Paramount Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Weinstein Company LLC/Courtesy Everett Collection)

All Jennifer Lawrence Movies Ranked

If there ever was a life-or-death need to pick a Hollywood it-girl to define the 2010s, Jennifer Lawrence would surely be the one chosen to save our hides. She started the decade with the star-making Winter’s Bone, the rural mystery that marked only her third feature film appearance, nabbing a Best Actress Oscar nomination in the process. 2011 and 2012 came and it felt like Lawrence was everywhere, across blockbusters like X-Men: First Class and The Hunger Games, along with Silver Linings Playbook, for which she finally (“finally” meaning five years into a film acting career) won the Academy Award.

Sequels and franchising were the name of the game in the 2010s, so of course she stuck around as Mystique in every X-Men sequel, all the way to the bitter end with Dark Phoenix. Likewise, Hunger Games completed its dystopic story with Lawrence in the lead. In-between, she collaborated twice more Playbook director David O. Russell (Joy, American Hustle), worked with 2010s it-dude Chris Pratt (Passengers), and released against-type material like mother! and Red Sparrow.

In 2020, Lawrence signed up for Adam McKay’s Netflix comedy Don’t Look Up; she and Cate Blanchett will play astronomers who go on a media tour to convince people a meteor will destroy the Earth in six months. Until that comedy shows up in your streaming queue, we’re looking back on all Jennifer Lawrence movies ranked by Tomatometer!

#20
Adjusted Score: 15152%
Critics Consensus: Poorly conceived, clumsily executed, and almost completely bereft of scares, House at the End of the Street strands its talented star in a film as bland as its title.
Synopsis: In search of a fresh start, divorcee Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) and her daughter, Elissa (Max Thieriot), find their dream house... [More]
Directed By: Mark Tonderai

#19

Dark Phoenix (2019)
22%

#19
Adjusted Score: 45021%
Critics Consensus: Dark Phoenix ends an era of the X-Men franchise by taking a second stab at adapting a classic comics arc -- with deeply disappointing results.
Synopsis: The X-Men face their most formidable and powerful foe when one of their own, Jean Grey, starts to spiral out... [More]
Directed By: Simon Kinberg

#18

Passengers (2016)
30%

#18
Adjusted Score: 47154%
Critics Consensus: Passengers proves Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence work well together -- and that even their chemistry isn't enough to overcome a fatally flawed story.
Synopsis: On a routine journey through space to a new home, two passengers, sleeping in suspended animation, are awakened 90 years... [More]
Directed By: Morten Tyldum

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 39400%
Critics Consensus: This heavily symbolic, melodramatic multi-narrative drama lacks emotional resonance.
Synopsis: In the present, Sylvia (Charlize Theron) appears to lead a confident life as a restaurant manager but she cleverly hides... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo Arriaga

#16

Red Sparrow (2018)
45%

#16
Adjusted Score: 62404%
Critics Consensus: Red Sparrow aims for smart, sexy spy thriller territory, but Jennifer Lawrence's committed performance isn't enough to compensate for thin characters and a convoluted story.
Synopsis: Prima ballerina Dominika Egorova faces a bleak and uncertain future after she suffers an injury that ends her career. She... [More]
Directed By: Francis Lawrence

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 67945%
Critics Consensus: Overloaded action and a cliched villain take the focus away from otherwise strong performers and resonant themes, making X-Men: Apocalypse a middling chapter of the venerable superhero franchise.
Synopsis: Worshiped as a god since the dawn of civilization, the immortal Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) becomes the first and most powerful... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#14

Joy (2015)
60%

#14
Adjusted Score: 70280%
Critics Consensus: Joy is anchored by a strong performance from Jennifer Lawrence, although director David O. Russell's uncertain approach to its fascinating fact-based tale only sporadically sparks bursts of the titular emotion.
Synopsis: A story of a family across four generations, centered on the girl who becomes the woman (Jennifer Lawrence) who founds... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell

#13

The Beaver (2011)
62%

#13
Adjusted Score: 68970%
Critics Consensus: Jodie Foster's visual instincts and Mel Gibson's all-in performance sell this earnest, straightforward movie.
Synopsis: Walter Black (Mel Gibson), the head of a failing toy company, is deeply depressed. His marriage to Meredith (Jodie Foster)... [More]
Directed By: Jodie Foster

#12

The Poker House (2008)
63%

#12
Adjusted Score: 22239%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Agnes (Jennifer Lawrence) and her two sisters struggle through a day in a home overrun by gamblers, thieves, and johns.... [More]
Directed By: Lori Petty

#11
Adjusted Score: 81192%
Critics Consensus: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 sets up the franchise finale with a penultimate chapter loaded with solid performances and smart political subtext, though it comes up short on the action front.
Synopsis: Following her rescue from the devastating Quarter Quell, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) awakes in the complex beneath the supposedly destroyed District... [More]
Directed By: Francis Lawrence

#10

mother! (2017)
68%

#10
Adjusted Score: 96600%
Critics Consensus: There's no denying that mother! is the thought-provoking product of a singularly ambitious artistic vision, though it may be too unwieldy for mainstream tastes.
Synopsis: A young woman spends her days renovating the Victorian mansion that she lives in with her husband in the countryside.... [More]
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky

#9
Adjusted Score: 81073%
Critics Consensus: With the unflinchingly grim Mockingjay Part 2, The Hunger Games comes to an exciting, poignant, and overall satisfying conclusion.
Synopsis: Realizing the stakes are no longer just for survival, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) teams up with her closest friends, including... [More]
Directed By: Francis Lawrence

#8

Like Crazy (2011)
72%

#8
Adjusted Score: 77292%
Critics Consensus: It has the schmaltzy trappings of my romantic films, but Like Crazy allows its characters to express themselves beyond dialogue, crafting a true, intimate study.
Synopsis: While attending college in Los Angeles, Jacob (Anton Yelchin), an American, and Anna (Felicity Jones), who hails from London, fall... [More]
Directed By: Drake Doremus

#7

The Hunger Games (2012)
84%

#7
Adjusted Score: 97726%
Critics Consensus: Thrilling and superbly acted, The Hunger Games captures the dramatic violence, raw emotion, and ambitious scope of its source novel.
Synopsis: In what was once North America, the Capitol of Panem maintains its hold on its 12 districts by forcing them... [More]
Directed By: Gary Ross

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 96838%
Critics Consensus: With a strong script, stylish direction, and powerful performances from its well-rounded cast, X-Men: First Class is a welcome return to form for the franchise.
Synopsis: In the early 1960s, during the height of the Cold War, a mutant named Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets a... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

#5
Adjusted Score: 101119%
Critics Consensus: Smart, smoothly directed, and enriched with a deeper exploration of the franchise's thought-provoking themes, Catching Fire proves a thoroughly compelling second installment in the Hunger Games series.
Synopsis: After arriving safely home from their unprecedented victory in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta... [More]
Directed By: Francis Lawrence

#4
Adjusted Score: 104507%
Critics Consensus: X-Men: Days of Future Past combines the best elements of the series to produce a satisfyingly fast-paced outing that ranks among the franchise's finest installments.
Synopsis: Convinced that mutants pose a threat to humanity, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) develops the Sentinels, enormous robotic weapons that... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 102326%
Critics Consensus: Silver Linings Playbook walks a tricky thematic tightrope, but David O. Russell's sensitive direction and some sharp work from a talented cast gives it true balance.
Synopsis: After losing his job and wife, and spending time in a mental institution, Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) winds up living... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell

#2

American Hustle (2013)
92%

#2
Adjusted Score: 103254%
Critics Consensus: Riotously funny and impeccably cast, American Hustle compensates for its flaws with unbridled energy and some of David O. Russell's most irrepressibly vibrant direction.
Synopsis: Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) dabbles in forgery and loan-sharking, but when he falls for fellow grifter Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams),... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell

#1

Winter's Bone (2010)
94%

#1
Adjusted Score: 100438%
Critics Consensus: Bleak, haunting, and yet still somehow hopeful, Winter's Bone is writer-director Debra Granik's best work yet -- and it boasts an incredible, starmaking performance from Jennifer Lawrence.
Synopsis: Faced with an unresponsive mother and a criminal father, Ozark teenager Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) does what she can to... [More]
Directed By: Debra Granik

Rush Hour

(Photo by Orion/ courtesy Everett Collection)

All Jodie Foster Movies Ranked

1974 drama Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is already one hell of a way to jump-start a pre-teen acting career for Jodie Foster, yet it would be her second collaboration with director Martin Scorsese that made her an international star. 1976’s Taxi Driver was a shocking game-changer in a decade full of them, with Foster’s casting as a 12-year-old prostitute eliciting awe and dread from audiences, not to mention an eventual Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. As a new unlikely industry “It” girl, Foster quickly began to fill her resume with roles equally precocious (Freaky Friday, Bugsy Malone) and dark (The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane) following Taxi Driver.

Foster continued to hone her craft through the ’80s and into the ’90s, receiving a Best Actress Oscar for 1988’s The Accused, and moving on to even bigger Oscar night wins for 1992’s The Silence of the Lambs. 1995’s Nell would be Foster’s last Oscar nom to date, but the Golden Globes have been more receptive: She’s been nominated since for 1997’s Contact, 2007’s The Brave One, 2011’s Carnage, received the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2013, and finally won another acting Globe with 2021’s The Mauritanian.

More of Foster’s highlights during these decades include David Fincher’s Panic Room, Spike Lee’s Inside Man, and her own directorial-and-starring efforts like Money Monster. And now we take a look at all Jodie Foster movies ranked by Tomatometer!

#34

Siesta (1987)
17%

#34
Adjusted Score: 9218%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A sky diver (Ellen Barkin) wakes up in the middle of nowhere in Spain and dreamily recalls how she got... [More]
Directed By: Mary Lambert

#33

Stealing Home (1988)
20%

#33
Adjusted Score: 17918%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Failed baseball player Billy Wyatt (Mark Harmon) learns that his childhood sweetheart, Katie (Jodie Foster), has killed herself. The exuberant... [More]

#32

Flightplan (2005)
37%

#32
Adjusted Score: 43997%
Critics Consensus: The actors are all on key here, but as the movie progress, tension deflates as the far-fetched plot kicks in.
Synopsis: Airplane engineer Kyle Pratt (Jodie Foster) is heading home from Germany to New York on a double-decker Elgin 474 to... [More]
Directed By: Robert Schwentke

#31

The Brave One (2007)
44%

#31
Adjusted Score: 50900%
Critics Consensus: Magnetic by between Jodie Foster and Terrence Howard can't quite compensate for The Brave One's problematic and unconvincing eye-for-an-eye moral.
Synopsis: New York radio host Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) endures a brutal attack that leaves her badly injured and her beloved... [More]
Directed By: Neil Jordan

#30

Carny (1980)
50%

#30
Adjusted Score: 32103%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Frankie (Gary Busey) and Patch (Robbie Robertson) are partners in a traveling carnival who scam customers into wasting money on... [More]
Directed By: Robert Kaylor

#29

Backtrack (1989)
50%

#29
Adjusted Score: 34811%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: While fixing a flat tire, artist Anne Benton (Jodie Foster) sees a mob killing. She reports the murder to the... [More]
Directed By: Dennis Hopper

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 55193%
Critics Consensus: Beautiful cinematography can't prevent Anna and the King from being boring and overly lengthy.
Synopsis: Anna (Jodie Foster) has been employed to educate the king's (Chow Yun-Fat) 58 children. She knows very little of King... [More]
Directed By: Andy Tennant

#27

Nim's Island (2008)
52%

#27
Adjusted Score: 54753%
Critics Consensus: Despite good intentions, Nim's Island flounders under an implausible storyline, simplistic stock characters, and distracting product placement.
Synopsis: Life is an adventure for a courageous youngster named Nim (Abigail Breslin), who lives on an exotic island with her... [More]

#26

Shadows and Fog (1992)
52%

#26
Adjusted Score: 52617%
Critics Consensus: Shadows and Fog recreates the chiaroscuro aesthetic of German Expressionism, but Woody Allen's rambling screenplay retreads the director's neurotic obsessions with derivative results.
Synopsis: A serial strangler is on the loose, and a mob of neighborhood vigilantes is on the hunt. When several neighbors... [More]
Directed By: Woody Allen

#25

Nell (1994)
55%

#25
Adjusted Score: 55614%
Critics Consensus: Despite a committed performance by Jodie Foster, Nell opts for ponderous melodrama instead of engaging with the ethical dilemmas of socializing its titular wild child.
Synopsis: Cut off from the modern world, Nell (Jodie Foster) is a wild child, who has lived her entire life with... [More]
Directed By: Michael Apted

#24

Hotel Artemis (2018)
58%

#24
Adjusted Score: 67500%
Critics Consensus: Hotel Artemis has a few flashes of wit and an intriguing cast, but mostly it's just a serviceable chunk of slightly futuristic violence -- which might be all its audience is looking for.
Synopsis: As rioting rocks Los Angeles in the year 2028, disgruntled thieves make their way to Hotel Artemis -- a 13-story,... [More]
Directed By: Drew Pearce

#23

Money Monster (2016)
59%

#23
Adjusted Score: 77023%
Critics Consensus: Money Monster's strong cast and solidly written story ride a timely wave of socioeconomic anger that's powerful enough to overcome an occasionally muddled approach to its worthy themes.
Synopsis: Lee Gates is a Wall Street guru who picks hot stocks as host of the television show "Money Monster." Suddenly,... [More]
Directed By: Jodie Foster

#22

Sommersby (1993)
62%

#22
Adjusted Score: 62522%
Critics Consensus: Sommersby stumbles as a consistently compelling mystery, but typically solid work from Jodie Foster and Richard Gere fuels an engaging romance.
Synopsis: A man returns to his home town after a lengthy absence spent fighting in the US Civil War. Although his... [More]
Directed By: Jon Amiel

#21

The Beaver (2011)
62%

#21
Adjusted Score: 68970%
Critics Consensus: Jodie Foster's visual instincts and Mel Gibson's all-in performance sell this earnest, straightforward movie.
Synopsis: Walter Black (Mel Gibson), the head of a failing toy company, is deeply depressed. His marriage to Meredith (Jodie Foster)... [More]
Directed By: Jodie Foster

#20

Elysium (2013)
65%

#20
Adjusted Score: 74731%
Critics Consensus: After the heady sci-fi thrills of District 9, Elysium is a bit of a comedown for director Neill Blomkamp, but on its own terms, it delivers just often enough to satisfy.
Synopsis: In the year 2154, humanity is sharply divided between two classes of people: The ultrarich live aboard a luxurious space... [More]
Directed By: Neill Blomkamp

#19

Maverick (1994)
66%

#19
Adjusted Score: 69197%
Critics Consensus: It isn't terribly deep, but it's witty and undeniably charming, and the cast is obviously having fun.
Synopsis: This film update of the "Maverick" TV series finds the title cardsharp (Mel Gibson) hoping to join a poker contest... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#18

Contact (1997)
66%

#18
Adjusted Score: 70084%
Critics Consensus: Contact elucidates stirring scientific concepts and theological inquiry at the expense of satisfying storytelling, making for a brainy blockbuster that engages with its ideas, if not its characters.
Synopsis: In this Zemeckis-directed adaptation of the Carl Sagan novel, Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) races to interpret a possible message... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#17

Foxes (1980)
70%

#17
Adjusted Score: 70070%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In the late 1970s, four teenage girls from San Fernando Valley, Calif., deal with the rampant dysfunction in their lives.... [More]
Directed By: Adrian Lyne

#16

Carnage (2011)
70%

#16
Adjusted Score: 77315%
Critics Consensus: It isn't as compelling on the screen as it was on the stage, but Carnage makes up for its flaws with Polanski's smooth direction and assured performances from Winslet and Foster.
Synopsis: When some roughhousing between two 11-year-old boys named Zachary and Ethan erupts into real violence, Ethan loses two teeth. Zachary's... [More]
Directed By: Roman Polanski

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 71331%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Based on the novel by John Irving, this unusual comedic drama follows the exploits of the eccentric hotel-operating Berry family.... [More]
Directed By: Tony Richardson

#14

The Mauritanian (2021)
75%

#14
Adjusted Score: 85481%
Critics Consensus: The Mauritanian takes a frustratingly generic approach to a real-life story that might have been inspirational in other hands, but Tahar Rahim's performance elevates the uneven material.
Synopsis: Directed by Kevin Macdonald and based on the NY Times best-selling memoir "Guantánamo Diary" by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, this is... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald

#13

Little Man Tate (1991)
74%

#13
Adjusted Score: 75419%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Fred Tate (Adam Hann-Byrd) is a 7-year-old with a genius IQ. Single mother Dede (Jodie Foster) worries Fred might have... [More]
Directed By: Jodie Foster

#12

Panic Room (2002)
75%

#12
Adjusted Score: 81095%
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

#11
Adjusted Score: 79095%
Critics Consensus: The inter-cutting of animation by Spawn's creator, Todd McFarlane, doesn't always work, but the performances by the young actors capture the pains of growing up well.
Synopsis: Francis Doyle (Emile Hirsch) and Tim Sullivan (Kieran Culkin), and their closest friends, are fighting the stultifying repression of their... [More]
Directed By: Peter Care

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 83118%
Critics Consensus: A well-crafted and visually arresting drama with a touch of whimsy.
Synopsis: Mathilde (Audrey Tautou) is told that her fiancé (Gaspard Ulliel) has been killed in World War I. She refuses to... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

#9

Five Corners (1987)
78%

#9
Adjusted Score: 66570%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This unusual film follows the unhinged Heinz (John Turturro), a rapist who has been released from prison, as he attempts... [More]
Directed By: Tony Bill

#8

Bugsy Malone (1976)
81%

#8
Adjusted Score: 83028%
Critics Consensus: Delightfully bizarre, Bugsy Malone harnesses immense charm from its cast of child actors playing wise guys with precocious pluck.
Synopsis: Fat Sam (John Cassisi), Bugsy (Scott Baio) and Tallulah (Jodie Foster) are kids playing adults in Roaring '20s New York.... [More]
Directed By: Alan Parker

#7

Inside Man (2006)
86%

#7
Adjusted Score: 94908%
Critics Consensus: Spike Lee's energetic and clever bank-heist thriller is a smart genre film that is not only rewarding on its own terms, but manages to subvert its pulpy trappings with wit and skill.
Synopsis: A tough detective (Denzel Washington) matches wits with a cunning bank robber (Clive Owen), as a tense hostage crisis is... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#6
Adjusted Score: 90967%
Critics Consensus: Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore finds Martin Scorsese wielding a somewhat gentler palette than usual, with generally absorbing results.
Synopsis: After her husband dies, Alice (Ellen Burstyn) and her son, Tommy, leave their small New Mexico town for California, where... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#5

Freaky Friday (2003)
88%

#5
Adjusted Score: 92087%
Critics Consensus: Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan charm in Mark Waters' nicely pitched -- and Disney's second -- remake of the 1976 hit.
Synopsis: Single mother Tess Coleman (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her teenage daughter Anna (Lindsay Lohan) couldn't be more different, and it... [More]
Directed By: Mark Waters

#4

The Accused (1988)
91%

#4
Adjusted Score: 92061%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Out drinking one night after a fight with her boyfriend, Sarah Tobias (Jodie Foster) is brutally raped by three men... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Kaplan

#3
Adjusted Score: 92570%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Quiet, withdrawn 13-year-old Rynn Jacobs (Jodie Foster) lives peacefully in her home in a New England beach town. Whenever the... [More]
Directed By: Nicolas Gessner

#2

Taxi Driver (1976)
96%

#2
Adjusted Score: 104539%
Critics Consensus: A must-see film for movie lovers, this Martin Scorsese masterpiece is as hard-hitting as it is compelling, with Robert De Niro at his best.
Synopsis: Suffering from insomnia, disturbed loner Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) takes a job as a New York City cabbie, haunting... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 104322%
Critics Consensus: Director Jonathan Demme's smart, taut thriller teeters on the edge between psychological study and all-out horror, and benefits greatly from stellar performances by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.
Synopsis: Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI's training academy. Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) wants Clarice... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme


Writer-director Cory Finley’s Thoroughbreds is one of the more acclaimed releases arriving in theaters this weekend — and it also contains the final onscreen appearance of Anton Yelchin, who passed away on June 19, 2016. We’re paying our respects by taking a fond look back at some of the brighter critical highlights from his too-brief career while asking you to rank your own favorites from his filmography, and you know what that means: it’s time for Total Recall!


Use the arrows to rank the movies, or click here to see them ranked by Tomatometer!

Oh, mother! With Red Sparrow taking flight this week, we’re looking back on Jennifer Lawrence’s 10 best-reviewed movies!


1. Winter's Bone (2010) 94%

(Photo by Sebastian Mlynarski/Roadside Attractions)

Aside from hardcore fans of The Bill Engvall Show, not many people knew who Jennifer Lawrence was in 2009 — but that all changed the following year with the release of Winter’s Bone, writer-director Debra Granik’s harrowing portrayal of a teenage girl who embarks on a perilous effort to locate her missing father in order to save her disabled mother and younger siblings from being evicted from their meager Ozarks home. Bleak stuff for sure, but limned with a subtle, yet resolute hope — not to mention the ferocity of Lawrence’s Oscar-nominated performance. “Winter’s Bone is a genuine triumph,” wrote Bill Goodykoontz of the Arizona Republic, paying it the ultimate compliment by adding that it’s “a great movie with astounding performances so natural, so genuine, that you forget it’s a movie.”


2. American Hustle (2013) 92%

(Photo by Francois Duhamel/Columbia Pictures)

Wigs and prosthetics are often a dead giveaway that an actor (or a movie in general) is trying way too hard to make a sale, and David O. Russell’s American Hustle is full of ’em. Fortunately, all that artifice stops on the surface. David O. Russell’s ’70s period piece, about a real-life FBI sting operation that used a pair of con artists (played by Christian Bale and Amy Adams) to target corrupt politicians, lays the garish hair and wardrobe on thick, but it makes sense in context, and it’s all backed up by a wall of solid performances; just about the entire cast was nominated for Oscars, including Lawrence for her work as Bale’s unstable wife. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a lot of fun: as Colin Covert wrote for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Even at two hours and 20 minutes, the movie doesn’t wear you down. It carries you along with heedless momentum, giddy and exhilarated at its all-American ambition and scam-artist confidence.”


3. Silver Linings Playbook (2012) 92%

(Photo by JoJo Whilden/Weinstein Company)

How do you make a seriocomedy about mental illness without coming across as obnoxious or insensitive? It’s obviously easier said than done (just ask anyone who’s seen Mixed Nuts), but David O. Russell found a way with 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook, starring Lawrence and Bradley Cooper as a couple of bruised souls who meet cute after enduring terrible personal tragedies and somehow manage to nurture a connection in spite of the many emotional and circumstantial obstacles between them. While a few critics certainly questioned the wisdom of trying to wring any sort of comedy from such a serious subject, the vast majority applauded Playbook‘s deft treatment of sensitive material, and the Academy agreed — the movie picked up eight Oscar nominations, with Lawrence taking home Best Actress. “It’s Lawrence who knocked me sideways,” wrote David Edelstein for New York Magazine. “I loved her in Winter’s Bone and The Hunger Games but she’s very young — I didn’t think she had this kind of deep-toned, layered weirdness in her.”


4. The Hunger Games Franchise (77%)

(Photo by Murray Close/Lionsgate)

Why settle for starring in one blockbuster franchise when you can topline two? Already a prominent part of the rebooted X-Men movies, Jennifer Lawrence took the lead for Lionsgate’s adaptation of The Hunger Games, author Suzanne Collins’ bestselling YA book series about a dystopian future in which boys and girls are forced to fight to the death for a nation’s amusement. Starring as the archer Katniss Everdeen, Lawrence helped bring the books’ rather grim story to life with a soulful performance that went a long way toward setting the Hunger Games films apart from the many likeminded movies that have followed in their wake — and winning consistent praise from critics like the Houston Chronicle’s Amy Biancolli, who wrote of the first installment, “It features a functioning creative imagination and lots of honest-to-goodness acting by its star, Jennifer Lawrence, who brings her usual toughness and emotional transparency to the archer-heroine Katniss.”


5. The X-Men Franchise (75%)

(Photo by Alan Markfield/20th Century Fox Film Corp.)

A year after scoring her breakout role in Winter’s Bone, Lawrence committed herself to several films’ worth of CGI action sequences (and slinking around in little more than a blue bodysuit) when she signed on to play the new Mystique in X-Men: First Class, the first installment in the freshly rebooted X-Men series. An Oscar winner by the time she returned for 2014’s Days of Future Past, Lawrence found herself at the center of a complex time-travel storyline that used her character as the emotional fulcrum for the franchise’s most ambitious attempt yet to place thought-provoking questions of prejudice against an action-fueled blockbuster backdrop. The end result blended sheer popcorn thrills almost seamlessly with the sociopolitical subtext the X-Men comics have always been known for; as the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern marveled, “Everything is of a piece, and it’s dazzling.”


6. Like Crazy (2011) 72%

(Photo by Fred Hayes/Paramount Pictures)

Anyone who’s ever attempted a long-distance relationship knows they can be hell, and writer-director Drake Doremus knows that pain more intimately than most — as evidenced by Like Crazy, the winsome romantic drama he and co-writer Ben York Jones weaved out of their real-life long-distance broken hearts and turned into a starring vehicle for Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones. When the movie opens, he lives in L.A. and she’s a visiting British exchange student, and although falling in love is easy, their permanent addresses aren’t — especially after she overstays her student visa and is exiled to the U.K., driving the couple apart long enough for him to start a new relationship with someone who doesn’t live across the Atlantic (Jennifer Lawrence). While the story’s broad contours may be familiar, Doremus and his sharp cast handle the formula with aplomb; the result is what the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday deemed “A serious, deeply felt romance for an audience Hollywood most often bombards with raunchy sex comedies and video-game adaptations.”


7. mother! (2017) 68%

(Photo by Paramount Pictures)

Truly challenging mainstream cinema is typically in short supply regardless of the era, and in our current franchise-driven times, that’s arguably truer than ever. So no matter how it ended up being received by critics, writer-director Darren Aronofsky’s mother! offered a wide release worth celebrating in 2017 — a story that dared to challenge, and outright provoke, audiences while offering little in the way of traditional narrative compensation. Starring Lawrence as a woman whose seemingly bucolic existence with her husband (Javier Bardem) is upended by the arrival of some mysterious guests (Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris), the movie was greeted with some of the most wildly divisive reactions of the year — although most critics were more than happy to be baffled, Aronofsky-style. The end result, as Glenn Kenny argued for RogerEbert.com, functions as “A hallucination that’s also an angry cry about the state of this world, but most importantly, a cinematic experience of unique proportions.”


8. The Beaver (2011) 62%

(Photo by Summit Entertainment)

In the years after his fall from public grace following several bouts of bizarre and generally offensive and/or ill-advised behavior, Mel Gibson needed a project that could help regenerate a little goodwill by taking him out of his dramatic wheelhouse and reminding audiences that he could still act — and he got one in the form of The Beaver, a directorial effort from Gibson’s friend Jodie Foster that gave the Lethal Weapon star the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a guy who responds to a series of horrible personal setbacks by developing what appears to be an alternate personality channeled through a beaver puppet on his hand. It’s the kind of left-field premise you have to see to believe, especially given that Foster rounded out her cast with likable pros like Anton Yelchin (as Gibson’s embarrassed son) and, of course, Jennifer Lawrence(as the classmate he’s afraid to get too close to because of his weirdo dad). Destined for the commercial margins and dismissed as too tonally disjointed by some critics, The Beaver was nevertheless hailed as a dam fine film by the majority — including Lisa Kennedy of the Denver Post, who wrote, “The film is amusing, then melancholy, then weirdly funny, then not. It’s a quiet, measured work.”


9. Joy (2015) 60%

(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)

Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell worked Hollywood magic together with Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, so you can hardly blame them for reuniting again — especially to film the stranger-than-fiction real-life story of Joy Mangano, the entrepreneur who became a self-made millionaire after inventing the Miracle Mop. Lawrence and Russell’s undeniable rapport, brought to bear on a classically uplifting story with a postmodern twist, made Joy look like an awards contender — as did the rest of the movie’s terrific cast, rounded out by fellow Russell vets Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper. With all those top-shelf ingredients, the lukewarm reaction to the movie couldn’t help but feel disappointing; still, Lawrence fans shouldn’t come away disappointed by her performance, which drew applause even when the film around her didn’t. “In the end, Joy is more slender and inconsequential than Russell probably intends it to be — it wears its ideas rather than embodying them,” wrote Stephanie Zacharek for Time. “But Lawrence keeps the channels of communication open, every minute, with the audience.”


10. The Poker House (2008) 63%

(Photo by Phase 4 Films courtesy Everett Collection)

Lawrence picked up her first major film role in The Poker House, a grim drama marking Tank Girl star Lori Petty’s debut as a writer-director. While few saw it at the time, there’s no denying Petty’s great taste in casting — aside from Lawrence, playing the oldest of three sisters subjected to deplorable living conditions by their deeply troubled mother (Selma Blair), House also features an early appearance from Chloe Grace Moretz, as well as a disturbing turn from Bokeem Woodbine as the mother’s reprehensible pimp. “The Poker House is one of the most personal, wounded films in years,” wrote John Wheeler for L.A. Weekly. “That it is also one of the most confused reflects how deeply it springs from the psyche of its director.”

This week on streaming video, we’ve got some Certified Fresh treats on Netflix — including their newest original series — and a Bryan Cranston-produced series on Amazon, as well as a mix of classics and brand new films on FandangoNOW. Read on for the full list.


New on Netflix

 

It Follows (2014) 96%

Maika Monroe stars as a suburban Michigan teen who becomes infected with a malevolent spirit after a sexual encounter, and it won’t stop pursuing her until she gives it to someone else — or dies.

Available now on: Netflix


Little Men (2016) 97%

Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Ehle star in this drama about a friendship between two boys that’s threatened by a conflict between their parents.

Available now on: Netflix


 

Aquarius (2016) 97%

Sonia Braga stars in this drama from Brazil about a woman’s standoff with the developers trying to push her out of her apartment.

Available now on: Netflix


A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 1 (2017) 94%

Neil Patrick Harris stars in this adaptation of the popular novels, about three orphaned children dealing with an evil uncle as they search for the truths behind their parents’ deaths.

Available now on: Netflix


Stevie (2002) 91%

Documentarian Steve James (Hoop Dreams) reconnects with a troubled man he mentored as a Big Brother 10 years earlier and attempts to figure out what circumstances led to his impoverished state.

Available now on: Netflix


An American Werewolf in London (1981) 88%

David Naughton and Griffin Dunne star in this classic horror comedy from John Landis, about an American college student who becomes a werewolf after a brutal attack on the English moors.

Available now on: Netflix


The Ghost Writer (2010) 84%

Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan star in Roman Polanski’s thriller about a writer who becomes embroiled in a conspiracy when he discovers a secret while working on a former Prime Minister’s memoirs.

Available now on: Netflix


The Impossible (2012) 81%

Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts star in J.A. Bayona’s disaster thriller, based on true events, about a family vacationing in Thailand who are separated during a massively destructive tsunami.

Available now on: Netflix


As I Open My Eyes (2015) 100%

This French-Tunisian drama revolves around the Arab Spring’s impact on a Tunisian family, particularly the teenage daughter, whose role as lead singer of a rebellious rock band lands her in trouble.

Available now on: Netflix


Ixcanul (2015) 97%

This Guatemalan drama centers on a young girl on the verge of an arranged marriage.

Available now on: Netflix


Little Sister (2016) 94%

This dramedy follows a novitiate nun as she returns home to see her war veteran brother.

Available now on: Netflix


The Similars (2015) 95%

This thriller set in 1968 follows eight people headed to Mexico City on bus who begin to experience strange phenomenon that changes them and attempt to figure out what’s causing it.

Available now on: Netflix


Fatima (2015) 84%

This French drama centers on an immigrant’s struggles to support — and connect with — her children.

Available now on: Netflix


Sinister (2012) 63%

Ethan Hawke stars as a true crime writer who moves with his family into a new home with a dark past, only to be terrorized by the same evil that haunted the previous owners.

Available now on: Netflix


The Beaver (2011) 62%

Jodie Foster directs Mel Gibson (and herself) in this dramedy about a depressed man who begins communicating with the world through a beaver hand puppet.

Available now on: Netflix


New on Amazon Prime

 

Sneaky Pete: Season 1 (2015) 97%

Giovanni Ribisi and Marin Ireland star in this Amazon original drama about a con man who assumes his cellmate’s identity and lands a job with his faux-family’s bail-bond business.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


New on FandangoNOW

 

The Dead Zone (1983) 90%

Christopher Walken stars in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel about a teacher who awakens from a coma and discovers he has psychic powers.

Available now on: FandangoNOW


Dead Ringers (1988) 83%

Jeremy Irons stars in a dual role in David Cronenberg’s thriller about a pair of twin doctors who frequently substitute for each other for kicks, until an actress comes between them and causes a rift.

Available 1/11 on: FandangoNOW


A Street Cat Named Bob (2016) 77%

This fact-based drama centers on a man’s recovery from addiction and friendship with a cat (not necessarily in that order).

Available now on: FandangoNOW


Explorers (1985) 75%

River Phoenix and a young Ethan Hawke both made their film debut in Joe Dante’s sci-fi fantasy about a trio of kids who utilize spare parts and computer know how to man their own expedition into space.

Available now on: FandangoNOW


Trespass Against Us (2016) 56%

Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson star in this multigenerational tale of outlaws living in the British countryside.

Available now on: FandangoNOW


A Hundred Streets (2016) 41%

Idris Elba and Gemma Arterton star in this drama that interweaves three stories in contemporary London.

Available 1/13 on: FandangoNOW


Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016) 38%

Tom Cruise reprises his role as author Lee Child’s wandering fixer, who attempts to clear his name after he is wrongly accused of murder, and discovers he may have a child he never met.

Available now on: FandangoNOW

Philip K. Dick was born 1928 and died 1982, just months before the first movie based on a novel he wrote, Blade Runner, would be released, changing the film landscape forever.

In his 52 years, Dick wrote 44 novels and over 100 short stories, mainly within his adopted literary realm of science fiction. At a time when sci-fi was disrespected and stereotyped with martian invaders and zap guns, Dick turned the genre inward, obsessing over themes of identity, humanity, the nature of reality, religion, and drug abuse.

Since 1982, and especially after the release of 1990’s Total Recall, Hollywood has trawled the Dick library for movie ideas. Television has also been getting into the game, with Fox premiering Minority Report in September (Rotten at 29%), and Amazon releasing all 10 episodes today of The Man in the High Castle (Certified Fresh at 97%), an alternate history series that explores life in America if the Axis powers had won World War II.

Now, Rotten Tomatoes explores the history of Philip K. Dick stories on the big screen and how they compare to their literary sources.


Blade Runner (1982) 89%, based on the 1966 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

In a world… ravaged and emptied after World War III, people are lured into outer space where human cyborgs perform all manual labor. Physically superior to their creators, these replicants are banned from Earth. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a blade runner, a detective/bounty hunter whose latest assignment is to track down and “retire” four replicants.

What went right: Blade Runner eschews the book’s nuttier elements (the world is obsessed with religions and owning animals as status symbols) and transforms itself into hard-boiled neo-noir, full of high-contrast lighting and architectural wonder. The movie is a slow burn for sure, and it doesn’t draw you in so much as smother you with world-building and detail. The 2007 Final Cut is when the film finally came together after existing for decades in various forms of refinement; this version cleans up effects and clarifies dialogue, turning Blade Runner at last into an immaculate timeless nightmare.


Total Recall (1990) 82%, based on the 1966 short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”

In a world… of implanted memories that feel just like the real thing, Douglas Quaid dreams of shedding his humdrum life and becoming a superspy. Quaid goes to Rekall to sidestep reality but when the procedure goes awry, he realizes he was a spy — his identity had been erased and life as he knows it is a forgery.

What went right: A hyper-violent classic! If Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Last Action Hero was a parody of meathead action movies of the ’80s and ’90s, Total Recall delivers the same goods with a straight face. It’s got everything: guns, sex, plot twists, foot and car chases, and Arnie getting hit in the junk half a dozen times. The short story Total Recall is based on plays it straight: the main character goes to Rekall and realizes he was a spy in a previous life and his dreams of Mars were repressed memories coming to surface. The power of Total Recall is that it finds an extra layer that Dick didn’t conceive: What if everything that happens to Quaid is a dream? The movie plays out so conveniently to Quaid’s fantasies that it’s impossible to tell whether it’s actually happening or if he’s still strapped to a chair at Rekall having a psychotic episode. Such existential ruminations represent Dick’s themes at its most fun.


Confessions d'un Barjo (Confessions of a Crap Artist) (1992) , based on the 1959 novel Confessions of a Crap Artist

In a world… where people are horrible to each other. Yeah, not a stretch of the imagination with this one. The crap artist in question is Jack (Hippolyte Girardot), a collector of useless junk and absurd ideas who is invited by his sister to live on her estate with her abusive husband.

What went right: Dick wrote a series of non-science fiction novels before the 1960s, all of which were rejected by book houses. The only one to be eventually published during his lifetime was Confessions, written in 1959 and released in 1975, during a dry spell as Dick dealt with personal issues and labored over A Scanner Darkly. Ostensibly, Crap is a comedic look at the social mores and increasing wealth of California life during the 1950s, though its film adaptation transports this setting to modern France. The movie version of Jack is softer and more accessible as an anti-hero than in the novel, and his observations on the hypocritical nature of family and community translate well, despite this upheaval in setting. Human nature, it seems, transcends time and space.


Screamers (1995) 29%, based on the 1953 short story “Second Variety”

In a world… where man has colonized the planets, war is being waged by two factions (the New Economic Block and the Alliance insurgents) over a precious radioactive mineral. The Alliance has developed “screamers” — autonomous robots that burrow through the ground to fight for them. But the screamers have evolved, developing new varieties that look and act like humans.

What went wrong: The opposing forces in the short story are Americans against Russians with the fate of mankind at stake. In the movie, it’s essentially a war over commercial interests, which drastically reduces the scope and weight of the action. The screamers themselves are not particularly menacing, especially in the wake of Edge of Tomorrow, which nailed the look of fluid cybernetic monsters. Screamers‘ dialogue can be effective and there are some scary moments, but the last 20 minutes are laughable and stupid.


Impostor (2001) 24%, based on the 1953 short story “Impostor”

In a world… where a hostile civilization from Alpha Centauri is waging relentless war on Earth, the aliens have introduced a new weapon: replicants. These replicants arrive, kill their target human and assume its identity — all the while equipped with an internal nuclear device that can blow at any second. Spencer Olham (Gary Sinise) is a government scientist developing humanity’s own secret weapon when he’s arrested with a serious charge: the real Spencer is dead and he is, in fact, a ticking timebomb replicant.

What went wrong: Toss this one onto the pile of Dick adaptations that doesn’t do anything particularly wrong, but also nothing exemplary. Impostor seems to have been something of a passion project for Sinise (who gets a rare producer credit), selling himself as a credible action star with plenty of moments running around shirtless and sneaking in a shower butt shot. But the visuals lack creative spark and the sets are drab and monotone, while the movie’s middle section is essentially a single chase sequence with a few jumps to other locations and not much plot development. Impostor was originally shot as a 40-minute film to be packaged with Mimic (which also became a feature film) and Danny Boyle’s Alien Love Triangle. It works better as a short. Kudos, though, for Impostor retaining the short story’s challenging ending.


Minority Report (2002) 90%, based on the 1956 short story “The Minority Report”

In a world… that has zero murders, thanks to PreCrime wielding mutant predictions to accuse and arrest individuals before their bad deeds get committed, Captain John Anderton goes on the run as the “precogs” accuse him murdering a stranger in 36 hours.

What went right: Some of Dick’s stories lack much action (like this, or “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”), existing more as existential inquiries. That’s a boon for filmmakers as it provides a great groundwork which visionary directors can build upon and overload with imagination.  Along with Blade Runner, Minority Report presents the most “complete” worlds: these movies feel lived-in and the technology is logical. In Minority’s case, it predicted total societal integration with electronics before it happened to us in real life. The action is some of Steven Spielberg‘s best, frequently fused with black humor, though I still take umbrage with the movie’s improbably upbeat ending.


Paycheck (2003) 27%, based on the 1952 short story “Paycheck”

In a world… where your memory is erased after finishing a job, engineer Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck) has just completed a majorly lucrative two-year contract. When emerging with his employment memories wiped, Jennings discovers his past self has inexplicably forfeited the paycheck in favor of an envelope of useless everyday trinkets. Soon afterwards, he’s targeted for assassination and goes on the run.

What went wrong: “Paycheck” was one of Dick’s earliest published stories and, as such, pure 1950s pulp. The screenwriters update the setting and remove the lame original ending, though its replacement isn’t much improvement. The plot hook (that the envelope’s contents rescue Jennings at seemingly random life-threatening moments) is pretty weak. Being aware Jennings will escape every hairy situation with a paper clip or some lederhosen drains all tension from the action as we wait for the envelope to deplete itself, and in the movie that doesn’t happen until there’s 20 minutes before credits. Until then, our hero runs sweatily around clutching a bag of convenient dei ex machina. Uma Thurman plays the love interest, Aaron Eckhart is the evil talking chin, and there’s a motorcycle chase that recalls director John Woo‘s early career but, otherwise, this is forgettable stuff. No need for a memory wipe after watching Paycheck: you won’t remember it the next day.


A Scanner Darkly (2006) 68%, based on the 1977 novel A Scanner Darkly

In a world… of widespread drug addiction, Americans are hooked on mind-altering Substance D. The government responds with heavy policing and ubiquitous surveillance, creating a black job market of narcs who spy and report anonymously on their friends and neighbors. Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) is one such narc, a Sub D addict keeping tabs on his chums for local police. Things are hunky dory until Arctor receives his next surveillance assignment: himself.

What went right: Dick’s masterpiece in the hands of a master filmmaker (Richard Linklater). The book is a howlingly funny, anguished eulogy to tripped-out hedonists whose major crime is hoping the Summer of Love would last forever, based on Dick’s own experiences as his friends succumbed to hard drugs during the 1970s. Linklater rotoscoped this adaptation, slathering a layer of animation over his live actors which emphasizes the story’s theme of disconnection — mentally and physically — as Arctor loses track of his multiple personas. The casting is perfect, especially Robert Downey Jr. as one of Arctor’s asshole pals. This is also the most faithful of the PKD movies, and in a way reminds me of No Country For Old Men: both strive for such fidelity to the book they develop an un-movielike pace and rhythm, to the point of being unsettling. Though Linklater’s film ups the paranoia and loses a chunk of the book’s humor, this is as good an adaptation it’ll ever get.


Next (2007) 28%, based on the 1954 short story “The Golden Man”

In a world… where one man can see two minutes into the future and its myriad of possibilities, Nicolas Cage is Cris Johnson, a clairvoyant relentlessly pursued by an FBI agent (Julianne Moore) who wants to use his ability to track down a nuke.

What went wrong: In the short story, mutants are common and they’re rounded up to be studied then euthanized, while the Cris Johnson character can see 30 minutes into the future as opposed to two. Also, Cris is a sex object, covered gold head to toe. So yeah, the movie strays far from the source, though that’s no crime if the filmmakers come up with something better. They don’t. Next‘s plot has the depth of a weekly CBS procedural as it pushes Cage around, who wears an ugly jacket with a bad haircut during the runtime. Then there’s loads of CGI, none of which looks convincing. And the ending — wow, a total copout. Place it somewhere between “It was all a dream!” and “Turns out you were crazy the whole time!”


The Adjustment Bureau (2011) 71%, based on the 1954 short story “Adjustment Team”

In a world… where your fate is controlled by angelic bureaucratic agents, Matt Damon dares to defy the odds. Damon plays David Norris, a Senate hopeful who meets Elise, the woman of his dreams (Emily Blunt), on the campaign trail. After accidentally seeing the Adjustment Bureau at work behind the scenes, they warn David he risks everything (including death) in pursuing her.

What went right: The short story is a fairly low-stakes affair, so the movie does right by putting David’s possible candidacy for POTUS on the line. Dick wrote about women a lot but he was not particularly sensuous about it, so it’s refreshing to see a sweeping romance effectively seared into a story of his. And Bureau simply looks great: the colors are lush, deep, and the lines and angles that make up a majority of the backgrounds are wonderful (they’re subtly used to guide the eye around the frame, in the same way these characters are guided by the agents). The movie sets up a lot of rules about this universe and threatens to collapse under their weight; sagely, the story concludes before this occurs.


Total Recall (2012) 31%

What went wrong: Sometimes when Hollywood remakes a classic, producers will claim that their version is going to be closer to the book (see:True Grit). Not so in this case. The remake, directed by Underworld‘s Len Wiseman, doesn’t mine any additional story elements from “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” and instead works completely off the template laid by Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 version. Wiseman is a better director of action scenes than Verhoeven, who’s always been enchanted with gore and sleaze (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and his camera work here is fluid and kinetic. Likewise, the city landscapes and gadget designs are out of this world. But the main characters (this time played by Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, and Jessica Biel) undergo zero development and all the story beats were done better the first time around. For lightweight spectacle, you could do worse, but this overall is a redundant and bloodless trip down memory lane.


Radio Free Albemuth (2010) 33%, based on the 1976 novel Radio Free Albemuth

In a world… where a fascist president has ruled over America for 15 years, record store clerk Nicolas Brady (Jonathan Scarfe) begins receiving messages in his dreams from a far away galactic supreme being called VALIS. Under its direction, Brady moves his family to Los Angeles, takes up a position at a music label, and awaits the appearance of a songwriter named Silvia (Alanis Morissette) who will help him overthrow the president.

What went wrong: Albemuth is clearly a labor of love but not of particular talent, resulting in a poorly lit film with crap framing, hokey CG, and scenes jammed together without grace. If I hadn’t read the novel beforehand, I would’ve had a tough time following the plot or even understanding what the title meant. The 1970s were a tumultuous decade for Dick: he was questioned by the FBI, his house was burgled (with Dick believing it was the government trying to spook him), and he had a deep religious awakening, all of which are described in this work, where the author himself is a major character. Written as a sci-fi confessional and introduction to his new gnostic viewpoint, Dick’s book is something of a noble failure, beautiful but flat, and it’s crazy somebody thought a movie could be made out of it on such a low budget.

This week on Home Video, we’ve got an interesting mix of smaller films — some good, some not as good — and thankfully, none of them are outright stinkers. That said, none of them was very widely released, so it’s a good week to catch up on those films you may have wanted to see, but weren’t able to. First off, there’s the latest from Jodie Foster, starring a trouble Mel Gibson, and a well-received indie comedy-horror-mockumentary from Norway. Then, we have a Paul Giamatti dramedy, Morgan Spurlock’s documentary on product placement, a heist comedy with Keanu Reeves, and Jason Statham’s latest actioner. Lastly, we’ve got the cult favorite Swingers on Blu-ray and a couple of films from a highly acclaimed Korean director. See below to read about this week’s releases!



The Beaver

62%

Jodie Foster’s third directorial effort was famously marred by controversy surrounding the film’s star, Mel Gibson, when some rather unsavory phone calls Gibson made to his ex-girlfriend were leaked to the public, reportedly pushing back The Beaver‘s release date. It was a strange coincidence, considering the film is about a successful toy exec (Gibson) named Walter Black who suffers from debilitating depression. After Walter is kicked out by his wife (Foster) and unsuccessfully attempts suicide, he begins communicating with the world through a beaver puppet he found in the trash and slowly begins to put his life back together. Despite the film somewhat mirroring Gibson’s rather public crumbling, critics praised his performance in the film, with some calling it his best yet, and others remarked that the acting in general, with supporting turns from Foster, Anton Yelchin, and Jennifer Lawrence, was solid all around. Unfortunately, the film didn’t quite work for everyone, as some critics felt it was contrived and a little disingenuous in its treatment of mental illness. Still, it’s an intriguing film, in part because of the real life events that surrounded its star, and at 62% on the Tomatometer, it’ll probably be a solid watch for most who are interested.



TrollHunter

82%

A certain Norwegian fantasy mockumentary made some noise on the festival circuit earlier this year, combining elements of folklore with humor and good, old-fashioned monster movie tropes. TrollHunter garnered so much attention, in fact, that even before its American premiere, several companies approached the producers about a potential remake (Chris Columbus ultimately acquired the rights). The film is a Blair Witch Project-esque found footage documentary about a handful of students who set out to track down and make a documentary about a bear poacher named Hans, only to discover that Hans is actually roaming the Norwegian forests in search of giant rogue trolls who have wandered outside their territory. Critics largely responded positively, calling the film clever, funny, and endearing with a few genuine scares, even if some didn’t particularly like the handheld camera aspect of it, and it currently enjoys a Certified Fresh 79% on the Tomatometer. Obviously, this film isn’t going to appeal to everyone (it’s in Norwegian, it’s home video-styled, it’s got trolls, it’s a mix of horror and comedy), but if it sounds like your kind of thing, you will probably really enjoy it.



Win Win

94%

Win Win is one of a few films that cover this week’s quota for “the film you probably didn’t see but is totally worth watching.” Talented veteran actor Paul Giamatti stars as Mike Flaherty, New Jersey attorney by day, family man and high school wrestling coach by night. His team is losing in a big way when Kyle Timmons (Alex Shaffer), a gifted athlete, enters the picture and things start looking up. Unfortunately, Kyle’s family background is a spotty one, and eventually his deadbeat mother, recently released from rehab, shows up to complicate matters. Tom McCarthy continues his streak of critically acclaimed films, which includes two previous Certified Fresh efforts (The Station Agent, The Visitor) with another (ahem) winner here, and as with the others, Win Win features great performances — including supporting roles by Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor, and Bobby Cannavale — and strongly crafted characters in service of a genuine, humanistic story. It’s currently Certified Fresh at a whopping 94%, and if you missed it in its limited theatrical release, now’s your chance to catch up.



Poetry

100%

And here we have another excellent film you probably haven’t seen, even more so than Win Win, since it hails from South Korea. Lee Chang-dong is probably one of the best working directors you’ve never heard of (unless you’re big on Asian cinema); his lowest-rated film is 2000’s Peppermint Candy at 83%, and his most recent effort, Poetry, is Certified Fresh at 100%. Lee is known for deeply affecting human dramas, and Poetry is no different: starring Yoon Jeong-hee (who made her return to film after a 16-year absence), the film centers on a 66-year-old woman living with her spiteful grandson and struggling with Alzheimer’s disease who learns of a horrific crime in the family. After enrolling in a poetry class, she begins to muster the courage to make some difficult decisions, striving throughout to remain positive about her lot in life. Critics universally praised the film, calling it a quiet but bold and thoughtful take on issues of morality and human frailty, and credited Yoon’s performance for much of its haunting power. If you’ve seen any of Lee’s films and are familiar with his storytelling style, this one is sure to be a rewarding experience, and if you’re unfamiliar with the director’s work, this, his highest-rated film, might be a good place to start.



Blitz

48%

In some ways, Jason Statham is this generation’s Bruce Willis, splitting his time between two types of action flicks: those of the over-the-top, knock-down drag-out variety, like The Transporter and Crank; and those of the slightly understated, somewhat nuanced variety, like The Bank Job and The Mechanic. Blitz, which is based on the novel of the same name by Ken Bruen and didn’t get a theatrical release, sits somewhere in the middle. Statham plays London detective Tom Brant, a hot-tempered cop who gets drawn into a serial killer’s plot to assassinate 8 members of the police force. With the help of the Acting Inspector, Porter Nash (Paddy Considine), Brant embarks on a manhunt that will affect him and everyone around him. With just a handful of reviews in, Blitz sits squarely at 50% on the Tomatometer, most critics praising the performances and the stylish direction, while others found its writing a bit too familiar. If nothing else, it’s got Jason Statham spouting one-liners and knocking out the bad guys in slick fashion, so there are definitely cravings out there that Blitz will fulfill.



POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

72%

Morgan Spurlock made a name for himself with the rather timely 2003 documentary Super Size Me, in which he embarked on a 30-day diet of McDonald’s as a way to explore the nutritional problems in America. Earlier this year, Spurlock released the culmination of another journey he took, this time to scrutinize the culture of product placement in contemporary media. The premise was simple, but novel: craft a documentary feature film about sponsored product placement that is itself entirely funded by sponsored product placement. The film, in fact, is ostensibly about its own making, and Spurlock is, again, at the center of it all, meeting with potential sponsors, taking phone calls, chatting with other filmmakers, and engaging consumer advocates like Ralph Nader in discussions about the practice in question. The result is a light, breezy inside look at the process that, while entertaining, isn’t altogether effective at digging deep and asking truly provocative questions. Nevertheless, the film is Certified Fresh at 70% on the Tomatometer, and those looking for a rather unique perspective on the business side of Hollywood will probably get a good kick out of it. (You can also read all about Spurlock’s experiences making the film in his Five Favorite Films interview here.)



Henry’s Crime

42%

Despite featuring a cast of stars, including Keanu Reeves, James Caan, and Vera Farmiga, Henry’s Crime flickered in and out of theaters rather quickly and quietly. In this heist dramedy, Reeves plays the titular Henry, an aimless New York toll collector who is imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. While incarcerated, Henry’s cellmate Max (Caan) inspires him to find a dream and follow it, and upon his release from prison, Henry decides he’ll actually go through with a bank robbery. With the help of newly paroled Max, Henry sets about his plan, which involves infiltrating a theater nearby the bank, until he lands the lead role in the production at the theater and falls in love with the leading lady, Julie (Farmiga). Critics felt that Caan and Farmiga were solid in their roles, but also that Reeves lacked a bit of relatability as the central character, and the heist aspects themselves were just a bit too familiar and predictable. It currently sits at 40% on the Tomatometer, so it may work for some, but its 26% audience rating certainly reason to pause.



Swingers – Blu-ray

87%

Vegas, baby! In 1996, Swingers came out of nowhere to become one of the breakout indie hits of the decade. It made stars out of Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, established Doug Liman as a director to watch, and kicked off the brief swing craze. And it holds up remarkably well, thanks to its colorful characters and infinitely quotable script; if you’re searching for the origins of the modern bromance, look no further. Favreau plays Mike, a sad sack who can’t get over his ex-girlfriend, despite the best efforts of his buddy Trent (Vaughn), who drags Mike to seemingly every bar or party in Los Angeles while liberally providing advice on picking up girls. Sure, it’s a guy movie, but it’s also winningly heartfelt and poignant. A new Blu-ray release features two commentaries, one from Vaughn and Favreau and another from Limon and editor Stephen Mirrione, plus a making-of featurette and a bunch of deleted scenes.



Secret Sunshine – Criterion Collection

94%

Remember that South Korean film we talked about earlier? Well, this one’s by the same guy, and this week, it gets the Criterion Collection treatment. We’ve already talked a bit about Lee Chang-dong’s aptitude as a director, and 2007’s Secret Sunshine may be the first time an international audience took notice of his work. Jeon Do-yeon plays a recently widowed mother who moves to her husband’s hometown for a fresh start, but over time she begins to realize that the neighbors who make nice with her may not be as welcoming as she first thought. As she endures increasing pressure from a local Christian cult, a heartbreaking tragedy occurs, and amidst the whispers of her neighbors, she begins to withdraw from society altogether. For her efforts in the lead role, Jeon was crowned Best Actress in Cannes the year it screened there, and critics say that Secret Sunshine does an excellent job of plumbing the depths of tragedy without succumbing to melodrama. This Criterion edition contains interviews with director Lee, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and an essay booklet by critic Dennis Lim.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a mighty Norse god (Thor, starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman), a love triangle (Something Borrowed, starring Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin), and wedding bell blues (Jumping the Broom, starring Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine). What do the critics have to say?



Thor

77%

Blockbuster time! Now that summer’s here, all we need is a good superhero movie to kick things off in grand style. And critics say we’ve got one with Thor, a robust, thrilling adventure with smarts and sly laughs. Chris Hemsworth stars as the God of Thunder, who’s been exiled from Asgard after heedlessly starting a war. Bannished to Earth (and sans his superpowers), this legendary Norseman must learn humility – and defend humanity against the evildoers from his realm. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Thor may not occupy the first tier of Marvel movies, but Hemsworth makes for a compelling hero, and director Kenneth Branagh brings both panache and a sense of fun to the proceedings. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down memorable Viking movies.)



Something Borrowed

15%

For a romantic comedy to succeed, one needs to truly care about the characters. It sounds simple, but it’s harder to pull off, and critics say Something Borrowed falters because it can’t get at the humanity beneath its farcical premise. The movie stars Ginnifer Goodwin as a sweet young woman who’s just started an affair with the guy she’s had a crush on since forever. One problem: he’s engaged to her best friend (Kate Hudson). Can our heroine save her friendship and keep the object of her affection without ruffling feathers? The pundits say Something Borrowed never delves into the moral dilemma its setup promises, and instead focuses on bland characterizations and predictable genre elements at the expense of relatable human behavior.



Jumping the Broom

58%

We’re in the midst of wedding season, so it’s no surprise to see a wedding comedy hitting theaters. But while critics say Jumping the Broom has some strong performances and moments of sweetness, it’s unfortunately bogged down in clichés and an overabundance of subplots. The plot: two families gather in Martha’s Vineyard for a wedding — the bride is from an affluent clan, while the groom’s family is blue collar — and friction quickly becomes the order of the day. Can everyone agree to put conflict on the back burner for the sake of our couple? The pundits say Broom benefits from strong performances (particularly Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine as the family matriarchs) and some vigorous laughs, but unfortunately it’s too long – and its plot is too overstuffed — to work as a breezy comedy of manners.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Caterpillar, a drama about a soldier’s psychological descent after returning home from the second Sino-Japanese War, is at 100 percent.
  • Hobo With a Shotgun, starring starring Rutger Hauer as a hobo with a shotgun, is at 83 percent (check out Hauer’s Five Favorite Films here).
  • Forks Over Knives, a documentary that asks whether a diet free of processed and meat based-foods is healthier, is at 83 percent.
  • Harvest, a naturalistic portrait of a family that’s dealing with health problems and personal issues, is at 80 percent.
  • Octubre, a dark comedy about an emotionally distant man who finds himself caring for a baby, is at 67 percent.
  • The Beaver, starring Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster in the tale of a troubled man who finds solace by communicating with a beaver puppet, is at 69 percent.
  • Last Night, starring Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington as a married couple whose relationship may give way to temptation, is at 47 percent.
  • Daydream Nation, starring Kat Dennings and Josh Lucas in a dramedy about a girl who moves to a new school and falls for her youthful teacher, is at 44 percent.
  • There Be Dragons, a historical drama about the founding of Opus Dei, is at 20 percent.
  • An Invisible Sign, starring Jessica Alba as a socially awkward young woman who becomes a math teacher to connect with the outside world, is at zero percent.
  • Passion Play, starring Mickey Rourke and Megan Fox in a neo noir about a jazz musician who gets in over his head with both a beautiful woman and the mob, is at zero percent.

Finally, props to Adam P. for coming the closest guessing Dylan Dog: Dead of Night‘s five percent Tomatometer.

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