Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 5,287 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 8.5 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 Easy Rider
Lowest review score: 0 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Score distribution:
5287 movie reviews
  1. Gretchen Mol is finally the key to the mysterious appeal of the film, to its sweetness and sadness.
  2. A slick, exciting, well-made crime thriller, dripping with atmosphere.
  3. For all its moodiness and melancholy, Logan is also a rip-roaring action film — and it’s wickedly funny at times as well.
  4. I can say that if you liked the other Indiana Jones movies, you will like this one, and that if you did not, there is no talking to you.
  5. The training sequences are as they have to be: incredible rigors, survived by O'Neil. They are good cinema because Ridley Scott, the director, brings a documentary attention to them, and because Demi Moore, having bitten off a great deal here, proves she can chew it.
  6. Here is a film that uses very good actors and gives them a lot of improvisational freedom to talk their way into, around and out of social discomfort. And it's not snarky. It doesn't mock these characters. It understand they have their difficulties and hopes they find a way to work things out.
  7. I Will Follow doesn't tell a story so much as try to understand a woman. Through her, we can find insights into the ways we deal with death.
  8. Damon’s everyman workhorse is tragically sympathetic, plodding ahead against all odds. Copley is brilliant as the sadistic villain. Foster is … well, you gotta see it to believe it. In the meantime, you’ll be treated to one of the most entertaining action films of the year.
  9. What is best about A Mighty Heart is that it doesn't reduce the Daniel Pearl story to a plot, but elevates it to a tragedy. A tragedy that illuminates and grieves for the hatred that runs loose in our world, hatred as a mad dog that attacks everyone. Attacks them for what seems, to the dog, the best of reasons.
  10. The Girl Who Played With Fire is very good, but a step down from "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," if only because that film and its casting were so fresh and unexpected.
  11. A well-crafted family thriller that is truly scary and doesn't wimp out.
  12. Barthes takes her notion and runs with it, and Giamatti and Strathairn follow fearlessly.
  13. Nick Nolte plays a great shambling wreck of a wounded Hemingway hero in The Good Thief, a film that's like a descent into the funkiest dive on the wrong side of the wrong town.
  14. This is a very promising first feature by Eggers and showcases some exceptional acting.
  15. Like "Finding Nemo," this is a movie that is a joy to behold entirely apart from what it is about. It looks happy, and, more to the point, it looks harmonious.
  16. One of those comedies where everything works.
  17. Nearly every scene is contrived, but Melfi has a nice way with dialogue, and the cast is uniformly outstanding.
  18. We're fully aware of the plot conventions at work here, the wheels and gears churning within the machinery, but with these actors, this velocity and the oblique economy of the dialogue, we realize we don't often see it done this well. Silver Linings Playbook is so good, it could almost be a terrific old classic.
  19. Thanks to the superb screenplay by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack and the brilliant, brave performances by the cast, Dallas Buyers Club gets just about everything right, save for a few over-the-top scenes that hammer home points that have already been made.
  20. Tells a story we think we already know, but we're wrong: It has new things to say within an old formula.
  21. One of the pleasures of Fiennes' film is that the screenplay by John Logan ("Hugo," "Gladiator") makes room for as much of Shakespeare's language as possible. I would have enjoyed more, because such actors as Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Cox let the words roll trippingly off the tongue.
  22. That it succeeds is some kind of miracle; there's enough material here for three bad films, and somehow it becomes one good one.
  23. This is an almost Dostoyevskian study of a man brooding upon evil until it paralyzes him.
  24. After his murder, Michele Montas goes on the air to insist that Jean Dominique is still alive, because his spirit lives on. But in this film Haiti seems to be a country that can kill the spirit, too.
  25. Clint Eastwood, a master director, orchestrates all of these notes and has us loving Mandela, proud of Francois and cheering for the plucky Springboks. A great entertainment. Not, as I said, the Mandela biopic I would have expected.
  26. Given the grievousness of their sins, one wonders why the church continues to shelter them. Might it not be more appropriate to excommunicate them, and refer them to the attention of the civil authorities?
  27. Jim Braddock is almost transparent in the simple goodness of his character; that must have made him almost impossible to play. Russell Crowe makes him fascinating, and it takes a moment of two of thought to appreciate how difficult that must have been.
  28. Something Wild is quite a movie. Demme is a master of finding the bizarre in the ordinary.
  29. Few actors have played a wider variety of characters, and even fewer have done it without making it seem like a stunt.
  30. Starts at the beginning and goes straight through to the inevitable end, unblinkingly. It doesn't relieve the pressure, as "Iris" does, with flashbacks to happier days.
  31. Comedies open every week. This is the kind I like best. It grows from human nature and is about how people do their jobs and live their lives.
  32. There is a kind of horror movie that plays so convincingly we don't realize it's an exercise in pure style. ''Halloween'' is an example, and John Dahl's Joy Ride is another.
  33. Janeane Garofalo in this movie... is so likable, so sympathetic, so revealing of her character's doubts and desires, that she carries us headlong into the story.
  34. The editing, with so many twists and turns and so many supporting characters needing their due, is without hiccups. And thankfully, there’s plenty of dark humor.
  35. [A] conventional yet fascinating documentary.
  36. The plot of Point Blank, summarized, invites parody (rookie agent goes undercover as surfer to catch bank robbers). The result is surprisingly effective.
  37. Whether the protest movement hastened the end of the Vietnam War is hard to say, but it is likely that Lyndon Johnson's decision not to run for re-election was influenced by the climate it helped to create.
  38. Sometimes we feel as if the film careens from one colorful event to another without respite, but sometimes it must have seemed to Frida Kahlo as if her life did, too.
  39. Aronofsky brings a new urgency to the drug movie by trying to reproduce, through his subjective camera, how his characters feel, or want to feel, or fear to feel.
  40. The point is that for the soldiers, it's a dead zone, life on hold, a cheerless existence. And this plain-spoken old woman reminds them of a lifetime they are missing.
  41. What I respond to in the movie is its fundamental romantic impulse.
  42. An imperfect but deeply involving and beautifully made Western.
  43. This is the movie to seek out.
  44. This film has moments of uncommon observation and touching insight.
  45. It may be that a relationship like the one here between Rosalba and Fernando is impossible in real life. All the more reason for this movie.
  46. The closing scenes of the movie involve Szpilman's confrontation with a German captain named Wilm Hosenfeld -- Polanski's direction of this scene, his use of pause and nuance, is masterful.
  47. This film leads to a startling conclusion that wipes out the story's paradoxes so neatly it's as if it never happened. You have to grin at the ingenuity of Johnson's screenplay.
  48. There is pain, humor, irony and sweetness in the character, and a voice and manner so distinctive, he is the most memorable movie character I've seen in a long time.
  49. Movement and Location has some clear-cut parallels to the stories of immigrants who are in the States illegally and are trying to live quiet, productive lives without anyone asking too many questions. But it also works as a Rod Serling-esque sci-fi adventure of the mind, devoid of special effects but convincing us of its dimension-breaking elements through the use of dialogue, performance and music.
  50. Paterson is a fable, brimming with symbolism and inside literary references and nods to playwrights and authors from decades and centuries gone by — but it’s also authentic and plausible, in its own weird way.
  51. Rich with characters and flowing with music.
  52. The Soderbergh version is like the same story freed from the weight of Tarkovsky's solemnity. And it evokes one of the rarest of movie emotions, ironic regret.
  53. Lymelife doesn't have the sheer power of "The Ice Storm," but it's not just another recycling of suburban angst. By allowing their characters complexity, the Martinis spill open those tiny model homes as thoroughly as a dropped Monopoly game.
  54. Someone like Abe could only prevail through the powers of denial and optimistic wishing, and Solondz makes that happen, as the film gradually slips into fantasy.
  55. LaBute has that rarest of attributes, a distinctive voice. You know one of his scenes at once. His dialogue is the dialogue overheard in trendy mid-scale restaurants, with the words peeled back to suggest the venom beneath.
  56. The writing, acting and direction are so convincing that at some point I stopped thinking about the constraints and started thinking about the movie's freedoms.
  57. What DOESN’T get lost in translation is what made “El Secreto De Sus Ojos” so effective: the visceral, devastating empathy we feel when a horrible injustice is committed and it ruins multiple lives; the haunted looks in the eyes of a trio of characters who will never be able to shake off the events of long ago; the lush and lurid film noir touches; and the air of melancholy hanging heavy over a pursuit of justice because we know there’s no such thing as true justice, not in these circumstances.
  58. The use of 2:35 wide screen paradoxically increases the effect of claustrophobia. I would not like to be buried alive.
  59. Linda is a truly good woman, and Rachael Harris' performance illuminates Natural Selection.
  60. It offers the rare pleasure of an author directing his own book, and doing it well. No one who loves the book will complain about the movie, and especially not about its near-ideal casting.
  61. Has the high-octane feel of real life, closely observed.
  62. What a sad film this, and how filled with the mystery of human life.
  63. Gradually the full arc of Toni Collette's performance reveals itself, and we see that the end was there even in the beginning. This is that rare sort of film that is not about what happens, but about what happens then.
  64. Tom has enlisted our identification and sympathy, but he seems hopelessly isolated within his own bubble of despair. How much that happens is in his mind?
  65. Above all, the dialogue is complex enough to allow the characters to say what they're thinking: They are eloquent, insightful, fanciful, poetic when necessary. They're not trapped with cliches.
  66. A movie with the nerve to end with melodramatic sentiment--and get away with it, because it means it. Expect lots of damp eyes in the audience.
  67. John Trank's Chronicle grows into an uncommonly entertaining movie that involves elements of a superhero origin story, a science-fic­tion fantasy and a drama about a disturbed teenager.
  68. This is a grand, confident entertainment, sure of the power of Adjani, Depardieu and the others, and sure of itself.
  69. This moving, Oscar-nominated documentary is an odyssey of a tragic observer.
  70. The ending is an explanation, but not a solution. For a solution we have to think back through the whole film, and now the visual style becomes a guide. It is an illustration of the way the materials of life can be shaped for the purposes of the moment.
  71. Cahill has not only made a thoughtful and compelling movie about science, but he’s also given us an intriguing story that delves into the age-old debate of faith vs. hard proof involving the possibility of a higher spiritual power.
  72. Simply amazing.
  73. Giamatti's performance is one of those achievements. He is making a career of playing unremarkable but memorable men.
  74. There’s a lot to admire in Cold in July, but its chief virtue is unpredictability. Most movies these days sleepwalk through their formulaic paces, but you’ll never guess where this one is going based on the way it begins.
  75. Director John Madden (“Shakespeare in Love,” the “Exotic Marigold Hotel” movies) expertly juggles the various subplots while never losing his main focus, which is to showcase Jessica Chastain’s nearly infinite palette of acting shades.
  76. Despite our narrow angle on Nepal, Manakamana peers into lives at close range.
  77. Mississippi Grind is the cinematic equivalent of the unassuming, quiet player at the poker table who allows you to believe you have him pegged — and that’s when he springs the trap on you and shows you something you never saw coming.
  78. The Equalizer features some gruesomely creative violence, but it’s equally memorable for the small, gritty moments set in that diner, or on the rough-and-tumble streets of Boston. And most of all, it’s got Denzel going for it.
  79. An enormously entertaining movie, like nothing we've ever seen before, and yet completely familiar.
  80. What an anguished story it tells, of a marriage from hell.
  81. Lee uses visual imagination to lift his material into the realms of hopes and dreams.
  82. The film is founded on three performances by Annette Bening, Kerry Washington and Naomi Watts. All have rarely been better.
  83. It has been a good long while since I have felt the presence of Evil so manifestly demonstrated as in the first appearance of Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs.
  84. This is no ordinary musical. Part of its success comes because it doesn't fall for the old cliché that musicals have to make you happy. Instead of cheapening the movie version by lightening its load of despair, director Bob Fosse has gone right to the bleak heart of the material and stayed there well enough to win an Academy Award for Best Director.
  85. Unlike most remakes, the Nolan "Insomnia" is not a pale retread, but a re-examination of the material, like a new production of a good play.
  86. A musical and a biography, and brings to both of those genres a worldly sophistication that is rare in the movies.
  87. One of the pleasures of Beginners is the warmth and sincerity of the major characters. There is no villain. They begin by wanting to be happier and end by succeeding.
  88. An inspired example of the story in which the adolescent hero discovers that the world sucks, people are phonies, and sex is a consolation. Because the genre is well established, what makes the movie fresh is smart writing, skewed characters, and the title performance by Kieran Culkin.
  89. The film's title is never explained. What does Moore mean? Maybe it's that capitalism means never having to say you're sorry.
  90. Rarely have two actors been so effective playing the same character while taking totally different approaches.
  91. Pure slam-bam space opera.
  92. Submarine isn't an insipid teen sex comedy. It flaunts some stylistic devices, such as titles and sections and self-aware narration, but it doesn't try too hard to be desperately clever.
  93. Goodnight Mommy is the kind of movie you should experience without watching the trailer or learning too much about it — and then experience again with the full knowledge of what happened, so you can admire the ways in which the puzzle was put together.
  94. It's clear that this movie has an affection for Popeye, and so much regard for the sailor man that it even bothers to reveal the real truth about his opinion of spinach.
  95. Here is another Western in the classical tradition.
  96. It's strange how the earlier movies fill in the gaps left by this one, and answer the questions. It is, I suspect, not even possible to understand this film without knowing the first two, and yet, knowing them, Part III works better than it should.
  97. This is a brave, unflinching, sometimes virtually unwatchable documentary that makes such an effective case for both pro-choice and pro-life that it is impossible to determine which side the filmmaker, Tony Kaye, stands on. All you can conclude at the end is that both sides have effective advocates, but the pro-lifers also have some alarming people on their team.
  98. Although Bad Hurt traffics in tough material, it is filled with little moments of heart.
  99. Sands' death is shown in a tableaux of increasing bleakness. It is agonizing, yet filmed with a curious painterly purity.
  100. Rarely, but sometimes, a movie can have an actual physical effect on you. It gets under your defenses and sidesteps the "it's only a movie" reflex and creates a visceral feeling that might as well be real. Open Water had that effect on me.

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