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 Howl's Moving Castle
Lowest review score: 0 All About Steve
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. Well-crafted if relatively impersonal adaptation.
  2. This 2006 drama may seem to be worlds apart from the surreal theme-park setting of Jia's previous film, "The World," but there are similarities of theme, style, scale, and tone: social and romantic alienation in a monumental setting, a daring poetic mix of realism and lyrical fantasy, and an uncanny sense of where our planet is drifting.
  3. In this littered environment there's no such thing as trash, only salvage, and the biggest threat to the siblings' humanity is a creeping tendency to think of themselves as commodities as well.
  4. Director Laura Dunn presents a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of Bradley, but her advocacy is clear enough in the primal images of natural beauty and her subjects' heartfelt statements of respect for the landscape.
  5. On its deepest level it considers not a particular war but the complex feelings between mothers and the young men they send out into the world to kill or be killed.
  6. Powerful second film by writer-director Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent).
  7. In the Apatow manner, Segel mines a mother lode of painful personal memories for his breakup gags, and the vanity of entertainment people proves to be another rich vein.
  8. Slyly exploiting audience expectations and prejudices, Lelouch calls into question our very ways of seeing, even as he and his longtime writing partner, Pierre Uytterhoeven, craft an elegant meditation on loss and rebirth.
  9. Morris argues that the photos also functioned as a cover-up: prosecution of the case centered on them, leaving free and clear many of those higher up the chain of command.
  10. Trained in Sanford Meisner's acting techniques, the director wrests surprisingly emotional disclosures from his subjects.
  11. Jennings's film, with its missing fathers, sometimes threatens to become cloying, but it's almost always righted by a healthy dose of slapstick or the spectacle of little kids posing as muscle-bound killers.
  12. The movie's first half is largely free of dialogue, playing like silent comedy, while the second act offers a breathtaking tour of the cosmos.
  13. The moral dilemmas are perfectly fused with the amped-up action and outsize characters, but they're impossible to miss: like all of us, the people of Gotham have to protect themselves from evil without falling prey to it.
  14. The movie is dominated by Maddin's usual black-and-white photography, silent-movie syntax, and deadpan melodrama.
  15. The mesmerizing narrative recounts a media circus of unrivaled malignance.
  16. The movie is taut with suspense but culminates in wise resignation as the hero comes to understand he's running from a part of himself.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A raw, wickedly clever comedy that also includes moments of genuine terror.
  17. Smart dialogue, an impeccably crafted story, and eye-catching LA locations make this low-budget feature by Alex Holdridge the most worthwhile date movie I've seen in some time.
  18. A first-rate thriller, maintaining a high level of suspense.
  19. Rob Brown (Stop-Loss) gives a graceful, understated performance as Ernie Davis.
  20. They deliver a clear and compelling primer on the federal budget deficit, the trade deficit, and the personal debt crisis, all of which are driving our country toward a catastrophic financial meltdown.
  21. This is scandal-mongering fun that also lays bare the deforming power of the male aristocracy.
  22. It's not a terribly disciplined exercise--the rehearsal dinner and wedding ceremony go on so long I felt like I was watching "The Deer Hunter"--but the performances are outstanding, especially Hathaway's and Debra Winger's in a small but devastating turn as her chilly, resentful mother.
  23. Fleet, gripping documentary.
  24. Masterful low-budget drama.
  25. Fully exploits the drama, with scenes, dialogue, and even key visuals pulled from the text.
  26. He looks like a truck ran over him, but at 52 he's still ripped enough to get away with the role; in the end the movie is about Rourke's indomitability more than the character's.
  27. Most impressive, Cantet tracks the racial and ethnic resentments that simmer beneath the classroom discussions but become harder to quell when the parents get involved.
  28. Animation may be the ideal medium for replicating dreams, and in this unsettling feature by Ari Folman it also proves well suited to autobiography.
  29. Engrossing biopic, throbbing with style and attitude.
  30. The film is made up chiefly of found footage and therefore lacks the mise en scene of its predecessors, but it has the added benefit of Davies's voice-over narration, which, thanks to his training and experience as an actor, is enormously powerful.
  31. Apatow became the hottest comedy director in the business by seamlessly combining relationship comedy that didn't bore the guys and wild comedy that didn't nauseate the girls; this is a knockoff, pure and simple, but its wit and ingenuous characters prove how far the bar's been raised.
  32. It's a solid indie effort with plenty of nice character strokes by screenwriter Megan Holley and razor-sharp performances by Amy Adams and Emily Blunt.
  33. The performances are solid: pulling inward in every scene, Phoenix taps into the New York loneliness that defined Paddy Chayefsky's Marty, and Rossellini is excellent as the worried mother, who doesn't have much to say but watches her beloved boy like a cat.
  34. 12
    The tradition of Russian stage acting enriches this satisfying update of Reginald Rose's TV play "Twelve Angry Men."
  35. The emotion here is genuine, but the outlook is tough: in Bahrani's movies we're all aliens to each other.
  36. This is a drama of shifting values and compromised ideals, arriving at a view of life that's wise, complicated, and tinged with melancholy.
  37. Gervasi has tapped into a powerful if much-overlooked truth: humanity rocks.
  38. The sentimentality is held in check by Caine, who rises to the occasion with a bleak, angry performance.
  39. Part celebrity dish, part business journalism, this illuminating 2008 documentary about the legendary Italian designer Valentino Garavani spans the tumultuous final two years of his decades-long reign as one of the most successful innovators in the fashion industry.
  40. The resulting portrait shows a seriously troubled man whose brutality was bred into him on the punishing streets of Brooklyn and whose modest wisdom seems as hard-won as any title. Tyson's fight career may be over, but his battle with himself has many rounds to go.
  41. Strikes an impressive balance between the gathering tension of its noirish plot and the philosophical implications of the characters' compromises. That balance slips in a morose and dreadfully lethargic third act, but before Ceylan goes all Kiarostami on us this is a substantial European entry in a genre that American filmmakers can't seem to master anymore.
  42. Strange, unpredictable, and sometimes magical.
  43. Hysterically funny CGI fight sequences, which pit the chubby superhero against a series of creatures so bizarre they'd keep Hieronymus Bosch awake at night.
  44. The episodic structure works to the movie's benefit, highlighting the eccentric supporting characters and allowing Mendes to smoothly downshift from hilarity to sadness.
  45. Crisp supporting turns by John Turturro (as a hostage negotiator) and James Gandolfini (as the mayor) combine with plenty of vehicular mayhem to make this a superior diversion.
  46. Films that address faith and love as eloquently as this moving 2008 documentary are rare.
  47. Beautiful and challenging documentary.
  48. This eerie drama harks back to sci-fi movies of the late 60s and early 70s that explored inner as well as outer space (2001, Solaris, and particularly Silent Running).
  49. Lorna's sudden change of heart is a pointed example of what the Dardenne brothers' movies are all about. Capitalism may seem at times like a raging river, but every day, all over the world, people try to make it flow in the opposite direction.
  50. This uplifting documentary breaks no new ground stylistically, but the story it tells is urgent and compelling.
  51. The Maid may turn mostly on issues of housework, but it never feels trivial, because Silva is so skillful in exposing the alliances and levers of power inside the household.
  52. Ruppert makes a compelling argument that the world is approaching a paradigm shift unlike anything in human history.
  53. Herzog deserves the lion's share of the credit for the movie's quality, but Port of Call New Orleans is also a comeback for Cage.
  54. This melancholy romance is the first Almodovar feature I’ve ever really liked, an expertly fashioned melodrama that steers mercifully clear of his usual puckishness and star-mongering.
  55. Robert Duvall, who played a similar character in Bruce Beresford's "Tender Mercies" (1983), turns up in a supporting role.
  56. The movie is perfectly appropriate for girls, and its opening scenes play like a more intelligent and historically grounded version of their G-rated princess dramas.
  57. 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.
  58. The climax, in which the detective's commanding officer gives him a dictionary and subjects him to a sort of linguistic browbeating, is a marvel of dead air and unspoken oppression.
  59. Director James Cameron dumps the decorative effects of Ridley Scott's 1979 Alien in favor of some daring narrative strategies and a tight thematic focus.
  60. Ronald Bronstein, who wrote and directed the disquieting indie Frownland, steps in front of the cameras for this similarly lo-fi drama, and his loose-limbed performance as the brash, irresponsible father of two young boys establishes him as a genuine triple threat.
  61. Some have compared this French crime drama to "The Godfather," and though that may be a common critical touchstone, writer-director Jacques Audiard manages to replicate its most elusive element, not the dark comedy or the operatic bloodletting but the incremental corruption of a decent man into a willful, coldhearted killer.
  62. Documentary maker Don Argott (Rock School) beautifully explicates how this crew pulled off the most daring daylight art theft in history, though his passionate identification with the pro-Barnes faction limits the movie's political nuance.
  63. It's eminently suitable for children, fully inhabiting their world and finding real laughs there without resorting to sentiment, condescension, or snarky in-jokes for the adults.
  64. Witty and satisfying.
  65. Even in its sanitized state, this movie about the generational revolt that reinvigorated Disney’s animation department in the 1980s and ’90s is fascinating, thick with studio intrigue and lavishly illustrated with archival sketches and test animations.
  66. Sitting in the theater, you're liable to buy all this simply for the pleasure of watching Caine work. Like Eastwood and other actors of his vintage, Caine brings to the project not only his own formidable skills but more than half a century of movie history.
  67. Here the idea of sleep as the ultimate threat is still fresh and marvelously insidious, and Craven vitalizes the nightmare sequences with assorted surrealist novelties.
  68. As the furiously passive-aggressive title character, Jonah Hill delivers a craftier comic performance than anything in his box-office hits (Superbad, Get Him to the Greek), but what really elevates the story above its shticky premise is the combined neuroses of all three characters.
  69. Free of grandstanding and sentimentality, this powerful 2008 documentary follows missions to Liberia and the Congo undertaken by volunteers for Medecins Sans Frontieres.
  70. Rivers comes across as a consummate professional but also a genuine person, ruthlessly honest about her life decisions and utterly devoid of self-pity.
  71. Winter's Bone often seems to be unfolding in a world apart, with its own moral logic and codes of conduct. It might feel like prison if it weren't so obviously home.
  72. The movie premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, too soon to include a tragic denouement: in April the U.S. command surrendered the Korangal Valley to the Taliban.
  73. This engrossing documentary widens to consider the phenomenon of viral videos and the humiliation they can bring to their sometimes unsuspecting victims.
  74. The movie takes as its mantra and organizing principle President Kennedy's observation, during his 1961 speech to the United Nations, that "every man, woman, and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness."
  75. Bar-Lev ponders myth in both senses of the word-as a web of lies, but also as a psychological construct that gives life purpose. An atheist and critical thinker, Pat Tillman had no use for either.
  76. Director Will Gluck (Fired Up!) shows wicked comic timing and uncommon warmth in an overworked genre.
  77. This second feature doesn't resonate with nearly as much power, but its suspenseful story of two generations of career criminals in the city's northerly Charlestown neighborhood has a similarly haunting quality.
  78. The maternal triangle is pretty well handled too, giving a good sense of where Lennon came by all that exuberance and melancholy.
  79. "American Casino" and Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" offered more striking images of the human wreckage, but Ferguson is more successful at nailing the perpetrators in New York and their gullible accomplices in Washington.
  80. Disappointment, inhuman work schedules, sluggish exports, and the crush of a two-day rail journey ratchet up the familial tensions, which finally explode over a holiday dinner.
  81. The tale of Rapunzel gets a cheeky make-over in this gorgeous Disney animation, which combines the studio's traditional hand-drawn look with the sculptural qualities of digital 3D.
  82. Doug Liman's Fair Game is a model exercise in dramatizing recent political scandal, and easily the best fact-based Hollywood political thriller since "All the President's Men."
  83. The characters are so vivid that the suspense never lags. Crowe is best in buttoned-down roles like this one, and he holds the husband's fear and resolve in balance.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The film never outshines its influences, but as back-to-basics action filmmaking, it's often superb.
  84. This haunting drama by Claire Denis burns with a mute fear and rage at the ongoing atrocities in central Africa.
  85. Screenwriter Mark Bomback doesn't do much with the backstory scenes linking Pine and Washington to their worried families, but the main story is gripping, flawlessly paced, and nicely grounded in operational detail.
  86. Thanks to her fearless, charismatic star, Ondi Timoner has directed one of the more hopeful movies of the year.
  87. 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.
  88. John Cameron Mitchell directed, making an impressive detour in style and subject matter after his flamboyant "Shortbus" (2006) and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" (2001).
  89. Though Casino Jack never lets its protagonist off the hook for his misdeeds, it does underline the hypocrisy of those politicians who were content to take his money but then ran for cover in February 2004 when the Washington Post began to expose his fleecing of six different Indian tribes.
  90. The performances are so gripping that the movie works despite its diagrammatic structure, which focuses on ironic rhymes between past and present and leaves out the entirety of the couple's marriage.
  91. The dialogue is multilingual but largely incidental to the action; the physical comedy is gracefully rendered and often magical.
  92. A brief but piercing cameo by Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake), as a desolate old woman who fiercely rejects professional counseling for depression, drives home Leigh's greatest insight, that true happiness is not found but realized.
  93. No simple tabloid recap. Gibney applies himself to two mysteries, neither of which he unravels but both of which make for gripping cinema.
  94. This potent, entirely honorable drama by veteran TV dramatist John Wells actually delivers the goods, pondering the pain and dislocation of the new normal.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Exciting and even moving, this robust epic is filled with action, male bonding, and a terrifying sense of wilderness.
  95. Pivots on the characters' racism and xenophobia, playing tricks with our own biases and ultimately justifying an extravagant array of coincidences and surprises.
  96. The premise of this South Korean import may call to mind that of another, Bong Joon-ho's recent suspense film "Mother," but Poetry is another bird entirely: true to the title, writer-director Lee Chang-dong is principally concerned with rendering emotions that seem inexpressible.
  97. Some might call this movie a step backward after Burger's previous feature, the painfully honest Iraq war drama "The Lucky Ones," but as a stylish intrigue it's hard to beat.

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