FILM REVIEWS

Taron Egerton in ROCKETMAN (2019)
FILM REVIEWS

ROCKETMAN (2019)

Dexter Fletcher's Rocketman is endearingly goofy, and occasionally moving, but only rarely transcends the shallow limitations of a jukebox musical.

Lupita Nyong'o in US (2019)
FILM REVIEWS

US (2019)

Jordan Peele's triumphant sophomore effort is a smart and terrifying cinematic ordeal, and a disturbingly dark mirror held up to America.

Julianne Moore in GLORIA BELL
FILM REVIEWS

GLORIA BELL (2019)

The race for the Best Actress Oscar begins here, with Julianne Moore's remarkable portrayal of an unremarkable woman.

Joanna Kulig in Cold War
FILM REVIEWS

COLD WAR (2018)

Rapturous and resonant, Pawel Pawlikowski's new film is a deceptively simple cinematic masterpiece.

KiKi Layne and Stephan James in If Beale Street Could Talk
FILM REVIEWS

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (2018)

Lush, lyrical, and deeply romantic, Barry Jenkins celebrates the sustaining beauty in one of James Baldwin's darkest stories.

2018 Oscars
MOVIE LISTS & ROUNDUPS

2018 OSCAR PICKS AND PREDICTIONS

My choices for who will win, who should win, and who must not be allowed to win at the 90th Annual Academy Awards.

Best Films of 2017
MOVIE LISTS & ROUNDUPS

THE BEST FILMS OF 2017

In a very good year for cinema, I'm naming my top-five films in six categories: Drama, Comedy, Action, Horror, Animation, and Documentary.

A Gray State (2017), directed by Erik Nelson
FILM REVIEWS

A GRAY STATE (2017)

Erik Nelson's new documentary is a near perfect distillation of homegrown American crazy, and a timely look at a dark undercurrent of American culture.

Brittany Ferrell in WHOSE STREETS
FILM REVIEWS

WHOSE STREETS? (2017)

Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis' infuriating and empowering new documentary about Ferguson is essential viewing for every American.

LOGAN LUCKY (2017)
FILM REVIEWS

LOGAN LUCKY (2017)

Steven Soderbergh is back—but have we really missed him?

ANNABELLE-CREATION (2017)
FILM REVIEWS

ANNABELLE: CREATION (2017)

Like the rest of its dishonorable and disposable ilk, Annabelle: Creation is just a fairly efficient machine for generating meaningless jump-scares.

Halle Berry in KIDNAP
FILM REVIEWS

KIDNAP (2017)

Luis Prieto's KIDNAP, starring Halle Berry, is a cheap and ugly grindhouse film for the soccer-mom set.

STEP (2017)
FILM REVIEWS

STEP (2017)

Amanda Lipitz's documentary is a rare and inspiring celebration of the love, beauty, and optimism of disadvantaged black communities.

Idris Elba in THE DARK TOWER
FILM REVIEWS

THE DARK TOWER (2017)

Nikolaj Arcel's quick and pointless adaptation of Stephen King's sprawling epic is a tepid, paint-by-numbers picture.

Nathan Davis Jr. in DETROIT (2017)
FILM REVIEWS

DETROIT (2017)

Simplistic, reductive, and perversely exculpatory, Kathryn Bigelow's DETROIT is well-executed torture-porn that irresponsibly exploits the destruction of black bodies.

Holly Hunter in STRANGE WEATHER (2016)
FILM REVIEWS

STRANGE WEATHER (2016)

Holly Hunter is always good, but Katherine Dieckmann's road-trip movie drives her down some frustratingly contrived roads.

THE EMOJI MOVIE
FILM REVIEWS

THE EMOJI MOVIE (2017)

I do not seem to have the appropriate catalog of symbols on my app to adequately express my feelings about The Emoji Movie.

Charlize Theron in ATOMIC BLONDE
FILM REVIEWS

ATOMIC BLONDE (2017)

Charlize Theron can do no wrong, but Atomic Blonde needed to either be a whole lot smarter, or a whole lot stupider, to be any fun at all.

The Bad Batch, The Little Hours, A Ghost Story, and Lady MacBeth
MOVIE LISTS & ROUNDUPS

THE BAD BATCH, THE LITTLE HOURS, A GHOST STORY, LADY MACBETH

In my attempt to see and review every new movie this summer, I've fallen a little behind. Here are shamefully quick takes on films that didn't get full reviews, including The Bad Batch, The Little Hours, A Ghost Story, and Lady Macbeth.

Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, and Tiffany Haddish in GIRLS TRIP
FILM REVIEWS

GIRLS TRIP (2017)

Funny, fearless, and full of genuine feeling, Girls Trip is the best American comedy of the summer.

Mark Rylance in DUNKIRK (2017)
FILM REVIEWS

DUNKIRK (2017)

Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk masterfully captures a key moment of human triumph, but it is not a film that's remotely interested in human beings.

13 MINUTES (2015)
FILM REVIEWS

13 MINUTES (2015)

Oliver Hirschbiegel's latest film is an imperfect but intriguing exploration of a forgotten resistance hero.

FILM REVIEWS

THE JOURNEY (2016)

Nick Hamm's painfully contrived, preposterous film reduces the complexities of the Irish Troubles down to an unconvincing marital spat.

Sally Hawkins in MAUDIE
FILM REVIEWS

MAUDIE (2016)

Like its subject—embodied in a fantastic performance by Sally Hawkins—Aisling Walsh's film finds joy and color in unexpected places.

FILM REVIEWS

DESPICABLE ME 3 (2017)

The latest entry in the animated franchise is crowded, uneven, and deeply silly. But it has enough cleverness, humor, and heart to make it worthwhile.

Jason Mantzoukas, Will Ferrell, and Amy Poehler in THE HOUSE
FILM REVIEWS

THE HOUSE (2017)

Great comedies pose important questions. So, coincidentally, does this one.

Tom Holland in SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
FILM REVIEWS

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017)

The iconic hero's introduction to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is light to the point of flimsiness, sacrificing both narrative power and emotional depth.

The Ornithologist (2017)
FILM REVIEWS

THE ORNITHOLOGIST (2017)

João Pedro Rodrigues' beautiful but increasingly frustrating film is a slow descent into surreality and obscure religious metaphor.

Jai Courtney and Lily James in THE EXCEPTION
FILM REVIEWS

THE EXCEPTION (2017)

An unconvincing love story married to a silly spy thriller, David Leveaux's The Exception is a forgettable costume drama.

FILM REVIEWS

THE BEGUILED (2017)

Sophia Coppola's beautiful but shallow remake leaches all life out of a tale that once teemed with repressed emotion and kinky Southern Gothic melodrama.

FILM REVIEWS

THE BIG SICK (2017)

Based on the real experiences of Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Michael Showalter's film is a smart, grounded comedy about funny people dealing with serious situations.

Ansel Elgort and Lily James in BABY DRIVER
FILM REVIEWS

BABY DRIVER (2017)

Edgar Wright has channeled his pop-music, pop-culture obsessions into the perfect summer movie.

BAND AID (2017), starring Zoe Lister-Jones and Adam Pally
FILM REVIEWS

BAND AID (2017)

Zoe Lister-Jones' feature debut is a harmless enough ditty, but it's a little too shallow and slight to be a truly great love song.

Salma Hayek in BEATRIZ AT DINNER
FILM REVIEWS

BEATRIZ AT DINNER (2017)

A good director and an excellent cast can't quite rise above a script that lacks the sophistication, subtlety, and insight needed to do its premise justice.

Sam Elliott in THE HERO
FILM REVIEWS

THE HERO (2017)

It's only taken Sam Elliott 50 years to become an exciting new movie star.

FILM REVIEWS

ALL EYEZ ON ME (2017)

Reducing Tupac Shakur's legend to a series of sensationalistic incidents, All Eyez on Me is a denigrating takedown clothed as a tribute.

FILM REVIEWS

THE BOOK OF HENRY (2017)

Colin Trevorrow's new movie is horrible in unique, unfathomable, nearly unprecedented ways.

FILM REVIEWS

ROUGH NIGHT (2017)

Tired, tedious, and tame, Lucia Aniello's Rough Night (2017) lacks the courage of its pretended coarseness.

FILM REVIEWS

47 METERS DOWN (2017)

Johannes Roberts' murky, oxygen-deprived shark movie is dead in the water.

FILM REVIEWS

CARS 3 (2017)

Once, Pixar made a movie about talking cars, and it made a lot of money. So, they made another one. Now, they've made a third one.

FILM REVIEWS

I, DANIEL BLAKE (2016)

Heart-warming and soul-crushing in almost equal measures, Ken Loach's new film is a furious, funny, unfailingly humane masterpiece.

FILM REVIEWS

MIDDLE MAN (2017)

Existing at a curious nexus of buddy-comedy and crime-thriller, writer-director Ned Crowley's dark debut feature is uneven but promising.

FILM REVIEWS

IT COMES AT NIGHT (2017)

Trey Edward Shults both explores and exploits our fears of the unknown, in a stark, harrowing, disturbingly intimate horror film.

FILM REVIEWS

MY COUSIN RACHEL (2017)

Roger Michell's adaptation of du Maurier's novel is a stately exercise in indecision, and something of a cinematic Rorschach test.

FILM REVIEWS

MEGAN LEAVEY (2017)

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and star Kate Mara bring remarkable restraint, sensitivity, and authenticity to a feel-good story about a soldier and her dog.

FILM REVIEWS

THE MUMMY (2017)

I don't expect The Mummy to be the worst movie I see all year, but it's a banal mediocrity that bodes ill for Universal's interconnected "monster" franchise.

FILM REVIEWS

DEAN (2017)

Comedian Demitri Martin's feature debut is not a completely insufferable movie, but it is a completely insubstantial one.

FILM REVIEWS

BUSTER'S MAL HEART (2017)

Sarah Adina Smith's ambitious second feature is a provocative, harrowing, and haunting film, if a slightly too-perfect vehicle for star Rami Malek.

FILM REVIEWS

CHURCHILL (2017)

Not since the Blitz has Winston Churchill been forced to suffer through this kind of bombing.

FILM REVIEWS

WONDER WOMAN (2017)

Rest easy, well-wishers—and suck it, haters—Wonder Woman is a major triumph.

BLOG

MY SUMMER OF SUMMER MOVIES

The Unaffiliated Critic—somewhat recklessly—announces his plan to see and review every single movie that opens between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

FILM REVIEWS

ALIEN: COVENANT (2017)

Ridley Scott gives up on the incomprehensible mythology of Prometheus, and sadly embraces the uninspired misery of another Alien retread.

FILM REVIEWS

LIFE (2017)

Silly, soulless, and disappointingly executed, Life is an instantly forgettable B-movie dressed up—not very convincingly—to look like a serious production.

FILM REVIEWS

LOGAN (2017)

Thoughtful, powerful, and existentially bleak, Logan may be the film that finally expands our expectations of what a "superhero movie" can be.

FILM REVIEWS

GET OUT (2017)

Jordan Peele has made the first essential horror film of the Black Lives Matter era, and the smartest, most self-aware scary movie since The Cabin in the Woods.

FILM REVIEWS

A CURE FOR WELLNESS (2017)

Gore Verbinski's stylish horror film manages to entertain the eye and taunt the brain, but it never really engages the heart or soul.

FILM REVIEWS

I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO (2016)

James Baldwin's is the voice we need right now, and director Raoul Peck knows it, bringing a comparable clarity and poetry to one of the most powerful and provocative films of the year.

FILM REVIEWS

HIDDEN FIGURES (2016)

Theodore Melfi's Hidden Figures is not a groundbreaking film, but an old-fashioned, very entertaining film about some groundbreaking people.

FILM REVIEWS

THE WITCH (2016)

With the narrative simplicity of the darkest fairy tale, but dense with psychological and spiritual complexity, The Witch heralds the arrival of a major new talent.

MOVIE LISTS & ROUNDUPS

2016 OSCAR PICKS AND PREDICTIONS

My choices for who will win, who should win, and who must not be allowed to win at the 88th Annual Academy Awards.

FILM REVIEWS

MUSTANG (2015)

Deniz Gamze Erguven's debut feature Mustang is both a dark parable of patriarchy and a joyous celebration of feminine rebellion.

FILM REVIEWS

THE REVENANT (2015)

Alejandro González Iñárritu leaves behind most of his narrative pretensions, and offers a purer form of beautiful misery porn.

FILM REVIEWS

THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015)

Riding a populist wave of gleefully indulgent ugliness, Quentin Tarantino may be the Donald Trump of American film directors.

FILM REVIEWS

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015)

J.J. Abrams passes the torch to a new generation of heroes, and gives Star Wars fans what they desperately needed: a new hope.

FILM REVIEWS

THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL (2015)

In a medium rampant with stories of horny teenage boys, Marielle Heller's exploration of young female sexuality—delivered without exploitation or admonishment—is something to celebrate.

FILM REVIEWS

GODZILLA (2014)

Gareth Edwards' GODZILLA is a curious beast, neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring.

FILM REVIEWS

THE ONE I LOVE (2014)

From the Chicago Critics Film Festival, a review of THE ONE I LOVE, directed by Charlie McDowell, starring Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass, and Ted Danson.

FILM REVIEWS

OCULUS (2014)

To say that OCULUS is a better-than-average scary movie is to acknowledge the tragically lowered expectations of the genre itself.

FILM REVIEWS

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2015)

A review of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, starring Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, and Robert Redford.

FILM REVIEWS

NOAH (2014)

A review, in Biblical verse, of Darren Aronofky's NOAH.

FILM REVIEWS

DIVERGENT (2014)

A review of DIVERGENT, directed by Neil Burger, based on the novel by Veronica Roth. Starring Shailene Woodley, Kate Winslet, Theo James, Jai Courtney, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ashley Judd, and Tony Goldwyn.

FILM REVIEWS

VERONICA MARS (2014)

A review of the VERONICA MARS movie, written and directed by Rob Thomas, starring Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Gabby Hoffmann, Krysten Ritter, Martin Starr, Percy Deggs III, Tina Majorino, Francis Capra, Chris Lowell, and Enrico Colantoni.

MOVIE LISTS & ROUNDUPS

2014 OSCAR PICKS & PREDICTIONS

My choices for who will win, who should win, and who must not be allowed to win at the 86th Annual Academy Awards.

FILM REVIEWS

POMPEII (2014)

A review of POMPEII, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, starring Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Kiefer Sutherland, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jared Harris, and Carrie-Anne Moss.

FILM REVIEWS

THE MONUMENTS MEN (2014)

THE MONUMENTS MEN is an artless movie about art, and a monument to nothing but mediocrity.

FILM REVIEWS

THE GREAT BEAUTY (2013)

Sharply funny, visually stunning, and with a generous heart, THE GREAT BEAUTY is an exuberant celebration of life.

FILM REVIEWS

LONE SURVIVOR (2014)

As a war movie, Peter Berg's LONE SURVIVOR is all war, no movie.

MOVIE LISTS & ROUNDUPS

THE BEST FILMS OF 2013

The Unaffiliated Critic's choices for the 20 Best Movies of 2013.

FILM REVIEWS

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013)

There's a troubling marriage of technical bravura and moral vacuity in Martin Scorsese's THE WOLF OF WALL STREET.

FILM REVIEWS

HER (2013)

Smart, wise, and emotionally rich, HER turns out to be one of the most believably touching romances of the 21st century so far, and easily one of the best pictures of the year.

FILM REVIEWS

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (2013)

Inside Llewyn Davis is one of the Coen Brothers' most mature and masterful films so far, and one of the best American movies in recent years.

FILM REVIEWS

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

Director Francis Lawrence builds honorably on the solid foundations of the first film, improving the action but sacrificing a little of the moral high-ground.

FILM REVIEWS

12 YEARS A SLAVE (2013)

To say 12 YEARS A SLAVE is the best movie of the year is to damn it with faint praise, because it is a much more important work than that, a vital corrective to 100 years of cinematic lies.

FILM REVIEWS

GRAVITY (2013)

A technological masterpiece, GRAVITY provides all the width and breadth of space: you just have to bring your own depth.

MOVIE LISTS & ROUNDUPS

2013 MOVIE ROUNDUP – Part Two

Continuing my round-up of 2013 movies—the ones I didn't get around to reviewing—I cover the worthy failures, near-misses, mixed-bags, and the ones that utterly mystified me.

FILM REVIEWS

BLUE JASMINE (2013)

BLUE JASMINE might have been better conceived as a one-woman show, but that one performance is well worth the price of admission.

FILM REVIEWS

THE WOLVERINE (2013)

THE WOLVERINE is just good enough to make us wish it had been so much better.