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All Denzel Washington Movies Ranked

Over the course of his decades in show business, Denzel Washington has done pretty much everything — he’s played cops (good and bad), lawyers, reporters, educators, doctors, mobsters, and more, earning multiple Academy Awards and more than a billion dollars in box office grosses along the way. Of course, it’s fairly difficult to do all that without piling up a pretty hefty stack of positive reviews, and Mr. Washington’s filmography has definitely drawn its share, from Oscar winners like GloryTraining Day, and Philadelphia to his collaborations with director Spike Lee, like Malcolm XHe Got Game, and Inside Man. With all of that in mind, we’re here to celebrate by taking a comprehensive look at his career, including the best Denzel Washington movies and the worst. Perfection! Let’s go to work.

#47

Heart Condition (1990)
10%

#47
Adjusted Score: 8703%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Racist police officer Jack Moony (Bob Hoskins) has a vendetta against Napoleon Stone (Denzel Washington), a charismatic black lawyer who... [More]
Directed By: James D. Perriott

#46

John Q (2002)
23%

#46
Adjusted Score: 27005%
Critics Consensus: Washington's performance rises above the material, but John Q pounds the audience over the head with its message.
Synopsis: Story centers on a man whose nine-year-old son is in desperate need of a life-saving transplant. When he discovers that... [More]
Directed By: Nick Cassavetes

#45
#45
Adjusted Score: 32445%
Critics Consensus: A talented cast is wasted on a bland attempt at a suspenseful, serial killer flick.
Synopsis: Policewoman Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie) is in hot pursuit of a serial murderer whose calling card is a small shard... [More]
Directed By: Phillip Noyce

#44
#44
Adjusted Score: 30164%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When Reuben James (Denzel Washington), a decorated paratrooper, is discharged from the British military, he returns to his old neighborhood... [More]
Directed By: Martin Stellman

#43

Virtuosity (1995)
32%

#43
Adjusted Score: 33408%
Critics Consensus: Woefully deficient in thrills or common sense, Virtuosity strands its talented stars in a story whose vision of the future is depressingly short on imagination.
Synopsis: A former cop who has been imprisoned for murdering the psychopath who killed his family, Parker Barnes (Denzel Washington) is... [More]
Directed By: Brett Leonard

#42

Man on Fire (2004)
38%

#42
Adjusted Score: 43987%
Critics Consensus: Man on Fire starts out well, but goes over the top in the violent second half.
Synopsis: In a Mexico City wracked by a recent wave of kidnappings, ex-CIA operative John Creasy (Denzel Washington) reluctantly accepts a... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#41

Fallen (1998)
40%

#41
Adjusted Score: 42686%
Critics Consensus: Has an interesting premise. Unfortunately, it's just a recycling of old materials, and not all that thrilling.
Synopsis: After witnessing the execution of serial killer Edgar Reese (Elias Koteas), whom he arrested, police detective John Hobbes (Denzel Washington),... [More]
Directed By: Gregory Hoblit

#40

The Siege (1998)
44%

#40
Adjusted Score: 46010%
Critics Consensus: An exciting, well-paced action film.
Synopsis: After terrorists attack a bus in Brooklyn, a Broadway theater and FBI headquarters, FBI anti-terrorism expert Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington)... [More]
Directed By: Edward Zwick

#39
#39
Adjusted Score: 59394%
Critics Consensus: An exceptionally well-cast throwback thriller, The Little Things will feel deeply familiar to genre fans -- for better and for worse.
Synopsis: Deputy Sheriff Joe "Deke" Deacon joins forces with Sgt. Jim Baxter to search for a serial killer who's terrorizing Los... [More]
Directed By: John Lee Hancock

#38

The Book of Eli (2010)
46%

#38
Adjusted Score: 53798%
Critics Consensus: It's certainly uneven, and many viewers will find that its reach exceeds its grasp, but The Book of Eli finds the Hughes brothers injecting some fresh stylish fun into the kind of post-apocalyptic wasteland filmgoers have seen more than enough of lately.
Synopsis: Thirty years after war turned the world into a wasteland, a lone warrior named Eli (Denzel Washington) marches across the... [More]

#37

Power (1986)
50%

#37
Adjusted Score: 50303%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Once-noble media consultant Pete St. John (Richard Gere) is now employed by a number of corrupt politicians. A potential client... [More]
Directed By: Sidney Lumet

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 60559%
Critics Consensus: Despite a strong cast, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 suffers under the excesses of Tony Scott's frantic direction, and fails to measure up to the 1974 original.
Synopsis: Chaos reigns in the New York City subway system when heavily armed criminals, led by a mastermind named Ryder (John... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#35

The Equalizer 2 (2018)
52%

#35
Adjusted Score: 63236%
Critics Consensus: The Equalizer 2 delivers the visceral charge of a standard vigilante thriller, but this reunion of trusted talents ultimately proves a disappointing case study in diminishing returns.
Synopsis: If you have a problem and there is nowhere else to turn, the mysterious and elusive Robert McCall will deliver... [More]
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 56137%
Critics Consensus: Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington are a compelling team in the overlong Pelican Brief, a pulpy thriller that doesn't quite justify the intellectual remove of Alan J. Pakula's direction.
Synopsis: Taut thriller about a young law student whose legal brief about the assassination of two Supreme Court justices causes her... [More]
Directed By: Alan J. Pakula

#33

Safe House (2012)
53%

#33
Adjusted Score: 61136%
Critics Consensus: Safe House stars Washington and Reynolds are let down by a thin script and choppily edited action sequences.
Synopsis: For the past year, rookie CIA agent Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) has been eager to prove himself while cooling his... [More]
Directed By: Daniel Espinosa

#32
#32
Adjusted Score: 66896%
Critics Consensus: Intriguing yet heavy-handed, Roman J. Israel, Esq. makes the most of -- but never quite lives up to -- Denzel Washington's magnetic performance in the title role.
Synopsis: Roman J. Israel is an idealistic defense attorney whose life gets upended when his boss and mentor -- the legendary... [More]
Directed By: Dan Gilroy

#31

Déjà Vu (2006)
56%

#31
Adjusted Score: 61765%
Critics Consensus: Tony Scott tries to combine action, science fiction, romance, and explosions into one movie, but the time travel conceit might be too preposterous and the action falls apart under scrutiny.
Synopsis: The team of top-secret program brings ATF agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) into its midst to capture the terrorist (Jim... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 62222%
Critics Consensus: Solid performances and a steady directorial hand help The Preacher's Wife offer some reliably heartwarming - albeit fairly predictable - holiday cheer.
Synopsis: A cleric begins to doubt himself and is visited by an angel. The heavenly emissary is supposed to help the... [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall

#29

The Equalizer (2014)
60%

#29
Adjusted Score: 67539%
Critics Consensus: The Equalizer is more stylishly violent than meaningful, but with Antoine Fuqua behind the cameras and Denzel Washington dispensing justice, it delivers.
Synopsis: Robert McCall (Denzel Washington), a man of mysterious origin who believes he has put the past behind him, dedicates himself... [More]
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua

#28

Out of Time (2003)
64%

#28
Adjusted Score: 68890%
Critics Consensus: A fun and stylish thriller if you can get past the contrivances.
Synopsis: Matt Lee Whitlock (Denzel Washington) is the police chief of a small Florida town, going through a divorce with his... [More]
Directed By: Carl Franklin

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 82937%
Critics Consensus: The Magnificent Seven never really lives up to the superlative in its title -- or the classics from which it draws inspiration -- but remains a moderately diverting action thriller on its own merits.
Synopsis: Looking to mine for gold, greedy industrialist Bartholomew Bogue seizes control of the Old West town of Rose Creek. With... [More]
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua

#26

2 Guns (2013)
65%

#26
Adjusted Score: 71508%
Critics Consensus: Formulaic and often jarringly violent, 2 Guns rests its old-school appeal on the interplay between its charismatic, well-matched stars.
Synopsis: For the past year, DEA agent Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) and U.S. Navy intelligence officer Marcus Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) have... [More]
Directed By: Baltasar Kormákur

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 76982%
Critics Consensus: An inspirational crowd-pleaser with a healthy dose of social commentary, Remember the Titans may be predictable, but it's also well-crafted and features terrific performances.
Synopsis: In Virginia, high school football is a way of life, an institution revered, each game celebrated more lavishly than Christmas,... [More]
Directed By: Boaz Yakin

#24

Training Day (2001)
73%

#24
Adjusted Score: 79312%
Critics Consensus: The ending may be less than satisfying, but Denzel Washington reminds us why he's such a great actor in this taut and brutal police drama.
Synopsis: Police drama about a veteran officer who escorts a rookie on his first day with the LAPD's tough inner-city narcotics... [More]
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua

#23

Ricochet (1991)
74%

#23
Adjusted Score: 73701%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After tracking down and arresting Earl Talbot Blake (John Lithgow), a psychotic hit man, rookie Los Angeles police officer Nick... [More]
Directed By: Russell Mulcahy

#22

Cry Freedom (1987)
76%

#22
Adjusted Score: 77402%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Set in apartheid-torn South Africa. Donald Woods is the editor of the East London Daily Express and Steve Biko is... [More]
Directed By: Richard Attenborough

#21

Flight (2012)
77%

#21
Adjusted Score: 87292%
Critics Consensus: Robert Zemeckis makes a triumphant return to live-action cinema with Flight, a thoughtful and provocative character study propelled by a compelling performance from Denzel Washington.
Synopsis: Commercial airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) has a problem with drugs and alcohol, though so far he's managed to... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#20

Antwone Fisher (2002)
78%

#20
Adjusted Score: 82763%
Critics Consensus: Washington's directing debut is a solidly crafted, emotionally touching work.
Synopsis: The touching story of a sailor (Derek Luke) who, prone to violent outbursts, is sent to a naval psychiatrist (Denzel... [More]
Directed By: Denzel Washington

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 84320%
Critics Consensus: A wonderful cast and top-notch script elevate The Great Debaters beyond a familiar formula for a touching, uplifting drama.
Synopsis: Poet and professor Melvin B. Tolson (Denzel Washington) teaches at the predominately black Wiley College in 1935 Texas. He decides... [More]
Directed By: Denzel Washington

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 86723%
Critics Consensus: While not the classic its predecessor is, this update is well-acted and conjures a chilling resonance.
Synopsis: Years after his squad was ambushed during the Gulf War, Major Ben Marco (Denzel Washington) finds himself having terrible nightmares.... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#17

Philadelphia (1993)
81%

#17
Adjusted Score: 81161%
Critics Consensus: Philadelphia indulges in some unfortunate clichés in its quest to impart a meaningful message, but its stellar cast and sensitive direction are more than enough to compensate.
Synopsis: Fearing it would compromise his career, lawyer Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) hides his homosexuality and HIV status at a powerful... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#16

He Got Game (1998)
81%

#16
Adjusted Score: 83074%
Critics Consensus: Though not without its flaws, He Got Game finds Spike Lee near the top of his game, combining trenchant commentary with his signature visuals and a strong performance from Denzel Washington.
Synopsis: Jake Shuttleworth (Denzel Washington) has spent the last six years in prison after accidentally killing his wife during a violent... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 89289%
Critics Consensus: American Gangster is a gritty and entertaining throwback to classic gangster films, with its lead performers firing on all cylinders.
Synopsis: Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) earns his living as a chauffeur to one of Harlem's leading mobsters. After his boss dies,... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 85239%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After Mina's (Sarita Choudhury) Indian family is ousted from their home in Uganda by dictator Idi Amin, they relocate to... [More]
Directed By: Mira Nair

#13

The Hurricane (1999)
83%

#13
Adjusted Score: 87862%
Critics Consensus: Thanks in large part to one of Denzel Washington's most powerful on-screen performances, The Hurricane is a moving, inspirational sports drama, even if it takes few risks in telling its story.
Synopsis: Denzel Washington is Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a man whose dreams of winning the middleweight boxing title were destroyed when he... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 87938%
Critics Consensus: An emotional and intriguing tale of a military officer who must review the merits of a fallen officer while confronting his own war demons. Effectively depicts the terrors of war as well as its heartbreaking aftermath.
Synopsis: During the 1991 Gulf War, Lieutenant Colonel Nathaniel Serling (Denzel Washington) accidentally caused a friendly fire incident, a mistake that... [More]
Directed By: Edward Zwick

#11

Inside Man (2006)
86%

#11
Adjusted Score: 94908%
Critics Consensus: Spike Lee's energetic and clever bank-heist thriller is a smart genre film that is not only rewarding on its own terms, but manages to subvert its pulpy trappings with wit and skill.
Synopsis: A tough detective (Denzel Washington) matches wits with a cunning bank robber (Clive Owen), as a tense hostage crisis is... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#10

Unstoppable (2010)
87%

#10
Adjusted Score: 93246%
Critics Consensus: As fast, loud, and relentless as the train at the center of the story, Unstoppable is perfect popcorn entertainment -- and director Tony Scott's best movie in years.
Synopsis: When a massive, unmanned locomotive roars out of control, the threat is more ominous than just a derailment. The train... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#9

The Mighty Quinn (1989)
88%

#9
Adjusted Score: 87554%
Critics Consensus: A deft hybrid of laughs, espionage, and music, The Mighty Quinn is a smart, pleasant entertainment that offers an early example of Denzel Washington's onscreen magnetism.
Synopsis: Police chief Xavier Quinn (Denzel Washington) investigates the gruesome murder of Donald Pater, one of the wealthiest residents on a... [More]
Directed By: Carl Schenkel

#8

Crimson Tide (1995)
88%

#8
Adjusted Score: 90962%
Critics Consensus: Boasting taut, high energy thrills and some cracking dialogue courtesy of an uncredited Quentin Tarantino, Crimson Tide finds director Tony Scott near the top of his action game.
Synopsis: After the Cold War, a breakaway Russian republic with nuclear warheads becomes a possible worldwide threat. U.S. submarine Capt. Frank... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#7

Malcolm X (1992)
89%

#7
Adjusted Score: 93104%
Critics Consensus: Anchored by a powerful performance from Denzel Washington, Spike Lee's biopic of legendary civil rights leader Malcolm X brings his autobiography to life with an epic sweep and a nuanced message.
Synopsis: A tribute to the controversial black activist and leader of the struggle for black liberation. He hit bottom during his... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 92749%
Critics Consensus: Kenneth Branagh's love for the material is contagious in this exuberant adaptation.
Synopsis: In this Shakespearean farce, Hero (Kate Beckinsale) and her groom-to-be, Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard), team up with Claudio's commanding officer,... [More]
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 99011%
Critics Consensus: Humor, interesting characters, and attention to details make the stylish Devil in a Blue Dress an above average noir.
Synopsis: In late 1940s Los Angeles, Easy Rawlins (Denzel Washington) is an unemployed black World War II veteran with few job... [More]
Directed By: Carl Franklin

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 92281%
Critics Consensus: A meticulously-crafted murder mystery with incisive observations about race in America, A Soldier's Story benefits from a roundly excellent ensemble and Charles Fuller's politically urgent screenplay.
Synopsis: A black Army investigator (Howard E. Rollins Jr.) travels to a remote military base in the heart of the Louisiana... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#3

Fences (2016)
92%

#3
Adjusted Score: 107956%
Critics Consensus: From its reunited Broadway stars to its screenplay, the solidly crafted Fences finds its Pulitzer-winning source material fundamentally unchanged -- and still just as powerful.
Synopsis: Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) makes his living as a sanitation worker in 1950s Pittsburgh. Maxson once dreamed of becoming a... [More]
Directed By: Denzel Washington

#2

Glory (1989)
93%

#2
Adjusted Score: 96270%
Critics Consensus: Bolstered by exceptional cinematography, powerful storytelling, and an Oscar-winning performance by Denzel Washington, Glory remains one of the finest Civil War movies ever made.
Synopsis: Following the Battle of Antietam, Col. Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) is offered command of the United States' first all-African-American... [More]
Directed By: Edward Zwick

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 105279%
Critics Consensus: Led by a stellar Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth strips the classic story down to its visual and narrative essentials.
Synopsis: Power-hungry Macbeth sets his sights on the Scottish throne after receiving a prophecy from three witches.... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Digital Multiplex, where we bring you the newest and best movies available for streaming and digital download. Each week, we’ll comb the biggest streaming sites for hot new releases and older gems that you can watch instantly in the comfort of your home. This week, we’ve got plenty of good stuff to choose from, including recent thrillers, insightful documentaries, and some classics from the 1980s. Read on to find out what’s available to watch right now.


Flight
   77%

Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, a commercial airline pilot whose mid-air heroics help to avert a catastrophic crash. Soon, however, his halo is tarnished, as investigators examine whether Whip was under the influence while flying.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Seven Psychopaths
   83%

Colin Farrell stars as a struggling screenwriter whose well-meaning buddy (Sam Rockwell) places him in danger when he unwittingly kidnaps a dog belonging to a violent gangster (Woody Harrelson) who will stop at nothing to rescue his beloved pet.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


End of Watch
   85%

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena star partners in the LAPD – one of whom is shooting footage of life on the beat for a film school project – and what a wild few days they are. Upon making what seems like a routine bust, our heroes become the targets of a ruthless drug cartel.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Pitch Perfect
   81%

Anna Kendrick stars as a new kid on campus who goes looking for a new clique and finds one in the form of the school’s a cappella ensemble. Can our heroine’s hip taste in tunes shake up the group’s staid arrangements — and make it a contender at the big singing competition?

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


The Sessions
   91%

John Hawkes and Helen Hunt star in a dramedy about a man with polio looking for romance.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


A Woman Under the Influence
   90%

John Cassavetes’ brutally realistic drama stars Gena Rowlands in an Oscar-nominated turn as a suburban housewife in the midst of a mental breakdown.

Available now on: Hulu


Compliance
   89%

This Certified Fresh thriller tells the tale of a fast food restaurant employee who gets into deep trouble after being accused of a crime she didn’t commit.

Available now on: Netflix


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
   81%

Matthew Broderick stars in John Hughes’ 1980s classic about a teenage iconoclast who takes his best pal on a wild tour of Chicago in an effort to cheer him up.

Available now on: Netflix


Trading Places
   88%

Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd star in a comedy about a privileged yuppie and a clever street hustler who find themselves swapping positions on the social ladder.

Available now on: Netflix


Terms of Endearment
   78%

Starring Debra Winger, Shirley MacLaine, and Jack Nicholson, this Best Picture winner is a dramedy about several decades in the lives of a mother and daughter.

Available now on: Netflix


Once Upon a Time in Mexico
   66%

Robert Rodriguez’ wild action/adventure stars Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, and Johnny Depp in a about an attempt to foil a conspiracy to kill the Mexican president.

Available now on: Netflix


Man With the Movie Camera
   97%

Dziga Vertov’s mind-blowing experimental film is a newly minted entrant into the prestigious Sight and Sound poll of the 10 greatest films of all time.

Available now on: Netflix

This week on home video, we’ve got Denzel Washington in an Oscar-nominated performance, Kevin James in the octagon, Tyler Perry squaring off against a serial killer, and a likable indie rom-com. Then we’ve got a quiet drama with some star pedigree and three documentaries with Tomatometer scores of 94% and up. See below for the full list!



Flight

77%

After 2000’s Cast Away, director Robert Zemeckis immersed himself in motion capture animation, achieving only mixed success. Last year, the man who brought us Marty Mcfly and Forrest Gump returned to live action with Flight, a story of heroism and addiction. Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, an airline pilot struggling with alcoholism whose quick thinking helps to save many lives in what could have been a tragic plane crash. As the media descend upon him, new details surface that lead to questions of Whip’s character, and a hearing is scheduled to determine the truth of the accident. Washington has garnered widespread praise — including an Oscar nod for Best Actor — for his work here, and the cast is rounded out by notable costars like Don Cheadle, Melissa Leo, Bruce Greenwood, and John Goodman. Critics say Flight is a thoughtful character study bolstered by strong performances, and it’s Certified Fresh at 78%.



Here Comes the Boom

41%

Heavyset men have been taking pratfalls on film since the earliest days of cinema, and despite consistently low Tomatometer scores, Kevin James proves the phenomenon continues to be a moneymaker. Here Comes the Boom finds the Happy Madison regular in the guise of Scott Voss, a high school biology teacher who tries his hand at mixed martial arts fighting in order to raise money for his school’s failing music program. Will he be able to earn enough to cover the $48,000 music budget before his brains are bashed to pulp? You probably don’t need to see the movie to figure that one out. For what it’s worth, critics say that James is likable as ever in the role, but also that Here Comes the Boom fails to deliver either sufficient laughs or a satisfying enough plot to make it entirely worthwhile.



Alex Cross

11%

Whether or not you realized it at the time, 1997’s Kiss the Girls and 2001’s Along Came a Spider, were adapted from a book franchise by James Patterson centered around a detective named Alex Cross. Morgan Freeman played the role in those two films, but in last year’s eponymous coming-out party for the character, Alex Cross, Tyler “Madea” Perry took up the mantle, and the result was far less impressive. Like the other tales, Alex Cross features its titular hero matching wits with a deadly serial killer (one who calls himself Picasso, played by LOST‘s Matthew Fox) in what amounts to sort of an “origin story,” predating the character’s eventual Washington, D.C. digs. As Cross zeroes in on Picasso, he discovers the killer may be involved in a larger conspiracy. Critics scored this one at 13%, calling the script tasteless and lazily written and Rob Cohen’s (XXX, The Fast and the Furious) direction confounding. It would appear that Perry’s attempt to broaden his appeal was largely a misfire, but don’t you fans worry: a home video release of Tyler Perry’s Madea Gets a Job: The Play is also available this week.



Celeste and Jesse Forever

71%

We’ve seen how well Rashida Jones can play comedy, particularly from her roles in The Office (US) and Parks and Recreation, but how well can she write it? Celeste and Jesse Forever might indicate she’s pretty good at that, too. Jones pairs with SNL alumnus Andy Samberg as Celeste and Jesse (natch), high school sweethearts who married early but, now in their early 30s, have drifted apart. Celeste is a successful, ambitious businesswoman, but Jesse is an unemployed artist, so Celeste initiates a divorce and Jesse agrees reluctantly. The problem is, they still get along great, and just when Celeste begins to second guess her decision, things get really complicated for Jesse. Critics say both Jones and Samberg are immensely likable, and Jones, who cowrote the film with Will McCormack (who also appears in a supporting role), seems to know what to do with a script. Though it’s not as incisive or clever as it probably thinks it is, Celeste and Jesse Forever still manages a few surprises and an earnest take on long-term relationships.



Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel

94%

In the first of this week’s impressive documentaries, we have Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, a look at the legendary and influential fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar who became the head honcho at Vogue (if you’re thinking of Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada, that was supposed to be Anna Wintour, the current editor-in-chief). Born in Paris, Vreeland came from rather important stock — her mother was descended from George Washington’s brother, and was the cousin of Francis Scott Key — and enjoyed relationships with various high society folks. She operated a boutique in London and bought her clothes directly from Coco Chanel before moving back to the States permanently with her family and beginning her illustrious fashion writing career. The film captures Vreeland’s life vividly with appropriately stylish flair, and critics have marked it Certified Fresh at 95%. If you’re looking for an informative portrait of a charismatic subject, this is a good choice.



Paul Williams Still Alive

97%

Maybe you’re just in a biopic mood, and Diana Vreeland only whet your appetite. If so, you’re in luck, because there’s another one hitting shelves this week you might want to consider. Director Stephen Kessler chronicles his lifelong obsession with the singer-songwriter-actor, beginning with the adolescent days when he idolized Williams and leading up to an eventual meeting with the former star. To offer a bit of context, those of you who don’t recognize Williams’s name will surely be familiar with some of his work, whether it’s The Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun” or Kermit the Frog’s “Rainbow Connection,” both of which Williams wrote. Documenting his journey with fervent nostalgia, Kessler inadvertently creates a film that’s just as much about his passion as it is about Paul Williams himself, and critics found it revealing and engrossing, awarding it a 97% on the Tomatometer.



A Late Quartet

76%

Considering its rather impressive cast and largely favorable reviews, you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t hear more about A Late Quartet. We don’t really have an answer for that, except to say that it opened in very limited release back in November and spent little effort on promotion. The film stars Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ivanir, and Catherine Keener as members of a string quartet preparing to celebrate their 25th year together. Walken’s Peter Mitchell, the cellist and leader of the ensemble, discovers he is in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, and while he quietly begins to plan for his future, the two violinists (Ivanir and Hoffman) revisit old resentments and quibble over who belongs in first chair. While some critics found the story a little heavy on the melodramatics, most were willing to dismiss them as a minor objection in an otherwise maturely acted film. Certified Fresh at 73%, A Late Quartet is mostly an insightful and emotionally satisfying drama.



Side by Side

93%

Got room for one more documentary? We trust you RT folk will find this one to be of particular interest, for Side by Side is one of those behind-the-scenes glimpses into movie history that helps us all to form a greater appreciation for the art. Plus, it’s “hosted” by Keanu Reeves (and very well, according to critics), and that’s always fun. The film offers a historical look at traditional celluloid filmmaking and describes how the advent of digital filmmaking has impacted the industry. While offering some smart, scientific information for the geek in all of us, the film also features interviews with a lot of big names, including George Lucas, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, Steven Soderbergh, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, and many, many more, all offering their opinions and insights on the topic. Certified Fresh at 94%, Side by Side should be an informative and utterly fascinating watch for any movie buff.

Also available this week:

  • The Czech, Japanese, and Slovak CGI/stop-motion collaboration Na Pude (Toys in the Attic) (73%), featuring voice work from Forest Whitaker, Cary Elwes, and Joan Cusack.
  • French import Little White Lies (42%), starring Marion Cotillard and Jean Dujardin in a Big Chill-esque drama.
  • Deadfall (33%), a chilly neo-noir thriller starring Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Kris Kristofferson, and Sissy Spacek.
  • So Undercover (7%), a Miley Cyrus-led teen comedy about a girl hired by the FBI to go undercover at a sorority.
  • Keisuke Kinoshita’s 1958 drama The Ballad of Narayama (100%), is available in a new Criterion Collection edition.
  • Disney’s adaptation of Peter Pan (84%), is being released from the vault.

Looking back at the movies from the director of this week’s Flight.

Looking back at the movies from the director of this week’s Flight.

Robert Zemeckis is back in the world of live action films, directing Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle, and Kelly Reilly in Flight, the story of a pilot who saved hundreds of lives in the sky but might not be able to save himself on the ground.

Grae Drake digs deep with the cast as to whether or not Whip is a hero. Slightly unrelated, hear what happens after you swear onstage at the Oscars.

 

Click here to watch more video interviews

This week at the movies, we’ve got a sensitive villain (Wreck-it Ralph, with voice work by John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman), a troubled pilot (Flight, starring Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle), and a fighting blacksmith (The Man With the Iron Fists, starring Russell Crowe and RZA). What do the critics have to say?



Wreck-it Ralph

87%

What do video game characters do when the lights go off at the arcade? That’s the inspired premise of Wreck-it Ralph, which critics say is a visual phantasmagoria with a clever story and heartfelt characters that should appeal to kids and their parents. Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) is the bad guy in a retro arcade game, but he longs for acceptance and love from his fellow video game characters. So he ventures out of his game in search of adventure and respect — a trek that could have devastating consequences for his pixelated peers. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Wreck-it Ralph falls a little short of the Toy Story movies, but it’s a deft mix of strong storytelling and sensorial ingenuity. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down memorable video game movies.)



Flight

77%

Flight is the tale of the flawed man behind a great act of courage, and critics say it features a terrific performance from Denzel Washington, while director Robert Zemeckis successfully balances white-knuckle action with a perceptive look at a vulnerable, troubled man. Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, a commercial airline pilot whose mid-air heroics help to avert a catastrophic crash. Soon, however, his halo is tarnished, as investigators examine whether Whip was under the influence while flying. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Flight is effectively unsettling, a smart, surprisingly entertaining film about addiction that never lets its message overwhelm its narrative.



The Man With the Iron Fists

51%

As the mastermind of the Wu-Tang Clan’s sound, RZA famously sampled dialogue and sound effects from classic martial arts films. And he basically does the same thing in his directorial debut, The Man With the Iron Fists, which critics say is a disjointed but spirited and exciting pastiche of movie styles. RZA stars as a blacksmith who tries to defend his village against a bloodthirsty clan that descends on the town in search of gold. The pundits say The Man With the Iron Fists overcomes its narrative flaws to deliver an action-packed spectacle that brims with over-the-top exuberance. (Check out 24 Frames for a crash course in martial arts movies.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

Finally, props to Linda Burke for coming the closest to guessing Silent Hill: Revelation 3D‘s five percent Tomatometer.

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