Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 4,995 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 8.9 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 Locke
Lowest review score: 0 Chaos
Score distribution:
4995 movie reviews
  1. Spielberg has taken an important but largely forgotten and hardly action-packed slice of the Cold War and turned it into a gripping character study and thriller that feels a bit like a John Le Carre adaptation if Frank Capra were at the controls.
  2. Powerfully, painfully honest.
  3. Not only does this second movie match the charm, wit, animation skill and intelligent storytelling of the original, I think it even exceeds it.
  4. The other key character is McCarthy himself, and Clooney uses a masterstroke: He employs actual news footage of McCarthy, who therefore plays himself.
  5. 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.
  6. Animals is a stark, brilliant, uncompromising, beautifully acted piece of work that deserves to be mentioned with “Panic in Needle Park” and “Requiem for a Dream” as a cautionary tale about drug addiction that doesn’t glamorize but also steers clear of proselytizing.
  7. You hire an actor for his strengths, and Downey would not be strong as a one-dimensional mighty-man. He is strong because he is smart, quick and funny, and because we sense his public persona masks deep private wounds. By building on that, Favreau found his movie, and it's a good one.
  8. A movie for more than one season; it will become a perennial, shared by the generations. It has a haunting, magical quality because it has imagined its world freshly and played true to it,
  9. At a time when digital techniques can show us almost anything, The Blair Witch Project is a reminder that what really scares us is the stuff we can't see.
  10. Allen's writing and directing style is so strong and assured in this film that the actual filmmaking itself becomes a narrative voice.
  11. Breathtaking and terrifying, urgently involved with its characters, it announces a new director of great gifts and passions: Fernando Meirelles.
  12. Each character in this movie is given the dramatic opportunity to look inside himself, to question his own motives as well as the motives of others, and to try to improve his own ways of dealing with a troubled situation. Two of the characters do learn how to adjust; the third doesn't. It's not often we get characters who face those kinds of challenges on the screen, nor directors who seek them out. Ordinary People is an intelligent, perceptive, and deeply moving film.
  13. Ran
    Ran is a great, glorious achievement.
  14. There are many documentaries angry about the human destruction of the planetary peace. This is one of the very best -- a certain Oscar nominee.
  15. Arthur Penn's Little Big Man is an endlessly entertaining attempt to spin an epic in the form of a yarn.
  16. It is a mystery, this business of life. I can't think of any under cinematic undertaking that allows us to realize that more deeply.
  17. A big, bold, audacious war movie that will annoy some, startle others and demonstrate once again that he’s (Tarantino) the real thing, a director of quixotic delights.
  18. In a time when our cities are wounded, movies like Grand Canyon can help to heal.
  19. This is a remarkable film about a strange and prophetic man. What does it tell us? Did living a virtual life destroy him?
  20. If "Henry V," the first film [Branaugh] directed and starred in, caused people to compare him to Olivier, "Dead Again" will inspire comparisons to Welles and Hitchcock - and the Olivier of Hitchcock's "Rebecca."
  21. What a courageous first feature this is, a film that sidesteps shopworn stereotypes and tells a quiet, firm, deeply humanist story about doing the right thing. It is a film that avoids any message or statement and simply shows us, with infinite sympathy, how the life of a completely original character can help us lead our own.
  22. The interesting thing is that Hiller has saved the movie without substantially changing anything in the book.
  23. Sometime miraculous films come into being, made by people you've never heard of, starring unknown faces, blindsiding you with creative genius. Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of the year's best films.
  24. Love proves she is not a rock star pretending to act, but a true actress, and Harrelson matches her with his portrait of a man who has one thing on his mind, and never changes it.
  25. Even though it is a highly stylized, stop-motion animation film featuring puppet-like human characters, it is a pinpoint-accurate encapsulation of some of the most banal AND some of the most exhilarating moments virtually all of us have experienced at some point in our lives.
  26. [Nicholson's] performance is key in keeping Chinatown from becoming just a genre crime picture--that, and a Robert Towne screenplay that evokes an older Los Angeles, a small city in a large desert.
  27. One of the most effective thrillers ever made.
  28. Watching The American President, I felt respect for the craft that went into it: the flawless re-creation of the physical world of the White House, the smart and accurate dialogue, the manipulation of the love story to tug our heartstrings.
  29. Some kind of weird masterpiece...one of the best movies of the year.
  30. What the film is really about is people who see themselves and their values as an organic whole. There are no pious displays here. No sanctimony, no preaching. Never even the word "religion." Just Johan, Esther and Marianne, all doing their best.
  31. One of those entertainments where you laugh a lot along the way, and then you end up on the edge of your seat at the end.
  32. A wild elaboration. If you have never seen a Japanese anime, start here. If you love them, Metropolis proves you are right.
  33. I have seen love scenes in which naked bodies thrash in sweaty passion, but I have rarely seen them more passionate than in this movie, where everyone is wrapped in layers of Victorian repression.
  34. This film ennobles filmmaking.
  35. It fascinates in the moment. It's getting from one moment to the next that is tricky. Surely this is one of the most ambitious films ever made.
  36. The fact that David Helfgott lived the outlines of these events--that he triumphed, that he fell, that he came slowly back--adds an enormous weight of meaning to the film.
  37. This is the kind of movie Frank Capra might have directed, and James Stewart might have starred in - a movie about dreams.
  38. A magnificent entertainment. It is like the flowering of all the possibilities in the original classic film.
  39. Starting with Le Petit Soldat, Godard was forging his own individualistic art and becoming the most relevant director of our time.
  40. Transcendence is a bold, beautiful, sometimes confounding flight of futuristic speculation firmly rooted in the potential of today’s technology.
  41. Maborosi is one of those valuable films where you have to actively place yourself in the character's mind. There are times when we do not know what she is thinking, but we are inspired with an active sympathy. We want to understand. Well, so does she.
  42. Oslo, August 31st is quietly, profoundly, one of the most observant and sympathetic films I've seen.
  43. Argo the real movie about the fake movie, is both spellbinding and surprisingly funny.
  44. This is a film for intelligent people who are naturally curious about what happens when the shutters close.
  45. I swear to you that if you live in a place where this film is playing, it is the best film in town.
  46. It is refreshing to see Cruz acting in the culture and language that is her own. As it did with Sophia Loren in the 1950s, Hollywood has tried to force Cruz into a series of show-biz categories, when she is obviously most at home playing a woman like the ones she knew, grew up with, could have become.
  47. This time the dad is the hero of the story, although in most animation it is almost always the mother.
  48. This happens in 1961, when 16-year-old girls were a great deal less knowing than they are now. Yet the movie isn't shabby or painful, but romantic and wonderfully entertaining.
  49. There are scenes here that are funnier than those of any other movie this year, and other scenes that weep with the pain of sad family secrets, and when it's over we have seen some kind of masterpiece. This is one of the best films of the year.
  50. In its warmth and in its enchantment, as well as in its laughs, this is the best comedy in a long time.
  51. Not many movies know that truth. Moonlight Mile is based on it.
  52. This film embodies ideas. After the immediate experience begins to fade, the implications remain and grow.
  53. You can live in a movie like this.
  54. What is remarkable is how realistic the story is.
  55. I enjoyed The Truman Show on its levels of comedy and drama; I liked Truman in the same way I liked Forrest Gump--because he was a good man, honest, and easy to sympathize with.
  56. Nearly every scene in A Most Violent Year is pitch perfect. Chandor the writer comes across as a big fan of David Mamet’s, and Chandor the director invokes stylistic touches reminiscent of Sidney Lumet, among others, but Chandor is no cover artist.
  57. I don't know when I've seen a thriller more frightening. I couldn't tear my eyes from the screen. Collapse is even entertaining, in a macabre sense. I think you owe it to yourself to see it.
  58. Some kind of sweet, wacky masterpiece.
  59. Like "Citizen Kane," Pulp Fiction is constructed in such a nonlinear way that you could see it a dozen times and not be able to remember what comes next.
  60. As a thriller, Munich is efficient, absorbing, effective. As an ethical argument, it is haunting.
  61. This movie moves so confidently and looks so good it seems incredible that it's a directorial debut.
  62. Not just a thriller, not just a social commentary, not just a comedy or a romance, but all of those in a clearly seen, brilliantly made film.
  63. Is the film watchable? Yes, compulsively.
  64. This is a film that left me marveling at Swartz’s beautiful mind, and shaking my head at the insanity of the system he knew was badly fractured.
  65. Many of the scenes in No Country for Old Men are so flawlessly constructed that you want them to simply continue, and yet they create an emotional suction drawing you to the next scene. Another movie that made me feel that way was "Fargo." To make one such film is a miracle. Here is another.
  66. A Room with a View enjoys its storytelling so much that I enjoyed the very process of it. The story moved slowly, it seemed, for the same reason you try to make ice cream last: because it's so good.
  67. May
    The movie subtly darkens its tone until, when the horrifying ending arrives, we can see how we got there. There is a final shot that would get laughs in another kind of film, but May earns the right to it, and it works, and we understand it.
  68. An endlessly surprising, very dark, human comedy, with a plot that cannot be foreseen but only relished.
  69. This film is such a virtuoso high-wire act, daring so much, achieving it with such grace and skill. Minority Report reminds us why we go to the movies in the first place.
  70. A grand, romantic life story about love, loss, regret and the sadness that can be evoked by a violin - not only through music, but through the instrument itself. It is all melancholy and loss, and delightfully comedic, with enough but not too much magic realism. The story as it stands could be the scenario for an opera.
  71. King of the Hill could have been a family picture, or a heartwarming TV docudrama, or a comedy. Soderbergh must have seen more deeply into the Hotchner memoir, however, because his movie is not simply about what happens to the kid. It's about how the kid learns and grows through his experiences.
  72. What a simple and yet profound story this is.
  73. The first shot tells us 45365 is the zip code of the town." In this achingly beautiful film, that zip code belongs to Sidney, Ohio, a handsome town of about 20,000 residents.
  74. Wolfgang Petersen's direction is an exercise in pure craftsmanship. [Director's Cut]
  75. The kind of movie you can see twice--first for the questions, the second time for the answers.
  76. It is nearly flawless.
  77. This is a movie that strains at the leash of the possible, a movie of great visionary wonders.
  78. The movie is well cast from top to bottom; like many British films, it benefits from the genius of its supporting players.
  79. Brimming with invention and new ideas, and its Hogwarts School seems to expand and deepen before our very eyes into a world large enough to conceal unguessable secrets -- What a glorious movie.
  80. This series should be sealed in a time capsule. It is on my list of the 10 greatest films of all time, and is a noble use of the medium.
  81. While it’s not as audacious or as provocative or as brutally violent as “Django Unchained,” it’s still an exhilarating moviegoing experience, filled with wickedly dark humor, nomination-worthy performances and a jigsaw puzzle plot that keeps us guessing until the bloody, brilliant end.
  82. Frank Langella and Michael Sheen do not attempt to mimic their characters, but to embody them.
  83. Seeps with melancholy, old wounds, repressed anger, lust. That it is also caustically funny and heartwarming is miraculous.
  84. Three varieties of love: unfulfilled, mercenary, meaningless. All photographed with such visual beauty that watching the movie is like holding your breath so the butterfly won’t stir.
  85. The movie is brilliant, really. It is philosophy, illustrated through everyday events. Most movies operate as if their events are necessary--that B must follow A. "13 Conversations" betrays B, A and all the other letters as random possibilities.
  86. There have been many good movies about gambling, but never one that so single-mindedly shows the gambler at his task.
  87. It is a poem of oddness and beauty.
  88. An unexpected kind of masterpiece by Haneke, whose films have included the enigmatic "Caché" and the earlier Golden Palm winner "The White Ribbon." We don't expect such unflinching seriousness, such profundity from Haneke.
  89. Drugstore Cowboy is one of the best films in the long tradition of American outlaw road movies - a tradition that includes "Bonnie and Clyde," "Easy Rider," "Midnight Cowboy" and "Badlands."
  90. This is a film that is affirming and inspiring and re-creates the stories of a remarkable team and its coach.
  91. This is the Batman movie I've been waiting for; more correctly, this is the movie I did not realize I was waiting for, because I didn't realize that more emphasis on story and character and less emphasis on high-tech action was just what was needed. The movie works dramatically in addition to being an entertainment. There's something to it.
  92. I don't know what vast significance Michael Clayton has (it involves deadly pollution but isn't a message movie). But I know it is just about perfect as an exercise in the genre.
  93. At the end we are left with the reflection that human consciousness is the great miracle of evolution, and all the rest (sight, sound, taste, hearing, smell, touch) are simply a toolbox that consciousness has supplied for itself.
  94. Even when Disconnect follows the path we expect it to follow, it does so in a way that keeps us intensely engaged. There wasn't a moment during this movie when I thought about anything other than this movie.
  95. LaBute's "Your Friends and Neighbors'' is to "In the Company of Men'' as Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction'' was to "Reservoir Dogs.'' In both cases, the second film reveals the full scope of the talent, and the director, given greater resources, paints what he earlier sketched.
  96. We've seen this done before, but seldom so well, or at such a high pitch of energy.
  97. Unlike "Saving Private Ryan" and other dramatizations based on D-Day, Overlord is an intimate film, one that focuses closely on Tom Beddoes (Brian Stirner), who enters the British army, goes through basic training and is one of the first ashore on D-Day. (Reviewed in 2004)
  98. Beresford is able to move us, one small step at a time, into the hearts of his characters. He never steps wrong on his way to a luminous final scene in which we are invited to regard one of the most privileged mysteries of life, the moment when two people allow each other to see inside.
  99. Here is a bold, beautiful, visually enchanting musical where we walk INTO the theater humming the songs.
  100. It's one of the best films of the year.

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