whoaaod's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Nocturnal Animals
½

Stellar performances by Adams and Gyllenhaal - who surpasses his unforgettable turn in 'Nightcrawler' here - pair perfectly with Ford's haute visuals and non-linear, complex story line. Truly stunning.

Moonlight
Moonlight(2016)

Lusciously shot and loving written, MOONLIGHT is exceptional even in its most sentimental moments. The ensemble's tender performance and Barry Jenkins' romantic direction make this difficult story a pleasure to behold. I can't wait to experience it again.

Southpaw
Southpaw(2015)

The movie is only noteworthy for Gyllenhaal's performance which elevates the material, but can't save it. However, Gyllenhaal proves again that he's the best actor of his generation. His transformations are undeniably winning and this is no exception.

Amy
Amy(2015)

AMY is so beautifully constructed; it hurts and haunts. It's as much a meditation on celebrity as it is a cautionary glance at substance (and self) abuse. It snares your attention and heart. See it.

A Most Violent Year
½

Boasting a stellar ensemble performance, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR is a gripping, patient film that smartly blurs moral lines. Chandor's tight script and smooth direction are complimented by Isaac and Chastain; all three are making me a loyal fan of their work.

Only Lovers Left Alive
½

Moody, patient, and smart, ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE showcases Swinton, Hiddleston, and most surprisingly Wasikowska, but Jarmusch's sparse script and stylish direction are the stars here.

Wild
Wild(2014)

Reese Witherspoon treks breadths of physical and emotional land. She anchors the film with her trademark charm and unprecedented grit.

St. Vincent
St. Vincent(2014)
½

Bill Murray is great as always and wonderfully matched by Melissa McCarthy. Despite the script's faults, it's full of heart and laughs.

Boyhood
Boyhood(2014)

really impressive scope and startling reality. definitely awe-inspiring.

Inside Llewyn Davis

Oscar Isaac manages to maintain the Coen Brothers' droll INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS together with the help of some lovely folk tunes. However, the somber tone is rarely buoyed which makes the film tiresome at times.

12 Years a Slave

Insanely beautiful and deeply discomforting filmmaking. Michael Fassbender is proving to be a shapeshifter of contemporary cinema; his performance if one of my favorites of 2013.

Nebraska
Nebraska(2013)
½

Alexander Payne's simple and thoughtful direction (of Bob Nelson's tender and hilarious screenplay) is rawly executed by the fantastic ensemble. Will Forte gives a standout, memorable performance.

American Hustle

AMERICAN HUSTLE can use some serious shortening, but the superb ensemble work (most notably Bradley Cooper who scores again under David O. Russell's spirited direction) makes the overly long film enjoyable.

Her
Her(2013)

Joaquin Phoenix anchors HER, but the star is Spike Jonze's insightful screenplay that smartly ties our technological dependence to our need for human connection. The reflection is eerie, recognizable, and worrisome. HER is brilliant.

C.O.G.
C.O.G.(2013)

Jonathan Groff and (most notably) Denis O'Hare ground the whimsical, sincere, and misguided characters. By doing so, they allow a difficult film to unfold with ease.

Blackfish
Blackfish(2013)

a blunt and effective insider-view. equally tender towards the captive orcas and the trainers that intimately work with them.

Bridegroom
Bridegroom(2013)
½

very emotional and rightfully sentimental.

Happy Together (Chun gwong cha sit)

HAPPY TOGETHER is a film to which I keep returning. The complexity of the central relationship, loose narrative, and stylistic filmmaking reveal new depths upon each viewing.

Gravity
Gravity(2013)

Cuarón is a master filmmaker and GRAVITY is a masterwork.

I'm So Excited!

Almodóvar's transgressive farce is gleefully light with some hilarious performances. It's not a masterwork, but it is a must for Almodóvar aficionados.

The Conjuring

Old school scares with a knockout cast. I'm gonna have a tough time shaking The Conjuring off come nightfall.

The Bling Ring
½

THE BLING RING continues Sofia Coppola's obsession with celebrity. This is a very different kind of meditation as we see how a pedestrian can be swept-up by the images we are bombarded with of celebrities living their high fashion, often wreckless, and deceptively simple lives. We watch these teenagers (brilliantly reaized and authentic performances especially from Emma Watson and Claire Pfister) become the public personas they assume the celebrities they idolize are. Coppola's brand of visual storytelling is always elegant and fluid; The Bling Ring displays again her innate sense of allowing moments too occur while she paintaintly waits to capture them. She successfully sets moods through music, pace, and detail while hazily building tension to the inevitable, mundane climax which fully captures the celebrity aura and makes us wonder why we are so interested in our celebrity culture. Brilliant.

Smashed
Smashed(2012)

SMASHED is a very honest, heartbreaking character study of a woman getting sober. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is marvelous in the role; she is in turn cutesy, sad, and frightening. Her complete submergence into this tumultuous world is nothing short of fantastic. It's a shame she didn't get an Oscar nomination. Her work is better than Jennifer Lawrence's and Jessica Chastain's recognized performances. Aaron Paul is equally harrowing as her alcoholic husband. I love SMASHED.

Killer Joe
Killer Joe(2012)
½

Despite McConaughey's striking performance, KILLER JOE fails to translate to film in an engaging way. Haphazard directing and editing choices strangle the performances and hinder the story.

Django Unchained

This was one of my most anticipated films of the Awards season and I was not disappointed. Quentin Tarantinoâ(TM)s brassy stylistic choices are always visually stark and remarkably character driven. He famously employs anachronistic music and bold, humorous violence to enhance his already tantalizing stories. These trademarks are visible (and audible) in DJANGO UNCHAINED, but the tightness of his storytelling and his driving pace are a bit too slack here. The final fourth of the movie starts to feel indulgent despite the promised bloody end. The ensemble really nails the style, humor, and finds the reality of the outlandish situations. Jamie Foxx is an adequate centerpiece for the film, but Christoph Waltzâ(TM)s charm and Leonardo DiCaprio incendiary performance that really make the film volatile and unpredictable. Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington also give strong performances, but the latterâ(TM)s role is so underwritten that she must rely on her beauty and charisma as filler. However, it is Tarantinoâ(TM)s love and reverence for filmmaking that truly inspires this film. He is the rare artist that possesses the bravado and craft to pay homage whilst redefining a genre

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
½

Being a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy films, but never having read J.R. Tolkienâ(TM)s epics, I am nowhere near the most knowledgeable nor avid fanboy. However, I am fond of the exciting and wholehearted adventures that comprise The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. So I expected THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEYâ(TM)s brilliant visuals, epic battles, and humorous banter. Yet, Martin Freemanâ(TM)s performance added a most welcome farcical tone without diluting or cheapening the emotional resonance. It takes a masterful actor to anchor such a challenging film. Peter Jackson craftily weaves action sequences and dramatic scenes through the lengthy film. Despite Jacksonâ(TM)s expert directing, the film really struggles to maintain momentum while highlighting themes and covering multiple storylines. I donâ(TM)t know the reason for making a trilogy out of Tolkienâ(TM)s The Hobbit, but I know that this film could have been distilled into a shorter film for more efficient storytelling. That said, I enjoyed the journey to Middle Earth and eagerly anticipate the following installments.

This is 40
This is 40(2012)
½

Rudd and Mann are not funny or charming enough to keep this repetitive, uninsightful script afloat. Apatowâ(TM)s focus and story meander to an unfulfilling end.

The Impossible

McGregor and Watts give extraordinary performances alongside wonderful newcomer Holland. Bayona directs with fierce suspense. The compelling story and visual spectacle are a winning combination.

The Loneliest Planet

THE LONELIEST PLANET organically meanders with very minimal dialogue and seemingly endless shots of an engaged couple and their guide hiking through rough terrain. Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenbergâ(TM)s unadorned performances fit with the overly patient capturing of their trekking and love-making. Yet, when their relationship is challenged, the long, silent shots beg for action. Despite the two charismatic leads, the film pitfalls into moody tone shifts and stretches out what is instantly (and expertly) made clear through stunning visuals. What could have been an excellent, engaging short film became a tedious exploration that lacks the depth to be a character study, the insight to be a meditation on love, or the subtext to classify it as a metaphor of human dependency. The title would suggest that these characters reflect all humanity â" wandering the world accompanied but ultimately alone. Yet, Julia Loktevâ(TM)s direction is strangely content to follow these characters without truly examining, questioning, or presenting the purpose. Why do these characters need one another? Is it love, need, or habit that binds them? Are each individualâ(TM)s inscapes so remote that loneliness is the true reality? The isolated landscapes and the uncertain wilderness are the perfect backdrop for these questions to be addressed, but unfortunately the film meanders all the way to its trite, anticlimactic end.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is absolutely delightful. The ensemble performance is one of the year's best (especially Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and the high-energy, high-stakes, full-of-heart Dev Patel.) I thought the script was a little over-long and got a bit tedious towards the end, but it did set-up the conclusion very nicely and benefited from the strong cast and no-fuss direction that allowed them to shine. The film has a lovely message of making the most of your life and learning to roll with the punches no matter what age you are. The film made me nostalgic for Mike Leigh's films and wish it had that organic sensibility.

The Deep Blue Sea

While Rachel Weisz's performance is an interesting mix of strength and frailty, the filmâ??s style and pacing does not allow her to feel fully engrossed. There are strong supporting performances as well, but the film overall falls flat under Terence Daviesâ?? direction of his own scattered adaptation. The costume design, original music, and overall production design greatly excels the final product.

Hitchcock
Hitchcock(2012)
½

Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren not only infused the titular character and his wife, Alma, with destructive carnal desire, but also accompanied it with earnest longing and passionate jealousy. Hopkinsâ(TM) wonderful physical transformation is nicely matched with his behavioral changes. His unflinching facial austerity serves for the comedic moments and he wisely selects when to soften his expression for emotional impact. Mirren boldly embodies a headstrong woman with sexuality, unfaltering wit, and accents her with loving patience, and loyalty. She makes her Alfredâ(TM)s equal in intellect and determination â" just as it should be â" and by doing so anchors the film. Scarlett Johansson nails Janet Leighâ(TM)s onscreen performances but struggles a bit in the casual encounters. The script wisely focuses on Hitchcock and Almaâ(TM)s marital struggles in the midst of their perilous professional time, but feels uneven in tone and intent.

Hyde Park on Hudson
½

HYDE PARK ON HUDSON felt like an after-school special attempting to be naughty. The meandering script shied away from the more scandalous affairs surrounding President Roosevelt and his mistresses to focus on the ensuing comedy of manners instead. Bill Murray and Laura Linney safely portray FDR and his cousin which further hinders Richard Nelsonâ(TM)s blandly written characters. However, this fares well for Samuel West and Olivia Coleman (King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) for they give the film the bit of buoyancy present. After seeing the film, I was left thinking that maybe it was meant for a different generation. Perhaps, older audiences craved a simple, neutered retelling of an important and mostly uneventful weekend that changed the course of history.

Bernie
Bernie(2012)

Jack Black is a hard sell for me, but his performance in BERNIE is uncharacteristically grounded and unexpectedly genuine. Despite the filmâ(TM)s borderline exaggerated style, it never veers off into camp or parody. However, with such an obvious point of view on the titular character, the script makes little effort to objectively tell his story which could have made the film more interesting. Shirley MacLaine effectively creates an antagonist which is intolerable while displaying glimpses of the desperate humanity that makes her so. BERNIE is a better film than I expected.

Argo
Argo(2012)

Ben Affleck delivers a surprisingly exciting period drama that is as suspenseful as tender. He directs a fine ensemble with outstanding performance by Bryan Cranston and Alan Arkin. The ensemble, taut script, and excellent cinematography give ARGO an authentic feel. Affleck has developed nicely as an actor, but more remarkably as a filmmaker. The unrelenting pace and continuous promises of violence make ARGO a top notch thriller right up to its climactic scene.

Life of Pi
Life of Pi(2012)

The visual storytelling in LIFE OF PI is breathtaking. Ang Lee playfully incorporates lovely images and aids Suraj Sharma to giving a truthful performance in a tricky, difficult role. What the screenplay lacks in subtlety, it makes up for with humor. The task of making the bleak circumstances exciting was masterfully handled through beautiful cinematography, incredible visual and sound effects, and effective editing. LIFE OF PI is truly a technical wonder.

Lincoln
Lincoln(2012)
½

Though not as stuffy as the trailer would make you believe, LINCOLN fails to fully engage and falters to be thoroughly entertaining despite fine performances. Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field are strongly paired, but Tommy Lee Jones barely fits in style of the film despite his earnest performance. Tony Kushnerâ(TM)s relevant script adds surprises to the well-known historical story, but is stretched by an indulgent pace. The period detail is marvelous from the set dà (C)cor to the instantly recognizable costumes. Finally, Steven Spielberg is a legendary filmmaker that creates masterful epics. However, LINCOLN is not a film that I truly enjoyed or am excited to watch again.

Virginia
Virginia(2012)

VIRGINIA benefits from a terrific ensemble performance and interesting direction from Dustin Lance Black. Yet, the script desperately needs editing and simplifying. It's overly long and the characters far too challenging to fully engage and sometimes are past comprehension. Even the most sympathetic characters are brittle in portrayal and too afflicted. However, the film bravely touches on subversive subject matter and displays a unique filmmaker that will hopefully be able to continue honing his voice.

Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook is seriously the best movie I've seen in a long time. A difficult story proves to be heartfelt and charming because of a stellar ensemble under terrific direction. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper shine despite their downtrodden roles while De Niro and Weaver give powerful performances in roles that could have been forgettable. Yet the real strength of the film is that it finds the meaning of its title in the most unexpected places. It's a winner for sure.

Seven Psychopaths
½

Martin McDonagh has written a fast, witty script which he directs with gruesome detail and hard-hitting comedic flare. His ensemble does a fantastic job of finding the humor in the most violent and debauched of circumstances. Sam Rockwell especially nails the psychotic style needed for McDonagh's deranged work to really connect. Christopher Walken, Colin Farrell, and Woody Harrelson find the humanity in McDonagh's work and use it as a comedic weapon as the stakes rise throughout the film. Seven Psychopaths is just as good as In Bruges and after closer inspection might even be better.

The Sessions
The Sessions(2012)

The Sessions truly showcases John Hawkes as an actor of tremendous range. He injects a great deal of heartfelt, emotional movement to a character that is physically stagnant. Helen Hunt and William H. Macy provide wonderfully funny and interesting counterpoints to Hawkes. Hunt's bare body only amplifies her character's emotional coverings. Ultimately, the film is touching and handles delicate subject matter with a whimsical touch that doesn't underplay the serious depth found in the characters' relationships and circumstances.

Magic Mike
Magic Mike(2012)

Magic Mike benefits from a surprisingly empathetic screenplay and a charismatic and talented ensemble. Channing Tatum finally gets a vehicle to display his various attributes.

Safety Not Guaranteed

A fantastic ensemble (with a stellar performance from Jake Johnson) delivers. The clouded storytelling and uneven characters create problematic obstacles, but the film ultimately charms.

Hellbent
Hellbent(2005)
½

Hellbent is filled with all the laughable cliches of the horror genre with added annoyingly entertaining queer elements. Neither recommended nor discouraged viewing.

Lola Versus
Lola Versus(2012)
½

Greta Gerwig and the ensemble of Lola Versus are quirky enough to be entertaining. And while the characters might be unlikable at times, I applaud the meandering script for bravely and realistically presenting them as such.

The Cabin in the Woods
½

The Cabin in the Woods is easily the best horror flick I've seen in a long time. It spoofs, pays homage to, and redefines the horror genre. Excellent.

Paranormal Activity 4
½

While still employing simple technique to build tension and thrills, PA4 is the most predictable and least entertaining installment thus far in the series. I was totally disappointed and didn't even have the customary nightmare after watching it.

Celeste and Jesse Forever

CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER is unique and specific in its storytelling. Chris Messina gives another terrific supporting performance (last seen in RUBY SPARKS). However, Jones and Samberg's charisma and chemistry don't counter their inability to reach the emotional peaks in the endearing screenplay.

Hope Springs
Hope Springs(2012)
½

A expectedly wonderful performance from Streep and equally fine Jones doesn't completely save this predictable mature comedy. While funny and resounding, HOPE SPRINGS pitfalls into redundancy.

Margaret
Margaret(2011)

MARGARET relies on Anna Paquin's inconsistent titular performance. The screenplay is solid (although scattered), but Lonergan's outstanding direction and obvious passion breathe life into the film.

Ruby Sparks
Ruby Sparks(2012)

High concept with simple execution (and wonderful, heartfelt performances). RUBY SPARKS flares with thought-provoking insight on relationships. Zoe Kazan is definitely a filmmaker to watch.

Take This Waltz

TAKE THIS WALTZ is strangely paced and overly relies on its enigmatic central character, but thankfully Michelle Williams beautiful performance and Sarah Polley's sympathetic direction win-out in the end. Seth Rogen and Luke Kirby also deliver wonderful, insightful performances.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Somewhere between an inspirational family film and a stuffy romantic comedy, SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN amounts to little even though it's graced with an all-star cast and quirky script. Kristen Scott Thomas gives a notably and unexpected comedic turn.

Friends With Kids
½

A wonderfully subversive script masterfully performed under empathetic direction; Jennifer Westfeldt is a tremendous talent. The ensemble shines. So. Good.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
½

A strange, wild, fiercely authentic film brimming with heart and creativity.

Brave
Brave(2012)
½

Pixar scores again with Brave's pure, heart-felt entertaining story and stunning animation.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
½

Unabashedly embracing its style and premise, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter makes for a fun treat filled with terrific fight sequences.

Your Sister's Sister

Your Sister's Sister confirmed my hunch that Mark Duplass is a man to watch. Since his performance in Humpday, his seen-the-war slouch and subversive charm have kept me awaiting his projects. The film as a whole delivers a heartfelt comedy which undermines convention with true indie flair. Blunt and Dewitt excel in subtlety and emotional profundity in easily white-washed, perfunctory roles. In short, the three aforementioned actors do the fun, intelligent screenplay justice with comic flair and indispensable believability. Lastly, the empathetic direction of Lynn Shelton has been developed and honed since Humpday; She is also another filmmaker to watch.

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Tilda Swinton is as usual remarkable. The non-linear meandering of the film is grounded by her soulful, understated performance. Swinton is not one to shy away from challenging material and in fact thrives as an actress of emotional profundity and enchanting subtlety. The subject matter and script are difficult, but under Lynne Ramsay's expertly direction the film is crafted into an engaging and almost hypnotic work of art. The story patiently unfolds without providing explanations for the demented titular character which was a bit too overt in his lack of humanity. However, that was probably the intention of the filmmakers so at least the stark choice played.

Moonrise Kingdom

whimsical comes to mind. but so does engaging. quirky makes an Anderson-esque appearance. and lastly another word surfaces: fun.

Chernobyl Diaries

startling yet not frightening. all good fun though.

The Road
The Road(2012)

No. Just no. Too long. Not frightening. And overall, just bland. The most interesting part was listening to the Filipino language's use of English and Spanish cognates. Sucks to suck.

In Time
In Time(2011)

Despite the laughably bad dialogue and major plot holes, IN TIME still proves engaging with help from its charismatic leads and strong supporting cast.

A Dangerous Method

A DANGEROUS METHOD falls a bit flat and feels a bit underwhelming. However, the performances are in turns ravenous, underplayed, and transformative.

The Iron Lady

Yes, Meryl Streep elevates the material, but the film ultimately felt like more of a history lesson than a portrait of a notable historical figure.

My Week with Marilyn
½

The film is mostly fluff that provides a vehicle for the seemingly boundless Michelle Williams. It's pure entertainment.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE emerges from a very powerful source. However, the film never touches at the heart of the story. It gets close here and there, but as a whole... it's a technically well-executed disappointment.

Carnage
Carnage(2011)
½

CARNAGE has four strong performances at its core. Strongest of all is Waltz, who makes the most of the cramp filming and character quirks. The film never really takes off, but it does provide considerable laughs.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
½

With strong central performances from Mara and Craig, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO provides a brutally entertaining story that can afford its lengthy running time.

The Descendants
½

THE DESCENDANTS showcases strong performances, a quirky/smart script, and a unique directorial vision. The movie scores emotionally, comically, and as a piece of wonderful entertainment.

Drive
Drive(2011)

Stylish in all the right ways, DRIVE is an unexpectedly violent and bravely scarce in dialogue. However, when you have Ryan Gosling entrusted in executing one of the most difficult roles of the year, it is appropriate to take a leap of faith. Ryan Gosling commands the screen without hardly speaking a word. He continues to prove that he is the true talent of his generation.

The Artist
The Artist(2011)
½

Jean DuJardin is an absolute revelation in this film. He nails the subtlety of a contemporary actor and over-the-top performance qualities of a silent film star. He deserves to be a star in his own right. This movie is thoroughly enjoyable and definitely not to be missed.

The Woman in Black

THE WOMAN IN BLACK is relentlessly spooky. The sheer dread and excitement of wanting/not wanting to see more drives the suspense and tension in this well executed film. Daniel Radcliffe steps away from the Harry Potter franchise with commendable and respectable work.

Take Shelter
Take Shelter(2011)
½

Michael Shannon sure does deliver in the broody, menacing way that has garnered him much attention/acclaim. TAKE SHELTER is solid, but its relaxed pace almost undercuts all the the suspense. Thankfully, the script and acting surpass this minor flaw and make a from which it is hard to look away.

A Better Life
½

Although the story is solid, the dialogue feels melodramatic and forced at times; thankfully, the acting and directing gracefully transcend that minor flaw. With a very strong performance stinging with heart, hope, and authenticity by Demian Bichir, A Better Life is instantly engaging and ultimately heart wrenching.

Young Adult
Young Adult(2011)

Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody's reunion is expectedly funny with good material for its actors. However, the central character proves to ultimately be unsympathetic. Charlize Theron's incredibly believable performance doesn't lack winning charm and recognizable humanity, but the character doesn't allow her to elevate the film into a meaningful exploration of growing-up.

The Skin I Live In
½

While still maintaining the crisp visuals, vibrant colors, and deviant characters, Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Live In lacks the strong source material that makes his works so popular and memorable. The film is still bold, the acting strong, and the vision complete, but ultimately it feels anticlimactic and a lesser work in Almodovar's impressive filmography.

Melancholia
Melancholia(2011)
½

Lars von Trier is one of the most interesting filmmakers working today and his striking images and relentless pursuit of communicating how he experiences depression are at present again in Melancholia. He brilliantly focuses his end-of-the-world story on one family and by doing so shows the fine line between love and hate, help and hindrance. Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg help center the film with solid (if somewhat predictable) performances, but the real showcase here is the spectacular vision and execution of the director.

The Ides of March
½

While the acting is really strong, the material doesn't provide enough interesting, innovative subject matter to truly grasp attention or be memorable. However, the charisma amongst the ensemble is somewhat enjoyable to view.

Shame
Shame(2011)
½

SHAME quietly, accurately, and powerfully depicts the story of an addict reaching his breaking point. With very little dialogue, Steve McQueen completely conveys the monotony and disconnection felt by the central character while contrasting it all with sleek production and classical music. Michael Fassbender bares body and soul with predatorial charm, emotional depth, and unsettling crassness. Through his body of work in films like Fish Thank, Inglourious Basterds, Jane Eyre, and X-Men: First Class, he continuously proves his amazing range and ability to anchor a film with subtlety and reality. I look forward to seeing his performance in A Dangerous Method. And lastly, Carey Mulligan displays a ferocious side unseen in her previous work; her deviant, cutesy, and simple performance juxtaposes brilliantly with the austere quality Fassbender portrays. Overall, SHAME is a character study that takes patience and sympathy in order to be invested in the story, but the gratification of watching the struggle is worth it.

Meek's Cutoff

Meek's Cutoff has authenticity on its side. It also doesn't muddy the storyline. Its straightforward portrayal of life on the frontier - complete with its banalities, struggles, and surprises - can be engrossing to a point and frustrating at times. I do love to see Reichardt and Williams working together again, but I much prefer Wendy & Lucy.

The Tree of Life
½

Unique and thoughtful, The Tree of Life is a visually beautiful and patiently told. However, its simplicity trusts the viewer to embrace the style and story. And that isn't always easy to do. I look forward to revisiting it.

The Devil's Double

Eh... not particularly entertaining, but Dominic Cooper's performance is pretty good. The violence and choppy storytelling aren't don't deliver on the promising premise.

The Muppets
The Muppets(2011)

Oh boy, The Muppets is a true delight. Funny, entertaining, and sincere, it will bring a smile to your face.

Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre(2011)

Fassbender and Wasikowska deliver terrific performances in this unexpectedly fresh adaptation. However, the pace and gloomy mood make it a difficult to love.

Like Crazy
Like Crazy(2011)
½

simply told & heart-felt with recognizable reality. it's a near-perfect story about young-love trying to grow-up.

Paranormal Activity 3
½

Paranormal Activity still knows how to maintain tension, startle, and ultimately spook. This third installment doesn't disappoint, but it doesn't linger like its two previous predecessors. It's a flaw in its own design which I won't spoil here, but you'll know it when you see it. Overall though, it's a fun movie that will at least scare you while you're in the theater.

Weekend
Weekend(2011)
½

Confident storytelling and subtle acting help "Weekend" soar as an unconventional gay film - patient with its pace, specific in its characters, and never surrendering to cliche or melodrama. Ultimately, it is a completely realized study of how two men change each other over the course of a weekend.

Undertow
Undertow(2010)
½

Refreshingly sincere, morally complicated, and expertly acted, 'Undertow' has a choppy pace, but it's universal story (told through a gay lens) is compelling.

Contagion
Contagion(2011)
½

Obviously, the cast delivers, but the tense script and ace directing are the stars here. Soderbergh effortlessly makes doorknobs as frightening as a chainsaw. Making the pandemic a personal story pays off. Lastly, kudos to Winslet for continuously transforming herself.

[Rec] 2
[Rec] 2(2010)
½

really thrilling and surprising turns throughout. the mockumentary style really works for this one.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

Absolutely loved the final installment. Must must must go again and probably again.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

I love Shia LaBeouf. He handles the humor, the action, and the drama with heartfelt commitment. It's better than the sequel, but doesn't quite live-up to the original.

Biutiful
Biutiful(2010)
½

detailed, startling, and brilliantly acted. it's not just an expert character study, but a profound meditation on moral responsibilities. however, the hopeful ending and breadth of work almost do not outweigh the lack of levity throughout Biutiful.

I Love You Phillip Morris
½

really funny and really sweet, but still raunchy. wonderfully committed performances from Carrey and McGregor.

Super 8
Super 8(2011)

I highly recommend it. That's all.

Another Year
Another Year(2010)
½

endlessly believable, humanely crafted, and poignantly funny, Another Year showcases Mike Leigh's gift of creation. the recognizable characters, everyday situations, and heartbreaking human disappointment prove Leigh to be an artist truly in touch with the commonality which ultimately helps us empathize with each other. lastly, Lesley Manville is remarkable, saddening, hilarious, and true in one of the best performances I've seen all year.

X-Men: First Class
½

Class-act actors invigorate a better-than-average script and consequently help X-Men: First Class deliver summer fun.

Hanna
Hanna(2011)
½

Action-packed, intelligent film-making, and surprisingly funny, Hanna is kick ass. I want to see Eric Bana in a lot more movies; he was terrific in Funny People and memorable in Munich - it's time for him to breakout. However, it is the young Jessica Barden that steals the movie with her vibrant performance.

Insidious
Insidious(2011)
½

the mix of sci-fi, camp, Hitchcockian suspense, and realism was startling at times, but ultimately unsatisfying at the end. still love Patrick Wilson though.

Sucker Punch
Sucker Punch(2011)

it's all good fun. watch it in good company and you'll be fine.

Waiting for Superman
½

An important observation on the state of education in America which is enhanced with metaphorical flair and compelling narrative. However, I wish the there had been less preaching in the documentation.

Nowhere Boy
Nowhere Boy(2010)
½

Aaron Johnson proves once more that he is one of the most talented actors in his generation. I can't wait to see what he does next. The story here is compelling, well-acted, and entertaining. However, the direction could have been more detailed in the way it developed the relationships between the three principle characters.

Dogtooth (Kynodontas)

quiet, thoughtful, disturbing, violent, and completely engrossing.

Catfish
Catfish(2010)

Very compelling and scarily relevant. Watch it and beware.

Blue Valentine

Cianfrance directs Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams to very impressive results. Their richly realized characterizations and relationship are palpable - however, that thoroughness of creation comes a high price when the audience's sincere investment backfires because of the emotionally difficult material. The dire circumstances made for a dreary premise, but hey that is the life and story being told on screen. I am thankful they shared this couple's life in such a compelling and honest way. I'd love for both Gosling and Williams to each earn their second Oscar nominations for their disarmingly honest work in Blue Valentine.

How to Train Your Dragon
½

I am a sucker for animated movies with childish antics, and heartwarming relationships. How To Train Your Dragon encapsulates both of those qualities and won me over.

Buried
Buried(2010)
½

Buried is thrilling. Ryan Reynolds proves himself outside of the comedy genre without losing a drop of charisma. A powerful script mixed with Cortes' impressively gripping direction makes for a terrific movie.

The King's Speech

I have been a Colin Firth fan ever since Bridget Jones's Diary, but his revelatory work in A Single Man raised him to a whole new platform. His work in The King's Speech - which is feverishly smart, subtly audacious, surprisingly funny, and incredibly truthful - is a lovely counterpart to his previous work. I already knew Firth could be both regal and restrained, but the combination of and struggle between these two qualities is a winner. It's clear that the entire film could have been carried on Firth's shoulders, but with the help of Geoffrey Rush and razor-sharp writing, this by-the-books historical drama is elevated from a stale movie with a great performance into a deserving contender for Best Film of the Year.

127 Hours
127 Hours(2010)
½

Vibrant and alive, 127 Hours intelligently captures the adventurous spirit of its central character through explosive film-making and truly brilliant acting. James Franco wows and shines under Danny Boyle's fine direction. It's an awesome thrill ride.

The Social Network

Compelling and brilliantly crafted. Simply perfect.

I Am Love
I Am Love(2010)

I Am Love is surprisingly dull and painfully slow-paced. Although the lavish scenery and sensuality are eye-catching, the storytelling is rocky and dragging. Tilda Swinton's technically mastery doesn't help much, but Flavio Parenti shows promise with his earnest portrayal of a troubled rich-boy. I'd only recommend this film for die-hard Swinton fans.

Howl
Howl(2010)
½

Howl is strangely void of any real conflict actually involving Allen Ginsberg and seems like it was meant to be an educational video which just so happen to hire celebrities to deliver the information. The use of animation to illuminate the meaning of Ginsberg's words was insightful, but somewhat distracting to an already alarmingly unfocused movie. James Franco tried his hardest though.

I'm Still Here
½

I'm Still Here is a visceral exploration of the danger of our dreams and how they carelessly mold our self-image and ultimately our identity. Joaquin Phoenix somehow manages to make his journey poetic amongst all the antics and raunchy-boy moments.

The Other Guys

The whole team embraces the over-the-top comedic style and scores a lot of laughs, but the some of the unimaginable scenarios are hard to embrace.

Barry Munday
Barry Munday(2010)

Patrick Wilson's broadly comedic characterization is hilarious and truthful, but during scenes perceived as serious he (and the movie) loses the quirkiness that makes the story and the characters so charming. Otherwise, there are plenty of laughs.

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3(2010)

Pixar nails it again! The mixture of child-like humor and mature poignancy makes this one of the very best films of 2010.

Burlesque
Burlesque(2010)

Painfully lacks sincerity, comedy, and a story worth knowing.

Winter's Bone

Winter's Bone feels authentic to the core; it is so thrilling you can almost feel the chilly bite of the Ozarks. Jennifer Lawrence is a force to reckoned with - I look forward to seeing her career progress. The entire ensemble is very strong.

Never Let Me Go
½

Never Let Me Go begins with a compelling concept and only improves from there. Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield continue to prove that they are two of the best young actors working in film. Never Let Me Go is saddening in its truthfulness to our everyday lives and our obsession with life and our fear of death. The story is beautifully executed and vibrant with life.

Somewhere
Somewhere(2010)

Sofia Coppola understands and beautifully crafts the little moments in our lives that ultimately become our memories. Her subject matter may come across on the surface as tedious and slight, but each tiny happening in Somewhere is a piece of the puzzle that makes the ending clear and redemptive for her trouble muse which is expertly underplayed by Stephen Dorff. His character development is complex, natural, and intriguing. This is one of the most trusting films I've come across and I hope it finds a trustworthy audience to cherish it.

Rabbit Hole
Rabbit Hole(2010)

Rabbit Hole has the benefit of coming from very powerful and poignant source material. John Cameron Mitchell's delicate direction allows for the ferocious moments to flare and for the actors (especially Nicole Kidman) to shine. Miles Teller makes an impressive debut. Rabbit Hole is full of detail and grace.

The Fighter
The Fighter(2010)
½

Sports dramas aren't my thing, but The Fighter boasts impressive performances from the whole ensemble - especially Christian Bale. Mark Wahlberg's quietly surrendering turn can come across as bland at times, but he plays the eye of the storm with confidence. He is consistently terrific, but David O. Russell seems to get some masterful work out of Whalberg; his performance in I (Heart) Huckabees still floors me. Lastly, Amy Adams can do no wrong.

Love and Other Drugs

Although the storytelling is severely flawed, Love & Other Drugs is elevated by the great chemistry between its two charismatic stars. Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal truly bare their bodies and ultimately their hearts. This movie is funny, touching, and amazingly sexy. It's the best rom-com I've seen all year. True story.

Black Swan
Black Swan(2010)

I have always admired and loved Natalie Portman's work, but she bravely transcends her cutesy girl persona and channels the tormented ballerina at the center of Black Swan. Although her work in movies like Closer and Brothers is sincere and resonant, her performance in Black Swan is her best to date; it is possibly the best performance of the year. Aronofsky mixes camp, melodrama, and suspense to create one of the most original movies of the year. Although The Wrestler was not enjoyable for me, I can still see how his brand of filmmaking leaked in Black Swan and it makes me want to revisit his other films. Mila Kunis' performance is a most welcome surprise in the film. I highly recommend this movie.

How Do You Know

Although How Do You Know is getting terrible reviews and even worse ticket sales, the rom-com is funny, sweet, and surprisingly layered. Paul Rudd is hilarious and charms as usual, but the surprise is Owen Wilson's performance. His macho sportsman trying to be sensitive good-guy is his most endearing and believable character to date.

True Grit
True Grit(2010)
½

The Coen Brothers direct another bitingly funny movie with a stellar ensemble performance. With witty dialogue, fierce action, and a strong human core, this western feels authentic and very relevant.

Zodiac
Zodiac(2007)

a bit too long, but compelling and fun unexpected comedy. Gyallenhaal is good, but there wasn't much for him to do until the last half hour.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

This movie made my least favorite of the books into my favorite HP movie. Radcliffe is moving along nicely as an actor and Bonham Carter & Staunton are memorable and lots of fun.

Pan's Labyrinth

Beautiful and gruesome. Maybe my favorite Spanish movie, even better than Almodovar's movies and G.G. Bernal's projects.

Notes on a Scandal

Patrick Marber writes another great screenplay.

Selena
Selena(1997)

Jennifer Lopez's best!

Dreamgirls
Dreamgirls(2006)
½

I really didn't want to like this movie, but it won me over. Hudson deserves all the attention she received! Great, great music and wonderful musical numbers. Some of the transitions into songs were a bit awkward, but that is minor.

Scream
Scream(1996)
½

this is my favorite slasher movie ever. very clever!

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus
½

Diane Arbus might be one of the greatest American artists of the last century, but her life is not a story worth hearing. Kidman does some good work though.

The Science of Sleep
½

Bernal is great as always and I enjoyed the visuals and the several different languages, but I was hoping for more.

Scoop
Scoop(2006)
½

this felt like Match Point left overs.

Thank You for Smoking

William H. Macy and Adam Brody are hilarious highlights in this sometimes not so funny movie.

V for Vendetta

Natalie Portman has a beautiful British dialect.

The Devil Wears Prada

Emily Blunt freaking rocks my world! This movie really surprised me with how smart it is.

The Fugitive
The Fugitive(1993)

Classic. Suspenseful with killer performances by Ford and Tommy Lee Jones.

Brokeback Mountain

Crash beating this for best film at the Oscars is a total joke.

Moonlight Mile

Very touching movie. Ellen Pompeo does very good work!

The Squid and the Whale
½

I usually enjoy quirky family dramas, but this one left me with little sympathy for the characters.

Signs
Signs(2002)
½

Joaquin Phoenix shows comedic flare while Shyamalan delivers another fireworks thriller.

The Sixth Sense

Scary, but ultimately touching. Shyamalan really defined himself here.

The Prestige
The Prestige(2006)

I love Jackman and Johansson, but this is Bale's movie. Christopher Nolan makes another great story visually interesting and wonderfully cinematic.

Stranger Than Fiction
½

The movie would have been better if it ended like the novel was suppose to end with Ferrell's character dying, but then it wouldn't be light-hearted or forgiving. Ferrell does some good work though.

Lost In Translation

Murray and Johansson are wonderful while seemingly, but deceptively do "nothing". Coppola understands that action is overrated and that these two character's lives completely changed because of one another.

Sideways
Sideways(2004)
½

I'm sure this movie will only get better and better as I age.

Little Miss Sunshine

Kinnear nails the role. Steve Carell is a lot of fun too.

Running With Scissors
½

Read the book! I watched the movie first and was disappointed and proceeded to read the book and was satisfied with the story.

American Beauty

Bening and Spacey inspire me every time I watch this movie.

Little Children
½

Despite the strange omniscient narration, the script is funny, smart and relentless. I wish that there was more written for The Prom King, because Patrick Wilson amazes me.

28 Days Later
½

Probably my favorite horror movie. It is really really chilling. The "under-budget", gritty look concretes to the believability.

Children of Men

Visually remarkable, a definitely a story worth telling. I love Clive Owen (as usual). And I think that Cuaron is a creative genius.
My favorite scene is where Theo knocks the motorcycle over with the car door.

Bug
Bug(2006)

Michael Shannon is fantastic in this movie. Parts of it were obviously adapted from a play, but when it turned cinematic...oh man! Judd does some really good work too. I wish that Brian F. O'Byrne would do more film work.

28 Weeks Later...

I was expecting this to be a cheesy follow-up, but it was as good as the first with enough suspense to keep your nerves shot. Some parts really stretched my suspension of disbelief, but it was very good visually and the ending is worthy of the sequel.

The Motorcycle Diaries

Wonderful script and beautiful music. G.G. Bernal humanly portrays Guevara at the time when he was young and open-eyed about the world. Highly recommend this one!

The King
The King(2006)
½

I really love Bernal, but this movie was almost unbearable. There didn't seem to be any real turmoil inside Bernal's character. All his malignant choices felt unjustified and without a basis. Laura Harring did alright, but she was barely in the movie.

Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother)
½

Great script: typical tricky Almodovar. Very similar to Volver, but this one is a bit better I think.

Bad Education

Typical Almodovar except dealing with masculinity in strong sexual topics. The story within a story within a story gets very twisted, but Bernal gets it and it shows in his performance.

Volver
Volver(2006)
½

This is a very tame Almodovar movie, but he works magic with Penelope Cruz who happens to have a beautiful singing voice showcased in this movie.

Ordinary People

This is one of my favorite movies and books. It has a character for everyone. It makes me wish that Hutton had a better career.

The Holiday
The Holiday(2006)
½

Jack Black and Kate Winslet are great here. Cameron Diaz not so much and Jude Law is good ol' Jude Law. But it works.

The Last Kiss

some surprisingly good writing, but I wanted it to be better. Zach Braff gets better and better though.

Garden State
Garden State(2004)
½

Portman nails the role and proves that no other actress can do her roles better.

The Virgin Suicides
½

Coppola proves her directing chops by the story she chooses to tell and the masterful way she tells it.

Marie Antoinette
½

I enjoy Coppola's work and storytelling, but I never desire to watch this movie again.

The Queen
The Queen(2006)
½

surprisingly funny situational comedy. Michael Sheen got shadowed by Mirren, but he is very good.

You Can Count On Me

Lonergan produces some touching stuff here.