(Photo by Summit Entertainment)

All Kristen Stewart Movies Ranked by Tomatometer

Before she became ambassador for vegetarian vampire-and-werewolf relations in the late 2000s, Kristen Stewart had already built a steady career transitioning from child actor roles and into young adulthood. First, she starred in David Fincher’s efficient potboiler Panic Room, then went into space with with Jumanji cinematic universe-adjacent Zathura (directed by pre-Iron Man Jon Faverau), and helped guide a wayward traveler in Into the Wild.

Of course, that all seems like pre-history in the wake of Twilight, the romantic fantasy phenomenon that would make unlikely tabloid stars out of Stewart and Robert Pattinson for years to come. Five Twilight movies released annually for a half-decade, and whatever the benefits of becoming household names through them, there was also the very real threat of a post-career forever in the shadow of the vampire.

Stewart responded, much like Pattinson, by going indie, as she racked up impressive performances in the likes of Still Alice, Personal Shopper, Clouds of Sils Maria, and Certain Women, working with big arthouse names like Olivier Assayas and Kelly Reichardt. She also completed her unofficial “Co-Starring Jesse Eisenberg” trilogy that started with Adventureland, following through with American Ultra and Cafe Society.

Even Stewart’s approach towards mainstream filmmaking come packaged with feminist or revisionist touches, like Charlie’s Angels or Snow White and the Huntsman. She took a dive in Underwater, and ended 2020 on a Happiest Season. And now we’re ranking all her movies by Tomatometer!

#40

Cold Creek Manor (2003)
12%

#40
Adjusted Score: 14358%
Critics Consensus: The plot of Cold Creek Manor is too predictable and contrived to generate suspense.
Synopsis: When filmmaker Cooper Tilson (Dennis Quaid) and his wife, Leah (Sharon Stone), tire of life in New York City, they... [More]
Directed By: Mike Figgis

#39

The Messengers (2007)
12%

#39
Adjusted Score: 14174%
Critics Consensus: The Messengers is an atmospheric but derivative rip-off of countless other horror movies.
Synopsis: When the Solomons trade in the craziness of big-city life for the quiet of a North Dakota farm, little do... [More]

#38

Catch That Kid (2004)
13%

#38
Adjusted Score: 14655%
Critics Consensus: An unimaginative heist movie aimed strictly at the preteen set.
Synopsis: Athletic 12-year-old Maddy (Kristen Stewart) shares an enthusiasm for mountain climbing with her father, Tom (Sam Robards). Unfortunately, Tom suffers... [More]
Directed By: Bart Freundlich

#37

Jumper (2008)
15%

#37
Adjusted Score: 20622%
Critics Consensus: Featuring uninvolving characters and loose narrative, Jumper is an erratic action pic with little coherence and lackluster special effects.
Synopsis: Aimless David Rice (Hayden Christensen) has the ability to instantly transport himself to any place he can imagine. He uses... [More]
Directed By: Doug Liman

#36

Fierce People (2005)
24%

#36
Adjusted Score: 25144%
Critics Consensus: Fierce People's premise of a teenager studying rich people like animals is grating and self-satisfied, and Anton Yelchin's smug performance makes the film even harder to agree with.
Synopsis: Finn (Anton Yelchin) is a teenager trying to escape his drug-addicted mother (Diane Lane) by going to study tribal people.... [More]
Directed By: Griffin Dunne

#35

Anesthesia (2015)
25%

#35
Adjusted Score: 26926%
Critics Consensus: Anesthesia's incredible cast is wasted on a sloppily-assembled drama whose grand ambitions are undermined by a flawed screenplay.
Synopsis: The lives of a self-destructive student (Kristen Stewart), a hard-drinking housewife (Gretchen Mol) and an impoverished junkie (K. Todd Freeman)... [More]
Directed By: Tim Blake Nelson

#34
Adjusted Score: 33707%
Critics Consensus: Slow, joyless, and loaded with unintentionally humorous moments, Breaking Dawn Part 1 may satisfy the Twilight faithful, but it's strictly for fans of the franchise.
Synopsis: At last, Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) are getting married. When Jacob (Taylor Lautner) finds out that Bella... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#33
Adjusted Score: 37559%
Critics Consensus: The Twilight Saga's second installment may satisfy hardcore fans of the series, but outsiders are likely to be turned off by its slow pace, relentlessly downcast tone, and excessive length.
Synopsis: After the abrupt departure of Edward (Robert Pattinson), her vampire love, Bella (Kristen Stewart) finds comfort in her deepening friendship... [More]
Directed By: Chris Weitz

#32

Equals (2015)
36%

#32
Adjusted Score: 40651%
Critics Consensus: Equals is a treat for the eyes, but its futuristic aesthetic isn't enough to make up for its plodding pace and aimlessly derivative story.
Synopsis: Nia (Kristen Stewart) and Silas work together in a futuristic society known as the Collective. A seemingly utopian world, the... [More]
Directed By: Drake Doremus

#31

Seberg (2019)
36%

#31
Adjusted Score: 45017%
Critics Consensus: Seberg's frustratingly superficial treatment of a fascinating true story does a disservice to its subject -- and Kristen Stewart's performance in the central role.
Synopsis: In the late 1960s, French new wave actress and "Breathless" star Jean Seberg becomes the target of the FBI due... [More]
Directed By: Benedict Andrews

#30

American Ultra (2015)
44%

#30
Adjusted Score: 50024%
Critics Consensus: American Ultra has some interesting ideas, but like its stoned protagonist, it's too easily distracted to live up to its true potential.
Synopsis: Small-town stoner Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) spends most of his time getting high and writing a graphic novel. What Mike... [More]
Directed By: Nima Nourizadeh

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 48253%
Critics Consensus: While pleasantly acted, In the Land of Women is a dramatically stilted film with underdeveloped characters.
Synopsis: After a bad breakup with his girlfriend leaves him heartbroken, Carter Webb (Adam Brody) moves to Michigan to take care... [More]
Directed By: Jon Kasdan

#28
Adjusted Score: 52642%
Critics Consensus: Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk has noble goals, but lacks a strong enough screenplay to achieve them -- and its visual innovations are often merely distracting.
Synopsis: Nineteen-year-old private Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn), along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, becomes a hero after a harrowing... [More]
Directed By: Ang Lee

#27

On the Road (2012)
45%

#27
Adjusted Score: 50939%
Critics Consensus: Beautiful to look at but a bit too respectfully crafted, On the Road doesn't capture the energy and inspiration of Jack Kerouac's novel.
Synopsis: An aspiring writer (Sam Riley), his new friend (Garrett Hedlund) and his friend's seductive wife (Kristen Stewart) heed the call... [More]
Directed By: Walter Salles

#26
Adjusted Score: 56824%
Critics Consensus: Stuffed with characters and overly reliant on uninspired dialogue, Eclipse won't win The Twilight Saga many new converts, despite an improved blend of romance and action fantasy.
Synopsis: Danger once again surrounds Bella (Kristen Stewart), as a string of mysterious killings terrorizes Seattle and a malicious vampire continues... [More]
Directed By: David Slade

#25

Twilight (2008)
49%

#25
Adjusted Score: 57424%
Critics Consensus: Having lost much of its bite transitioning to the big screen, Twilight will please its devoted fans, but do little for the uninitiated.
Synopsis: High-school student Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), always a bit of a misfit, doesn't expect life to change much when she... [More]
Directed By: Catherine Hardwicke

#24
Adjusted Score: 57370%
Critics Consensus: It's the most entertaining Twilight, but that's not enough to make Breaking Dawn Part 2 worth watching for filmgoers who don't already count themselves among the franchise converts.
Synopsis: Bella (Kristen Stewart) awakes -- as a vampire -- from her life-threatening labor, and her newborn daughter, Renesmee, proves to... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#23
Adjusted Score: 60076%
Critics Consensus: While it offers an appropriately dark take on the fairy tale that inspired it, Snow White and the Huntsman is undone by uneven acting, problematic pacing, and a confused script.
Synopsis: Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron), who seized control of her kingdom by marrying and killing its rightful ruler, needs the life... [More]
Directed By: Rupert Sanders

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 52008%
Critics Consensus: The large cast of characters and scripting are too unwieldy, and the suburban angst theme feels tired.
Synopsis: In a suburban landscape, the lives of several families interlace with loss, despair and personal crisis. Esther Gold (Glenn Close)... [More]
Directed By: Rose Troche

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 55367%
Critics Consensus: What Just Happened has some inspired comic moments, but this inside-baseball take on Hollywood lacks satirical bite.
Synopsis: During the course of an ordinary week in Hollywood, movie producer Ben (Robert De Niro) must navigate his way through... [More]
Directed By: Barry Levinson

#20

Underwater (2020)
47%

#20
Adjusted Score: 62176%
Critics Consensus: Underwater's strong cast and stylish direction aren't enough to distract from the strong sense of déjà vu provoked by this claustrophobic thriller's derivative story.
Synopsis: Disaster strikes more than six miles below the ocean surface when water crashes through the walls of a drilling station.... [More]
Directed By: William Eubank

#19

Charlie's Angels (2019)
52%

#19
Adjusted Score: 65099%
Critics Consensus: Earnest and energetic, if a bit uneven, Elizabeth Banks's pulpy Charlie's Angels adds new flair to the franchise with fun performances from its three leads.
Synopsis: Elena Houghlin is a scientist, engineer and inventor of Calisto -- a sustainable energy source that will revolutionize the way... [More]
Directed By: Elizabeth Banks

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 56576%
Critics Consensus: Despite earnest performances, Welcome to the Rileys cannot escape its belabored over-sentimentality and sluggish delivery.
Synopsis: Seeking refuge from his grief and crumbling marriage, a salesman (James Gandolfini) becomes a surrogate father to an underage stripper... [More]
Directed By: Jake Scott

#17

Undertow (2004)
55%

#17
Adjusted Score: 58002%
Critics Consensus: Undertow's gently fantastical elements are balanced by fully realized characters and a story with genuine, steadily accumulating emotional weight.
Synopsis: After his wife dies, John Munn (Dermot Mulroney) moves with his sons Chris (Jamie Bell) and Tim (Devon Alan) to... [More]
Directed By: David Gordon Green

#16

J.T. LeRoy (2018)
55%

#16
Adjusted Score: 59712%
Critics Consensus: While it may leave some viewers wishing for a more in-depth exploration of its story and themes, J.T. Leroy offers a diverting dramatization of incredible real-life events.
Synopsis: A young woman named Savannah Knoop spends six years pretending to be the celebrated author JT LeRoy, the made-up literary... [More]
Directed By: Justin Kelly

#15

The Cake Eaters (2007)
64%

#15
Adjusted Score: 64368%
Critics Consensus: Though light on theme and craftsmanship, The Cake Eaters relies on fine performances and brisk direction to provide an affecting tale of small-town life.
Synopsis: The death of the Kimbrough family matriarch affects the three male survivors of the clan. Widower Easy (Bruce Dern) tries... [More]
Directed By: Mary Stuart Masterson

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 67154%
Critics Consensus: Small and intimate -- occasionally to a fault -- The Yellow Handkerchief rises above its overly familiar ingredients thanks to riveting performances from William Hurt and Kristen Stewart.
Synopsis: Former con man Brett Hanson (William Hurt) is imprisoned for six years before finally being released on parole. Now he... [More]
Directed By: Udayan Prasad

#13

Lizzie (2018)
66%

#13
Adjusted Score: 73762%
Critics Consensus: Lizzie forces audiences to take a new look at a widely known true-crime story -- even if the well-acted end result is never quite as gripping as it could be.
Synopsis: In 1892 Lizzie Borden lives a quiet life in Massachusetts under the strict rules established by her father. Lizzie finds... [More]

#12

The Runaways (2010)
69%

#12
Adjusted Score: 75192%
Critics Consensus: Viewers expecting an in-depth biopic will be disappointed, but The Runaways is as electric as the band's music, largely thanks to strong performances from Michael Shannon, Dakota Fanning, and Kristen Stewart.
Synopsis: Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) and Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), two rebellious teenagers from Southern California, become the frontwomen for the... [More]
Directed By: Floria Sigismondi

#11

Café Society (2016)
71%

#11
Adjusted Score: 85948%
Critics Consensus: Café Society's lovely visuals and charming performances round out a lightweight late-period Allen comedy whose genuine pleasures offset its amiable predictability.
Synopsis: Looking for an exciting career, young Bobby Dorfman leaves New York for the glitz and glamour of 1930s Hollywood. After... [More]
Directed By: Woody Allen

#10

Camp X-Ray (2014)
75%

#10
Adjusted Score: 75643%
Critics Consensus: Camp X-Ray's treatment of its subject verges on the shallow, but benefits greatly from a pair of impressive performances from Kristen Stewart and Peyman Moaadi.
Synopsis: A female guard (Kristen Stewart) at Guantanamo Bay forms an unlikely friendship with one of the facility's longtime detainees.... [More]
Directed By: Peter Sattler

#9

Panic Room (2002)
75%

#9
Adjusted Score: 81824%
Critics Consensus: Elevated by David Fincher's directorial talent and Jodie Foster's performance, Panic Room is a well-crafted, above-average thriller.
Synopsis: Trapped in their New York brownstone's panic room, a hidden chamber built as a sanctuary in the event of break-ins,... [More]
Directed By: David Fincher

#8

Zathura (2005)
76%

#8
Adjusted Score: 81240%
Critics Consensus: Dazzling special effects for the kids + well-crafted storytelling for the 'rents = cinematic satisfaction for the whole family.
Synopsis: After their father (Tim Robbins) is called into work, two young boys, Walter (Josh Hutcherson) and Danny (Jonah Bobo), are... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

#7

Personal Shopper (2016)
81%

#7
Adjusted Score: 100433%
Critics Consensus: Personal Shopper attempts a tricky series of potentially jarring tonal shifts with varying results, bolstered by a performance from Kristen Stewart that's impossible to ignore.
Synopsis: A young American in Paris works as a personal shopper for a celebrity. She seems to have the ability to... [More]
Directed By: Olivier Assayas

#6

Into the Wild (2007)
83%

#6
Adjusted Score: 90585%
Critics Consensus: With his sturdy cast and confident direction, Sean Penn has turned a complex work of non-fiction like Into the Wild into an accessible and poignant character study.
Synopsis: Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch), son of wealthy parents (Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt), graduates from Emory University as a top... [More]
Directed By: Sean Penn

#5

Happiest Season (2020)
82%

#5
Adjusted Score: 95288%
Critics Consensus: A jolly good time with heartfelt performances and more than enough holiday cheer, all you'll want for Christmas is Happiest Season.
Synopsis: This romantic comedy is about longtime lesbian couple Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis), who made plans to go... [More]
Directed By: Clea DuVall

#4

Still Alice (2014)
85%

#4
Adjusted Score: 93222%
Critics Consensus: Elevated by a gripping performance from Julianne Moore, Still Alice is a heartfelt drama that honors its delicate themes with bravery and sensitivity.
Synopsis: Dr. Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is a renowned linguistics professor at Columbia University. When words begin to escape her and... [More]

#3

Adventureland (2009)
89%

#3
Adjusted Score: 98911%
Critics Consensus: Full of humor and nostalgia, Adventureland is a sweet, insightful coming-of-age comedy that will resonate with teens and adults alike.
Synopsis: It's the summer of 1987, and recent college grad James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) can't wait to begin his long-anticipated dream... [More]
Directed By: Greg Mottola

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 97026%
Critics Consensus: Bolstered by a trio of powerful performances from its talented leads, Clouds of Sils Maria is an absorbing, richly detailed drama with impressive depth and intelligence.
Synopsis: A veteran actress (Juliette Binoche) comes face-to-face with an uncomfortable reflection of herself when she agrees to take part in... [More]
Directed By: Olivier Assayas

#1

Certain Women (2016)
92%

#1
Adjusted Score: 102968%
Critics Consensus: Certain Women further demonstrates writer-director Kelly Reichardt's gift for telling the stories of ordinary people with uncommon empathy and skill.
Synopsis: Three strong-willed women (Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Michelle Williams) strive to forge their own paths amidst the wide-open plains of... [More]
Directed By: Kelly Reichardt

It’s a good week for Watchmen fans, as the highly anticipated animated short Tales of the Black Freighter (and the faux-documentary Under the Hood) arrive on shelves. Animation fans should also check out Disney’s Certified Fresh adventure Bolt, which debuted on Blu-ray on Sunday but is available this week on DVD. Adrenaline junkies have a few titles to choose from, including the latest James Bond adventure (Quantum of Solace) and, in anticipation of the upcoming fourth film, The Fast & the Furious trilogy set. Indie audiences should look for Kristen Stewart’s second star turn in two weeks, after last Saturday’s Twilight DVD debut (The Cake Eaters), while classic movie buffs have their own delights to consider (Criterion’s The 400 Blows on Blu-ray).

WatchmenTales of the Black Freighter & Under the Hood — N/A

Hot on the heels of the theatrical debut of Watchmen, Zack Snyder‘s epic tale about a band of former superheroes being hunted down in an alternate-1980s America, comes a supplementary DVD that will only further foment Watchmen-fever for those of you already enamored of the original Alan Moore graphic novel. Much like Snyder’s meticulously faithful big-screen adaptation, this DVD-only release (which combines an animated version of the meta-comic Tales of the Black Freighter and the faux-documentary Under the Hood) is a love song for established fans of the Watchmen world, though not so much for the uninitiated.

Tales of the Black Freighter breathes life into the meta-story of the same name, which appeared as a comic-within-a-comic throughout Moore’s graphic novel but is only alluded to in Snyder’s theatrical version (look for Black Freighter to be woven into the story in a director’s cut of Watchmen). In it, a ship captain (voiced by Gerard Butler, who played Leonidas in Snyder’s 300) loses his crew to the Black Freighter, a pirate ship headed to his home town; spurred by a desire to save his family from the Black Freighter’s dastardly crew, the mariner makes his way home but struggles to retain his sanity. With a gloomy, anime-like style and a story adaptation by Snyder and writer Alex Tse, this short runs just under 30 minutes and, if slightly unsatisfactory on its own, is a nice supplement to the world of Watchmen.

More intriguing for fans of the Watchmen film will be Under the Hood, a fake documentary posed as a “Where Are They Now?” retrospective, in which Carla Gugino (Silk Spectre), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian), and Stephen McHattie (Nite Owl) reprise their all too-brief roles in Watchmen on the fictional “Culpeper Minute” show. It’s a nice way to see more of these supporting superheroes, who serve more peripheral roles in the feature film, and while some of it is lifted verbatim from the novel, much of it is improvised. Akin to Watchmen‘s great, nostalgic opening montage (Superhero History 101, from the Minute Men to the public scandals to the rise and fall of the Watchmen), Under the Hood fleshes out the great strengths of the Watchmen universe — the idea of an ironic superhero existence, extraordinary heroes who yet remain deeply, complexly flawed human beings.

Next: Disney’s Oscar-nominated Bolt races to DVD

Bolt — 86%

Disney’s Oscar-nominated tale about a canine actor trying to find his way home to Hollywood won over critics and audiences alike — and kids and adults alike — thanks to its sweet “a girl and her dog” sentiments and pop culture-savvy dialogue. The Certified Fresh release arrives on DVD (after hitting Blu-ray on Sunday) as one of the more satisfying family-entertainment titles of late, and, proving that Pixar doesn’t have a complete monopoly on the genre, drew kudos as one of the best animated flicks of 2008. Tween fans will be delighted to see lots of Miley Cyrus all over the DVD and Blu-ray bonus materials, as well as insightful making-of featurettes and behind-the-scenes glimpses; a feature dedicated to Rhino (Bolt’s hammy hamster sidekick) is a nice coda for the film’s biggest scene-stealer.

Next: The Blonde Bond is back in Quantum of Solace

James Bond’s second outing after being reborn in 2006’s Casino Royale (94%) fell a few notches south of its predecessor, though critics agreed that it featured some of the most frenetic and brutal action sequences of the year. While Quantum of Solace might have better been titled “Emo James Bond” — he’s still moping over the loss of Vesper Lynd the entire time, and that happened an entire movie ago — 007 jet-sets from Italy to South America on the trail of a sinister eco-terrorist conglomerate while managing to have a martini (and a lady) along the way, in true Bond fashion. Pick up the 2-Disc DVD for supplemental materials like on location featurettes, segments on director Marc Forster and Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, and a music video for the worst Bond theme in recent memory, courtesy of Jack White and Alicia Keys.

Next: 3 Fast 3 Furious, or The Fast & The Furious Trilogy

The Fast & The Furious Trilogy — N/A

Catch up on all three previous films in The Fast & the Furious franchise with Universal’s new trilogy pack, on Blu-ray and Limited Edition DVD sets this week. (Just in time for a refresher on where Vin Diesel and Paul Walker‘s torrid bromance will pick up in the fourth film, in theaters April 3!)

Personally, we loved the original Fast & the Furious (53%), in which undercover cop Brian O’Conner (Walker) befriends the street-racing criminal, Dominic Toretto (Diesel) — a saga of lies, friendship and brotherly love that could aptly be called “Point Break on Wheels.” The magic faded a bit when Brian relocated to Miami for John Singleton‘s Diesel-less sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious (35% – Best. Title. Ever.), despite a hilarious turn by model-turned-singer-turned-actor Tyrese Gibson. But the franchise picked up again with the Justin Lin-helmed Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift (34%), in which troubled newcomer Sean Boswell (Lucas Black, AKA the kid from Sling Blade) moves to Japan only to become tangled up…with drifting yakuza!

Tons of bonus materials accompany each film, for everyone from gear heads (“Tricking Out a Hot Import Car,” vehicle spotlights) to movie fans (storyboard comparisons and special effects features) to the conscientious (“Paul Walker Public Service Announcement”), and each film includes two new features apiece. Picture-in-Picture is enabled for Blu-ray viewers, although visually not all three films benefit from their High Def treatments.

Next: Kristen Stewart stars in Mary Stuart Masterson’s The Cake Eaters

Despite starring in the biggest teen movie event of last year — Summit Entertainment’s TwilightKristen Stewart has always been more of an indie actor than a mainstream starlet. (Take that, Vanessa Hudgens!) She shows her remarkable acting chops again in The Cake Eaters, an independent dramedy filmed two years ago that also marks the directorial debut of actress Mary Stuart Masterson (Fried Green Tomatoes). Stewart stars as Georgia, a teenager who suffers from a degenerative neurological disease and wants to live life as fully as she can — by falling in love with Beagle (Aaron Stanford), a local kid whose family and hers are intertwined. A director’s commentary, cast interviews, behind-the-scenes featurettes and deleted scenes accompany the disc (The Cake Eaters is still in limited release in select cities).

Next: Did someone say, “Rob Schneider’s directorial debut?”

Big Stan — N/A

When the phrases “Rob Schneider’s directorial debut,” “David Carradine as martial arts mentor,” and “prison comedy” are bandied about in the same sentence, is there any question that a direct-to-video film is a must-see? Such is the case of Big Stan, a prison comedy featuring David Carradine as a martial arts mentor that also happens to be Rob Schneider‘s directorial debut. Schneider also stars (a double treat!) as Stan, a two-bit criminal who prepares for prison by learning from a martial arts master, only to find himself the big dog behind bars, torn between breaking out and leading his fellow inmates against an evil warden. M. Emmet Walsh, Randy Couture, and G4’s Olivia Munn also star in this direct-to-video pick of the week!

Next: Anne Hathaway’s throwaway thriller, Passengers

Passengers — 21%

Anne Hathaway notched a minor blip on her career radar with this tepid thriller, which — in case you missed it, and you’re not alone — did actually come out in theaters last fall. (Her other October release, Rachel Getting Married, made a somewhat bigger splash.) Hathaway plays a psychologist counseling the five survivors of a terrible plane crash, one of whom (Watchmen‘s Patrick Wilson) she takes a romantic interest in. When her patients start disappearing, Hathaway starts suspecting something’s a little off…and that she might be better off in a Jonathan Demme character study.

Next: Casting against type — Tom Arnold as a pedophile in the devastating Gardens of the Night

Hitting DVD shelves directly from the indie film circuit, Gardens of the Night explores extremely sensitive ground: the consequences of child kidnapping and sexual abuse, as seen through the eyes of two victimized teenagers. The difficult material is made compelling thanks to brave performances by young actors Gillian Jacobs and Evan Ross (the son of Diana Ross, who cut his showbiz teeth in ATL and Pride); a supporting cast led by, of all people, Tom Arnold (as a middle-aged pedophile), John Malkovich (as a case worker), and Harold Perrineau (of ABC’s Lost) makes for a compelling, if hard to watch, drama.

Next: Criterion brings Truffaut’s The 400 Blows to Blu-ray

The 400 Blows — 100%

Film critic-turned-director Francois Truffaut (who coined the phrase “auteur theory” before becoming one of its best examples) made his directorial debut with Les Quatre Cents Coup (The 400 Blows), a semi-autobiographical tale of a working-class Parisian boy with a problem with authority and a severe case of wanderlust. The tragicomic escapades of Antoine Doinel, played by the astounding Jean-Pierre Leaud, were modeled on Truffaut’s own childhood, which lent the picture an air of authenticity and rebellion — two markers of the French New wave to which it belongs. Criterion has released The 400 Blows before, but for this High Def re-issue they’ve given Truffaut’s film its best transfer yet; the black and white picture is alternately crisp and lush, exactly as good as you hope it will be. While there are unfortunately no new extras, the bonus menu (highlighted by archival interviews with Truffaut discussing the film, original trailers, and two audio commentaries, one of which is by Truffaut’s lifelong friend Robert Lachenay, upon whom Antoine’s best friend is modeled) offer a thorough experience nonetheless.

Until next week, happy renting!

This week at the movies, we’ve got a supernatural quest (Race to Witch Mountain, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and AnnaSophia Robb), a vengeance thriller ( Last House on the Left, starring Sara Paxton and Garret Dillahunt), and playmate pratfalls (Miss March starring Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore). What do the critics have to say?



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Race to Witch Mountain

Race to Witch Mountain finds Disney attempting to resurrect a franchise that delivered some sizable hits for the studio in the 1970s. However, critics say the reboot is only sporadically successful, despite the best efforts of a talented cast. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars as an ex-con cabbie who picks up two teens with supernatural powers; together, they attempt to elude government officials and ominous forces. The pundits say the cast is just fine, especially the Rock, who mixes toughness and good humor with panache. But the rest of the film is alternately too noisy and not exciting enough to maintain interest throughout. (Check out star Carla Gugino‘s five favorite films, and our rundown of the finest live-action Disney films.)



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The Last House on the Left

Wes Craven‘s original The Last House on the Left was a horror movie touchstone, a film so violent in its time that even its poster had to reassure audience members that it was only a movie. Critics say the remake (which Craven produced) is stylishly crafted and effective in spots, but it misses the spirit of the original by miles, lacking Craven’s bleak artistry and his sense of social commentary. Sara Paxton stars as a young woman who is brutally attacked by a prison escapee and his flunkies. She flees to the supposed safety of her house, but when her parents discover that they’re harboring the very thugs who attacked their daughter, they exact their own brand of revenge. The pundits say the film is better-made than most, but it’s ultimately pretty generic, substituting the dark subtleties of Craven’s landmark film with oodles of gratuitous gore.



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Miss March

Unless your taste runs toward the bottom-of-the-barrel lowest common denominator, the critics say you may want to scratch Miss March off your calendar. The film stars Zach Cregger (who also directed with co-star Trevor Moore, both part of the the Whitest Kids U’ Know comedy troupe) as a young man who awakens from a coma to discover his once-chaste high school significant other is now a Playboy centerfold. The pundits say Miss March is crass, unfunny, and poorly made, a gross-out comedy with little beyond scene-stealer Craig Robinson to recommend it.


Also opening this week in limited release:

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