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 45365
Lowest review score: 0 Showgirls
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. This is the scariest movie I've ever seen.
  2. The movie evokes Howard Hawks (in spirit if not to the letter) with its tight focus on a snug, obsessive world of insiders and camp followers where the exchanges between buddies and sexes have a euphoric stylishness and a giddy sense of ritual.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Propulsive and highly satisfying documentary.
  3. It has all the virtues of fine stage drama: narrative economy, honest emotion, and characters so closely defined that the most pedestrian encounters between them are revelatory.
  4. A stunning achievement in epic cinema.
  5. The acting is so strong--with Spall a particular standout--that you're carried along as by a tidal wave.
  6. The results are masterful, admirably unsentimental, and never boring, if also a little stodgy.
  7. Better in certain ways than the original "Apocalypse Now," though the flaws are also magnified.
  8. Exciting and innovative feature.
  9. A wonderfully complex examination of sexual and material politics that's full of bravely provocative, gently funny, and warmly human encounters.
  10. 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.
  11. Sumptuously hued in its emotional and visual tones, this drama is also a fairy tale, its plot contrivances beautifully justified by its minimalism.
    • Chicago Reader
  12. Almost cagily creating understated drama from high-stakes reality.
  13. A scene set inside the chicken-pie-making machinery proves that the Rube Goldberg formula is infallible.
  14. What Brooks manages to do with them as they struggle mightily to connect with one another is funny, painful, beautiful, and basically truthful--a triumph for everyone involved.
  15. It may not be “The Bridges of Madison County,” but the latest Kevin Costner romance is nearly as good as they get.
  16. This remains one of Godard's most appealing and underrated films, relatively relaxed and strangely optimistic.
  17. In the last two decades rock documentaries have become ubiquitous on TV but marginalized as cinema; this is the rare exception that earns its place on the big screen.
  18. This is a powerful story and a splendid spectacle.
  19. The visuals are wild, the sound track has the audacity to underscore the subtext instead of just echoing the obvious, the comedy is irreverent and occasionally slapstick, and the metaphorical details are consistently strong.
  20. Neil LaBute delivers his most interesting and powerful film to date, though it's also his most unpleasant and disturbing.
  21. It's Tykwer's most assured picture to date, and like much of Kieslowski's best work it qualifies simultaneously as engrossing narrative and philosophical parable.
  22. Birmingham and coscreenwriter Matt Drake adapted a short story by Tom McNeal, elaborating on its plot but beautifully capturing its low-key poeticism.
  23. Inspired, elaborately plotted, and unusually satisfying variable-speed chase comedy.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Old-fashioned, beautifully crafted biopic of painter Jang Seung-up.
  24. 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.
  25. I'm not prone to like socially deterministic films of this kind, yet Loach is so masterful at squeezing nuance and truth out of the form that I was completely won over.
  26. An astonishing tour de force--especially for Irons, whose sense of nuance is so refined that one can tell in a matter of seconds which twin he is playing in a particular scene.
  27. A genuine rarity: a sex comedy with brains.
  28. This offbeat and unpredictable comedy-thriller throws so many curveballs, one right after another, that I doubt I've had more fun at an American movie this year.
  29. It's virtually guaranteed to make us squirm.
  30. Brutally honest and brilliantly acted.
  31. Mitchell, who also directed and wrote the screenplay, originally created this glorious rock opera for the stage with composer-lyricist Stephen Trask.
  32. 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.
  33. One hell of a movie.
  34. There are even more characters of interest here than in "Nashville."
  35. 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.
  36. This is better than good, it's wonderful: if facial expressions can be compared to colors, Gedeck works with an unusually broad palette, constantly surprising us, and she helps her costars shine.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The movie's searing conclusion left me numb and overwhelmed.
  37. Persuasive, intelligent, and provocative.
  38. Powerful and haunting.
  39. Gripping...compelling.
  40. As this wonderful adaptation reminds us, Dickens endures mostly because of his characters.
  41. Caine has already been cited as a likely Oscar nominee for his performance, which is clearly one of the most nuanced to date from this first-rate actor, and Fraser is funny and effective as a foil to the old pro.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The tense climax stretches the story's credibility to the breaking point, but for the most part this is noir of an exceptionally high caliber, its sequence of events revealing two complicated and compromised people.
  42. A quantum leap in ambition from "Hard Eight" and "Boogie Nights" and is, to my mind, much more interesting.
  43. 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.
  44. A brilliant satirical diagnosis of what's most screwed up about life in this country, especially when it comes to sexual frustration and kiddie porn.
  45. Its intelligent characterizations make it one of the best movies I've seen this year.
  46. A movie whose story may be even more innovative than the superreal solidity of the animated characters.
  47. Most fascinating about this PBS documentary is the unflinching look at the dynamics of the three generations involved.
  48. Their calm assurance -- Hallyday as a grizzled icon, Rochefort as a melancholy mensch -- is a pleasure to behold.
  49. The first Ang Lee film I've seen that I've liked without qualification.
  50. Enchanting and impressively crafted.
  51. He doesn't lose his stylistic identity either: in addition to the very Mamet-like delivery of unfinished sentences, his command of rhythm and flow remains flawless throughout.
  52. The film persuades us to think long and hard about what prison means, and Lee has shaped it like a poem that builds into an epic lament, especially in a beautiful and tragic closing that risks absurdity to achieve the sublime.
  53. The experience couldn't be more realistic, though Cameron also superimposes imagery of passengers recalling the fateful night, to haunting effect.
  54. If, like me, you've been wondering how Terry Zwigoff, the brilliant documentary filmmaker who made "Crumb," would negotiate his shift to fiction filmmaking, here's your answer: brilliantly.
  55. Magical, visually exciting, affecting even in its sincere hokeyness, and extremely provocative.
  56. I was floored by Cronenberg's mastery of the material. Fiennes gives one of his finest performances; Miranda Richardson, playing at least three characters in the protagonist's twisted vision, is no less impressive.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Aquatic joyride.
  57. The results are skillful, highly affecting, and ultimately more than a little pernicious.
  58. Utterly fresh and beguiling.
  59. The most astounding cinematic testament to flock mentality since Hitchcock's "The Birds."
  60. Carpenter displays an almost perfect understanding of the mechanics of classical suspense; his style draws equally (and intelligently) from both Howard Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Absorbing, beautiful documentary.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Though still realist in approach, its aura of bitter nostalgia places it squarely among Fellini's most personal and atmospheric works.
  61. 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.
  62. Sly, inventively drawn, brilliantly executed cartoon.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    A marvelous sense of detail and spectacular effects--good fun all the way.
  63. Responsibility for the ensuing tragedy is so finely calibrated that neither can be comprehensively blamed or exculpated.
  64. The narrative, capped by a brief bad dream and the capture of a mouse, isn't always legible, but it feeds into a monumental, luminous visual style like no other.
  65. 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.
  66. The best Australian feature I've seen in years.
  67. Something of a tour de force, this adaptation of Joe Simpson's nonfiction book about his climbing the 21,000-foot Siula Grande mountain in Peru, breaking a leg, and eventually making it back alive is remarkable simply because the story seems unfilmable.
  68. This remarkable British silent (1929) is special in many ways.
  69. Beautifully structured and emotionally wrenching.
  70. This terrifyingly beautiful movie blends metaphor and stark social commentary to achieve a spontaneous grace.
  71. Full of adventure, spectacle, light romance, and the kind of suspense that doesn't require an unpredictable outcome to make your spine tingle.
  72. A witty, canny meditation on the power of pop culture in general and the rationalizations of cinephilia and film criticism in particular.
  73. This installment delivers more of the pleasures that made Tarantino the wunderkind of 90s cinema: offbeat scumbag characters, narrative sleight of hand, an extraordinary visual sense, and affectionate genre pillaging.
  74. This erotically charged drama may not be quite as great as the original, but it's an amazing and beautiful work just the same.
  75. 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.
  76. Not to be hyperbolic, but Richard Linklater's first big-budget movie may be the Jules and Jim of bank-robber movies, thanks to its astonishing handling of period detail and its gentleness of spirit, both buoyed by a gliding lightness of touch.
  77. Richard Linklater goes Hollywood (1995) -- triumphantly and with an overall intelligence, sweetness, and romantic simplicity that reminds me of wartime weepies like The Clock.
  78. Like the first two movies, this is loaded with computer-generated imagery, but for the first time there's a sense of dramatic proportion balancing the spectacle and the story line.
  79. Waters builds to a didactic message that he underlines with Disney-esque dream dust (in various colors), as if to protect his sincerity with the disclaimer of self-mockery.
  80. 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.
  81. This is vicarious cinema at its best.
  82. Impressive for its lean and unblemished storytelling, but even more so for its performances.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    A virtuoso performance by Al Pacino and some expert location work by Sidney Lumet add up to a tour de force genre piece. (Review of Original Release)
  83. A triumph not only for its technical mastery but for its good taste.
  84. That rare sequel that surpasses the original.
  85. For all its minimalism, Tsai Ming-liang's 81-minute masterpiece manages to be many things at once.
  86. The film delivers old-fashioned star turns and glittering cameos (Jon Voight and Mickey Rourke are especially good, but Danny DeVito, Mary Kay Place, Danny Glover, Virginia Madsen, Roy Scheider, and Dean Stockwell--not to mention old-Hollywood icon Teresa Wright--also provide considerable pleasure).
  87. 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.
  88. Much of the film's potency derives from its personal edge -- the passion for precise period decor, the title dedicating the film to Leigh's parents (a doctor and midwife), and even the childlike classification of many characters as either good souls or villains.
  89. Despite a few narrative confusions, I found it pure magic.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    A masterful documentary, one of the most unsettling discussions of Vietnam and its aftermath ever to appear in any medium.
  90. Months after seeing this, I still feel I know most of these people as if they were old friends.

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