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 3.9 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 The Passenger (re-release)
Lowest review score: 0 Orphan
Score distribution:
4911 movie reviews
  1. This may not have gotten much publicity, but it's a lot more engaging than most movies that have; Forster alone makes it unforgettable.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. A scene set inside the chicken-pie-making machinery proves that the Rube Goldberg formula is infallible.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Chereau's film is both an observant portrait of class-bound London by a foreigner and an empathetic look at sexual passion that completely avoids cheap prurience.
  5. 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.
  6. A fascinating humanist experiment and investigation in its own right, full of warmth and humor as well as mystery.
  7. The skillful Patrick Marber (Closer) adapted this gripping drama from a novel by Zoe Heller, and it's both literate and urgently plotted, with a voice-over from Dench that cuts like broken glass.
  8. A genuine rarity: a sex comedy with brains.
  9. 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.
  10. Lee performs magic. He's preserved and expanded the experience of an adrenaline-pumping, uproarious night of racism-, classism-, and sexism-subverting humor.
  11. Birmingham and coscreenwriter Matt Drake adapted a short story by Tom McNeal, elaborating on its plot but beautifully capturing its low-key poeticism.
  12. Its intelligent characterizations make it one of the best movies I've seen this year.
  13. 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.
  14. This deserves to be seen and cherished for at least a couple of reasons: first for Joanne Woodward's exquisitely multilayered and nuanced performance as India Bridge, a frustrated, well-to-do WASP Kansas City housewife and mother during the 30s and 40s; and second for screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's retention of much of the episodic, short-chapter form of the books.
  15. This is absorbing throughout--not just a history lesson but, as always with Rohmer, a story about individuals
  16. So fraught with unresolved issues of class, sexuality, and spiritual need, and so carefully observed by Pawlikowski, that it opens out like the movie's West Yorkshire countryside.
  17. Some delicately interwoven and unresolved subplots help make the young character's rite of passage wholly, disturbingly compelling.
  18. Writer-director Cary Fukunaga keeps the story lean while peppering it with realistic details.
  19. This erotically charged drama may not be quite as great as the original, but it's an amazing and beautiful work just the same.
  20. A wonderfully complex examination of sexual and material politics that's full of bravely provocative, gently funny, and warmly human encounters.
  21. Enchanting and impressively crafted.
  22. Magical, visually exciting, affecting even in its sincere hokeyness, and extremely provocative.
  23. Helen Mirren's flinty performance as Elizabeth II is getting all the attention, but equally impressive is Peter Morgan's insightful script for this UK drama, which quietly teases out the social, political, and historical implications of the 1997 death of Diana, Princess of Wales.
  24. Despite a few narrative confusions, I found it pure magic.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Old-fashioned, beautifully crafted biopic of painter Jang Seung-up.
  25. Few things are more enthralling than unrequited love, as demonstrated by this drama.
  26. The tragic tale that emerges is full of powerful lessons and impenetrable mysteries
  27. You feel it in your nervous system before you get a chance to reflect on its meaning.
  28. Using archly staged interviews and reconstructions that draw attention to the components of the documentary form, Morris does justice to the complexity of hot-button issues by suggesting several layers of subtext at once, portraying the articulate Leuchter as both rational and prone to rationalize.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Propulsive and highly satisfying documentary.
  29. This terrifyingly beautiful movie blends metaphor and stark social commentary to achieve a spontaneous grace.
  30. Some have suggested that the whole story, including the emergence of Mr. Brainwash, is an elaborate hoax engineered by Banksy to satirize the commodification of art. If so, it’s a brilliant one.
  31. Pedro Almodovar's 1995 comic melodrama seems in many ways his most mature work, in theme as well as execution.... Almodovar's control over the material and his affection for his characters never falter.
  32. Utterly fresh and beguiling.
  33. Cronenberg's follow-up to "A History of Violence" -- starring the same lead, Viggo Mortensen, in a very different part -- lacks the theoretical dimension of its predecessor, but it's no less masterful in its fluid storytelling and shocking choreography of violence.
  34. 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.
  35. Taking off from the format of a typical teenage sex comedy, Brickman deepens the characters and tightens the situations, filming them in a dark, dreamlike style full of sinuous camera movements and surrealistic insinuations. Brickman found a tone I hadn't encountered previously - one of haunting, lyrical satire.
  36. Compared with the novel, the movie might seem predictable. But compared with other movies, it stands alone.
  37. This sharp, convincing, and utterly contemporary political film calls to mind some of Ken Loach's work, full of passion as well as precision.
  38. Cluzet's brooding performance propels the movie, and writer-director Guillaume Canet, best known here for his own acting work in "Joyeux Noel" and "Love Me If You Dare," skillfully orchestrates the cascading revelations.
  39. This quiet, elegiac road movie hinges on a few beautifully underplayed scenes between Daniel London and Will Oldham.
  40. The script updates Ian Fleming's first Bond novel to a post-9/11 world and scales back the silliness that always seems to creep into the series; director Martin Campbell (The Mask of Zorro) contributes some superior action set pieces but keeps the camp and gadgetry to a minimum.
  41. 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.
  42. The most astounding cinematic testament to flock mentality since Hitchcock's "The Birds."
  43. 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.
  44. In one sense, this seemingly melodramatic plot premise is contrived, registering more as myth than as real possibility. Yet thanks to what the movie has in mind and especially what the actors bring to it, it's a lovely myth, one that has the ring of deeply felt truth.
  45. The style is so eclectic that it may take some getting used to, but Van Sant, working from his own story for the first time, brings such lyrical focus to his characters and his poetry that almost everything works.
  46. Dumont's film is unfinished in the sense that some paintings are.
  47. Classic genre movies may be a scarce commodity, but this gutsy crime thriller and female buddy movie qualifies in spades.
    • 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.
  48. Persuasive, intelligent, and provocative.
  49. By focusing on Strummer and giving a fair amount of screen time to his years in the wilderness before and after the Clash, Temple arrives at a more poignant and mature statement of what this committed band was all about.
  50. 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).
  51. One of cinema's most absorbing fantasies.
  52. Responsibility for the ensuing tragedy is so finely calibrated that neither can be comprehensively blamed or exculpated.
  53. Cinematographer Eduardo Serra underscores the sense of dread with a rich charcoal palette, and the outstanding CGI and 3D effects make the otherworldly threats more corporeal.
  54. 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.
  55. Akin perfectly captures the antic pace, eccentric personalities, and fickle fortunes of the restaurant game, and his vision of the Soul Kitchen as an all-night bacchanal is irresistible.
  56. A harrowing drama spun from the most mundane material.
  57. The experience couldn't be more realistic, though Cameron also superimposes imagery of passengers recalling the fateful night, to haunting effect.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Elegant, unabashedly theatrical, and packed with lush concert scenes and period-perfect costumes.
  58. The acting is so strong--with Spall a particular standout--that you're carried along as by a tidal wave.
  59. 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.
  60. Finkiel (a French director who apprenticed with Godard, Tavernier, and Kieslowski) plants clues throughout the film suggesting that the women might be long-lost relatives but declines to wrap things up neatly. The very uncertainty--and the fading possibility of an end to their search--is what makes the film so eerie and poignant.
  61. 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.
  62. There's plenty of wit on the surface, but the pain of paralysis comes through loud and clear.
  63. 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.
  64. Despite some of the sentimentality that is also Woo's stock-in-trade, I was moved and absorbed throughout.
  65. A finely crafted entertainment that works better than most current Hollywood movies.
  66. If you come to this expecting the philosophical depth and psychological detail of Tolstoy’s work you’re sure to be disappointed, but as an actors’ romp it’s delectable.
  67. Mitchell, who also directed and wrote the screenplay, originally created this glorious rock opera for the stage with composer-lyricist Stephen Trask.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The music sounds terrific, with Young's wizened expression and rheumy eyes belied by the storming intensity of his performances. Demme has said, "If you're not a Neil Young fan, don't waste your time," and that's really all you need to know.
  68. It's a welcome throwback to the carefully crafted family films of the studio era. The scenery is lovely, and the cast is entirely worthy of the enterprise (including the regal and athletic star).
  69. The extraordinary subject and the filmmaker's near total access make for a singular documentary.
  70. After directing three Spider-Man movies, Sam Raimi makes a masterful return to the horror genre.
  71. Inspired, elaborately plotted, and unusually satisfying variable-speed chase comedy.
  72. A densely textured moral universe that makes good on his metaphoric title-and in this case, the animals are perfectly willing to eat their young.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Tsai Ming-liang's most exciting and original to date.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    One of Bujalski's gifts is his ability to give every part, no matter how big or small, a sense of intelligence and life that extends beyond the frame and running time, and in this his work recalls the best of both Mike Leigh and Richard Linklater.
  73. Results are classy entertainment with little to interest women viewers but very shrewdly and cleverly put together, and probably more rewarding in long-range terms if you invest in Fox or Dreamworks than if you actually see the movie.
  74. This is a remarkably gripping, suggestive, and inventive piece of storytelling that, like Kubrick's other work, is likely to grow in mystery and intensity over time.
  75. This is hilarious, deadly stuff, sparked by the cynical gusto of the two leads as well as the fascinating technical display of how TV "documentary evidence" can be digitally manufactured inside a studio.
  76. Overstays its welcome, but for mindless thrills you could do worse.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Exciting and even moving, this robust epic is filled with action, male bonding, and a terrifying sense of wilderness.
  77. Weir does manage to deliver the goods.
  78. Often seems more old-fashioned than modern.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The film never outshines its influences, but as back-to-basics action filmmaking, it's often superb.
  79. This wonderful 1997 comedy--about an unlikely group of men who are determined to strip to music rather than get day jobs--is genuinely effective at inverting gender stereotypes and other assumptions, and it's not the slightest bit heavy-handed.
  80. I can't think of a better portrait of contemporary Paris or the zeitgeist of 2001-'04 than Chris Marker's wise and whimsical 58-minute 2004 one can film people in the street better than Marker or combine images with more grace and finesse.
  81. Director Peter Kosminsky elicits such genuine performances from his talented cast that the film rarely strikes a false note.
  82. Where other King stories and hundreds of other movies simplistically exploit the archetype, this tale intricately relates the actions of its young evildoer to the more abstract forces bearing down on the adults.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Demme's moving documentary turns the story of his dead friend into the story of Haiti.
  83. The voice-over narration by Bill Kurtis is a stroke of genius.
  84. This remake by Joel and Ethan Coen is being positioned as a truer True Grit, and though they take their own liberties with the plot and tone, they preserve Portis's impeccably authentic dialogue, which does more to conjure up the Arkansas of the 1870s than any period trappings.
  85. There’s no denying this is a coldly commanding tale in which Haneke’s signature obsessions--bourgeois control, sexual repression, emotional cruelty, cathartic violence--simmer quietly as subtext before bursting into the open in the final reels.
  86. Writer-director Celine Sciamma breaks little ground here, but her story is nicely scaled to the gender-rigid world of childhood, where boys playing soccer together take as much pride in their spitting skills as any scored goal.
  87. This brisk, free-falling fantasy about the famous collators of German fairy tales, played here as a kind of comedy act by Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, is Terry Gilliam's most entertaining work since the glory days of "Time Bandits," "Brazil," "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," and "The Fisher King."
  88. This outrageous comic fantasy may not sustain its brilliance throughout all of its 112 minutes, but it keeps cooking for so much of that time that I don't have many complaints.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    While Cazeneuve's story is about gay love, it also charts universal truths about adolescent romance and high school politics with great aplomb.

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