Spencer Kornhaber

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For 31 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 32% higher than the average critic
  • 9% same as the average critic
  • 59% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 1.8 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Spencer Kornhaber's Scores

Average review score: 70
Highest review score: 100 Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé
Lowest review score: 30 American Horror Story: Season 8
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 31
  2. Negative: 2 out of 31
31 tv reviews
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Spencer Kornhaber
    The Homecoming movie’s combo of well-edited stage spectacle and behind-the-scenes segments—intimate, hard-fought, occasionally tense, politically explicit, personally specific segments—make it a career-defining document.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Spencer Kornhaber
    The HBO comedy’s exceptionally devilish final season. ... More than ever, the show’s quest for laughs overlaps with a quest for offense; it sometimes seems like the show’s ticking through a list of sensitive topics to riff on.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 80 Spencer Kornhaber
    Rather than contend in a cheesy quiz show or an overproduced melodrama, singles chase dopamine as they would in addictive video games. This is what Netflix’s refreshing and distressing new show Dating Around nails--both in what it portrays, and in the viewing experience.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 80 Spencer Kornhaber
    [The season premiere] is one of the more quiet and soulful High Maintenance episodes to date. But once the Guy is back in New York City for Episode 2, the show’s mischievous comic energy returns with two stories that dovetail alarmingly well with recent controversies about the potential mental harm of marijuana use.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Spencer Kornhaber
    The performances are excellent, maybe better than ever before. But Cards has always been a show whose plot contortions could confuse and whose incremental intrigue could bore, and those problems are worse now that everyone seems to be whispering. There are interesting ideas at play, though. ... Unfortunately, it isn’t until more than halfway through the eight-episode season that Claire’s big plan becomes clear.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 30 Spencer Kornhaber
    The Apocalypse premiere can barely muster even the baseline bonkers, though: Forgoing the directive to terrify, it relies on first-draft camp comedy.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Spencer Kornhaber
    Old dynamics flip, long-gestating character studies pay off, and feelings geyser up in surprising places.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Spencer Kornhaber
    Queer Eye is queer on a level deeper than its sanctifying of homosexuals as domestic superheroes. It’d be queer--though not as fun--even without the yaaasing of groomer Jonathan Van Ness and the tight Little Life tees of foodie Antoni Porowski. ... “You’re telling me what I already know, but I need to be told,” one subject says. This empowering approach is especially effective with Season 2’s two curveball clients: a cisgender woman and a trans man.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Spencer Kornhaber
    It is great, great TV. Much credit goes to the group of highly watchable experts, whose breakout stars include Karamo, a satin-swathed bro whisperer; Jonathan, a whirligig of sass and kilts and moisturizing wisdom; and Antoni, the self-consciously pretty boy and supposed food whiz. Their targets are nicely varied and likable, too.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 40 Spencer Kornhaber
    We’re told what we’re watching is worthy of acclaim, even if our eyes and ears tell us otherwise. All of which not only keeps the characters from feeling like actual, three-dimensional people
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Spencer Kornhaber
    The show is clearly hoping that audiences will share that stereotypically Italian trait as it channels Federico Fellini and The Godfather. Murphy is more of a workman than a high artist, though, and his meanderings here muddle an intrinsically strange, socially resonant story.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Spencer Kornhaber
    Transparent is as beautiful television as ever. ... The characters’ shaggy-dog awkwardness, it must be said, is sometimes shared by the show itself to its detriment. ... But even such missteps are admirable signs of the show insisting on the full humanity of marginalized people, regardless of which side of any given border they’re on.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Spencer Kornhaber
    The Broad City duo does not suddenly discover responsibility and sobriety. What instead happens is that the world inflicts some pain upon them, and the show guffaws at their gonzo squirming.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 90 Spencer Kornhaber
    As the season progresses, writers/actors Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney deftly show the couple mending trust even as one party maintains a secret that, one expects, will eventually become a “little corpse.” ... B-plots involving the couple’s friends and family members prove mostly uproarious, as well.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Spencer Kornhaber
    Although Fring’s first arrival is, unshockingly, a muted one, the sight of Giancarlo Esposito as a fast-food manager may nevertheless dislodge a few tense memories in the Breaking Bad fan’s brain. Remember the careful way he assembled his fish stew? Remember the precise manner he used to cut an underling’s throat? What a fitting addition to the Saul story: a devil who works in details.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Spencer Kornhaber
    Its deft and satisfying first few episodes should please both the voyeurs and the feminists, and more importantly highlight how the two groups can overlap.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 40 Spencer Kornhaber
    Promising a web of Jungian symbolism, Lynchian surrealism, and Abrams-y subterfuge, but nearly no compelling characters, little narrative cohesion, and blah cinematographic vision, it represents the preposterous pinnacle for the if-you-confuse-them-they-will-come trend.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Spencer Kornhaber
    NBC’s new show about cops and criminals who zap between the present and the past itself zips along with the merciless efficiency of, well, an expertly made network procedural. Which gives rise to plenty of eye-roll-worthy moments--but also allows the show to successfully deliver the philosophical sugar rush that has made time travel one of the most persistent fiction narratives in history.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Spencer Kornhaber
    The show creator Jill Soloway’s deeply empathetic filmmaking style and her writers’ penchant for fine, funny details give the series soul and prevent the characters from tipping over into full monstrousness. The performances are more precise than ever, naturalistically portraying people who are neither wholly good nor wholly bad. Most impressive is how Soloway’s team keeps finding fresh angles on the same characters navigating the same big existential questions.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Spencer Kornhaber
    None of it innovated on horror tradition--echoes of The Blair Witch Project, The Hills Have Eyes, and The Amityville Horror abounded--but the creep-outs were executed with careful timing and visual flair. The documentary aspect and the limited cast size thus far has also offered convincing, grounded characterization of the leads--and more importantly, characterization of their relationships.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Spencer Kornhaber
    You like the characters but rarely feel any great suspense as contrived obstacles crop up to to complicate but not derail their journeys. ... But for many people, The Get Down may work like a song whose lyrics are mind-numbing but whose beat can’t be denied. Luhrmann’s aesthetic flights of fancy and the show’s fertile premise count for a lot. So does the extremely appealing cast.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Spencer Kornhaber
    The writing for three episodes I’ve seen of The Night Of dazzle through extreme competence: clean cause-and-effect narratives, crisp dialogue, and just the right amount of shading in characters’ backstories and quirks.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 Spencer Kornhaber
    Better Call Saul season two is not yet as gripping as season one’s best episodes were. But there’s plenty of reasons to bet it soon could be.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Spencer Kornhaber
    The show is as expertly shot and acted as its pedigree would suggest, with each episode serving up a few scenes of frightening tension. But the overarching plot of a man trying to rediscover purity in a corrupt world is not a complication of the already over-documented milieu Vinyl exists in. It is exactly the story rock has told about itself time and again, and not a ton is gained in the retelling here.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Spencer Kornhaber
    Five episodes might sound like a perfect, lithe treatment for such a tale, but the truth is it really only needed two or three. London Spy should have been a movie. To be fair, the storytelling does pay off frequently enough that I don’t regret having sat through the whole thing. Those strong character relationships feel all the more real because of the amount of time spent with them. And the drip-drop pacing allows for some exquisitely terrifying climaxes.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 40 Spencer Kornhaber
    The fact that the mostly inert The Shannara Chronicles is utterly familiar on both levels is a reminder that a truly vibrant fantasy story requires some sort of invention.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Spencer Kornhaber
    Its characters use politics as a pretext for making ungenerous choices, and thereby risk undermining the credibility of those politics in general. This allows Transparent to be more bracing, more challenging, and more compelling than most any other show on TV.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Spencer Kornhaber
    If this all sounds immensely convoluted and sadistic, well, welcome to American Horror Story. But there’s reason to hope that this will be among the better messes the show has served up.... Hotel’s premiere returned to the frightening essentials--death, desire, and property deeds.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 30 Spencer Kornhaber
    The deranged creativity of the slayings make for perhaps its only real horror/joy.... The rest of the show is terrible-bad, rather than terrible-good.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 40 Spencer Kornhaber
    The show itself, while existing in a sleek future of advanced technology, is a bit clunky. It hews to the most obvious tropes of case-of-the-week shows about oddball visionaries partnered with law-and-order sharpshooters, and in the first hour at least, doesn’t pay its audience much respect when it comes to the plausibility of dialogue, character motivations, or the security procedures at a mental institution for former future-convicts.

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