Chicago Reader's Scores

  • Movies
For 4,910 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 3.2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 Pépé le Moko (re-release)
Lowest review score: 0 The Ladies Man
Score distribution:
4,910 movie reviews
  1. The intersections between sleep and waking, memory, cinema, and the Internet lead to a spectacular battle of titans who spring from the mind's darkest recesses.
  2. This 1985 film's absolute freedom from cliches is genuinely refreshing; looking at it again after Van Sant's subsequent "Drugstore Cowboy," I found it every bit as good and in some ways even more impressive than the later film. It shouldn't be missed.
  3. A clarion call for freedom and collective action both hopeful and energizing, it qualifies as a generational statement as Rebel Without a Cause did in the 50s, but without the defeatism and masochism. Not to be missed.
  4. A masterful 168-minute piece of storytelling that never ceases to be gripping in spite of its measured pace.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Superbly rendered CGI animation.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    With its wisecracking screenplay, period-perfect pop score, and Shankman's splashy choreography, this may be the funniest, dancingest screen musical since "Singin' in the Rain."
  5. The show has been the gold standard for satirical TV ever since it debuted in 1989. This long-awaited movie adaptation has plenty of laughs, plus an assortment of milestones for fans.
  6. Masterfully charted and acted.
  7. Filmmakers Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen, and Nicole Newhman do a superb job of telling this neglected story in vivid detail.
  8. he Diving Bell and the Butterfly fuses experimental techniques with a highly accessible and sometimes humorous narrative; it’s deeply personal yet universal in its humanism.
  9. 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.
  10. Atonement is that rare combo: a good movie based on a good book.
  11. If "Ratatouille" taught the world that rats have feelings too, Persepolis teaches the same thing about the people of Iran, who in the current political climate are probably in greater danger of being eradicated.
  12. A triumph not of reporting but of synthesis.
  13. In a truly great movie the form becomes indistinguishable from the story, and that’s certainly the case here.
  14. The movie gradually deepens from odd-couple comedy into Catholic-themed drama, but it remains marvelously funny throughout. Instead of hitting the easy notes of black humor, McDonagh skillfully modulates between broad character laughs and the men's piercing anguish as the story nears its bloody conclusion.
  15. Werner Herzog is a stranger in a strange land as soon as he gets out of bed in the morning: in this travelogue of Antarctica, his perverse curiosity and zest for the harshest extremes of nature transform what might have been a standard TV special into an idiosyncratic expression of wonder.
  16. Writer Petr Jarchovsky and director Jan Hrebejk collaborated on the formidable "Up and Down" (2004), and this 2006 feature, which takes its title from a Robert Graves poem, is equally impressive for its mastery, intelligence, and ambition in juggling intricate plot strands and memorable characters.
  17. After the portentous "No Country for Old Men," Joel and Ethan Coen return to their trademark brand of cruel, misanthropic farce, and for dark laughs and hurtling narrative momentum this spy caper is their best work since "Fargo."
  18. 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."
  19. 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.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Streep and Hoffman are pitch-perfect, and Amy Adams is also superb as a young nun caught up in the conflict.
  20. Given the movie's slow, careful development, I was hardly prepared for the cold-sweat suspense of the last half hour.
  21. Extraordinary 2008 French drama.
  22. Visually witty, flawlessly played romantic comedy.
  23. Such is the extraordinary achievement of The Hurt Locker: it has the perspective of years when those years have yet to pass.
  24. This drama about an obese, illiterate black teen in Harlem practically guarantees some emotional uplift. But when it arrives, eventually, its authority is unimpeachable, so deeply has director Lee Daniels (Monster's Ball) immersed us in the depths of human ugliness.
  25. An explosive but scrupulously journalistic drama about the radical group that terrorized Germany for nearly 30 years.
  26. A quantum leap in movie magic; watching it, I began to understand how people in 1933 must have felt when they saw "King Kong."
  27. 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).
  28. This 2005 masterpiece by Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov transforms the story of Emperor Hirohito at the close of World War II into a melancholy meditation on power and its loss.
  29. 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.
  30. Captivating, mesmerizing, spellbinding.
  31. Director Juan José Campanella weaves together two love stories--between the victim and her husband, and the investigator and his former boss (Soledad Villamil)--and creates some masterful set pieces; his breathless chase through a packed soccer stadium is a marvel of choreography and top-notch CGI.
  32. Holofcener's work is often classified as comedy of manners, but at her best she trades in something much more resonant--the comedy of mores. Here she dives into the fascinating matter of why some people impulsively give and others compulsively take, and how people are taught to second-guess and quash their own generous impulses.
  33. Directors Turner Ross and Bill Ross IV, brothers and native sons of Sidney, find poetry in images of the mundane.
  34. Like the best kids' entertainment, this creates a daffy little world all its own.
  35. Dogtooth, a bizarre black comedy from Greece that won the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2009 Cannes film festival, involves a conventional middle-class family--mom, dad, teenage son, two teenage daughters--that turns out to be warped beyond belief.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. Samuel Maoz drew from his own war experiences to write and direct this searing drama, which ranks alongside "Platoon" and "No Man's Land" as an antiwar statement and recalls the claustrophobic despair of "Das Boot."
  39. French director Gaspar Noe has kept a pretty low profile since his 2002 drama "Irreversible" notorious for its brutal nine-minute anal rape scene. But this epic, psychedelic mindfuck confirms him once again as the cinema's most imaginative nihilist.
  40. The founding of Facebook becomes a tale for our times in this masterful social drama.
  41. I haven't seen the shorter version, but I would hate to lose one moment of the gripping 66-minute sequence-really the heart of the movie-in which Carlos plots and executes his spectacular 1975 raid on the meeting of OPEC ministers in Vienna.
  42. Bridesmaids is hilariously funny, but what makes it exhilarating is how boldly it defies that conventional wisdom about what men and women like.
  43. A sense of reconciliation is Malick's great accomplishment in The Tree of Life, affording us equal wonder at grace and nature alike. 
    • 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.
  44. When the interrupters do succeed, the results can be riveting.
  45. 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.)
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Makes a powerful statement about the plight of unwanted children. But it also incorporates elements of melodrama, film noir, and even the fairy tale that engage our empathy and confirm the Dardennes' great compassion.
  48. As with the earlier movie, this one turns in on its own morality like a Möbius strip, endorsing kindness by practicing slaughter, and pulls us along for the ride. Detractors will call its reasoning ridiculous, and they'll be right - though I doubt that will bother Goldthwait, who makes a living being ridiculous.
  49. "The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right," declares Hushpuppy, the fierce, nappy-headed girl at the center of this extraordinary southern gothic.
  50. 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.
  51. A film so rich in ideas it hardly knows where to turn. Transcendent themes of love and death are fused with a pop-culture sensibility and played out against a midwestern background, which is breathtaking both in its sweep and in its banality.
  52. 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.
  53. This may not have gotten much publicity, but it's a lot more engaging than most movies that have; Forster alone makes it unforgettable.
  54. A hearty style of self-referential filmmaking that only adds to the persuasiveness of Lillard’s stunning performance.
    • 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.
  55. A cunning and hilarious update of the giant-insect movies of the 1950s.
  56. Thoroughly researched, unobtrusively upholstered, this beautifully assured entertainment about Victorian England is a string of delights.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Beautiful, absorbing, and touching, this film is a mind-expanding experience not to be missed.
  59. 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.
    • 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.
  60. Few things are more enthralling than unrequited love, as demonstrated by this drama.
  61. Nicely acted and inflected, this is a very fresh piece of work.
  62. A fascinating humanist experiment and investigation in its own right, full of warmth and humor as well as mystery.
  63. 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.
  64. A lot more imaginative and entertaining than one might have thought possible, a feast for the eye and mind.
  65. You feel it in your nervous system before you get a chance to reflect on its meaning.
  66. This sharp, convincing, and utterly contemporary political film calls to mind some of Ken Loach's work, full of passion as well as precision.
  67. Yang seems to miss nothing as he interweaves shifting viewpoints and poignant emotional refrains.
  68. This movie restores genre elements to a level of potency that's disturbing, satisfying, and rare as hell.
  69. 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.
  70. The cast as a whole is astonishing--especially Gillian Anderson as Lily and Dan Aykroyd in his finest role to date.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    With tender skill, Moretti illuminates Samuel Beckett's phrase "I can't go on -- I'll go on."
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Reeks with decay and sexuality.
  71. The old surrealist created another masterpiece in this, his final film.
  72. It's scary and hilarious, with a magical, nonrealist tone, and it emphasizes physical comedy as much as disturbing, beautifully integrated metaphors.
  73. 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.
  74. Dumont's film is unfinished in the sense that some paintings are.
  75. 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.
  76. Warren Beatty sounds off angrily and shrewdly about politics, delivering what is possibly his best film and certainly his funniest and livliest.
  77. Some delicately interwoven and unresolved subplots help make the young character's rite of passage wholly, disturbingly compelling.
  78. Lee performs magic. He's preserved and expanded the experience of an adrenaline-pumping, uproarious night of racism-, classism-, and sexism-subverting humor.
  79. Despite some of the sentimentality that is also Woo's stock-in-trade, I was moved and absorbed throughout.
  80. Exciting not as ethnography but as storytelling, as drama, and as filmmaking.
  81. Devastating.
  82. Crichton keeps the laughs coming with infectious energy.
  83. Powerful.
  84. Classic genre movies may be a scarce commodity, but this gutsy crime thriller and female buddy movie qualifies in spades.
  85. An impressive mix of entertainment and social comment, spinning a great mystery even as it confronts an ugly world.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  86. Warmly recommended to viewers who like their romantic comedies small-scale but life-size.
  87. The tragic tale that emerges is full of powerful lessons and impenetrable mysteries
  88. One of cinema's most absorbing fantasies.

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