60 Essential Adventure Movies

The adventure is one of the hardest kinds of movie to define, but like certain other genres: “You know it when you see it.” Adventures are grand, exciting, and often epic tales, usually focused on people on a mission, whose purposes include fame, fortune, and glory. The best adventure movies can run on the thrill of exploration and discovery, treading deep into jungles, stalking across arid deserts, or sailing across open oceans. The casts of characters feature rambunctious pirates, lordly counts, mercenaries and bounty hunters, big whales, and even bigger apes. And adventure movies can invite their other genre buddies along for the ride, too, including fantasy and science-fiction.

Now we’re embarking on our own journey, plundering gem after gem for a guide to what we’re calling the essential adventure movies if you love the genre. Listing these best adventure movies in chronological order, we begin a century in the past, when the adventure genre was defined by the swashbucklers of Captain Blood and The Three Musketeers. At the same time, the fantastical elements introduced in King Kong and Wizard of Oz marked adventure movies as the spot to introduce the latest in dazzling special effects.

After World War II, the adventure genre entered its prestige era, with historical epics like Lawrence of Arabia and The Man Who Would Be King, and tales of derring-do in The African Queen and The Great Escape. Here it should be said there is a certain Western-centric viewpoint that cannot be denied as inherent to many adventure movies, one that ‘others’ different countries and cultures. And hopefully what elevates these movies above that are their swaggering sense of playful optimism and lighthearted fun.

That’s certainly evident in Raiders of the Lost Ark, whose retro serial action and intrigue established the adventure formula for a new generation, which marched on through Indiana Jones’ sequels, Romancing the Stone, National Treasure, and The Mummy. During the same ’80s Indy decade, the adventure genre opened itself back up to sci-fi and fantasy, along with spotlighting younger protagonists, leading to The Goonies, The NeverEnding Story, Labyrinth, and more.

Around the turn of the century, the adventure movie successfully aided the resurrection of other genres that common Hollywood wisdom had deemed box office poison: swashbucklers (The Mask of Zorro), high fantasy (The Lord of the Rings), and even the pirate movie (Pirates of the Caribbean), which had been sent to Davy Jones’ Locker after Cutthroat Island sank Carolco Pictures.

And since 2012’s Life of Pi, there’s been another adventure resurgence with The Jungle Book and more Kong and Jumanji movies.

Now, continue on and discover the 60 best adventure movies to watch now!

#60
#60
Adjusted Score: 101783%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Leaving his country village, D'Artagnan (Douglas Fairbanks) heads to Paris in hopes of becoming a musketeer. Soon after, he meets... [More]
Directed By: Fred Niblo

#59

King Kong (1933)
98%

#59
Adjusted Score: 108185%
Critics Consensus: King Kong explores the soul of a monster -- making audiences scream and cry throughout the film -- in large part due to Kong's breakthrough special effects.
Synopsis: Actress Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) and director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) travel to the Indian Ocean to do location shoots... [More]

#58

Captain Blood (1935)
100%

#58
Adjusted Score: 104115%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In England in the 1600s, Dr. Peter Blood (Errol Flynn) treats the wounds of a man who had been injured... [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

#57
Adjusted Score: 109007%
Critics Consensus: Errol Flynn thrills as the legendary title character, and the film embodies the type of imaginative family adventure tailor-made for the silver screen.
Synopsis: When King Richard the Lionheart is captured, his scheming brother Prince John (Claude Rains) plots to reach the throne, to... [More]

#56

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
98%

#56
Adjusted Score: 115182%
Critics Consensus: An absolute masterpiece whose groundbreaking visuals and deft storytelling are still every bit as resonant, The Wizard of Oz is a must-see film for young and old.
Synopsis: When a tornado rips through Kansas, Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her dog, Toto, are whisked away in their house to... [More]
Directed By: Victor Fleming

#55

Gunga Din (1939)
92%

#55
Adjusted Score: 93957%
Critics Consensus: Funny, suspenseful, and spectacularly entertaining, Gunga Din is an expertly calibrated adventure flick with some unfortunately outdated ideas about race.
Synopsis: British army sergeants Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.), Cutter (Cary Grant) and MacChesney (Victor McLaglen) serve in India during the 1880s,... [More]
Directed By: George Stevens

#54
Adjusted Score: 106494%
Critics Consensus: Remade but never duplicated, this darkly humorous morality tale represents John Huston at his finest.
Synopsis: In this classic adventure film, two rough-and-tumble wanderers, Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Curtin (Tim Holt), meet up with a veteran... [More]
Directed By: John Huston

#53
#53
Adjusted Score: 80432%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Aspiring swordsman D'Artagnan (Gene Kelly) arrives in Paris with hopes of joining the royal guard and falls in love with... [More]
Directed By: George Sidney

#52
#52
Adjusted Score: 101111%
Critics Consensus: Perfectly cast, smartly written, and beautifully filmed, The African Queen remains thrilling, funny, and effortlessly absorbing even after more than half a century's worth of adventure movies borrowing liberally from its creative DNA.
Synopsis: After religious spinster's (Katharine Hepburn) missionary brother is killed in WWI Africa, dissolute steamer captain (Humphrey Bogart) offers her safe... [More]
Directed By: John Huston

#51
Adjusted Score: 91341%
Critics Consensus: One of Disney's finest live-action adventures, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea brings Jules Verne's classic sci-fi tale to vivid life, and features an awesome giant squid.
Synopsis: In 1866, Professor Pierre M. Aronnax (Paul Lukas) and his assistant Conseil (Peter Lorre), stranded in San Francisco by reports... [More]
Directed By: Richard Fleischer

#50

Moby Dick (1956)
83%

#50
Adjusted Score: 83657%
Critics Consensus: It may favor spectacle in place of the deeper themes in Herman Melville's novel, but John Huston's Moby Dick still makes for a grand movie adventure.
Synopsis: Capt. Ahab (Gregory Peck) has a vendetta against Moby Dick, the great white whale responsible for taking his leg. He... [More]
Directed By: John Huston

#49
#49
Adjusted Score: 99746%
Critics Consensus: A feudal adventure told from an eccentric perspective, The Hidden Fortress is among Akira Kurosawa's most purely enjoyable epics.
Synopsis: Japanese peasants Matashichi (Kamatari Fujiwara) and Tahei (Minoru Chiaki) try and fail to make a profit from a tribal war.... [More]
Directed By: Akira Kurosawa

#48
Adjusted Score: 85371%
Critics Consensus: A silly but fun movie with everything you'd want from a sci-fi blockbuster -- heroic characters, menacing villains, monsters, big sets and special effects.
Synopsis: A geologist (James Mason) and his assistant (Pat Boone) set off on an expedition to the center of the earth.... [More]
Directed By: Henry Levin

#47
#47
Adjusted Score: 105717%
Critics Consensus: The epic of all epics, Lawrence of Arabia cements director David Lean's status in the filmmaking pantheon with nearly four hours of grand scope, brilliant performances, and beautiful cinematography.
Synopsis: Due to his knowledge of the native Bedouin tribes, British Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) is sent to Arabia to... [More]
Directed By: David Lean

#46

The Great Escape (1963)
94%

#46
Adjusted Score: 97795%
Critics Consensus: With its impeccably slow-building story and a cast for the ages, The Great Escape is an all-time action classic.
Synopsis: Imprisoned during World War II in a German POW camp, a group of Allied soldiers are intent on breaking out,... [More]
Directed By: John Sturges

#45
#45
Adjusted Score: 50659%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An adaptation of the classic Dumas novel, this film tells the tale of aspiring swordsman D'Artagnan (Michael York), who arrives... [More]
Directed By: Richard Lester

#44
#44
Adjusted Score: 98358%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Based on a short story by Rudyard Kipling, this adventure film follows the exploits of Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine) and... [More]
Directed By: John Huston

#43
#43
Adjusted Score: 102224%
Critics Consensus: Featuring bravura set pieces, sly humor, and white-knuckle action, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most consummately entertaining adventure pictures of all time.
Synopsis: Dr. Indiana Jones, a renowned archeologist and expert in the occult, is hired by the U.S. Government to find the... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#42
Adjusted Score: 89562%
Critics Consensus: It may be too "dark" for some, but Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom remains an ingenious adventure spectacle that showcases one of Hollywood's finest filmmaking teams in vintage form.
Synopsis: The second of the Lucas/Spielberg Indiana Jones epics is set a year or so before the events in Raiders of... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#41
#41
Adjusted Score: 88042%
Critics Consensus: Romancing the Stone reaches back to the classic Saturday morning serials of old with an action-filled adventure enlivened by the sparkling chemistry between its well-matched leads.
Synopsis: A dowdy romantic-adventure writer is hurled into a real-life adventure in the Colombian jungle in order to save her sister,... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#40
#40
Adjusted Score: 82899%
Critics Consensus: A magical journey about the power of a young boy's imagination to save a dying fantasy land, The NeverEnding Story remains a much-loved kids adventure.
Synopsis: On his way to school, Bastian (Barret Oliver) ducks into a bookstore to avoid bullies. Sneaking away with a book... [More]
Directed By: Wolfgang Petersen

#39

The Goonies (1985)
77%

#39
Adjusted Score: 80852%
Critics Consensus: The Goonies is an energetic, sometimes noisy mix of Spielbergian sentiment and funhouse tricks that will appeal to kids and nostalgic adults alike.
Synopsis: When two brothers find out they might lose their house they are desperate to find a way to keep their... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#38

Return to Oz (1985)
54%

#38
Adjusted Score: 56413%
Critics Consensus: Return to Oz taps into the darker side of L. Frank Baum's book series with an intermittently dazzling adventure that never quite recaptures the magic of its classic predecessor.
Synopsis: Dorothy discovers she is back in the land of Oz, and finds the yellow brick road is now a pile... [More]
Directed By: Walter Murch

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 85362%
Critics Consensus: Bolstered by impressive special effects and a charming performance from its young star, Flight of the Navigator holds up as a solidly entertaining bit of family-friendly sci-fi.
Synopsis: This 1978 Disney adventure tells the story of 12-year-old David (Joey Cramer) who lives with his family in Fort Lauderdale,... [More]
Directed By: Randal Kleiser

#36

Labyrinth (1986)
74%

#36
Adjusted Score: 78422%
Critics Consensus: While it's arguably more interesting on a visual level, Labyrinth provides further proof of director Jim Henson's boundless imagination.
Synopsis: Teenage Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) journeys through a maze to recover her baby brother (Toby Froud) from a goblin king (David... [More]
Directed By: Jim Henson

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 103682%
Critics Consensus: A delightfully postmodern fairy tale, The Princess Bride is a deft, intelligent mix of swashbuckling, romance, and comedy that takes an age-old damsel-in-distress story and makes it fresh.
Synopsis: A fairy tale adventure about a beautiful young woman and her one true love. He must find her after a... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#34
Adjusted Score: 93086%
Critics Consensus: Lighter and more comedic than its predecessor, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade returns the series to the brisk serial adventure of Raiders, while adding a dynamite double act between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery.
Synopsis: An art collector appeals to Jones to embark on a search for the Holy Grail. He learns that another archaeologist... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 79396%
Critics Consensus: Even as its special effects take center stage, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids still offers a charming, high-spirited sense of adventure for the whole family.
Synopsis: When kids sneak into inventor Wayne Szalinski's (Rick Moranis) upstairs lab to retrieve an errant baseball, his experimental shrink ray... [More]
Directed By: Joe Johnston

#32
#32
Adjusted Score: 74228%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An adventurer (Jackie Chan) and his friend (Alan Tam) aid a woman (Rosamund Kwan) kidnapped by cultists seeking a set... [More]
Directed By: Jackie Chan

#31

Hook (1991)
29%

#31
Adjusted Score: 32913%
Critics Consensus: The look of Hook is lively indeed but Steven Spielberg directs on autopilot here, giving in too quickly to his sentimental, syrupy qualities.
Synopsis: When his young children are abducted by his old nemesis, Capt. Hook (Dustin Hoffman), middle-aged lawyer Peter Banning (Robin Williams)... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#30

White Fang (1991)
65%

#30
Adjusted Score: 65792%
Critics Consensus: This glossy edition of White Fang shaves off the rough-hewn edges that made Jack London's epic story so distinct, but gorgeous photography and heartfelt performances make this an appealing adventure.
Synopsis: This adaptation of Jack London's wilderness tale focuses on young Jack Conroy (Ethan Hawke), who has arrived in Alaska to... [More]
Directed By: Randal Kleiser

#29
Adjusted Score: 55019%
Critics Consensus: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves brings a wonderfully villainous Alan Rickman to this oft-adapted tale, but he's robbed by big-budget bombast and a muddled screenplay.
Synopsis: Nobleman crusader Robin of Locksley (Kevin Costner) breaks out of a Jerusalem prison with the help of Moorish fellow prisoner... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Reynolds

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 96167%
Critics Consensus: The Last of the Mohicans is a breathless romantic adventure that plays loose with history -- and comes out with a richer action movie for it.
Synopsis: The last members of a dying Native American tribe, the Mohicans -- Uncas (Eric Schweig), his father Chingachgook (Russell Means),... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mann

#27
Adjusted Score: 82247%
Critics Consensus: Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book may not hew as closely to the book as its title suggests, but it still offers an entertaining live-action take on a story best known in animated form.
Synopsis: When his father is killed by a jungle tiger, Mowgli (Jason Scott Lee) is orphaned and grows up in the... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Sommers

#26

Jumanji (1995)
55%

#26
Adjusted Score: 56952%
Critics Consensus: A feast for the eyes with a somewhat malnourished plot, Jumanji is an underachieving adventure that still offers a decent amount of fun for the whole family.
Synopsis: A magical board game unleashes a world of adventure on siblings Peter (Bradley Pierce) and Judy Shepherd (Kirsten Dunst). While... [More]
Directed By: Joe Johnston

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 85851%
Critics Consensus: Banderas returns as an aging Zorro in this surprisingly nimble, entertaining swashbuckler.
Synopsis: After being imprisoned for 20 years, Zorro -- Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins) -- receives word that his... [More]
Directed By: Martin Campbell

#24

The Mummy (1999)
61%

#24
Adjusted Score: 65195%
Critics Consensus: It's difficult to make a persuasive argument for The Mummy as any kind of meaningful cinematic achievement, but it's undeniably fun to watch.
Synopsis: The Mummy is a rousing, suspenseful and horrifying epic about an expedition of treasure-seeking explorers in the Sahara Desert in... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Sommers

#23
Adjusted Score: 100587%
Critics Consensus: Full of eye-popping special effects, and featuring a pitch-perfect cast, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring brings J.R.R. Tolkien's classic to vivid life.
Synopsis: The future of civilization rests in the fate of the One Ring, which has been lost for centuries. Powerful forces... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 26309%
Critics Consensus: Angelina Jolie is perfect for the role of Lara Croft, but even she can't save the movie from a senseless plot and action sequences with no emotional impact.
Synopsis: This live action feature is inspired by the most successful interactive video-game character in history -- Lara Croft. Beautiful and... [More]
Directed By: Simon West

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 77422%
Critics Consensus: Though it may not reach for any new artistic heights, The Count of Monte Cristo is an old-fashioned yet enjoyable swashbuckler.
Synopsis: The classic story of an innocent man wrongly, but deliberately imprisoned and his brilliant strategy for revenge against those who... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Reynolds

#20
Adjusted Score: 86718%
Critics Consensus: May leave you exhausted like the theme park ride that inspired it; however, you'll have a good time when it's over.
Synopsis: Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) arrives at Port Royal in the Caribbean without a ship or crew. His timing is... [More]
Directed By: Gore Verbinski

#19
Adjusted Score: 91600%
Critics Consensus: Russell Crowe's rough charm is put to good use in this masterful adaptation of Patrick O'Brian's novel.
Synopsis: In 1805, aboard the H.M.S. Surprise, the brash Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) and his trusted friend, the ship's scholarly... [More]
Directed By: Peter Weir

#18

Big Fish (2003)
76%

#18
Adjusted Score: 82679%
Critics Consensus: A charming father-and-son tale filled with typical Tim Burton flourishes, Big Fish is an impressive catch.
Synopsis: When Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) becomes ill, his son, William (Billy Crudup), travels to be with him. William has a... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 51400%
Critics Consensus: National Treasure is no treasure, but it's a fun ride for those who can forgive its highly improbable plot.
Synopsis: Historian and code-breaker Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) has been searching his whole life for a rumored treasure dating back to... [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

#16

King Kong (2005)
84%

#16
Adjusted Score: 93928%
Critics Consensus: Featuring state-of-the-art special effects, terrific performances, and a majestic sense of spectacle, Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong is a potent epic that's faithful to the spirit of the 1933 original.
Synopsis: Peter Jackson's expansive remake of the 1933 classic follows director Carl Denham (Jack Black) and his crew on a journey... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#15

Zathura (2005)
76%

#15
Adjusted Score: 81193%
Critics Consensus: Dazzling special effects for the kids + well-crafted storytelling for the 'rents = cinematic satisfaction for the whole family.
Synopsis: After their father (Tim Robbins) is called into work, two young boys, Walter (Josh Hutcherson) and Danny (Jonah Bobo), are... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

#14

Duma (2005)
93%

#14
Adjusted Score: 94725%
Critics Consensus: This is an old-fashioned, richly textured family film that will appeal to children and adults alike.
Synopsis: Xan (Alexander Michaletos) lives on a ranch in Kenya with his mother (Hope Davis) and father (Campbell Scott). When the... [More]
Directed By: Carroll Ballard

#13

Stardust (2007)
77%

#13
Adjusted Score: 84384%
Critics Consensus: A faithful interpretation that captures the spirit of whimsy, action, and off-kilter humor of Neil Gaiman, Stardust juggles multiple genres and tones to create a fantastical experience.
Synopsis: To win the heart of his beloved (Sienna Miller), a young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox) ventures into the realm... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

#12
Adjusted Score: 66219%
Critics Consensus: Modern visuals and an old fasioned storyline make this family adventure/comedy a fast-paced, kitschy ride.
Synopsis: During an expedition to Iceland, professor Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser), his nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) and their guide, Hannah (Anita... [More]
Directed By: Eric Brevig

#11

Nim's Island (2008)
52%

#11
Adjusted Score: 54751%
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]

#10

City of Ember (2008)
54%

#10
Adjusted Score: 57827%
Critics Consensus: City of Ember is visually arresting, and boasts a superb cast, but is sadly lacking in both action and adventure.
Synopsis: For generations a massive generator has sustained the needs of the underground city of Ember. But the generator was built... [More]
Directed By: Gil Kenan

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 61844%
Critics Consensus: Tim Burton's Alice sacrifices the book's minimal narrative coherence -- and much of its heart -- but it's an undeniable visual treat.
Synopsis: A young girl when she first visited magical Underland, Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) is now a teenager with no memory... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#8

Life of Pi (2012)
86%

#8
Adjusted Score: 96903%
Critics Consensus: A 3D adaptation of a supposedly "unfilmable" book, Ang Lee's Life of Pi achieves the near impossible -- it's an astonishing technical achievement that's also emotionally rewarding.
Synopsis: After deciding to sell their zoo in India and move to Canada, Santosh and Gita Patel board a freighter with... [More]
Directed By: Ang Lee

#7

The Jungle Book (2016)
94%

#7
Adjusted Score: 114751%
Critics Consensus: As lovely to behold as it is engrossing to watch, The Jungle Book is the rare remake that actually improves upon its predecessors -- all while setting a new standard for CGI.
Synopsis: Raised by a family of wolves since birth, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) must leave the only home he's ever known when... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 104571%
Critics Consensus: Offering exhilarating eye candy, solid acting, and a fast-paced story, Kong: Skull Island earns its spot in the movie monster's mythos without ever matching up to the classic original.
Synopsis: Scientists, soldiers and adventurers unite to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean. Cut off from everything they... [More]
Directed By: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

#5
Adjusted Score: 93704%
Critics Consensus: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle uses a charming cast and a humorous twist to offer an undemanding yet solidly entertaining update on its source material.
Synopsis: Four high school kids discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game's jungle setting, literally becoming... [More]
Directed By: Jake Kasdan

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 103408%
Critics Consensus: The Lost City of Z's stately pace and visual grandeur hearken back to classic exploration epics, and Charlie Hunnam turns in a masterful performance as its complex protagonist.
Synopsis: At the dawn of the 20th century, British explorer Percy Fawcett journeys into the Amazon, where he discovers evidence of... [More]
Directed By: James Gray

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 63038%
Critics Consensus: A Wrinkle in Time is visually gorgeous, big-hearted, and occasionally quite moving; unfortunately, it's also wildly ambitious to a fault, and often less than the sum of its classic parts.
Synopsis: Meg Murry and her little brother, Charles Wallace, have been without their scientist father, Mr. Murry, for five years, ever... [More]
Directed By: Ava DuVernay

#2
Adjusted Score: 93176%
Critics Consensus: Led by a winning performance from Isabela Moner, Dora and the Lost City of Gold is a family-friendly adventure that retains its source material's youthful spirit.
Synopsis: Having spent most of her life exploring the jungle, nothing could prepare Dora for her most dangerous adventure yet --... [More]
Directed By: James Bobin

#1
Adjusted Score: 100542%
Critics Consensus: The Kid Who Would Be King recalls classic all-ages adventures -- and repurposes a timeless legend -- for a thoroughly enjoyable new addition to the family movie canon.
Synopsis: Old-school magic meets the modern world when young Alex stumbles upon the mythical sword Excalibur. He soon unites his friends... [More]
Directed By: Joe Cornish

(Photo by Open Roadt/courtesy Everett Collection)

All Liam Neeson Movies Ranked by Tomatometer

After a major film debut with 1981’s Excalibur, Liam Neeson spent the rest of that swingin’ decade slowly climbing the acting ladder. (See him randomly in Krull, The MissionThe Dead Pool, and more, for example.) But after holding his own opposite Patrick Swayze in 1989’s Next of Kin, Neeson was at last upgraded to star for Sam Raimi’s dark superhero movie Darkman…where he spends most of the movie disfigured and fully covered in bandages. Still, Darkman was a financial success, especially for an original superhero IP in this era, and Neeson carried on with lending his baritone gravitas in dramas like the Certified Fresh Husbands and Wives.

In 1994, Neeson nabbed his only Oscar acting nomination with the monumental Schindler’s List, which would go on to win Best Picture for producer Steven Spielberg, who of course also got Best Director. Neeson took on another significant title historical role a few years later with Michael Collins, before entering the pop cultural fray as the decidedly unhistorical (though we suppose it depends on who you ask) Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace. And after that, just into the 21st century, Neeson appeared in Gangs of New York, Kingdom of Heaven, and Batman Begins. A resume that includes working with Raimi, Spielberg, Allen, Lucas, Scorsese, Scott, and Nolan? Sounds like that’d be a career peak for most…

And yet 2008’s Taken was still to come, which would transform Neeson into the go-to mid-budget action guy, create a cottage industry of similar flicks to follow in its wake. Some were pretty good (Cold Pursuit, A Walk Among The Tombstones), others came out decent (The Commuter, Non-Stop), a few were god-awful (Taken 2, Taken 3), and some were one was amazing (The Grey).

We also recently saw Neeson’s softer side resurface with Ordinary Love, his first romantic film since 2003’s Love Actually and one of the best-reviewed films of his career, proving he remains as versatile as ever. To celebrate his birthday, we take a look back on all Liam Neeson movies ranked by Tomatometer!

#72

The Nut Job (2014)
12%

#72
Adjusted Score: 15558%
Critics Consensus: Hampered by an unlikable central character and source material stretched too thin to cover its brief running time, The Nut Job will provoke an allergic reaction in all but the least demanding moviegoers.
Synopsis: After he accidentally destroys the winter food supply of his fellow Liberty Park residents, Surly (Will Arnett), a squirrel, is... [More]
Directed By: Peter Lepeniotis

#71

Taken 3 (2014)
13%

#71
Adjusted Score: 17462%
Critics Consensus: Hampered by toothless PG-13 action sequences, incoherent direction, and a hackneyed plot, Taken 3 serves as a clear signal that it's well past time to retire this franchise.
Synopsis: Ex-covert operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) and his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), are enjoying a reconciliation when Lenore is brutally... [More]
Directed By: Olivier Megaton

#70

The Other Man (2008)
15%

#70
Adjusted Score: 15749%
Critics Consensus: Despite the best efforts of a talented cast, The Other Man is talky, witless, and tension-free.
Synopsis: When his shoe-designer wife, Lisa (Laura Linney), disappears while on one of her frequent business trips, computer executive Peter (Liam... [More]
Directed By: Richard Eyre

#69

The Haunting (1999)
17%

#69
Adjusted Score: 20198%
Critics Consensus: Sophisticated visual effects fail to offset awkward performances and an uneven script.
Synopsis: This horror tale focuses on visitors to the secluded mansion of Hill House who have been called to the isolated... [More]
Directed By: Jan de Bont

#68
#68
Adjusted Score: 3927%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Scottish miner Danny Scoular (Liam Neeson) loses his job, and, when his past as a political activist prevents him from... [More]
Directed By: David Leland

#67

Taken 2 (2012)
22%

#67
Adjusted Score: 29092%
Critics Consensus: Taken 2 is largely bereft of the kinetic thrills -- and surprises -- that made the original a hit.
Synopsis: Two years ago, retired CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) used his "particular set of skills" to rescue his daughter,... [More]
Directed By: Olivier Megaton

#66
Adjusted Score: 42856%
Critics Consensus: Amiable yet forgettable, MiB International grinds its stars' substantial chemistry through the gears of a franchise running low on reasons to continue.
Synopsis: The Men in Black have expanded to cover the globe but so have the villains of the universe. To keep... [More]
Directed By: F. Gary Gray

#65

Under Suspicion (1991)
25%

#65
Adjusted Score: 8860%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In the late 1950s, British police officer Tony Aaron (Liam Neeson) resigns from the force after sleeping with Hazel (Maggie... [More]
Directed By: Simon Moore

#64

After.Life (2009)
25%

#64
Adjusted Score: 26380%
Critics Consensus: It has an interesting premise and admirable ambitions, but After.Life fails to deliver enough twists or thrills to sustain its creepy atmosphere.
Synopsis: Following a terrible car crash, a woman (Christina Ricci) awakes to find an enigmatic mortician (Liam Neeson) preparing her for... [More]

#63

Third Person (2013)
25%

#63
Adjusted Score: 29028%
Critics Consensus: Third Person finds writer-director Paul Haggis working with a stellar cast and a worthy premise; unfortunately, he fails to fashion a consistently compelling movie out of the intriguing ingredients at his disposal.
Synopsis: An acclaimed novelist (Liam Neeson) struggles to write an analysis of love in one of three stories, each set in... [More]
Directed By: Paul Haggis

#62

Gun Shy (2000)
26%

#62
Adjusted Score: 25906%
Critics Consensus: A dark comedy of the low brow nature -- filled with fart and gay jokes. Even Liam Neeson and Sandra Bullock cannot save this failure.
Synopsis: Legendary undercover DEA agent Charlie Mayough (Liam Neeson) has suddenly lost his nerves of steel. On the verge of a... [More]
Directed By: Eric Blakeney

#61
#61
Adjusted Score: 33186%
Critics Consensus: Its 3D effects are an improvement over its predecessor's, but in nearly every other respect, Wrath of the Titans fails to improve upon the stilted acting, wooden dialogue, and chaos-driven plot of the franchise's first installment.
Synopsis: Ten years after defeating the Kraken, Perseus (Sam Worthington) is living a quieter life as a fisherman and sole parent... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Liebesman

#60
#60
Adjusted Score: 37306%
Critics Consensus: An obviously affectionate remake of the 1981 original, Louis Leterrier's Clash of the Titans doesn't offer enough visual thrills to offset the deficiencies of its script.
Synopsis: Perseus (Sam Worthington), the son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), is caught in a war between gods and is helpless to... [More]
Directed By: Louis Leterrier

#59

High Spirits (1988)
27%

#59
Adjusted Score: 26344%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Irish hotelier Peter Plunkett (Peter O'Toole) attempts to fill the chronic vacancies at his castle by launching an advertising campaign... [More]
Directed By: Neil Jordan

#58

Before and After (1996)
32%

#58
Adjusted Score: 31361%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The lives of Carolyn Ryan (Meryl Streep), a small-town doctor, and her artist husband, Ben (Liam Neeson), are shaken up... [More]
Directed By: Barbet Schroeder

#57

Krull (1983)
32%

#57
Adjusted Score: 32330%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: On the planet of Krull, an evil creature called the Beast decimates the world's army and kidnaps the lovely Princess... [More]
Directed By: Peter Yates

#56
Adjusted Score: 41962%
Critics Consensus: While it offers a few laughs and boasts a talented cast, Seth MacFarlane's overlong, aimless A Million Ways to Die in the West is a disappointingly scattershot affair.
Synopsis: Mild-mannered sheep farmer Albert Stark (Seth MacFarlane) feels certain that the Western frontier is trying to kill him, then he... [More]
Directed By: Seth MacFarlane

#55

Battleship (2012)
34%

#55
Adjusted Score: 42586%
Critics Consensus: It may offer energetic escapism for less demanding filmgoers, but Battleship is too loud, poorly written, and formulaic to justify its expense -- and a lot less fun than its source material.
Synopsis: Lt. Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is a weapons officer aboard the destroyer USS John Paul Jones, while his older brother,... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg

#54
Adjusted Score: 41389%
Critics Consensus: Mark Felt may dramatize the man behind Deep Throat, but its stodgy treatment of history offers little insight into the famous whistleblower.
Synopsis: Lifelong G-Man Mark Felt, aka "Deep Throat," leaks information to the press that helps to uncover the Watergate scandal of... [More]
Directed By: Peter Landesman

#53

The Marksman (2021)
39%

#53
Adjusted Score: 44154%
Critics Consensus: The Marksman benefits from having Liam Neeson in the lead, but this formulaic action thriller should have aimed higher.
Synopsis: Hardened Arizona rancher Jim Hanson (Liam Neeson) simply wants to be left alone as he fends off eviction notices and... [More]
Directed By: Robert Lorenz

#52

Honest Thief (2020)
40%

#52
Adjusted Score: 45863%
Critics Consensus: Guilty of first-degree squandering, Honest Thief returns Liam Neeson to late-period action thriller mode but neglects to supply much of a story.
Synopsis: Hoping to cut a deal, a professional bank robber agrees to return all the money he stole in exchange for... [More]
Directed By: Mark Williams

#51
#51
Adjusted Score: 46533%
Critics Consensus: Although it's an objective and handsomely presented take on the Crusades, Kingdom of Heaven lacks depth.
Synopsis: Still in grief over his wife's sudden death, village blacksmith Balian (Orlando Bloom) joins his long-estranged father, Baron Godfrey (Liam... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#50
#50
Adjusted Score: 40572%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Gen. Douglas MacArthur (Liam Neeson) conducts a covert operation behind enemy lines to infiltrate North Korean headquarters.... [More]
Directed By: John H. Lee

#49

Khumba (2013)
44%

#49
Adjusted Score: 37218%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After his herd rejects him for having only half his stripes, a young zebra (Jake T. Austin) sets out on... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Silverston

#48

Shining Through (1992)
41%

#48
Adjusted Score: 31139%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Spirited New Yorker Linda Voss (Melanie Griffith) goes to work for international lawyer and secret Office of Strategic Services operative... [More]
Directed By: David Seltzer

#47

Made in Italy (2020)
45%

#47
Adjusted Score: 50085%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A London artist and his estranged son try to mend their relationship as they work together to repair a dilapidated... [More]
Directed By: James D'Arcy

#46

The A-Team (2010)
49%

#46
Adjusted Score: 56223%
Critics Consensus: The A-Team assembles a top-rate cast only to ditch the show's appealingly silly premise for explosive yet muddled blockbuster filmmaking.
Synopsis: A man who loves when a plan comes together, Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson) leads a close-knit team of elite operatives.... [More]
Directed By: Joe Carnahan

#45

The Good Mother (1988)
50%

#45
Adjusted Score: 50076%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A Boston woman's (Diane Keaton) ex-husband sues for custody of their daughter after an incident over her live-in lover (Liam... [More]
Directed By: Leonard Nimoy

#44
Adjusted Score: 56098%
Critics Consensus: Its leisurely, businesslike pace won't win the franchise many new fans, but Voyage of the Dawn Treader restores some of the Narnia franchise's lost luster with strong performances and impressive special effects.
Synopsis: Visiting their annoying cousin, Eustace, Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund Pevensie (Skandar Keynes) come across a painting of a majestic... [More]
Directed By: Michael Apted

#43
#43
Adjusted Score: 56183%
Critics Consensus: Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks give it their all, but their solid performances aren't quite enough to compensate for The Next Three Days' uneven pace and implausible plot.
Synopsis: Life for John and Lara Brennan (Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks) is miserable after she is convicted of a murder she... [More]
Directed By: Paul Haggis

#42

Chloe (2009)
51%

#42
Adjusted Score: 55928%
Critics Consensus: Despite its promising pedigree and a titillating premise, Chloe ultimately fails to deliver the heat -- or the thrills -- expected of a sexual thriller.
Synopsis: Catherine and David Stewart (Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson) are a well-to-do couple living in a posh area of Toronto, but... [More]
Directed By: Atom Egoyan

#41
Adjusted Score: 62032%
Critics Consensus: Burdened by exposition and populated with stock characters, The Phantom Menace gets the Star Wars prequels off to a bumpy -- albeit visually dazzling -- start.
Synopsis: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is a young apprentice Jedi knight under the tutelage of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) ; Anakin... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#40

Ethan Frome (1993)
50%

#40
Adjusted Score: 50163%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A farmer (Liam Neeson) with an invalid wife (Joan Allen) falls in love with her cousin (Patricia Arquette) in snowy... [More]
Directed By: John Madden

#39

Nell (1994)
55%

#39
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

#38

Seraphim Falls (2006)
55%

#38
Adjusted Score: 58080%
Critics Consensus: A brutal, slow-moving drama that unfolds among some great-looking scenery.
Synopsis: Gideon (Pierce Brosnan), a former Union officer, finds himself the prey of a manhunt led by Carver (Liam Neeson), Gideon's... [More]
Directed By: David Von Ancken

#37

Unknown (2011)
55%

#37
Adjusted Score: 61875%
Critics Consensus: Liam Neeson elevates the proceedings considerably, but Unknown is ultimately too derivative -- and implausible -- to take advantage of its intriguing premise.
Synopsis: After a serious car accident in Berlin, Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) awakes to find his world in utter chaos.... [More]
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra

#36

The Commuter (2018)
55%

#36
Adjusted Score: 67878%
Critics Consensus: The Commuter's cast is better than its workmanlike script - which helps make this reasonably diverting Liam Neeson action thriller worth the price of a matinee ticket or rental, if not a full-price ticket.
Synopsis: Insurance salesman Michael is on his daily commute home, which quickly becomes anything but routine. After being contacted by a... [More]
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra

#35

The Dead Pool (1988)
55%

#35
Adjusted Score: 55954%
Critics Consensus: While it offers its fair share of violent thrills and tough wit, The Dead Pool ends the Dirty Harry series on an uninspired note.
Synopsis: In the fifth installment of the Dirty Harry series, gritty cop Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) is fresh off the conviction... [More]
Directed By: Buddy Van Horn

#34

Next of Kin (1989)
56%

#34
Adjusted Score: 48032%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When their brother Gerald (Bill Paxton) is murdered by a Chicago mobster (Adam Baldwin), Truman (Patrick Swayze) and Briar Gates... [More]
Directed By: John Irvin

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 61450%
Critics Consensus: Well-acted if monotonous drama about a transvestite prostitute in London during the 1970s.
Synopsis: As a baby, Patrick (Cillian Murphy) is left by his mother on the steps of the rectory in their small... [More]
Directed By: Neil Jordan

#32

Taken (2008)
59%

#32
Adjusted Score: 65056%
Critics Consensus: Taken is undeniably fun with slick action, but is largely a brainless exercise.
Synopsis: Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), a former government operative, is trying to reconnect with his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). Then his... [More]
Directed By: Pierre Morel

#31

Run All Night (2015)
59%

#31
Adjusted Score: 66327%
Critics Consensus: Liam Neeson is in typically fine form, but Run All Night suffers from a convoluted plot and workmanlike execution.
Synopsis: Longtime hit man Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson), best friend of mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), has seen better days.... [More]
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 65449%
Critics Consensus: A gripping drama even though the filmmakers have taken liberties with the facts.
Synopsis: Follows Captain Alexi Vostrikov (Harrison Ford) who, at the height of the Cold War, is ordered to take over command... [More]
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow

#29

Leap of Faith (1992)
64%

#29
Adjusted Score: 64132%
Critics Consensus: Steve Martin's layered performance transcends the somewhat undercooked narrative of Leap of Faith.
Synopsis: Touring Christian evangelist Jonas Nightengale (Steve Martin) and his cohorts tend to put on their bogus faith-healing revivals in major... [More]
Directed By: Richard Pearce

#28

The Mission (1986)
67%

#28
Adjusted Score: 67929%
Critics Consensus: The Mission is a well-meaning epic given delicate heft by its sumptuous visuals and a standout score by Ennio Morricone, but its staid presentation never stirs an emotional investment in its characters.
Synopsis: Jesuit priest Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons) enters the Guarani lands in South America with the purpose of converting the natives... [More]
Directed By: Roland Joffé

#27

Love Actually (2003)
64%

#27
Adjusted Score: 71836%
Critics Consensus: A sugary tale overstuffed with too many stories. Still, the cast charms.
Synopsis: Nine intertwined stories examine the complexities of the one emotion that connects us all: love. Among the characters explored are... [More]
Directed By: Richard Curtis

#26
Adjusted Score: 68852%
Critics Consensus: Kahlil Gibran's the Prophet is a thrillingly lovely adaptation of the classic text, albeit one that doesn't quite capture the magic of its source material.
Synopsis: A dissident being kept under house arrest recounts valuable lessons in a series of vignettes while a mischievous young woman... [More]
Directed By: Roger Allers

#25
Adjusted Score: 73674%
Critics Consensus: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is an entertaining family adventure worthy of the standard set by its predecessor.
Synopsis: One year after their previous adventure, the Pevensie children (Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell) return to the... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Adamson

#24

Suspect (1987)
67%

#24
Adjusted Score: 66731%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Carl Anderson (Liam Neeson), a deaf, mute and homeless war veteran, is arrested for the murder of a prominent judge's... [More]
Directed By: Peter Yates

#23
Adjusted Score: 73754%
Critics Consensus: A Walk Among the Tombstones doesn't entirely transcend its genre clichés, but it does offer Liam Neeson one of his more compelling roles in recent memory, and that's often enough.
Synopsis: Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson), formerly part of the NYPD, now works as an unlicensed private detective. His latest client is... [More]
Directed By: Scott Frank

#22

Cold Pursuit (2019)
68%

#22
Adjusted Score: 79213%
Critics Consensus: Cold Pursuit delivers the action audiences expect from a Liam Neeson thriller -- along with humor and a sophisticated streak that make this an uncommonly effective remake.
Synopsis: Nels Coxman's quiet life as a snowplow driver comes crashing down when his beloved son dies under mysterious circumstances. His... [More]
Directed By: Hans Petter Moland

#21

Rob Roy (1995)
73%

#21
Adjusted Score: 74418%
Critics Consensus: Rob Roy is an old-fashioned swashbuckler that benefits greatly from fine performances by Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange, and Tim Roth.
Synopsis: In 18th century Scotland, Robert Roy MacGregor (Liam Neeson) is the head of a proud Highlands clan that herds cattle.... [More]
Directed By: Michael Caton-Jones

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 79190%
Critics Consensus: Though flawed, the sprawling, messy Gangs of New York is redeemed by impressive production design and Day-Lewis's electrifying performance.
Synopsis: Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a young Irish immigrant released from prison. He returns to the Five Points seeking revenge... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#19

The Bounty (1984)
74%

#19
Adjusted Score: 73808%
Critics Consensus: Thanks in large part to its cast, and Anthony Hopkins in particular, The Bounty's retelling of the mutiny on the HMS Bounty is an intelligent, engaging adventure saga.
Synopsis: Captain Bligh (Anthony Hopkins) struggles to restore discipline among the crew of the HMS Bounty after the ship has an... [More]
Directed By: Roger Donaldson

#18

Les Miserables (1998)
75%

#18
Adjusted Score: 76846%
Critics Consensus: This intelligent, handsomely crafted adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel condenses the story's developments without blunting its emotional impact.
Synopsis: After serving a lengthy prison sentence, Jean Valjean (Liam Neeson) turns his life around after an act of kindness opens... [More]
Directed By: Bille August

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 75999%
Critics Consensus: Oliver Hirschbiegel's dramatic take on "The Troubles" is an actor's showcase -- and Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt are more than up to the challenge.
Synopsis: In 1970s Northern Ireland, young Joe Griffin watches in horror as the teenage leader of a UVF cell shoots Joe's... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Hirschbiegel

#16
Adjusted Score: 83784%
Critics Consensus: With first-rate special effects and compelling storytelling, this adaptation stays faithful to its source material and will please moviegoers of all ages.
Synopsis: During the World War II bombings of London, four English siblings are sent to a country house where they will... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Adamson

#15

Michael Collins (1996)
78%

#15
Adjusted Score: 79508%
Critics Consensus: As impressively ambitious as it is satisfyingly impactful, Michael Collins honors its subject's remarkable achievements with a magnetic performance from Liam Neeson in the title role.
Synopsis: In the early 20th century, Michael Collins (Liam Neeson) leads the Irish Republican Army with the help of his friends... [More]
Directed By: Neil Jordan

#14

The Grey (2012)
79%

#14
Adjusted Score: 86833%
Critics Consensus: The Grey is an exciting tale of survival, populated with fleshed-out characters and a surprising philosophical agenda.
Synopsis: Following a grueling five-week shift at an Alaskan oil refinery, workers led by sharpshooter John Ottway (Liam Neeson) are flying... [More]
Directed By: Joe Carnahan

#13

Excalibur (1981)
74%

#13
Adjusted Score: 80415%
Critics Consensus: John Boorman's operatic, opulent take on the legend of King Arthur is visually remarkable, and features strong performances from an all-star lineup of British thespians.
Synopsis: The magical sword of Excalibur starts off in the hands of British lord Uther Pendragon (Gabriel Byrne) and then, years... [More]
Directed By: John Boorman

#12

Silence (2016)
83%

#12
Adjusted Score: 103532%
Critics Consensus: Silence ends Martin Scorsese's decades-long creative quest with a thoughtful, emotionally resonant look at spirituality and human nature that stands among the director's finest works.
Synopsis: Two 17th-century Portuguese missionaries, Father Sebastian Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver), embark on a perilous journey... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#11

Darkman (1990)
83%

#11
Adjusted Score: 87222%
Critics Consensus: Gruesome and deliciously broad, Sam Raimi's Darkman bears the haunted soulfulness of gothic tragedy while packing the stylistic verve of onomatopoeia springing off a comic strip page.
Synopsis: When thugs employed by a crime boss lead a vicious assault on Dr. Peyton Wilder (Liam Neeson), leaving him literally... [More]
Directed By: Sam Raimi

#10

Batman Begins (2005)
84%

#10
Adjusted Score: 95911%
Critics Consensus: Brooding and dark, but also exciting and smart, Batman Begins is a film that understands the essence of one of the definitive superheroes.
Synopsis: A young Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) travels to the Far East, where he's trained in the martial arts by Henri... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#9

A Monster Calls (2016)
86%

#9
Adjusted Score: 105983%
Critics Consensus: A Monster Calls deftly balances dark themes and fantastical elements to deliver an engrossing and uncommonly moving entry in the crowded coming-of-age genre.
Synopsis: Conor (Lewis MacDougall) is dealing with far more than other boys his age. His beloved and devoted mother (Felicity Jones)... [More]
Directed By: J.A. Bayona

#8
Adjusted Score: 103037%
Critics Consensus: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs avoids anthology pitfalls with a consistent collection tied together by the Coen brothers' signature blend of dark drama and black humor.
Synopsis: An anthology of six short films that take place in 19th-century post-Civil War era during the settling of the Old... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

#7

Kinsey (2004)
90%

#7
Adjusted Score: 96185%
Critics Consensus: A biopic of the sex researcher is hailed as adventurous, clever, and subversive, with fine performances by Liam Neeson and Laura Linney.
Synopsis: Biology professor Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson) has a perfectly respectable life teaching and doing research at Indiana University along with... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#6

Widows (2018)
91%

#6
Adjusted Score: 116985%
Critics Consensus: Widows rounds up a stellar ensemble for a heist thriller that mixes popcorn entertainment with a message - and marks another artistic leap for director Steve McQueen.
Synopsis: A police shootout leaves four thieves dead during an explosive armed robbery attempt in Chicago. Their widows -- Veronica, Linda,... [More]
Directed By: Steve McQueen

#5

Ponyo (2008)
91%

#5
Adjusted Score: 96826%
Critics Consensus: While not Miyazaki's best film, Ponyo is a visually stunning fairy tale that's a sweetly poetic treat for children of all ages.
Synopsis: During a forbidden excursion to see the surface world, a goldfish princess encounters a human boy named Sosuke, who gives... [More]
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki

#4

Ordinary Love (2019)
93%

#4
Adjusted Score: 100529%
Critics Consensus: Led by strong performances from Lesley Manville and Liam Neeson, Ordinary Love wrings heartrending drama out of one couple's medical travails.
Synopsis: Joan and Tom have been married for many years. An everyday couple with a remarkable love, there is an ease... [More]

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 96168%
Critics Consensus: Husbands and Wives is a blistering, emotionally raw snapshot of two marriages self-destructing.
Synopsis: Gabe (Woody Allen) and his wife, Judy (Mia Farrow), are shocked to discover that their best friends, Sally (Judy Davis)... [More]
Directed By: Woody Allen

#2

The LEGO Movie (2014)
96%

#2
Adjusted Score: 105889%
Critics Consensus: Boasting beautiful animation, a charming voice cast, laugh-a-minute gags, and a surprisingly thoughtful story, The Lego Movie is colorful fun for all ages.
Synopsis: Emmet (Chris Pratt), an ordinary LEGO figurine who always follows the rules, is mistakenly identified as the Special -- an... [More]

#1

Schindler's List (1993)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 108406%
Critics Consensus: Schindler's List blends the abject horror of the Holocaust with Steven Spielberg's signature tender humanism to create the director's dramatic masterpiece.
Synopsis: Businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) arrives in Krakow in 1939, ready to make his fortune from World War II, which... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

Moonrise Kingdom

(Photo by © Focus Features)

105 Great Movies to Watch Alone

For some, staying home right now can mean curling up with a loved one on the couch for a date-night flick or gathering the whole family together for movie night. For many others, it can mean flying solo – long days and nights of streaming by yourself. We’re here to help with some movie suggestions we think are tailor-made for that latter experience.

Just like going to the movie theater alone can be a singularly joyous “treat yo self” excursion, solo home-viewing can be a great experience too – if you choose the right film. There are movies out there that actually benefit from being watched alone: It might be that they require a level of concentration and focus that distracting friends and loved ones just won’t allow you, or that the maximum scare factor is best felt when you are completely isolated – just like the babysitter being stalked on screen. It might just be that the movie has the kind of awkward/titillating sexy bits that make watching it with a first date – or, let’s say, mom – not exactly ideal. Watch it alone – no judgment, no nervous giggles.

To help those solo-fliers get through the next little while, the RT team pulled together a list of movies perfect for watching alone for all of those reasons – and a bunch that are just guaranteed to put you in an awesome mood the moment they start. Which might be the best reason of all.

What’s your favorite movie to watch by yourself? Let us know in the comments.
Click on each movie’s title to find out more, including where to stream, rent, or buy.  


BECAUSE THE MOVIE REQUIRES YOUR ABSOLUTE CONCENTRATION…

#13

Memento (2000)
93%

#13
Adjusted Score: 100064%
Critics Consensus: Christopher Nolan skillfully guides the audience through Memento's fractured narrative, seeping his film in existential dread.
Synopsis: Leonard (Guy Pearce) is tracking down the man who raped and murdered his wife. The difficulty, however, of locating his... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 75873%
Critics Consensus: Charlie Kaufman's ambitious directorial debut occasionally strains to connect, but ultimately provides fascinating insight into a writer's mind.
Synopsis: Life is looking pretty bleak for theater director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman). His wife and daughter have left him,... [More]
Directed By: Charlie Kaufman

#11

The Irishman (2019)
95%

#11
Adjusted Score: 123942%
Critics Consensus: An epic gangster drama that earns its extended runtime, The Irishman finds Martin Scorsese revisiting familiar themes to poignant, funny, and profound effect.
Synopsis: In the 1950s, truck driver Frank Sheeran gets involved with Russell Bufalino and his Pennsylvania crime family. As Sheeran climbs... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#10
Adjusted Score: 101335%
Critics Consensus: Propelled by Charlie Kaufman's smart, imaginative script and Michel Gondry's equally daring directorial touch, Eternal Sunshine is a twisty yet heartfelt look at relationships and heartache.
Synopsis: After a painful breakup, Clementine (Kate Winslet) undergoes a procedure to erase memories of her former boyfriend Joel (Jim Carrey)... [More]
Directed By: Michel Gondry

#9

Annihilation (2018)
88%

#9
Adjusted Score: 108009%
Critics Consensus: Annihilation backs up its sci-fi visual wonders and visceral genre thrills with an impressively ambitious -- and surprisingly strange -- exploration of challenging themes that should leave audiences pondering long after the end credits roll.
Synopsis: Lena, a biologist and former soldier, joins a mission to uncover what happened to her husband inside Area X --... [More]
Directed By: Alex Garland

#8

Magnolia (1999)
83%

#8
Adjusted Score: 89661%
Critics Consensus: Magnolia is an ambitious, lengthy work that ultimately succeeds due to interesting stories and excellent ensemble performances.
Synopsis: On one random day in the San Fernando Valley, a dying father, a young wife, a male caretaker, a famous... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#7

12 Monkeys (1995)
89%

#7
Adjusted Score: 93670%
Critics Consensus: The plot's a bit of a jumble, but excellent performances and mind-blowing plot twists make 12 Monkeys a kooky, effective experience.
Synopsis: Traveling back in time isn't simple, as James Cole (Bruce Willis) learns the hard way. Imprisoned in the 2030s, James... [More]
Directed By: Terry Gilliam

#6

Zodiac (2007)
89%

#6
Adjusted Score: 100385%
Critics Consensus: A quiet, dialogue-driven thriller that delivers with scene after scene of gut-wrenching anxiety. David Fincher also spends more time illustrating nuances of his characters and recreating the mood of the '70s than he does on gory details of murder.
Synopsis: In the late 1960s and 1970s, fear grips the city of San Francisco as a serial killer called Zodiac stalks... [More]
Directed By: David Fincher

#5

Silence (2016)
83%

#5
Adjusted Score: 103532%
Critics Consensus: Silence ends Martin Scorsese's decades-long creative quest with a thoughtful, emotionally resonant look at spirituality and human nature that stands among the director's finest works.
Synopsis: Two 17th-century Portuguese missionaries, Father Sebastian Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver), embark on a perilous journey... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#4

The Deer Hunter (1978)
91%

#4
Adjusted Score: 99256%
Critics Consensus: Its greatness is blunted by its length and one-sided point of view, but the film's weaknesses are overpowered by Michael Cimino's sympathetic direction and a series of heartbreaking performances from Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken.
Synopsis: In 1968, Michael (Robert De Niro), Nick (Christopher Walken) and Steven (John Savage), lifelong friends from a working-class Pennsylvania steel... [More]
Directed By: Michael Cimino

#3

Parasite (2019)
98%

#3
Adjusted Score: 127431%
Critics Consensus: An urgent, brilliantly layered look at timely social themes, Parasite finds writer-director Bong Joon Ho in near-total command of his craft.
Synopsis: Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.... [More]
Directed By: Bong Joon-ho

#2

The Master (2012)
84%

#2
Adjusted Score: 95044%
Critics Consensus: Smart and solidly engrossing, The Master extends Paul Thomas Anderson's winning streak of challenging films for serious audiences.
Synopsis: Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is a troubled, boozy drifter struggling with the trauma of World War II and whatever inner... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#8

The Game (1997)
76%

#8
Adjusted Score: 79710%
Critics Consensus: The ending could use a little work but this is otherwise another sterling example of David Fincher's iron grip on atmosphere and storytelling.
Synopsis: Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is a successful banker who keeps mostly to himself. When his estranged brother Conrad (Sean... [More]
Directed By: David Fincher

#1

Inherent Vice (2014)
73%

#1
Adjusted Score: 83371%
Critics Consensus: Inherent Vice may prove frustrating for viewers who demand absolute coherence, but it does justice to its acclaimed source material -- and should satisfy fans of director P.T. Anderson.
Synopsis: In a California beach community, private detective Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) tends to work his cases through a smoky... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#1

Burning (2018)
95%

#1
Adjusted Score: 105592%
Critics Consensus: Burning patiently lures audiences into a slow-burning character study that ultimately rewards the viewer's patience -- and subverts many of their expectations.
Synopsis: Jong-soo runs into Hae-mi, a girl who once lived in his neighborhood, and she asks him to watch her cat... [More]
Directed By: Lee Chang-dong

#1

Vertigo (1958)
94%

#1
Adjusted Score: 104505%
Critics Consensus: An unpredictable scary thriller that doubles as a mournful meditation on love, loss, and human comfort.
Synopsis: Hitchcock's romantic story of obsession, manipulation and fear. A detective is forced to retire after his fear of heights causes... [More]
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

#1

The Tree of Life (2011)
84%

#1
Adjusted Score: 94536%
Critics Consensus: Terrence Malick's singularly deliberate style may prove unrewarding for some, but for patient viewers, Tree of Life is an emotional as well as visual treat.
Synopsis: In this highly philosophical film by acclaimed director Terrence Malick, young Jack (Hunter McCracken) is one of three brothers growing... [More]
Directed By: Terrence Malick

#1

The Prestige (2006)
76%

#1
Adjusted Score: 83670%
Critics Consensus: Full of twists and turns, The Prestige is a dazzling period piece that never stops challenging the audience.
Synopsis: An illusion gone horribly wrong pits two 19th-century magicians, Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Rupert Angier (Hugh Jackman), against each... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#1

Under the Skin (2013)
84%

#1
Adjusted Score: 95030%
Critics Consensus: Its message may prove elusive for some, but with absorbing imagery and a mesmerizing performance from Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin is a haunting viewing experience.
Synopsis: Disguising herself as a human female, an extraterrestrial (Scarlett Johansson) drives around Scotland and tries to lure unsuspecting men into... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Glazer

#1

Gattaca (1997)
83%

#1
Adjusted Score: 85785%
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


BECAUSE THE MOVIE IS GONNA MAKE YOU UGLY CRY…

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 84627%
Critics Consensus: Benigni's earnest charm, when not overstepping its bounds into the unnecessarily treacly, offers the possibility of hope in the face of unflinching horror.
Synopsis: A gentle Jewish-Italian waiter, Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni), meets Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), a pretty schoolteacher, and wins her over with... [More]
Directed By: Roberto Benigni

#12

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
95%

#12
Adjusted Score: 104443%
Critics Consensus: Pan's Labyrinth is Alice in Wonderland for grown-ups, with the horrors of both reality and fantasy blended together into an extraordinary, spellbinding fable.
Synopsis: In 1944 Spain young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her ailing mother (Ariadna Gil) arrive at the post of her mother's... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#11

Beaches (1988)
40%

#11
Adjusted Score: 42759%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Hillary (Barbara Hershey) and CC (Bette Midler) meet as children vacationing in Atlantic City, N.J., and remain friends throughout the... [More]
Directed By: Garry Marshall

#10

Steel Magnolias (1989)
70%

#10
Adjusted Score: 71203%
Critics Consensus: Steel Magnolias has jokes and characters to spare, which makes it more dangerous (and effective) when it goes for the full melodrama by the end.
Synopsis: M'Lynn (Sally Field) is the mother of bride-to-be Shelby Eatenton (Julia Roberts), and as friend Truvy Jones (Dolly Parton) fixes... [More]
Directed By: Herbert Ross

#9

Stepmom (1998)
46%

#9
Adjusted Score: 49821%
Critics Consensus: Solid work from Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon isn't enough to save Stepmom from a story whose manipulations dilute the effectiveness of a potentially affecting drama.
Synopsis: Three years after divorcing Jackie (Susan Sarandon), the mother of his children, Luke Harrison (Ed Harris) decides to take the... [More]
Directed By: Chris Columbus

#8

The Color Purple (1985)
81%

#8
Adjusted Score: 82023%
Critics Consensus: It might have been better served by a filmmaker with a deeper connection to the source material, but The Color Purple remains a worthy, well-acted adaptation of Alice Walker's classic novel.
Synopsis: An epic tale spanning forty years in the life of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), an African-American woman living in the South... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 81723%
Critics Consensus: A classic tearjerker, Terms of Endearment isn't shy about reaching for the heartstrings -- but is so well-acted and smartly scripted that it's almost impossible to resist.
Synopsis: Widow Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter, Emma (Debra Winger), have a strong bond, but Emma marries teacher Flap... [More]
Directed By: James L. Brooks

#6

Toy Story 3 (2010)
98%

#6
Adjusted Score: 110134%
Critics Consensus: Deftly blending comedy, adventure, and honest emotion, Toy Story 3 is a rare second sequel that really works.
Synopsis: With their beloved Andy preparing to leave for college, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), and... [More]
Directed By: Lee Unkrich

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 89620%
Critics Consensus: Wise, funny, and heartbreaking without resorting to exploitation, The Fault In Our Stars does right by its bestselling source material.
Synopsis: Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley), a 16-year-old cancer patient, meets and falls in love with Gus Waters (Ansel Elgort), a... [More]
Directed By: Josh Boone

#1

Wendy and Lucy (2008)
85%

#1
Adjusted Score: 92406%
Critics Consensus: Michelle Williams gives a heartbreaking performance in Wendy and Lucy, a timely portrait of loneliness and struggle.
Synopsis: Wendy (Michelle Williams), a near-penniless drifter, is traveling to Alaska in search of work, and her only companion is her... [More]
Directed By: Kelly Reichardt

#4

My Girl (1991)
53%

#4
Adjusted Score: 52523%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Tomboy Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) has good reason to be morbid: her mother died giving birth to her, and her... [More]
Directed By: Howard Zieff

#3

Selena (1997)
67%

#3
Adjusted Score: 68590%
Critics Consensus: Selena occasionally struggles to tell its subject's story with depth or perspective, but those flaws are rendered largely irrelevant by Jennifer Lopez in the title role.
Synopsis: In this biographical drama, Selena Quintanilla (Jennifer Lopez) is born into a musical Mexican-American family in Texas. Her father, Abraham... [More]
Directed By: Gregory Nava

#2

Up (2009)
98%

#2
Adjusted Score: 109559%
Critics Consensus: An exciting, funny, and poignant adventure, Up offers an impeccably crafted story told with wit and arranged with depth, as well as yet another visual Pixar treat.
Synopsis: Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner), a 78-year-old balloon salesman, is about to fulfill a lifelong dream. Tying thousands of balloons to... [More]
Directed By: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson

#1
Adjusted Score: 110804%
Critics Consensus: Playing as both an exciting sci-fi adventure and a remarkable portrait of childhood, Steven Spielberg's touching tale of a homesick alien remains a piece of movie magic for young and old.
Synopsis: After a gentle alien becomes stranded on Earth, the being is discovered and befriended by a young boy named Elliott... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#1
Adjusted Score: 89501%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully scripted and perfectly cast, Me & Earl & the Dying Girl is a coming-of-age movie with uncommon charm and insight.
Synopsis: An awkward high-school senior (Thomas Mann) and a gravely ill classmate (Olivia Cooke) surprise themselves by becoming inseparable friends.... [More]
Directed By: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

#1

Stories We Tell (2012)
94%

#1
Adjusted Score: 98582%
Critics Consensus: In Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley plays with the documentary format to explore the nature of memory and storytelling, crafting a thoughtful, compelling narrative that unfolds like a mystery.
Synopsis: Through a series of revealing interviews, filmmaker Sarah Polley investigates the truth about her family history.... [More]
Directed By: Sarah Polley

#1

Old Yeller (1957)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 101991%
Critics Consensus: Old Yeller is an exemplary coming of age tale, packing an emotional wallop through smart pacing and a keen understanding of the elemental bonding between humanity and their furry best friends.
Synopsis: While Jim Coates (Fess Parker) is off on a cattle drive, his wife, Katie (Dorothy McGuire), and sons, Travis (Tommy... [More]
Directed By: Robert Stevenson

#1

Marley & Me (2008)
63%

#1
Adjusted Score: 67367%
Critics Consensus: Pet owners should love it, but Marley and Me is only sporadically successful in wringing drama and laughs from its scenario.
Synopsis: Newlyweds John and Jenny Grogan (Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston) leave behind snowy Michigan and move to Florida, where they buy... [More]
Directed By: David Frankel

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 28943%
Critics Consensus: Though wholesome, the Mandy Moore vehicle A Walk to Remember is also bland and oppressively syrupy.
Synopsis: Set in North Carolina, "A Walk To Remember" follows the rite of passage of a jaded, aimless high school senior... [More]
Directed By: Adam Shankman


BECAUSE THE MOVIE WILL INSTANTLY PUT YOU IN A BETTER MOOD…

#13

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
93%

#13
Adjusted Score: 104515%
Critics Consensus: Warm, whimsical, and poignant, the immaculately framed and beautifully acted Moonrise Kingdom presents writer/director Wes Anderson at his idiosyncratic best.
Synopsis: The year is 1965, and the residents of New Penzance, an island off the coast of New England, inhabit a... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#12

Groundhog Day (1993)
97%

#12
Adjusted Score: 103336%
Critics Consensus: Smart, sweet, and inventive, Groundhog Day highlights Murray's dramatic gifts while still leaving plenty of room for laughs.
Synopsis: Phil (Bill Murray), a weatherman, is out to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog from its hole. He gets... [More]
Directed By: Harold Ramis

#11

The Goonies (1985)
77%

#11
Adjusted Score: 80852%
Critics Consensus: The Goonies is an energetic, sometimes noisy mix of Spielbergian sentiment and funhouse tricks that will appeal to kids and nostalgic adults alike.
Synopsis: When two brothers find out they might lose their house they are desperate to find a way to keep their... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 109747%
Critics Consensus: Clever, incisive, and funny, Singin' in the Rain is a masterpiece of the classical Hollywood musical.
Synopsis: A spoof of the turmoil that afflicted the movie industry in the late 1920s when movies went from silent to... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly

#9

Amélie (2001)
89%

#9
Adjusted Score: 95344%
Critics Consensus: The feel-good Amelie is a lively, fanciful charmer, showcasing Audrey Tautou as its delightful heroine.
Synopsis: "Amélie" is a fanciful comedy about a young woman who discretely orchestrates the lives of the people around her, creating... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 103682%
Critics Consensus: A delightfully postmodern fairy tale, The Princess Bride is a deft, intelligent mix of swashbuckling, romance, and comedy that takes an age-old damsel-in-distress story and makes it fresh.
Synopsis: A fairy tale adventure about a beautiful young woman and her one true love. He must find her after a... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#7

The Birdcage (1996)
81%

#7
Adjusted Score: 83794%
Critics Consensus: Mike Nichols wrangles agreeably amusing performances from Robin Williams and Nathan Lane in this fun, if not quite essential, remake of the French comedy La Cage aux Folles.
Synopsis: In this remake of the classic French farce "La Cage aux Folles," engaged couple Val Goldman (Dan Futterman) and Barbara... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 86807%
Critics Consensus: Matthew Broderick charms in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, a light and irrepressibly fun movie about being young and having fun.
Synopsis: Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) has an uncanny skill at cutting classes and getting away with it. Intending to make one... [More]
Directed By: John Hughes

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 85312%
Critics Consensus: Though there was controversy over the choice of casting, Zellweger's Bridget Jones is a sympathetic, likable, funny character, giving this romantic comedy a lot of charm.
Synopsis: At the start of the New Year, 32-year-old Bridget (Renée Zellweger) decides it's time to take control of her life... [More]
Directed By: Sharon Maguire

#4

Clueless (1995)
81%

#4
Adjusted Score: 89088%
Critics Consensus: A funny and clever reshaping of Emma, Clueless offers a soft satire that pokes as much fun at teen films as it does at the Beverly Hills glitterati.
Synopsis: Shallow, rich and socially successful Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is at the top of her Beverly Hills high school's pecking scale.... [More]
Directed By: Amy Heckerling

#3

The Intouchables (2011)
75%

#3
Adjusted Score: 79776%
Critics Consensus: It handles its potentially prickly subject matter with kid gloves, but Intouchables gets by thanks to its strong cast and some remarkably sensitive direction.
Synopsis: An unlikely friendship develops between a wealthy quadriplegic (François Cluzet) and his caretaker (Omar Sy), just released from prison.... [More]

#2

Tommy Boy (1995)
42%

#2
Adjusted Score: 43341%
Critics Consensus: Though it benefits from the comic charms of its two leads, Tommy Boy too often feels like a familiar sketch stretched thin.
Synopsis: After his beloved father (Brian Dennehy) dies, dimwitted Tommy Callahan (Chris Farley) inherits a near-bankrupt automobile parts factory in Sandusky,... [More]
Directed By: Peter Segal

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 99432%
Critics Consensus: Little Miss Sunshine succeeds thanks to a strong ensemble cast that includes Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, and Abigail Breslin, as well as a delightfully funny script.
Synopsis: The Hoover family -- a man (Greg Kinnear), his wife (Toni Collette), an uncle (Steve Carell), a brother (Paul Dano)... [More]

#1

The Full Monty (1997)
96%

#1
Adjusted Score: 98738%
Critics Consensus: Cheeky and infectiously good-natured, The Full Monty bares its big beating heart with a sly dose of ribald comedy.
Synopsis: After losing his job at a steel factory, Gaz (Robert Carlyle) learns that his wife wants to sue him for... [More]
Directed By: Peter Cattaneo

#1

Mamma Mia! (2008)
55%

#1
Adjusted Score: 61265%
Critics Consensus: This jukebox musical is full of fluffy fun but rough singing voices and a campy tone might not make you feel like "You Can Dance" the whole 90 minutes.
Synopsis: Donna (Meryl Streep), an independent hotelier in the Greek islands, is preparing for her daughter's wedding with the help of... [More]
Directed By: Phyllida Lloyd

#1

Billy Elliot (2000)
85%

#1
Adjusted Score: 88273%
Critics Consensus: Billy Elliot is a charming movie that can evoke both laughter and tears.
Synopsis: The life of 11-year-old Billy Elliot, a coal miner's son in Northern England, is forever changed one day when he... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Daldry

#3
Adjusted Score: 55632%
Critics Consensus: Provides lots of laughs with Myers at the healm; as funny or funnier than the original.
Synopsis: In his second screen adventure, British super spy Austin Powers must return to 1969, as arch-nemesis Dr. Evil has ventured... [More]
Directed By: Jay Roach

#1

Step Brothers (2008)
55%

#1
Adjusted Score: 63191%
Critics Consensus: Step Brothers indulges in a cheerfully relentless immaturity that will quickly turn off viewers unamused by Ferrell and Reilly -- and delight those who find their antics hilarious.
Synopsis: Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) and Dale Doback (John C. Reilly) have one thing in common: they are both lazy, unemployed... [More]
Directed By: Adam McKay

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 75834%
Critics Consensus: Eddie Murphy was in full control at this point, starkly evident in Coming to America's John Landis' coasting direction.
Synopsis: Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is the prince of a wealthy African country and wants for nothing, except a wife who... [More]
Directed By: John Landis

#1

Airplane! (1980)
97%

#1
Adjusted Score: 103491%
Critics Consensus: Though unabashedly juvenile and silly, Airplane! is nevertheless an uproarious spoof comedy full of quotable lines and slapstick gags that endure to this day.
Synopsis: This spoof comedy takes shots at the slew of disaster movies that were released in the 70s. When the passengers... [More]

#1

Game Night (2018)
85%

#1
Adjusted Score: 99575%
Critics Consensus: With a talented cast turned loose on a loaded premise -- and a sharp script loaded with dark comedy and unexpected twists -- Game Night might be more fun than the real thing.
Synopsis: Max and Annie's weekly game night gets kicked up a notch when Max's brother Brooks arranges a murder mystery party... [More]

#1

Pride (2014)
92%

#1
Adjusted Score: 98190%
Critics Consensus: Earnest without being didactic and uplifting without stooping to sentimentality, Pride is a joyous crowd-pleaser that genuinely works.
Synopsis: Realizing that they share common foes in Margaret Thatcher, the police and the conservative press, London-based gays and lesbians lend... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Warchus

#1

Pitch Perfect (2012)
81%

#1
Adjusted Score: 86241%
Critics Consensus: Pitch Perfect's plot is formulaic, but the performances are excellent and the musical numbers are toe-tapping as well.
Synopsis: College student Beca (Anna Kendrick) knows she does not want to be part of a clique, but that's exactly where... [More]
Directed By: Jason Moore

#1

Hot Fuzz (2007)
91%

#1
Adjusted Score: 99785%
Critics Consensus: The brilliant minds behind Shaun of the Dead successfully take a shot at the buddy cop genre with Hot Fuzz. The result is a bitingly satiric and hugely entertaining parody.
Synopsis: As a former London constable, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) finds if difficult to adapt to his new assignment in the... [More]
Directed By: Edgar Wright

#1
Adjusted Score: 43265%
Critics Consensus: Undisciplined, scatological, profoundly silly, and often utterly groan-worthy, Robin Hood: Men in Tights still has an amiable, anything-goes goofiness that has made it a cult favorite.
Synopsis: Crusading nobleman Robin of Loxley (Cary Elwes) escapes from prison in Jerusalem and returns home to find that the evil... [More]
Directed By: Mel Brooks

#1

Sing Street (2016)
95%

#1
Adjusted Score: 107231%
Critics Consensus: Sing Street is a feel-good musical with huge heart and irresistible optimism, and its charmimg cast and hummable tunes help to elevate its familiar plotting.
Synopsis: In 1985, a Dublin teenager (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) forms a rock 'n' roll band to win the heart of an aspiring... [More]
Directed By: John Carney

#1

Big (1988)
97%

#1
Adjusted Score: 102803%
Critics Consensus: Refreshingly sweet and undeniably funny, Big is a showcase for Tom Hanks, who dives into his role and infuses it with charm and surprising poignancy.
Synopsis: After a wish turns 12-year-old Josh Baskin (David Moscow) into a 30-year-old man (Tom Hanks), he heads to New York... [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 112581%
Critics Consensus: With a terrific cast and a surfeit of visual razzle dazzle, Crazy Rich Asians takes a satisfying step forward for screen representation while deftly drawing inspiration from the classic -- and still effective -- rom-com formula.
Synopsis: Rachel Chu is happy to accompany her longtime boyfriend, Nick, to his best friend's wedding in Singapore. She's also surprised... [More]
Directed By: Jon M. Chu


BECAUSE THE MOVIE’S VERY SEXY BITS WILL BE LESS AWKWARD SOLO…

#13

Magic Mike XXL (2015)
65%

#13
Adjusted Score: 74745%
Critics Consensus: Magic Mike XXL has enough narrative thrust and beefy charm to deliver another helping of well-oiled entertainment, even if this sequel isn't quite as pleasurable as its predecessor.
Synopsis: It's been three years since Mike Lane's (Channing Tatum) retirement from stripping, but the former dancer misses the excitement and... [More]
Directed By: Gregory Jacobs

#12

Basic Instinct (1992)
55%

#12
Adjusted Score: 60687%
Critics Consensus: Unevenly echoing the work of Alfred Hitchcock, Basic Instinct contains a star-making performance from Sharon Stone but is ultimately undone by its problematic, overly lurid plot.
Synopsis: The mysterious Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), a beautiful crime novelist, becomes a suspect when she is linked to the brutal... [More]
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 96270%
Critics Consensus: A road movie that's not only sexy, but intelligent as well.
Synopsis: The lives of Julio and Tenoch, like those of 17-year old boys everywhere, are ruled by raging hormones, intense friendships,... [More]
Directed By: Alfonso Cuarón

#10

The Dreamers (2003)
60%

#10
Adjusted Score: 65178%
Critics Consensus: Though lushly atmospheric, The Dreamers doesn't engage or provoke as much as it should.
Synopsis: In May 1968, the student riots in Paris only exacerbate the isolation felt by three youths: an American exchange student... [More]
Directed By: Bernardo Bertolucci

#9

Lust, Caution (2007)
72%

#9
Adjusted Score: 78086%
Critics Consensus: Ang Lee's Lust, Caution is a tense, sensual and beautifully-shot espionage film.
Synopsis: During World War II a secret agent (Tang Wei) must seduce, then assassinate an official (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) who... [More]
Directed By: Ang Lee

#8

Sirens (1994)
74%

#8
Adjusted Score: 75456%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 1930s Australia, Anglican clergyman Anthony Campion (Hugh Grant) and his prim wife, Estella (Tara Fitzgerald), are asked to visit... [More]
Directed By: John Duigan

#7

Secretary (2002)
77%

#7
Adjusted Score: 82000%
Critics Consensus: Maggie Gyllenhaal impresses in this romantic comedy with a kinky twist.
Synopsis: Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a young woman with a history of severe emotional problems, is released into the care of... [More]
Directed By: Steven Shainberg

#6

Boogie Nights (1997)
93%

#6
Adjusted Score: 97458%
Critics Consensus: Grounded in strong characters, bold themes, and subtle storytelling, Boogie Nights is a groundbreaking film both for director P.T. Anderson and star Mark Wahlberg.
Synopsis: In the San Fernando Valley in 1977, teenage busboy Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) gets discovered by porn director Jack Horner... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#5

Wild Things (1998)
63%

#5
Adjusted Score: 65010%
Critics Consensus: Wild Things is a delightfully salacious, flesh-exposed romp that also requires a high degree of love for trash cinema.
Synopsis: When teen debutante Kelly (Denise Richards) fails to attract the attention of her hunky guidance counselor, Sam (Matt Dillon), she... [More]
Directed By: John McNaughton

#4

Unfaithful (2002)
50%

#4
Adjusted Score: 55303%
Critics Consensus: Diane Lane shines in the role, but the movie adds nothing new to the genre and the resolution is unsatisfying.
Synopsis: Described by director Adrian Lyne ("Fatal Attraction") as "an erotic thriller about the body language of guilt." When Edward (Richard... [More]
Directed By: Adrian Lyne

#3

Bound (1996)
90%

#3
Adjusted Score: 91437%
Critics Consensus: Bound's more titillating elements attracted attention, but it's the stylish direction, solid performances, and entertaining neo-noir caper plot that make it worth a watch.
Synopsis: Sparks fly when Violet (Jennifer Tilly) sets eyes on Corky (Gina Gershon) in an elevator. Violet is the girlfriend of... [More]

#2

Swimming Pool (2003)
83%

#2
Adjusted Score: 88048%
Critics Consensus: A sensual thriller with two engaging performers demanding our undivided attention.
Synopsis: When uptight British writer Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling) has difficulty with her new detective novel, her publisher, John Bosload (Charles... [More]
Directed By: François Ozon

#1

Mulholland Dr. (2001)
84%

#1
Adjusted Score: 90299%
Critics Consensus: David Lynch's dreamlike and mysterious Mulholland Drive is a twisty neo-noir with an unconventional structure that features a mesmirizing performance from Naomi Watts as a woman on the dark fringes of Hollywood.
Synopsis: A dark-haired woman (Laura Elena Harring) is left amnesiac after a car crash. She wanders the streets of Los Angeles... [More]
Directed By: David Lynch

#1

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
76%

#1
Adjusted Score: 82234%
Critics Consensus: Kubrick's intense study of the human psyche yields an impressive cinematic work.
Synopsis: After Dr. Bill Hartford's (Tom Cruise) wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), admits to having sexual fantasies about a man she met,... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

#1

Weekend (2011)
95%

#1
Adjusted Score: 97994%
Critics Consensus: It may be a chamber piece but Weekend's revelations on modern sexuality expand far beyond the modest setting.
Synopsis: A gay man's (Tom Cullen) weekend-long encounter with an artist (Chris New) changes his life in unexpected ways.... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Haigh

#1

Body Heat (1981)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 100307%
Critics Consensus: Made from classic noir ingredients and flavored with a heaping helping of steamy modern spice, Body Heat more than lives up to its evocative title.
Synopsis: Shyster lawyer Ned Racine (William Hurt) begins a passionate affair with Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner), wife of a wealthy Florida... [More]
Directed By: Lawrence Kasdan

#1

Shame (2011)
79%

#1
Adjusted Score: 87680%
Critics Consensus: Boasting stellar performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, Shame is a powerful plunge into the mania of addiction affliction.
Synopsis: Successful and handsome New Yorker Brandon (Michael Fassbender) seems to live an ordinary life, but he hides a terrible secret... [More]
Directed By: Steve McQueen

#1

Showgirls (1995)
22%

#1
Adjusted Score: 24971%
Critics Consensus: Vile, contemptible, garish, and misogynistic -- and that might just be exactly Showgirls' point.
Synopsis: Nomi (Elizabeth Berkley) arrives in Las Vegas with only a suitcase and a dream of becoming a top showgirl. She... [More]
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 35580%
Critics Consensus: While creatively better endowed than its print counterpart, Fifty Shades of Grey is a less than satisfying experience on the screen.
Synopsis: When college senior Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) steps in for her sick roommate to interview prominent businessman Christian Grey (Jamie... [More]
Directed By: Sam Taylor-Johnson

#1

Fear (1996)
46%

#1
Adjusted Score: 46649%
Critics Consensus: Fear has an appealing young cast, but their efforts aren't enough to consistently distract from an increasingly overblown - and illogical - teen stalker story.
Synopsis: When 16-year-old Nicole Walker (Reese Witherspoon) meets 23-year-old David McCall (Mark Wahlberg) at a Seattle nightclub, she falls in love.... [More]
Directed By: James Foley


BECAUSE THE MOVIE’S EVEN SCARIER IN PERFECT SILENCE…

#13

The Descent (2005)
86%

#13
Adjusted Score: 93861%
Critics Consensus: Deft direction and strong performances from its all-female cast guide The Descent, a riveting, claustrophobic horror film.
Synopsis: A year after a severe emotional trauma, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) goes to North Carolina to spend some time exploring caves... [More]
Directed By: Neil Marshall

#12

A Quiet Place (2018)
96%

#12
Adjusted Score: 118865%
Critics Consensus: A Quiet Place artfully plays on elemental fears with a ruthlessly intelligent creature feature that's as original as it is scary -- and establishes director John Krasinski as a rising talent.
Synopsis: If they hear you, they hunt you. A family must live in silence to avoid mysterious creatures that hunt by... [More]
Directed By: John Krasinski

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 44223%
Critics Consensus: There is indeed a good amount of tension in this French slasher, but the dubbing is bad and the end twist unbelievable.
Synopsis: A beautiful young Frenchwoman, Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco), travels out to the country to visit her family and brings along... [More]
Directed By: Alexandre Aja

#10

The Strangers (2008)
48%

#10
Adjusted Score: 54422%
Critics Consensus: The Strangers has a handful of genuinely scary moments, but they're not enough to elevate the end results above standard slasher fare.
Synopsis: Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) are expecting a relaxing weekend at a family vacation home, but their stay... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Bertino

#9

Hush (2016)
93%

#9
Adjusted Score: 95376%
Critics Consensus: Hush navigates the bloody waters of home invasion thrillers and incisive slashers for a contemporary horror puree.
Synopsis: A deaf woman is stalked by a killer in her home.... [More]
Directed By: Mike Flanagan

#8

28 Days Later (2002)
87%

#8
Adjusted Score: 94189%
Critics Consensus: Kinetically directed by Danny Boyle, 28 Days Later is both a terrifying zombie movie and a sharp political allegory.
Synopsis: A group of misguided animal rights activists free a caged chimp infected with the "Rage" virus from a medical research... [More]
Directed By: Danny Boyle

#7

Alien (1979)
98%

#7
Adjusted Score: 108931%
Critics Consensus: A modern classic, Alien blends science fiction, horror and bleak poetry into a seamless whole.
Synopsis: In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#6

Dead Silence (2007)
21%

#6
Adjusted Score: 22878%
Critics Consensus: More tasteful than recent slasher flicks, but Dead Silence is undone by boring characters, bland dialogue, and an unnecessary and obvious twist ending.
Synopsis: After his wife meets a grisly end, Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) returns to their creepy hometown of Ravens Fair to... [More]
Directed By: James Wan

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 88335%
Critics Consensus: Though its underlying themes are familiar, House of the Devil effectively sheds the loud and gory cliches of contemporary horror to deliver a tense, slowly building throwback to the fright flicks of decades past.
Synopsis: Desperate to make some money so she can move into a new apartment, college student Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) takes... [More]
Directed By: Ti West

#1

The Others (2001)
83%

#1
Adjusted Score: 89447%
Critics Consensus: The Others is a spooky thriller that reminds us that a movie doesn't need expensive special effects to be creepy.
Synopsis: Grace (Nicole Kidman), the devoutly religious mother of Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), moves her family to the... [More]
Directed By: Alejandro Amenábar

#4

Don't Breathe (2016)
88%

#4
Adjusted Score: 103085%
Critics Consensus: Don't Breathe smartly twists its sturdy premise to offer a satisfyingly tense, chilling addition to the home invasion genre that's all the more effective for its simplicity.
Synopsis: Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex and Money are three Detroit thieves who get their kicks by breaking into the houses of... [More]
Directed By: Fede Alvarez

#3

The Shining (1980)
85%

#3
Adjusted Score: 93380%
Critics Consensus: Though it deviates from Stephen King's novel, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is a chilling, often baroque journey into madness -- exemplified by an unforgettable turn from Jack Nicholson.
Synopsis: Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer's block.... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

#2

Wait Until Dark (1967)
96%

#2
Adjusted Score: 96529%
Critics Consensus: Nail-bitingly tense and brilliantly acted, Wait Until Dark is a compact thriller that makes the most of its fiendishly clever premise.
Synopsis: After a flight back home, Sam Hendrix (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) returns with a doll he innocently acquired along the way.... [More]
Directed By: Terence Young

#1

The Conjuring (2013)
86%

#1
Adjusted Score: 93985%
Critics Consensus: Well-crafted and gleefully creepy, The Conjuring ratchets up dread through a series of effective old-school scares.
Synopsis: In 1970, paranormal investigators and demonologists Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warren are summoned to the home of... [More]
Directed By: James Wan

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 41731%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A retired police detective (Charles Durning) hunts a deranged British seaman out to re-create a baby sitter's (Carol Kane) horror.... [More]
Directed By: Fred Walton

#1

Silent House (2011)
43%

#1
Adjusted Score: 46816%
Critics Consensus: Silent House is more technically proficient and ambitious than most fright-fests, but it also suffers from a disappointing payoff.
Synopsis: Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) is working with her father (Adam Trese) and uncle (Eric Sheffer Stevens) to renovate an old family... [More]
Directed By: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 106179%
Critics Consensus: It Comes at Night makes lethally effective use of its bare-bones trappings while proving once again that what's left unseen can be just as horrifying as anything on the screen.
Synopsis: After a mysterious apocalypse leaves the world with few survivors, two families are forced to share a home in an... [More]
Directed By: Trey Edward Shults

#1

The Orphanage (2007)
87%

#1
Adjusted Score: 94026%
Critics Consensus: Deeply unnerving and surprisingly poignant, The Orphanage is an atmospheric, beautifully crafted haunted house horror film that earns scares with a minimum of blood.
Synopsis: Laura (Belén Rueda) has happy memories of her childhood in an orphanage. She convinces her husband to buy the place... [More]
Directed By: J.A. Bayona


Thumbnail image: Everett Collection, Paramount Pictures, Focus Features

Liam Neeson
The journey between arthouse and IMAX can be a treacherous trip for an actor, but Liam Neeson has navigated it more nimbly than most over the course of his lengthy career, booking major roles in Serious Movies (Schindler’s List) while leaving room for horror (The Haunting), romance (Love Actually), and blockbuster franchises (The Phantom Menace, Batman Begins) — not to mention a recent string of action thrillers that, with this weekend’s A Walk Among the Tombstones, finds Mr. Neeson kicking bad-guy butt one more time. What better way to celebrate his accomplishments than a look at his best-reviewed movies? Here’s Total Recall!


75%

10. Five Minutes of Heaven

Neeson returned to Irish history for 2009’s Five Minutes of Heaven, but instead of a Michael Collins redux, he starred opposite James Nesbitt in a tense, heartbreaking character study that uses “The Troubles” as the backdrop for a meditation on the lasting consequences of violence and the weight of hatred. Neeson’s gift for world-weariness is put to good use in the role of Alistair Little, the real-life former Ulster Volunteer Force soldier who was sent to prison as a young man for murdering a Catholic boy — and who consents to meet his victim’s brother (played by Nesbitt) in an effort to put the past behind them both. Five Minutes wasn’t widely seen, but it enjoyed positive reviews from most critics, including NYC Movie Guru’s Avi Offer, who praised it as “A 90-minute tour de force of suspense and intrigue with outstanding, powerhouse performances by James Nesbitt and Liam Neeson” and called it “one of the most rousing and provocative thrillers of the year.”


78%

9. Michael Collins

A biopic about the slain Irish revolutionary Michael Collins enticed filmmakers for years, eluding the grasp of Michael Cimino and Kevin Costner before Neil Jordan was finally able to bring Michael Collins to the screen in 1996. Though a number of critics (and more than a few filmgoers) took issue with the ways Collins diverged from its subject’s real-life story, pretty much everyone agreed that age differences notwithstanding, Neeson was perfect for the central role, and not just because his 6-foot-4 frame lived up to Collins’ nickname “The Big Fellow.” As Mark R. Leeper put it, “Liam Neeson is a big man and plays Collins as a big man, somewhat larger than the people around him. He sweeps into a scene with that large bulk of his and commands it.”


79%

8. The Grey

Given the way he’s been reinvented as everyone’s favorite action hero elder statesman, The Grey‘s basic plot description — “Liam Neeson versus wolves” — might have seemed like the absurdly over-the-top culmination of an unlikely chapter in an impressive career. But as viewers soon discovered, writer-director Joe Carnahan had a lot more on his mind than just Neeson and his human co-stars going toe-to-toe with a pack of ravenous beasts; although The Grey certainly doesn’t suffer from any shortage of pulse-pounding action, it also benefits from a surprising amount of thoughtful subtext. As Dana Stevens argued in her review for Slate, “For all its macho standoffs and action set pieces and menacing off-screen howling, The Grey is at heart a simple moral fable about how true heroism consists in helping other human beings to live as long and die as well as they can.”


74%

7. The Bounty

1984’s The Bounty is far from the first film inspired by the 1789 mutiny aboard the H.M.S. Bounty — or even the most well-known — but it might have the most impressive cast. Toplined by Anthony Hopkins as the authoritarian Lieutenant William Bligh and Mel Gibson as Bligh’s former friend and eventual nemesis, Fletcher Christian, The Bounty is rounded out by an array of famous faces from the past (Laurence Olivier as Admiral Hood) and the future (Daniel Day-Lewis plays Fryer, while Neeson appears as Christian’s enforcer, Churchill). Calling Hopkins’ work “one of the most interesting performances of 1984,” Roger Ebert applauded, “The Bounty is a great adventure, a lush romance, and a good movie.”


83%

6. Darkman

He earned screen time in a handful of films throughout the ’80s, including The Bounty, The Mission, and the Patrick Swayze masterpiece Next of Kin, but this Sam Raimi love letter to the comics was Neeson’s first opportunity to really carry a picture. He did it, too, despite spending much of Darkman under bandages and heavy makeup as the titular vigilante, burned and left for dead by a ruthless mobster (memorably played by Larry Drake). Critics and audiences greeted Darkman‘s pulpy action with enthusiasm, making it one of the year’s surprise hits and spawning two (regrettably Neeson-free) sequels. Applauding “Raimi’s flair for jazzy visual effects and extravagant action sequences, combined with direction that’s full of punch and energy,” the Chicago Reader’s Jonathan Rosenbaum applauded Darkman as the summer’s “best pop roller-coaster ride around.”


74%

5. Excalibur

Neeson’s first big-screen break came courtesy of Excalibur director John Boorman, who spotted him playing Lennie Small on stage in Of Mice and Men and decided he’d be perfect for the role of Sir Gawain in his sprawling, lusty retelling of the Arthurian legend, Excalibur. Featuring lush visuals and a cast that included Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart, and Gabriel Bryne, Boorman’s round-tabled epic became a fast late-night cable favorite among adolescent boys — and the critics liked it too, including Cinemaphile’s David Keyes, who called it “one of those great miracles in filmmaking” and said “Its concept of Arthur and the landscape that surrounds him is a benchmark for fantasy as we know it.”


84%

4. Batman Begins

Six years after appearing as Obi-Wan Kenobi’s mentor, Qui-Gon Jinn, in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Neeson took what seemed at first to be a very similar role in Batman Begins — but of course, Batman‘s Henri Ducard is much more than just a mentor to Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale). Eventually revealed as the dastardly Ra’s al Ghul, Ducard proved a worthy adversary for the Dark Knight in Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster reboot — and gave Neeson a rare opportunity to play the bad guy. His layered performance helped set Batman Begins apart from the increasingly cartoonish tone previous installments in the franchise had taken, lending depth to the film that led Antagony & Ecstasy’s Tim Brayton to proclaim, “There has never yet been a Batman story with quite this kind of psychological trauma. If Ingmar Bergman had ever directed a superhero movie, it would have looked quite a bit like this.”


90%

3. Kinsey

A movie about a sex professor? Sounds like an ’80s teen comedy (and for all we know, it probably was), but in reality, Alfred Kinsey did some groundbreaking, important work in the study of human sexual behavior, including the development of the Kinsey scale, which found a broad middle ground between strict heterosexuality and homosexuality. Of course, he also had a very busy sex life of his own, not to mention health issues and a drug problem — all of which means Kinsey had all the raw materials for a pretty salacious biopic. In less sensitive hands, it probably would have been, but with Bill Condon directing — and Neeson, Laura Linney , and Peter Sarsgaard in front of the cameras, Kinsey was an award-winning critical smash. While some writers thought it let Professor Kinsey off too easy — and some hastened to blame his studies for the relaxed moral standards of the last 40 years — most reviews echoed the sentiments of Cole Smithey, who called Kinsey “a sex education movie that uses historical fact and personal stories to articulate things that statistics can’t reveal, like the uniqueness of every individual’s imagination.”


98%

2. Schindler’s List

Steven Spielberg circled Schindler’s List for years, concerned he didn’t have the skills or maturity necessary to dramatize the story of Oskar Schindler, the Nazi Party member who used his position as a German industrialist to save nearly 1,200 Jews during World War II. After trying to give the project away more than once (Spielberg’s candidates for his own replacement included Roman Polanski and Martin Scorsese), he finally started filmin in early 1993 — and the result is one of the most widely acclaimed movies of the ’90s, and the crowning achievement of Spielberg’s career. Neeson, who was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award, anchors the film as Schindler, lending depth and nuance to the portrayal of a man who started the war as a profiteer and ended it wracked with guilt over the lives he’d failed to spare, despite risking his life — and losing his fortune — to prevent the deaths of so many. It may have taken Spielberg time to feel he was up to the challenge of Schindler’s List, but in the end, he had nothing to worry about; as Janet Maslin of the New York Times wrote, “Rising brilliantly to the challenge of this material and displaying an electrifying creative intelligence, Mr. Spielberg has made sure that neither he nor the Holocaust will ever be thought of in the same way again.”


93%

1. Husbands and Wives

Overshadowed by the scandal and recrimination surrounding the end of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow’s relationship, Husbands and Wives is actually a quite sharply written, albeit sometimes uncomfortably bitter, examination of the hidden stresses and selfishness that can lurk beneath even the strongest-looking romantic bonds. Neeson appeared as part of an ensemble cast that also included Allen, Farrow, Sydney Pollack, and Judy Davis — playing, for a change, a man who’s not only an ordinary modern-day guy, but who gets to peel off a few darkly comic lines before the movie’s through. “With its relationship angst and Lolita temptations,” wrote the Washington Post’s Desson Thomson, “Husbands and Wives hits embarrassingly close to Allen’s home. But it also hits its comic target.”


In case you were wondering, here are Neeson’s top 10 movies according RT users’ scores:

1. Schindler’s List — 97%
2. Batman Begins — 94%
3. Husbands and Wives — 87%
4. Taken — 85%
5. Michael Collins — 84%
6. Les Misérables — 83%
7. Excalibur — 81%
8. Breakfast on Pluto — 80%
9. Rob Roy — 76%
10. Kinsey — 75%


Take a look through Neeson’s complete filmography, as well as the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don’t forget to check out the reviews for A Walk Among the Tombstones.

 

This week’s Ketchup includes development news stories about movies about earthquakes (San Andreas), dinosaurs (Jurassic World), Jesus (Son of God), toy cars (Hot Wheels), the Mexican “Day of the Dead” holiday, and a very tiny superhero (Ant-Man). There’s also new roles for Russell Crowe, Will Ferrell, and Dwayne Johnson.


This Week’s Top Story

CHARLIE HUNNAM DROPS OUT OF FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

We’re accustomed to hearing about big paydays for people like Will Smith, Charlie Sheen, and Tom Cruise, but not every TV or movie actor rakes in the dough. That said, one would think that starring in a highly anticipated adaptation of a best selling novel which requires the lead actors to perform sex scenes might fetch a tidy sum. Which leads us to this week’s big story that Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim, TV’s Sons of Anarchy) has dropped out of starring as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey. There are a lot of details in that linked article indicating why Hunnam might have left the project, but one has to wonder how much of it had to do with the revelation that he was only going to be paid $125,000 for the role. That number’s amazing for most jobs, but it’s not exactly “movie star money.” $125,000 is more like what you might pay for a house in a small rural Wisconsin town, or about half, for example, of what Matthew Fox got paid to costar as Jack in one episode of LOST (and there were 121 of those). (Plus Matthew Fox didn’t even have to show his ****, his *****, or even his ****.) Dakota Johnson (TV’s Ben and Kate) is still attached to costar as Anastasia Steele, but the hunt is on for Hunnam’s replacement, with filming scheduled to start on November 1st. The list of possibilities reportedly includes True Blood star Alexander Skarsgard and British actors Jamie Dorman (TV’s Once Upon a Time) and Christian Cooke (TV’s Magic City). Fifty Shades of Grey is scheduled to open up against Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014. We will probably hear very soon who will replace Charlie Hunnam.

Fresh Developments This Week

#1 PAUL RUDD AND JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT ARE THE FRONTRUNNERS TO PLAY ANT-MAN

One of the big movie development news stories this week was the revelation that Paul Rudd and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are both now talking to Marvel Studios about starring as Ant-Man (scheduled for July 31, 2015). The interesting thing about those two actors being in the running is that they ostensibly have very little in common (their ages, their personas, their physicality, etc). Curiously, most sources reporting this story haven’t picked up on a little hint that director Edgar Wright gave us years ago: You see, Wright said back at Comic-Con *seven years ago* that the movie will incorporate both Dr. Henry Pym (the first Ant-Man) and reformed thief Scott Lang (the second Ant-Man). So, that right there, might be the explanation. Paul Rudd might be up to play Hank Pym, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt might be up to play Scott Lang. The neat thing about this is that if both characters are indeed cast by A list stars, then in the future, we could have an Avengers movie with both Ant-Man and one of Henry Pym’s other alter egos (Giant Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, etc). We should hear more soon.

#2 JOSH BROLIN IN TALKS TO STAR IN JURASSIC WORLD

The casting of another certain actor overshadowed the previous reports so much that it’s maybe easy to forget now that there was a time when it seemed like Josh Brolin might be starring as Batman. This week, we learned that Brolin is now in talks with Universal Pictures to star in their hotly anticipated 2015 dinosaur sequel Jurassic World. The Brolin news came as the capper on a week that saw three previous announcements (joining Bryce Dallas Howard, who has been cast for a while now). It all started with the news that 12-year-old Ty Simpkins (memorable from Iron Man 3) had been cast in a role, which clued us in that Jurassic World will return the franchise to being about dinosaurs scaring the pants off young children, as it rightly should be. The same story also mentioned that Jake Johnson (from TV’s The New Girl) might also be up for a role, which, if true, would reunite him with director Colin Trevorrow, who directed Johnson in Safety Not Guaranteed. That news was soon followed by another young actor, 18-year-old Nick Robinson (from the indie film The Kings of Summer), who will apparently play the older brother of Simpkins’ character. Filming is scheduled to begin in early 2014, and Universal Pictures has scheduled Jurassic World for June 12, 2015.

#3 CHANNING TATUM AND MANY OTHERS LEND THEIR VOICES TO GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S BOOK OF LIFE

A year from yesterday, on October 17, 2014, the CGI animated movie Book of Life will be released by 20th Century Fox, marking the first time that a major studio has released a “holiday movie” about the Mexican celebration “Dia de los Muertos” (AKA the day after Halloween with all those spooky skeletons). That release will mark the end of a long road for one of Guillermo del Toro’s dream projects, which he is producing. This week, we learned who will be providing the voices, and it’s quite a list. The four leads will be voiced by Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Diego Luna, and Christina Applegate. The supporting characters will be voiced by Ana de la Reguera (Eastbound and Down), Placido Domingo, Hector Elizondo, Gabriel Iglesias, Cheech Marin, Ricardo “El Mandril” Sanchez, and Machete himself, Danny Trejo. Book of Life, which is also described as a Romeo and Juliet-type love story, will mark the feature film directorial debut of Jorge Gutierrez, also known as the creator of the animated TV series El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera.

#4 KATE BECKINSALE TO INVESTIGATE A (FICTIONALIZED) FAMOUS CASE IN THE FACE OF AN ANGEL

Now that Law & Order is off the air, there’s a huge vacuum in the area of fictionalized dramas loosely (or not so loosely) “inspired” by real famous crime stories. Sure, there’s still TV shows that do that (like the not-yet-canceled Law & Order: SVU), but it’s not the same. Anyway, returning to the subject of movies, we present to you this next movie, The Face of an Angel, which will be an adaptation of a book by Italian journalist Barbie Latza Nadeau. The fictionalization part gets a little confusing when you consider that the title of Nadeau’s book is “Angel Face: The True Story of Student Killer Amanda Knox,” which just sort of puts out there how different Nadeau perceived the case than, say, the way it was depicted by American news networks. The Face of an Angel will be the latest film from prolific British director Michael Winterbottom, who in the past has directed movies like A Mighty Heart (about Daniel Pearl’s widow) and 24 Hour Party People (about the Manchester music scene in the 1980s). Kate Beckinsale will play a journalist investigating a case “like” Amanda Knox’s, and Daniel Bruhl (The Fifth Estate, Rush) will play a documentary filmmaker. The Amanda Knox-ish character will be played by relative newcomer Cara Delevingne (her film debut was as the Princess Sorokina in Anna Karenina). The Face of an Angel is a BBC Films production, and filming begins soon in Tuscany, Italy.

#5 LES MISERABLES STARS RUSSELL CROWE AND AMANDA SEYFRIED REUNITE IN FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS

Their characters didn’t really have much to do with each other, but Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried were both in last year’s latest version of Les Miserables, making this a reunion project. Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried will play two of the title characters in the family drama Fathers and Daughters. The film’s story will be split between two period settings. In 1980s New York, famous novelist Jake Davis (Crowe) struggles with mental illness (à la A Beautiful Mind?) while trying to raise his five year old daughter. In modern New York, that daughter is now 30 (Seyfried herself is currently 27), and she “battles the demons that stem from her troubled childhood.” What’s somewhat confusing about the title is that it’s plural, but there might be another father and another daughter (hers?) that we don’t know about yet. Fathers and Daughters will be directed by Gabriele Muccino (Seven Pounds, The Pursuit of Happyness) from a script by newcomer screenwriter Brad Desch.

#6 WILL FERRELL AND JOHN C. REILLY TO COSTAR A THIRD TIME IN DEVIL’S NIGHT

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly first costarred together in 2006 in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, leading up to Reilly being more prominently teamed with Ferrell in 2008’s Step Brothers. This week, we learned that the two comedy stars will make a third film together called Devil’s Night, named after the pre-Halloween night of destruction (AKA Hell Night) that plagues some cities each year. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly will play former childhood friends who were first brought together by Devil’s Night, and then driven apart by the annual tradition. Many years later, they have to reunite to deal with the latest generation of hellions bringing their neighborhood to the brink of destruction. Devil’s Night got its start as a script by the screenwriting team of Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul, who also cowrote the 2008 Jim Carrey comedy Yes Man. There are a few reasons this could be listed as a Rotten Idea — namely the RT Tomatometer scores for Yes Man (45%) and Step Brothers (55%) — but we’re going to list this one as a borderline Fresh Development. Just because.

Rotten Ideas of the Week

#3 HOT WHEELS MOVIE IS BACK ON TRACK (IF ONLY IN NAME ONLY)

The idea of a Hot Wheels movie has been in development since the early ’00s, when racing movies got hot again following the success of The Fast and the Furious. For a long while during its development at Warner Bros, Hot Wheels was expected to be an “eye candy” movie in which cars streak across the screen along tracks that soar into the sky, replicating the loops for which the toys are known. And then, the Wachowskis directed Speed Racer for the studio in 2008, and that movie’s flat box office seemed to change the Hot Wheels approach. At least, that’s what the speculation was, and this week’s news seemed to confirm it. Hot Wheels was one of the movies that Legendary Pictures took with it in the move to Universal Pictures, the home of the Fast and Furious franchise, and Universal seems eager to add to its roster of fast car franchises, as Hot Wheels has a director attached to it for the first time since McG was in talks back before Speed Racer. That director is one Simon Crane, whose work in the past has been as a second unit director on dozens of big movies (including Troy, Hancock, Salt, Men in Black 3, and World War Z), and also as stunt coordinator on many of those same films, plus Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. As noted above, the Hot Wheels script has gone through many versions over the years, and the latest draft is by Paul Attanasio, whose credits include Donnie Brasco, Sphere, The Sum of All Fears, and the upcoming remake of East of Eden. Attanasio’s take on Hot Wheels focuses on “a washed-up Illinois State Trooper who, after a dangerous military device falls into the hands of a criminal, fights the man his father once put behind bars.” Or, maybe the speculation is wrong, and that military device turns highways upside down. Hot Wheels is definitely a movie that could go either way, but we’re calling it a “Rotten Idea” that the movie sounds more like every other fast car movie, and less like a movie inspired by the retro fun of the actual Hot Wheels toys.

#2 THE ROCK TO STAR IN MOVIE ABOUT (QUAKING) ROCKS: SAN ANDREAS

Dwayne Johnson has signed a deal with New Line Cinema to star in their upcoming earthquake disaster movie called San Andreas. San Andreas will be a reunion film for Dwayne Johnson, as it will be directed by Brad Peyton, with whom Johnson worked on Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Peyton also previously directed another sequel Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Johnson will be playing a “rugged” rescue helicopter pilot who travels across California following a devastating earthquake to save his estranged daughter (rather than, you know, actually doing his job for other people, apparently). Filming of San Andreas is scheduled to start in April of 2014 and the movie will be released sometime in 2015.

#1 THE PHENOMENON THAT BEGAN WITH THE BIBLE CONTINUES AT THEATERS NEXT YEAR WITH SON OF GOD

One of the biggest events in television in 2013 was the History Channel mini-series The Bible, based upon the book of the same title. This week, we learned that one of the show’s most popular characters, Jesus Christ, will get His own big screen movie in 2014 called Son of God. Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado will reprise his role from the mini-series in the movie which 20th Century Fox will release in theaters nationwide on February 28, 2014. The Jesus episodes of the mini-series depicted his story from “his humble birth through his teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection,” but this movie will focus more on “his humble birth through his teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection.” This is largely to do with the fact that the movie that will be released as Son of God is in fact an edited 135 minute re-release of the Jesus episodes from The Bible (with some new scenes added in). Both The Bible and Son of God were produced by husband-wife team Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Voice) and Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel). And yes, Mehdi Ouazzani will be in this version too. If you’re wondering why Son of God is the week’s most Rotten Idea, that question might be a good excuse to go check out RT’s still fairly new TV section, where The Bible received a Rotten score of just 14%.

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.

After a couple of pretty thin weeks on home video, we’ve got a good number of new releases this week, and a few of them are actually pretty decent. First off, if you’re looking for hi-def re-releases of older films, the choices are many, but random: Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900, Jon Voight thriller The Odessa File, New York Stories, and the original 1973 version of Walking Tall, for example. But we’ve got some good choices this week, including Liam Neeson’s angsty survival thriller, a superpowered found-footage film, an Oscar-nominated period piece, and Woody Harrelson’s latest effort with Oren Moverman. Sure, we’ve got a couple of stinkers too, but the new Criterion should help make up for that. See below for the full list!



The Grey

79%

While several of Liam Neeson’s most recent films have been critical misfires or downright flops, The Grey proves he’s still capable of captivating an audience. Here, he leads a group of plane crash survivors as they attempt to navigate their way through the snowy Alaskan wilderness, facing both the elements and a pack of hungry wolves. With an equal focus on thrills and existential philosophy, The Grey managed to surprise critics and become one of those rare Certified Fresh hits released during the early part of the calendar year.



One for the Money

2%

Katherine Heigl continues her post-Knocked Up string of Rotten films with One for the Money, her lowest-rated film since the Judd Apatow hit. Based on the bestselling novel of the same name, One for the Money stars Heigl as Stephanie Plum, an out of work debtor who signs up to be bail bonds recovery agent, only to discover her biggest task is bringing in the man who dumped her in high school. With the similarly themed The Bounty Hunter having hit theaters just two years prior, Money didn’t fool anyone, and critics slapped it with a damning 2% Tomatometer.



Chronicle

85%

The initial reaction to Chronicle was, “Another found-footage movie?” but those who were lulled in by the superpowers angle were pleasantly surprised. The story revolves around three teens who are saddled with unnatural abilities after they make a curious discovery; as their powers grow stronger, their darker sides begin to emerge. Despite its gimmicky handheld format, most critics felt that Chronicle transcended its genre with all the elements of a solid movie: smart writing, a brisk pace, and engaging performances from its mostly unknown cast.



The Devil Inside

5%

If ever there were an argument against the recent found-footage trend, The Devil Inside would be it. While the genre certainly allows for heightened realism, it only works if the acting is noteworthy, the writing is clever, and the director demonstrates firm control over the hand-held camera gimmickry. The Devil Inside, about a young woman who visits her institutionalized mother to determine whether she’s insane or, in fact, actually demon-possessed, exhibits none of those characteristics, earning a well-deserved (according to most) 7% Tomatometer. And if that weren’t enough, reports indicate that its abrupt ending is also one of the most inane in recent memory.



Albert Nobbs

56%

A passion project for Glenn Close that she spent 15 years bringing to the screen, Albert Nobbs was met with lukewarm reviews but received Oscar nods for both Best Actress (Close) and Best Supporting Actress (Janet McTeer). Reprising the role she first played on stage in 1982, Close stars as the titular character, a woman who has spent decades assuming a male identity in order to secure employment at a hotel. After meeting a fellow employee engaged in a similar ruse (McTeer), Nobbs decides to pursue domestic ties with a maid (Mia Wasikowska), who has troubles of her own. While some critics found the film thought-provoking and poignant, others felt it didn’t dig deep enough into the issues it presented, resulting in a 55% Tomatometer score. At the very least, though, most agree that the performances are top notch.



Rampart

74%

Woody Harrelson has enjoyed a bit of a career resurgence in recent years, thanks to films like No Country for Old Men, Transsiberian, Zombieland, and The Messenger. Last year, he joined up again with The Messenger director Oren Moverman for another Certified Fresh film, this time about a hard-nosed cop in LA’s notorious Rampart Precinct who must face the consequences of his renegade ways as the details of a large scale corruption scandal hit the news. While critics agreed that Harrelson’s character, Dave Brown, is far from sympathetic, Harrelson’s performance keeps viewers locked in, making this worth a watch for him alone.



Norwegian Wood

74%

The literature of Japanese novelis Haruki Murakami is often dreamlike and surreal, focusing on themes of loneliness and isolation, so it’s fitting that the film adaptation of one of his most popular works, Norwegian Wood, is appropriately moody. Helmed by acclaimed French-Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung (The Scent of Green Papaya), Norwegian Wood tells the story of Toru Watanabe, a young student in 1960s Tokyo who falls in love with his classmate Kizuki’s girlfriend, Naoko, after Kizuki suddenly commits suicide. Suffering from the death, Naoko checks herself into a sanatorium, and that’s when Toru meets Midori, the polar opposite of Naoko, and begins to form a bond with her as well. Certified Fresh at 73%, Norwegian Wood lingered just a bit too long at times for some critics, but most found the melancholy mood infectious, making for a visually stunning and ultimately powerful meditation on youthful love and loss.



Being John Malkovich – Criterion Collection

94%

Director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman announced their arrival on the feature film scene with a giant bang, establishing their knack for clever, inventive, and visually creative storytelling. Being John Malkovich stars John Cusack as Craig Schwartz, a down-and-out puppeteer who accidentally discovers a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich; as his co-worker (Catherine Keener) and wife (Cameron Diaz) become involved, complicated sexual politics ensue, leading to a bizarre and quietly chilling finale. This week, Criterion releases their edition of Being John Malkovich, complete with brand new extras like commentary featuring Jonze and Michel Gondry, interviews with Malkovich and Jonze, a behind-the-scenes doc, and the full versions of the two films that appear within the film. Great pickup for fans of the film and all those involved in its making.

This weekend, audiences turned out for Liam Neeson’s latest thriller The Grey which topped a busy frame that saw three new action entries attack a North American box office that already had plenty of action offerings. Marking the first number one debut for rookie distributor Open Road, the R-rated Alaskan survival pic bowed to an estimated $20M from 3,185 theaters for a solid $6,279 average. Following Taken and Unknown, Neeson has emerged as a more cerebral action hero and has now anchored three number one hits over the past three years which is more than most other Hollywood stars like Robert Downey Jr., Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, Matt Damon, or Denzel Washington.

Reviews were favorable for The Grey but audiences were not too thrilled with the outcome as the wolf attack flick earned a disappointing B- grade from CinemaScore. Social media chatter on Twitter included plenty of disappointment from people who thought that Neeson would have a bigger presence in the film given his prominence in the advertising campaign. But after the shocking $24.7M debut of Taken over Super Bowl weekend in 2009 and the brawny $21.9M debut of Unknown over last year’s Presidents Day holiday frame, it made sense that Neeson was far and away the top commercial selling point for the $25M production which boasted no other major stars. Coming up on his 60th birthday, the busy Irish actor could possibly star in a whopping five number one hits this year thanks to the February 10 re-release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the March 30 bow of Wrath of the Titans, the May 18 launch of Battleship, and the July 20 release of The Dark Knight Rises.

Despite all the action competition, last week’s box office champ Underworld: Awakening held up incredibly well dropping 51% to an estimated $12.5M for the lowest sophomore decline in the history of the four-film franchise. The first three pics each fell by 55-65% after their debuts and generally fourth chapters in a sci-fi or horror series draw such a big part of the built-in audience upfront that they crumble in the second frame. Sony has taken in $45.1M after ten days with its Kate Beckinsale vehicle and can expect a final take in the $65-70M range helped in part by 3D surcharges.

Katherine Heigl landed in third place with a respectable debut for her latest film One for the Money which bowed to an estimated $11.8M from 2,737 sites for a decent $4,293 average. Lionsgate refrained from screening the PG-13 action-comedy for critics but reviews that eventually came out were brutal making it the front-runner for next year’s Razzie Awards at this early stage in the race. Heigl’s films routinely open in double digit millions despite horrible reviews and lame plots although this one lacked a notable male lead. Money, which finds the actress playing a bail bondswoman hunting down an old flame, skewed heavily towards women with studio research showing that the audience was 79% female and 74% over 25. With a lackluster B- CinemaScore, the road ahead looks grim.

The fighter pilot actioner Red Tails dropped 45% from its impressive debut and took fourth place with an estimated $10.4M. Fox’s release of the George Lucas production has collected $33.8M in ten days and a final tally of $55-60M seems likely which is more than most expected.

Scoring the worst opening of the frame’s three new releases, but the best audience feedback, was Summit’s Man on a Ledge with an estimated $8.3M. The PG-13 film averaged a weak $2,752 per theater from 2,998 locations and just couldn’t compete with the wide range of other action offerings in the marketplace. Reviews were dull and lead actor Sam Worthington has never anchored an action hit outside of pre-existing brands like Clash of the Titans or James Cameron. But Ledge did have broad appeal with men and women represented equally and 56% of the crowd being under 25. The CinemaScore grade was a decent B+ and the Friday-to-Saturday increase was 44% – both tops among the freshmen.

A pair of Oscar nominees for Best Picture followed, each exploiting the nominations in a different way. The Tom Hanks-Sandra Bullock drama Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close dipped only 29% to an estimated $7.1M in its second weekend of wide release to raise the cume to $21.1M. Warner Bros. has used a Million Dollar Baby-style strategy with this 9/11 pic by opening in just a small number of theaters in late December in order to qualify and then waiting until nomination time to go nationwide letting others duke it out during awards season in hopes that it will be a fresh new option for voters and mainstream audiences alike. The plan worked for Baby which triumphed over the presumed front-runner The Aviator that year. But it may not be repeat this time as Loud only scored one other Academy Award nomination and was left out of the Director race. Still, the Oscar heat could help the film’s legs at the box office over the next few weeks as mature audiences catch up on Academy-endorsed films.

George Clooney’s The Descendants expanded on Friday more than tripling its run on the heels of earning five Oscar nods and jumped back into the top ten at number seven with an estimated $6.6M. Now getting a second life in its 11th week of release, the Fox Searchlight film boosted its theater count by 257% from 560 locations to 2,001 and watched its weekend gross jump 176% although its average fell by 23%. The Alexander Payne-directed pic has banked $58.8M to date and could rake in a lot more thanks to the Oscar heat and the fact that it has some star power and mainstream appeal.

Former number one Contraband followed with an estimated $6.5M, down 46%, giving Universal $56.4M to date for the Mark Wahlberg actioner. Disney’s 3D makeover of Beauty and the Beast dropped 39% to an estimated $5.3M for $41.1M so far. The animated film’s lifetime gross including the 1991 original release plus the 2002 special edition is now $212.5M. Rounding out the top ten was Steven Soderbergh’s action thriller Haywire which fell a sharp 53% in its second weekend to an estimated $4M putting the Relativity title at $15.3M in ten days.

Oscar nominees all hustled this past week to turn nominations into extra box office. Distributors worked hard to cash in as Academy endorsements and media hype can translate into broader moviegoer interest, especially for smaller films that need more convincing. But with this game comes added expenditures as more prints are needed and additional advertising is purchased so the net “Oscar bump” is nearly impossible to calculate.

The undisputed front-runner The Artist expanded from 662 to 897 theaters and saw its weekend take rise 40% to an estimated $3.3M giving The Weinstein Co. a total of $16.7M with plenty more to come. Its average of $3,696 was not too impressive but it did inch up 3% from last weekend. A near-impossible sell in the U.S. market, The Artist is now fully in the spotlight and positioned to pull in audiences that would not have purchased tickets before. There will still be resistance to the silent 1930s-set French-produced film from the broader mainstream crowd so the cume will only rise so high. But with numerous wins including the top film prizes from both the PGA and DGA, the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Comedy or Musical, Critics Choice awards for Picture and Director, plus ten Academy Award nominations, The Artist is clearly the film to beat and can extend its box office fortunes past Feb 26 if it pulls off a big victory.

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, which led all films with 11 Oscar nods, enjoyed a similar expansion from 650 to 965 sites and grossed an estimated $2.3M. Its boost of 143% was much greater as the 3D film is more accessible and includes characters speaking to each other. Paramount’s total is $58.7M. The incredibly expensive production did not fare too well during its initial run but now has a chance add to its cume by reaching those who missed it the first time around. Fellow Best Picture contender War Horse did not benefit much as the Spielberg pic fell 37% to an estimated $2M raising the sum to $75.6M. The war drama lost nearly 700 screens but also saw its average drop too.

Following its qualifying run, Glenn Close’s Albert Nobbs opened in limited release after nabbing three Oscar nominations and grossed an estimated $773,000 from 245 theaters for a sluggish $3,155 average. The overall cume is $823,000 for Roadside Attractions and reviews have been mixed for the film but solid for Close’s performance as a woman playing a man.

Elsewhere below the top ten, Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol achieved a pair of notable milestones this weekend. The domestic haul broke the $200M mark with $202.6M thus far while the international run continued to shine raising the overseas tally to $369M. The action hit is now the top-grossing installment of the popular franchise with a global gross of $571.6M and counting thanks in part to a solid debut in China where it raked in $12.7M in only two days more than quintupling the opening of the last Mission: Impossible picture there. The $600M barrier will be crushed soon.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $92.5M which was up 6% from last year when The Rite opened in the top spot with $14.8M; but down 11% from 2010 when Avatar stayed at number one yet again in its seventh frame with $31.3M.

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This week at the movies, we’ve got icy survival (The Grey, starring Liam Neeson and Dermot Mulroney), a tense negotiation (Man on a Ledge, starring Sam Worthington and Elizabeth Banks), and a bounty hunter (One For the Money, starring Katherine Heigl and Jason O’Mara). What do the critics have to say?



The Grey

79%

Liam Neeson is carving out a nice little niche as a middle-aged action hero, and critics say the smart and suspenseful The Grey offers further testament to his authoritative presence as a man locked in combat with nature. When a plane carrying a group of oil-drillers crashes in the unforgiving Alaska wild, Ottway (Neeson) must lead the survivors to safety through a stretch of wilderness that’s home to a particularly aggressive and bloodthirsty pack of wolves. The pundits say The Grey (which is Certified Fresh) is a visceral, sometimes unbearably tense survival tale with a surprising amount of emotional heft and existential angst, and even if it’s occasionally too talky, Neeson is typically awesome. (Check out our feature on Certified Fresh survival movies.)



Man on a Ledge

31%

Many thrillers require audiences to suspend their disbelief, but critics say the trouble with Man on a Ledge is that its plot is too convoluted and implausible to generate suspense. Sam Worthington stars as Nick Cassidy, a disgraced ex-cop who climbs out on a hotel ledge with the expressed purpose of jumping. However, as police psychologist Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) tries to talk him down, she suspects he may be part of a larger undertaking. The pundits say Man on a Ledge features some decent performances and plenty of twists, but it’s also overly busy and contrived. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down co-star Ed Harris’s best-reviewed movies.)



One for the Money

2%

It appears the folks behind One For the Money are afraid it isn’t one for the ages, since it wasn’t screened for critics prior to release. Based upon Janet Evanovich’s bestselling novel, the movie stars Katherine Heigl as a Jersey girl who takes a job as a recovery agent for a bail bondsman; soon, she’s tasked with bringing in a murder suspect who happens to be her ex-boyfriend. Kids, it’s time to guess the Tomatometer!

Also opening this week in limited release:

And finally, mad props to RedTuna for coming the closest to guessing Underworld Awakening‘s 30 percent Tomatometer.

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