Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 5,516 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 8.2 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 Jaws
Lowest review score: 0 Fist Fight
Score distribution:
5516 movie reviews
  1. 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.
  2. Has the high-octane feel of real life, closely observed.
  3. What a sad film this, and how filled with the mystery of human life.
  4. 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.
  5. Punch kick stab shoot. Borrow from “Bourne” and Bond. Rinse and repeat. This is the recipe for the quite ridiculous, ultra-violent and deliriously entertaining Atomic Blonde.
  6. 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?
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. This is a grand, confident entertainment, sure of the power of Adjani, Depardieu and the others, and sure of itself.
  11. This moving, Oscar-nominated documentary is an odyssey of a tragic observer.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Simply amazing.
  15. Giamatti's performance is one of those achievements. He is making a career of playing unremarkable but memorable men.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Despite our narrow angle on Nepal, Manakamana peers into lives at close range.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. An enormously entertaining movie, like nothing we've ever seen before, and yet completely familiar.
  22. What an anguished story it tells, of a marriage from hell.
  23. Lee uses visual imagination to lift his material into the realms of hopes and dreams.
  24. The film is founded on three performances by Annette Bening, Kerry Washington and Naomi Watts. All have rarely been better.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. A musical and a biography, and brings to both of those genres a worldly sophistication that is rare in the movies.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. The film's title is never explained. What does Moore mean? Maybe it's that capitalism means never having to say you're sorry.
  32. Rarely have two actors been so effective playing the same character while taking totally different approaches.
  33. Pure slam-bam space opera.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. Here is another Western in the classical tradition.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. Although Bad Hurt traffics in tough material, it is filled with little moments of heart.
  41. Sands' death is shown in a tableaux of increasing bleakness. It is agonizing, yet filmed with a curious painterly purity.
  42. 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.
  43. The film's second half is the most touching, because it shows that our lives are not merely our own, but also belong to the events we set in motion.
  44. xXx
    A threat to the Bond franchise? Not a threat so much as a salute. I don't want James Bond to turn crude and muscular on me; I like the suave style. But I like Xander, too, especially since he seems to have studied Bond so very carefully.
  45. It's a quality movie even if the material is unworthy of the treatment. As a result, yes, it's a druggie comedy that made me laugh.
  46. Safety Not Guaranteed not only has dialogue that's about something, but characters who have some depth and dimension.
  47. The first movie I’ve seen about the disease that is told from the sick person’s point of view, not that of family members. The director, Yukihiko Tsutsumi, often uses a subjective camera to show the commonplace world melting into bewildering patterns and meanings.
  48. After that first second we quit wondering: This is magic, after all, so who wants to know where Henson is?
  49. Polanski's film is visually exact and detailed without being too picturesque. This is not Ye Olde London, but Ye Harrowing London, teeming with life and dispute.
  50. Imperium is a well-spun, tight thriller, thanks in no small part to Radcliffe’s excellent, sharply focused performance.
  51. What a thoughtful film this is, and how thought-stirring. Marc Forster's Stranger Than Fiction comes advertised as a romance, a comedy, a fantasy, and it is a little of all three, but it's really a fable, a "moral tale."
  52. Bug
    Begins as an ominous rumble of unease, and builds to a shriek. The last 20 minutes are searingly intense: A paranoid personality finds its mate, and they race each other into madness.
  53. American Sniper isn’t some flag-waving political movie. It’s a powerful, intense portrayal of a man who was hardly the blueprint candidate to become the most prolific sniper in American military history. And yet that’s what happened.
  54. The visuals are spectacular, the 3D technology is artfully used and the storyline is jam-packed with so many funny lines, it’s hard to catch all the jokes that are delivered in rapid-fire succession.
  55. The film is labyrinthine and deceptive, and not in a way we anticipate. It becomes a pleasure for the mind.
  56. If what you’re after is insane, mind-bogglingly violent martial arts action, “The Raid 2” is quite possibly the ultimate.
  57. I Am Big Bird is a loving, respectful (if at times shamelessly sentimental) portrayal of Spinney.
  58. Antal's visuals create a haunted house where the lights are off in most of the rooms and there may, indeed, be a monster in the closet.
  59. This is one badass movie.
  60. With an eclectic soundtrack that features...well-timed editing and crisp cinematography — and of course that terrific cast led by the great Del Toro — A Perfect Day is a rough-edged gem.
  61. To my surprise, Ratner does a sure, stylish job, appreciating the droll humor of Lecter's predicament, creating a depraved new villain in the Tooth Fairy (Ralph Fiennes), and using the quiet, intense skills of Norton to create a character whose old fears feed into his new ones. There is also humor, of the uneasy he-can't-get-away-with-this variety, in the character of a nosy scandal-sheet reporter (Philip Seymour Hoffman).
  62. One of the more thought-provoking sports movies I've seen.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    La Promesse was written and directed by the brother duo of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who were previously known as documentary makers. They bring an unblinking realism to the story, but aren't limited by documentary-style objectivity. They tap into the interior lives of the characters with tremendous subtlety and originality. [22 Aug. 1997, p.36]
    • Chicago Sun-Times
  63. This is a movie for those who sometimes, in the stillness of the sleepless night, are so filled with hope and longing that they feel like -- well, like uttering wild goat cries to the moon. You know who you are.
  64. Original, absorbing and curiously moving.
  65. Surprisingly moving.
  66. The writer and director, Michael Schorr, is making his first film, but has the confidence and simplicity of someone who has been making films forever.
  67. Not very much happens in Metropolitan, and yet everything that happens is felt deeply, because the characters in this movie are still too young to have perfected their defenses against life.
  68. It is poetic and unforgiving, romantic and stark. Death is the subject we edge around.
  69. You might think a documentary about the obituary writers at the New York Times would be a depressing, sobering, scholarly work — but it’s anything but.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Thymaya Payne's Stolen Seas is a documentary of such ambitious scope that you might need a remote control and a notebook to keep up with it.
  70. Jurassic World is pure, dumb, wall-to-wall fun. When they hand you your 3-D glasses, you can check your brain at the door and pick it up on your way out.
  71. "Black Hawk Down" was criticized because the characters seemed hard to tell apart. We Were Soldiers doesn't have that problem; in the Hollywood tradition it identifies a few key players, casts them with stars, and follows their stories.
  72. Finds a tone that remains more entertaining than depressing, more absorbing than alarming.
  73. The movie seems to be a fairly accurate re-creation of the making of a film at Pinewood Studios at that time. It hardly matters. What happens during the famous week hardly matters. What matters is the performance by Michelle Williams.
  74. Hogtown is the most original film made in Chicago about Chicago to date.
  75. The Road evokes the images and the characters of Cormac McCarthy's novel. It is powerful, but for me lacks the same core of emotional feeling.
  76. The movie has the freshness and urgency of life actually happening.
  77. Too many films about the dead involve mourning, and too few involve laughter. Yet at lucky funerals there is a desire to remember the good times.
  78. There is a word to explain why this particular film so appealed to me. Reader, that word is "escapism." If you understand why I used the word "reader" in just that way, you are possibly an ideal viewer for this movie.
  79. Imagine music for a sorcery-related plot and then dial it down to ominous forebodings. Without Thomas Newman's score, Side Effects would be a lesser film, even another film.
  80. It lovingly, almost sadistically, lays out the situation and deliberately demonstrates all the things that can go wrong. And I mean all the things.
  81. The bold long shot near the end of Dear Frankie allows the film to move straight as an arrow toward its emotional truth, without a single word or plot manipulation to distract us.
  82. Here is a film that invites philosophical musing. Made without dialogue and often in long shots, it regards the four stages of existence in a remote Italian village.
  83. So rich in atmosphere it makes Western films look pale and underpopulated.
  84. The most heartbreaking scene shows survivors of the dead reaching through fence railings to scatter their ashes on the White House lawn, where presumably they still rest.
  85. The film, written and directed by Joe Maggio, only has this handful of characters and looks at them carefully. The dialogue is right, the conflicts are simple and sincere, the hopes are touching.
  86. Just when we think we’ve got it all figured out, Southbound serves up another deliciously bloody twist.
  87. The film is a chilling study of an evil, dominant personality and his victims. It works primarily through an astonishingly good performance by Daniel Henshall as Bunting.
  88. That's another thing about Carion's direction: He has an eye for unusual, atmospheric touches -- the kinds of striking little things you notice in the world and think: "Somebody should put that in a movie."
  89. A sublime meditation on solitude.
  90. Diner is often a very funny movie, although I laughed most freely not at the sexual pranks but at the movie's accurate ear, as it reproduced dialogue with great comic accuracy.
  91. Deliberately aimed at viewers with developed attention spans. It lingers to create atmosphere, a sense of place, a sympathy with the characters, instead of rushing into cheap thrills.
  92. The story, about an ant colony that frees itself from slavery to grasshoppers, is similar in some ways to the autumn's other big animated release, "Antz," but it's aimed at a broader audience and lacks the in-jokes.
  93. Better than "Gladiator" -- deeper, more thoughtful, more about human motivation and less about action.
  94. The charm of Bagdad Cafe is that every character and every moment is unanticipated, obscurely motivated, of uncertain meaning and vibrating with life.
  95. It's intense and involving, and it doesn't let us go.
  96. Then I realized the movie's point is that someone like this nerdy Harvard boy might be transformed in a fairly short time into a bloodthirsty gang fighter. The message is that violence is hard-wired into men, if only the connection is made.
  97. Lumbers a little on its way to a preordained conclusion, but is intriguing for its glimpses of backstage life in shabby German postwar vaudeville, and for Dietrich's performance, which seems to float above the action as if she's stepping fastidiously across gutters.
  98. Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton are appealing together as far from perfect parents, and CJ Adams has that ability of so many child actors to be pitch-perfect.

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