Charlotte Observer

Rating Title | Year Quote Author
1 86%

Under the Skin (2014)

"You'll be captivated or irritated, depending on your need for a clear, linear narrative."

Posted Apr 17, 2014

Lawrence Toppman

2 71%

Oculus (2014)

"Flanagan never overplays his hand with gore or cheap thrills."

Posted Apr 11, 2014

Lawrence Toppman

3 89%

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

"Marvel beautifully exploits the traditions of this genre without ever trying to extend them: This sequel is, by design, entirely absorbing and satisfying without being one whit memorable."

Posted Apr 3, 2014

Lawrence Toppman

4 92%

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

"Can you make a successful comedy entirely out of eccentric, marginally related episodes? The Grand Budapest Hotel proves it's possible, if you're Wes Anderson."

Posted Mar 27, 2014

Lawrence Toppman

5 77%

Noah (2014)

"Does his concept work? Does it relate to the way we live today? Does it raise thought-provoking questions? The answers are mostly, definitely and absolutely."

Posted Mar 27, 2014

Lawrence Toppman

6 88%

The Wind Rises (2014)

"Miyazaki has come out of retirement before. But if he does stop now, he ends on a masterpiece."

Posted Feb 27, 2014

Lawrence Toppman

7 59%

Non-Stop (2014)

"The remnants of an actor remain, and Non-Stop gives [Neeson] as good a chance as any these days to let his emotions loose nearly as often as his fists."

Posted Feb 27, 2014

Lawrence Toppman

8 13%

Winter's Tale (2014)

"Even fantasies have rules."

Posted Feb 14, 2014

Lawrence Toppman

9 94%

The Past (2013)

"Where an American film would make up our minds for us about the outcome, Farhadi lets us make up our own minds."

Posted Feb 13, 2014

Lawrence Toppman

10 33%

The Monuments Men (2014)

"[Director Clooney] paces scenes well, balances everyone's screen time and makes good use of his ensemble cast."

Posted Feb 7, 2014

Lawrence Toppman

11 76%

The Invisible Woman (2013)

"Both leading actors blow hot and cold, though they're frequently on target."

Posted Jan 24, 2014

Lawrence Toppman

12 18%

Ride Along (2014)

"You wouldn't go to "Ride Along" and expect the plot complexities of "The Usual Suspects.""

Posted Jan 16, 2014

Lawrence Toppman

13 94%

Her (2014)

"Liberation from her body seems to have freed Johansson as an actress; she gives the most complex performance of her career using only her smoky, flexible alto voice."

Posted Jan 8, 2014

Lawrence Toppman

14 77%

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

"Here's something I never expected to say, something I doubt I'd have believed if someone else had said it to me: Martin Scorsese can make a three-hour movie without one fresh perspective or compelling character from end to end."

Posted Dec 26, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

15 58%

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)

"William Nicholson's screenplay, based on Mandela's autobiography, has the power to surprise us in small moments." EDIT

Posted Dec 26, 2013

16 30%

Grudge Match (2013)

"The lines contain a fair proportion of laughs, and Segal doesn't let the pace drag. The glib, snappy Hart provides spark, bouncing lines off the sardonic Arkin."

Posted Dec 26, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

17 79%

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

"Emma Thompson glows so brightly in Saving Mr. Banks, even when her face darkens in another scowl, that she eclipses the other elements of this agreeable but unambitious film."

Posted Dec 19, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

18 93%

American Hustle (2013)

"This isn't a history lesson. It's pure entertainment, an excuse for good actors to romp through a twisting, well-told tale."

Posted Dec 19, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

19 91%

Blue Jasmine (2013)

"[Woody Allen's] spin through Tennessee Williams territory, where he has never gone before, seems fresh in the hands of an expert cast."

Posted Dec 17, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

20 74%

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2013)

"Jackson seems to have realized that the story -- whether his, Tolkien's or a hybrid of the two -- depends less on massed battles than on meaningful behavior."

Posted Dec 12, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

21 89%

Frozen (2013)

"This may be yet another variation on the usual coming-of-age/sisterhood themes so familiar in Disney movies, but who does those better?"

Posted Nov 27, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

22 76%

Kill Your Darlings (2013)

"The acting stays at a high level, though minor characters go through few changes. DeHaan captures Carr's charisma and infuriating selfishness."

Posted Nov 21, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

23 94%

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

"McConaughey, skeletal yet swaggering, gives a bravura performance."

Posted Nov 21, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

24 89%

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

"Lawrence gives the same committed, heart-rending performance, and she's even more saintly than before ..."

Posted Nov 21, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

25 93%

All Is Lost (2013)

"Though a picture may not really be worth a thousand words, striking images can hold our attention when no words are forthcoming."

Posted Nov 8, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

26 97%

12 Years a Slave (2013)

"As we watch a finite horror envelop Northup, we imagine the infinite horror of people trapped in lifelong captivity."

Posted Nov 1, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

27 99%

Wadjda (2013)

"On the surface, it's about a plucky 10-year-old girl who wants a bicycle and uses ingenuity and hard work to raise money to buy one. Yet it's really about the crushing future that awaits Wadjda when she grows to womanhood."

Posted Oct 25, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

28 34%

The Counselor (2013)

"The endlessly enigmatic conversations and continual introduction of characters who never get defined for us (let alone fleshed out) finally make the movie arid, repetitive and hollow."

Posted Oct 25, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

29 93%

Captain Phillips (2013)

"Even if you know the outcome, you go away saying, "This is how it must have been" at every turn."

Posted Oct 10, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

30 97%

Gravity (2013)

"You can't exactly call Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity the best film of its kind, because it has no kind: It stands alone as an extraordinary balance of 3-D effects, heroes-in-jeopardy storytelling and emotional depth."

Posted Oct 3, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

31 96%

Enough Said (2013)

"The result is one of the most honest recent comedies about romances that flourish, marriages that totter and the difficulties of raising children with the right blend of respect, discipline and support."

Posted Sep 27, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

32 82%

Prisoners (2013)

"By the end, the filmmakers have slightly lost sight of the journey on which they began. Yet the trip they've taken, fueled by Jackman's rage and Gyllenhaal's doggedness and the complicitous uneasiness of Davis and Howard, has plenty of dramatic power."

Posted Sep 19, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

33 2%

Getaway (2013)

"Hawke compensates with a vivid, ferocious performance that doesn't go over the top."

Posted Aug 30, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

34 92%

The Spectacular Now (2013)

"The spectacular performance comes from Woodley, last seen as the rebellious daughter of George Clooney in The Descendants. She embodies every shy girl in high school whose inner beauty makes her sparkle."

Posted Aug 23, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

35 74%

You're Next (2013)

"Just as I was starting to think of it as a "motiveless psychos terrorize rich family" movie (a la The Purge), it gave me good reasons to watch."

Posted Aug 23, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

36 72%

Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)

"The movie belongs mostly to Whitaker, who can convey affection, sadness and disapproval while scarcely raising his voice or an eyebrow."

Posted Aug 16, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

37 68%

Elysium (2013)

"In an era when so few big-budget directors have anything to say, Blomkamp still runs ahead of most of that pack."

Posted Aug 8, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

38 26%

Planes (2013)

"It draws the narrowest bead on a target audience of any film in recent memory: Elementary school-age boys may well be delighted, but it offers not a scintilla of stimulation for anyone else."

Posted Aug 8, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

39 93%

Midnight in Paris (2011)

"It's attractive and easy to slip into, but [Allen] didn't put enough thought into the design, and it soon falls apart."

Posted Aug 3, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

40 47%

I'm So Excited! (2013)

"Pedro Almodóvar crammed actors he's worked with over the years into a movie so wacky it defies analysis."

Posted Aug 2, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

41 64%

2 Guns (2013)

"This isn't the kind of gangster movie where we root for the least disgusting cockroach to step on the others; we can respect the guys whose point of view we share."

Posted Aug 1, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

42 69%

The Wolverine (2013)

"The film has a desperation about it: Writers Mark Bomback and Scott Frank and director James Mangold hurl plot point after plot point at us as if they were boring themselves and afraid to bore us as well."

Posted Jul 26, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

43 85%

The Way Way Back (2013)

"It doesn't yank on your heartstrings, though you'll be touched gently at last. It doesn't insult your intelligence. (Indeed, it presumes you have some left.)"

Posted Jul 18, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

44 72%

Pacific Rim (2013)

"Director Guillermo del Toro, master of thoughtful horror in the Oscar-winning Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone, gives himself over entirely to his inner 11-year-old."

Posted Jul 11, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

45 74%

Despicable Me 2 (2013)

"The franchise has enough zip and humor to be worthwhile."

Posted Jul 2, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

46 30%

The Lone Ranger (2013)

"A reboot of The Lone Ranger that metaphorically drags this noble story -- and literally drags its title character -- through a steaming heap of horse droppings."

Posted Jul 2, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

47 51%

White House Down (2013)

"Emmerich has always handled action scenes capably."

Posted Jun 27, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

48 98%

Before Midnight (2013)

"I think the trilogy has come to its natural conclusion: However you interpret the ending, we've spent enough time with these two people."

Posted Jun 13, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

49 56%

Man of Steel (2013)

"When the movie sticks with this storyline, or with the science-fiction elements of his trip to Earth and his purpose here, it's a compelling new look at one of the most famous origin stories in comics."

Posted Jun 13, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

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