Observer's Scores

  • Movies
For 1,242 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 47% higher than the average critic
  • 1% same as the average critic
  • 52% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 7.1 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 57
Highest review score: 100 The Company You Keep
Lowest review score: 0 Life During Wartime
Score distribution:
1242 movie reviews
  1. The result is a film—Kore-eda’s first outside of his native country and language—that feels almost aggressively low-key, low stakes and notably less urgent than the filmmaker’s earlier works.
  2. Shockingly un-cinematic and utterly devoid of dynamism, the film lacks anything resembling the well-researched insights or sharp-edged comedy that you have come to associate with the former host of The Daily Show.
    • 31 Metascore
    • 38 Critic Score
    That the film is a mediocre product doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that Disney+ now has a shiny new big-budget spectacle to dangle in front of its core audience.
  3. What results is a messy, ambitious, deeply emotional film that sometimes falls victim to the tropes of the genres it attempts to remix but never loses its power to move us.
  4. Instead, we just sort of soak in the despondency, like lukewarm water in a half-filled hot tub. While sometimes touching, the results of this noble experiment lack dynamism. Eventually whatever is fresh about the approach is undercut by a familiar will-the-man-child-finally-grow-up trope that has made some of Apatow’s lesser films feel insular and self-indulgent.
  5. There is an immediacy to the film so rare in period biopics and such a tactile physicality to its intellectual gymnastics. By the time Shirley draws to a close, you end up feeling pleasingly spent, like you just stayed up all night drinking a bottle of Canadian Club while discussing literary theory with a dear old confidant you hadn’t seen in years. Some friends just tire you out like that, and they are almost always the best kind.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    The result is a brutal and haunting meditation on violence and power in the music industry — and whose careers have been derailed in the aftermath.
  6. The High Note is a wholly unexpected and utterly enchanting summer movie throwback.
  7. It would be easy to put the blame here on the two stars; expect a lot of misguided chatter about Nanjiani and Rae’s lack of chemistry. But if they deserve blame, it is in their capacity as co-executive producers who approved production on the anemic and half-baked script.
  8. Inheritance has not one iota of the thematic intensity of Bong’s film, nor any of the dynamic relationships that make Succession’s twists and turns impactful. Instead, there is nothing much on Inheritance’s mind, and the relationships end up as underdeveloped as the film’s cliché-ridden dialogue.
  9. The series’ trademark blend of character comedy and absurdist sight gags is in full display, served up with just the proper amount of postmodern self-awareness that adds to the fun rather than detracts from it.
  10. Overall, it is the performers that give the story life and allow Arkansas to rise above some of its shallower instincts, which include a garish costume design that seems to posit the idea that people from the South dress like rodeo clowns. Hemsworth in particular brings a truth and measured heartbreak to his portrayal of someone who has been forced to glimpse how the world works and deeply wished he hadn’t.
  11. Cole’s overarching theme of time drifting, folding inward and ultimately dooming the fathers, sons, mothers and daughters of All Day and a Night is hugely aided by the manner in which he frames these ideas visually.
  12. The movie shows that, true or not, in the right hands and with the right actors, this oft-told tale—like the Western genre itself—can course with the kind of venturesomeness that makes cinema so exciting no matter the circumstances under which we watch it.
  13. The often-stilted dialogue of the teenage protagonists doesn’t fare much better. As a result, many of the performances from the seemingly talented cast come off as stiff and stagey.
  14. A film about mental health issues needs a good script and a first-rate cast to sustain a viewer’s interest, and this one has neither.
  15. After an hour of this tedium, you stop worrying about where this disaster is going — or if it’s going anywhere at all. In the end credits, 28 producers are listed for an 85-minute film that doesn’t appear to have even had one.
  16. A lurid, tasteless crime procedural about a plague of serial slaughters by a pair of particularly demented maniacs roaming across Europe torturing and mutilating young newlyweds and leaving their victims nude and positioned to resemble famous works of art. It’s more gruesome than I dare to describe.
  17. The plot may be formulaic, but there’s nothing predictable about Ben Affleck’s commitment to the role of Jack, or the subtlety and sincerity with which he plays it.
  18. Hope Gap is pithy, engaging, and insightful — the kind of movie we desperately need more of.
  19. This moronic parable inspired by Donald Trump’s treatment and attitude towards illegal immigrants is a disgrace, but so is almost everything else on the screen these days.
  20. The Banker is a sadly facile and largely surface level rendering of a profoundly complex problem that deserves more attention.
  21. When Whannell’s movie is at its best, the audience is not just a witness to the terror; we are part of the machinery that inflicts it. Which is not to say that — when it works — this remake of James Whale’s 1933 classic is a success born of camera placement, special effects, or even conceptual daring.
  22. Despite its title, Onward is a regressive film, sometimes painfully so.
  23. The entire enterprise is so muffled and dull you can’t believe what you’re watching.
  24. For an alleged psychological thriller, The Night Clerk has no thrills, suspense or tension.
  25. Buck is lovable forever. If you think he’s perfection on four legs, he is. If you think he’s the most human dog since Lassie, Benji and Rin Tin Tin, he isn’t. Because Buck, you see, is computer-generated. Never mind. I guarantee you will love him anyway.
  26. Well-crafted, potently written and beautifully acted.
  27. All of it combines into not only a profoundly romantic experience, but also an exploration of a number of different kinds of love and connection.
  28. In Downhill, it disintegrates because both parties turn out to be such unsalvageable bores — a misfire, in a feature-length movie, that is worse than stale popcorn.
  29. Vulgar, contrived and incomprehensible.
  30. In what is something of a movie miracle or at the very least an unexpected surprise, this adaptation of the much-loved Sega video game franchise launched nearly 30 years ago as a direct assault on Nintendo’s leaping plumber Mario, largely presses the all the right buttons—and even does so in the right order.
  31. Despite the lofty and even admirable aspirations of this particular entrant to the ever-growing genre, what it has to offer bears little difference from all the rest: namely, a couple of really bad nights in a very bad house.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Artistic creativity and long-term plotting can co-exist side-by-side, but striking the right balance between them is a Herculean task....Regardless, even if Harley Quinn is no longer with the Clown Prince of Crime, she’s still poised to laugh all the way to the bank with Birds of Prey.
  32. Unlike many of the other films of its ilk, The Rhythm Section never feels the need to move beyond Stephanie’s sadness and sense of loss. This is really a tragedy thriller more than it is a revenge thriller.
  33. It’s rare to see a war film you can truthfully label poignant, but The Last Full Measure combines the heart-pounding excitement of "1917" with the urgent, deeply moving emotional honesty of "Saving Private Ryan" to tell a heroic but somehow overlooked story of courage under fire that now emerges as one of the most valuable chapters to emerge from the debacle of Vietnam.
  34. It was written with empty-headed desperation and directed with minimal imagination by Guy Ritchie, one of the most incompetent filmmakers of the century.
  35. It’s not much of a story, so understandably, it’s not much of a movie, either. But for shock effects, the aliens that descend upon the Gardners are admirably grotesque and some of the special effects are admittedly hair-raising.
  36. The best thing about reviewing the new PG-13 horror movie The Turning is that you don’t have to worry about spoiling the ending because it doesn’t have one. It just, sort of, stops.
  37. This is a movie where the charming guys fire holes into the un-charming guys while blowing stuff up and telling mildly funny jokes. Its story is absurd, most of the dialogue not spoken by one of the two leads is laughable, and save for a draggy middle section when the plot mechanics keep the bad boys separated, it’s a lot of fun.
  38. Words are generally a problem for Dolittle—a fatal flaw when your picture is about talking animals. While the words are abundant, most are either perfunctory exposition or anachronistic jokes that fall flatter than the state of Nebraska.
  39. In a bargain-basement bomb called Inherit the Viper, three siblings survive one gruesome moment after another without any of them adding up to anything significant or life-affirming. Despite a running time of only 85 minutes, it feels like days of mean-spirited self-indulgence.
  40. The only reason I wanted to see it at all is Kristen Stewart, but she is so wasted that she should have stayed in bed.
  41. It’s a dull story that is still worth telling — but in a better film than Three Christs.
  42. A number of questions await anyone who lasts the full 88 minutes. What just happened? Was the suicidal composer a lunatic devil worshiper who planned for his daughter to follow in his footsteps? Will anyone else ever hear the sonata of the damned? Does anyone care?
  43. The beating heart of the film, this performance is further evidence of what a gift Foxx’s late career shift to supporting parts has been for filmgoers.
  44. It is rare that a movie finds its way into the hearts of a massive audience with both flair and sentimentality that made the 1949 "Little Women" so unique and unforgettable. The new one pretty much settles for sentimentality.
  45. The intensity is overwhelming. Every war is hell, no matter when it was fought, but 1917, which is about a war far removed from contemporary reality, turns out to the best war picture since "Saving Private Ryan."
  46. Yes, this is a great one, and a magnificent centerpiece performance by an unknown actor named Paul Walter Hauser in the title role is a major reason it is so unforgettable.
  47. Despite its desperate efforts to justify the homicides, there’s nothing remotely innovative or even goofily satirical about it. The lousy actors, incompetent writer and clueless director remain nameless. That’s my good-deed Christmas gift to all involved, and better luck next year.
  48. The result seems to tiptoe around the even juicier chance to tell the dirty behind the scenes stories that could have made this story a real bombshell indeed.
  49. Under the careful guidance of Australian director Benedict Andrews, Kristen Stewart’s Jean is a doomed star emerging in the center ring of her own drama, distinctive and refined, with an elegant mask that fails to cover the twitching nerve beneath the surface that feels like it’s always on the verge of exploding.
  50. The Safdies’ film is a cinematically expressive tightrope walk that seems designed to leave your blood pressure permanently spiked. It can be relentless and hard to take, but it is brimming with surprise and a vivacity that radiates off the screen.
  51. The dialogue is dull as dried glue, but the acting is fine, although the boundless range and skill of Redmayne is wasted, which might account for the reason he doesn’t appear to enjoy the ride as much as he could. Unfortunately, we’ve seen it all before with motorcycles, submarines, airplanes and ships at sea in peril instead of hot-air balloons.
  52. Helen Hunt is a good actress with an Oscar on her mantle and practically no ability to choose a decent movie script based on quality or entertainment value. She’s been absent from the screen far too long, so it’s a pleasure to welcome her back, but not in a labored, amateurish charade as bad as I See You.
  53. She (Watts) produced it to show off the range of her obvious talent, and deserves an A for effort in a vehicle that rates a D for dreary, desolate and depressing. The rest of The Wolf Hour deserves an F for forget it.
  54. It also happens to be the best ending of a movie this year and the work of a filmmaker completely attuned to both her craft and the inner lives of her characters. Moreover, the shot is the final act of passion and precision in a film that is teeming with both, a work of art whose flame will continue to smolder in your mind and heart well after you have left the theater.
  55. Gary Oldman, in the worst performance of his career, plays a one-eyed slum lord and master villain named Ezekiel Mannings.
  56. Intentional or not, this alleged thriller is more of a comedy, and maybe I’m just jaded, but to me, there isn’t a genuine thrill in sight.
  57. Riveting, responsible and deeply unsettling, a first-rate film like Dark Waters is a rare and welcome chapter in the dramatic fabric of how one unlikely person can make a big dent in the world of social injustice.
  58. Both the songs (once again written by two-time Oscar-winners Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez) and the relationships between the characters — strong points of the original film — register with less energy and originality this time around.
  59. Together, they redefine rapture.
  60. Waves is a demanding and absorbing family drama that unfolds in two parts without lines of division, yet both parts are distinctively and stylistically different. The film is too long, but I was impressed and riveted throughout.
  61. There’s nothing to make your hair stand on end in The Shed because it’s not convincing. Despite walk-ons by a pair of experienced professionals, Timothy Bottoms and Frank Whaley, the actors are unknown for a reason, and despite familiar weapons of self-defense such as fires, shotguns, hatchets and chainsaws, the plot is jokey and the action defies all logic.
  62. You can’t fault the actors, who play the sadism for tough, two-fisted realism, but Crown Vic (a title that makes no sense; there’s nobody named Vic in it) is still a cheap copy of Training Day and a crash course in lock-jawed cynicism 101. Not to mention the worst P.R. the city of Los Angeles has had since the Rodney King scandal.
  63. The divorce part fades in and out of focus while the marriage part unravels in flashbacks. Sometimes they drag on so long you can’t tell the difference. Still, it’s intelligent enough to like it a lot in retrospect.
  64. Honey Boy is a dolorous example of an alarming trend in modern movies — the miraculous ability of an infinitesimal talent to raise money for an obnoxious, self-indulgent film about his own life designed to appeal to absolutely nobody except the arrogant subject himself. In this instance, the jerky centerpiece in love with himself to the detriment of everyone in the audience is Shia LaBeouf.
  65. Recent complaints about action flicks with no action can be ameliorated by Primal, a white-knuckle thriller with a thrill a minute. Nicolas Cage delivers his best performance in years.
  66. This is a movie where the characters utter the word “weird” enough times to fill an Advent calendar; in truth, the only thing that’s actually weird about it is how middle-of-the-road and mild it is.
  67. Unfortunately, it turns to be duller and infinitely more stagnant than most Hollywood dreck. But it is partially saved by very good actors who struggle valiantly to make it less monotonous than it is.
  68. With enough terror to satisfy modern audiences and enough underplayed plot movement to save it from conventional biopic trajectory, Harriet holds interest and invites respect. It is still not the great Civil War epic it could have been, but it’s solid enough to work, and Cynthia Erivo’s valiant and committed performance is a wonderful achievement.
  69. Sensitively directed by the Israeli duo Mihal Brezis and Oded Binnun, The Etruscan Smile is a perfect example of what can happen when a great, versatile and powerful actor raises familiar material above and beyond the level of mediocrity.
  70. Motherless Brooklyn is so messy, confusing and pointless that you don’t know what’s going on half the time, and couldn’t care less.
  71. The Great Alaskan Race is the vigorous, heartbreaking film about that true story that will leave you cheering.
  72. By the Grace of God is still one of the best films of 2019.
  73. Even a guest appearance by Jamie Lee Curtis couldn’t bring this celluloid zombie to life.
  74. It’s a well-meaning idea that never quite succeeds on the levels of either comedy or drama. Call it a noble failure.
  75. Indeed, considering its trippy visuals and leaden dialog, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil would work much better with the sound turned off (the music is as ubiquitous as it is unremarkable) and Dark Side of the Moon or a bootleg of a Dead show blasting on the stereo.
  76. In a masterful bit of cinematic sleight of hand, Bong, the writer and director behind 2013’s "Snowpiercer" and 2017’s "Okja," harnesses the precise anxieties everyone of us is currently sharing — top of that list, the growing income gap and the crumbling planet — and uses them to make every scene in this blackhearted comic thriller crackle with energy and purpose.
  77. The result is fascinating, informative, educational and totally entertaining.
  78. At the movies, bad things happen to good people all the time. But it’s especially lamentable to see two sterling silver talents of the caliber of Gary Oldman and Emily Mortimer trapped in a mindless trifle like Mary. It’s a watery tale of supernatural nonsense at sea as lost and immobile as a beached mackerel.
  79. Directed by Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) with an impressive cast that includes Will Smith and Clive Owen, the sci-fi action thriller Gemini Man should be better than the ossified bore it is. Instead, it substitutes the gimmicks technology-freaks might call “innovative” for anything that remotely resembles any element of plot, character development, or entertainment value.
  80. A movie that borders on genius—repellant, dark, terrifying, disgusting, brilliant and unforgettable.
  81. There is insufficient character development and insight, and the film has no ending, so the viewer just hangs in space, asking a million questions for which there are no answers. Low Tide wafts, and so does audience interest.
  82. Painful for sure, but glorious too, Pain and Glory is Spanish wunderkind Pedro Almodóvar’s best and most moving film in years—a brave and wrenching self-portrait of an aging artist under the siege of age and the fear of death.
  83. Portman’s delicate and damaged portrayal is mesmerizing.
  84. Despite an avalanche of misguided raves, Renée Zellweger as the greatest entertainer of the 20th century in a film called simply Judy is nothing more than another gimmick. You won’t get the real deal here, no matter which gushing hysteric you read.
  85. What it lacks in textual depth, it makes up for with the genuine sympathy it evinces for characters that most films would dismiss as stupid, depraved and undeserving of our empathy and concern. Like Freud, Scheinert seems to understand that even people who commit unspeakable acts deserve our understanding.
  86. In Villains, an energetic combination of black comedy and lazy thriller that is more of an attention grabber than most of what passes for disorganized, empty-headed, juvenile horror in today’s sociopathic cinema, four very good actors give it all they’ve got for nearly 90 minutes. Considering most of what I’ve suffered through this year, that passes for praise.
  87. Ho-hum. Running with the Devil is yet another generic drug trade thriller that defies coherence, embraces clichés, and wastes the time and talent of Nicolas Cage.
  88. It’s good to have Demi Moore making a comeback after a prolonged absence from the screen, but not in a load of unmitigated crap called Corporate Animals. It’s never smart to make up lists of the worst movies ever made, because every time you do, something comes along that is even worse than what you saw before. But I think it’s safe to say that in the final top ten tally, this abysmal dreck will come in close to the top.
  89. After awhile, Last Blood feels less like a new Rambo movie than the latest installment of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
  90. So which side of the movie finally prevails — the lackluster conventionality of its text or the breathtaking singularity of its visuals and action? The latter does, if just by the nose on Brad Pitt’s perfectly imperfect face. Combined with the film’s lavish technical achievements, his classic movie star sturdiness makes Ad Astra a memorable filmgoing experience even as the story it tells slips off into the ether.
  91. This works in her favor, since everything around her is trashy and forgettable. J-Lo is the only reason to see it. As a pop flick of no consequence, it’s inviting but forgettable an hour later — but the praise Lopez has received is well deserved. She’s developed nicely as an actress. Call it learning on the job.
  92. The Goldfinch arrives as one of the year’s deadliest disappointments.
  93. We end up spending way too much time running over the same old ground. What have we found? The same old fear.
  94. Angel of Mine is a much better meld of psychodrama and soap opera than it appears on the surface.
  95. It’s a disaster.
  96. The story Hood’s film tells is a vital one to revisit, not just because the deceptions it illuminates inform so much of the political and international morass affecting our daily lives, but also shows the power of a single act of moral courage, and it does so while being blisteringly entertaining cinema.
  97. It is a doom-invoking, cathartic and strangely satisfying head-trip that’s also a bit ridiculous.

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