Chicago Reader's Scores

  • Movies
For 4,913 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 4.3 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 Superman II
Lowest review score: 0 Old Dogs
Score distribution:
4913 movie reviews
  1. Tarkovsky's eerie mystic parable is given substance by the filmmaker's boldly original grasp of film language and the remarkable performances by all the principals.
  2. 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
  3. Writer-director Jeff Nichols maintains a cagey balancing act for much of the movie, refusing to specify whether his protagonist is a prophet or a madman, yet in the end this doesn't really matter: the storm inside him is plenty real.
  4. Months after seeing this, I still feel I know most of these people as if they were old friends.
  5. A witty, canny meditation on the power of pop culture in general and the rationalizations of cinephilia and film criticism in particular.
    • 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)
  6. The hues are so muted you may remember this as a black-and-white film, but its emotions are as vivid as primary colors.
  7. This is the scariest movie I've ever seen.
  8. A cunning and hilarious update of the giant-insect movies of the 1950s.
  9. Full of adventure, spectacle, light romance, and the kind of suspense that doesn't require an unpredictable outcome to make your spine tingle.
  10. 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.
  11. This is vicarious cinema at its best.
  12. Up
    Writer-directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson present hilarious insights into bird brains and canine psychology and treat thornier human emotions deftly.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Beautiful, absorbing, and touching, this film is a mind-expanding experience not to be missed.
  13. Critics have faulted this 2005 British feature about the Rwandan genocide for focusing on a couple of white characters instead of the 800,000 Tutsis who were slaughtered, but such easy judgments miss the point entirely: this is a spiritual drama, not a political one, drawing a thick line between our good intentions and the selfish choices we ultimately make.
  14. This remarkable British silent (1929) is special in many ways.
  15. The grand architecture of Milan and the icy rhythms of composer John Adams set the tone for this elegant Italian drama about the suffocating power of family, wealth, and tradition.
  16. One hell of a movie.
  17. This moving documentary sidesteps the usual art-world debates over the authenticity and legitimacy of outsider work; instead director Jeff Malmberg simply immerses us in Hogancamp's world, just as Hogancamp immerses himself in the title town and its horrors.
  18. Under the thoughtful direction of Guy Ferland - what emerges is solid and affecting.
  19. It may not be “The Bridges of Madison County,” but the latest Kevin Costner romance is nearly as good as they get.
  20. This is a powerful story and a splendid spectacle.
  21. There are even more characters of interest here than in "Nashville."
  22. A compellingly watchable, suspenseful, and often funny treatment of a grim subject--the hatred that can build up in a long-term marriage--that also becomes an indirect commentary on yuppie materialism.
  23. Not only Waters's best movie, but a crossover gesture that expands his appeal without compromising his vision one iota; Ricki Lake as the hefty young heroine is especially delightful.
  24. A superior nail-biter.
  25. Exciting and innovative feature.
  26. Almost cagily creating understated drama from high-stakes reality.
  27. Their calm assurance -- Hallyday as a grizzled icon, Rochefort as a melancholy mensch -- is a pleasure to behold.
  28. Most fascinating about this PBS documentary is the unflinching look at the dynamics of the three generations involved.
  29. With the devout collaboration of the cast, Williams blurs the boundary between experience and storytelling as if the distinction were not only irrelevant but presumptuous.
  30. 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.
  31. Powerful.
  32. 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.
  33. His first feature in 21 years, this is also Monte Hellman's finest work, a hall-of-mirrors masterpiece about moviemaking with diversions more complex, and more enticing, than in the director's previous efforts (Ride in the Whirlwind, Two-Lane Blacktop).
  34. This remains one of Godard's most appealing and underrated films, relatively relaxed and strangely optimistic.
  35. Alternately harrowing and humbling, this is a story of ordinary men whose compassion is tested in the cruelest, most profound fashion.
  36. The cast as a whole is astonishing--especially Gillian Anderson as Lily and Dan Aykroyd in his finest role to date.
  37. 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.
  38. Sly, inventively drawn, brilliantly executed cartoon.
  39. 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.
  40. Sinister and beautiful, this mostly black-and-white animation from France culls the talents of six artists and designers.
  41. Gast does a nice job of building the suspense leading up to the fight, fleshing out the story with some good color commentary by a handful of people (filmed by director Taylor Hackford, who wisely convinced Gast that these reminiscences and remarks would fill in some historical gaps).
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    A marvelous sense of detail and spectacular effects--good fun all the way.
  42. At 85 minutes the movie is beautifully focused, reaching deep into its characters as they confront terrible secrets but never sacrificing momentum as the mystery unravels.
  43. Devastating.
  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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    With tender skill, Moretti illuminates Samuel Beckett's phrase "I can't go on -- I'll go on."
  45. 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.
  46. Gripping...compelling.
  47. Smart, gripping, and untainted by the influence of Michael Moore, this muckraking 2008 documentary transcends anticorporate demonology to build a visceral but reasoned case against modern agribusiness.
  48. As absurd and as beautiful as a fairy tale, this chilling, nocturnal black-and-white masterpiece was originally released in this country dubbed and under the title "The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus," but it's much too elegant to warrant the usual "psychotronic" treatment.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    A spellbinding, beautiful, enigmatic film with a mysterious, allusive two-part structure.
  49. It's a beautiful picture but very quietly so, and definitely not for the ADHD set.
  50. 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.
  51. This effort often manages to duplicate the magical pantomime of the era; a lovely scene in which Bejo drapes herself in the arms of a hung jacket as if it were a human lover could have come straight out of a Marion Davies picture.
  52. Yang seems to miss nothing as he interweaves shifting viewpoints and poignant emotional refrains.
  53. Despite all the horror and anguish, the film ends on a note of serene acceptance, deep gratitude toward the dead, and wonder at the unlikely miracle of life.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Aquatic joyride.
  54. Nicely acted and inflected, this is a very fresh piece of work.
  55. It's virtually guaranteed to make us squirm.
  56. The notion that only whites can be racist barely survives this riveting 2009 documentary.
    • 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.
  57. This poses some tricky moral questions, and its troubling ambiguities rank a cut above the dubious uplift of "Schindler's List."
  58. Warren Beatty sounds off angrily and shrewdly about politics, delivering what is possibly his best film and certainly his funniest and livliest.
  59. It's an inspired pairing. Wilson is electric as he seduces Chan into a partnership in this self-consciously crafted western, whose cleverness is only part of what makes it so funny.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Arnaud Desplechin's best movie to date.
  60. 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.
  61. The scenes are so dramatically cogent the characters' lives seem to stretch far beyond the concluding blackouts.
  62. Its great distinction lies in re-creating an age when thoughts and feelings were to be carefully considered and precisely enunciated. The best costumers, set designers, and property masters can’t conjure up the mental and emotional spaces of a simpler era; that requires a filmmaker who knows the virtue of quiet, patience, and attentiveness.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Yuya Yagira, winner of the best actor award at Cannes this year, is superb as the protective eldest child; he and his other nonprofessional costars are quietly heartbreaking.
  63. An impressive mix of entertainment and social comment, spinning a great mystery even as it confronts an ugly world.
  64. The conceit gets a little out of hand after one of the angels falls in love with the trapeze artist and decides to become human; but prior to this, Wings of Desire is one of Wenders's most stunning achievements.
    • 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.
  65. This incredible but true story marks the first time Eastwood's signature themes have found expression in a woman's experience, and the absence of any distracting machismo only heightens his sense of helpless rage at the perpetual anguish of victims' families.
  66. The best Australian feature I've seen in years.
  67. Warmly recommended to viewers who like their romantic comedies small-scale but life-size.
  68. Better in certain ways than the original "Apocalypse Now," though the flaws are also magnified.
  69. 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.
  70. The results are skillful, highly affecting, and ultimately more than a little pernicious.
  71. Clint Eastwood's ambitious 1988 feature about the great Charlie Parker (Forest Whitaker) is the most serious, conscientious, and accomplished jazz biopic ever made, and almost certainly Eastwood's best picture as well.
  72. A triumph not only for its technical mastery but for its good taste.
  73. Impressive for its lean and unblemished storytelling, but even more so for its performances.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Impeccably crafted and utterly impersonal, Lasse Hallstrom's adaptation of John Irving's novel has many of the qualities Oscar is known to appreciate.
  74. Writer-director Wong Kar-wai makes these five self-consciously idiosyncratic types--often seen through distorting lenses in cinematographer Christopher Doyle's somber, garish Hong Kong--fully and instantly believable.
  75. It's by far the least controlled of Penn's films, but the pieces work wonderfully well, propelled by what was then a very original acting style.
  76. Exciting not as ethnography but as storytelling, as drama, and as filmmaking.
  77. 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.
  78. Action-adventure pictures have a lamentable tendency toward mindlessness, but Edward Zwick's epic story has numerous virtues apart from suspense and spectacle.
  79. The outrages of pedophile priests have generated screaming headlines but relatively little understanding of the Catholic culture that permitted and concealed such crimes, which makes this informed documentary by Amy Berg all the more valuable.
  80. Thoroughly researched, unobtrusively upholstered, this beautifully assured entertainment about Victorian England is a string of delights.
  81. A lot more imaginative and entertaining than one might have thought possible, a feast for the eye and mind.
  82. The old surrealist created another masterpiece in this, his final film.
  83. 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.
  84. Richard Linklater goes Hollywood (1995) -- triumphantly and with an overall intelligence, sweetness, and romantic simplicity that reminds me of wartime weepies like The Clock.
  85. Everyone concedes that this 1941 Hitchcock film is a failure, yet it displays so much artistic seriousness that I find its failure utterly mysterious—especially since the often criticized ending (imposed on Hitchcock by the studio) makes perfect sense to me.
  86. The story unfolds at such length and over so many years that politics tend to fade into the wallpaper, leaving an exceptionally rich family story.
  87. This movie restores genre elements to a level of potency that's disturbing, satisfying, and rare as hell.
  88. Beautifully structured and emotionally wrenching.
  89. Director George Tillman Jr.'s screenplay covers an array of events in the characters' lives so replete with drama it could easily be too much, but the movie's humor is vibrant, the sorrow unexploitive, the sexuality character enhancing, and the love heartfelt--and Tillman is tremendously skilled at bridging the vast shifts in tone.

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