Charlotte Observer

Rating Title | Year Quote Author
1 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

2 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

3 93%

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

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

Posted Nov 21, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

4 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

5 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

6 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

7 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

8 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

9 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

10 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

11 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

12 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

13 2%

Getaway (2013)

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

Posted Aug 30, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

14 93%

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

15 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

16 73%

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

17 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

18 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

19 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

20 48%

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

21 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

22 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

23 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

24 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

25 74%

Despicable Me 2 (2013)

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

Posted Jul 2, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

26 31%

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

27 50%

White House Down (2013)

"Emmerich has always handled action scenes capably."

Posted Jun 27, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

28 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

29 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

30 38%

The Purge (2013)

"Whom do we root for, when both the family under assault from murderous hooligans and the hooligans themselves behave like idiots?"

Posted Jun 7, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

31 50%

Now You See Me (2013)

"Now You See Me can't quite claim to be the ideal crime drama -- that would be The Usual Suspects, which justly won an Oscar for its script -- but it's only one level down."

Posted May 30, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

32 11%

After Earth (2013)

"M. Night Shyamalan has directed movies that are surprising, hokey, suspenseful, sentimental, clever, touching or cheesy. But until After Earth, he hadn't made any that are dull from end to end."

Posted May 30, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

33 51%

At Any Price (2013)

"Maybe the writer-director found himself adrift in the corn fields."

Posted May 24, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

34 87%

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

"The humor in the dialogue, always droll and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, relies mostly on Quinto's ability to give deadpan line readings."

Posted May 17, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

35 89%

In the House (2013)

"It's partly real and partly a fable, full of events that might have happened or could never have happened, with intrigues that defy us to take them seriously."

Posted May 15, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

36 49%

The Great Gatsby (2013)

"DiCaprio captures all sides of Gatsby: the hardness of the swindler, the softness of the man who needs a confidant, the foolishness of a dreamer who invests in a dead dream."

Posted May 9, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

37 78%

Iron Man 3 (2013)

"By the time innumerable suits of armor were flying through the air, instantly assembling and disassembling themselves around Tony Stark while he was running and jumping, I was worn out. But the ride up to then had been a jolt of continuous pleasure."

Posted May 2, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

38 45%

To The Wonder (2013)

"Trying to hold onto any part of it is like trying to catch meringue in a baseball glove."

Posted Apr 26, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

39 54%

Oblivion (2013)

"The film comes from a comic book, looks like a video game and doesn't bother us with complications."

Posted Apr 18, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

40 68%

Trance (2013)

"Trance stumbles around like a blind rat in a maze with no cheese at any exit: Whatever conclusion it reaches will leave us dissatisfied."

Posted Apr 12, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

41 38%

Admission (2013)

"Doris Day will be 89 in two weeks, which makes her exactly half a century too old to play the lead in Admission. That's a pity, as perhaps only she could have done it justice -- if it had been made in 1958."

Posted Mar 22, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

42 59%

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

"What we get here is Oz the Amiable and Unthreatening ..."

Posted Mar 7, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

43 94%

The King's Speech (2010)

"Polished, thoughtful and touching."

Posted Feb 16, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

44 98%

The Artist (2011)

"Had The Artist been made 75 years ago, it might have been brushed aside as melodrama. Today, its affection for a lost past strikes the right note of wistful nostalgia."

Posted Feb 15, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

45 94%

The Rabbi's Cat (2012)

"Like the title character, the makers of The Rabbi's Cat follow their noses wherever a new scent leads. Their eternal curiosity buoys this Cat, then impairs it somewhat, but redeems it by the end."

Posted Feb 15, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

46 46%

Beautiful Creatures (2013)

"Writer-director Richard LaGravenese introduces characters and loses track of them, builds toward a mildly daring ending and backs cravenly away from it, even seems to contradict himself ..."

Posted Feb 13, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

47 19%

Identity Thief (2013)

"McCarthy, who has been wackily funny in supporting parts, will be the revelation for most of us: Not only can she carry a lead, but she handles heartfelt moments of joy and sorrow."

Posted Feb 7, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

48 93%

Amour (2012)

"The superb Trintignant and the Oscar-nominated Riva -- who would win, in a just world -- embody once-vigorous people in inevitable decline."

Posted Feb 7, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

49 80%

Warm Bodies (2013)

"What Levine does have is a gently gruesome way of amusing us, converting the uneasiness of a wooer from another species into the everyday anxieties of a young man around a girl he likes."

Posted Jan 31, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

50 79%

Quartet (2013)

"Hoffman and Harwood aren't afraid to show us old people who are rude, demanding, unreasonable and foolish, though the final overall mood remains blissful."

Posted Jan 24, 2013

Lawrence Toppman

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