(Photo by Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

All Morgan Freeman Movies Ranked By Tomatometer

Morgan Freeman. Read this sentence in his voice. That familiar sound of authoritative benevolence, that could make an intro paragraph soar like a songbird with world-weariest wings. Freeman has lent his sonorous gift for narration to dozens of documentaries, including March of the Penguins, and to several of his narrative films, like Million Dollar Baby and, to lasting generational effect, in The Shawshank Redemption.

But before the voice of God got to play God (see: Bruce and Evan Almighty), Freeman had to humbly serve the silver screen in bit and seriously secondary parts for two decades. He got his big break performing the the lead villain in Christopher Reeve’s journalism thriller Street Smart, for which he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. That was released in 1987 and is where we’ll start Freeman’s filmography for this guide. Just two years later, he was on the national radar with the Best Picture-winning Driving Miss Daisy, for which he was once more nominated. The Academy has recognized his work three times since: Shawshank, Million Dollar Baby (for which he won), and Invictus.

The Daisy prestige brought in a raft of memorable roles for Freeman, including in Glory, Unforgiven, and Seven. He also seems to have a knack for being in the right comic book movie at the right time: see Red, Wanted, and his turn as Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight trilogy. We’re taking a look back on a celebrated career with this list of all Morgan Freeman movies ranked by Tomatometer!

#68

The Poison Rose (2019)
0%

#68
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A hard-drinking detective takes on what looks to be a routine missing person case, only to be drawn into a... [More]

#67

The Contract (2006)
0%

#67
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Frank Carden (Morgan Freeman), one of the world's greatest assassins, is handed a lucrative contract to kill a highly secretive... [More]
Directed By: Bruce Beresford

#66
#66
Adjusted Score: 4807%
Critics Consensus: A thoroughly unfunny misfire, Just Getting Started manages the incredible feat of wasting more than a century of combined acting experience from its three talented leads.
Synopsis: Duke Diver is living the high life as the freewheeling manager of a luxurious resort in Palm Springs, Calif. He... [More]
Directed By: Ron Shelton

#65

Vanquish (2021)
5%

#65
Adjusted Score: 6664%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: From the director of Double Take, Middle Men, and The Poison Rose comes this stylish, glossy action-thriller starring Morgan Freeman... [More]
Directed By: George Gallo

#64

Edison (2005)
13%

#64
Adjusted Score: 4573%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Ambitious young reporter Pollack (Justin Timberlake) suspects insidious corruption in his town's elite police unit, known as F.R.A.T., and finds... [More]
Directed By: David J. Burke

#63

Last Knights (2015)
16%

#63
Adjusted Score: 16389%
Critics Consensus: As blandly unimaginative as its title, Last Knights revisits well-worn sword-and-sandal tropes without adding anything new -- or interesting -- to the genre.
Synopsis: A fallen swordsman (Clive Owen) leads a small army against a sadistic ruler to avenge his dishonored master (Morgan Freeman).... [More]
Directed By: Kaz I Kiriya

#62

The Big Bounce (2004)
15%

#62
Adjusted Score: 19620%
Critics Consensus: Lazily crafted and light on substance, The Big Bounce takes few chances and strands its promising cast in a subpar adaptation that fails to do its source material justice.
Synopsis: Beach bum and petty criminal Jack Ryan (Owen Wilson) gets into a fight while working at a construction site owned... [More]
Directed By: George Armitage

#61
Adjusted Score: 18444%
Critics Consensus: The Bonfire of the Vanities is a vapid adaptation of a thoughtful book, fatally miscast and shorn of the source material's crucial sense of irony. Add it to the pyre of Hollywood's ambitious failures.
Synopsis: In this adaptation of the Tom Wolfe novel, powerful Wall Street executive Sherman McCoy (Tom Hanks) is riding with his... [More]
Directed By: Brian De Palma

#60

Chain Reaction (1996)
18%

#60
Adjusted Score: 18434%
Critics Consensus: Ironic given the scientific breakthrough at the story's core, Chain Reaction is a man-on-the-run thriller that mostly sticks to generic formula.
Synopsis: At a Chicago university, a research team that includes brilliant Eddie Kasalivich (Keanu Reeves) experiences a breakthrough: a stable form... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Davis

#59

Transcendence (2014)
19%

#59
Adjusted Score: 28761%
Critics Consensus: In his directorial debut, ace cinematographer Wally Pfister remains a distinctive visual stylist, but Transcendence's thought-provoking themes exceed the movie's narrative grasp.
Synopsis: Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp), the world's foremost authority on artificial intelligence, is conducting highly controversial experiments to create a... [More]
Directed By: Wally Pfister

#58

Evan Almighty (2007)
23%

#58
Adjusted Score: 31336%
Critics Consensus: Big on special effects but short on laughs, Evan Almighty underutilizes a star-studded cast that includes Steve Carell and Morgan Freeman.
Synopsis: Newscaster Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) leaves Buffalo behind when he wins a seat in Congress. Moving his wife (Lauren Graham)... [More]
Directed By: Tom Shadyac

#57

Ben-Hur (2016)
25%

#57
Adjusted Score: 35703%
Critics Consensus: How do you fight an idea? By filming a remake that has too few of its own, and tries to cover it up with choppy editing and CGI.
Synopsis: Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) loses everything after his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), now an officer in the Roman army,... [More]
Directed By: Timur Bekmambetov

#56
#56
Adjusted Score: 39094%
Critics Consensus: London Has Fallen traps a talented cast -- and all who dare to see it -- in a mid-1990s basic-cable nightmare of a film loaded with xenophobia and threadbare action-thriller clichés.
Synopsis: After the death of the British prime minister, the world's most powerful leaders gather in London to pay their respects.... [More]
Directed By: Babak Najafi

#55

Dreamcatcher (2003)
28%

#55
Adjusted Score: 34186%
Critics Consensus: An incoherent and overly long creature feature.
Synopsis: "Dreamcatcher" tells of four young friends who perform a heroic act -- and are changed forever by the uncanny powers... [More]
Directed By: Lawrence Kasdan

#54
#54
Adjusted Score: 29600%
Critics Consensus: Neither Rob Reiner nor Morgan Freeman are able to conjure up their old magic in this dull trifle, with both director and star appearing content to tread through the paces of the saccharine script.
Synopsis: An alcoholic, disabled novelist (Morgan Freeman) finds his muse again after he moves into a lakeside cabin and meets a... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#53

Hard Rain (1998)
31%

#53
Adjusted Score: 32911%
Critics Consensus: Hard Rain is an implausible heist movie soaked in disaster movie trappings.
Synopsis: The small town of Huntingburg is forced to evacuate when torrential rains bring rising flood waters. The local sheriff (Randy... [More]
Directed By: Mikael Salomon

#52

Kiss the Girls (1997)
33%

#52
Adjusted Score: 34467%
Critics Consensus: Detective Alex Cross makes his inauspicious cinematic debut in Kiss the Girls, a clunky thriller that offers few surprises.
Synopsis: Successful forensic psychologist Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) discovers that his niece has gone missing. Once he consults with police Detective... [More]
Directed By: Gary Fleder

#51

High Crimes (2002)
31%

#51
Adjusted Score: 34043%
Critics Consensus: Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman make this predictable affair watchable.
Synopsis: A happily married, successful lawyer (Ashley Judd) is shocked to learn that her husband (Jim Caviezel) has a hidden past... [More]
Directed By: Carl Franklin

#50
#50
Adjusted Score: 35652%
Critics Consensus: Derivative and contains too many implausible situations.
Synopsis: A psychological suspense thriller adapted from James Patterson's first highly acclaimed novel in the Alex Cross series, Morgan Freeman reprises... [More]
Directed By: Lee Tamahori

#49
Adjusted Score: 44042%
Critics Consensus: Lacking a transporting yuletide story or dazzling dance routines, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a hollow holiday confection that's lovely to look at -- and easy to forget.
Synopsis: Young Clara needs a magical, one-of-a-kind key to unlock a box that contains a priceless gift. A golden thread leads... [More]

#48

Now You See Me 2 (2016)
34%

#48
Adjusted Score: 45094%
Critics Consensus: Now You See Me 2 packs in even more twists and turns than its predecessor, but in the end, it has even less hiding up its sleeve.
Synopsis: After fleeing from a stage show, the illusionists (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson) known as the Four Horsemen find themselves in... [More]
Directed By: Jon M. Chu

#47

Levity (2003)
34%

#47
Adjusted Score: 36574%
Critics Consensus: Levity could really use some, as it's weighted down by dour self-importance and a heavy-handed message.
Synopsis: Seeking redemption after his release from prison, a murderer (Billy Bob Thornton) meets a shady pastor (Morgan Freeman) and the... [More]
Directed By: Ed Solomon

#46

Angel Has Fallen (2019)
39%

#46
Adjusted Score: 49461%
Critics Consensus: Cut from the same rough cloth as its predecessors, Angel Has Fallen rounds out a mostly forgettable action trilogy in fittingly mediocre fashion.
Synopsis: Authorities take Secret Service agent Mike Banning into custody for the failed assassination attempt of U.S. President Allan Trumbull. After... [More]
Directed By: Ric Roman Waugh

#45

The Power of One (1992)
39%

#45
Adjusted Score: 38746%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: It's the 1930s, and as the people he cares for die or leave his village, young South African P.K. bonds... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen

#44

Feast of Love (2007)
39%

#44
Adjusted Score: 43599%
Critics Consensus: Though beautifully photographed, Feast of Love offers little beyond a trite, melodramatic character drama.
Synopsis: The love lives of several people of various ages intersect when a young woman named Chloe (Alexa Davalos) comes to... [More]
Directed By: Robert Benton

#43

The Bucket List (2007)
41%

#43
Adjusted Score: 47981%
Critics Consensus: Not even the earnest performances of the two leads can rescue The Bucket List from its schmaltzy script.
Synopsis: Billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and car mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) are complete strangers, until fate lands them in... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#42

Moll Flanders (1996)
43%

#42
Adjusted Score: 43806%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After her mother is executed as a thief, young Moll Flanders (Robin Wright) flees the orphanage in which she was... [More]
Directed By: Pen Densham

#41

Ted 2 (2015)
44%

#41
Adjusted Score: 52367%
Critics Consensus: Ted 2 reunites Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane for another round of sophomoric, scatological humor -- and just as before, your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance for all of the above.
Synopsis: Life has changed drastically for thunder buddies John (Mark Wahlberg), now a bachelor, and best pal Ted (Seth MacFarlane), now... [More]
Directed By: Seth MacFarlane

#40

Deep Impact (1998)
45%

#40
Adjusted Score: 46597%
Critics Consensus: A tidal wave of melodrama sinks Deep Impact's chance at being the memorable disaster flick it aspires to be.
Synopsis: A comet is hurtling toward Earth and could mean the end of all human life. The U.S. government keeps the... [More]
Directed By: Mimi Leder

#39
#39
Adjusted Score: 33558%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Indebted to the mob, two movie producers try to save themselves by setting up an aging actor for an insurance... [More]
Directed By: George Gallo

#38

5 Flights Up (2014)
46%

#38
Adjusted Score: 47823%
Critics Consensus: 5 Flights Up is a bit of a narrative fixer-upper, but when it comes to watching Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman share screen time, you really can't beat the view.
Synopsis: A husband (Morgan Freeman) and wife (Diane Keaton) spend a hectic weekend pondering the sale of the apartment they've shared... [More]
Directed By: Richard Loncraine

#37

Last Vegas (2013)
46%

#37
Adjusted Score: 50582%
Critics Consensus: The cast of Last Vegas keep things amiably watchable, but the film is mostly a mellower Hangover retread for the older set.
Synopsis: Aging pals Billy (Michael Douglas), Paddy (Robert De Niro), Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline) have been best friends... [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

#36

Going in Style (2017)
47%

#36
Adjusted Score: 58439%
Critics Consensus: Despite the considerable talent of its leads, Going in Style is light on laughs and plays it safe far too often.
Synopsis: Lifelong buddies Willie (Morgan Freeman), Joe (Michael Caine) and Albert (Alan Arkin) decide to buck retirement and step off the... [More]
Directed By: Zach Braff

#35

Bruce Almighty (2003)
48%

#35
Adjusted Score: 54579%
Critics Consensus: Carrey is hilarious in the slapstick scenes, but Bruce Almighty gets bogged down in treacle.
Synopsis: Bruce Nolan's (Jim Carrey) career in TV has been stalled for a while, and when he's passed over for a... [More]
Directed By: Tom Shadyac

#34

Under Suspicion (2000)
49%

#34
Adjusted Score: 48994%
Critics Consensus: Though Hackman and Freeman turn in solid performances, Under Suspicion moves at a plodding rate and has a disappointing ending.
Synopsis: "Under Suspicion" is an intense, psychological thriller, with veteran Police Captain Victor Benezet squaring off against prominent tax attorney Henry... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Hopkins

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 56955%
Critics Consensus: It's far from original, but Olympus Has Fallen benefits from Antoine Fuqua's tense direction and a strong performance from Gerard Butler -- which might just be enough for action junkies.
Synopsis: The unthinkable happens when heavily armed and highly trained terrorists launch a bold daytime attack on the White House. The... [More]
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua

#32

Coming 2 America (2021)
49%

#32
Adjusted Score: 62618%
Critics Consensus: Decades after its predecessor joked about the fine line between love and nausea, Coming 2 America reminds audiences that there's an equally fine line between sequel and retread.
Synopsis: Set in the lush and royal country of Zamunda, newly-crowned King Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and his trusted confidante Semmi(Arsenio Hall)... [More]
Directed By: Craig Brewer

#31

Now You See Me (2013)
50%

#31
Adjusted Score: 56567%
Critics Consensus: Now You See Me's thinly sketched characters and scattered plot rely on sleight of hand from the director to distract audiences.
Synopsis: Charismatic magician Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) leads a team of talented illusionists called the Four Horsemen. Atlas and his comrades mesmerize... [More]
Directed By: Louis Leterrier

#30
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

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 57289%
Critics Consensus: Trying too hard to be clever in a Pulp Fiction kind of way, this film succumbs to a convoluted plot, overly stylized characters, and dizzying set design.
Synopsis: A case of mistaken identity puts a man named Slevin (Josh Hartnett) in the middle of a war between two... [More]
Directed By: Paul McGuigan

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 57344%
Critics Consensus: A story of disjointed family members yearning for true emotional depth, An Unfinished Life teeters between overtly saccharine sentiments and moments of real intimacy.
Synopsis: Einar (Robert Redford), a recovering alcoholic rancher who lives with his loyal pal Mitch (Morgan Freeman), gets an unexpected visit... [More]
Directed By: Lasse Hallström

#27

Outbreak (1995)
59%

#27
Adjusted Score: 61711%
Critics Consensus: A frustratingly uneven all-star disaster drama, Outbreak ultimately proves only mildly contagious and leaves few lasting side effects.
Synopsis: A dangerous airborne virus threatens civilization in this tense thriller. After an African monkey carrying a lethal virus is smuggled... [More]
Directed By: Wolfgang Petersen

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 64599%
Critics Consensus: A slick and well-made thriller that takes on new weight due to the current political climate.
Synopsis: Based on Tom Clancy's novel, this espionage thriller tracks a sinister plot to draw the United States and Russia into... [More]
Directed By: Phil Alden Robinson

#25

Clean and Sober (1988)
57%

#25
Adjusted Score: 57253%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Hotshot real estate salesman Daryl (Michael Keaton) has a bad cocaine habit. After embezzling his company's money, he wakes up... [More]
Directed By: Glenn Gordon Caron

#24

Johnny Handsome (1989)
62%

#24
Adjusted Score: 61261%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A crook, given a new identity by reconstructive surgery, plots revenge against the gangsters who double-crossed him.... [More]
Directed By: Walter Hill

#23

10 Items or Less (2006)
63%

#23
Adjusted Score: 64873%
Critics Consensus: A small film that relies too heavily on the charm of its big actors.
Synopsis: An actor (Morgan Freeman) who is considering the role of a supermarket manager arrives at a grocery store on the... [More]
Directed By: Brad Silberling

#22

Street Smart (1987)
64%

#22
Adjusted Score: 64344%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Jonathan Fisher (Christopher Reeve) is a reporter struggling to keep his job at a magazine. Assigned to write a real-life... [More]
Directed By: Jerry Schatzberg

#21

Unleashed (2005)
66%

#21
Adjusted Score: 70031%
Critics Consensus: Jet Li gets to emote in some emotionally awkward scenes, but the gritty fight sequences come through in what is Li's best English language film.
Synopsis: Crime boss Bart raises orphan Danny with no knowledge of anything other than how to fight, using him as an... [More]
Directed By: Louis Leterrier

#20

Dolphin Tale 2 (2014)
66%

#20
Adjusted Score: 68136%
Critics Consensus: Much like its predecessor, Dolphin Tale 2 offers animal antics and sweet, old-fashioned drama that the whole family can enjoy.
Synopsis: Several years have passed since Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) and the team at Clearwater Marine Hospital gave Winter the dolphin... [More]
Directed By: Charles Martin Smith

#19

Lucy (2014)
67%

#19
Adjusted Score: 76231%
Critics Consensus: Enthusiastic and silly, Lucy powers through the movie's logic gaps with cheesy thrills plus Scarlett Johansson's charm -- and mostly succeeds at it.
Synopsis: When a boyfriend tricks Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) into delivering a briefcase to a supposed business contact, the once-carefree student is... [More]
Directed By: Luc Besson

#18

Lean on Me (1989)
65%

#18
Adjusted Score: 64652%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this fact-based film, a New Jersey superintendent, Dr. Frank Napier (Robert Guillaume), watches helplessly as East Side High becomes... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen

#17

Wanted (2008)
71%

#17
Adjusted Score: 79371%
Critics Consensus: Wanted is stylish, energetic popcorn fare with witty performances from Angelina Jolie (playing an expert assassin), James McAvoy, and Morgan Freeman that help to distract from its absurdly over-the-top plot.
Synopsis: Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is an office worker whose life is going nowhere. After his estranged father is murdered, he... [More]
Directed By: Timur Bekmambetov

#16

Red (2010)
72%

#16
Adjusted Score: 79011%
Critics Consensus: It may not be the killer thrill ride you'd expect from an action movie with a cast of this caliber, but Red still thoroughly outshines most of its big-budget counterparts with its wit and style.
Synopsis: After surviving an assault from a squad of hit men, retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) reassembles his old... [More]
Directed By: Robert Schwentke

#15

Invictus (2009)
76%

#15
Adjusted Score: 85442%
Critics Consensus: Delivered with typically stately precision by director Clint Eastwood, Invictus may not be rousing enough for some viewers, but Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman inhabit their real-life characters with admirable conviction.
Synopsis: Following the fall of apartheid, newly elected President Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) faces a South Africa that is racially and... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#14

Amistad (1997)
77%

#14
Adjusted Score: 79861%
Critics Consensus: Heartfelt without resorting to preachiness, Amistad tells an important story with engaging sensitivity and absorbing skill.
Synopsis: In 1839, the slave ship Amistad set sail from Cuba to America. During the long trip, Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) leads... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#13

Seven (1995)
82%

#13
Adjusted Score: 86447%
Critics Consensus: A brutal, relentlessly grimy shocker with taut performances, slick gore effects, and a haunting finale.
Synopsis: When retiring police Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) tackles a final case with the aid of newly transferred David Mills... [More]
Directed By: David Fincher

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 86306%
Critics Consensus: While it's fueled in part by outdated stereotypes, Driving Miss Daisy takes audiences on a heartwarming journey with a pair of outstanding actors.
Synopsis: Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy), an elderly Jewish widow living in Atlanta, is determined to maintain her independence. However, when she... [More]
Directed By: Bruce Beresford

#11

Dolphin Tale (2011)
82%

#11
Adjusted Score: 84911%
Critics Consensus: Wisely dialing down the schmaltz, Dolphin Tale is earnest, sweet, and well-told, a rare family film that both kids and parents can enjoy.
Synopsis: While swimming free in the ocean, a young dolphin gets caught in a trap and severely damages her tail. Though... [More]
Directed By: Charles Martin Smith

#10

Nurse Betty (2000)
83%

#10
Adjusted Score: 87762%
Critics Consensus: Quirky in the best sense of the word, Nurse Betty finds director Neil LaBute corralling a talented cast in service of a sharp, imaginative script.
Synopsis: What happens when a person decides that life is merely a state of mind? If you're Betty, a small-town waitress... [More]
Directed By: Neil LaBute

#9

Batman Begins (2005)
84%

#9
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

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 103502%
Critics Consensus: The Dark Knight Rises is an ambitious, thoughtful, and potent action film that concludes Christopher Nolan's franchise in spectacular fashion.
Synopsis: It has been eight years since Batman (Christian Bale), in collusion with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), vanished into the night.... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 100203%
Critics Consensus: Clint Eastwood's assured direction - combined with knockout performances from Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman - help Million Dollar Baby to transcend its clichés, and the result is deeply heartfelt and moving.
Synopsis: Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) is a veteran Los Angeles boxing trainer who keeps almost everyone at arm's length, except his... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 96496%
Critics Consensus: The Shawshank Redemption is an uplifting, deeply satisfying prison drama with sensitive direction and fine performances.
Synopsis: Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and... [More]
Directed By: Frank Darabont

#5

Glory (1989)
93%

#5
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

#4

Gone Baby Gone (2007)
94%

#4
Adjusted Score: 101661%
Critics Consensus: Ben Affleck proves his directing credentials in this gripping dramatic thriller, drawing strong performances from the excellent cast and bringing working-class Boston to the screen.
Synopsis: Along with his girlfriend (Michelle Monaghan), a private detective (Casey Affleck) takes on the difficult task of searching for a... [More]
Directed By: Ben Affleck

#3

The Dark Knight (2008)
94%

#3
Adjusted Score: 107468%
Critics Consensus: Dark, complex, and unforgettable, The Dark Knight succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling crime saga.
Synopsis: With the help of allies Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman (Christian Bale) has... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#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

Unforgiven (1992)
96%

#1
Adjusted Score: 105273%
Critics Consensus: As both director and star, Clint Eastwood strips away decades of Hollywood varnish applied to the Wild West, and emerges with a series of harshly eloquent statements about the nature of violence.
Synopsis: When prostitute Delilah Fitzgerald (Anna Thomson) is disfigured by a pair of cowboys in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, her fellow brothel... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

In Theaters This Week:



Magic in the Moonlight

51%

Rating: PG-13, for a brief suggestive comment and smoking throughout.

Woody Allen’s annual offering is a fluffy comic trifle about spirits and sleight of hand amid the wealthy on the Cote d’Azur. Colin Firth stars as a world-renowned, arrogant illusionist who’s asked to unmask a pretty, young American psychic (Emma Stone) as a fake. Because the movie takes place amid the wealthy in Europe in the 1920s, every single character smokes constantly throughout. There are also séances where Stone’s character claims she’s conversing with the dead — which may freak children out — along with some brief risqué references. But for the most part, Allen’s typically hyper-verbal banter will go over younger kids’ heads and older ones will just be bored.



And So It Goes

18%

Rating: PG-13, for some sexual references and drug elements.

Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton play widows in their 60s who live next door to each other in a Connecticut fourplex and bicker incessantly. Naturally, this means they will fall in love. He’s a real estate agent; she’s a lounge singer. Together, they’re forced to come together to take care of the 9-year-old granddaughter he never knew he had. Rob Reiner’s comedy features some drug references — Douglas’ character’s son is a recovering heroin addict, and Douglas himself must visit a couple of squalid homes where substance abuse clearly is taking place. Douglas and Keaton eventually share a flirtation which turns sexual; Reiner shows up the build-up and the aftermath but not the deed itself. It’s pretty harmless for the most part and has an undeniable message about the importance of family. But it’s also terrible, so if you’re looking for a great Reiner movie that everyone can watch, rent The Princess Bride instead.

New On DVD:



Transcendence

19%

Rating: PG-13, for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality.

This thinky sci-fi thriller starring Johnny Depp is probably best for tweens and up only. It’s full of big ideas about the power of technology — both its potential and its abuse as an invasion of privacy — but the way it’s presented is pretty dull and often silly. But this is the directing debut of Christopher Nolan’s longtime cinematographer, Oscar-winner Wally Pfister, so at least it’s visually striking. Depp stars as an esteemed scientist who’s been experimenting with artificial intelligence with the help of his wife (Rebecca Hall). When a terrorist group targets him, he uploads his consciousness to the Internet to maintain his legacy. There are plenty of shootings and explosions here with quite a bit of blood, but a key part of the story focuses on medical advancements that let people regenerate and heal themselves — so they don’t stay injured for long. Still, it’s extremely violent and long at nearly two hours.

This week on home video, all of the major releases are unfortunately Rotten, including Wally Pfister’s directorial debut, a spiritual book adaptation, Tyler Perry’s latest, and a Schwarzenegger-powered action movie. Lucky for us, there are some worthy pickups in the reissue department, including a couple of films from Billy Wilder, an iconic miniseries, and Criterion releases of an acclaimed Norwegian thriller and a Jacques Demy collection. Read on for details:



Transcendence

19%

Wally Pfister isn’t a household name, but his work as cinematographer on several of Christopher Nolan’s films (including the recent Batman trilogy) has earned him a wealth of accolades, including an Oscar win for 2010’s Inception. Back in April, Pfister debuted his first effort in the director’s chair with Transcendence, which starred Johnny Depp in a sci-fi film about an artificial intelligence specialist named Will Caster (Depp) whose consciousness is uploaded into a computer upon his death. When Caster’s digital persona begins to wield uncontrollable power, the government, anti-technology activists, and his loved ones all must make tough decisions about the future. Critics weren’t kind to Pfister’s debut, noting that the film certainly boasts the cinematographer’s keen visuals but also that the clunky narrative mostly fails to capitalize properly on the film’s far-reaching themes. Special features on the home video release include trailers and a little over 15 minutes of featurettes.



Heaven Is for Real

51%

In 2003, a young boy named Colton Burpo, son of Nebraska pastor Todd Burpo, underwent an emergency appendectomy surgery, during which he claimed — in remarkable detail — to have met dead relatives and sat on the lap of Jesus. His story was made famous in a best-selling book titled Heaven Is for Real, which — despite the controversy surrounding the validity of its claims — went on to inspire not only countless believers, but also a big screen adaptation of the same name, starring Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly as Colton’s parents. Thanks to a strong cast and solid writing, Heaven Is for Real managed to impress critics to the tune of a 46 percent Tomatometer score; those that didn’t like the film felt that it was often too heavy-handed in delivering its message — a fairly common criticism of faith-based films. At the end of the day, it’s a film made for believers, so it won’t convert many souls, but its target audience should find it a more accomplished effort than the norm. Bonus features include a making-of featurette, some deleted scenes, and a short interview with the real Burpo family.



The Single Moms Club

18%

Speaking of heavy-handed, Tyler Perry struck again this year with The Single Moms Club, which refreshingly eschewed his typical family-centric dramedy milieu in favor of a female bonding narrative, but unfortunately relied — as his films often do — on forced melodrama. The story revolves around five single mothers who are tasked with putting together a school fundraiser when their children are caught in an act of vandalism; the women decide to form a support group and eventually become friends, encouraging each other through relationship pitfalls. Critics liked this film even less than Transcendence, rewarding Perry with a 16 percent Tomatometer score due to poorly developed characters and an overreliance on tired clichés. Fans of Perry’s work — especially the female ones — will probably feel right at home here, though.



Sabotage

22%

We still have his Brad Pitt tank movie Fury to look forward to this year, but in the meantime, director David Ayer’s most recent actioner Sabotage arrives on home video this week. Arnold Schwarzenegger continues his shoot-’em-up career alongside Sam Worthington and Terrence Howard in this thriller about a team of DEA agents who rip off a cartel during a raid, only to become the targets of an unknown killer who’s dispatching the agents one by one. Unlike Ayer’s last film, the critically acclaimed End of Watch, Sabotage failed to make waves; despite an otherwise solid performance from Schwarzenegger, the film was simply too bleak and, in the eyes of most critics, pointlessly violent, with narrative turns that seldom justified its brutality. The DVD/Blu-ray release comes with a making-of featurette, a number of deleted scenes, and two alternate endings.



Shōgun

75%

If 1977’s Roots kicked off the American miniseries craze in earnest, 1980’s multiple Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning Shōgun helped usher the trend along in grand style. Filmed entirely on location in Japan, Shōgun starred Richard Chamberlain and Toshiro Mifune in a six-part adaptation of James Clavell’s eponymous novel about an English sailor named John Blackthorne (Chamberlain) whose ship wrecks on the shores of Japan. Cast into a foreign world where he is both culturally and religiously outcast, Blackthorne befriends a local warlord in the midst of a power struggle (Mifune). Today, Shōgun is hailed as a groundbreaking series, not only for the way it was filmed, but also for raising the nation’s awareness of Japanese culture and for its stark depictions (for the time, anyway) of violence and sexuality on broadcast TV. This week, the series is available for the first time on Blu-ray (presented in 1080p), and it includes a wealth of extras, including more than a dozen making-of featurettes, three historical featurettes covering aspects of Japanese culture as depicted in the series, and a handful of commentary tracks on specific scenes.


Also available this week:

  • Certified Fresh thriller Blue Ruin (96 percent), about a mysterious drifter who returns to his home town for vengeance when he learns the man who murdered his parents is about to be released from prison.
  • GMO OMG (60 percent), a documentary exploring the causes and effects of genetically modified farming.
  • Dom Hemingway (59 percent), starring Jude Law in a dark comedy about a safecracker attempting to collect the debt he’s owed for taking a 12-year prison sentence for his boss.
  • All Cheerleaders Die (48 percent), a horror comedy about a teen who must fight off a group of cheerleaders who have returned from the dead with a vengeance.
  • Justin and the Knights of Valour (8 percent), an animated film about a boy who embarks on a quest to become a knight and protect his kingdom, with voice work from Freddie Highmore and Antonio Banderas.
  • Two Billy Wilder films: the 1957 thriller Witness for the Prosecution (100 percent), starring Tyrone Power and Marlene Dietrich, and 1970’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (95 percent).
  • And lastly, two Criterion Collection releases: The original 1998 Norwegian thriller Insomnia (97 percent) is available for the first time on Blu-ray, and a collection of Jacques Demy’s films, including The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (98 percent), is also available in a DVD/Blu-ray box set.

In Theaters This Week:

 



Bears

90%

Rating: G.

The latest family-friendly documentary from Disney’s Disneynature label, following Earth, Oceans, African Cats and Chimpanzees, is mainly an adorably cuddly adventure. It follows a mama bear named Sky and her two cubs, Scout and Amber, as they dig out from their snowy cave in the Alaskan wilderness and head down the mountain in search of food. Perils do await them, though, from larger and hungrier bears and wolves to rising water and the threat of starvation. (If you and your family have seen African Cats, with its bloody zebra mauling, nothing nearly so gory happens here.) There are a couple of tense moments but John C. Reilly’s amiable narration lets you know everything will be all right. And the film is beautiful, intimately shot, so it’s at least worthwhile from a visual perspective. Fine for all ages.



Transcendence

19%

Rating: PG-13, for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality.

Christopher Nolan’s longtime cinematographer, Oscar-winner Wally Pfister, makes his directing debut with this thinky sci-fi thriller. It’s full of big ideas about the frightening power of technology — both its potential and its threat to our privacy — but the execution is rather dull and sometimes silly. Johnny Depp stars as a brilliant scientist who’s been experimenting with artificial intelligence alongside his wife (Rebecca Hall). When a terrorist group guns him down, he uploads himself to the Internet to keep his legacy alive. There are lots of shootings and explosions here with quite a bit of blood, but part of the story hinges on medical advancements that allow people to regenerate and heal themselves – so they don’t stay injured for long. The violence, subject matter and nearly two-hour running time make this suitable for tweens and up only.

New On DVD:



The Nut Job

12%

Rating: PG, for mild action and rude humor.

A mostly innocuous but thoroughly unpleasant animated comedy full of unlikable characters. Will Arnett provides the voice of Surly, a squirrel who’s just trying to get a nut – and he’s unwilling to share with the rest of the furry woodland creatures in the park. Trouble is, there’s a food shortage as winter approaches, so Surly must choose between remaining selfish or being a team player. Fart jokes abound here – and many of them take place underground just to make them extra gross. Some of the rodents also wind up in danger on a raging river. Surly and his pals run into some mobster types, but they’re too cartoonish (in every way) to be threatening. And a raccoon voiced by Liam Neeson might just be more devious than he initially seems.



The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

52%

Rating: PG, for some crude comments, language and action violence.

Ben Stiller directs and stars as the title character in this big-budget version of the classic James Thurber story. The milquetoast Mitty enjoys a vivid fantasy world which becomes reality when he’s forced to embark on a globetrotting adventure. The special effects are pretty spectacular here – and they’re the main reason to recommend this movie. There are a couple scenes of peril: a chase through the crowded streets of Manhattan, as well as an erupting volcano. And Walter’s boss, played by an arrogant Adam Scott, is a total jerk. But for the most part this inanely uplifting story about overcoming your fears and chasing your dreams is pretty darn harmless.



Ride Along

18%

Rating: PG-13, for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong language.

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart co-star in this clichéd, mismatched buddy-cop comedy that strains desperately to be funny. Hart plays a fast-talking security guard with dreams of becoming a police officer. He also dreams of marrying his longtime girlfriend (Tika Sumpter), whose brother is the toughest detective in all of Atlanta. Hart goes for a ride along with Cube — hence the title — to prove his worth. Shootings, showdowns with generic Serbian bad guys and explosions ensue. There’s also plenty of language and suggestive sexual jokes involving the various positions and tricks Hart likes to employ in the bedroom. (And his nickname is Black Hammer, supposedly a reference to his manhood.) This is probably OK for older kids, but you may want to show them The Other Guys or even 21 Jump Street instead.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a techno-dystopia (Transcendence, starring Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall), a near-death experience (Heaven Is For Real, starring Greg Kinnear and Connor Corum), a bunch of furry carnivores (the nature documentary Bears), and some supernatural high jinks (A Haunted House 2, starring Marlon Wayans and Jaime Pressly). What do the critics have to say?



Transcendence

19%

Sometimes a movie needs more than an intriguing premise, an all-star cast, and a distinctive visual look. Critics say that’s the case with Transcendence, a surprisingly dull and narratively muddled sci-fi drama that’s short on suspense and logic. Johnny Depp stars as Will Caster, a leader in the field of artificial intelligence research who uploads his consciousness to a computer with the intent of creating a sentient machine. In doing so, Caster runs afoul of a group of militant luddites, who fear that humans have become too dependent on technology. The pundits say Transcendence is sleekly crafted, but it largely squanders its cast on a story that never quite coheres. (Check out our video interview with the stars, as well as this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Depp’s best-reviewed movies.)



Heaven Is for Real

51%

It’s an age-old puzzle for Hollywood: how to make films that appeal to devout Christians without alienating everyone else. Critics say that Heaven Is For Real ends up in the mushy middle, and the result is a well-acted, thoughtful tale that never quite follows through on the interesting questions it raises. Four-year-old Colton (Connor Corum) briefly flatlines during surgery; when he’s revived, he tells an incredible story about the deceased family members he met during his short visit to Heaven. Colton’s revelation awakens something in his father Todd (Greg Kinnear), a small-town pastor in the midst of a crisis of faith. The pundits say Heaven is for Real is well-made and often quite affecting, but its depiction of the afterlife leaves something to be desired.



Bears

90%

With Earth, Oceans, African Cats, and Chimpanzee, the good folks at Disneynature have delivered an unbroken string of high-quality nature documentaries. Critics say the streak continues with Bears, which offers breathtaking images of these animals in their natural environs and tends to avoid shoehorning its subjects into a narrative. Narrated by John C. Reilly, the film follows a mama grizzly bear and her two cubs as they try to survive in the Alaskan wilderness. The pundits say that Bears‘ furry protagonists are engaging and lovable, and the footage captured here is crisp and intimate. (Take a look through our gallery of memorable bears in the movies.)



A Haunted House 2

8%

Given the critical drubbing its predecessor received, it comes as little surprise that A Haunted House 2 wasn’t screened for reviewers prior to its release. Marlon Wayans stars as a man who moves with his new girlfriend and her kids to a new home that’s bedeviled by spectral spirits; hilarity ensues. Time to guess the Tomatometer!

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Final Member, a documentary about an Icelandic museum that houses a vast array of male genitalia from humans and animals, is at 100 percent.
  • Gabrielle, a drama about a love affair between two developmentally disabled adults, is at 100 percent.
  • Manakamana, a documentary about a cable car in Nepal that carries tourists and locals to a temple in the mountains, is at 100 percent.
  • Soft In The Head, a dramedy about a troubled woman who ends up living at a halfway house for men, is at 80 percent.
  • Small Time, a drama about a used-car salesman who teaches his son the tricks of the trade, is at 71 percent.
  • Proxy, a horror film about a woman dealing with tragedy who finds herself embroiled in a conspiracy when she joins a support group, is at 69 percent.
  • 13 Sins, starring Mark Webber and Ron Perlman in a thriller about a financially-strapped salesman who must undertake a series of increasingly dangerous challenges dictated to him via cell phone, is at 60 percent.
  • Fading Gigolo, starring Woody Allen and John Turturro in a comedy about a man who becomes an escort to help a friend in financial trouble, is at 57 percent.
  • That Demon Within, an action/horror hybrid about a young cop who suffers from hallucinations after providing a life-saving blood transfusion to a ruthless criminal, is at 44 percent.
  • Make Your Move, a drama about a pair of young people from different worlds who bond whie dancing, is at 20 percent.
  • Tasting Menu, a comedy about a disparate group of people who assemble for the closing of a world-class chef’s restaurant, is at 13 percent.
  • Authors Anonymous, starring Kaley Cuoco and Chris Klein in a mockumentary about a group of aspiring novelists, is at zero percent.
  • A Promise, starring Rebecca Hall and Alan Rickman in a period drama about an ambitious young man who falls for his boss’ married daughter, is at zero percent.

Johnny Depp He once seemed destined for nothing better or worse than simple teen idolhood, but since escaping from 21 Jump Street in 1990, Johnny Depp has proven himself to be a brave (and mostly pretty astute) chooser of scripts, building an impressive filmography that encompasses everything from black-and-white arthouse fare (Dead Man) to blockbuster Disney trilogies (Pirates of the Caribbean). This weekend, he returns to theaters in Transcendence as a scientist who has his consciousness uploaded to the cloud, so we thought now would be a fine time to devote a fresh installment of Total Recall to counting down the 10 best-reviewed releases of Depp’s 30-year (and counting) film career.


84%

10. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride

Twelve years after producing Henry Selick for The Nightmare Before Christmas, Tim Burton returned to stop-motion animation with Corpse Bride, a collaboration with co-director Mike Johnson. Starring Depp as the voice of Victor Van Dort, a skittish young fishmongers’ son who finds himself accidentally wed to an undead hottie (Helena Bonham Carter), Bride used a Jewish folktale for it’s story’s inspiration, but visually, it offered a sort of hybrid between Nightmare and Beetlejuice, with all the stylish flair and sweet melancholy that filmgoers had come to expect from a Tim Burton production. Though Bride didn’t exert the level of box office dominance enjoyed by 2005’s other Burton/Depp project, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it still grossed over $100 million worldwide — and earned the admiration of critics like the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Steven Rea, who gushed, “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride is easily the best stop-motion animated necrophiliac musical romantic comedy of all time. It is also just simply, wonderful: a morbid, merry tale of true love that dazzles the eyes and delights the soul.”


83%

9. Finding Neverland

Sticklers for accuracy bristled at the liberties it took with J.M. Barrie’s life story, but Finding Neverland was still good enough for audiences — who made it a $100 million-plus hit — and the Academy, which bestowed Johnny Depp with a Best Actor nomination for his work as the playwright and Peter Pan author. Neverland finds Barrie nursing his wounds after the failure of his most recent play, befriending a widow (Kate Winslet) and her young boys, and taking inspiration from their unorthodox friendship — even as it costs him his own marriage and puts him at odds with the boys’ grandmother (Julie Christie). “Plenty of narrative liberties have been taken,” admitted Jason Blake of the Sydney Morning Herald, who then argued that “It doesn’t matter a jot. At heart, this isn’t a biography anyway, it’s an ode to the power of the imagination.”


87%

8. Arizona Dream

Filmed in 1991, Emir Kusturica’s Arizona Dream languished in limbo for two years before it was released in Europe — and it didn’t reach American shores until the following September, at which point it grossed a little over $100,000 in limited release. It seems like a pretty harsh fate for a movie featuring Johnny Depp, Jerry Lewis, and Faye Dunaway, but if you’ve ever seen Dream, you know it is not, to put it mildly, the type of film Hollywood studios were made to promote. The story of a fish tagger (Depp) who believes he can see the fishes’ dreams, it’s over two hours of absurdist comedy, packed with symbolism-laden dream sequences and oddball characters like Grace, the turtle-obsessed young woman played by Lili Taylor. Even the critics that enjoyed it used words like “peculiar,” “odd,” and “bizarre” to describe Dream; as Janet Maslin of the New York Times wrote, “Even at its full length, showing off a more seductive rhythm and the buoyant humanism that is this director’s calling card, it remains as ripe a subject for therapy as for criticism.”


86%

7. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

More than 15 years after lip-synching to the voice of James Intveld in Cry-Baby, Johnny Depp returned to the world of cinematic musicals — and marked his sixth collaboration with Tim Burton — for 2007’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, an appropriately bloody adaptation of the Sondheim play about a Victorian barber whose unjust imprisonment sparks a murderous (and ultimately tragic) quest for revenge. This time around, however, Depp did his own singing — and acquitted himself rather admirably, surprising critics who expected a Return of Bruno-sized embarrassment from another actor trying to get by with a few vocal lessons and a ton of chutzpah. On the acting front, the critical hosannas afforded Sweeney Todd‘s cast — which included a gleefully deranged Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman as another of the deliciously grotesque villains he plays so well — were less unexpected; at this point, critics had come to expect a certain level of quality from Depp and Burton’s collaborations, and for the most part, they came away satisfied. As Roger Ebert summed it up in his review, “it combines some of Tim Burton’s favorite elements: The fantastic, the ghoulish, the bizarre, the unspeakable, the romantic and in Johnny Depp, he has an actor he has worked with since Edward Scissorhands and finds a perfect instrument.”


88%

6. Donnie Brasco

The mid-to-late 1990s were an uneven period for Depp; although he scored a medium-sized hit at the box office with 1995’s Don Juan De Marco, it isn’t one of his best-reviewed performances (and it allowed Bryan Adams back into the Top 40, too). Other releases during this period ranged from the willfully non-commercial (1995’s Dead Man) to the just plain unpopular (Nick of Time, released the same year). 1997’s Donnie Brasco, a dramatization of the FBI’s late ’70s investigation into the Bonanno crime syndicate, wasn’t an enormous hit, but it earned respectable grosses — and more importantly, it allowed Depp to work with a director (Mike Newell) and legendary co-star (Al Pacino) who brought out the best in him. Depp plays Joe Pistone, the FBI agent assigned to infiltrate the Bonanno gang by pretending to be a diamond expert named Donnie Brasco and ingratiating himself to a low-level foot soldier named Lefty Ruggiero (Pacino); since Pistone’s situation (as well as Paul Attanasio’s script) keeps much of his true self hidden beneath the surface, the part required an actor capable of communicating very subtly, and Depp rose to the occasion. His between-the-lines performance was matched by Pacino, who dialed back the high-volume bluster he’d become known for, earning the pair praise from critics like the Houston Chronicle’s Jeff Millar, who wrote, “Depp is as good as I’ve seen him, and Pacino is simply astonishing.”


88%

5. Rango

When director Gore Verbinski ventured into uncharted territory for his animated debut, he brought along familiar company: Johnny Depp, who starred in the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies with Verbinski at the helm (and continued the franchise without him the same year, toplining the decidedly less Tomatometer-friendly On Stranger Tides for new director Rob Marshall). The duo combined Verbinski’s box office instincts with Depp’s love of the strange for Rango, a delightfully off-kilter cartoon about a pet chameleon who ends up stranded in the desert and bumbles his way into being appointed sheriff of a town under siege by a vicious rattlesnake (voiced by Bill Nighy). Although a handful of critics were put off by Rango‘s surreal overtones and adult humor, audiences approved to the tune of a $245 million worldwide gross, the Academy awarded it Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, and the vast majority of writers echoed the sentiments of the New Yorker’s Bruce Diones, who said it was “built for viewers of any age with a taste for joyful anarchy.”


90%

4. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Not counting the delayed Arizona Dream, Johnny Depp released two movies in 1993, both of them handling themes of mental illness with a relatively gentle touch. Of the pair, Benny & Joon arrived in theaters first, but it was What’s Eating Gilbert Grape that ultimately held a firmer grip on critics’ hearts, earning an 89 percent Tomatometer rating and an Academy Award nomination for Leonardo DiCaprio, who laid the groundwork for his post-Growing Pains future with a breakout performance as the mentally handicapped younger brother of the small-town grocery clerk whose inner conflicts are reflected in the title. Torn between familial obligations and a need to establish a life of his own, Gilbert gave Depp another opportunity to perfect the “sensitive misfit” archetype he’d been drawn back to repeatedly since making Edward Scissorhands. It was a type of role he’d soon branch out from, but in the meantime, Gilbert Grape entranced critics like Susan Tavernetti, who wrote, “with an eccentric charm that falters only in a few places, the movie makes a strong statement against conformity and the franchising of America by celebrating a cast of characters and a storyline that don’t fit into a mold.”


90%

3. Edward Scissorhands

21 Jump Street made Johnny Depp a household name, but heck, the show did the same thing for Richard Grieco; to become a star, Depp needed to carry a film that really got people talking — and he found that film in Edward Scissorhands, the December 1990 release that was the first of what would become many collaborations with director Tim Burton. He’d been in a handful of movies already, but Scissorhands was the one that really launched Depp’s career; in fact, he embodied the role of the titular blade-fisted misfit so thoroughly that it’s difficult to imagine how it could have been pulled off by any of the actors previously floated for it — a list including famous names such as Robert Downey, Jr., William Hurt, Tom Cruise, and Michael Jackson. A critical as well as commercial hit, Edward Scissorhands set the tone for much of what was to come from both Burton and Depp, and won high marks from writers like the Washington Post’s Desson Thomson, who noted, “Depp is perfectly cast, Burton builds a surrealistically funny cul-de-sac world, and there are some very funny performances from grownups Dianne Wiest, Kathy Baker and Alan Arkin.”


92%

2. Ed Wood

These days, you almost can’t be an outsider artist of any real renown without having at least one reverent documentary to your name, but in the early 1990s, it would not have been unreasonable to assume that any biopic about Ed Wood — director of Plan 9 from Outer Space and other classics of unintentional humor — would arrive on the screen drenched in irony and coated in arch wit. Not so 1994’s Ed Wood, a loving tribute rendered by the hand of Tim Burton, whose reunion here with Johnny Depp helped the Edward Scissorhands star get over a boredom with acting that had begun to seep into his work. Burton’s version of Wood didn’t hew religiously close to the reported facts of the director’s life — and neither did the black-and-white production entice many filmgoers, racking up an appropriately Wood-sized $5.9 million gross — but critics appreciated the silver lining Burton saw in a frequently derided career, not to mention the relentless (albeit blind) optimism with which the director and star imbued their subject. Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers echoed the opinions of a majority of his peers when he wrote, “outrageously disjointed and just as outrageously entertaining, the picture stands as a successful outsider’s tribute to a failed kindred spirit.”


95%

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street

Before he broke hearts as Tom Hanson on 21 Jump Street, Johnny Depp was one of Freddy Krueger’s original victims, getting his first big break as Glen Lantz, the well-meaning but ultimately doomed boyfriend who tries to save Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) from the steel-tipped clutches of Springwood’s least favorite resident. He was one of a handful of actors (including Kevin Bacon and Crispin Glover) to get a leg up in the ’80s by taking an early paycheck for enduring a grisly on-screen demise, but Depp’s Nightmare exit was particularly gruesome, ending with his perfect hair and cheekbones crushed into a horrific fountain of blood and guts. A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s legacy has been tainted somewhat by the downward spiral of sequels that followed it, but at the time, it was really a breath of fresh air for a genre that desperately needed one — something Depp tacitly alluded to when he made a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in 1991’s alleged series-ender, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. Despite subsequent installments’ inability to recapture its gory glory, the first Nightmare, in the words of ReelViews’ James Berardinelli, “still stands on its own as an intriguing and chilling example of how horror works best when the characters and the audience don’t have to be lobotomized.”


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

1. Edward Scissorhands — 91%
2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas — 90%
3. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape — 89%
4. Donnie Brasco — 89%
5. Ed Wood — 88%
6. Dead Man — 88%
7. Finding Neverland — 87%
8. Blow — 87%
9. Arizona Dream — 87%
10. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl — 86%


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

 

Morgan Freeman, Kata Mara, Paul Bettany, and Rebecca Hall star in the new drama about artifical intelligence from director Wally Pfister, Transcendence. Grae Drake talks to them about whether or not they would miss the internet, and what kind of computer they would take the form of.

Tag Cloud

diversity deadpool adenture Super Bowl Mindy Kaling Sci-Fi dreamworks Instagram Live blaxploitation Legendary child's play screen actors guild NYCC The Academy VH1 revenge Marathons HBO Thanksgiving toy story Pride Month trailers Ellie Kemper cancelled TV series black streaming movies Winners TLC romantic comedy ghosts spy thriller Mudbound 2017 Comic Book boxoffice E3 Netflix asian-american Heroines Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Columbia Pictures Adult Swim franchise Emmys Cartoon Network fresh toronto Cannes Red Carpet psycho stop motion Teen transformers CBS Drama movies Musical The CW scene in color Brie Larson biopic trophy scary movies king arthur YouTube docuseries cinemax National Geographic Acorn TV Alien spider-verse elevated horror Western New York Comic Con hispanic batman Endgame Comedy Central Marvel action-comedy 99% cancelled television Character Guide singing competition Walt Disney Pictures Action razzies FX Funimation dramedy SDCC Travel Channel italian 2015 wonder woman halloween Christmas BBC America Kids & Family comic book movies nfl Infographic 90s debate unscripted foreign San Diego Comic-Con Anna Paquin green book quibi boxing 73rd Emmy Awards Mary Tyler Moore sports halloween tv critic resources rt archives Star Trek disaster Amazon hollywood hispanic heritage month comedies best Paramount Plus blockbusters festival jurassic park Summer MTV olympics TCM SXSW TruTV talk show monster movies Sundance AMC Plus Animation IFC History venice science fiction political drama 2016 USA dogs zombies Peacock TV The Walt Disney Company Schedule golden globes Binge Guide vampires Film Festival Spring TV video on demand Fox Searchlight Music Lucasfilm Trailer VOD slasher cancelled cats Bravo rt labs critics edition high school marvel comics Pirates movie Neflix doctor who sopranos what to watch Apple TV Plus stand-up comedy biography Lifetime Christmas movies facebook mutant book adaptation American Society of Cinematographers independent Musicals archives king kong ratings SundanceTV Comedy DGA Cosplay Calendar OWN Women's History Month Arrowverse popular TCA superhero First Look ITV cooking Video Games BET dark WGN Shondaland series emmy awards period drama remakes Crackle 79th Golden Globes Awards die hard cars rt labs rom-coms Hulu Opinion Marvel Studios Disney+ Disney Plus DirecTV Discovery Channel Logo Film werewolf 71st Emmy Awards blockbuster BBC One streaming nbcuniversal cops YouTube Premium Paramount Spectrum Originals First Reviews Reality Broadway Tokyo Olympics know your critic news black comedy LGBTQ CBS All Access Turner Hollywood Foreign Press Association Superheroes YA Sundance TV Awards Family renewed TV shows Warner Bros. live action classics Marvel Television Shudder RT History ViacomCBS IFC Films ID stoner justice league Epix Oscars historical drama supernatural documentaries ABC Signature Nat Geo Interview adventure NBC dragons spinoff Image Comics APB worst movies FOX godzilla Valentine's Day YouTube Red Disney Plus hist Horror Rom-Com serial killer gangster Ghostbusters Toys based on movie cartoon dc docudrama vs. GIFs Wes Anderson Pet Sematary The Arrangement versus Polls and Games target rotten christmas movies prank joker Fox News Rocky travel Tomatazos new star wars movies 24 frames BAFTA animated AMC lord of the rings CNN thriller japan Lifetime football comics south america Dark Horse Comics aliens Hallmark crime thriller Country medical drama Reality Competition The Walking Dead A24 art house international Sundance Now indie Netflix Christmas movies Masterpiece Grammys legend Disney Channel Amazon Prime spain award winner Tubi dceu kong 007 2018 Lionsgate hidden camera game of thrones french HBO Go Tags: Comedy crossover The Purge cults composers kids Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Fargo women heist movie james bond all-time jamie lee curtis theme song Ovation Chernobyl tv talk Box Office Esquire 72 Emmy Awards Mary Poppins Returns obituary richard e. Grant Creative Arts Emmys twilight President Pop Showtime 2020 Amazon Studios Pacific Islander Trophy Talk Hallmark Christmas movies X-Men scorecard television 4/20 Turner Classic Movies binge HBO Max Prime Video Quiz australia MCU book superman TCA Winter 2020 Black Mirror strong female leads TV movies Song of Ice and Fire japanese a nightmare on elm street social media Countdown Universal Pictures directors sag awards Avengers concert romance criterion E! Disney streaming service Trivia mcc satire spanish language anime rotten movies we love technology WarnerMedia crime drama Photos Rocketman CW Seed ABC Television Critics Association TNT sitcom BBC Biopics Academy Awards dexter Amazon Prime Video comic comiccon DC Universe Best and Worst new york sequel Mystery Tumblr TV One suspense Comic-Con@Home 2021 police drama kaiju OneApp young adult GLAAD politics reviews Captain marvel miniseries TBS adaptation Britbox spanish video zombie harry potter USA Network anthology Paramount Network canceled TV shows space free movies MSNBC El Rey critics 2019 game show PBS BET Awards basketball Sneak Peek Food Network natural history documentary finale marvel cinematic universe canceled PlayStation Extras witnail discovery Elton John FXX fast and furious Pixar RT21 golden globe awards PaleyFest Television Academy HFPA Winter TV Emmy Nominations DC Comics Set visit GoT See It Skip It saw Holiday TCA 2017 name the review robots A&E TV Land Stephen King worst Awards Tour comic books aapi Nominations nature Sony Pictures posters royal family chucky 93rd Oscars Year in Review Spike cancelled TV shows mission: impossible crime DC streaming service laika latino Disney mockumentary Star Wars sequels 21st Century Fox new zealand feel good TIFF 2021 teaser CMT zero dark thirty films Starz 45 FX on Hulu Fantasy Fall TV Nickelodeon live event Pop TV telelvision 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards casting Universal Syfy IMDb TV Holidays Black History Month 1990s Apple TV+ TV renewals indiana jones parents festivals children's TV Freeform ABC Family genre LGBT universal monsters Hear Us Out Watching Series Apple Comics on TV Exclusive Video leaderboard TCA Awards mob psychological thriller NBA spider-man Premiere Dates breaking bad Rock The Witch ESPN Superheroe pirates of the caribbean comic book movie Tarantino Crunchyroll war Certified Fresh true crime Classic Film Vudu Election Martial Arts Writers Guild of America scary Podcast Baby Yoda screenings VICE 20th Century Fox reboot Mary poppins slashers