Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle

  1. Natural Selection 2012 The loser junkie and the chaste Christian lady make an odd couple, in an odd film, but the oddity gives way to an effortless, persuasive charm. They give us something to believe in. full review
  2. The Eagle 2011 Anthony Dod Mantle's cinematography is kinetic when it needs to be, ruminative and pretty when it doesn't. It looks good. full review
  3. I Don't Know How She Does It 2011 Spiffy-looking, well-intentioned but ultimately witless. full review
  4. The Other F Word 2011 These cute little domestic interludes give The Other F Word a light humor and large awwwww factor that's unavoidable, understandable and entirely un-punk. full review
  5. Seven Days In Utopia 2011 Supporting bits, like the saintly love interest played by Deborah Ann Woll, function more as archetypes than flesh-and-blood characters in a lively story. full review
  6. Centurion 2010 There are, by my count, six standard types of violence in film these days: Tarantino, comic book, Scorsese, martial arts, horror and stupid. That's right: stupid. For an example, look no further than Centurion. full review
  7. The King's Speech 2010 The King's Speech is a warm, wise film -- the best period movie of the year and one of the year's best movies, period. full review
  8. The Proposal 2009 It isn't a film with a lot of big guffaws, but I smiled through most of it. full review
  9. Extract 2009 There are some priceless character turns. full review
  10. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest 2009 One of the knottiest, talkiest tangles of celluloid to roll into theaters this year. full review
  11. The Road 2009 My, but it's been a fine year for Armageddon. full review
  12. The Secret of Kells 2009 Its hand-drawn two-dimensional animation springs to life with color and meticulous technique, filigreed and curlicued like the luminous book at its center. full review
  13. Happy-Go-Lucky 2008 I've never used this cliche in a review before, and God forbid I ever use it again, so pay close attention: Happy-Go-Lucky is the feel-good movie of the year. full review
  14. In Bruges 2008 'After I killed him, I dropped the gun in the Thames' -- so begins In Bruges, an insanely clever thug's tale so rife with obscenity that those 11 words form one of the longest complete sentences that can be repeated safely here. full review
  15. Man on Wire 2008 Though we know how it ends, it unfolds with suspense. And though it lacks any discussion of the towers' destruction, it succeeds as a tribute to their birth. full review
  16. Rachel Getting Married 2008 [Demme] brings a hand-held non-fiction sensibility that transforms what might have been yet another train-wreck bridal melodrama... into an abrasive but impossibly moving document of loss. full review
  17. Star Wars: The Clone Wars 2008 It moves fast, conquers armies, kicks into hyperspace and spits out idiotic quips with unapologetic cartoon brio. full review
  18. Zack and Miri Make a Porno 2008 Despite all the waggish raunch-talk, it's just not especially funny. And despite all the agile intercourse (originally rated NC-17), it's frankly kind of a bore. full review
  19. Auf der Anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven) (On the Other Side) 2007 What we don't suspect, going in, is that a film of such plain-speaking admonitions can exploit the element of surprise. Yet this heartfelt and precisely assembled drama does just that. full review
  20. Evening 2007 Everything about Evening seems engineered to liquefy moviegoers, specifically middle-age female moviegoers who miss their mothers. This would include me: I was a sloppy mess by the end. full review
  21. For the Bible Tells Me So 2007 Its main surprise is the compassion shown toward everyone, on all sides of the debate. It does not vilify those who vilify gays. full review
  22. Hot Rod 2007 A lasting problem with so many SNL-populated movies is the ingrown clubbiness of its humor -- the suggestion, whether overt or implied, that comedy is nothing more than a funny idea flogged to death by a fraternity of late-night wags. full review
  23. The Hunting Party 2007 does make room for the latest, loose-screw character part in the reinvention of Gere's career. full review
  24. Into the Wild 2007 Without diminishing the deep transcendentalist yearnings of its young hero, Into the Wild builds to a climax of profound human connectedness, profound human pain. full review
  25. A Mighty Heart 2007 A movie that captures the frustration of not knowing, the unconsummated urge to comprehend. full review
  26. Mr. Bean's Holiday 2007 Don't mistake this simpleton hero, or the movie's own simplicity, for a lack of smarts. Mr. Bean's Holiday is quite savvy about filmmaking, landing a few blows for satire. full review
  27. Paranoid Park 2007 Regarding Paranoid Park as an elongated short rather than a feature helps a bit, because it's a miniature in spirit -- a small-format portrait of psychic malaise that just happens to last 84 minutes. full review
  28. Puccini for Beginners 2007 Puccini for Beginners doesn't quite make it as romantic comedy. Most of the elements are in place, but the characters seem too narcissistic to fall in love and too broad-brush to be authentic. full review
  29. There Will Be Blood 2007 As an incurable romantic, I hold out hope that Anderson's flawed but phenomenal feat here marks the start of a new, mature stage in a long career. He has genius in him. So does the movie -- before its ending. full review
  30. Year of the Dog 2007 Much is said in little moments: The entire cast offers jots of humor and insight, from Reilly and Sarsgaard to Laura Dern as a spiny sister-in-law and Regina King as Layla, a vehemently supportive friend. full review
  31. Curious George 2006 Visually, the movie benefits from a charming animation style, a traditional 2-D approach layered with shadows and backlit halos. But it benefits most from George, still worming his way into people's hearts. full review
  32. Failure to Launch 2006 The comical part -- the part with the assaulting fauna -- is eccentric, knockabout fun, spattered with outlandish setups and amicably offbeat supporting players who reach out and steal the show. full review
  33. Flyboys 2006 This is spectacle in the grand old style, a bygone shot of adrenaline and grace. full review
  34. Keeping Up With The Steins 2006 A winningly sincere and warmly humorous film about an ancient Jewish milestone in the time of Martha Stewart. full review
  35. Last Holiday 2006 A mild, fangless, forgettable thing that entertains some and offends little, barring one obnoxious subcontinental stereotype and a cloying urge to make everybody chipper at the end. full review
  36. Nacho Libre 2006 A spongy guy in a clingy suit who has a spongy hairdo is funny, to a point, and kudos to Black for the self-deprecation. Kudos as well for his athleticism and balletic grace as he leaps around the ring. Unfortunately, they can't support a movie. full review
  37. United 93 2006 Greengrass' own formidable version brings [the story of United Airlines Flight 93] to life -- and to death -- with a bluntness and nobility that are almost too hard to bear. full review
  38. Brokeback Mountain 2005 A film about love and the cost of lying that's exquisite in its beauty, painful in its truths. full review
  39. Casanova 2005 Despite its oh-so deviant title character, Casanova is a harmless bon-bon, a breezy period farce that mimics lesser Shakespeare and a look that recalls Amadeus or Shakespeare in Love. full review
  40. Factotum 2005 Dillon is better now that he's settled into sturdy middle age. He makes more sense; I never got him as a Tiger Beat centerfold. full review
  41. The Producers 2005 ... a kitschy celebration of all things Mel. full review
  42. The World's Fastest Indian 2005 The film may be cutesy-poo for some tastes, and there isn't much nail-chewing suspense in Burt's pursuit or his lighthearted subjugation of everyone he meets. But man and "motor-sickle" sneaked up and beguiled me, so all I could do was hop on. full review
  43. American Dreamz 2002 In American Dreamz, the people are stereotypes, and the context is fake: It's broad, it's thin, it's a big easy target. And ultimately, its dreamz are hollow. full review