekeeping is knee-deep in delicious thesping.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    [William Wyler] times the chuckles with a never-flagging pace, puts heart into the laughs, endows the footage with some boff bits of business and points up some tender, poignant scenes in using the smart script and the cast to the utmost advantage.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Joltingly violent, wickedly funny and rivetingly erotic, David Lynch's Wild at Heart [based on the novel by Barry Gifford] is a rollercoaster ride to redemption through an American gothic heart of darkness.
  7. Jaw-dropping, sumptuous visuals, a lush George Fenton score, state-of-the-art technology and some of the oddest creatures ever seen without recourse to artificial stimulants.
  8. A stunning feature -- another hypnotic meditation on popular demagogy and mental manipulation.
  9. The poignant and candid Boys Don't Cry can be seen as a "Rebel Without a Cause" for these culturally diverse and complex times, with the two misfit girls enacting a version of the James Dean/Natalie Wood romance with utmost conviction.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    A skilled, careful adaptation of a much-admired story, A River Runs Through It is a convincing trip back in time to a virtually vanished American West, as well as a nicely observed family study.
  10. Bold, inventive, sustained adrenaline rush of a movie.
  11. The dialogue — natural, vibrant and totally embedded in the moment, never sententious or showoff-y — is delivered with consummate believability by an excellent cast.
  12. A dazzling delight.
  13. Artistically on a plane with or near the vet filmmaker's best work, this period drama about a woman slowly discovering her metier is an artisanal creation par excellence.
  14. An enthralling, gorgeously mounted depiction of the complicated relationship between the post-Enlightenment writer and philosopher Friedrich Schiller and the sisters Charlotte von Lengefeld (who would become his wife) and Caroline von Beulwitz (his eventual biographer).
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    With beauty, brains and dignity to burn, Hafsat Abiola inherits her mother’s mantle and offers riveting insight into the contradictions of a dynasty of reformist aristocracy.
  15. Massively inventive and spiked with perversely wicked humor.
  16. Departing from two decades' worth of domestic and personal dramas and returning to his roots as Japan's maestro of mayhem, Kinji Fukasaku has delivered a brutal punch to the collective solar plexus with one of his most outrageous and timely films.
  17. Pacing is on the button, and the film moves inexorably, without any flat moments, toward the suspenseful, if morally indefensible, finale.
  18. A faithful, powerful and superbly acted adaptation of Andre Dubus III's international bestseller.
  19. By getting Tyson to open up as he has, Toback has succeeded in illuminating one of the most polarizing, complex and -- the film almost forces one to admit -- misunderstood figures of our time.
  20. Sad, tender, wise and beautiful film... It's a profound tribute to lives lived on the fringes of society -- to the introspective loners who are the most observant chroniclers of our times.
  21. Exhaustively informative and powerfully emotional.
  22. Film gathers together only those who knew, loved and made music with "the quiet Beatle."
  23. An impressively crafted drama laced with darkly comic humor.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Poignant, thoughtful and utterly absorbing, Susanne Bier's Dogme film Open Hearts is a gem.
  24. A dynamic and immersive piece of you-are-there verite.
  25. The director has managed the difficult feat of making a nonlinear film that contains a handful of almost unbearably suspenseful sequences, each one undercut by bizarre black humor.
  26. A "GoodFellas" with heart, A Bronx Tale represents a wonderfully vivid snapshot of a colorful place and time, as well as a very satisfying directorial debut by Robert De Niro. Overflowing with behavioral riches and the flavor of a deep-dyed New York Italian neighborhood, the film also trades intelligently in pertinent moral and social issues that raise it above the level of nostalgia or the mere memoir.
  27. Gripping, intimate genre triumph.
  28. Like hard-edged "Masterpiece Theater."
  29. The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a visionary tour de force, morphing from a childlike gambol into a sophisticated allegory on the folly of materialism and the evanescence of beauty.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Crass, broad, irreverent, wacky fun - and absolutely hilarious from beginning to end.
  30. Amy Berg's clear, captivating, indignant film carves out its own significant place in criminal-justice cinema, makes new and startling revelations into the triple-murder mystery, and is visually spectacular to boot.
  31. Similar in its battlefield passages to last year's Danish-made "Armadillo," Dennis' film scores a layered perspective that follows Marine Sgt. Nathan Harris into combat and back home.
  32. Repulsive and sublimely beautiful, arguably celebratory and damning of its characters, it’s hideous and masterful all at once, “Salo” with sunburn.
  33. Does a superb job of condensing an overwhelming mass of documentation, archival imagery and artistic representation into a concise yet passionate history lesson whose relevance could not be timelier.
  34. Lensed with a complete absence of frills that perfectly suits its honest, unvarnished tone, The Overnighters presents an indelible snapshot of a despairing moment in American history, as men abandon homes, families and dreams to stake their claim in an ever-shrinking land of opportunity.
  35. Emerges as the best in the overall series since "The Empire Strikes Back."
  36. Cooper seems to make actors feel safe and willing to expose themselves in ways they ordinarily might not, and time and again he takes scenes to places of unexpected emotional power.
  37. Taken together, "Flags" and "Letters" represent a genuinely imposing achievement, one that looks at war unflinchingly -- that does not deny its necessity but above all laments the human loss it entails.
  38. If necessity is the mother of invention, then DreamWorks’ desire to extend the Dragon franchise has propelled the creative team in the most admirable of directions, resulting in what just may be the mother of all animated sequels.
  39. A period drama marbled with humor, bold gestures and bittersweet consequences.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Out of the elusive, but curiously intoxicating Truman Capote fiction, scenarist George Axelrod has developed a surprisingly moving film, touched up into a stunningly visual motion picture.
  40. Enormously satisfying, superbly crafted.
  41. Finally. After "The Phantom of the Opera," "Rent" and "The Producers" botched the transfer from stage to screen, Dreamgirls gets it right. Bill Condon's adaptation of the 1981 show about a Motown trio's climb to crossover stardom pulls off the fundamental double-act those three musical pics all missed: It stays true to the source material while standing on its own as a fully reimagined movie.
  42. Ingeniously conceived and impressively executed, Pleasantville is a provocative, complex and surprisingly anti-nostalgic parable.
  43. Has a sharper narrative focus and a livelier sense of forward movement than did the more episodic "Fellowship."
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    An Officer and a Gentleman deserves a 21-gun salute, maybe 42. Rarely does a film come along with so many finely-drawn characters to care about.
  44. Unlike "Four Weddings," which ultimately was moralistic and conservative in its message --—About Adam is a frolic free of any judgments, and marked by Stembridge's sparkling wit.
  45. In his bigscreen feature debut, director and co-writer Jonathan Mostow displays real flair for visceral cinema while adroitly sidestepping many of the usual tripwires of this sort of film, particularly silly coincidences, stupid decisions on the part of characters with whom you're supposed to identify, and superheroics performed by ordinary people.
  46. Ambitiously tackling his biggest canvas to date, Clint Eastwood continues to defy and triumph over the customary expectations for a film career in Flags of Our Fathers.
  47. Darkly comic, vastly entertaining and utterly original.
  48. A wicked, sexy and ultimately devastating study of a young dancer's all-consuming ambition, Black Swan serves as a fascinating complement to Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler," trading the grungy world of a broken-down fighter for the more upscale but no less brutal sphere of professional ballet.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    A delightful and delicate comic fable.
  49. Craftily combining elements that speak directly to three different generations, this accomplished ensemble piece is shaping up to be the surprise homegrown hit of the season.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Stretching himself with each new work, David Cronenberg has come up with a fascinating, demanding, mordantly funny picture.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Performed to maximum effect by a host of top-flight actors, Ulu Grosbard's strong character study is knit together by a tense subtext that underlies even the calmest moments.
  50. While its tone is occasionally overly strident, Aferim! is an exceptional, deeply intelligent gaze into a key historical period, done with wit as well as anger.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Genuine and moving... Script is remarkably mature in its dealings with teens.
  51. Taped in stark black-and-white and clocking in 15 minutes shy of six hours, invigorating pic is big, passionate and brimming with compelling human details and broad sociopolitical idealism.
  52. A cogent human drama.
  53. A movie so unrepentantly French that viewers who enjoy truly Gallic pics can start (tastefully) salivating now.
  54. If the satire feels familiar, and the dramatics often contrived, there's rarely a moment here when something funny, intense or cleverly interconnected doesn't keep one's synapses firing on overdrive.
  55. Taxidermia sets a benchmark for body horror in the cinema.
  56. With its strong premise, a couple of fine performances and highly polished tooling, The Jackal scores as an involving high-tech thriller that occasionally hits peaks of pulsating excitement.
  57. Director Chris Columbus shrewdly brings together many of the same selling points as in his "Home Alone" movies, mixing broad comedic strokes with heavy-handed messages about the magical power of family.
  58. An utterly fascinating, beautifully crafted exploration of the world of drag kings -- women who dress, perform and/or live as men.
  59. What makes the picture feel special is its unflinching honesty and lack of sentimentality or moralizing, along with assured direction and excellent performances.
  60. Crucially for such an elaborately dressed production, the characters all come thoroughly alive with their ready wits and pulsing emotions, overcoming the two-century gap with seeming effortlessness.
  61. The script is faithful, the actors are just right, the sets, costumes, makeup and effects match and sometimes exceed anything one could imagine.
  62. Truly beguiling romantic comedy.
  63. Visually stunning, practically dialogue-free and very family-friendly.
  64. Despite its ostensibly depressing subject and a few tough-to-watch sequences, Blood Brother is never less than engrossing, and it’s often delightful.
  65. Uses first-person on-camera accounts of the adventure by Simpson and fellow climber Simon Yates to backdrop newly shot you-are-there footage that brings home the awesome and harrowing aspects of their feat.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Seeps with atmosphere, unfolds at a deceptively relaxed pace, steadily accumulates noirish grit, then dizzily plunges into a Lynch-like plumbing of the dark passions and nasty secrets at the heart of Main Street, USA.
  66. A barkingly funny new "mockumentary" that does for those canine pageants what the helmer's 1996 "Waiting for Guffman" did for smalltown theatrics.
  67. In the darkly humorous Fargo, iconoclastic filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen manage the precarious balancing act of respecting genre conventions and simultaneously pushing them to an almost surrealistic extreme. Very funny stuff.
  68. [Francis] Lawrence and his team have calibrated the entire experience for maximum engagement. And while its pleasures can’t touch the thrill of seeing the Death Star destroyed — not yet, at least — the film runs circles around George Lucas’ ability to weave complex political ideas into the very fabric of B-movie excitement.
  69. Not since "Scream" has a horror movie subverted the expectations that accompany the genre to such wicked effect as The Cabin in the Woods, a sly, self-conscious twist on one of slasher films' ugliest stepchildren: the coed campsite massacre.
  70. Jacobson produces a remarkably creepy piece of cinema that disturbs by suggestion, nuance and ambiguity.
  71. A taut, suspenseful, linear approach, and a trio of excellent performances.
  72. Watson is a major find as Bess. Graced with delicate, expressive features, she gives an extraordinary performance.
  73. A debut of enormous craft, surety and resourcefulness -- a superlative, soul-baring non-fiction work that will generate torrential word-of-mouth among auds lucky enough to catch it.
  74. Far more ambitious than "The Hurt Locker," yet nowhere near so tripwire-tense, this procedure-driven, decade-spanning docudrama nevertheless rivets for most of its running time.
  75. Considerable intelligence and strategic finesse have been brought to bear on this handsomely mounted adaptation of Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, which was hardly a natural for the bigscreen.
  76. A massive undertaking and an accomplished piece of filmmaking in a solid tradition of intelligent, meticulous literary adaptations.
  77. As vivid and suspenseful as Roman Polanski has made this claustrophobic tale of a torture victim turning the tables on her putative tormentor, one is still left with a film in which each character represents a mouthpiece for an ideology.
    • 41 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Grade-A pulp fiction. This erotically charged thriller about the search for an ice-pick murderer in San Francisco rivets attention through its sleek style, attractive cast doing and thinking kinky things, and story, which is as weirdly implausible as it is intensely visceral.
  78. While The Dark Knight Rises raises the dramatic stakes considerably, at least in terms of its potential body count, it doesn't have its predecessor's breathless sense of menace or its demonic showmanship, and with the exception of one audacious sleight-of-hand twist, the story can at times seem more complicated than intricate.
  79. This is not "E.T.," nor is it a kid's film nor even necessarily a major mass-audience film, although Spielberg's name, high public anticipation and the child-oriented campaign will make it perform like one.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    An intense, bloody, in-your-face crime drama about a botched robbery and its aftermath, colorfully written in vulgar gangster vernacular and well played by a terrific cast.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Even those who don't rally to pic's fed-up feminist outcry will take to its comedy, momentum and dazzling visuals.
  80. This is essentially an absorbing and intelligent exploration of queer desire spiced up with thriller elements.
  81. A warm, often invigorating and ultimately moving ode to community values.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Scene after scene is filled with a ferocious strength and humor. Michael Lerner's performance as a Mayer-like studio overlord is sensational.
  82. Though compelling throughout, District 9 never becomes outright terrifying, largely because Blomkamp is less interested in exploiting his aliens for cheap scares than in holding up a mirror to our own bloodthirsty, xenophobic species.
  83. Evidencing savvy visual flair and compelling storytelling skill, Goyer infuses heart and vigor into material that could have come off as overly familiar at best, sappily improbable at worst.
  84. A superior example of fearless filmmakers in exactly the right place at the right time.
  85. Beneath the Harvest Sky offers a heartbreakingly authentic, vividly realized account of adolescent frustration and yearning.
  86. Colorful characters, richly evoked settings, epic story of friendship, crime and punishment, and a strong dose of good old-fashioned star power.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    There is no denying Danny Hoch's talent. A monologist in the tradition of Eric Bogosian, Hoch assembles a cast of urban types and explores their dysfunctions and angst with a winning combination of sympathy, ironic point and dead-on mimicry.
  87. Binoche leaves audiences with the same exhilarating feeling here — of having witnessed something precious and rare — answering the challenge of Assayas’ script by revealing a character incredibly closer to her soul.
  88. Lee takes a conventional, talking-heads-and-archival-clips approach to the material, but rewardingly establishes an intimate connection with his subjects by devoting considerable time to the personalities and families of the four victims.
  89. Although laid out with such clarity that any layperson could catch the gist of what's being discussed, Side by Side is not afraid to get nitty-gritty about more technical matters.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The Graduate is a delightful, satirical comedy-drama about a young man's seduction by an older woman, and the measure of maturity which he attains from the experience.
  90. As carefully constructed, handsomely crafted and flavorsomely acted as a top-of-the-line production from Hollywood's classical studio era, Francis Ford Coppola's screen version of John Grisham's The Rainmaker would seem to represent just about all a filmmaker could do with the best-selling author's patented dramatic formulas without subverting them altogether.
  91. What the film lacks in context it gains in visceral eyewitness value.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Taut and nuanced from start to finish, with memorable, lived-in central characters and an appealingly melancholy tone, helmer/co-scripter Nicole Garcia’s third feature has what it takes.
  92. An awe-inspiring survey of global surf culture, with the power to crush the post-"Gidget" decades of Hollywood stereotyping of surfers and surfing.
  93. Blending wit and modesty, Mann fits the bill, coming across as an overgrown kid with a good heart, but virtually no practice in relating to others — which is perhaps the thing that makes his experience so profoundly relatable.
  94. A smart, subtle and seriously funny dramedy bound to find favor with sophisticated auds.
  95. Imagine a live-action version of the "Dilbert" comic strip with a touch of Hal Hartley's deadpan absurdism, and you're ready for the frequently uproarious "Office Space."
  96. An astonishing work of studio artifice, A Little Princess is that rarest of creations, a children's film that plays equally well to kids and adults.
  97. A doggone hilarious cartoon extravaganza...virtually bursts at the seams with a supersized abundance of witty wordplay, silly songs and inspired sight gags.
  98. Intelligent political satire this expertly acted is nothing to sneeze at.
  99. Immaculately crafted in beautiful black-and-white and entirely absorbing through its longish running time, Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon nonetheless proves a difficult film to entirely embrace.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Daniel Waters' enormously clever screenplay blazes a trail of originality through the dead wood of the teen-comedy genre.
  100. A markedly better picture than Roberto Benigni's far more sentimental Oscar collector.
  101. Armstrong and Jones smoothly navigate the magical tale through numerous shocking twists and turns until they bring it to a most logical, emotionally satisfying conclusion.
  102. Here, as in his 1992 breakthrough feature, “In the Soup,” Rockwell conveys his characters’ peculiar suppositions and perceptions using a variety of cinematic approaches, many recalling the untrammeled exuberance of early cinema.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The kind of muted, anything-but-obvious psychological thriller Hitchcock would have loved.
  103. Builds steadily through a series of masterfully orchestrated modulations to a final act without shattering revelations or lofty dramatic peaks but with a quiet, formidable power.
  104. Song of the Sea is differentiated not only by its rich visual design — grayer and more subdued than “The Secret of Kells,” yet still a marvel to behold — but also by its ethereal musical dimension, another collaboration between composer Bruno Coulais and Irish folk band Kila.
  105. Richard Gere goes slumming in the streets of Manhattan and emerges with one of his more remarkable performances in Time Out of Mind, a haunting piece of urban poetry that further confirms Oren Moverman as a socially conscious filmmaker of rare conviction and authority.
  106. Shines like a freshly minted coin in Oliver Parker's adaptation.
  107. Not so much a Hitler movie as a portrait of a totalitarian machine's spiritual and emotional collapse, Downfall is a cumulatively powerful Goetterdammerung centered on the last 10 days of the bunkered Fuehrer and those around him.
  108. Wang has made a dramatically confident move into the mainstream on his own terms with highly congenial material.
  109. Raw but utterly enveloping.
  110. This handsomely produced period piece is easily the most emotionally effective bigscreen melodrama since "The Joy Luck Club," as well as the most intelligent.
  111. This full-bodied adaptation of Dennis Lehane's involved and involving 2001 bestselling crime novel about old friends in Boston's working-class Irish neighborhood finds Clint Eastwood near the top of his directorial game with a cast of first-rate actors.
  112. The endlessly resourceful Nicolas Cage, as a celestial angel, and a terrifically engaging Meg Ryan, as a pragmatic surgeon, create such blissful chemistry that they elevate the drama to a poetic level seldom reached in a mainstream movie.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Al Pacino again is outstanding as Michael Corleone, successor to crime family leadership.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The Fisher King has two actors at the top of their form, and a compelling, well-directed and well-produced story.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Fonda himself has given this a fine production dress, with associate Bert Schneider, and the brilliant lensing, excellent music background ballads, especially Bob Dylan's "Easy Rider," are fine counterpoints to this poetic trip along Southwest America.
  113. Lightning strikes twice, but not as brilliantly as before, in Shrek 2. The welcome sequel to the monster 2001 Oscar winner about an ogre's unlikely romance with a beautiful princess successfully recycles many of the qualities that made the first one an instant animated classic and worldwide smash.
  114. An unnerving, acidly funny work that fosters an acute air of dread without ever fully announcing itself as a horror movie.
  115. Chazelle proves an exceptional builder of scenes, crafting loaded, need-to-succeed moments that grab our attention and hold it tight.
  116. A gossamer debut feature that compensates for its lo-fi look with glimpses of profound humanism.
  117. Paley sustains a consistently funny, sometimes even self-deprecatory comic tone.
  118. It's not really either an animal or a kids' film but rather a young adult drama that rings emotionally true.
  119. Deconstructs time and space with Einstein-caliber dexterity in the service of a delectably disturbing tale of revenge.

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