DreamWorks Animation

(Photo by DreamWorks Animation)

All 42 DreamWorks Animation Movies Ranked

DreamWorks Animation’s first movie was Antz, released two months before A Bug’s Life, and thus this studio was born into incessant comparison to Pixar’s output, molded by it, becoming the snarky and sarcastic foil to its competitor’s earnestness.

DreamWorks Animation would forge most of its identity and formula on the back of one giant, smelly, green ogre: Shrek, which has generated sequels, tie-ins, theme park rides, and billions of dollars, while ensuring Smash Mouth’s “All-Star” never leaving the pop culture’s ironic curriculum.

The studio’s other franchises include Kung Fu Panda, which introduced a whole new world of visual flair and surprising emotional depth to the DreamWorks movie canon, and Madagascar, which pulled off the mega-rare feat of each movie being higher-rated on the Tomatometer than the last. At least the mainline movies. (Penguins of Madagascar 73% is lower than the 79% Madagascar 3 has, but that’s a spin-off.)

Their latest release was The Bad Guys, and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish on the horizon. Now, we’re ranking all DreamWorks Animation movies by Tomatometer! Alex Vo

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 106599%
Critics Consensus: Boasting dazzling animation, a script with surprising dramatic depth, and thrilling 3-D sequences, How to Train Your Dragon soars.
Synopsis: Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is a Norse teenager from the island of Berk, where fighting dragons is a way of life.... [More]

#2

Chicken Run (2000)
97%

#2
Adjusted Score: 103371%
Critics Consensus: Chicken Run has all the charm of Nick Park's Wallace & Gromit, and something for everybody. The voice acting is fabulous, the slapstick is brilliant, and the action sequences are spectacular.
Synopsis: This engaging stop-motion, claymation adventure tells the story of an American rooster who falls in love with a gorgeous hen... [More]
Directed By: Peter Lord, Nick Park

#3
Adjusted Score: 102797%
Critics Consensus: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a subtly touching and wonderfully eccentric adventure featuring Wallace and Gromit.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Steve Box

#4

Antz (1998)
92%

#4
Adjusted Score: 96608%
Critics Consensus: Featuring a stellar voice cast, technically dazzling animation, and loads of good humor, Antz should delight both children and adults.
Synopsis: Z the worker ant (Woody Allen) strives to reconcile his own individuality with the communal work-ethic of the ant colony.... [More]
Directed By: Eric Darnell, Tim Johnson

#5
Adjusted Score: 99025%
Critics Consensus: Exciting, emotionally resonant, and beautifully animated, How to Train Your Dragon 2 builds on its predecessor's successes just the way a sequel should.
Synopsis: Five years have passed since Hiccup and Toothless united the dragons and Vikings of Berk. Now, they spend their time... [More]
Directed By: Dean DeBlois, Tom Owens

#6
Adjusted Score: 106223%
Critics Consensus: The rare trilogy capper that really works, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World brings its saga to a visually dazzling and emotionally affecting conclusion.
Synopsis: When the sudden appearance of a female Light Fury coincides with the darkest threat their village has ever faced, Hiccup... [More]
Directed By: Dean DeBlois

#7

Shrek 2 (2004)
89%

#7
Adjusted Score: 97801%
Critics Consensus: It may not be as fresh as the original, but topical humor and colorful secondary characters make Shrek 2 a winner in its own right.
Synopsis: After returning from their honeymoon and showing home movies to their friends, Shrek and Fiona learn that her parents have... [More]

#8

Shrek (2001)
88%

#8
Adjusted Score: 96644%
Critics Consensus: While simultaneously embracing and subverting fairy tales, the irreverent Shrek also manages to tweak Disney's nose, provide a moral message to children, and offer viewers a funny, fast-paced ride.
Synopsis: Once upon a time, in a far away swamp, there lived an ogre named Shrek (Mike Myers) whose precious solitude... [More]

#9

Kung Fu Panda (2008)
87%

#9
Adjusted Score: 94942%
Critics Consensus: Kung Fu Panda has a familiar message, but the pleasing mix of humor, swift martial arts action, and colorful animation makes for winning Summer entertainment.
Synopsis: Po the panda (Jack Black) works in his family's noodle shop and dreams of becoming a kung-fu master. His dream... [More]

#10
Adjusted Score: 96009%
Critics Consensus: With a tidy plot, clean animation, and humor that fits its source material snugly, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is entertainment that won't drive a wedge between family members.
Synopsis: George Beard and Harold Hutchins are two overly imaginative pranksters who spend hours in a treehouse creating comic books. When... [More]
Directed By: David Soren

#11

The Bad Guys (2022)
88%

#11
Adjusted Score: 95615%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced, funny, and full of colorful visual appeal, The Bad Guys is good news for audiences seeking options the whole family can enjoy.
Synopsis: In the new action comedy from DreamWorks Animation, based on the New York Times best-selling book series, a crackerjack criminal... [More]
Directed By: Pierre Perifel

#12

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
86%

#12
Adjusted Score: 97228%
Critics Consensus: Kung Fu Panda 3 boasts the requisite visual splendor, but like its rotund protagonist, this sequel's narrative is also surprisingly nimble, adding up to animated fun for the whole family.
Synopsis: Living large and loving life, Po (Jack Black) realizes that he has a lot to learn if he's going to... [More]

#13

Puss in Boots (2011)
86%

#13
Adjusted Score: 91049%
Critics Consensus: It isn't deep or groundbreaking, but what it lacks in profundity, Puss in Boots more than makes up for with an abundance of wit, visual sparkle, and effervescent charm.
Synopsis: Long before meeting Shrek, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) -- just named a hero for saving a woman from a... [More]
Directed By: Chris Miller

#14

Abominable (2019)
82%

#14
Adjusted Score: 91330%
Critics Consensus: Working with admittedly familiar ingredients, Abominable offers audiences a beautifully animated and overall engaging adventure that the whole family can enjoy.
Synopsis: After discovering a Yeti on the roof of her apartment building, teenage Yi and her two friends embark on an... [More]
Directed By: Jill Culton

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 86667%
Critics Consensus: Mr. Peabody & Sherman offers a surprisingly entertaining burst of colorful all-ages fun, despite its dated source material and rather convoluted plot.
Synopsis: Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell), the most accomplished canine in the world, and his boy, Sherman (Max Charles), use a time... [More]
Directed By: Rob Minkoff

#16

Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
80%

#16
Adjusted Score: 87364%
Critics Consensus: The storyline arc may seem a tad familiar to fans of the original, but Kung Fu Panda 2 offers enough action, comedy, and visual sparkle to compensate.
Synopsis: Now known as the Dragon Warrior, Po (Jack Black) protects the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung... [More]
Directed By: Jennifer Yuh Nelson

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 84486%
Critics Consensus: The Prince of Egypt's stunning visuals and first-rate voice cast more than compensate for the fact that it's better crafted than it is emotionally involving.
Synopsis: In this animated retelling of the Book of Exodus, Egyptian Prince Moses (Val Kilmer), upon discovering his roots as a... [More]

#18
Adjusted Score: 83552%
Critics Consensus: Dazzlingly colorful and frenetic, Madagascar 3 is silly enough for young kids, but boasts enough surprising smarts to engage parents along the way.
Synopsis: Animal pals Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Melman (David Schwimmer) and Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) are still trying to... [More]

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 87610%
Critics Consensus: Another agreeable outing for the titular prehistoric clan, The Croods: A New Age may be the missing link for parents between more elevated family-friendly fare.
Synopsis: Searching for a safer habitat, the prehistoric Crood family discovers an idyllic, walled-in paradise that meets all of its needs.... [More]
Directed By: Joel Crawford

#20

Over the Hedge (2006)
75%

#20
Adjusted Score: 82405%
Critics Consensus: Even if it's not an animation classic, Over the Hedge is clever and fun, and the jokes cater to family members of all ages.
Synopsis: When Verne (Garry Shandling) and fellow woodland friends awake from winter's hibernation, they find they have some new neighbors: humans,... [More]

#21

Trolls (2016)
75%

#21
Adjusted Score: 85272%
Critics Consensus: Trolls brings its instantly recognizable characters to the big screen in a colorful adventure that, while geared toward the younger set, isn't without rewards for parents.
Synopsis: After the Bergens invade Troll Village, Poppy (Anna Kendrick), the happiest Troll ever born, and the overly-cautious, curmudgeonly Branch (Justin... [More]
Directed By: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 80827%
Critics Consensus: A sort of Avengers for the elementary school set, Rise of the Guardians is wonderfully animated and briskly paced, but it's only so-so in the storytelling department.
Synopsis: Generation after generation, immortal Guardians like Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and the Tooth Fairy (Isla... [More]
Directed By: Peter Ramsey

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 82298%
Critics Consensus: Though it doesn't approach the depth of the best animated films, Monsters Vs. Aliens has enough humor and special effects to entertain moviegoers of all ages.
Synopsis: When a meteor full of space gunk transforms Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) into a giant, the government renames her Ginormica... [More]

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 77616%
Critics Consensus: Penguins of Madagascar is fast and brightly colored enough to entertain small children, but too frantically silly to offer real filmgoing fun for the whole family.
Synopsis: Plucky penguins Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon) and Private (Christopher Knights) -- the most elite spies... [More]

#25

Flushed Away (2006)
73%

#25
Adjusted Score: 77790%
Critics Consensus: Clever and appealing for both children and adults, Flushed Away marks a successful entry into digital animated features for Aardman Animations.
Synopsis: After an ignoble landing in Ratropolis, a pampered rodent (Hugh Jackman) enlists the help of a sewer scavenger (Kate Winslet)... [More]
Directed By: David Bowers, Sam Fell

#26

Megamind (2010)
72%

#26
Adjusted Score: 78165%
Critics Consensus: It regurgitates plot points from earlier animated efforts, and isn't quite as funny as it should be, but a top-shelf voice cast and strong visuals help make Megamind a pleasant, if unspectacular, diversion.
Synopsis: Though he is the most-brilliant supervillain the world has known, Megamind (Will Ferrell) is the least-successful. Thwarted time and again... [More]
Directed By: Tom McGrath

#27

The Croods (2013)
72%

#27
Adjusted Score: 76677%
Critics Consensus: While it may not be as (ahem) evolved as the best modern animated fare, The Croods will prove solidly entertaining for families seeking a fast-paced, funny cartoon adventure.
Synopsis: Prehistoric family the Croods live in a particularly dangerous moment in time. Patriarch Grug (Nicolas Cage), his mate, Ugga (Catherine... [More]

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 82142%
Critics Consensus: A fun follow-up for fans of the original, Trolls World Tour offers a second helping of colorful animation, infectious energy, and sing-along songs.
Synopsis: Poppy and Branch discover that there are six different troll tribes scattered over six different lands. Each tribe is also... [More]
Directed By: Walt Dohrn

#29
Adjusted Score: 73032%
Critics Consensus: A visually stunning film that may be too predictable and politically correct for adults, but should serve children well.
Synopsis: Follows the adventures of a wild and rambunctious mustang stallion as he journeys through the untamed American frontier. Encountering man... [More]
Directed By: Kelly Asbury, Lorna Cook

#30

Turbo (2013)
67%

#30
Adjusted Score: 70337%
Critics Consensus: It's nowhere near as inventive as its off-the-wall premise might suggest, but Turbo boasts just enough colorful visual thrills and sharp voice acting to recommend as undemanding family-friendly fare.
Synopsis: Turbo (Ryan Reynolds) is a speed-obsessed snail with an unusual dream: to become the world's greatest racer. This odd snail... [More]
Directed By: David Soren

#31
Adjusted Score: 69390%
Critics Consensus: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is an improvement on the original, with more fleshed-out characters, crisper animation and more consistent humor.
Synopsis: Alex (Ben Stiller), Morty (Chris Rock) and other zoo animals find a way to escape from Madagascar when the penguins... [More]
Directed By: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath

#32
#32
Adjusted Score: 65016%
Critics Consensus: While not without its moments, Shrek Forever After too often feels like a rote rehashing of the franchise's earlier entries.
Synopsis: Long-settled into married life and fully domesticated, Shrek (Mike Myers) begins to long for the days when he felt like... [More]
Directed By: Mike Mitchell

#33

Madagascar (2005)
54%

#33
Adjusted Score: 62135%
Critics Consensus: Though its story is problematic in spots and its humor is hit-or-miss for the adult crowd, Madagascar boasts impressive visuals and enough spunky charm to keep children entertained.
Synopsis: Alex the lion is the king of the urban jungle, the main attraction at New York's Central Park Zoo. He... [More]
Directed By: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath

#34

The Boss Baby (2017)
53%

#34
Adjusted Score: 66383%
Critics Consensus: The Boss Baby's talented cast, glimmers of wit, and flashes of visual inventiveness can't make up for a thin premise and a disappointing willingness to settle for doody jokes.
Synopsis: A new baby's arrival impacts a family, told from the point of view of a delightfully unreliable narrator -- a... [More]
Directed By: Tom McGrath

#35

Home (2015)
52%

#35
Adjusted Score: 56357%
Critics Consensus: Colorful, silly, and utterly benign, Home is a passable diversion, but there's no shortage of superior animated alternatives.
Synopsis: After a hive-minded alien race called the Boov conquer the Earth, they relocate the planet's human population -- all except... [More]
Directed By: Tim Johnson

#36

Bee Movie (2007)
49%

#36
Adjusted Score: 56650%
Critics Consensus: Bee Movie has humorous moments, but its awkward premise and tame delivery render it mostly forgettable.
Synopsis: Fresh out of college, Barry the Bee finds the prospect of working with honey uninspiring. He flies outside the hive... [More]

#37

Spirit Untamed (2021)
49%

#37
Adjusted Score: 53634%
Critics Consensus: While it might be a passable diversion for younger viewers, Spirit Untamed is a middling sequel that lacks the essential energy suggested by its title.
Synopsis: After moving to a sleepy little town, young Lucky Prescott befriends a wild mustang named Spirit, who shares her rebellious... [More]
Directed By: Elaine Bogan

#38
#38
Adjusted Score: 51542%
Critics Consensus: Predictable story and thin characters made the movie flat.
Synopsis: Two con-men (Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh) get hold of a map to the lost City of Gold, El Dorado. After... [More]

#39
Adjusted Score: 50881%
Critics Consensus: It's more C-level than C-suite, but as a painless diversion for the kids, this Boss Baby manages some decent Family Business.
Synopsis: Now adults, Tim Templeton is a stay-at-home dad for two adorable daughters, while his estranged brother, Ted, is a big-shot... [More]
Directed By: Tom McGrath

#40
Adjusted Score: 48379%
Critics Consensus: Competent, but not magical.
Synopsis: The adventurous sailor (Brad Pitt) and a beautiful stowaway (Catherine Zeta-Jones) have 10 days to save a prince from execution.... [More]

#41

Shrek the Third (2007)
41%

#41
Adjusted Score: 50595%
Critics Consensus: Shrek the Third has pop culture potshots galore, but at the expense of the heart, charm, and wit that made the first two Shreks classics.
Synopsis: When King Harold suddenly croaks, Shrek (Mike Myers) learns he will have to rule the land of Far, Far Away,... [More]
Directed By: Chris Miller

#42

Shark Tale (2004)
35%

#42
Adjusted Score: 42359%
Critics Consensus: Derivative and full of pop culture in-jokes.
Synopsis: Underachiever Oscar (Will Smith) is a pint-sized fish with grand aspirations. When mob-connected great white shark Frankie (Michael Imperioli) is... [More]

All Jude Law Movies Ranked by Tomatometer

Jude Law made his breakthrough splash in The Talented Mr. Ripley, though anyone who had been following his early career through Gattaca, Music From Another Room, and Wilde already knew what he was capable of by the time the world saw him in the Anthony Minghella thriller. Not too long after that, Law would be working with the likes of Steven Spielberg (he was the robot Gigolo Joe in A.I. Artificial Intelligence), taking lead roles (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Alfie), and showing off his dark side as nasty villains (Road to Perdition).

And sometimes it seems Law is at his best in large ensemble casts: Just check out Cold Mountain, I Heart Huckabees, Contagion, The Grand Budapest Hotel, or even Captain Marvel for proof. His latest film was Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.. See where it places as we rank all Jude Law movies by Tomatometer! Alex Vo

#1

Spy (2015)
95%

#1
Adjusted Score: 105890%
Critics Consensus: Simultaneously broad and progressive, Spy offers further proof that Melissa McCarthy and writer-director Paul Feig bring out the best in one another -- and delivers scores of belly laughs along the way.
Synopsis: Despite having solid field training, CIA analyst Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) has spent her entire career as a desk jockey,... [More]
Directed By: Paul Feig

#2

Hugo (2011)
93%

#2
Adjusted Score: 101591%
Critics Consensus: Hugo is an extravagant, elegant fantasy with an innocence lacking in many modern kids' movies, and one that emanates an unabashed love for the magic of cinema.
Synopsis: Orphaned and alone except for an uncle, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives in the walls of a train station in... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 105073%
Critics Consensus: Typically stylish but deceptively thoughtful, The Grand Budapest Hotel finds Wes Anderson once again using ornate visual environments to explore deeply emotional ideas.
Synopsis: In the 1930s, the Grand Budapest Hotel is a popular European ski resort, presided over by concierge Gustave H. (Ralph... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#4

The Nest (2020)
89%

#4
Adjusted Score: 102190%
Critics Consensus: An effective pairing of period setting and timeless themes, The Nest wrings additional tension out of its unsettling story with an outstanding pair of lead performances.
Synopsis: An entrepreneur and his family begin to unravel after moving into an old country manor in England in the 1980s.... [More]
Directed By: Sean Durkin

#5

The Aviator (2004)
86%

#5
Adjusted Score: 95385%
Critics Consensus: With a rich sense of period detail, The Aviator succeeds thanks to typically assured direction from Martin Scorsese and a strong performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, who charts Howard Hughes' descent from eccentric billionaire to reclusive madman.
Synopsis: Billionaire and aviation tycoon Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a successful public figure: a director of big-budget Hollywood films such... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#6

Contagion (2011)
85%

#6
Adjusted Score: 96732%
Critics Consensus: Tense, tightly plotted, and bolstered by a stellar cast, Contagion is an exceptionally smart -- and scary -- disaster movie.
Synopsis: When Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns to Minnesota from a Hong Kong business trip, she attributes the malaise she feels... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 88768%
Critics Consensus: With Matt Damon's unsettling performance offering a darkly twisted counterpoint to Anthony Minghella's glossy direction, The Talented Mr. Ripley is a suspense thriller that lingers.
Synopsis: To be young and carefree amid the blue waters and idyllic landscape of sun-drenched Italy in the late 1950s; that's... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Minghella

#8

Gattaca (1997)
81%

#8
Adjusted Score: 84510%
Critics Consensus: Intelligent and scientifically provocative, Gattaca is an absorbing sci fi drama that poses important interesting ethical questions about the nature of science.
Synopsis: Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) has always fantasized about traveling into outer space, but is grounded by his status as a... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Niccol

#9

Side Effects (2013)
81%

#9
Adjusted Score: 90302%
Critics Consensus: A smart, clever thriller with plenty of disquieting twists, Side Effects is yet another assured effort from director Steven Soderbergh.
Synopsis: For four years, Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) has awaited the release of her husband, Martin (Channing Tatum), from being imprisoned... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 88468%
Critics Consensus: Somber, stately, and beautifully mounted, Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition is a well-crafted mob movie that explores the ties between fathers and sons.
Synopsis: Mike Sullivan (Tom Hanks) is an enforcer for powerful Depression-era Midwestern mobster John Rooney (Paul Newman). Rooney's son, Connor (Daniel... [More]
Directed By: Sam Mendes

#11

Black Sea (2014)
80%

#11
Adjusted Score: 85448%
Critics Consensus: Black Sea may not be particularly deep, but thanks to Kevin Macdonald's judicious direction and a magnetic performance from Jude Law, it remains an efficiently well-crafted thriller.
Synopsis: Soon after losing his salvage job, former naval officer Robinson (Jude Law) assembles a misfit crew of unemployed sailors for... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald

#12

Captain Marvel (2019)
79%

#12
Adjusted Score: 113039%
Critics Consensus: Packed with action, humor, and visual thrills, Captain Marvel introduces the MCU's latest hero with an origin story that makes effective use of the franchise's signature formula.
Synopsis: Captain Marvel is an extraterrestrial Kree warrior who finds herself caught in the middle of an intergalactic battle between her... [More]
Directed By: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

#13
Adjusted Score: 83043%
Critics Consensus: A curious, not always seamless, amalgamation of Kubrick's chilly bleakness and Spielberg's warm-hearted optimism, A.I. is, in a word, fascinating.
Synopsis: A robotic boy, the first programmed to love, David (Haley Joel Osment) is adopted as a test case by a... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 80827%
Critics Consensus: A sort of Avengers for the elementary school set, Rise of the Guardians is wonderfully animated and briskly paced, but it's only so-so in the storytelling department.
Synopsis: Generation after generation, immortal Guardians like Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and the Tooth Fairy (Isla... [More]
Directed By: Peter Ramsey

#15

eXistenZ (1999)
74%

#15
Adjusted Score: 76709%
Critics Consensus: Gooey, slimy, grotesque fun.
Synopsis: Video game designer Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has created a virtual reality game called eXistenZ. After a crazed fan... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#16
Adjusted Score: 78397%
Critics Consensus: Although it softens the nasty edges of its source material, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is a gothic visual treat, and it features a hilariously manic turn from Jim Carrey as the evil Count Olaf.
Synopsis: After the three young Baudelaire siblings are left orphaned by a fire in their mansion, they are carted off to... [More]
Directed By: Brad Silberling

#17

Wilde (1997)
72%

#17
Adjusted Score: 72978%
Critics Consensus: Wilde can't hope to communicate the entirety of its subject's fascinating life or outsize talent, but Stephen Fry's stellar performance offers abundant compensation.
Synopsis: Oscar Wilde (Stephen Fry) is a married writer who has occasionally indulged his weakness for male suitors. After much toil,... [More]
Directed By: Brian Gilbert

#18

Cold Mountain (2003)
70%

#18
Adjusted Score: 78708%
Critics Consensus: The well-crafted Cold Mountain has an epic sweep and captures the horror and brutal hardship of war.
Synopsis: In this classic story of love and devotion set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, a wounded Confederate... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Minghella

#19
Adjusted Score: 78603%
Critics Consensus: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is slim on plot and characterization, but the visuals more than make up for it.
Synopsis: When gigantic robots attack New York City, "Sky Captain" (Jude Law) uses his private air force to fight them off.... [More]
Directed By: Kerry Conran

#20

Sherlock Holmes (2009)
69%

#20
Adjusted Score: 79812%
Critics Consensus: Guy Ritchie's directorial style might not be quite the best fit for an update on the legendary detective, but Sherlock Holmes benefits from the elementary appeal of a strong performance by Robert Downey, Jr.
Synopsis: When a string of brutal murders terrorizes London, it doesn't take long for legendary detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.)... [More]
Directed By: Guy Ritchie

#21

Closer (2004)
68%

#21
Adjusted Score: 75648%
Critics Consensus: Closer's talented cast and Mike Nichols' typically assured direction help smooth a bumpy journey from stage to screen.
Synopsis: Alice (Natalie Portman), an American stripper who has moved to London, meets Dan (Jude Law) on the street. While looking... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#22
Adjusted Score: 70838%
Critics Consensus: Terry Gilliam remains as indulgent as ever, but The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus represents a return to the intoxicatingly imaginative, darkly beautiful power of his earlier work, with fine performances to match all the visual spectacle.
Synopsis: Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), the leader of a traveling show, has a dark secret. Thousands of years ago he traded... [More]
Directed By: Terry Gilliam

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 70823%
Critics Consensus: I Heart Huckabees certainly isn't for everyone, but audiences attuned to its quirky wavelength will find a singularly brainy screwball comedy that refuses to pander.
Synopsis: Environmentalist Albert (Jason Schwartzman) enlists the services of "existential detectives" Bernard (Dustin Hoffman) and Vivian (Lily Tomlin) to solve the... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell

#24

Anna Karenina (2012)
63%

#24
Adjusted Score: 70434%
Critics Consensus: Joe Wright's energetic adaptation of Tolstoy's classic romance is a bold, visually stylized work -- for both better and worse.
Synopsis: Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley), the wife of a Russian imperial minister (Jude Law), creates a high-society scandal by an affair... [More]
Directed By: Joe Wright

#25

Vox Lux (2018)
62%

#25
Adjusted Score: 76453%
Critics Consensus: Intriguing albeit flawed, Vox Lux probes the allures and pitfalls of modern celebrity with intelligence, visual style, and an assured Natalie Portman performance.
Synopsis: Celeste is a 13-year-old music prodigy who survives a horrific school shooting in Staten Island, N.Y., in 1999. Her talent... [More]
Directed By: Brady Corbet

#26
Adjusted Score: 68409%
Critics Consensus: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a good yarn thanks to its well-matched leading men but overall stumbles duplicating the well-oiled thrills of the original.
Synopsis: When Austria's crown prince is found dead, evidence seems to point to suicide. However, detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.)... [More]
Directed By: Guy Ritchie

#27

Dom Hemingway (2013)
57%

#27
Adjusted Score: 61192%
Critics Consensus: Jude Law is clearly having fun in Dom Hemingway's title role, but viewers may find this purposely abrasive gangster dramedy isn't quite as enjoyable from the other side of the screen.
Synopsis: After serving 12 years in prison, a skilled safecracker (Jude Law) seeks payback and a chance to reconcile with his... [More]
Directed By: Richard Shepard

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 58385%
Critics Consensus: Atmospheric and thrilling, Enemy at the Gates gets the look and feel of war right. However, the love story seems out of place.
Synopsis: Vassili (Jude Law) is a young Russian sharpshooter who becomes a legend when a savvy polical officer (Joseph Fiennes) makes... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Jacques Annaud

#29

Genius (2016)
52%

#29
Adjusted Score: 58582%
Critics Consensus: Genius seeks to honor worthy subjects, yet never gets close enough to the titular quality to make watching worth the effort.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Michael Grandage

#30

The Holiday (2006)
50%

#30
Adjusted Score: 56670%
Critics Consensus: While it's certainly sweet and even somewhat touching, The Holiday is so thoroughly predictable that audiences may end up opting for an early check-out time.
Synopsis: Two women, one (Cameron Diaz) from America and one (Kate Winslet) from Britain, swap homes at Christmastime after bad breakups... [More]
Directed By: Nancy Meyers

#31
Adjusted Score: 52254%
Critics Consensus: Clint Eastwood's spare directorial style proves an ill fit for this Southern potboiler, which dutifully trudges through its mystery while remaining disinterested in the cultural flourishes that gave its source material its sense of intrigue.
Synopsis: In this adaptation of John Berendt's book, a young journalist, John Kelso (John Cusack), travels to Savannah, Ga., to cover... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#32
Adjusted Score: 57484%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore avoids some of the pitfalls that plagued its predecessor, but lacks much of the magic that drew audiences into the wizarding world many movies ago.
Synopsis: Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of... [More]
Directed By: David Yates

#33

Alfie (2004)
48%

#33
Adjusted Score: 54076%
Critics Consensus: This unnecessary remake wants Alfie to have his cake and eat it, too, but a lack of sexual fizz and a sour performance by Jude Law conspire to deliver audiences a romantic comedy that isn't romantic or funny.
Synopsis: British-born ladies' man Alfie (Jude Law) exploits his job as a New York City limousine driver to meet and sleep... [More]
Directed By: Charles Shyer

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 50214%
Critics Consensus: Though well filmed, My Blueberry Nights is a mixed bag of dedicated performers working with thin material.
Synopsis: After her boyfriend of five years breaks up with her, Elizabeth (Norah Jones) consoles herself by consuming creamy confections at... [More]
Directed By: Kar Wai Wong

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 44098%
Critics Consensus: Stylish, but emotionally uninvolving.
Synopsis: After years of murdering single women for their blood, debonair vampire Steven Griscz (Jude Law) can no longer quench his... [More]
Directed By: Po-Chih Leong

#36
Adjusted Score: 9180%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Daisy (Claire Danes) is a smart and pretty teen who attends a prestigious private academy. Despite her privileged upbringing, Daisy... [More]
Directed By: Billy Hopkins

#37

Rage (2009)
38%

#37
Adjusted Score: 14047%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A blogger shoots interviews at a New York fashion house on his cell phone.... [More]
Directed By: Sally Potter

#38
Adjusted Score: 55721%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has glimmers of the magic familiar to Harry Potter fans, but the story's spell isn't as strong as earlier installments.
Synopsis: In an effort to thwart Grindelwald's plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists... [More]
Directed By: David Yates

#39

Sleuth (2007)
35%

#39
Adjusted Score: 39747%
Critics Consensus: Sleuth is so obvious and coarse, rather than suspenseful and action-packed, that it does nothing to improve on the original version
Synopsis: Andrew Wyke (Michael Caine) is a highly successful mystery writer living in a beautiful and technologically advanced mansion in England.... [More]
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

#40
#40
Adjusted Score: 38462%
Critics Consensus: This class warfare drama feels contrived and superficial: characters don't act logically as the movie manipulates them towards deconstructing various social issues.
Synopsis: Will (Jude Law), a landscape architect in London, is in the middle of a life crisis. His relationship with Liv... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Minghella

#41
#41
Adjusted Score: 27265%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A young man (Jonny Lee Miller) reminisces about how a childhood friend introduced him to the biggest gangster in London.... [More]
Directed By: Dominic Anciano

#42
#42
Adjusted Score: 12075%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: As a young boy, Danny (Jude Law) helped deliver his neighbor's infant daughter, Anna Swann. Despite his various relationships, Danny's... [More]
Directed By: Charlie Peters

#43
Adjusted Score: 51337%
Critics Consensus: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword piles mounds of modern action flash on an age-old tale -- and wipes out much of what made it a classic story in the first place.
Synopsis: After the murder of his father, young Arthur's power-hungry uncle Vortigern seizes control of the crown. Robbed of his birthright,... [More]
Directed By: Guy Ritchie

#44
#44
Adjusted Score: 40971%
Critics Consensus: Blake Lively delivers an impressive lead performance, but The Rhythm Section plods predictably through a story that could have used some flashier riffs.
Synopsis: Stephanie Patrick veers down a path of self-destruction after a tragic plane crash kills her family. When Stephanie discovers it... [More]
Directed By: Reed Morano

#45

Repo Men (2010)
22%

#45
Adjusted Score: 27472%
Critics Consensus: Repo Men has an intriguing premise, as well as a likable pair of leads, but they're wasted on a rote screenplay, indifferent direction, and mind-numbing gore.
Synopsis: In the future, medical technology has advanced to the point where people can buy artificial organs to extend their lives.... [More]
Directed By: Miguel Sapochnik

#46

360 (2011)
20%

#46
Adjusted Score: 22667%
Critics Consensus: Spreading itself thin across a sprawling narrative without a unifying focus, 360 just keeps running in circles.
Synopsis: A man (Anthony Hopkins) searches for his missing daughter in one of several vignettes dealing with issues of love, loss... [More]
Directed By: Fernando Meirelles

#47
#47
Adjusted Score: 17716%
Critics Consensus: With a scenery-chewing performance from Sean Penn, an absence of political insight, and an overall lack of narrative cohesiveness, these Men give Oscar bait a bad name.
Synopsis: Charismatic Southern politician Willie Stark's (Sean Penn) idealism and good intentions give way to corruption after he becomes governor of... [More]
Directed By: Steven Zaillian

Ever since 1998 and into this Friday’s release of Kung Fu Panda 3, DreamWorks Animation has emerged as one of the dominant forces in animated storytelling worldwide, whose blend of state-of-the-art tech and raucous contemporary humor has carved their own identity in our current cartoon renaissance. Kung Fu Panda 3 inspires this week’s 24 Frames gallery, in which we explore the nearly two-decade history of DreamWorks Animation.

Some Santas want to spread joy to the world…and others just want to watch the world burn. As Christmas approaches, take some time to this week’s special extra 24 Frames gallery, looking at the variations of jolly St. Nick across movie history.

This week on home video, we’ve got four new releases that are Certified Fresh, including one multiple Oscar-winner, one animated adventure, a music doc, and an indie drama about alcoholism. On top of that, there’s also the relatively well-received biopic about Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho and a quirky Sean Penn-powered road trip drama. Lastly, we have a feature adaptation of the famed Cirque du Soleil troupe’s performances, as well as a handful of notable reissues. See below for the full list!

Life of Pi

86%

Yann Martel’s 2001 novel Life of Pi was a worldwide success, so it’s not surprising that development of a film adaptation began as early as 2003. Many considered the book “unfilmable,” however, so we didn’t get the movie until Ang Lee took up the helm (after several others dropped out) and felt technology was up to snuff to tell the story. The fantasy adventure revolves around Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma), an Indian teen whose parents own a struggling zoo and decide to sell all their animals to a buyer in Canada, where the family will settle. En route to Winnipeg, their freighter encounters a massive storm that wrecks the ship and leaves Pi stranded alone on a lifeboat with a few animals, including a fearsome Bengal tiger. Like its source novel, Life of Pi was met with both critical and commercial success, and was nominated for eleven Academy Awards; it won four Oscars, including Best Director for Ang Lee. Certified Fresh at 88%, it’s a trasportive, beautifully shot, technically impressive film, even if its underlying message may not resonate with everyone.

Rise of the Guardians

74%

Another film based on a book (or series of books, rather, authored by William Joyce), Rise of the Guardians reimagines mythical childhood figures like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost as warrior-like protectors of the world’s children — in addition to their regular duties delivering presents and hiding Easter eggs, that is. Voiced by Chris Pine, Jack Frost is a bit of a mischief maker, starting snowball fights and conjuring blizzards, until he’s recruited by the existing guardians to help defeat Pitch (Jude Law), a dark spirit intent on taking over the world. In the process, Jack discovers both his true worth as a guardian and the secrets of his past life. Though critics felt the story itself could have been a little more focused, they also liked the clever premise of the film, as well as its lush animation and brisk pacing. Certified Fresh at 74%, Rise of the Guardians is a fresh take on some familiar characters that most will be able to appreciate.

Hitchcock

60%

Screenwriter Sacha Gervasi’s directorial debut, 2007’s Anvil! The Story of Anvil, earned heaps of praise, so hopes were high for his film about Alfred Hitchcock, especially considering Anthony Hopkins would be filling in the role of the great director and Helen Mirren would be playing his wife and collaborative partner, Alma Reville. Hitchcock specifically chronicles the director’s efforts to finance and produce Psycho and the tumultuous relationship that resulted between him and Reville during the making of the film. Although critics would have liked to see a bit more subtlety and insight, most found the film stylishly directed and worth watching, even if only for the inspired performances from Hopkins and Mirren. At 63% on the Tomatometer, Hitchcock isn’t the be all and end all of biopics on The Master of Suspense, but it’s a well-acted glimpse into his life and old Hollywood.

Sound City

100%

Last year, musician Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) purchased a vintage Neve 8028 mixing console from Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California, where he had taken part in recording the seminal Nirvana album Nevermind in 1991. The purchase inspired him to direct a documentary recounting the history of the influential studio, which oversaw the recording of several rock legends and musical icons ranging from Neil Young, Elton John, and Grateful Dead to Barry Manilow, Weezer, Metallica, and many more before it closed in 2011. Peppered with interviews and performances by many of those artists, Sound City weaves together the complete story of the studio and culminates in the purchase that inspired the film in the first place. The film, which opened in limited release just a month ago, has so far earned a 100% Tomatometer, with critics calling it an affectionately crafted passion project that’s thrilling, nostalgic, and a must-see for music fans.

Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D

45%

Cirque du Soleil has been an expanding Las Vegas mainstay for several years now, but they’ve been a touring troupe for even longer, their television specials have won awards, and they’ve adapted their shows into films before. This latest venture, Worlds Away, is unique in that it also offers a 3D perspective for the first time, and what’s more? It’s James Cameron-approved 3D. Though it is, in fact, just another showcase for the talents of its performers, there is a narrative framing device: a young woman named Mia (Erica Linz) visits the local circus and falls into a dreamlike world with an aerialist; in order for the two to reunite, they must traverse the various tents of the circus and navigate through their performances. Critics were fairly split here; while some thought the film incoherently plotted and most conceded it was inferior to its live equivalent, others felt it was still beautiful to look at and entertaining enough. At 46%, Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away won’t compare to the real thing, but it’s not too bad if you can’t make it to one of the live shows.

Smashed

83%

Aaron Paul has already built up a considerable fanbase from his role in Breaking Bad, but while Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s star is slowly rising, she hadn’t quite landed the starring role that showcases her talents properly… until Smashed came along. In this low key indie, Paul and Winstead play Charlie and Kate, a young married couple who both decide to come to terms with their alcoholism. When Kate, an elementary schoolteacher, vomits in the middle of class, then drunkenly succumbs to smoking crack later that same night, she consequently joins group therapy and resolves to change her life. Critics roundly applauded Winstead’s performance, as well as director James Ponsoldt’s sensitive direction and the film’s melodrama-free script, en route to a Certified Fresh 84% on the Tomatometer. Costarring Nick Offerman, Octavia Spencer, and Mary Kay Place, Smashed failed to generate much heat at the box office, but here’s hoping it leads to more substantial roles for Winstead.

This Must Be the Place

67%

At first glance, This Must Be the Place might seem simply like the latest in a long line of quirky indie comedy-dramas: Sean Penn, looking like a cross between Bono and Edward Scissorhands, is aging former rock star Cheyenne, who travels home to New York from Ireland in order to reconcile with his estranged father as he lies on his deathbed. Though his father dies before he arrives, Cheyenne soon discovers that he was an Auschwitz survivor whose lifelong mission was to track down the man who abused him there; Cheyenne takes up his father’s quest and sets out across the US to find his father’s persecutor. It’s a strange tale, to be sure, but critics mostly found it surprisingly touching, buoyed by Penn’s oddly charismatic performance. At 68%, This Must Be the Place might be a little too off-kilter for some, but if you give it a chance, it might surprise you.

Also available this week:

  • A 25th Anniversary Blu-ray release of Disney’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit (98%), with a collection of extras ported over from previous releases and an in-depth commentary track.
  • Two choices from the Criterion Collection: The original 1958 The Blob (69%), now on Blu-ray; and Fritz Lang’s Ministry of Fear on both DVD and Blu-ray.
  • Some animated Disney films, paired with their direct-to-DVD sequels: Mulan (86%), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (74%), and Brother Bear (38%).
  • Ron Howard’s 1988 fantasy flick Willow (46%) on Blu-ray.

This weekend in streaming, we’ve got an Oscar-nominated drama (The Master) and the conclusion to a certain teen vampire franchise (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2). Plus, we’ve got some well-reviewed indies, a feel-good French dramedy, and an Oscar-winner from the 1960s. Read on to find out what’s available to watch right now.

Silent Souls

96%

Silent Souls is a drama about a man who journey across Russia with his best friend in order to bury his deceased wife.

Available now on: Netflix

War Witch

94%

Nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar, War Witch is a drama about a Congolese girl who is kidnapped and forced to be a child soldier.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

Holy Motors

92%

In a series of vignettes, a man named Oscar (Denis Lavant) rides around Paris in a limousine and reenacts various theatrical sequences, ranging from a sex scene to a gangster film.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes

The Master

84%

Joaquin Phoenix stars as a navy vet in the midst of personal turmoil who turns to Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the charismatic leader of a group called the Cause; soon, the two men are locked in a test of wills.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

Funeral Kings

90%

Funeral Kings is an indie comedy about a trio of troublemaking altar boys who use funerals as as an excuse to play hooky from their Catholic school.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

Collaborator

73%

Martin Donovan, Olivia Williams, and David Morse star in a drama about a famous playwright who has a startling reunion with an old friend.

Available now on: Netflix

Darling

67%

Julie Christie won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in this Swingin’ London drama about a fashion model who trades love for fame.

Available now on: Hulu

The Intouchables

76%

This Certified Fresh dramedy about the friendship between a disabled millionaire and his caretaker was a box office smash in France.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

Rise of the Guardians

74%

When a nightmare king named Pitch attempts to spread darkness all over the world, it’s up to such unlikely heroes as Santa Claus, Jack Frost, and the Easter Bunny to save the children from misery and despair.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

49%

(Available on March 2nd)

Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is adjusting to her new life as both a mother and a vampire. But when malevolent Volturi go after their child, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cullen round up a crew of sympathetic vampires and werewolves to stand with their family.

Available now on: Amazon, Vudu

Over the course of a career spanning two decades and dozens of movies, Jude Law has become one of the most successful actors of his generation — in fact, just a few years ago, he made the industry’s “top 10 most bankable” list. This weekend, he has the honor of starring in the HBO miniseries The Young Pope, which centers on the reign of the first American pope, Pius XIII. To celebrate, we decided to take the opportunity to pay tribute to some of Mr. Law’s biggest critical hits. Of course, given his propensity for smaller parts, we had to prune a few entries from the upper reaches of Law’s Tomatometer; his roles in films like The Aviator, Hugo, and The Grand Budapest Hotel weren’t quite substantial enough to make the grade. Still, we think you’ll find plenty to love in this week’s list. Without further ado… Jude Law’s best movies!


10. Wilde (1997) 72%

Wilde

If a person wanted to film an Oscar Wilde biopic, they could hardly do better than Richard Ellmann’s Pulitzer-winning biography for source material — and they couldn’t ask for a more perfect leading man than Stephen Fry, who uses 1997’s Wilde as an acting clinic. In fact, although most critics agreed Brian Gilbert’s film was flawed, they were too enthralled by Fry’s performance — in addition to solid supporting turns from Jennifer Ehle, Michael Sheen, and Law (who plays Lord Alfred Douglas, the self-absorbed object of Wilde’s ultimately ruinous affections) — to find much fault with Wilde. In the words of the Sunday Times’ Shannon J. Harvey, “There’s never been a better story about the misadventures of one of the world’s greatest writers. Fry should have been Oscar nominated, and Law is equally electrifying.”


9. eXistenZ (1999) 74%

Existenz

It suffered from close proximity to The Matrix — not to mention an unfortunately spelled title — but most critics thought David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ was one of the more enjoyable, and overlooked, futuristic thrillers of the ’90s. This is admittedly a rather short list (Johnny Mnemonic, anyone?), but still — given Cronenberg’s track record, eXistenZ‘s ignominious commercial fate is a little puzzling. On the other hand, Cronenberg didn’t do himself any favors with a storyline about a game developer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and a low-level employee at her company (Law) on the run from bad guys wielding freaky guns that shoot human teeth. Sound bizarre? It is, and that doesn’t even take into account the script’s constant shifts between the real world and an increasingly difficult-to-detect virtual reality. Not a film with particularly broad appeal, in other words, but it tickled the neuroreceptors of critics like Jim Ridley of the Nashville Scene, who wrote, “Cronenberg makes leaps of logic, character, and setting so baffling that they don’t become clear until the end. Even then, the final outcome is so devious you’ll sit poking yourself to make sure you won’t disappear with the click of the projector.”


8. Cold Mountain (2003) 70%

Cold-Mountain

As a book, Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain was a bestselling phenomenon, and just the kind of sweeping, romantic period piece that cried out for a film adaptation. That cry was answered with Anthony Minghella’s stately take on the tale of a Confederate Civil War soldier (Law) who deserts and slowly wends his way back to his beloved (Nicole Kidman) while dodging Union troops and the southern Home Guard. Released on Christmas Day 2003, the Cold Mountain movie was a $173 million hit, but not without its detractors; Cinema Crazed’s Felix Vasquez Jr., for instance, called the Miramax production “So utterly manufactured for Oscar, it was nauseating.” Still, most critics were willing to look past the flaws in Minghella’s beautifully filmed epic; in the words of Philip Martin of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “There are intimations of a genuinely moving film; in its best moments, Cold Mountain is a fantasy that — like the Lord of the Rings movies — aspires to Shakespearean heights.”


7. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) 70%

Sky-Captain-World-of-Tomorrow

One of a mind-boggling six movies Law starred in throughout 2004, Kerry Conran’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was sort of a beta Avatar, combining live action and computer-generated effects in new and exciting ways. Adding to the gee-whiz factor was Conran’s gleefully retro storyline, which pitted the heroic Sky Captain (Law, natch) against the giant robot army of the nefarious Dr. Totenkopf (Sir Laurence Olivier, in a display of technology both thrilling and sort of creepy) in an alternate version of 1939. Captain mimicked the Golden Age matinee serials so successfully that many modern filmgoers didn’t quite know what to make of it, and as a result, it went the fate of Totenkopf’s army at the box office — but it was welcomed with open arms by critics like Ed Park of the Village Voice, who wrote, “His nostalgia enabled by technology, Conran takes the ghosts in his machine seriously, and the results appear at once meltingly lovely and intriguingly inhuman.”


6. A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001) 75%

AI-Artificial-Intelligence

A project Stanley Kubrick had been working on since the early 1970s, A.I. was the Hollywood equivalent of vaporware for years; even after Kubrick handed the reins to Steven Spielberg in 1995, the movie remained largely in stasis until Kubrick’s unexpected death in 1999. As has been the case with more than one sci-fi epic (see: Avatar), the delay was at least partially fortuitous — by the time production started in earnest, special effects had evolved to the point where the tale of a robot boy (Haley Joel Osment) on his quest to become real could be believably told. A.I. was criticized for its uneasy blend of darkness and sentimentality, exemplified by Osment’s character’s friendship with Gigolo Joe, the prostitute robot played by Law. Despite grossing more than $230 million, A.I. was regarded by many as a disappointment — but most critics saw through the catcalls, including Jimmy O of Film Snobs, who wrote, “A.I. stands as a work that allows us to see ourselves in the things that we have created. For good or for bad, it is an eye-opening experience.”


5. Rise of the Guardians (2012) 74%

Rise-of-the-Guardians

Adapted from the Guardians of Childhood series authored by writer and illustrator William Joyce, Rise of the Guardians took the novel premise of the books — basically, that magical kids’ legends like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are members of an Avengers-like team of action heroes — and used it as the basis for a colorfully animated adventure with an all-star voice cast that included Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman, Chris Pine, and Law as the group’s deliciously evil adversary, Pitch the Nightmare King. Although this would-be franchise starter was regarded as a box office disappointment, it resonated with a good number of critics — including the Atlantic’s Christopher Orr, who called it “A children’s fable reimagined as a superhero flick — a peculiar but delightful hybrid that just may be the best animated offering of the year.”


4. Gattaca (1997) 81%

Gattaca

In 1996, Dolly the sheep made headlines as the first cloned mammal, sending previously sci-fi-worthy topics like genetic engineering and eugenics to the forefront of public debate. You’d think that would make an instant smash out of a futuristic thriller about a man hiding behind someone else’s genetic identity — Columbia Pictures certainly thought so — but Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca still went down as one of 1997’s more notorious flops. Ethan Hawke starred as Vincent Freeman, a genetic “in-valid” who flouts the rules preventing him from joining the space program by buying off Jerome Morrow (Law), a paraplegic ex-swimmer with perfect DNA, setting in motion a chain of events that puts Freeman on a collision course with a squad of detectives led by his own brother (Loren Dean). It’s undeniably juicy stuff, and it was greeted with critical applause, but audiences weren’t interested for some reason — a disappointment for scribes like James Sanford, who called it “a smart, beautifully crafted piece of not-so-science-fiction that manages to successfully mix social commentary and suspense into a generally enthralling story.”


3. Road to Perdition (2002) 81%

Road-to-Perdition

Tom Hanks as a ruthless Mafia assassin? It sounds like a sketch Saturday Night Live might have aired after Forrest Gump, but Sam Mendes’ Road to Perdition was no joke — particularly not in the casting department, which surrounded Hanks with rock-solid supporting players like Paul Newman, Daniel Craig, and Jude Law as Harlen Maguire, the crime scene photographer/icky hitman hired to murder Hanks and his young son (Tyler Hoechlin). The only one of the movie’s characters not adapted from Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner’s graphic novel, Maguire could easily have provoked a negative response from fans of the book — but Law made a great, creepy villain, mussing his good looks behind sallow skin and bad teeth. Ken Hanke was one of the many critics who enjoyed Road, writing “It’s all done with tremendous style and backed by exceptional performances. Jude Law and Paul Newman are both brilliant and chilling, but the real revelation is Tom Hanks.”


2. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) 84%

Talented-Mr-Ripley

Matt Damon got a lot of attention for his performance in the title role — and deservedly so — but The Talented Mr. Ripley revolves around the machinations of a sociopath who finds himself irresistibly drawn to a casually cruel, devastatingly handsome playboy, and who better to play that part than Jude Law? The BBC’s Stella Papamichael was one of several critics who singled out Law’s performance, saying “In a starry lineup, it’s Jude Law who commands most presence, playing the charmer so well that his absence in the latter half leaves a gaping void.” Anthony Minghella’s adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel had a lot of pitfalls to avoid on the way to the screen, and it didn’t sidestep all of them; still, 83 percent on the Tomatometer and a small boatload of awards (including Law’s BAFTA and Blockbuster nods) is pretty impressive for a deeply unsettling Christmas release with amoral, misanthropic overtones. Calling it “a gorgeously unsettling film,” New York Magazine’s Peter Raniner warned, “You can hide in the shadows, but luminescence exposes who you are, and the only escape is into another identity.”


1. Contagion (2011) 85%

Contagion

Before they hooked up for Side Effects, Law and Steven Soderbergh worked together in Contagion, a chilly 2011 medical thriller that uses our ever-more-connected modern lifestyle as a framing device to demonstrate just how quickly and easily a contagious disease could spread across the planet. With a showy cast that included Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, and Gwyneth Paltrow, Contagion ran the risk of undermining its dramatic impact with a parade of famous faces, but as David Denby argued for the New Yorker, “The presence of movie stars helps: their authority is part of what keeps us fascinated by the gruesome fable, juicing it a bit, so that we can actually enjoy it.”

With Rise of the Guardians opening in cinemas, we take a look back over DreamWorks Animation’s first 25 features — from 1998-2012.

 

Since Thanksgiving is a time for family gatherings, it follows that there are plenty of choices in the multiplex this weekend. For the little kids, there’s Rise of the Guardians, featuring Santa and the Tooth Fairy. For older teens, there’s the visually sweeping Life of Pi. For brothers and cousins who want an action fix, there’s Red Dawn. And for home viewing, there’s a sparkling new Blu-ray of one of the greatest Anime films ever. Without further ado, check out the best bets for family viewing this week!

In Theaters This Week:

Rise of the Guardians

74%

What’s it about? In this animated feature from DreamWorks, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, and other folkloric types team up to battle a nightmare-purveying baddie named Pitch.

Who’s it for? Rise of the Guardians is rated PG “for thematic elements and some mildly scary action.” Kindergarteners and above will probably be able to handle it, though the film does demystify its protagonists, which might be troubling to more sensitive children.

Is it any good? Critics say the little ones will probably like it just fine, and that their guardians will probably be mildly amused as well. It’s got some solid gags and terrific visuals.

Life of Pi

86%

What’s it about? A guy survives a shipwreck only to end up in a lifeboat with a tiger.

Who’s it for? It’s rated PG “for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril.” It will almost certainly bore little kids, but it should be fine for eighth graders up.

Is it any good? Critics say Life of Pi is visually masterful and philosophically intriguing; it’s the type of thing that could entrance thoughtful teenagers.

Red Dawn

15%

What’s it about? Foreign troops invade a small town in the Pacific Northwest. A group of photogenic teens fight back.

Who’s it for? It’s rated PG-13 “for sequences of intense war violence and action, and for language.” In any incarnation, Red Dawn is every teenage boy’s dream come true, and will probably delight less than discerning middle schoolers.

Is it any good? If you’re looking for an evening of father-son bonding over a cheesy action movie, you’re probably better off renting the original.

New On DVD:

Grave of the Fireflies

100%

What’s it about? In the waning days of World War II, a brother and sister attempt to survive on their own amidst the barren landscape of war-torn Japan.

Who’s it for? Grave of the Fireflies is unrated, but with its scenes of starvation, death, and destruction, it’s not appropriate for children. It’s probably ok for young teenagers and up.

Is it any good? Grave of the Fireflies is a monumental work of animation and an anti-war masterpiece. It’s profoundly sad, touching, and beautiful. You should probably watch it, but beware: it’s a bona fide tearjerker.

Happy Thanksgiving! This week at the movies, we’ve got a furry castaway (Ang Lee‘s Life of Pi starring Suraj Sharma); folkloric fighters (Rise of the Guardians, with voice work from Chris Pine and Alec Baldwin); teen guerillas (Red Dawn, starring Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson); and unhappy singles (Silver Linings Playbook, starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence). What do the critics have to say?

Life of Pi

86%

On paper, Life of Pi shouldn’t work — it’s a 3D adaptation of a supposedly “unfilmable” magic realist novel. But critics say director Ang Lee’s film achieves the near impossible — it’s a phantasmagoric technical achievement that’s emotionally rewarding as well. Newcomer Suraj Sharma stars as a young man who survives a shipwreck only to be set adrift in a lifeboat — with a Bengal tiger. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Life of Pie is so visually sumptuous, and newcomer Sharma is so strong, that occasional moments of so-so dialogue are easily forgiven. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Lee’s best-reviewed films.)

Rise of the Guardians

74%

A sort of Avengers for the elementary school set, critics say Rise of the Guardians is stylish and briskly paced, but it’s only so-so in the storytelling department. When a nightmare king named Pitch attempts to spread darkness all over the world, it’s up to such unlikely heroes as Santa Claus, Jack Frost, and the Easter Bunny to save the children from misery and despair. The pundits say Rise of the Guardians should please small children with its whirl colorful action, and adults will find it to be a decent, if not groundbreaking, animated romp.

Red Dawn

15%

The original Red Dawn may have strained credibility, but at least there was a Communist Bloc to fear in 1984. Critics say a lack of topicality is only one of the problems with this new Red Dawn, which features some decent action sequences but gives a short shrift to character development and general logic. A foreign enemy has invaded a small town in Washington, and a group of teens that includes Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson wage guerilla warfare in order to save their community — and America itself. The pundits say Red Dawn makes precious little sense most of the time, and a solid cast of up-and-comers can do little with its generic dialogue. (Check out our 24 Frames gallery of the stars of Red Dawn.)

Silver Linings Playbook

92%

In the movies, characters fall in love all the time, but critics say they’re rarely as interesting as the folks in Silver Linings Playbook, a sharply written, terrifically acted film about fascinating people in dark situations. Bradley Cooper stars as a down-on-his-luck guy living with his parents after his release from a mental institution. He gets an unexpected boost when he meets a mysterious young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) who seems to offer a solution to his troubles. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Silver Linings Playbook represents another triumph for director David O. Russell, who makes difficult material work splendidly with help from strong performances and witty dialogue.

Also opening this week in limited release: