Richard Schickel, TIME Magazine

  1. Rachel Getting Married 2008 The question before us is: When exactly did Jonathan Demme lose his sense of humor? full review
  2. Valkyrie 2008 It is a well-made film that raises timeless questions about the demands of military duty when they are placed in conflict with higher principles. full review
  3. A Mighty Heart 2007 This movie does not fully separate itself from our admittedly low -- even slightly shameful -- expectations, does not become the pure documentary it might perhaps better have been. full review
  4. Nanking 2007 I have rarely, if ever, seen a documentary reconstruction of a historical event that is so rich in firsthand (and well-preserved) photographic material. full review
  5. Jesus Camp 2006 Jesus Camp seems to me most interesting (and poignant) as a portrait of denied and even desecrated childhood. full review
  6. The Wind That Shakes the Barley 2006 ... despite its length (over two hours) and some structural problems, it is an absorbing, worthwhile and often passionate movie. full review
  7. Bad Santa 2003 Best of all, it plugs into -- and electrifies -- the mostly unacknowledged grimness that lies just beneath our holiday cheer. full review
  8. The Hours 2002 This movie is in love with female victimization. full review
  9. Maid in Manhattan 2002 Not so much a movie as a collection of career moves. full review
  10. The Pianist 2002 We admire this film for its harsh objectivity and refusal to seek our tears, our sympathies. full review
  11. Amores Perros 2000 [The] sense that even hair-trigger lives, always poised on the edge of self-destructive lunacy, deserve to be sympathetically understood is Amores Perros' redeeming grace. full review
  12. Malena 2000 Bereft of the more richly textured sentiments of Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso. full review
  13. Memento 2000 Full of odd, hypnotic menace. full review
  14. Traffic 2000 It leaves one feeling restless and dissatisfied. full review
  15. Antz 1998 Kids may be puzzled by rebellious worker ants chanting Marxist slogans, but their parental guides may welcome the relief from the prevailing blandness of family films. full review
  16. Michael Collins 1996 There are pain and honor in [Neeson's] performance, and they constantly rise up to redeem a film that is less probing, less thoughtful than its director's claims and aspirations for it. full review
  17. Beautiful Girls 1996 Beautiful Girls is always in touch with reality but never drowned in it. full review
  18. The Brady Bunch Movie 1995 If dumbness is a large part of our problem, then The Brady Bunch Movie is a small (and oddly cheery) part of its solution.
  19. Braveheart 1995 Everybody knows that a non-blubbering clause is standard in all movie stars' contracts. Too bad there isn't one banning self-indulgence when they direct. full review
  20. Clockers 1995 There is a force and focus in Lee's work, an absence of intellectual posturing and a willingness to let his material speak for itself that he has not achieved before. full review
  21. Dead Man Walking 1995 Its final moments leave us awash in emotion.
  22. First Knight 1995 [E]very era has the right--maybe even the duty--to reinvent the Arthurian legend according to its lights, and so there is something instructive and entertaining about this version.
  23. While You Were Sleeping 1995 Recaptures the true spirit of the best kind of modern fairy tale. full review
  24. The Scout 1994 The Scout is the best comedy-fantasy about baseball ever made, which goes to show that if Hollywood keeps trying, eventually someone will get it right. full review
  25. Clear and Present Danger 1994 This is the third movie with Jack as its hero, so he is a known quantity -- a humanist spook with an overdeveloped moral sense -- but Ford, playing the part for the second time, knows how to keep his earnestness fresh. full review
  26. Legends of the Fall 1994 Edward Zwick, the director, and Susan Shilliday and Bill Wittliff, the screenwriters, are under the impression that they are bringing forth a tragic epic, not a silly melodrama... full review
  27. Basic Instinct 1992 [The film has] a smug faith in the ability of its own speed, smartness and luxe to wow the yokels. full review
  28. A League of Their Own 1992 Energetic, full of goodwill and good feelings, it never quite attains the graceful nonchalance and self-confidence with which finely tuned athletes -- and comedies -- move and enchant us. full review
  29. Barton Fink 1991 Gnomic, claustrophobic, hallucinatory, just plain weird, it is the kind of movie critics can soak up thousands of words analyzing and cinephiles can soak up at least three espressos arguing their way through. full review
  30. Boyz n the Hood 1991 Even in its warmest moments, there is a fearful chill in this hood's air. And on the hearts of its boyz. full review
  31. What About Bob? 1991 Murray, with his curious blend of pathos and aggressiveness, is terrific, and so is an acutely uptight Dreyfuss, never once copping a plea for our sympathy. full review
  32. Coming to America 1988 The director is ... rather distracted; John Landis seems to be browsing through the scenes rather than gobbling them down. full review
  33. Eight Men Out 1988 Sayles often seems like a man who, trying to stretch a single, gets caught between bases and is desperately trying to evade the rundown. full review
  34. Dirty Dancing 1987 If the ending of Eleanor Bergstein's script is too neat and inspirational, the rough energy of the film's song and dance does carry one along, past the whispered doubts of better judgment. full review
  35. Planes, Trains and Automobiles 1987 It is, of course, always a pleasure to watch Martin's steam-gauge face register his rising internal pressures and to witness his exquisitely expressed blowoffs. But Candy offers even more insinuating delights. full review
  36. Children of a Lesser God 1986 Children of a Lesser God, though given a handsome openness in Director Haines' production, cannot transcend the banalities of the play. But Matlin does. She is, one might say, a miracle worker. full review
  37. Down and Out in Beverly Hills 1986 On the basically farcical level where it chooses to stay, it is a funny and likable movie. full review
  38. Ferris Bueller's Day Off 1986 Here is a dream as old as adolescence, and it is fun to be reminded of its ageless potency, especially in a movie as good-hearted as this one. full review
  39. Beverly Hills Cop 1984 Murphy exudes the kind of cheeky, cocky charm that has been missing from the screen since Cagney was a pup, snarling his way out of the ghetto. full review
  40. Ghostbusters 1984 Whoever thought of having evil's final manifestation take the form of a 100-ft. marshmallow deserves the rational mind's eternal gratitude. full review
  41. The Karate Kid 1984 This film's art consists entirely of hiding the cynicism of its calculations under an agreeably modest and disarming manner. full review
  42. Top Secret! 1984 This time, though, the creative group has neglected to build to the kind of giddy, everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink climax that made Airplane! such a memorable exercise in anarchy. full review
  43. Terms of Endearment 1983 Its quirky rhythms and veering emotional tones are very much its own, and they owe less to movie tradition than they do to a sense of how the law of unintended consequences pushes us ceaselessly through the years, permitting no pause for perspective. full review
  44. Trading Places 1983 Trading Places also makes Eddie Murphy a force to be reckoned with. full review
  45. 48 HRS 1982 Neither jokes nor fast, flashy action can completely distract audiences from the failure to establish an authentic, rather than a purely conventional connection between Nolte and Murphy. full review
  46. Gandhi 1982 In playing Gandhi, an actor must be less concerned with physical verisimilitude than with spiritual presence, and here Kingsley is nothing short of astonishing. full review
  47. On Golden Pond 1981 When it sometimes seems the whole society has spiritually decamped for Tinseltown, the movie offers the hope that people can come home again-at least for a visit. full review
  48. Slap Shot 1980 Slap Shot may have done a lot of fast skating and some solid body checking, but in the last period it makes a final costly slip -- and misses its goal. full review
  49. Breaking Away 1979 There are a few moments when the picture's easygoing pace turns into wobbliness, but these are insignificant compared with its many moments of shrewd insight into the lives of amusingly shaded but very recognizable human beings. full review
  50. The Onion Field 1979 The Onion Field is a serious and most uncompromising movie. It lacks, however, the sort of disciplined craft that might have made it a powerful and affecting one. full review
  51. Star Trek: The Motion Picture 1979 Nothing but a long day's journey into ennui. full review
  52. Annie Hall 1977 Personal as the story he is telling may be, what separates this film from Allen's own past work and most other recent comedy is its general believability. full review
  53. The Turning Point 1977 You yield to The Turning Point relucantly, knowing well that it is conning you -- with sentiment, with flamboyance, with sheer slickness. full review
  54. Carrie 1976 An exercise in high style that even the most unredeemably rational among moviegoers should find enormously enjoyable. full review
  55. The Longest Yard 1974 What saves it, aside from good performances by Burt Reynolds and a thundering herd of supporting grotesques, is, of all things, a tough, tiny nut of valid social criticism. full review

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