Wild

(Photo by Fox Searchlight/ courtesy Everett Collection)

All Reese Witherspoon Movies Ranked

Reese Witherspoon rose to prominence in the late 1990s, a receptive era for twisted comedies (Freeway), teen thrillers (Fear, Cruel Intentions), and quirky satires (Pleasantville, Election). And Witherspoon would become a household name just a few years later through box office hit comedies Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama.

Johnny Cash-biopic Walk the Line would net Witherspoon her first Best Actress Oscar nomination and win for her portrayal as June Carter Cash. Going for more indie-focused, challenging material in the immediate years afterwards produced mixed results, with the likes of Mud and Inherent Vice at the top of that cult-movie pile.

Water for Elephants and Wild (which earned her a second Oscar nom) have been her most recent film glories, but Witherspoon is fully occupied now with her production company, getting women-led television projects off the ground like Big Little Lies, Truth Be Told, Little Fires Everywhere, and The Morning Show. Meanwhile, a third Legally Blonde has long been in the works; for now, we’re ranking all Reese Witherspoon movies by Tomatometer!

#38

Hot Pursuit (2015)
8%

#38
Adjusted Score: 14024%
Critics Consensus: Shrill and unfunny, Hot Pursuit bungles what should have been an easy opportunity to showcase Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara's likable odd-couple chemistry.
Synopsis: Straight-arrow policewoman Cooper (Reese Witherspoon) is excited and thrilled about her next assignment. Her task is to escort Daniella Riva... [More]
Directed By: Anne Fletcher

#37

S.F.W. (1994)
12%

#37
Adjusted Score: 11346%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When young slacker Cliff Spab (Stephen Dorff) becomes one of several hostages in a convenience store held by publicity-seeking extremists,... [More]
Directed By: Jefery Levy

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 14884%
Critics Consensus: An uninspired E.B. White adaptation that's targeted at the very young.
Synopsis: In this animated feature, a swan named Louie (Dee Baker) breaks out of his egg to an enthusiastic reception from... [More]

#35

Little Nicky (2000)
21%

#35
Adjusted Score: 25051%
Critics Consensus: Despite the presence of a large, talented cast, the jokes in Little Nicky are dumb, tasteless, and not that funny, and Adam Sandler's character is grating to watch.
Synopsis: In a perfect world, he'd be happy to head-bang in his room all day to heavy metal music. But no,... [More]
Directed By: Steven Brill

#34

Devil's Knot (2013)
25%

#34
Adjusted Score: 28699%
Critics Consensus: Devil's Knot covers fact-based ground that's already been well-traveled with multiple (and far more compelling) documentaries.
Synopsis: The Arkansas town of West Memphis makes national headlines when three teenagers are arrested for the brutal murders of three... [More]
Directed By: Atom Egoyan

#33

Four Christmases (2008)
25%

#33
Adjusted Score: 29501%
Critics Consensus: Despite a strong cast, this sour holiday comedy suffers from a hackneyed script.
Synopsis: When their plans for an exotic vacation fall apart, unmarried couple Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) must spend... [More]
Directed By: Seth Gordon

#32

This Means War (2012)
26%

#32
Adjusted Score: 32620%
Critics Consensus: A career lowlight for all three of its likable stars, This Means War is loud, clumsily edited, and neither romantic nor funny.
Synopsis: CIA operatives FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are inseparable best friends and partners. Together, their good looks,... [More]
Directed By: McG

#31

Jack the Bear (1991)
29%

#31
Adjusted Score: 29647%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A single father, John Leary (Danny DeVito), struggles to raise his two young boys, Jack (Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.) and... [More]
Directed By: Marshall Herskovitz

#30

How Do You Know (2010)
31%

#30
Adjusted Score: 36407%
Critics Consensus: How Do You Know boasts a quartet of likeable leads -- and they deserve better than this glib, overlong misfire from writer/director James L. Brooks.
Synopsis: Lisa Jorgenson's (Reese Witherspoon) entire life has been defined by softball, but at 31, she is deemed too old to... [More]
Directed By: James L. Brooks

#29

Home Again (2017)
32%

#29
Adjusted Score: 41914%
Critics Consensus: Home Again gathers a talented crowd of rom-com veterans on both sides of the camera -- all of whom have unfortunately done far better work.
Synopsis: Recently separated from her husband, Alice Kinney decides to start over by moving back to Los Angeles with her two... [More]
Directed By: Hallie Meyers-Shyer

#28
Adjusted Score: 41220%
Critics Consensus: This blonde joke is less funny the second time around.
Synopsis: Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) journeys to Washington, D.C., to have her say about animal rights, but is ignored by every... [More]

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 43066%
Critics Consensus: Reese Witherspoon is charming enough, but the road to Alabama is well-traveled.
Synopsis: New York fashion designer Melanie (Reese Witherspoon) suddenly finds herself engaged to the city's most eligible bachelor. But Melanie's past... [More]
Directed By: Andy Tennant

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 63038%
Critics Consensus: A Wrinkle in Time is visually gorgeous, big-hearted, and occasionally quite moving; unfortunately, it's also wildly ambitious to a fault, and often less than the sum of its classic parts.
Synopsis: Meg Murry and her little brother, Charles Wallace, have been without their scientist father, Mr. Murry, for five years, ever... [More]
Directed By: Ava DuVernay

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 19015%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: College student Wyatt (Paul Rudd) is convinced that his hometown girlfriend, Kimberly (Christine Taylor), is cheating on him. Disconsolate at... [More]
Directed By: Jason Bloom

#24

Best Laid Plans (1999)
43%

#24
Adjusted Score: 42080%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Returning to his dreary hometown as a wealthy man, Bryce (Josh Brolin) is unaware of the target his financial gain... [More]
Directed By: Mike Barker

#23

A Far Off Place (1993)
45%

#23
Adjusted Score: 45066%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: With a bushman's help, two teens (Reese Witherspoon, Ethan Randall) cross an African desert to elude poachers who killed their... [More]
Directed By: Mikael Salomon

#22

Fear (1996)
46%

#22
Adjusted Score: 46648%
Critics Consensus: Fear has an appealing young cast, but their efforts aren't enough to consistently distract from an increasingly overblown - and illogical - teen stalker story.
Synopsis: When 16-year-old Nicole Walker (Reese Witherspoon) meets 23-year-old David McCall (Mark Wahlberg) at a Seattle nightclub, she falls in love.... [More]
Directed By: James Foley

#21

Rendition (2007)
47%

#21
Adjusted Score: 53416%
Critics Consensus: The impressive cast cannot rescue Rendition, which explores complex issues in woefully simplified terms.
Synopsis: Isabella El-Ibrahimi (Reese Witherspoon), the wife of an Egyptian engineer, tries desperately to track down her husband after he disappears... [More]
Directed By: Gavin Hood

#20

Vanity Fair (2004)
50%

#20
Adjusted Score: 54986%
Critics Consensus: A more likable Becky Sharp makes for a less interesting movie.
Synopsis: Born to poor parents, Becky Sharp (Reese Witherspoon) has always aspired to be a member of England's upper classes. Leaving... [More]
Directed By: Mira Nair

#19

Penelope (2006)
53%

#19
Adjusted Score: 57739%
Critics Consensus: Though Penelope has a charming cast and an appealing message, it ultimately suffers from faulty narrative and sloppy direction.
Synopsis: Born with the snout of a pig, young Penelope Wilhern (Christina Ricci) spends life a virtual prisoner in her home.... [More]
Directed By: Mark Palansky

#18

Cruel Intentions (1999)
55%

#18
Adjusted Score: 58913%
Critics Consensus: This darkly comic drama and its attractive young cast are easy on the eyes, but uneven performances and an uninspired script conspire to foil Cruel Intentions.
Synopsis: Annette (Reese Witherspoon) unwittingly becomes a pawn in Sebastian's (Ryan Phillippe) and Kathryn's (Sarah Michelle Gellar) deliciously diabolical wager of... [More]
Directed By: Roger Kumble

#17

Just Like Heaven (2005)
55%

#17
Adjusted Score: 59748%
Critics Consensus: Delightfully sweet like a lollipop, Just Like Heaven is a dreamy romantic comedy that may give you a toothache when it attempts to broach difficult end of life issues by throwing a cherry on top.
Synopsis: David (Mark Ruffalo) is a recently widowed architect moving into a new apartment in San Francisco. But the apartment isn't... [More]
Directed By: Mark Waters

#16
Adjusted Score: 59398%
Critics Consensus: Oliver Parker's adaptation of Oscar Wilde's classic play is breezy entertainment, helped by an impressive cast, but it also suffers from some peculiar directorial choices that ultimately dampen the film's impact.
Synopsis: Two young gents have taken to bending the truth in order to put some excitement into their lives. Worthing (Colin... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Parker

#15

Twilight (1998)
60%

#15
Adjusted Score: 62557%
Critics Consensus: It suffers from a frustratingly deliberate pace, but with nuanced performances from Paul Newman, Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon, and Reese Witherspoon to fall back on, Twilight can't help but be compelling.
Synopsis: Harry (Paul Newman), a retired private eye, lives in an apartment on the grounds of the estate owned by his... [More]
Directed By: Robert Benton

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 67487%
Critics Consensus: It's a tale tastefully told and beautifully filmed, but Water for Elephants suffers from a pronounced lack of chemistry between its leads.
Synopsis: Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson), a veterinary student, is close to graduating when a terrible tragedy forces him to leave school.... [More]
Directed By: Francis Lawrence

#13

Legally Blonde (2001)
70%

#13
Adjusted Score: 75639%
Critics Consensus: Though the material is predictable and formulaic, Reese Witherspoon's funny, nuanced performance makes this movie better than it would have been otherwise.
Synopsis: Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) has it all. She wants nothing more than to be Mrs. Warner Huntington III. But there... [More]
Directed By: Robert Luketic

#12

American Psycho (2000)
69%

#12
Adjusted Score: 74646%
Critics Consensus: If it falls short of the deadly satire of Bret Easton Ellis's novel, American Psycho still finds its own blend of horror and humor, thanks in part to a fittingly creepy performance by Christian Bale.
Synopsis: In New York City in 1987, a handsome, young urban professional, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), lives a second life as... [More]
Directed By: Mary Harron

#11

Sing (2016)
71%

#11
Adjusted Score: 82502%
Critics Consensus: Sing delivers colorfully animated, cheerfully undemanding entertainment with a solid voice cast and a warm-hearted -- albeit familiar -- storyline that lives up to its title.
Synopsis: Dapper Koala Buster Moon presides over a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times. An eternal optimist, and a... [More]
Directed By: Garth Jennings

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 81922%
Critics Consensus: Though it doesn't approach the depth of the best animated films, Monsters Vs. Aliens has enough humor and special effects to entertain moviegoers of all ages.
Synopsis: When a meteor full of space gunk transforms Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) into a giant, the government renames her Ginormica... [More]

#9

Inherent Vice (2014)
73%

#9
Adjusted Score: 83386%
Critics Consensus: Inherent Vice may prove frustrating for viewers who demand absolute coherence, but it does justice to its acclaimed source material -- and should satisfy fans of director P.T. Anderson.
Synopsis: In a California beach community, private detective Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) tends to work his cases through a smoky... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#8

Freeway (1996)
77%

#8
Adjusted Score: 78065%
Critics Consensus: A modern update on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, Freeway is an audacious black comedy with a star-making performance from the young Reese Witherspoon.
Synopsis: Following the arrest of her mother, Ramona (Amanda Plummer), young Vanessa Lutz (Reese Witherspoon) decides to go in search of... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Bright

#7

Walk the Line (2005)
82%

#7
Adjusted Score: 90385%
Critics Consensus: Superior acting and authentic crooning capture the emotional subtleties of the legend of Johnny Cash with a freshness that is a pleasure to watch.
Synopsis: The rise of country music legend Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) begins with his days as a boy growing up on... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#6

Pleasantville (1998)
85%

#6
Adjusted Score: 89273%
Critics Consensus: Filled with lighthearted humor, timely social commentary, and dazzling visuals, Pleasantville is an artful blend of subversive satire and well-executed Hollywood formula.
Synopsis: Impressed by high school student David's (Tobey Maguire) devotion to a 1950s family TV show, a mysterious television repairman (Don... [More]
Directed By: Gary Ross

#5

The Good Lie (2014)
87%

#5
Adjusted Score: 89180%
Critics Consensus: The Good Lie sacrifices real-life nuance in order to turn its true story into a Hollywood production, but the results still add up to a compelling, well-acted, and deeply moving drama.
Synopsis: After their village is destroyed and their parents killed by Northern militia, Sudanese orphans Theo, his siblings and other survivors... [More]
Directed By: Philippe Falardeau

#4

Wild (2014)
88%

#4
Adjusted Score: 99462%
Critics Consensus: Powerfully moving and emotionally resonant, Wild finds director Jean-Marc Vallée and star Reese Witherspoon working at the peak of their respective powers.
Synopsis: Driven to the edge by the loss of her beloved mother (Laura Dern), the dissolution of her marriage and a... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallée

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 90881%
Critics Consensus: It's sentimental, and some viewers may feel manipulated by the melodramatic final act, but The Man in the Moon offers a finely drawn coming-of-age story with an excellent cast -- including Reese Witherspoon in her film debut.
Synopsis: Maureen Trant (Emily Warfield) and her younger sibling Dani (Reese Witherspoon) share a strong connection, but local boy Court Foster... [More]
Directed By: Robert Mulligan

#2

Election (1999)
92%

#2
Adjusted Score: 96964%
Critics Consensus: Election successfully combines dark humor and intelligent writing in this very witty and enjoyable film.
Synopsis: Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), a well-liked high school government teacher, can't help but notice that successful student Tracy Flick (Reese... [More]
Directed By: Alexander Payne

#1

Mud (2013)
97%

#1
Adjusted Score: 103139%
Critics Consensus: Bolstered by a strong performance from Matthew McConaughey in the title role, Mud offers an engaging Southern drama that manages to stay sweet and heartwarming without being sappy.
Synopsis: While exploring a Mississippi River island, Arkansas boys Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) encounter Mud (Matthew McConaughey),a fugitive... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Nichols

She’s one of the highest-paid stars in Hollywood, with dozens of films to her credit and a lifetime box office gross total topping a billion dollars — and this weekend, Reese Witherspoon will add to that impressive sum with Hot Pursuit, an action comedy pairing her with Sofia Vergara. To celebrate Reese’s return to the big screen, as well as a terrific 2014 that included her Oscar-nominated work in Wild as well as a small supporting appearance in Inherent Vice, we decided to dedicate this week’s Total Recall to an appreciative look back at some of her best-reviewed releases.


10. LEGALLY BLONDE (2001) 68%


Critics tend to vilify the romantic comedy, but it’s an undeniable rite of passage for twentysomething actresses in Hollywood, and with 2001’s Legally Blonde, Witherspoon managed to enjoy the perks of the genre (such as the pay raise that comes with toplining a $141 million smash hit) without succumbing to its worst pitfalls (including dreadful scripts and scathing reviews). While Legally Blonde is far from groundbreaking, and its plot hinges on any number of silly contrivances, it’s never less than likable — largely thanks to a magnetic performance from its talented leading lady. In the words of Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum, “As an actor of distinction who’s all of 25, Reese Witherspoon reveals interesting dark roots even as she plays golden girls.”

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9. MONSTERS VS. ALIENS (2009) 72%


In real life, Reese Witherspoon is a hair under five feet, two inches tall, which might be why the idea of playing a freakishly tall woman nicknamed “Ginormica” appealed to her — or maybe it was just the chance to score one of those cushy voice acting gigs that all the major celebrities seem to get these days. Either way, the result was Monsters vs. Aliens, Witherspoon’s only film of 2009 and a $381 million 3D hit for DreamWorks Animation. Alongside the famous voices of Seth Rogen, Kiefer Sutherland, Steven Colbert, Rainn Wilson, Will Arnett, and others, Witherspoon helped wreak family-friendly cartoon havoc — and helped earn praise from critics like the Houston Chronicle’s Amy Biancolli, who wrote, “True, the story doesn’t amount to much, but the plot tends to take a back seat when you’ve got a not-quite-50-foot version of Reese Witherspoon duking it out with a mighty alien robot alongside the Golden Gate Bridge.”

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8. FREEWAY (1996) 76%


She’d made a few movies by the mid-’90s, but it was Reese Witherspoon’s work in 1996’s Freeway that really made critics sit up and take notice. At the center of this modern take on Red Riding Hood, playing a juvenile delinquent whose trip to her grandmother’s house is impeded by a wolfish sexual predator (Kiefer Sutherland), she essentially used her smoldering performance as a challenge, daring viewers to look away. It was a challenge unmet by many critics, including the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Margaret A. McGurk, who wrote, “I didn’t particularly want to like Freeway, but I couldn’t help myself. Reese Witherspoon made me.”

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7. WALK THE LINE (2005) 82%


Witherspoon joined the ranks of Oscar-winning leading ladies for her sensitive portrayal of June Carter Cash in this Johnny Cash biopic, which follows the early years of the Man in Black (played by Joaquin Phoenix), including the beginning of his career and the romance that would endure through more than four decades of his life. One of the year’s biggest hits and a five-time Academy Award nominee, Walk the Line wasn’t without its concessions to Hollywood formula — or without its critics, including Cash’s daughter Rosanne — but most scribes had plenty of praise for the film, including Andrew Sarris of the New York Observer, who wrote, “I advise you catch up with Walk the Line, if only for Ms. Witherspoon’s transcendent joyousness as a still-growing legend within a legend.”

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6. PLEASANTVILLE (1998) 85%


Gary Ross’ Pleasantville could easily have been nothing more than a gentle, simple satire about the way nostalgia changes our memories, but beneath the surface of the story — which sends a pair of squabbling modern teens (played by Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire) into the world of a 1950s sitcom — there’s some thoughtful commentary on civil rights and the cruelly arbitrary ways society can oppress those who don’t fit in. Pleasantville wasn’t a blockbuster hit, but it earned some of the best reviews of the year from critics like Louis B. Hobson of Jam! Movies, who wrote, “This wondrous little fable is a cross between The Truman Show and Back to the Future — and it’s better than both.”

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5. THE GOOD LIE (2014) 88%


Befitting its title, The Good Lie practiced a bit of well-meaning subterfuge with its marketing materials, selling this fact-based drama about the American lives of Sudanese refugees once known as “lost boys” by putting Witherspoon’s face front and center on the poster. But if her character — a Kansas City settlement worker given the life-altering task of helping her charges adjust to their new environment — isn’t truly central to the story, her performance remains a solid anchor in a film whose ingredients run the gamut from Hollywood gloss to real-life horror. “This is very much a mainstream movie meant to shine a light on the plight of people who were ignored for too long,” wrote the Arizona Republic’s Bill Goodykoontz. “For that reason alone, it’s well worth seeing.”

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4. THE MAN IN THE MOON (1991) 89%


For her first film, Witherspoon found herself in good company, including director Robert Mulligan (concluding a career that included To Kill a Mockingbird and Summer of ’42) and co-stars Sam Waterston and Tess Harper. But in this sweet coming-of-age drama, it’s Witherspoon’s character that largely drives the story, and she carried the film with an assured performance that belied her youth and lack of experience. Man in the Moon “gets an outstandingly natural performance out of Miss Witherspoon, who has no trouble carrying a lot of the film single-handedly,” wrote Janet Maslin for the New York Times. “It falls to her to remind the audience that this story is at heart about a family, and she does.”

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3. WILD (2014) 90%


The sort of physically and dramatically demanding role that an actor can spend an entire career waiting to score, Wild gave Witherspoon the opportunity to shoulder an entire film pretty much on her own — and she more than delivered, bringing Cheryl Strayed’s unflinching memoir to the screen with a suitably fierce drama (directed by Jean-Marc Vallée from a screenplay by Nick Hornby) that takes viewers on a harrowing hike along the Pacific Crest Trail while reliving key moments from its protagonist’s bumpy past. At the forefront of it all are solid performances from Witherspoon and Laura Dern, both of whom picked up Oscar nominations for their efforts. As Mick LaSalle wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle, “This pensive, reflective, complicated Witherspoon feels more real than the one she left behind — and more in keeping with how she started, in hard-hitting independent movies 20 years ago.”

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2. ELECTION (1999) 92%


It takes a special type of young actress to embody a character who is both seductive enough to destroy one high school teacher’s career and irritating enough to turn another teacher into an election-fixing madman — and that’s exactly what Witherspoon did as Election‘s Tracy Flick, the overachieving senior whose steamrolling campaign for student body president inspires one of her teachers (Matthew Broderick) to take desperate measures to keep her out of office. Critics expected great things from writer/director Alexander Payne after 1996’s Citizen Ruth, and Election delivered — and it also helped cement Witherspoon’s burgeoning reputation, thanks to reviews from critics like CNN’s Paul Clinton, who wrote, “Reese Witherspoon is proving to be one of the most versatile actresses of her generation.”

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1. MUD (2013) 98%


Just when it seemed like she might be forever doomed to a lifetime of romantic comedies like Four Christmases and This Means War, Witherspoon turned up next to her fellow rom-com refugee Matthew McConaughey in 2013’s Mud — and although he received much of the movie’s accolades for one of the roles that helped spark his so-called “McConaissance,” there really are no false notes or out-of-place performances in writer-director Jeff Nichols’ tale of a mysterious man who claims to be on the run from bounty hunters and desperate to flee with the love of his life. Calling it “More than a mere tribute to Twain and Dickens,” the Vine’s Alice Tynan wrote, “This has all the makings of a modern classic.”

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It’s a fairly limited week for home video releases, but the good news is that all three of the big new films available are smaller Certified Fresh films that probably deserve bigger audiences. They include a drama co-starring Reese Witherspoon, a British comedy sequel, and an acclaimed dramedy based on true events. Then, we’ve also got a couple of seasons of television for those interested. Read on for details:



The Good Lie

87%

Reese Witherspoon seems poised for something of a career renaissance, what with acclaimed turns in Mud, Wild, a supporting role in P.T. Anderson’s Inherent Vice, and The Good Lie, which opened earlier this year. In the latter of these, Witherspoon plays Carrie Davis, an aid worker helping four Sudanese refugees adjust to live in the US after they win a lottery to relocate from their war-torn homeland. Critics were fairly impressed with The Good Lie, even if some were disappointed the story wasn’t more nuanced, and the acting all around was one of the strongest factors in helping the film to a Certified Fresh 86 percent on the Tomatometer. The Good Lie never got a wide release, so in a week when home releases are few and far between, this is one of the better choices to go with.



The Trip to Italy

87%

Who knew listening to a couple of dry-wit comedians play off each other for a couple of hours could be so much fun? And who knew that it would be almost as much fun the second time around? In Michael Winterbottom’s follow-up to 2011’s The Trip, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon again play partially fictionalized versions of themselves as they tour restaurants in Italy and banter over plates of pasta. The only qualm critics had with The Trip to Italy was that its novel premise wasn’t quite as novel any more; barring that, however, they found the film just about as funny and entertaining as the original, and it’s Certified Fresh at 86 percent. This is another small feature that earned a limited run in the US, and while it’s probably too understated for somewhat younger audiences, it should be quite a treat for those who appreciate a good bit of British humor.



Pride

92%

Rounding out this week’s trio of Certified Fresh new releases is another British film and the highest rated of the lot. Based on the true story of a group of gay and lesbian activists in 1984 London rallying to raise money in support of National Union of Mineworkers members on strike, this feelgood drama stars veteran actors Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Paddy Considine and more. Critics praised the film’s ability to handle sensitive issues without being didactic and its smart avoidance of overt sentimentality, leading to a 94 percent Tomatometer score. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up this week, this one isn’t holiday-related, but it will probably result in some warm fuzzies nonetheless.

Also available this week:

  • Season three of SyFy’s mystery drama Continuum, starring Rachel Nichols as a time-traveling detective from the future, is available this week on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • Season one of another SyFy series, Dominion (38 percent), a supernatural drama based on characters in the film Legion, is also available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Corey-Stoll's-Five-Favorite-Films

Though he’s been acting in film and television for a decade, Corey Stoll‘s most recognizable roles have come all in a flurry over the past few years. Fans of the short-lived Law & Order: LA knew him as Detective TJ Jaruszalski, but more recently, Stoll impressed as Pennsylvania congressman Peter Russo in Netflix’s acclaimed political drama House of Cards, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination. If you missed both of those shows, you may have caught him on FX’s recent hit The Strain, in HBO’s Emmy-winning original film The Normal Heart, or in a brief appearance on the season four premiere of Showtime’s Homeland.

But Stoll’s talent isn’t limited to the small screen; his feature film appearances include the Angelina Jolie actioner Salt, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, and the Liam Neeson thriller Non-Stop, among others. Currently, he stars alongside Reese Witherspoon in The Good Lie, a based-on-true-events film about a woman who helps four Sudanese refugees adjust to life after they win an opportunity to relocate to the US. Stoll took some time out of his schedule to give us his Five Favorite Films:


Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964; 100% Tomatometer)



No movie is funnier or more scary. Kubrick somehow ramps up both the very real stakes and the increasingly weird humor throughout the movie. Most of the praise usually lands on Peter Sellers’s multiple performances, but don’t sleep on George c. Scott. The man who played the ultimate military authority in Patton plays the ultimate military buffoon. Fun fact: this movie has the longest title in film history.

Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989; 96% Tomatometer)



This was the first movie where I was aware of what a director did. There’s a scene near the climax where the camera zooms in and rotates 45 degrees into an extreme Dutch angle close-up on Giancarlo Esposito’s face. “Someone made that decision!” I thought. I also love the fact that it was our last president and irst lady’s first date.

Dead Man Walking (Tim Robbins, 1995; 95% Tomatometer)



Sean Penn’s performance is brutally raw. He starts off so cocky and impenetrable and hateful. Slowly he strips away his armor until he’s left with nothing but love. Some actors can give a perfectly calibrated performance and some can strip themselves bare — Penn does both.

Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990; 96% Tomatometer)



Kinetic, profane, and operatic. This movie has the most simply badass shot in motion picture history: Robert De Niro sitting at a bar sucking down a cigarette as the camera slowly pushes in with “Sunshine of Your Love” on the soundtrack.

Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977; 98% Tomatometer)



I find a lot of comedy from this period to be dated, but I never feel that way about Annie Hall. Somehow even references to psychoanalysis and Marshall McLuhan feel vital. And you’ve got to love Paul Simon as the most unlikely lothario in film history.


The Good Lie is currently in theaters.

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Ep. 061 – New TV & movies, and Chef co-star Emjay Anthony
This week’s show kicks off with Sarah discussing new TV shows, including Gracepoint, Selfie, Stalker, and A to Z. Then Tim discusses new movies Gone Girl, Left Behind, and Annabelle. Last (but not least) Ryan talks about new home video releases Transformers: Age of Extinction and Chef, and he introduces Grae’s interview with Chef co-star Emjay Anthony.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a mysterious disappearance (Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike), a spooky doll (Annabelle, starring Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton), and the end of the world (Left Behind, starring Nicolas Cage and Lea Thompson). What do the critics have to say?



Gone Girl

87%

As the old promotional tagline goes, “You’ve read the book — now see the movie!” In the case of David Fincher‘s Gone Girl (adapted from Gillian Flynn‘s page-turning bestseller), critics say that’s sage advice, for the film is a psychologically penetrating thriller that’s chilling and darkly funny — and it features a performance from Rosamund Pike that’s likely to catapult her to the big-time. Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Pike) are a seemly idyllic couple. However, when Amy goes missing, and the media descends on their small Midwestern town, Nick looks increasingly suspicious. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Gone Girl is well-acted, intelligent, and deeply unsettling — in short, what we’ve come to expect from Fincher. (Watch our video interview with the cast and crew here.)



Annabelle

29%

That creepy doll Annabelle cut such a striking presence in The Conjuring that she got her own movie. Unfortunately, the critics say it’s too bad she couldn’t get a better one; despite a few undeniably effective scares, Annabelle is by and large a compendium of horror movie cliches. A young couple with a baby on the way witnesses the shocking murder of their neighbors by a satanic cult. Soon, our heroes experience sinister goings-on throughout their house ; could that weird vintage doll the husband purchased be the cause? The pundits say Annabelle is a pretty generic haunted house flick, though it’s spooky enough on occasion to wish it were more.



Left Behind

1%

Nicolas Cage plus the Book of Revelations should equal apocalyptic excitement, right? Apparently not. Critics are less than — ahem — enraptured by Left Behind; they say it’s a limp, clumsily crafted potboiler with cheesy special effects and minimal character development. Based upon the bestselling novels by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, the film stars Cage as Rayford Steele, a disaffected airline pilot who witnesses several passengers and crew members vanish in mid-flight. Steele must safely land the plane while chaos reigns on the ground. The pundits say Left Behind is mostly amateurish and largely bereft of thrills.

Fresh on TV this week:


This Amazon Prime dramedy is winning high praise for its honest, empathetic, and funny depiction of a dysfunctional family; critics say Transparent (98 percent) features top-notch performances from the likes of Jeffrey Tambor, Judith Light, Gaby Hoffmann, and many more.

Gracepoint (73 percent) is an American adaptation of the critically-adored British detective series Broadchurch, both of which star David Tennant. And while critics say it’s not quite as sharp as its predecessor, it’s sophisticated and stylish, and features a strong lead performance from Anna Gunn.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Nas: Time Is Illmatic, a documentary about the making of one of hip hop’s greatest albums, is at 100 percent.
  • Last Hijack, a documentary about the life of a Somali pirate, is at 100 percent.
  • The Blue Room, a thriller about a man whose adulterous affairs lead to serious trouble, is at 90 percent.
  • For Those In Peril, a drama about a man who survives a mysterious fishing boat accident off the coast of Scotland, is at 89 percent.
  • The Good Lie, starring Reese Witherspoon in a drama about a group of Sudanese refugees who attempt to make new lives for themselves in the United States, is at 85 percent (check out our interview with the cast here).
  • Copenhagen, a drama about a man who befriends a teenage girl while searching for his grandfather in Denmark, is at 83 percent.
  • Harmontown, a documentary portrait of Community creator Dan Harmon, is at 60 percent.
  • The Decent One, a documentary about how Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler thought about his actions, is at 50 percent.
  • Men, Women & Children, starring Jennifer Garner and Adam Sandler in a dramedy about the ways that technology has changed the way that parents and teens communicate, is at 40 percent.
  • Inner Demons, a horror film about reality show subject who appears to be a drug addict but may be suffering from something even scarier, is at 40 percent.
  • A Good Marriage, starring Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia in a thriller about a woman who makes a shocking discovery about her husband, is at 38 percent.
  • The Liberator, a biopic of Simón Bolívar and his fight for Latin American independence from Spain, is at 27 percent.
  • The Hero of Color City, an animated adventure about anthropomophic crayons featuring voice performances by Christina Ricci and Craig Ferguson, is at 20 percent.
  • Drive Hard, starring John Cusack and Thomas Jane in a thriller about a racecar driver who’s enlisted to drive the getaway car as part of daring heist, is at eight percent.

Out of the many lessons in The Good Lie, one that stood out to Grae Drake is to always be open-minded enough to let people give you advice. The cast, including Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Kuoth Wiel, Sarah Baker, and Reese Witherspoon, share the ways that they’ve learned from others.

 

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