Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 41
  2. Negative: 1 out of 41

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Critic Reviews

  1. The biggest little movie of the year - and one of the best ever about the news media.
  2. 100
    Vividly re- creates TV news icon Edward R. Murrow's historic face-off with Sen. Joseph McCarthy in devastatingly low-key detail -- is the right movie at the right time.
  3. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    It's a passionate, serious, impeccably crafted movie tackling a subject Clooney cares about deeply: the duty of journalism to speak truth to power. It also happens to be the most compelling American movie of the year so far.
  4. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    The only things missing from making this showdown worthy of a Western is Murrow's sheriff's badge, a dusty street and maybe a spittoon for McCarthy's infamous invectives.
  5. A riveting movie that's as entertaining as it is socially and politically important.
  6. 100
    You go to Good Night, and Good Luck expecting inspiration, and you get it. It's also unexpectedly subtle, tense, and challenging, complex both in its take on its subject and in its craftsmanship. So the movie brings you to your feet - and, at times, to tears.
  7. 100
    The other key character is McCarthy himself, and Clooney uses a masterstroke: He employs actual news footage of McCarthy, who therefore plays himself.
  8. It'll preach mainly to the choir - lazy thinkers won't attend, despite George Clooney's attachment as director and actor - but maybe it'll wake a few sleepers.
  9. A paragon of subtlety. Yet this message is exactly what we carry out of the theater, and it lingers on with a powerful resonance.
  10. 90
    This is an elegant and stirring entertainment about the hard-drinking, hard-smoking reporters of "See It Now," the show that Murrow and the producer Fred Friendly put together every week.
  11. He [Clooney] has found a cogent subject, an urgent set of ideas and a formally inventive, absolutely convincing way to make them live on screen.
  12. Couldn't be more unlikely, more unfashionable -- or more compelling.
  13. Langella is terrific in a small but critical role as CBS president William Paley, although the one essential problem with the film is that it never clearly delineates the jobs fulfilled by the cluster of other newsroom employees that are always huddled about.
  14. 88
    In ninety-three tight, terrifically exciting minutes, Clooney makes integrity look mighty sexy.
  15. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    David Strathairn, playing Murrow, follows his writers' lead beautifully, delivering a performance that's all understatement on the surface and searing fire underneath.
  16. 88
    That the film should have the look and feel of a classic teleplay by, say, Rod Serling, is probably no accident -- the style is one more reminder of just how regrettably short of Murrow's vision we've fallen.
  17. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    A puzzle: a hermetically sealed period piece so intensely relevant to our current state of affairs that it takes your breath away.
  18. 88
    Like other actors who successfully create a cinematic doppelganger of a real person, Strathairn gets under the character's skin.
  19. Good Night, and Good Luck has a small-scale time-capsule fascination, yet its hermeticism is really a form of moral caution -- a way of keeping the issues neat, the liberal idealism untainted.
  20. A solid achievement, but those in the press who have been trumpeting its greatness may be going in for a bit of self-congratulation. The movie plays very well to the choir.
  21. 83
    An unusual and absorbing, if somewhat preachy film.
  22. 80
    It doesn't sacrifice craftsmanship and elegance at the altar of its strong convictions.
  23. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    A vital chapter of mid-century history is brought to life concisely, with intimacy and matter-of-fact artistry.
  24. Good Night, and Good Luck's primary handicap is history itself -- the toe-to-toe televised dialogue between McCarthy and Murrow was, however arguably vital to the Wisconsin senator's eventual retreat, brief and less than epochal. Even so, the wonderfully mustered context wins out.
  25. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Many movies these days are too long; this one, at 90 minutes, feels too short. That's because its purpose is so sharply defined: a tight close-up, in black and white, of a single, seminal moment -- a black and white moment -- in American history, and American journalism.
  26. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    A passionate and rousing piece of filmmaking--a civics lesson with the punch of a good melodrama.
  27. Reviewed by: Simon Crook
    Provocative, principled and richly detailed, this is compelling stuff. Emotionally it’s a little dry, but as brain-food, it’s absolutely invigorating.
  28. An entertaining slice of American political and cultural history.
  29. 75
    None-too-subtly implies Murrow could easily be talking about the present day.
  30. The result, then, is good, not great. But it is hard to come by good films about media and politics, and why the intersection thereof matters so much in a democracy.
  31. Good Night, and Good Luck may be simplified history, but it's almost consistently well-crafted.
  32. Moviegoers who know their American political history will respond to the film's immediacy and forgive the film's tight focus and narrow view. Anyone hoping for an entertaining drama about newsmen and politics along the lines of "All the President's Men" will be disappointed.
  33. 70
    Where "Quiz Show" elevated its story to the level of Shakespearean tragedy, Clooney's film is too lightweight to reach such tragic heights. In part, it's too short--at 90 minutes, including musical interludes and lengthy monologues taken whole-cloth from the historical record, Good Night breezes by effortlessly when it really needs time and space to build up to appropriately epic dimensions.
  34. 70
    Though I'm not fully convinced that cool and jazzy is the way to go with one of the great civil-rights battles of 20th-century America, George Clooney's elegantly muted take on Edward R. Murrow's fight with Joe McCarthy offers many riches, notably a wicked character study of Murrow and a sexy homage to the pleasures of teamwork when the team is a bunch of smart-ass liberal reporters making common cause against a wannabe dictator.
  35. Clooney may be a specialist in embattled camaraderie--he helped revive "Ocean's Eleven," after all--but as in that caper remake, there's no depth to these characterizations, and Downey and Clarkson are squandered in a goes-nowhere subplot about their secret marriage.
  36. The film, therefore, is like a child's view of these events, untroubled by complexity, hungry for myth and simplicity.
  37. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    There is more to the intertwined stories of Murrow and McCarthy than this simpleminded, rhetorically driven movie begins to encompass.
  38. The film adopts, somewhat insidiously, the myth that life was simpler back in 1953 and '54, and it offers Murrow as a lesson for today.
  39. Yet the McCarthy/Murrow conflict in the picture is not pressing enough--these days, anyway--to justify the considerable skill expended on it.
  40. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    Clooney has littered his film with such a high quantity of mistakes that it is hard to know where exactly to begin finding fault.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 166 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 52 out of 76
  2. Negative: 11 out of 76
  1. Feb 22, 2012
    "Good Night, and Good Luck" isn't really a masterpiece as the critics claim, but it has it's sophisticated entertainment values thanks to the"Good Night, and Good Luck" isn't really a masterpiece as the critics claim, but it has it's sophisticated entertainment values thanks to the wonderful direction / performance of George Clooney and his crew. Full Review »
  2. May 2, 2011
    Seldom does a film pontificate such an intellectually prescient concept to their film the way "Good Night and Good Luck" did so brilliantly!Seldom does a film pontificate such an intellectually prescient concept to their film the way "Good Night and Good Luck" did so brilliantly! To comprehend the full gist of this movie is to ruminate the prevailing era in this country during McCarthyism. What Edward R Murrow hoped to accomplish with his news show was to format objectivity in a manner whereby the truth on any given issue required a full perspective, and, not just one politician's point of view! Today, the dichotimizing of various philosophies concerning different positions on any given issue, seem relatively second nature to the dynamic of the news media, however, in 1954, it was an intrepidly new concept in which Edward R Morrow essentially gave birth to. To theorize on the veracity of any particular concept becomes an intellectual endeavor which broadens our horizons as Americans. Such an esoteric epigram from "Good Night and Good Luck" is what made this film so intellectually spellbinding! So often in films today, the fusillade of special effects supercedes the basic cerebral element of human nature. The success of most films are determined by their box office budget. Steve Soderbourgh and George Clooney attained a clairvoyant effervescence to decide to produce this film. "Good Night and Good Luck" effloresces into a precis for academic fervor in establishing the very real purpose of television. Edward R Murrow became the single biggest purveyor for unprecedented accuracy in the news world of television just by virtue of delving into every angle of a volatile, and formerly misunderstood issue. Issues such as Communist paranoia, which was vehemently advocated by Joe McCarthy! It was probably the hacked out stoicism to predetermined news programming which Edward R Murrow wished to severely abbreviate. Murrow's philosophy of the news was to conceptualize the aggregate circumstances to a news story to determine the accuracy and significance of the actual controversy pertaining to this news item. Newsworthiness became a prerogative of every American in the United States after Murrow's entrance in the news realm of professionalism. The fact is, the truth is multi faceted, and the simple mendacity to the American News Media, is that is was not represented by that criteria! What was placatory doggerel back then, became hard bitten reality thanks to Edward R Murrow. By 1954, it was time for stilted national heroism to be dragged down from the soap box and revolutionized to the paradigm which accommodated the overall wishes of the American public. For now, television was not just about ratings and innocuous entertainment, it was incumbent upon someone such as Edward R Murrow to introduce the informative element of television as a foundation to enhance professional integrity. The visceral outlook in which the film "Good Night and Good Luck" assumed was an intelligent and an enlightening perspective that brought the birth of prolific news media coverage to the American people. Was this film exciting? No! It could not possibly be. This movie is about the truth, and, the truth is not exciting. The truth is stubborn, the truth is wry as well as abrasive, but, most of all, the truth is a necessary evil which keeps our eyes wide open to determine the full scope of political philosophy as opposed to another. This acute presentation of fundamental principals and policies which Edward R Murrow established as a precedent for news anchormen in the ensuing years ahead, made the film "Good Night and Good Luck" a cogently accurate account of how Americans have dissected the accuracy of hard bitten news on television. The film "Good Night and Good Luck" is unbelievably brilliant in the overall premise by which it purveys. Put it this way: Christopher Columbus discovered America, and Edward R Murrow discovered objectivity for television news shows. While I thought this film was fabulous, if people didn't like it, it is good in some ways, mostly because we do not realize how much we have taken the privilege of a well rounded perspective on a political issue for granted., therefore, we do not perceive that this film was groundbreaking in any way, but,, it most assuredly was! A simple solution for a seemingly complicated issue is merely a simple response! This movie "Good Night and Good Luck" is what made me just say that. One more thing, make sure you go out there and vote!! Full Review »
  3. Mar 14, 2015
    The fight against the powerful takes bravery, such as shown Edward R Murrow and the people he worked during the witch-hunts of McCarthyism.The fight against the powerful takes bravery, such as shown Edward R Murrow and the people he worked during the witch-hunts of McCarthyism. "Good Night and Good Luck" displays that fight brilliantly. George Clooney gives his best directorial work and David Strathairn as Murrow gives his best performance to date, in one of the best films about journalism since "All The Presidents Men". It may not be high flying sensationalistic twists and turns, but all the little details, the beautiful black and white cinematography, and the great cast of a number of known names, add up to a compelling piece, and a timeless story about what it takes to stand up for what's right. Full Review »