Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 4,719 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 74% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 24% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 9.4 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 A Most Violent Year
Lowest review score: 0 Freddy Got Fingered
Score distribution:
4,719 movie reviews
  1. It's rare to get a good movie about the touchy adult relationship of a sister and brother. Rarer still for the director to be more fascinated by the process than the outcome. This is one of the best movies of the year.
  2. It "explains" nothing but feels everything. It reminds me of two other films: Bresson's "Mouchette," about a poor girl victimized by a village, and Karen Gehre's "Begging Naked," shown at Ebertfest this year, about a woman whose art is prized even as she lives in Central Park.
  3. A movie that you might want to see for no other reason than because it exists. There will never be another like it.
  4. An exhilarating visual experience and proves for the third time he's (Zemeck) is one of the few directors who knows what he's doing with 3-D.
  5. Here is a gripping film with the focus of a Japanese drama, an impenetrable character to equal Alain Delon's in "Le Samourai," by Jean-Pierre Melville.
  6. It's one of the smartest and most merciless comedies to come along in a while. It centers on an area of fairly narrow interest, but in its study of human nature, it is deep and takes no prisoners.
  7. There are scenes as true as movies can make them, and even when the story develops thriller elements, they are redeemed, because the movie isn't about what happens, but about why.
  8. After "Monster," here is another extraordinary role from an actress [Theron] who has the beauty of a fashion model but has found resources within herself for these powerful roles about unglamorous women in the world of men.
  9. What a bewilderingly brilliant and entertaining movie this is.
  10. Juan Jose Campanella is the writer-director, and here is a man who creates a complete, engrossing, lovingly crafted film. He is filled with his stories. The Secret in Their Eyes is a rebuke to formula screenplays. We grow to know the characters, and the story pays due respect to their complexities and needs.
  11. Ballast inexorably grows and deepens and gathers power and absorbs us. I always say I hardly ever cry at sad films, but I sometimes do, just a little, at films about good people.
  12. High Hopes is an alive and challenging film, one that throws our own assumptions and evasions back at us. Leigh sees his characters and their lifestyles so vividly, so mercilessly and with such a sharp satirical edge, that the movie achieves a neat trick: We start by laughing at the others, and end by feeling uncomfortable about ourselves.
  13. Here is a movie that knows its women, listens to them, doesn't give them a pass, allows them to be real: It's a rebuke to the shallow "Ya-Ya Sisterhood."
  14. This is Mike Leigh's funniest film since "Life Is Sweet" (1991). Of course he hasn't ever made a completely funny film, and Happy-Go-Lucky has scenes that are not funny, not at all.
  15. Up
    This is another masterwork from Pixar, which is leading the charge in modern animation.
  16. The documentary is an uncommon meeting between Treadwell's loony idealism, and Herzog's bleak worldview.
  17. Larry Clark's Bully calls the bluff of movies that pretend to be about murder but are really about entertainment. His film has all the sadness and shabbiness, all the mess and cruelty and thoughtless stupidity of the real thing.
  18. Putty Hill makes no statement. It looks. It looks with as much perception and sympathy as it is possible for a film to look. It is surprisingly effective.
  19. Campbell's performance is carnal, verbally facile, physically uninhibited and charged with intelligence.
  20. The wedding sequence... is a virtuoso stretch of filmmaking: Coppola brings his large cast onstage so artfully that we are drawn at once into the Godfather's world.
  21. This is a great act of filmmaking and acting. I don't believe I would be able to see it twice.
  22. In America is not unsentimental about its new arrivals (the movie has a warm heart and frankly wants to move us), but it is perceptive about the countless ways in which it is hard to be poor and a stranger in a new land.
  23. I liked these characters precisely because they were not designed to be likable -- or, more precisely, because they were likable in spite of being exasperating, unorganized, self-destructive and impervious to good advice.
  24. Above all one of the most beautiful films ever made. Malick's purpose is not to tell a story of melodrama, but one of loss. His tone is elegiac. He evokes the loneliness and beauty of the limitless Texas prairie. [7 Dec. 1997]
  25. Mr. Turner is far more than merely an explosion of color and toned nuance for the eye. The real reason to make this a must-see of this holiday season is to wallow in the Oscar-worthy acting talent of Leigh’s veteran player Timothy Spall.
  26. The movie is funny, but it's more than funny, it's exhilarating.
  27. A powerful but quiet film, constructed of hidden thoughts and secret desires.
  28. The film works as well as it does due to the genius of Benedict Cumberbatch and the way he has inhabited Alan Turing’s persona.
  29. It is a spellbinding enigma, and one of the damnedest films Morris has ever made.
  30. The Band’s Visit has not provided any of the narrative payoffs we might have expected, but has provided something more valuable: An interlude involving two “enemies,” Arabs and Israelis, that shows them both as only ordinary people with ordinary hopes, lives and disappointments. It has also shown us two souls with rare beauty.
  31. No one is better at this kind of performance than Nicolas Cage. He's a fearless actor. He doesn't care if you think he goes over the top. If a film calls for it, he will crawl to the top hand over hand with bleeding fingernails.
  32. Ida
    Ida reaches spiritual depth through affecting performances rendered in sublime black-and-white compositions.
  33. This is one of those rare docs, like "Hoop Dreams," where life provides a better ending than the filmmakers could have hoped for. Also like "Hoop Dreams," it's not really a sports film; it's a film that uses sport as a way to see into lives, hopes and fears.
  34. Scorsese tells his story with the energy and pacing he's famous for, and with a wealth of little details that feel just right.
  35. Up in the Air takes the trust people once had in their jobs and pulls out the rug. It is a film for this time.
  36. Here is a searing film of human tragedy.
  37. The movie is bursting with life, energy, fears, frustrations and the quick laughter of a classroom hungry for relief.
  38. The Interrupters is based on a much-acclaimed article in the New York Times Magazine by Alex Kotlowitz, who followed a period of intense violence in Chicago. He joined with James to co-produce the film. It is difficult to imagine the effort, day after day for a year, of following this laborious, heroic and so often fruitless volunteer work.
  39. Kristen Dunst is pitch-perfect in the title role.
  40. Here is a rare movie that begins by telling us how it will end and is about how the hero has no idea why.
  41. A great American film.
  42. This is one of the year's best films.
  43. A movie you cannot turn away from; it is so pitiless and uncompromising, so filled with pathos and disregarded innocence, that it is a record of those things we pray to be delivered from.
  44. In its quiet, dark, claustrophobic way, this is one of the best films of the year.
  45. One of a very few films that wants to do something unexpected and challenging, and succeeds even beyond its ambitions. See this film. Then shut up about it.
  46. A great film, an intelligent film, a film shot clearly so that we know exactly who everybody is and where they are and what they’re doing and why.
  47. Deep movie emotions for me usually come not when the characters are sad, but when they are good. You will see what I mean.
  48. Hitchcock called his most familiar subject "The Innocent Man Wrongly Accused." Jarecki pumps up the pressure here by giving us a Guilty Man Accurately Accused, and that's what makes the film so ingeniously involving.
  49. Into the Abyss may be the saddest film Werner Herzog has ever made. It regards a group of miserable lives, and in finding a few faint glimmers of hope only underlines the sadness.
  50. Last Days is a definitive record of death by gradual drug exhaustion. After the chills and thrills of "Sid & Nancy" and "The Doors," here is a movie that sees how addicts usually die, not with a bang but a whimper. If the dead had it to do again, they might wish that, this time, they'd at least been conscious enough to realize what was happening.
  51. It is one of those rare movies that is not just about a story, or some characters, but about a whole universe of feeling.
  52. Sophie's Choice is a fine, absorbing, wonderfully acted, heartbreaking movie.
  53. It is flawlessly crafted, intelligently constructed, strongly acted and spellbinding.
  54. The story of herself (Varda), a woman whose life has consisted of moving through the world with the tools of her trade, finding what is worth treasuring.
  55. Here is one of the most entertaining films in many a moon, a film that charms because of its story, its performances and because of the sly way it plays with being silent and black and white.
  56. The film is extraordinarily beautiful. Bertolucci is one of the great painters of the screen.
  57. An amazing film. It is deep, rich, human. It is not about rich and poor, but about old and new. It is about the ancient war between tradition and feeling.
  58. It’s one of the best movies of the year and one of the truest portrayals I’ve ever seen about troubled teens and the people who dedicate their lives to trying to help them.
  59. This is a wonderful film. There isn't a thing that I would change.
  60. Working from a script by Paul Webb and aided by stark, beautiful, sometimes startlingly realistic cinematography by Bradford Young, DuVernay has delivered a powerful and moving portrait of Martin Luther King Jr.
  61. It is about the actual lives of refugees, who lack the luxury of opinions because they are preoccupied with staying alive in a world that has no place for them.
  62. As for myself, as Leticia rejoined Hank in the last shot of the movie, I was thinking about her as deeply and urgently as about any movie character I can remember.
  63. [A] stunning “documentary of the imagination."
  64. I have seen Waking Life three times now. I want to see it again -- not to master it, or even to remember it better, -- but simply to experience all of these ideas, all of this passion, the very act of trying to figure things out.
  65. No finer film has ever been made about organized crime - not even "The Godfather."
  66. You would imagine a film like this would be greeted with rapture in France, but no. The leading French film magazine, "Cahiers du Cinema," has long scorned the filmmakers of this older generation as makers of mere "quality," and interprets Tavernier's work as an attack on the New Wave generation which replaced them.
  67. It is intriguing to wonder what Scorsese saw in the Hong Kong movie that inspired him to make the second remake of his career (after "Cape Fear"). I think he instantly recognized that this story, at a buried level, brought two sides of his art and psyche into equal focus.
  68. The Year of Living Dangerously is a wonderfully complex film about personalities more than events, and we really share the feeling of living in that place, at that time.
  69. American Hustle is the best time I’ve had at the movies all year, a movie so perfectly executed, such wall-to-wall fun, so filled with the joy of expert filmmaking on every level I can’t imagine anyone who loves movies not loving THIS movie.
  70. The only other film I've seen with this boldness of vision is Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," and it lacked Malick's fierce evocation of human feeling.
  71. At a time when too many movies focus every scene on a $20 million star, an Altman film is like a party with no boring guests.
  72. Perhaps I have made the movie sound too serious... So let me just say that Down and Out in Beverly Hills made me laugh longer and louder than any film I've seen in a long time.
  73. Here is the best American movie of the year so far.
  74. Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare’s classic tale is swanky, sexy and sophisticated, as bracing as a dry martini poured from a silver shaker on a summer night.
  75. Scarface is one of those special movies, like "The Godfather," that is willing to take a flawed, evil man and allow him to be human.
  76. This is a masterful and heartbreaking film, and it does honor to the memory of the victims.
  77. Nothing Cruise has done will prepare you for what he does in Born on the Fourth of July. His performance is so good that the movie lives through it. Stone is able to make his statement with Cruise's face and voice and doesn't need to put everything into the dialogue.
  78. They are all so very articulate, which is refreshing in a time when literate and evocative speech has been devalued in the movies.
  79. The Big Easy is one of the richest American films of the year. It also happens to be a great thriller.
  80. What a lovely film this is, so gentle and whimsical, so simple and profound.
  81. Plays like an anthology of the best parts from all the Saturday matinee serials ever made.
  82. Pocahontas was given the gift of sensing the whole picture, and that is what Malick founds his film on, not tawdry stories of love and adventure. He is a visionary, and this story requires one.
  83. The first time I saw The Straight Story, I focused on the foreground and liked it. The second time I focused on the background, too, and loved it.
  84. Put the two parts together, and Tarantino has made a masterful saga that celebrates the martial arts genre while kidding it, loving it, and transcending it.
  85. The most accurate movie about campus life that I can remember.
  86. It takes on the resonance of classic tragedy. Tragedy requires the fall of a hero, and one of the achievements of Nixon is to show that greatness was within his reach.
  87. Shot in beautiful tones of black and white (and silver and gray), Nebraska is steeped in nostalgia, regret and bittersweet moments. Yet it’s also a pitch-perfect cinematic poem about the times we live in.
  88. Unflinchingly directed by Steve McQueen, led by Ejiofor’s magnificent work, 12 Years a Slave is what we talk about when we talk about greatness in film.
  89. It is a film with a political point of view, but often its characters lose sight of that, in their fascination with each other and with the girl.
  90. 'Return of the Jedi' is fun, magnificent fun. The movie is a complete entertainment, a feast for the eyes and a delight for the fancy. It's a little amazing how Lucas and his associates keep topping themselves.
  91. David Schwimmer has made one of the year's best films: Powerfully emotional, yes, but also very perceptive.
  92. A smart, intense and moving film that isn't so much about sports as about the war between intuition and statistics. I walked in knowing what the movie was about, but unprepared for its intelligence and depth.
  93. That could have been a good movie, but predictable. Mike Nichols' Silkwood is not predictable.... We realize this is a lot more movie than perhaps we were expecting.
  94. A family film of limitless imagination and surprising joy.
  95. One of the greatest of all American films, but has never received the attention it deserves because of its lack of the proper trappings. Many "great movies'' are by great directors, but Laughton directed only this one film, which was a critical and commercial failure long overshadowed by his acting career.
  96. Spacey, an actor who embodies intelligence in his eyes and voice, is the right choice for Lester Burnham.
  97. Powerfully, painfully honest.
  98. Not only does this second movie match the charm, wit, animation skill and intelligent storytelling of the original, I think it even exceeds it.
  99. The other key character is McCarthy himself, and Clooney uses a masterstroke: He employs actual news footage of McCarthy, who therefore plays himself.
  100. Leconte brings his film to transcendent closure without relying on stale plot devices or the clanking of the plot. He resorts to a kind of poetry. After the film is over, you want to sigh with joy, that in this rude world such civilization is still possible.

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