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 Moolaadé
Lowest review score: 0 Blindness
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. This is absorbing throughout--not just a history lesson but, as always with Rohmer, a story about individuals
  2. A finely crafted entertainment that works better than most current Hollywood movies.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Tsai Ming-liang's most exciting and original to date.
    • 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.
  3. 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).
  4. An excellent film, still as fresh as the day it was made.
  5. The film is both wise and tender in its treatment of relationships -- between birds, between people, and between birds and people.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Arnaud Desplechin's best movie to date.
  8. 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.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    A spellbinding, beautiful, enigmatic film with a mysterious, allusive two-part structure.
  9. Exhilarating.
  10. 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.
  11. The hues are so muted you may remember this as a black-and-white film, but its emotions are as vivid as primary colors.
  12. Compared with the novel, the movie might seem predictable. But compared with other movies, it stands alone.
  13. Woo's third Hollywood movie, Face/Off, is the first to balance his visual imagination with the emotional intensity of his Hong Kong films.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. The scenes are so dramatically cogent the characters' lives seem to stretch far beyond the concluding blackouts.
  17. There's plenty of wit on the surface, but the pain of paralysis comes through loud and clear.
  18. Unprecedented in its intellectual ambition, this is endlessly stimulating; it probably tries for too much, but it shames many other contemporary essays that try for too little.
  19. The extraordinary subject and the filmmaker's near total access make for a singular documentary.
  20. 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.
  21. A harrowing drama spun from the most mundane material.
  22. A superior nail-biter.
  23. 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).
  24. This quiet, elegiac road movie hinges on a few beautifully underplayed scenes between Daniel London and Will Oldham.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. Action-adventure pictures have a lamentable tendency toward mindlessness, but Edward Zwick's epic story has numerous virtues apart from suspense and spectacle.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Elegant, unabashedly theatrical, and packed with lush concert scenes and period-perfect costumes.
  30. 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.
  31. "Weird but cool," as one character says -- yet the movie is also remarkably touching.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. Levinson's dialogue feels fresh and improvised, yet it hits its mark every time, and the performances he gets are complex and original (particularly from Mickey Rourke, who plays a lothario with a late-blooming conscience) - enough so that Levinson's occasional forced "cinematic" effects cause barely a ripple in the smooth, naturalistic surface.
  37. 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.
  38. Under the thoughtful direction of Guy Ferland - what emerges is solid and affecting.
  39. 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.
  40. The film represents a studied, sophisticated approach to instinctual emotions: it's carefully, calculatingly naive, and amazingly it works.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. This poses some tricky moral questions, and its troubling ambiguities rank a cut above the dubious uplift of "Schindler's List."
  44. Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture) has made an electrifying picture.
  45. 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.
  46. Hammer overplays his indie hand with an abrupt and unsatisfactory ending, but his three leads are so credible that their aching, tongue-tied characters linger in the memory.
  47. Leigh pushes the story in a more interesting direction, asking whether people find happiness or simply will it on themselves.
  48. Sinister and beautiful, this mostly black-and-white animation from France culls the talents of six artists and designers.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. Up
    Writer-directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson present hilarious insights into bird brains and canine psychology and treat thornier human emotions deftly.
  52. Todd Phillips is no artist, but his lowbrow comedies (Road Trip, Old School) always hit the mark because they're so psychologically true: the superego tries to control the id, but the id gets drunk and barfs all over it. Hilarious.
  53. Writer-director Cary Fukunaga keeps the story lean while peppering it with realistic details.
  54. After directing three Spider-Man movies, Sam Raimi makes a masterful return to the horror genre.
  55. Provost and cowriter Marc Abdelnour explore the mutable boundaries between spirituality, naivete, genius, and madness, showing how the two outsiders and polar opposites cultivated a mutual understanding.
  56. 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.
  57. Koreeda was inspired by his guilt over having neglected his own parents, and the story is remarkable for the quiet, seemingly casual way he depicts the fallout of bitterness and grief.
  58. It's a beautiful picture but very quietly so, and definitely not for the ADHD set.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
    • 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.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
  63. 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.
  64. The notion that only whites can be racist barely survives this riveting 2009 documentary.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. Alternately harrowing and humbling, this is a story of ordinary men whose compassion is tested in the cruelest, most profound fashion.
  68. 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.
  69. 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).
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    It's smart, energetic filmmaking that also makes for engrossing entertainment.
  70. 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.
  71. 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Might easily have been mawkish; instead it has a light comic edge and a dignity built on the fine characterization of Pauline.
  72. Catherine Keener is wonderfully weird as a vicious vice president of human relations, and Nicky Katt is brilliant as an actor playing Hitler in a stage play.
  73. Jensen's use of the conventions of documentary making -- and his undermining of them in ways both bold and subtle -- seems too canny and consistent for the form. Yet the harder I try to decide whether this is a documentary or a parody, the more I wonder why it matters.
  74. It's unclear whether this macho thriller does anything to improve the state of the world or our understanding of it, but it certainly sets off enough rockets to hold us and shake us for every one of its 99 minutes.
  75. An entertaining comedy-thriller directed with bounce (if not much nuance) by Barry Sonnenfeld.
  76. If you think 85 minutes devoted to a "difficult" French philosopher is bound to be either abstruse or watered-down middlebrow stuff, think again.
  77. All the uplift could easily get cloying, but director John Lee Hancock knows how to keep things in control, and the whole is surprisingly satisfying.
  78. Weir does manage to deliver the goods.
  79. One girl's melancholy (beautifully expressed by actress Kerry Washington) is a response to a fractured romance.
  80. Fortunately, this time around the Ivy League characters project less of a glib sense of entitlement, making them more fun to watch, and Stillman himself gives more evidence of watching rather than simply listening.
  81. An entertainingly offbeat blend of 19th-century science fiction and Hope and Crosby Road comedies.
  82. Timely and informative.
  83. Period re-creations so rich you can taste them, and the fine cast.
  84. This is effective as straight-ahead, action-packed storytelling, losing some of its energy only in the final stretch.
  85. Dizdar inventively examines bigotry, combining daring humor and hyperbole, dark realism and shining idealism.
  86. What keeps all this from being trite and self-indulgent is Holofcener's willingness to make her characters' neuroses unattractive and self-destructive instead of cute and endearing.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The film is music from beginning to end, and nearly every note of it is magical.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's MTV meets Merchant-Ivory, at once manneristic, hallucinatory, and exhilarating.
  87. A treat for balletomanes, this 2001 feature may be too precious for others.
  88. Stylish and effective, if slightly overlong, thriller.
  89. Solid formula comedy.
  90. Striking for its performances -- especially Anthony LaPaglia.

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