Chicago Reader's Scores

  • Movies
For 4,911 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 42% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 56% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 3.7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 Bamako
Lowest review score: 0 Saw II
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. This 2002 German documentary (in English) by Marta Kudlacek is the best portrait of an experimental filmmaker that I know.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    With its wisecracking screenplay, period-perfect pop score, and Shankman's splashy choreography, this may be the funniest, dancingest screen musical since "Singin' in the Rain."
  2. As clever as he is crude, Cohen alchemizes bad-taste comedy into Strangelovean satire.
  3. The result was one of Bergman's most haunting and suggestive films.
  4. For a movie about the importance of memory, Away From Her is appropriately sophisticated in its treatment of time. Polley has broken the chronological story into three sections of unequal length and woven them together, approximating our own mercurial journeys through the past.
  5. In a truly great movie the form becomes indistinguishable from the story, and that’s certainly the case here.
  6. Charlie Chaplin finally got around to acknowledging the 20th century in this 1936 film, which substitutes machine-age gags for the fading Victoriana of his other work. Consequently, it's the coldest of his major features, though no less brilliant for it.
  7. Zwigoff not only presents a complex human being and the range of his art but also guides us through a profound and unsettling consideration of what it means to be an American artist. Essential viewing.
  8. The show has been the gold standard for satirical TV ever since it debuted in 1989. This long-awaited movie adaptation has plenty of laughs, plus an assortment of milestones for fans.
  9. Mesmerizing.
  10. The good humor bubbles up from a deep reservoir of affection for Hollywood schlock.
  11. A quantum leap in movie magic; watching it, I began to understand how people in 1933 must have felt when they saw "King Kong."
  12. Throughout the film cause and effect, the mainspring of most narratives, is replaced by a sense of spiritual synchronicity.
  13. Like much of Verhoeven's best work, it's shamelessly melodramatic, but in its dark moral complexities it puts "Schindler's List" to shame. Van Houten and Sebastian Koch (The Lives of Others) are only two of the standouts in an exceptional cast.
  14. A ferociously creative 1985 black comedy filled with wild tonal contrasts, swarming details, and unfettered visual invention--every shot carries a charge of surprise and delight.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Streep and Hoffman are pitch-perfect, and Amy Adams is also superb as a young nun caught up in the conflict.
  15. Hou's best film since "The Puppetmaster" (1993). It's also his most minimalist effort to date, slow to reveal its depths and beauties, and it marks a rejuvenation of his art.
  16. Alain Resnais' 2006 adaptation of a British play by Alan Ayckbourn is a world apart from his earlier Ayckbourn adaptation, "Smoking/No Smoking"; that film tried to be as "English" as possible. But this time Resnais looks for precise French equivalents to British culture, and what emerges is one of his most personal works, intermittently recalling the melancholy "Muriel" and "Providence."
  17. The film's superb first two hours, which weave social and historical themes into rich personal drama, turn out to be only a prelude to the magnificent final hour--an extended ballroom sequence that leaves history behind to become one of the most moving meditations on individual mortality in the history of the cinema. (Review of 1983 Release)
  18. Like the best kids' entertainment, this creates a daffy little world all its own.
  19. Elliptical, full of subtle inner rhymes...and profoundly moving, this is the most tightly crafted Kubrick film since "Dr. Strangelove," as well as the most horrific; the first section alone accomplishes most of what "The Shining" failed to do.
  20. Wong Kar-wai's idiosyncratic style first became apparent in this gorgeously moody second feature.
  21. Smart, poignant, and utterly beguiling.
  22. After the portentous "No Country for Old Men," Joel and Ethan Coen return to their trademark brand of cruel, misanthropic farce, and for dark laughs and hurtling narrative momentum this spy caper is their best work since "Fargo."
  23. Combines live-action and animation with breathtaking wizardry... Alternately hilarious, frightening, and awesome.
  24. Director Juan José Campanella weaves together two love stories--between the victim and her husband, and the investigator and his former boss (Soledad Villamil)--and creates some masterful set pieces; his breathless chase through a packed soccer stadium is a marvel of choreography and top-notch CGI.
  25. French director Gaspar Noe has kept a pretty low profile since his 2002 drama "Irreversible" notorious for its brutal nine-minute anal rape scene. But this epic, psychedelic mindfuck confirms him once again as the cinema's most imaginative nihilist.
  26. This 1985 film's absolute freedom from cliches is genuinely refreshing; looking at it again after Van Sant's subsequent "Drugstore Cowboy," I found it every bit as good and in some ways even more impressive than the later film. It shouldn't be missed.
  27. Masterfully charted and acted.
  28. Much as Emile de Antonio's neglected "In the Year of the Pig" (1968) may be the only major documentary about Vietnam that actually considers the Vietnamese, this film allows the people of Iraq to speak, and what they say is fascinating throughout.
  29. Leone brought back a masterpiece, a film that expands his baroque, cartoonish style into genuine grandeur, weaving dozens of thematic variations and narrative arabesques around a classical western foundation myth.(Review of Original Release)
  30. Sharp, entertaining, and convincing--discursive, but with a sense of structure and control that Coppola hasn't achieved since.
  31. The result is a film that hovers just beyond our grasp--mysterious, beautiful, and, very possibly, a masterpiece.
  32. Directed by John Hillcoat, this Aussie feature perfectly re-creates the charbroiled landscapes and cruel psychodrama of the old Sergio Leone westerns, with John Hurt particularly fine as a raging old mountain goat.
  33. Jarmusch has said that the film's odd, generally slow rhythm -- hypnotic if you're captivated by it, as I am, and probably unendurable if you're not--was influenced by classical Japanese period movies by Kenji Mizoguchi and Akira Kurosawa.
  34. The best documentary to date about the military occupation of Iraq.
  35. This drama about an obese, illiterate black teen in Harlem practically guarantees some emotional uplift. But when it arrives, eventually, its authority is unimpeachable, so deeply has director Lee Daniels (Monster's Ball) immersed us in the depths of human ugliness.
  36. David Lynch's first digital video, almost three hours long, resists synopsizing more than anything else he's done. Some viewers have complained, understandably, that it's incomprehensible, but it's never boring, and the emotions Lynch is expressing are never in doubt.
  37. One of the most perfect endings of any film that comes to mind.
  38. Masterpiece.
  39. Such is the extraordinary achievement of The Hurt Locker: it has the perspective of years when those years have yet to pass.
  40. A sense of reconciliation is Malick's great accomplishment in The Tree of Life, affording us equal wonder at grace and nature alike. 
  41. Of course no Western director can make a movie about Africa without being accused of colonialism himself, and some critics have faulted The Last King of Scotland for focusing on its white hero as black corpses pile up around him. But although the movie takes place on an international political stage, it's still a drama of individual allegiance.
  42. A lush piece of romanticism.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Every frame is dense with life, with children and animals running in and out, yet it's not messy. Instead it's highly focused--and something of a small masterpiece.
  43. Visually witty, flawlessly played romantic comedy.
  44. The result is both thrilling and thoughtful.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Makes a powerful statement about the plight of unwanted children. But it also incorporates elements of melodrama, film noir, and even the fairy tale that engage our empathy and confirm the Dardennes' great compassion.
  45. Samuel Maoz drew from his own war experiences to write and direct this searing drama, which ranks alongside "Platoon" and "No Man's Land" as an antiwar statement and recalls the claustrophobic despair of "Das Boot."
  46. The period details and performances are uniformly superb (Bob Hoskins is especially good as MGM executive Eddie Mannix), and the major characters are even more complex than those in "Chinatown."
  47. Extraordinary 2008 French drama.
  48. An enduring masterpiece--dark, deep, beautiful, aglow.
  49. All-expert cast.
  50. At the very least, it's more honest and involved in its portraiture of American soldiers in Iraq than anything TV news of any political persuasion has given us.
  51. The mix of dark humor, creeping suspense, and a sort of apocalyptic tenderness makes this the best horror flick in years.
  52. Riveting cinematic essay.
  53. It's hard to think of many more galvanizing definitions of what it means to be an American than Cho's volcanic self-assessments.
  54. A masterful 168-minute piece of storytelling that never ceases to be gripping in spite of its measured pace.
  55. The casting of Reeves in the lead role is inspired: who better than the star of "The Matrix" and its sequels, a trilogy that borrows heavily from Dick's sensibility and obsessions, to play a personality split through overindulgence in drugs and manipulation by outside forces he barely recognizes?
  56. An explosive but scrupulously journalistic drama about the radical group that terrorized Germany for nearly 30 years.
  57. A clarion call for freedom and collective action both hopeful and energizing, it qualifies as a generational statement as Rebel Without a Cause did in the 50s, but without the defeatism and masochism. Not to be missed.
  58. Ties everything together with a dazzling synthesis of pagan animism, heroic quest mythology, orientalism, Pre-Raphaelite imagery, 1950s sci-fi creature features, and Hollywood war epics.
  59. This 2005 masterpiece by Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov transforms the story of Emperor Hirohito at the close of World War II into a melancholy meditation on power and its loss.
  60. As with the earlier movie, this one turns in on its own morality like a Möbius strip, endorsing kindness by practicing slaughter, and pulls us along for the ride. Detractors will call its reasoning ridiculous, and they'll be right - though I doubt that will bother Goldthwait, who makes a living being ridiculous.
  61. When the interrupters do succeed, the results can be riveting.
  62. Directors Turner Ross and Bill Ross IV, brothers and native sons of Sidney, find poetry in images of the mundane.
  63. Tarantino's mock-tough narrative--which derives most of its titillation from farcical mayhem, drugs, deadpan macho monologues, evocations of anal penetration, and terms of racial abuse--resembles a wet dream for 14-year-old male closet queens (or, perhaps more accurately, the 14-year-old male closet queen in each of us), and his command of this smart-alecky mode is so sure that this nervy movie sparkles throughout with canny twists and turns.
  64. This powerful South African drama turns on the debut performance of young Presley Chweneyagae as the hood, and it's magnificent: a stone-faced killer in the opening scenes, he becomes an open book as the story progresses, as frightened, confused, and needy as the baby he drags around town in a shopping bag.
  65. Both sad and darkly funny, the film is so sharply conceived and richly populated that it often registers like a Frederick Wiseman documentary, even though everything is scripted and every part played by a professional... This is only the second feature of Cristi Puiu, who claims to have been inspired by his own hypochondria, but he's already clearly a master.
  66. The movie gradually deepens from odd-couple comedy into Catholic-themed drama, but it remains marvelously funny throughout. Instead of hitting the easy notes of black humor, McDonagh skillfully modulates between broad character laughs and the men's piercing anguish as the story nears its bloody conclusion.
  67. Three Times, one of the peaks of his (Hou Hsiao-hsien) career, may be your last chance to see his work inside a movie theater.
  68. Holofcener's work is often classified as comedy of manners, but at her best she trades in something much more resonant--the comedy of mores. Here she dives into the fascinating matter of why some people impulsively give and others compulsively take, and how people are taught to second-guess and quash their own generous impulses.
  69. Werner Herzog is a stranger in a strange land as soon as he gets out of bed in the morning: in this travelogue of Antarctica, his perverse curiosity and zest for the harshest extremes of nature transform what might have been a standard TV special into an idiosyncratic expression of wonder.
  70. he Diving Bell and the Butterfly fuses experimental techniques with a highly accessible and sometimes humorous narrative; it’s deeply personal yet universal in its humanism.
  71. A film so rich in ideas it hardly knows where to turn. Transcendent themes of love and death are fused with a pop-culture sensibility and played out against a midwestern background, which is breathtaking both in its sweep and in its banality.
  72. This is a masterwork by Ousmane Sembene, the 81-year-old father of African cinema and one of Senegal's greatest novelists.
  73. A grand-style, idiosyncratic war epic, with wonderful poetic ideas, intense emotions, and haunting images rich in metaphysical portent.
  74. Writer Petr Jarchovsky and director Jan Hrebejk collaborated on the formidable "Up and Down" (2004), and this 2006 feature, which takes its title from a Robert Graves poem, is equally impressive for its mastery, intelligence, and ambition in juggling intricate plot strands and memorable characters.
  75. Filmmakers Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen, and Nicole Newhman do a superb job of telling this neglected story in vivid detail.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A masterpiece, one of Michelangelo Antonioni's finest works. (Review of Original Release)
  76. Yes
    Beautifully composed and deftly delivered, it becomes the libretto to Potter's visual music, creating a remarkable lyricism and emotional directness.
  77. Huston's performance is spellbinding. And the naturally lit digital cinematography (by Rose and Ron Forsythe) is both poetic and harrowingly intimate in depicting Ivan's impending death.
  78. A Chayefsky movie isn't hard to identify, but I think it's safe to say that these days a Charlie Kaufman movie is even more recognizable.
  79. The songs don't advance the narrative lyrically so much as follow the two characters' uncertain relationship through the slow realization of their themes; in particular a scene in which they first jam together in the back room of a music store is a gem.
  80. Dogtooth, a bizarre black comedy from Greece that won the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2009 Cannes film festival, involves a conventional middle-class family--mom, dad, teenage son, two teenage daughters--that turns out to be warped beyond belief.
  81. Its special effects are used so seamlessly as part of an overall artistic strategy that, as critic Annette Michelson has pointed out, they don't even register as such, and thus are almost impossible to trivialize, a feat unmatched in movies.
  82. This is truly a great film, recently celebrated at length in "My Voyage to Italy," Martin Scorsese's documentary about Italian cinema.
  83. Possibly the most daring and honest drama about sexuality I've ever seen.
  84. Haggis's dialogue is worthy of Hemingway, and the three leads border on perfection.
  85. Given the movie's slow, careful development, I was hardly prepared for the cold-sweat suspense of the last half hour.
  86. I haven't seen the shorter version, but I would hate to lose one moment of the gripping 66-minute sequence-really the heart of the movie-in which Carlos plots and executes his spectacular 1975 raid on the meeting of OPEC ministers in Vienna.
  87. The title of Jia Zhang-ke's 2004 masterpiece, The World -- a film that's hilarious and upsetting, epic and dystopian -- is an ironic pun and a metaphor.
  88. If "Ratatouille" taught the world that rats have feelings too, Persepolis teaches the same thing about the people of Iran, who in the current political climate are probably in greater danger of being eradicated.
  89. "The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right," declares Hushpuppy, the fierce, nappy-headed girl at the center of this extraordinary southern gothic.
  90. Shot on a year's worth of weekends on a minuscule budget (less than $20,000), this remarkable work--conceivably the best single feature about ghetto life that we have--was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry as one of the key works of the American cinema, an ironic and belated form of recognition for a film that has had virtually no distribution. It shouldn't be missed.
  91. The intersections between sleep and waking, memory, cinema, and the Internet lead to a spectacular battle of titans who spring from the mind's darkest recesses.
  92. The juxtaposition of liberal Jewish attorney Dershowitz (Silver) and von Bulow working together on the latter's defense makes for some engagingly offbeat drama, with some interesting insights into the legal process.
  93. This brilliantly and comprehensively captures the look, feel, and sound of glamorous 50s tearjerkers like All That Heaven Allows, not to mock or feel superior to them but to say new things with their vocabulary.
  94. Bridesmaids is hilariously funny, but what makes it exhilarating is how boldly it defies that conventional wisdom about what men and women like.
  95. A great film but also one of the most upsetting films I know.

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