Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 4,580 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 75% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 23% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 9.5 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 W.
Lowest review score: 0 Dirty Love
Score distribution:
4,580 movie reviews
  1. It is a luxury to be enveloped in a good film.
  2. A powerful but quiet film, constructed of hidden thoughts and secret desires.
  3. There is mostly sadness and regret at the surface in 4 Little Girls, but there is anger in the depths, as there should be.
  4. Forget about the plot, the characters, the intrigue, which are all splendid in House of Flying Daggers, and focus just on the visuals.
  5. Like all good directors who make films about their own obsessions, Petri transmits an obsessive feeling in the film itself. "Investigation of a Citizen" is stylistically disconnected, but it works because it is absolutely fascinated with the nature of the inspector.
  6. Man on Wire is about the vanquishing of the towers by bravery and joy, not by terrorism.
  7. Painful family issues are more likely to stay beneath the surface, known to everyone but not spoken of. Still Walking, a magnificent new film from Japan, is very wise about that, and very true.
  8. Very nice. I like Borat very much. I think it is, as everybody has been saying, the funniest movie in years.
  9. Who is Charles Ferguson, director of this film? A one-time senior fellow of the Brookings Institute, software millionaire, originally a supporter of the war, visiting professor at MIT and Berkeley, he was trustworthy enough to inspire confidences from former top officials.
  10. Wherever you live, when this film opens, it will be the best film in town.
  11. Starting with Mick Jagger, rock concerts have become, for the performers, as much sporting events as musical and theatrical performances. Stop Making Sense understands that with great exuberance.
  12. Ida
    Ida reaches spiritual depth through affecting performances rendered in sublime black-and-white compositions.
  13. Lee doesn't make exploitation films, and he doesn't find conventional answers. He is puzzled by the mysteries of inexplicable behavior.
  14. 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.
  15. It is one of those rare movies that is not just about a story, or some characters, but about a whole universe of feeling.
  16. No finer film has ever been made about organized crime - not even "The Godfather."
  17. Despite jumping through the deliberately disorienting hoops of its story, Eternal Sunshine has an emotional center, and that's what makes it work.
  18. Fantastically powerful despite its flaws. (Review of Original Release)
  19. Once is the kind of film I've been pestered about ever since I started reviewing again. People couldn't quite describe it, but they said I had to see it. I had to. Well, I did. They were right.
  20. The music probably sounds fine on a CD. Certainly it is well-rehearsed. But the overall sense of the film is of good riddance to a bad time.
  21. I wanted to hug this movie. It takes such a risky journey and never steps wrong. It creates specific, original, believable, lovable characters, and meanders with them through their inconsolable days, never losing its sense of humor.
  22. Perhaps it is not supposed to be clear; perhaps the movie's air of confusion is part of its paranoid vision. There are individual moments that create sharp images (shock troops drilling through a ceiling, De Niro wrestling with the almost obscene wiring and tubing inside a wall, the movie's obsession with bizarre duct work), but there seems to be no sure hand at the controls.
  23. One of those movies where "after that summer, nothing would ever be the same again." Yes, but it redefines "nothing."
  24. Philip Seymour Hoffman's precise, uncanny performance as Capote doesn't imitate the author so much as channel him, as a man whose peculiarities mask great intelligence and deep wounds.
  25. I swear to you that if you live in a place where this film is playing, it is the best film in town.
  26. 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)
  27. This saga of romance works with an unromantic style.
  28. 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.
  29. I admire the closing scenes of the film, which seem to ask whether our civilization offers a cure for Vincent's complaint.
  30. The acting and the best dialogue passages have an impact that has not dimmed; it is still possible to feel the power of the film and of Brando and Kazan, who changed American movie acting forever.
  31. Anyone who could read Munro’s original story and think they could make a film of it, and then make a great film, deserves a certain awe.
  32. One of the most fascinating aspects of Inside Job involves the chatty on-camera insights of Kristin Davis, a Wall Street madam, who says the Street operated in a climate of abundant sex and cocaine for valued clients and the traders themselves.
  33. A rousing adventure, a skillful marriage of special effects and computer animation, and it contains sequences of breathtaking beauty. It also gives us, in a character named the Gollum, one of the most engaging and convincing CGI creatures I've seen.
  34. Not only funny and wicked, clever and visually inventive, but . . . kind and sweet. Tender and touching.
  35. It looks fabulous, it uses special effects to create a new world of its own, but it is thin in its human story.
  36. The director's cut adds footage that enriches and extends the material but doesn't alter its tone. It adds footnotes that count down to a deadline, but without explaining the nature of the deadline or the usefulness of the countdown.
  37. What we have here is a superior historical drama and a powerful personal one.
  38. Up
    This is another masterwork from Pixar, which is leading the charge in modern animation.
  39. A tense, taut and expert thriller that becomes something more than that, an allegory about an innocent man in a world prepared to crush him.
  40. Robert Redford has directed Quiz Show as entertainment, history, and challenge.
  41. It’s quintessential Anderson... but also an unabashed entertainment. And that’s something to see.
  42. 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.
  43. It's not dated. It is powerful, genuinely shocking and rather amazing.
  44. This isn't a made-for-video that they decided to put into theaters, but a version intended from the first to be theatrical. That's important, because it means more detail and complexity went into the animation.
  45. There are moments in Yagira's performance that will break your heart.
  46. 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.
  47. Here is a film where God does not intervene and the directors do not mistake themselves for God. It makes the solutions at the ends of other pictures seem like child's play.
  48. Director Gillian Armstrong finds the serious themes and refuses to simplify the story into a "family" formula. "
  49. I was carried along by the wit, the energy and a surprising sweetness.
  50. The Missing Picture is a wrenching yet tender memoir by Rithy Panh about life and death in the time of Pol Pot.
  51. Gomorrah looks grimy and sullen, and has no heroes, only victims. That is its power.
  52. It brings the fantastic into our everyday lives; it delights in showing us the reaction of the man on the street to Superman's latest stunt.
  53. Level Five (1996) is a poetic if occasionally opaque film essay on the 1945 Battle of Okinawa.
  54. The splendid cast embodies the characters so fully that the events actually seem to be happening to them, instead of unfolding from a screenplay.
  55. Far more than just a tribute to the career of the world’s most famous and influential film critic, the often revelatory Life Itself is also a remarkably intimate portrait of a life well lived — right up to the very last moment.
  56. Wallace and Gromit are arguably the two most delightful characters in the history of animation.
  57. Shoot this film in black and white and cast Barbara Stanwyck as Elena, and you'd have a 1940s classic.
  58. It’s an expertly paced thriller that never misses a note.
  59. The music is brilliant, Chazelle’s writing and directing are something to behold, Teller is really good — and Simmons delivers one of the most memorable performances of the year.
  60. The movie has the freshness and urgency of life actually happening.
  61. McNamara speaks concisely and forcibly, rarely searching for a word, and he is not reciting boilerplate and old sound bites; there is the uncanny sensation that he is thinking as he speaks.
  62. This movie gets you coming and going.
  63. If you are open, even in fancy, to the idea of ghosts who visit the living, this film is likely to be a curious but rather bemusing experience.
  64. Brokeback Mountain has been described as "a gay cowboy movie," which is a cruel simplification. It is the story of a time and place where two men are forced to deny the only great passion either one will ever feel. Their tragedy is universal.
  65. The most mysterious character in The Kid With a Bike is not the kid, who after all, has a story it's fairly easy to understand. It is the hairdresser, played by Cecille De France with her sad beauty. This actress carries lifetimes in her eyes.
  66. This movie is impressively staged, the dialogue is given proper weight and not hurried through, there are surprises which, in hindsight, seem fair enough, and "Harry Potter" now possesses an end that befits the most profitable series in movie history.
  67. It is a remarkable film, immediate, urgent, angry, poetic and stubbornly hopeful.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. The documentary is an uncommon meeting between Treadwell's loony idealism, and Herzog's bleak worldview.
  71. 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.
  72. The kind of movie you can see twice--first for the questions, the second time for the answers.
  73. 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.
  74. 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.
  75. The film is terrifically entertaining, an ambitious big-budget epic, directed with great visuals and sound by Takeshi Miike.
  76. The film is a glorious experience to witness, not least because, knowing the technique and understanding how much depends on every moment, we almost hold our breath.
  77. Rarely has a film attended more carefully to the details of politics.
  78. It has more intelligence than heart, and is more clever than enlightening. But it is never boring, and there are moments when it reminds us of how sexy the movies used to be, back in the days when speech was an erogenous zone.
  79. As he is played by Gene Hackman in The Conversation, an expert wiretapper named Harry Caul is one of the most affecting and tragic characters in the movies.
  80. Despite our narrow angle on Nepal, Manakamana peers into lives at close range.
  81. 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.
  82. This is a breathless, exciting story, heartbreaking and exhilarating at the same time.
  83. Kidman is superb at making Suzanne into someone who is not only stupid, vain and egomaniacal (we've seen that before) but also vulnerably human.
  84. That such intelligence could be contained in a movie that is simultaneously so funny and so entertaining is some kind of a miracle.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. Seems torn between conflicting possibilities: It's structured like a comedy, but there are undertones of darker themes, and I almost wish they'd allowed the plot to lead them into those shadows.
  88. A masterpiece, pure and simple, deep and true...The best film of the year.
  89. Moore and Bening are superb actors here, evoking a marriage of more than 20 years, and all of its shadings and secrets, idealism and compromise.
  90. One of the best films of the year.
  91. The secret may be that Cronenberg approaches his trashy material with the objectivity of a scientist; it is his detached, cold style that makes the material creepy instead of simply sensational.
  92. Spellbinding.
  93. 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.
  94. Someday it was inevitable that a great film would come along, utilizing the motorcycle genre, the same way the great Westerns suddenly made everyone realize they were a legitimate American art form, Easy Rider is the picture.
  95. 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.
  96. There are a few movies where you can palpably sense the presence of the director behind the camera, and I'm Going Home is one of them.
  97. 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.
  98. Ten
    The shame is that more accessible Iranian directors are being neglected in the overpraise of Kiarostami.
  99. [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.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Petzold is a master at creating the kind of tension that can be felt on a subterranean level, a sort of acute uneasiness that can't be easily diagnosed, fixed, or even acknowledged by the characters. This is well-trod ground for Petzold, but never has it been so fully realized, so palpable, as in Barbara.

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