Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 5,126 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 8.6 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 Crumb
Lowest review score: 0 Movie 43
Score distribution:
5126 movie reviews
  1. The Guard is a pleasure. I can't tell if it's really (bleeping) dumb or really (bleeping) smart, but it's pretty (bleeping) good.
  2. The Voices is a deeply warped, darkly funny and thoroughly depraved horror comedy... and whether you find this sort of thing walk-out-of-the-theater distasteful or wickedly subversive, I’m fairly confident we won’t see another movie like it for quite some time.
  3. What's best about the movie is its playfulness.
  4. On the surface, this film is an enchanting meditation. At its core is the hard steel of individuality.
  5. Both hilarious and sorrowful.
  6. The acting is macho understatement. Mesrine is a character who might have been played years ago by Gerard Depardieu, who appears here as Guido, a bullet-headed impresario of larceny.
  7. Writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz’s Hands of Stone is a rousing, well-filmed and solid (if at times overly generous to Duran) biopic with a bounty of charismatic performances, two of the sexier scenes of the year, some welcome laughs and a few above average fight sequences.
  8. This isn't a serious historical film. It plays different instruments than Spielberg's "Lincoln." Murray, who has a wider range than we sometimes realize, finds the human core of this FDR and presents it tenderly.
  9. The thing about a movie like this is, the characters may be French, but they're more like people I know than they could ever be in the Hollywood remake.
  10. The Drop is filled with many such small, near-perfect moments where there’s so much more going on beyond the simple exchanges of dialogue.
  11. Both Linney and Hoffman are so specific in creating these characters that we see them as people, not elements in a plot. Hoffman in particular shows how many disguises he has within his seemingly immutable presence; would you know it is the same actor here and in two other films this season, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" and "Charlie Wilson's War"?
  12. War Horse is bold, not afraid of sentiment and lets out all the stops in magnificently staged action sequences. Its characters are clearly defined and strongly played by charismatic actors. Its message is a universal one.
  13. Thanks to the first-class special effects, a star-packed cast, screenwriters who know just when to inject some self-aware comic relief without getting too jokey and director Bryan Singer’s skilled and sometimes electrifying visuals, X-Men: Days of Future Past is flat-out big-time, big summer movie fun.
  14. It is a stunning work of visual style - the best version of a comic book universe I've seen - and Brandon Lee clearly demonstrates in it that he might have become an action star, had he lived.
  15. This is the best DiCillo movie I've seen, and he's made some good ones ("Box of Moonlight," "The Real Blonde").
  16. Carrey makes the role seem effortless; he deceives as spontaneously as others breathe.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Upon leaving the theater I had a feeling like I just got to know a bunch of kids: some great, some annoying, but all living lives that extend beyond what little I saw of them on the screen.
  17. This is a solid example of the Sobering Comedy, where we laugh consistently at the madness onscreen, all the while lamenting how it’s rooted in real-world reality.
  18. You can sense the difference between a movie that's a technical exercise ("Resident Evil") and one steamed in the dread cauldrons of the filmmaker's imagination.
  19. A real movie, rich and atmospheric, savoring its disreputable characters and their human weaknesses.
  20. The key to the film is in the performances by Spall and Stevenson -- and by Marsan. The utter averageness of the characters, their lack of insight, their normality, contrasts with the subject matter in an unsettling way.
  21. Under the direction of David Fincher and with a screenplay by Steven Zaillian. I don't know if it's better or worse. It has a different air.
  22. The naturalism of Anne Fontaine's film would be at home in a novel by Dreiser. Her star Audrey Tautou, who could make lovability into a career, avoids any effort to make Coco Chanel nice, or soft, or particularly sympathetic.
  23. Riding Giants is about altogether another reality. The overarching fact about these surfers is the degree of their obsession.
  24. It is an immensely skillful sci-fi adventure, combining the usual elements: heroes and villains, special effects and stunts, chases and explosions, romance and oratory.
  25. The film has the materials for a lifetime project; like the "7-Up" series, this is a conversation that could be returned to every 10 years or so, as Celine and Jesse grow older.
  26. Likely to appeal to the fans of "The Sixth Sense," "Ghost" and other movies where the characters find a loophole in reality. What it also has in common with those two movies is warmth and emotion.
  27. It tells a full story with three acts, it introduces characters we get to know and care about, and it has something it passionately wants to say.
  28. The movie's thriller elements are given an additional gloss by the skill of the technical credits, and the wicked wit of the dialogue.
  29. I'm giving the movie a high rating for its skill and professionalism and because it does the job it says it will do. I am also advising you not to eat before you go to see it.
  30. The movie is an uncommonly knowledgeable portrait of the way musical gifts could lift people of ordinary backgrounds into high circles.
  31. Compulsively watchable and endlessly inventive as it transforms Broomfield's limited materials into a compelling argument.
  32. This is not one of those delightful movies based on a Jane Austen novel. It is about hard realists, constrained in a stifling system and using whatever weapons they can command.
  33. It is about the desiring itself, not about what they desire. That makes it more intriguing than if we knew their secret--and sexier.
  34. What works best in the film is the over-all vision. Branagh is able to see himself as a king, and so we can see him as one.
  35. Has a bracing truth that's refreshing after the phoniness of female-bonding pictures like "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood."
  36. Director Felix Van Groeningen takes a story that might be too much to bear in a straightforward, linear narrative and explodes it, then artfully reassembles the pieces by jumping back and forth in time.
  37. The first film to build on the enormously influential "Pulp Fiction" instead of simply mimicking it. It has the games with time, the low-life dialogue, the absurd violent situations, but it also has its own texture.
  38. What's interesting is that every single person in this film is seen as themselves, is allowed to speak and seems to have a good heart. I've rarely seen a documentary quite like it. It has a point to make but no ax to grind.
  39. No one, male or female, has any fun, but the men behave as if they do. They are all half-stupefied by the languor in which they drown.
  40. This is one terrifically twisted parental play date.
  41. This is one of the most moving films of 2016. Every 20 minutes or so, it grabs you and puts a lump in your throat.
  42. This is one of Denzel Washington's great performances, on a par with his work in "Malcolm X."
  43. Red 2 not only delivers the action, laughs and thrills of the original — in many ways it surpasses it.
  44. I think the secret to the appeal of the entire “Kung Fu Panda” franchise is the enormous affection we feel for Po, that seemingly bumbling good guy who also can rise to the occasion and showcase true heroism and mystical power.
  45. Revanche involves a rare coming together of a male's criminal nature and a female's deep needs, entwined with a first-rate thriller. It is also perceptive in observing characters, including a proud old man. Rare is the thriller that is more about the reasons of people instead of the needs of the plot.
  46. The Lunchbox,” Indian director Ritesh Batra’s debut, is a witty and perceptive film that reveals the hopes, sorrows and regrets of ordinary people.
  47. The intimacy of debut writer-director Ryan Coogler’s approach to the film and the no-frills, believably real quality of the main performances combine to drive the senselessness of Oscar’s killing home with visceral impact.
  48. A skillful, efficient film that involves us in the clever and deceptive game being played by Ramius and in the best efforts of those on both sides to figure out what he plans to do with his submarine - and how he plans to do it.
  49. While the overall tone of Moana is uplifting, the story makes room for some pretty deep insights.
  50. Watching this movie is like daydreaming.
  51. Labor Day is an admittedly strange hybrid. Rarely have I seen such outrageous plot points executed with such lovely grace.
  52. An ingenious thriller that comes billed as science fiction, although its science is preposterous.
  53. What's special about the film is at a deeper level, down where (Tykwer) engages with the souls of his characters.
  54. Folman is an Israeli documentarian who has not worked in animation. Now he uses it as the best way to reconstruct memories, fantasies, hallucinations, possibilities, past and present. This film would be nearly impossible to make any other way.
  55. All of the actors play without winks and spins, unless you consider Lebowskism itself a wink and spin.
  56. It creates original characters - Hudson and, especially, the little dynamo M. J. - and makes them more important than the plot. We care, and that's the key.
  57. It is filled with good-hearted fun, with performances by actors who seem to be smacking their lips and by a certain true innocence that survives all of Reiner's satire.
  58. The Spanish Prisoner resembles Alfred Hitchcock in the way that everything takes place in full view, on sunny beaches and in brightly lit rooms, with attractive people smilingly pulling the rug out from under the hero and revealing the abyss.
  59. Achieves something that is uncommonly difficult. It is a spiritual movie with the power to emotionally touch believers, agnostics and atheists -- in that descending order, I suspect.
  60. We suspect that the film will be about their various problems and that the hotel will not be as advertised. What we may not expect is what a charming, funny and heartwarming movie this is, a smoothly crafted entertainment that makes good use of seven superb veterans.
  61. The Weavers of 2003 did not sing as well as they did in 1982, or 1952, but if anything they had more heart, because more memories.
  62. This is one of the most shocking and one of the best movies of the year.
  63. Her
    Her works as a real romance, and as a commentary on the ways technology connects everyone to the world but also isolates us from legitimate, warm human contact.
  64. In The Wings of the Dove, there is a fascination in the way smart people try to figure one another out. The film is acted with great tenderness.
  65. I had to forget what I knew about Black. He creates this character out of thin air, it's like nothing he's done before, and it proves that an actor can be a miraculous thing in the right role.
  66. One of the pleasures of Get Shorty is watching the way the plot moves effortlessly from crime to the movies - not a long distance, since both industries are based on fear, greed, creativity and intimidation.
  67. To see this film's footage from the '70s is to see the beginning of much of pop and fashion iconography for the next two decades.
  68. This brutal, bloody, dark and at times gruesomely funny thriller isn’t some David Fincher-esque mood piece where all the clues come together at the end. It’s more like a modern-day, Georgia version of a spaghetti Western.
  69. A sympathetic, lay­­ered portrayal, rich with detail, that earns its more complex and resonant conclusion.
  70. This movie is more sophisticated and complicated than the Westerns of my childhood, and it is certainly better looking and better acted.
  71. The movie's only flaw is also a virtue: It's jammed with characters, stories, warmth and laughs, until at times Curtis seems to be working from a checklist of obligatory movie love situations and doesn't want to leave anything out.
  72. The movie, in fact, resembles Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" more than other, conventional time-travel movies.
  73. It’s impressive how well director Malcolm D. Lee (working from a script by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver) balances the serious material with the bawdy, freewheeling comedy pieces.
  74. Surviving Progress is a bright, entertaining (!), coherent argument in favor of these principles I have simplified so briefly. It's self-evident and tells the truth.
  75. Not a great movie, but as a classic heist movie, it's solid professionalism.
  76. This is one of the better musical biopics of the last 20 years.
  77. Like Father, Like Son is always wise about the quandary faced by the two fathers and the two mothers.
  78. David Klass, the screenwriter, gives Freeman and Judd more specific dialogue than is usual in thrillers; they sound as if they might actually be talking with each other and not simply advancing plot points.
  79. This is a Noah for the 21st century, one of the most dazzling and unforgettable biblical epics ever put on film.
  80. Thanks to Downey’s genius, Iron Man 3 is equally terrific, whether Tony’s fending off an army of villains or bantering with a kid in a shed on a cold, snowy night.
  81. Robert Redford has directed Quiz Show as entertainment, history, and challenge.
  82. The real star of the film is writer-director Jordan Peele, who has created a work that addresses the myriad levels of racism, pays homage to some great horror films, carves out its own creative path, has a distinctive visual style — and is flat-out funny as well.
  83. It's the film you need to see in order to understand why the ending of "As Good As It Gets" was phony.
  84. A visual poem of extraordinary beauty.
  85. Against all odds, the billion-dollar “Fast & Furious” franchise is actually picking up momentum, with “FF6” clocking in as the fastest, funniest and most outlandish chapter yet.
  86. This is the kind of movie routinely dismissed as too slow and quiet by those who don't know it is more exciting to listen than to hear.
  87. Dying Laughing is a movie about stand-up with no performance footage. It’s like a documentary about baseball with no game footage — but it’s great and it’s valuable and it’s wonderful, because we love seeing and hearing these all-time greats talk about what they do with such passion and candor.
  88. The strength of the picture, directed by Eastwood, is that it has three intersecting story arcs: The investigation, the health issues, and the relationship that builds, step by step.
  89. He's (Fukunaga) a director with a sure visual sense, here expressed in voluptuous visuals and ambitious art direction.
  90. Wiig manages to make Alice funny as hell, endearing, sad and sometimes a little frightening. There’s not an ounce of condescension or preciousness in the performance.
  91. What adds boundless energy to Walk the Line is the performance by Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash.
  92. This is a smart movie about complicated people in search of something approaching inner peace.
  93. On the basis of its scale, energy and magical events, this is the Hong Kong equivalent of a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster. But it transcends them with the stylization of the costumes, the panoply of the folklore, the richness of the setting, and the fact that none of the characters (allegedly) have superpowers.
  94. The characters have a weight and reality, as if Almodovar has finally taken pity on them--has seen that although their plights may seem ludicrous, they're real enough to hurt. These are people who stand outside conventional life and its rules, and yet affirm them.
  95. The Pillow Book, starring Vivian Wu, is a seductive and elegant story.
  96. As you listen to his uncanny narration of Tupac: Resurrection, which is stitched together from interviews, you realize you're not listening to the usual self-important vacancies from celebrity Q&As, but to spoken prose of a high order, in which analysis, memory and poetry come together seamlessly in sentences and paragraphs that sound as if they were written.
  97. Mamet's dialogue has a kind of logic, a cadence, that allows people to arrive in triumph at the ends of sentences we could not possibly have imagined. There is great energy in it. You can see the joy with which these actors get their teeth into these great lines.
  98. The movie gets the job done, and the actors show a lot of confidence in occupying that tricky middle ground between controlled satire and comic overkill. It's fun.
  99. Clouds of Sils Maria is an expertly filmed insider’s look at the film business, the trappings of fame and the unstoppable, sometimes bone-chilling march of time. It’s complex and wickedly funny and dark, and it features the best ensemble acting of any film I’ve seen so far this year.

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