Five star - Film Reviews

Latest Guardian Film Reviews sorted by Star Rating. Cut the crap!
  1. Life, Animated review – how Disney films helped a boy with autism
    Incredibly moving documentary takes us into the interior life of an autistic person, and explores how films helped him communicate with the outside world
    5 stars
  2. Little Men review – Ira Sachs' achingly humane family drama soars
    The Love is Strange film-maker triumphs with a remarkably naturalistic and deeply moving tale of two boys at odds with their warring families
    5 stars
  3. Weiner review: an unsparing portrait of politics and a gift that keeps giving
    Documentary about former congressman Anthony Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin channels the spirit of the best and most surreal political journalism
    5 stars
  4. Christine review: Rebecca Hall astonishes in real-life horror story
    Actor gives the performance of her career in Antonio Campos’s eerie study of a news anchor who achieved notoriety in the 70s for killing herself on live TV
    5 stars
  5. Various: Jazz on Film – The New Wave II review – a rich and enjoyable collection
    British jazz comes into its own on this eight-CD compilation of soundtracks from the late 1950s and early 60s
    5 stars
  6. Deadpool review – Ryan Reynolds' pansexual superhero is needy, neurotic and very entertaining
    Reynolds deploys likable Clooneyesque goof in this shriekingly self-aware and very violent super-antihero Marvel vehicle
    4 stars
  7. Rams review – hilarious and heartbreaking
    Feuding brothers, chilly vistas and sickly sheep provide the perfect premise for this darkly comedic Icelandic saga
    4 stars
  8. Under the Shadow review: the feminist horror film that scared Sundance silly
    With a Netflix deal in place, Babak Anvari’s terrifying debut might be the first Farsi-language film to truly cross over to the mainstream
    4 stars
  9. Janis: Little Girl Blue review – eye-opening account of Joplin's brief, fierce life
    The singer emerges from Amy Berg’s documentary as a raw and uncompromising talent, who became ruled by applause and addicted to heroin
    4 stars
  10. Eisenstein in Guanajuato review – torrential meditation on sex and film
    There’s nothing subtle about this Peter Greenaway film – especially the scene in the great Russian film-maker is anally penetrated while pontificating on Bolshevik history
    4 stars
  11. Rams review – sly Scandi sheep saga
    Two curmudgeonly sheep farmers are faced with the destruction of their flock in rural Iceland, in a delicate film hovering between absurdity and tragedy
    4 stars
  12. Hail, Caesar! review: Coen bros hit peak star-cameo in superb sister film to Barton Fink
    George Clooney plays the actor whose disappearance is a headache for studio boss Josh Brolin in the Coens’ glorious tribute to Hollywood’s golden age
    4 stars
  13. Voices Appeared review – Orlando Consort's potent silent-film soundtrack
    Donald Greig takes up the challenge of live-scoring The Passion of Joan of Arc, using vocal and choral music of Joan’s era in climactic combination
    4 stars
  14. Captain Fantastic: a heart-wrenching look at an unconventional ‘hippie’ family
    Viggo Mortensen steals the show as a father whose idealistic way of raising his children comes under attack by the real world
    4 stars
  15. Spotlight review – exposing the sins of the fathers
    Newsroom drama gets behind the headlines of the child abuse scandal that rocked Boston’s Catholic community in 2002
    4 stars
  16. Newtown review: film places focus on town stories over gun violence
    Gun violence has been well-covered during 2016 festival, but film-maker Kim A Snyder explores emotional aftermath of Sandy Hook shooting
    4 stars
  17. All These Sleepless Nights review – wasted weekends in Warsaw
    A ‘constructed reality’ film about a pair of hard-partying twentysomethings, this exuberant movie has ragged truths to tell about youth, fun and friendship
    4 stars
  18. Spotlight review – Catholic church called to account over child abuse
    Old-style journalism triumphs in the story of the real-life team who knocked on doors and scoured the cuttings library to reveal a scandal that may have begun centuries ago
    4 stars
  19. Innocence of Memories review – odyssey into Orhan Pamuk's multimedia creation
    Director Grant Gee presents a meditation on the Turkish writer’s Museum of Innocence and the novel of forbidden love that inspired it
    4 stars
  20. We Come As Friends review – bird's eye view of colonialism
    Documentary-maker Hubert Sauper flies a small plane from France to South Sudan, charting a land that’s becoming alien to its indigenous population
    4 stars
  21. Frank & Lola review – Michael Shannon sizzles in twisted romance
    Matthew M Ross’s directorial debut about a Los Angeles chef and his mysterious girlfriend with a sordid past is surprising and compulsively watchable
    4 stars
  22. Equity review: hotly toxic tale of women on Wall Street is a greedy treat
    This accomplished finance drama feels fresh for its gender-switch dynamics – but did all the men need to be quite so dim?
    4 stars
  23. Maya Angelou and Still I Rise review - perceptive portrait of legendary writer
    Her unmistakably raspy tones narrate this story of her trajectory from a brutal childhood in the south to an iconic figure of black American self-empowerment
    4 stars
  24. Kiki review – flamboyant and uplifting look at New York's ballroom scene
    This complex documentary explores a fascinating subculture and adds substance and depth to a world that could otherwise be patronised
    4 stars
  25. Halal Love (and Sex) review: Beirut-set comedy offers more than just laughs
    Assad Fouladkar’s comedy about a group of Muslim women struggling to find happiness in love and sex is very funny - and serious when it matters
    4 stars
  26. Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words review - career highlights of a serious musical joker
    This documentary about the oddball musician may not satisfy completists, but it’s still a fascinating run-through of Zappa’s greatest – and weirdest – moments
    4 stars
  27. Cameraperson review - a beautifully curated collage of outtakes
    Cinematographer Kirsten Johnson’s 25-year collection of spare documentary footage, premiering at Sundance, is a fascinating and personal glimpse of the world
    4 stars
  28. Under the Gun review – gun control polemic hits its target
    Absorbing and gripping, this documentary details the rise of the NRA into a lobbying powerhouse – and provides an incentive to get involved in the debate
    4 stars
  29. Certain Women review: Kelly Reichardt returns melancholy yet triumphant
    The indie auteur reunites with Meek’s Cutoff star Michelle Williams for a deeply-involving slow-burner also featuring Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern
    4 stars
  30. Sing Street review - teen zero to hero in three chord wonder from Once director
    Once director John Carney hits the bullseye again with a goodnatured 80s-set comedy about a timid schoolkid who starts a band to impress a beautiful girl
    4 stars
  31. Kate Plays Christine review: shocking study of news anchor's on-air suicide
    Robert Greene’s documentary is superficially about the making of a film about news reporter Christine Chubbuck’s 1974 live-broadcast suicide. But this is no fly-on-the-wall observation
    4 stars
  32. Love & Friendship review: Kate Beckinsale is a devious delight
    Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny reunite with director Whit Stillman for a witty adaptation of Jane Austen’s early novella Lady Susan
    4 stars
  33. Operation Avalanche review: found-footage take on fake moon landing convinces
    You’ll laugh, you’ll gasp – and you might even find yourself revisiting the conspiracy theories, such is the fluency and invention of this terrific comedy
    4 stars
  34. White Girl review: sex, drugs and moral peril in a stylish Sundance button-pusher
    Terrific performances and a topical plot help Elizabeth Wood’s drama about a hard-living teen fend off accusations of titilation or provocation
    4 stars
  35. The Assassin review – martial arts to die for
    Hou Hsiao-hsien’s painterly tale of Tang dynasty intrigue is a magnificent blend of fleet-footed action dark magic and emotional realism
    4 stars
  36. The Big Short review – life with the Wall Street sharks
    A dramatic retelling of the 2007-8 financial crisis reveals a riveting world of chaos, corruption and misfits
    4 stars
  37. Attacking the Devil: Harold Evans and the Last Nazi War Crime review - the great days of investigative journalism
    A heartrending documentary about newspaper editor Harold Evans’s campaign for justice for thalidomide victims
    4 stars
  38. Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World review – Herzog's wild ride through the web
    With interviewees ranging from Elon Musk to a gaming addict, Werner Herzog presents the web in all its wildness and utopian potential in this dizzying documentary
    4 stars
  39. Tallulah review – Ellen Page and Allison Janney make magic in baby drama
    The Juno pair reunite for a richly wrought story about two strangers from different backgrounds who come together over a stolen baby
    4 stars
  40. Zoolander 2 review: Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are so lukewarm right now
    Derek and Hansel are back on the catwalk 14 years on – and though age may have withered their cutting comedy edge, there’s still fun to be found in the familiarity
    3 stars
  41. Trumbo review – when Hollywood saw red
    Bryan Cranston stars in this biting drama about the blacklisted 1940s screenwriter
    3 stars
  42. Goosebumps review – a diverting monster mash
    Jack Black plays children’s horror writer RL Stine in a scrappy yarn that brings a horde of his creepiest ghouls together
    3 stars
  43. Janis: Little Girl Blue – a force of nature
    Poignant archive footage shows Janis Joplin as both timid and triumphant in this engrossing documentary
    3 stars
  44. Miss Hokusai review – artist anime blends the sentimental, erotic and strange
    An interesting, complex animation about the relationship between Katsushika Hokusai – the 19th-century artist famous for The Great Wave – and his daughter
    3 stars
  45. Uzumasa Limelight review – a heartfelt Chaplin tribute in a samurai movie
    Transplanted to the Japanese film industry, this adaptation of the 1952 original is an interesting if predictable homage about an ageing actor too old to play the acrobatic extra who always gets killed
    3 stars
  46. The American Dreamer review – shooting Dennis Hopper, shooting
    Fuzzy 70s doc on Dennis Hopper tries to be countercultural but the weirdest thing on show is his gun obsession. A decent footnote to US new wave cinema
    3 stars
  47. Lee 'Scratch' Perry’s Vision of Paradise review – kaleidoscopic tour of a certifiable original
    Dub pioneer Perry has so many sides in this overview, from ‘space traveller’ to ‘madman’, and the film-makers take a confused and formless tour of them all
    3 stars
  48. Power in Our Hands review – well-meaning British Deaf Association paean
    Documentary on the persecution of deaf people in the 20th century reveals a brutal, sad secret history, but it’s ill-served by clunky presentation
    3 stars
  49. Trumbo review – return to red-faced Hollywood's shame
    Oscar-nominated Bryan Cranston toys theatrically with the role of a persecuted screenwriter in this heartfelt account of the anticommunist witch-hunts of the 50s
    3 stars
  50. Youth (La Giovinezza) review – dazed and confused
    Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel bring the benefit of age and experience to a misfiring tragi-comedy
    3 stars
  51. Brahman Naman review – Bangalore teen comedy scrutinizes caste system
    Qaushiq Mukherjee blends English literature and bovine sex jokes in 1980s-set film that departs from American high school comedy formula
    3 stars
  52. The 33 review – feelgood take on the Chilean mining disaster
    Antonio Banderas plays the trapped miners’ leader in a big-hearted, good-natured treatment of the rescue story that gripped the world
    3 stars
  53. Backtrack review – brisk, pulpy psycho-horror
    Adrien Brody’s psychoanalyst heads to his creepy home town to find repressed memories in Michael Petroni’s effective, if unoriginal, shocker
    3 stars
  54. One and Two review – as if Terrence Malick made a superhero origin story
    A sense of mystery drifts in from magic-hour tableaux and interior monologue voiceovers in this watchable tale about teenagers with special powers
    3 stars
  55. Youth review – life and death as seen from a luxury hot tub
    In Paolo Sorrentino’s beautiful but underwhelming drama, Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel are a pair of old friends steeped in ennui and torpor during a spa break in Switzerland
    3 stars
  56. Jim: The James Foley Story review - simplistic but powerful look at journalistic bravery
    This moving documentary tells the story of a tragic war reporter whose important work led to a horrific death at the hands of Islamic State
    3 stars
  57. Lovesong review – intimate acting can't save thinly plotted love story
    Jena Malone and Riley Keough are stellar at lending emotional truth to So Yong Kim’s romance but the inadequate script ultimately fails them
    3 stars
  58. Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny review – from Slacker to Boyhood
    Documentary about the film-maker details highs and lows, from being toast of the indie scene to studio-assisted missteps, before his Oscar-winning renaissance
    3 stars
  59. Antibirth review - Natasha Lyonne makes a splash in whacked-out Dude-meets-Brood
    First time director Danny Perez has come up with an entertaining grossout riff on Cronenberg-style body horror, featuring a great performance from Lyonne
    3 stars
  60. How To Tell You’re A Douchebag review - amusing low budget Brooklyn rom-com
    Tahir Jetter’s first film offers up some inspired moments yet falls flat when dramatic material arises
    3 stars
  61. Complete Unknown review – talky drama blows its big reveal
    Rachel Weisz is the woman with several pasts and Michael Shannon is the ex-lover who confronts her in a night of soul-searching that doesn’t amount to much
    3 stars
  62. Indignation review: Logan Lerman excels in Philip Roth adaptation
    James Schamus makes his directorial debut with this well-acted adaptation of a novel about a Jewish man at odds with the morals of his Christian college
    3 stars
  63. Southside with You review: Obamas' first date is Before Sunset sans subtlety
    There’s politics, prejudice, romance and a community meeting to discuss broken faucets in this coshing yet charming take on the – remarkably busy – first date of Barack and Michelle Obama
    3 stars
  64. Spa Night review: young Korean American comes of age in an all-male spa
    Andrew Ahn’s directorial debut uses the Korean spas of Los Angeles as a backdrop for a gay coming-of-age story, but – unlike the spa – it’s a chilly affair
    3 stars
  65. Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall review – Spike Lee plays it safe in documentary
    The archival footage is smile-inducing, and some of the talking heads are perceptive – but this film is straightforward and ignores Jackson’s demons
    3 stars
  66. Morris From America review: struggles of a black teen in Germany
    This coming-of-age story is charming, but like its hero, it’s ultimately unsure of what it wants to say
    3 stars
  67. The Lure: mermaid musical a splashy distraction until lack of story seems fishy
    This Polish vampire musical featuring mermaid siblings seems to have it all – but after a while the wackiness gets weary and even the foam seems thin
    3 stars
  68. Manchester-by-the-Sea review: Kenneth Lonergan's morose echo of Margaret
    Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams lead a starry cast in Lonergan’s long-awaited latest – but the impact of this impressive drama is suffocated by the silence and suffering of its central character
    3 stars
  69. Our Brand Is Crisis review – dirty political dealings in South America
    Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton go head to head as strategists in a patchy satire about the 2002 Bolivian elections
    3 stars
  70. Point Break review – an empty rehash
    Even Ray Winstone can’t save this adrenaline-fuelled but shallow remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 classic
    2 stars
  71. Dad’s Army review – the wit goes awol
    Canny casting and fine performances are undermined by a script that falls short of the TV original
    2 stars
  72. Taking Stock review – sunny fare, ropey plot
    Kelly Brook plays a shop assistant turned outlaw in a breezy London tale that doesn’t do justice to writer/director Maeve Murphy’s talents
    2 stars
  73. The Choice review – let's twist again, Nicholas Sparks-style
    Comically perfect neighbours court over the Cape Fear inlets in another adaptation of the North Carolina slushmaster. It’s almost watchable – until a phony last twist
    2 stars
  74. Taking Stock review – larky comedy caper that doesn't quite gel
    It has some appealing quirky touches, but Maeve Murphy’s comedy might have worked better on the small screen
    2 stars
  75. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies review – when the undead are dead boring
    Wise-cracking Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy slash away at reanimated corpses in a bloody reworking of Jane Austen. But it’s not as much fun as it sounds
    2 stars
  76. Jane Got a Gun review: big Nat, no cattle as Portman western fires blanks
    The movie Lynne Ramsay, Jude Law and Michael Fassbender were going to shoot finally makes it to be big screen, limping and bloodless, albeit for a few knockout shots
    2 stars
  77. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi review – a barrage of noise and posturing
    Director Michael Bay checks nuance at the door for this politically slanted take on the 2012 US compound attack in Libya
    2 stars
  78. Backtrack review – a ghost story lacking chills
    A by-the-numbers supernatural thriller fails to conjure up any original scares
    2 stars
  79. Capture the Flag review – animated antics in outer space
    Sickly flick about a trip to the moon manages to disappoint the whole family
    2 stars
  80. The 33 review – historic rescue minus the drama
    Cod Latino accents don’t help this account of the 2010 rescue of 33 trapped Chilean miners
    2 stars
  81. The Hollars review: mawkish John Krasinski comedy feels like long sitcom
    The actor’s second film as director is so intent to please that it’s ultimately more cloying than affecting
    2 stars
  82. Dirty Grandpa review – Robert De Niro plumbs the comedy depths
    The great man’s late career continues to baffle as he plays a widower lusting after bikini-clad young women on a road trip with grandson Zac Efron
    2 stars
  83. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi review – like playing Call of Duty for 72 hours
    Michael Bay’s account of a besieged US diplomatic compound in Libya is like an endless video game – but without the subtlety and insight
    2 stars
  84. Lazer Team review – an effects-packed budget blockbuster
    Like last year’s Pixels but with shoddier special effects, this tale of smalltown folk versus the space aliens gets full marks for enthusiasm but little else
    2 stars
  85. Capture the Flag review – family space odyssey fails to launch
    The animated story of a boy’s struggle to become an astronaut features grating characters and a random plot
    2 stars
  86. The Intervention review - relationship drama descends into actors' showcase
    Actor Clea DuVall’s directorial debut has good intentions, but the story of a group of thirtysomethings trying to fix their friends’ relationship loses the plot
    2 stars
  87. Dad's Army review: who don't you think you are kidding?
    Do panic: the cast pull off a convincing impression – and Catherine Zeta-Jones adds sauce – but there’s something inescapably creaky about this strangest of sitcom revivals
    2 stars
  88. Trash Fire review – queasy genre mashup loses its spark
    Part jet-black comedy, part house-of-horrors shocker complete with snakes in the toilet, this uneven film delivers a bumpy ride
    2 stars
  89. Looking for Grace review – heavy drama fails to find what it was searching for
    Although boasting strong performances, the fling-us-here and fling-us-there structure of Sue Brooks’s family drama feels gimmicky and lacks a certain grace
    2 stars
  90. Airlift review – India's historic Kuwait evacuation retold as a one-man mission
    Akshay Kumar is the businessman leading an expat exodus to flee Iraqi invaders – but the aggressors are reduced to cartoon villains in this turgid saga
    2 stars
  91. Dark Night review – the view on America's gun crisis from outer space
    Inspired by the 2012 mass shooting at a cinema in Colorado, this gorgeously filmed episodic drama aims to provoke but dissolves into cold and distant tedium
    2 stars
  92. The Lovers and the Despot: study of Kim Jong-Il's cinephilia is hard to adore
    There’s an incredible story somewhere in this tale of how an actor and her husband were forced to make films for the late dictator, but this documentary buries it by way of over-measured effects and chronic pussy-footing
    2 stars
  93. Ride Along 2 review - wiser cracks in odd couple sequel
    Kevin Hart and Ice Cube buddy up again in Florida in this money-spinning cop comedy
    2 stars
  94. Dark Places review – sibling thriller verges on the silly
    Charlize Theron stars in this creaky satanic mystery adaptation from Gone Girl author, Gillian Flynn
    2 stars
  95. The 5th Wave review – sci-fi war games with few surprises
    Chloë Grace Moretz battles teen-hating space invaders in this clunky adaptation of a YA fantasy
    2 stars
  96. Point Break review – nature calls in this fantastically pointless remake
    Kathyn Bigelow’s cult action movie is given a lifeless reboot as Luke Bracey goes deep undercover in a world of bikes, bank robberies and bad CGI
    1 star
  97. Dirty Grandpa review – avoid at all costs
    Robert De Niro and Zac Efron earn a place in cinema’s hall of infamy with an atrocious bad-taste comedy
    1 star
  98. The Eyes of My Mother review – squelchy, silly revenge horror
    Almodóvar meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – but without the finesse – in this out-to-lunch black-and-white horror
    1 star
  99. Jacqueline (Argentine) review – dullness paraded as a postmodern joke
    Loosely inspired by Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras, this lo-fi drama makes the mistake of continually drawing attention to its own tedium
    1 star
  100. Yoga Hosers review – Kevin Smith unleashes Nazi sausages in tired comedy
    The second in Smith’s planned True North trilogy, following Tusk, aims for inspired lunacy but comes up short in every department
    1 star
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By Gideon Goldberg