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 3.6 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 I'm the One That I Want
Lowest review score: 0 Bless the Child
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A rapturously beautiful, lyrically dazzling work.
  1. The movie's dreamlike spaces and characters are sometimes worthy of Lewis Carroll.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It's something of a masterpiece: a confessional experimental documentary with echoes, both conscious and unconscious, of filmmakers from Andy Warhol to John Cassavetes, Stan Brakhage to David Lynch.
  2. Most comedies start with a straight story and hang jokes on it; Solondz begins with a cosmic joke and takes his characters by the hand as they suffer through it.
  3. Stylistically fresh and full of sweetness that never cloys, this is contemporary Hollywood filmmaking at its near best.
  4. Through it all Nader, as ruefully funny as ever, comments on his adventures.
  5. Martin Scorsese transforms a debilitating convention of 80s comedy--absurd underreaction to increasingly bizarre and threatening situations--into a rich, wincingly funny metaphysical farce. A lonely computer programmer is lured from the workday security of midtown Manhattan to an expressionistic late-night SoHo by the vague promise of casual sex with a mysterious blond.
  6. It's one of the best movies about revolutionary and anticolonial activism ever made, convincing, balanced, passionate, and compulsively watchable as storytelling.
  7. Watts and Harring even turn out to be the hottest Hollywood couple of 2001. The plot slides along agreeably as a tantalizing mystery before becoming almost completely inexplicable, though no less thrilling, in the closing stretches--but that's what Lynch is famous for. It looks great too.
  8. The movie he (Wenders) went on to make with her Tanztheater Wuppertal is more than an elegy; his meticulous use of 3D endows the performances with a corporeality and intimacy hitherto unseen in a dance film.
  9. All this edginess, combined with the grandeur and sweep of a classic western, demonstrates that Jones clearly knows how to tell a story -- and how to confound us at the same time.
  10. The production design is superb, and the actors deliver their dialogue in subtitled Yucatecan Maya, but despite all the anthropological drag, this is really just a crackerjack Saturday-afternoon serial.
  11. This seventh installment is utterly fascinating.
  12. It's a damning indictment of a national disgrace, but it also reveals the incredible faith and resilience of people who have nothing to rely on but themselves.
  13. A heartfelt, passionate, tragic musical suite made up of these formulas, which the film both celebrates and wryly examines to discover their inner logic: how they actually work, what they do and don't do.
  14. Buñuel conjures with Freudian imagery, outrageous humor, and a quiet, lyrical camera style to create one of his most complex and complete works, a film that continues to disturb and transfix.
  15. With his perfect pacing, elegant narrative design, and depth of characterization, Richard Lester has made as good a matinee movie as could be imagined: it's a big, generous, beautifully crafted piece of entertainment, with the distinctive Lester touch in the busy backgrounds and the throwaway dialogue.
  16. The real protagonist of Moneyball, however, is Beane himself, played with great charisma by Brad Pitt. (With this movie and "The Tree of Life" competing against each other, Pitt could wind up cheating himself out of an Oscar this year.)
  17. Lakeview Terrace isn't literally about the riots, but it's still one of the toughest racial dramas to come out of Hollywood since the fires died down--much tougher, for instance, than Paul Haggis’s hand-wringing Oscar winner "Crash."
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki perfects his trademark formula of deadpan humor and arctic circle pathos in this brilliantly ironic 2002 comedy.
  18. The founding of Facebook becomes a tale for our times in this masterful social drama.
  19. An early voice-over segment about the Casbah itself, before Gabin makes an appearance, is so pungent you can almost taste the place, even though the filming was clearly done in a studio.
  20. Duvall’s direction of a mix of professional and nonprofessional actors, especially in the extended church sessions, is never less than masterful.
  21. A triumph not of reporting but of synthesis.
  22. So accessible and entertaining.
  23. The effect is riveting and telling--not always realistic (none of the characters carry cell phones) but often enlightening.
  24. "Heathers" may view teenagers more caustically, but this movie, incomparably better, actually delivers the goods.
  25. Whether the title refers to the baby or the thief remains an open question, and the viewer is left to decide whether the theme of redemption should be perceived in Christian terms. This builds to a suspenseful climax, and as in Hitchcock's best work, that suspense is morally inflected.
  26. The grafting of 40s hard-boiled detective story with SF thriller creates some dysfunctional overlaps, and the movie loses some force whenever violence takes over, yet this remains a truly extraordinary, densely imagined version of both the future and the present, with a look and taste all its own.
  27. Frightening, funny, profound, and mysterious.
  28. A dedicated, charismatic, crack-addicted history teacher is the most believable protagonist in an American movie this year.
  29. The overall mood is stately and melancholy, the selective use of color is ravishing, and some of the natural views are breathtaking.
  30. Though The Kids Are All Right sometimes smacks of political correctness, Cholodenko succeeds brilliantly in making her little clan seem completely run-of-the-mill.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    For all its references to defeat, however, the movie still conveys a sense of rapture with the process of image-making, if not necessarily filmmaking.
  31. Though ordained from the beginning, the three-way showdown that climaxes the film is tense and thoroughly astonishing.
  32. It has few stars familiar to Americans, and it shares with "Pan's Labyrinth" the rare distinction of being a mainstream commercial movie with subtitles.
  33. A film that might make you cry watching it is just as likely to give you the creeps thinking about it afterward, which is as it should be.
  34. Zhang weaves in both thrilling martial-arts set pieces and stunning studies of period silk tapestry and costume.
  35. This masterpiece, an art film deftly masquerading as a thriller, seems to celebrate small-town pastoralism and critique big-city violence, but this position turns out to be double-edged.
  36. Perhaps the greatest and most revolutionary of Bresson's films, Balthazar is a difficult but transcendently rewarding experience, never to be missed.
  37. An exhilarating update of "Flash Gordon," very much in the same half-jokey, half-earnest mood, but backed by special effects that, for once, really work and are intelligently integrated with the story.
  38. Unlike most horror movies, this chiller gives equal prominence to reality and fantasy, though the reality is far more frightening. The only precedent that comes to mind in terms of a lyrical treatment of a child's experience of terror is "The Night of the Hunter."
  39. One reason Bamako feels like a blast of sanity is that the theoretical debates about the state of the world, particularly Africa and more particularly Mali, are only half of its agenda. The other half, broadly speaking, is the life of everyday Africans.
  40. Maddin takes on his first commissioned feature--an adaptation of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's production of Dracula--and succeeds brilliantly, making it his own while offering what may be the most faithful screen version to date of Bram Stoker's novel.
  41. Michael Cera elevates deadpan to an art, starring as a slacker turned action hero in this wildly inventive comedy that's one of the most vivid and spirited adaptations of a comic book since Spider-Man--and one of the hippest since Ghost World.
  42. The stylized physiques and movements of the characters in this exciting animated musical-romance-adventure are at once realist and fantastic.
  43. The only person who seems to understand the angry teen is mom's new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender of Hunger), though their friendship oscillates between intimate and vaguely creepy.
  44. The movie is hugely compelling on a moral and emotional level - I was completely hooked - yet it also revealed to me in numerous small and concrete ways what it's like to live in a contemporary theocracy.
  45. A highly emotional epic about what it means to be both Chinese and American.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Superbly rendered CGI animation.
  46. Atonement is that rare combo: a good movie based on a good book.
  47. The result is an instant classic. The material allows Anderson to neutralize the most irritating aspects of his work (the precociousness, the sense of white-bread privilege) and maximize the most endearing (the comic timing, the dollhouse ordering of invented worlds).
  48. Captivating, mesmerizing, spellbinding.
  49. Guy Maddin has reached a new expressive plateau with The Saddest Music in the World.
  50. A veritable salad of mixed genres and emotional textures, this exciting black-and-white cold war thriller runs more than two hours and never flags for an instant...A powerful experience, alternately corrosive with dark parodic humor, suspenseful, moving, and terrifying.
  51. An excellent introduction to the singular vision of avant-garde stage director Robert Wilson.
  52. A half-baked conspiracy subplot in the last third makes Carruth's knotty narrative even harder to follow, but this is still scary, puzzling, and different.
  53. An excellent film, still as fresh as the day it was made.
  54. The results are masterful, admirably unsentimental, and never boring, if also a little stodgy.
  55. The film represents a studied, sophisticated approach to instinctual emotions: it's carefully, calculatingly naive, and amazingly it works.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    It's smart, energetic filmmaking that also makes for engrossing entertainment.
  56. A hearty style of self-referential filmmaking that only adds to the persuasiveness of Lillard’s stunning performance.
  57. Koreeda was inspired by his guilt over having neglected his own parents, and the story is remarkable for the quiet, seemingly casual way he depicts the fallout of bitterness and grief.
  58. It's as slick as anything you might find on the Discovery Channel, and the snippets of 3-D computer animation are too cool for words.
  59. Powerful and haunting.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The movie's searing conclusion left me numb and overwhelmed.
  60. As this wonderful adaptation reminds us, Dickens endures mostly because of his characters.
  61. Thomsen's transformation from easygoing entrepreneur to ruthless executive is so engrossing I didn't pick up on the story's chilling Freudian subtext until very near the end.
  62. To my knowledge there's no one anywhere making films with such a sharp sense of contemporary working-class life -- but for the Dardennes it's only the starting point of a spiritual and profoundly ethical odyssey.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Dworkin unobtrusively uses small moments to build an engrossing story of courage and hope most narrative films can't match.
  63. Like the first movie this is unassailable family entertainment, with a gentle fairy tale for kids and a raft of mildly satirical pop-culture references for parents.
  64. Departing from a masterful manipulation of space, Lang transforms the futuristic city of the title into a field of dreams centered on death and sexuality.
  65. A quantum leap in ambition from "Hard Eight" and "Boogie Nights" and is, to my mind, much more interesting.
  66. Perhaps the most remarkable thing here is Thornton's nuanced performance, but the film has other rare virtues: all the characters are fully and richly fleshed out (with some unexpected turns by John Ritter and singer Dwight Yoakam), and the story's construction is carefully measured.
  67. Neil LaBute delivers his most interesting and powerful film to date, though it's also his most unpleasant and disturbing.
  68. Arcand's fondness for the good old 60s can be cloying, but despite an uneven cast, he finds a tonal balance between sentimental and cynical that keeps the conversations real and heart wrenching.
  69. Ten
    The film offers a fascinating glimpse of the Iranian urban middle class, and though it eschews most of the pleasures of composition and landscape found in other Kiarostami films, it's never less than riveting.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Absorbing, beautiful documentary.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    This is a lyrical heartbreaker that skirts most love-story cliches and is brave enough to be as inconclusive as the characters.
  70. The first Ang Lee film I've seen that I've liked without qualification.
  71. Todd Phillips is no artist, but his lowbrow comedies (Road Trip, Old School) always hit the mark because they're so psychologically true: the superego tries to control the id, but the id gets drunk and barfs all over it. Hilarious.
  72. It's easy to suspend disbelief and embrace this historically creative fiction, whose clever relationship to what's known and what's unresolved is part of what makes it so intriguing and so romantic.
  73. Brutally honest and brilliantly acted.
  74. That rare sequel that surpasses the original.
  75. Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture) has made an electrifying picture.
  76. Unprecedented in its intellectual ambition, this is endlessly stimulating; it probably tries for too much, but it shames many other contemporary essays that try for too little.
  77. For all its minimalism, Tsai Ming-liang's 81-minute masterpiece manages to be many things at once.
  78. Provost and cowriter Marc Abdelnour explore the mutable boundaries between spirituality, naivete, genius, and madness, showing how the two outsiders and polar opposites cultivated a mutual understanding.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Reeks with decay and sexuality.
  79. It's scary and hilarious, with a magical, nonrealist tone, and it emphasizes physical comedy as much as disturbing, beautifully integrated metaphors.
  80. A movie whose story may be even more innovative than the superreal solidity of the animated characters.
  81. A stunning achievement in epic cinema.
  82. Levinson's dialogue feels fresh and improvised, yet it hits its mark every time, and the performances he gets are complex and original (particularly from Mickey Rourke, who plays a lothario with a late-blooming conscience) - enough so that Levinson's occasional forced "cinematic" effects cause barely a ripple in the smooth, naturalistic surface.
  83. Kiarostami's brilliantly suggestive script, which is quite unlike anything else he's written and is marred only slightly by one of his obligatory sages turning up gratuitously near the beginning.
  84. "Weird but cool," as one character says -- yet the movie is also remarkably touching.
  85. Hammer overplays his indie hand with an abrupt and unsatisfactory ending, but his three leads are so credible that their aching, tongue-tied characters linger in the memory.
  86. Leigh pushes the story in a more interesting direction, asking whether people find happiness or simply will it on themselves.
  87. Woo's third Hollywood movie, Face/Off, is the first to balance his visual imagination with the emotional intensity of his Hong Kong films.
  88. The film is both wise and tender in its treatment of relationships -- between birds, between people, and between birds and people.
  89. Exhilarating.

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