Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer

  1. What Maisie Knew 2013 The result is a film that deeply engages us on multiple levels. Not only do we wonder what Maisie knows and how she knows it, we want to get this seedling to a place where she won't have to be transplanted every day. full review
  2. Any Day Now 2012 The bare-bones script is fleshed out by Cumming and Dillahunt, who create characters that are as memorable as they are moving. full review
  3. Backwards 2012 It's a pleasant, but not especially dramatic, story about giving up your dream and hatching a new one. full review
  4. Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away 2012 Inevitably, every time Adamson begins to involve the movie audience in the tumbling and wire work, the editor cuts to a different angle, breaking audience identification and concentration. full review
  5. Pink Ribbons, Inc. 2012 You have to agree with the advocates who charge that some corporations are milking cancer. full review
  6. Playing for Keeps 2012 If Gerard Butler exudes rakish charm and Jessica Biel a charming flintiness, then why is Playing for Keeps so utterly charmless? full review
  7. What to Expect When You're Expecting 2012 It makes one long for the comparative complexity and subtlety of Valentine's Day. full review
  8. Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey 2011 It is, like Sesame Street, a captivating story for viewers of all ages. Even those unfamiliar with cherry-red Elmo will immediately fall under his spell. full review
  9. Cracks 2011 While Scott's movie has a consistent aura, it lacks a consistent tone. full review
  10. The Eagle 2011 A muscularly entertaining adventure inspired by Rosemary Sutcliff's historical fiction The Eagle of the Ninth, hugely popular in middle schools in the mid-20th century. full review
  11. Forks Over Knives 2011 Movies are like food. There are popcorn pictures that entertain you and the spinach movies that are good for you. In more ways than one, Forks Over Knives is a spinach flick. full review
  12. I Don't Know How She Does It 2011 In describing the conflict of a woman who has it all without enjoying it all, Pearson's book had teeth. McKenna's screenplay has only a smile. But is it ever good to laugh. full review
  13. Jane Eyre 2011 By opening their movie with the mature Jane, the filmmakers forge an emotional bond between her and the audience. full review
  14. My Week with Marilyn 2011 Look at how Williams goes from unconsciously being Marilyn to consciously "acting" her. Would that the entire movie were as eloquent. full review
  15. Polisse 2011 The mosaic of cases and caseworkers is like a season of The Wire distilled into two hours. full review
  16. Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness 2011 Dorman makes the case that Aleichem is the source from whence flows modern Jewish humor. full review
  17. Tomboy 2011 Open-minded and open-ended, Tomboy is a portrait of pubescence on the brink of chrysalis. full review
  18. Bhutto 2010 While their subject is fascinating and her nation's role in propping up the Taliban has had repercussions from New York to India, the filmmakers don't find a straightforward way to tell Bhutto's story. full review
  19. The Company Men 2010 Though not blessed with a cinematic eye, Wells is a gifted storyteller who gets nuanced performances from most of his actors. full review
  20. Countdown to Zero 2010 [A] well-researched, anxiety-provoking film... full review
  21. Exit Through The Gift Shop 2010 This initiates a role reversal in which documentarian becomes artist and vice versa. full review
  22. I Am Love 2010 It is not to everyone's taste. But if you like the lush film operas of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Douglas Sirk, or Luchino Visconti, this one's for you. full review
  23. Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work 2010 Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work is [a] testament to the enduring resilience and indefatigable wit of its subject. Age cannot wither her, nor Botox stale her infinite hilarity. full review
  24. The Kids Are All Right 2010 Here are five gifted actors at the top of their games as five characters in search of what makes a family. full review
  25. The King's Speech 2010 As the speechmaker and his speech teacher, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush elevate each other's game to the stratosphere and beyond. full review
  26. Night Catches Us 2010 Making a remarkable feature debut, Hamilton distinguishes herself more as a filmmaker than as a screenwriter. full review
  27. Nowhere Boy 2010 Taylor-Wood captures the sounds and textures of Liverpool and Blackpool, where a new beat is playing in the cafes and clubs. full review
  28. Restrepo 2010 In their just-the-facts approach, the filmmakers neither pass judgment on the platoon's mission nor comment on U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. In the filmmakers' eyes, the men came, they saw, they didn't conquer; they do reflect. full review
  29. Standing Ovation 2010 A glittery string of backstage conventions. Backstabbing! Pushy parents! Precocious stars! Blind ambition! But if you're a tween (and don't watch Glee), the cliches will be new to you. full review
  30. The Art Of The Steal 2009 As a narrative of the facts, it is as one-sided as a plaintiff's brief. full review
  31. Bruno 2009 A crude, cringe-worthy, and intermittently funny affair that triggers the gag reflex. full review
  32. Dare 2009 Brind's screenplay is pregnant with fascinating questions of identity and social anxiety. And Salky knows how to create a mood. full review
  33. Great Directors 2009 Ismailos' 10 mini-profiles might have been better used as DVD extras or a cablecast introduction to an individual director's movie. It's not too late. full review
  34. The Perfect Game 2009 A very sweet, very slight family movie that scores smiles and tears of joy. full review
  35. Serious Moonlight 2009 More strident than funny, the film illustrates that old French proverb, "Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside desperate to get out." full review
  36. Tetro 2009 Visually inventive, narratively edgy, and unlike anything else. full review
  37. Elegy 2008 The delicious conflict of a thinker poleaxed by his feelings inflames Isabel Coixet's smoldering Elegy, based on Roth's novella The Dying Animal. full review
  38. Man on Wire 2008 [A] heart-stopping, knee-buckling and transcendent account. full review
  39. Momma's Man 2008 ... insightful and involving... full review
  40. New York, I Love You 2008 The result is a dinner of appetizers that are individually tasty, if not completely satisfying. full review
  41. Rachel Getting Married 2008 Bravo to Demme, Lumet, and three extraordinary actresses. full review
  42. Encounters at the End of the World 2007 A contrarian spiritual journey as provocative as it is hypnotic, Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World literally treks to planet's end. full review
  43. Evening 2007 Evening might be the most shocking waste of natural resources since the despoiling of the Amazon rain forest. full review
  44. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day 2007 This nostalgic Cinderella story starring Hollywood's scandalously underutilized treasure is a jubilee for McDormand and jolly good fun for most everyone else. full review
  45. Phoebe in Wonderland 2007 Barnz has made a poignant family movie that, despite its thematic material and brief profanity, is appropriate for mature 10-year-olds and older. full review
  46. Save Me 2007 This earnest, well-acted melodrama has compassion for all of its characters, who include gay men and the Christians dedicated to healing them of their 'brokenness'. full review
  47. Year of the Dog 2007 White's humanist account of a woman more comfortable with animals than people is another intricately crosshatched sketch in his gallery of outsiders. full review
  48. Charlotte's Web 2006 The movie may not be perfect, but it beautifully distills White's simple message. We are all born to die. But we are also born to befriend.
  49. Curious George 2006 When children are so into a movie that they don't make a peep or kick the back of your theater seat, it is a success.
  50. Jesus Camp 2006 No matter your religious or political affiliation (or lack thereof), this supremely even-handed documentary from Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady is cinematic dynamite.
  51. Keeping Up With The Steins 2006 Despite problems of tone and tempo, Steins is appealingly cast.
  52. Mission: Impossible III 2006 Whatever your feelings about Cruise, Mission: Impossible III is nirvana for thrill seekers.
  53. Brokeback Mountain 2005 Much as it is about love, Brokeback is also a potent study of repression that comes alive in Ledger's shattering performance.
  54. Capote 2005 Engages both the practical and the moral implications of Capote's achievement.
  55. Rent 2005 In terms of its music and lyrics Rent flickers more than it flames.
  56. After Innocence 2004 In her clear and compelling film, Sanders lets the innocents do the talking.
  57. Hotel Rwanda 2004 A gut-punch of a drama.
  58. Anger Management 2003 Unpredictably funny.
  59. Beyond Borders 2003 Skip Beyond Borders and write a check to the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders.
  60. Daddy Day Care 2003 I don't know whether [Murphy] has lost his mojo, or just his edge. I just hope he finds it before his next movie.
  61. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl 2003 An improbably entertaining, if overlong, adventure that brings new meaning to the term 'summer camp.'
  62. The Believer 2002 It is a challenging film, if not always a narratively cohesive one.
  63. The Hard Word 2002 The film has an appeal for lovers of the genre. Little else in this unpredictable thriller by first-time director Scott Roberts requires immediate attention.
  64. The Hours 2002 Though Daldry elicits brilliant performances, particularly from Meryl Streep and Claire Danes, on balance The Hours is more pretentious than penetrating about existential despair.
  65. Maid in Manhattan 2002 This sparkling Cinderella tale provides the additional kick of watching the glass slipper crack through the glass ceiling.
  66. Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams 2002 To the delight of gadgetheads and the dismay of the rest of us, Spy Kids' paraphernalia is better developed and considerably more fun than its story.
  67. Ali 2001 Here Smith is not the gangly charmer beloved by his fans, but a solid mountain of a man.
  68. Dogtown and Z-Boys 2001 An exhilarating, breathless, must-see chronicle of the skateboarder revolution and evolution.
  69. Diamond Men 2000 I was surprised at how much it moved me.
  70. Malena 2000 Renato does not intervene to correct the false impressions of the townspeople, nor does he courageously stand for Malena ... What happens instead is far more compelling, but no less merciful and moving.
  71. The Man Who Cried 2000 What she lacks as a dramatist, Potter ... compensates for with a painter's eye and a composer's ear.
  72. The Original Kings of Comedy 2000 Boasts the highest laughs-per-minute ratio of any in this season's hilarity.
  73. Our Song 2000 That rare thing, an American movie that looks at teenagers' life with sensitivity and empathy and humanity.
  74. The Legend of Drunken Master (Jui kuen II) (Drunken Fist II) 1994 There's no Jackie Chan movie more pleasurable than Drunken Master II, which Miramax's Dimension Films has dubbed into English and rereleased as The Legend of Drunken Master.
  75. The Next Karate Kid 1994 While the message that a girl can defend herself against the boys threatening her is a good one, it's lost in a movie where the bullies look like Mussolini's bodyguards and where Julie waits for her boyfriend and Miyagi to come to her defense. full review
  76. Basic Instinct 1992 Call me a prude, but it's not sexy watching an erotic thriller in which every time a couple does it, one of them gets it with an ice pick. I don't care how many firmly toned tummies and tushes are bared. full review
  77. Return to the Blue Lagoon 1991 Return to the Blue Lagoon is neither campy enough to be howlingly funny nor prurient enough to be provocative. full review
  78. Ghost 1990 Given its obviously commercial aims, Ghost is remarkably appealing on a purely personal level. It is about how you deal with death. full review
  79. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen 1989 One of the most voluptuously beautiful films ever imagined, Munchausen naturally assumes that surrealism is preferable, that through make-believe we find the way to true beliefs. full review
  80. Major League 1989 Somebody should tell Ward that winning isn't everything. Character is. And this is what his movie lacks. full review
  81. About Last Night... 1986 Homework assignment: Is the decision to change both the title and the thrust of Mamet's play evidence of perversity or of perversion? Due tomorrow. Class dismissed. full review
  82. Becket 1964 The pleasure of these two extravagantly gifted actors at the top of their game -- their diction! their conviction! their beauty! -- is enormous. full review
  83. Gojira 1954 Morally compelling aspects of Honda's film lost to Americans are now restored.
  84. /titles/197186 If you haven't seen the original, which, if memory serves, was billed as 'The Big Chill with a doctorate,' no worries. Arcand's follow-up stands alone as a universal story of generational reconciliation. full review
  85. /titles/197180 Curtis' and Lohan's performances are unpredictable and inspired, much fresher than the movie they're stuck in. full review
  86. /titles/197118 It's slight, but pleasurable fun. full review

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