She’s yet to celebrate her 30th birthday, but Emma Stone has already been wooed by Jonah Hill, battled zombies, and smooched Spider-Man — and this weekend, she faces off against Steve Carell in Battle of the Sexes, so now seems like a pretty good time to take a look back at some of the brighter critical highlights from her growing list of film credits, while inviting you to rank your own favorites in the bargain. We’re romancing the Stone, Total Recall style!
Use the up and down arrows to rank the movies, or click here to see them ranked by Tomatometer!
70 Best High School Movies of All Time
For some, high school is the peak of their life: You’ve got prom and pep rallies, and homecoming and hormones. For others, it’s the pits because you’ve got…well, prom and pep rallies, and homecoming and hormones. And there to capture every awesome/awful moment are these high school movies which earned high grades from film critics.
Some of these beloved movies (like The Last Picture Show or American Graffiti) take a look back on high school with the clarity of time gone by. Others (like Superbad or Booksmart) make you feel like the high school experience is unfolding in real-time right before your eyes.
The best high school movies reflect discovering one’s self (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), questioning authority (Dead Poets Society), taking wild risks (Better Luck Tomorrow), and working for a better future (Hoop Dreams). And some ask the big questions. Like, what if I was in high school and I was also, you know, a superhero? What if one day I’m driving to school and then I time-travel back to 1955? And what if I had a better idea of what to do with that pie than just eating it?
As the jump-gate into adulthood and beyond, high school can be wild and wondrous and heart-breaking and hilarious. (And usually all at once.) The same can be said for these Fresh and Certified Fresh films (each with at least 20 critics reviews), representing the best high school movies ever, all ranked by Tomatometer!
Critics Consensus: Despite the formulaic, fluffy storyline, this movie is surprisingly fun to watch, mostly due to its high energy and how it humorously spoofs cheerleading instead of taking itself too seriously.
Synopsis: The Toro cheerleading squad from Rancho Carne High School in San Diego has got spirit, spunk, sass and a killer... [More]
Critics Consensus: Though Rocket Science appears to be a typically quirky indie, the well-rounded performances and director Jeffrey Blitz's clear affection for his characters gives the film its proper human spark.
Synopsis: High-school student Hal Hefner's (Reece Daniel Thompson) life is falling down around him. His parents have split, his brother picks... [More]
Critics Consensus:My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea's attention-getting visual style matches debuting writer-director Dash Shaw's distinctive narrative approach -- and signals a bright future for a promising talent.
Synopsis: High school sophomores Dash and Assaf are best friends and the only writers for the school newspaper. When the editor... [More]
Critics Consensus: Richard Kelly's debut feature Donnie Darko is a daring, original vision, packed with jarring ideas and intelligence and featuring a remarkable performance from Jake Gyllenhaal as the troubled title character.
Synopsis: In a funny, moving and distinctly mind-bending journey through suburban America, one extraordinary but disenchanted teenager is about to take... [More]
Critics Consensus: A harrowing tale of aimless youth, River's Edge generates considerable tension and urgency thanks to strong performances from a stellar cast that includes Crispin Glover, Keanu Reeves, and Ione Skye.
Synopsis: Teenage burnout Samson (Daniel Roebuck) has murdered his girlfriend and left her naked body lying on the bank of a... [More]
Critics Consensus: Deftly balancing vulgarity and sincerity while placing its protagonists in excessive situations, Superbad is an authentic take on friendship and the overarching awkwardness of the high school experience.
Synopsis: High-school seniors Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) have high hopes for a graduation party: The co-dependent teens plan... [More]
Critics Consensus:Spider-Man: Homecoming does whatever a second reboot can, delivering a colorful, fun adventure that fits snugly in the sprawling MCU without getting bogged down in franchise-building.
Synopsis: Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, young Peter Parker returns home to live with his Aunt May. Under the... [More]
Critics Consensus: One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of all time, Hoop Dreams is a rich, complex, heartbreaking, and ultimately deeply rewarding film that uses high school hoops as a jumping-off point to explore issues of race, class, and education in modern America.
Synopsis: Every school day, African-American teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee travel 90 minutes each way from inner-city Chicago to St.... [More]
I learned the truth at 17, that movie critics can be mean… but not to Hailee Steinfeld and her new movie The Edge of Seventeen, a high school dramedy starring Steinfeld as a neurotic hellcat on the cusp of adulthood. And if the reviews maintain their pace, then Edge will be a future alumni of this week’s 24 Frames gallery of Certified Fresh high school movies since 2000!
The 2011 People’s Choice Awards ceremony have revealed their winners. They
include a Twilight enterprise as Favorite Movie and Zac Efron as Favorite
Star Under 25, an award that we’re sure Efron has won a million times before,
though if not, this was his year and he so totally deserved it. Again, we
emphasize that these awards come from the people (all of you!), giving voice to
the voiceless, the downtrodden, the commoners way too ugly to appear on a very
large theater screen. If, for some insane reason you take umbrage with any of
these choices or winners, what the hell, you big outcast weirdo.
Unlike last week, when we had a wealth of popular Certified Fresh choices, this week brings a much smaller selection of new releases. Most of them, in fact, are for direct-to-dvd films and bad horror movies you haven’t heard of. With that in mind, we bring you the five new releases and one boxset of a popular animated show’s parody of the original Star Wars trilogy. It may not be a whole lot to choose from, but there may still be a few things of interest here, so check them out!
Emma Stone is the real deal. If you need proof, the Certified Fresh Easy A provides ample evidence that she’s funny, intelligent, and incredibly likeable. Stone stars as Olive Penderghast, whose status in her school is non-existent until rumors of her racy exploits make the rounds. Olive uses her new-found fame to her advantage, until things start to get out of hand. A contemporary update of The Scarlet Letter, Easy A is warm, occasionally hilarious, and smarter than your average teen movie fare, boasting excellent supporting performances and a star-making turn from Stone. The DVD features a making-of doc, a gag reel, commentary from Stone and director Will Gluck, and footage from Stone’s audition.
Angelina Jolie has always been a Hollywood sex symbol, but she’s also proven herself to be quite the action star as well. Salt is simply the latest in a career filled with plenty of derring-do for Jolie, from racing cars (Gone in Sixty Seconds) to curving gunshots (Wanted). This time around, Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA operative who’s accused of being a Russian double agent and goes on the lam to prove her innocence. In an interesting lead-up to the film, it was revealed that the script was originally penned with Tom Cruise in mind, but Mr. Mission: Impossible felt the character too closely resembled Ethan Hunt, so he declined. That should offer some indication of how strong Jolie’s action cred has become; she effectively filled the shoes of Tom Cruise. And for the most part, critics felt she did an admirable job with material they found to be predictable and, at times, ludicrously plotted. The film also co-stars Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor, who are no slouches themselves, so Salt should provide a reasonably entertaining evening in with some popcorn.
In a year filled with 80s throwbacks (The Karate Kid, The A-Team, TRON: Legacy) one that really came out of nowhere was Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Was anyone really that curious to know whatever happened to Gordon Gekko? In any case, Oliver Stone brought the iconic Michael Douglas character back to the screen, this time with a protégé in the form of Shia LaBeouf as Jake Moore, who teams up with Gekko in order to warn the financial sector of the imminent stock market crash in 2008 and to exact revenge on the man he believes is responsible for his mentor’s death. Critics found Money Never Sleeps to be a decent follow-up to the original, but expressed disappointment at what they felt was a subpar film coming from the likes of Stone, a strong cast (which included Frank Langella and up-and-comer Carey Mulligan), and a timely storyline. It currently sits at 54% on the Tomatometer, but should hold some interest for fans of those involved and thrillers with a hint of realism.
M. Night Shyamalan hasn’t had much luck with the critics lately, and his last few films (The Last Airbender, The Happening, The Lady in the Water) have also been his worst-reviewed. So it was no surprise that trailers for Devil, which Shyamalan produced and whose story he wrote, were reportedly met with groans from movie audiences when it was revealed he was involved. However, to the credit of directors Drew and John Erick Dowdle, Devil‘s 53% Tomatometer is higher than Shyamalan’s last four efforts. The story centers around five strangers who are trapped inside a stalled elevator in a Philadelphia highrise; it’s revealed that the Devil is among them, and it’s up to them to figure out who it is, and why the five of them have been fated to wind up in the situation they’re in. Critics felt the film was passable entertainment with a few thrills to be had, but also that its premise was intriguing enough that a better movie could have resulted. Take that for what you will, but perhaps the fact that many consider this to be better than most of M. Night Shyamalan’s latest projects will offer some hope.
With the recent popularity of dance-themed television shows like So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Best Dance Crew, and even Dancing with the Stars, it was only natural that a film would come along that delivered a purely cathartic dance experience for moviegoers. That movie was 2006’s Step Up, which was popular enough around the world to warrant a sequel (Step Up 2: The Streets) and, this year, its third installment, Step Up 3D. For those of you who are planning on renting this movie, you know what you’re getting, and the Step Up series has never pretended to be anything more. Will there be strong plotting and award-worthy acting? Probably not. But will there be stunning choreography and some eye-popping visuals? Most definitely. Grab this one if you want to spend an evening watching hardbodies grinding on the dance floor (or any other appropriately flashy surface); the DVD also comes with a number of music videos for the songs featured in the film.
Seth MacFarlane had a hit on his hands with animated Fox show Family Guy, which was successful enough that MacFarlane was able to get two more shows on Fox. Family Guy itself remains the flagship of the network’s Sunday Animation Domination lineup, though the series has a love-it-or-hate-it quality about it, and MacFarlane has been given the opportunity to do pretty much whatever he wants with it. Pair that with his geek leanings and you’ve got Laugh It Up Fuzzball, Family Guy‘s three-part tribute to the original Star Wars trilogy. With three double-sized episodes to mirror Episodes IV, V, and VI of Star Wars, the show celebrates (and skewers) the George Lucas classics as only Family Guy can: with lots of irreverent humor, random non-sequiturs, and Peter being an idiot. The boxset coincides with the individual release of It’s A Trap! (a parody of Return of the Jedi) and contains tons of special features dedicated to each of the installments.
Like Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You before it, Easy A takes a classic tale – in this case, Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter — and gives it a contemporary teenage spin. Critics say Easy A benefits greatly from the presence of Emma Stone, who helps to elevate this John Hughes-esque comedy with her natural comic instincts. Stone stars as Olive, who, unlike poor Hester Prynne, becomes a minor celebrity in her school when tales of her (alleged) promiscuity get around; she subsequently tries to use the scuttlebutt to her advantage, but finds herself in the midst of a tangled web. The pundits say Easy A is funny and smart, and Stone emerges as a talent to watch.
As an actor, Ben Affleck’s career has had its ups and downs. In the director’s chair, on the other hand, he’s all aces: his debut was the Certified Fresh Gone Baby Gone, and critics say he’s got another winner with the visceral noirish crime drama The Town. Affleck stars as one of a group of old pals-cum-bank robbers; in the midst of a heist, he finds himself romantically drawn to a hostage and starts to think about going straight. But can he escape his past? The pundits say the Certified Fresh The Town is proof (if any were needed) that Affleck is a strong director, and he gets memorable performances out of Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, and others in a strong crime procedural.(Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Affleck’s best-reviewed films.)
As How to Train Your Dragon and Toy Story recently reminded us, even in this age of CGI and 3D, the best special effects are always great characters and strong storytelling. Unfortunately, critics say those attributes are largely missing from Alpha and Omega, a generic action adventure with so-so 3D visuals. A pair of young wolves (voiced by Justin Long and Hayden Panettiere) find themselves relocated by forest officials, and must make their way back to their homeland in order to stop a war with another pack of wolves. Will they find romance along the way? The pundits say Alpha and Omega may please some of the little ones, but it’s not a terribly memorable film — the animation is rudimentary, the gags are pandering, and the characters are bland.
It appears the folks behind Devil were terrified of critical damnation, since their film wasn’t screened prior to its release. The plot: a group of people trapped in an elevator quickly realize that B.O. is the least of their concerns, since El Diablo is among them. Hey, everybody: take a timeout from listening to Slayer and guess that Tomatometer!
Also opening this week in limited release:
Kings of Pastry, in which legendary documentarians Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker follow a group of chefs in a world-renowned pastry competition, is at 88 percent.