Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 4,612 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 9.4 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 United 93
Lowest review score: 0 Chaos
Score distribution:
4,612 movie reviews
  1. What a magical movie.
  2. 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.
  3. Against the overarching facts of his personal magnetism and the blind loyalty of his lieutenants, the movie observes the workings of the world within the bunker. All power flowed from Hitler. He was evil, mad, ill, but long after Hitler's war was lost he continued to wage it in fantasy.
  4. Here is the best American movie of the year so far.
  5. The young actors are powerful in draining roles. We care for them more than they care for themselves. Alfredson's palette is so drained of warm colors that even fresh blood is black.
  6. For me, it is too clever by half, creating full-bodied characters but inserting them into a story that is thin soup.
  7. This movie does not describe the America I learned about in civics class, or think of when I pledge allegiance to the flag. Yet I know I will get the usual e-mails accusing me of partisanship, bias, only telling one side, etc. What is the other side? See this movie, and you tell me.
  8. Perhaps I have made the movie sound too serious... So let me just say that Down and Out in Beverly Hills made me laugh longer and louder than any film I've seen in a long time.
  9. It's one of the smartest and most merciless comedies to come along in a while. It centers on an area of fairly narrow interest, but in its study of human nature, it is deep and takes no prisoners.
  10. Marley, an ambitious and comprehensive film, does what is probably the best possible job of documenting an important life.
  11. The film is visually masterful. It's in black and white, of course.
  12. Some kind of weird masterpiece...one of the best movies of the year.
  13. The most harrowing movie about mountain climbing I have seen, or can imagine.
  14. 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.
  15. A friend asked: "Wouldn't you love to attend a wedding like that?" In a way, I felt I had. Yes, I began to feel absorbed in the experience. A few movies can do that, can slip you out of your mind and into theirs.
  16. This movie is as lovable as a silent comedy, which it could have been.
  17. This isn't a coming-of-age movie so much as a movie about being of an age.
  18. 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.
  19. Not a simpleminded movie in which merely being ABLE to read lips saves the day. In this brilliant sequence, she reads his lips and that ALLOWS them to set into motion a risky chain of events based on the odds that the bad guys will respond predictably.
  20. The movie, written and directed by Lukas Moodysson, has the directness and clarity of a documentary, but allows itself touches of tenderness and grief.
  21. It is a Kafkaesque story, in which ominous things follow one another with a certain internal logic but make no sense at all.
  22. "Batman" isn't a comic book anymore. Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight is a haunted film that leaps beyond its origins and becomes an engrossing tragedy. It creates characters we come to care about. That's because of the performances, because of the direction, because of the writing, and because of the superlative technical quality of the entire production.
  23. I got a little lost while watching Mysteries of Lisbon and enjoyed the experience. It's a lavish, elegant, operatic, preposterous 19th century melodrama, with characters who change names and seemingly identities, and if you could pass a quiz on its stories within stories, you have my admiration.
  24. Sometimes two performances come along that are so perfectly matched that no overt signals are needed to show how the characters feel about each other. That's what happens between Melissa Leo and Misty Upham in Frozen River.
  25. 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."
  26. The most important sequence in Late Marriage is a refreshingly frank sex scene involving Zaza and Judith. -- Watching this scene, we realize that most sex scenes in the movies play like auditions.
  27. I have seen Waking Life three times now. I want to see it again -- not to master it, or even to remember it better, -- but simply to experience all of these ideas, all of this passion, the very act of trying to figure things out.
  28. Grips the attention and is exciting and involving. I recommend it on that basis--and also because of the new information it contains.
  29. Seibei's story is told by director Yoji Yamada in muted tones and colors, beautifully re-creating a feudal village that still retains its architecture, its customs, its ancient values, even as the economy is making its way of life obsolete.
  30. The movie is vulgar, raunchy, ribald, and occasionally scatological. It is also the funniest comedy since Mel Brooks made "The Producers."
  31. It is a full-bodied silent film of the sort that might have been made by the greatest directors of the 1920s, if such details as the kinky sadomasochism of this film's evil stepmother could have been slipped past the censors.
  32. The movie is a dazzling song and dance extravaganza, with just enough words to support the music and allow everyone to catch their breath between songs.
  33. Nuri Bilge Ceylan, one of Turkey's best directors, has a deep understanding of human nature. He loves his characters and empathizes with them. They deserve better than to be shuttled around in a facile plot. They deserve empathy. So do we all.
  34. I was fascinated by the face of Emmanuelle Devos, and her face is specifically why I recommend the movie.
  35. 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.
  36. One of the year's best films for a lot of reasons, including its ability to involve the audience almost breathlessly in a story of mounting tragedy.
  37. Isabelle Huppert has the best poker face since Buster Keaton. She faces the camera with detached regard, inviting us to imagine what she is thinking.
  38. The actors and the characters merge and form a reality above and apart from the story, and the result is a film that takes us beyond crime and London and the Russian mafia and into the mystifying realms of human nature.
  39. Like Malick's "Days of Heaven," it is not about plot, but about memory and regret. It remembers a summer that was not a happy summer, but there will never again be a summer so intensely felt, so alive, so valuable.
  40. At Berkeley earns credit for documenting a distinctly articulate community.
  41. A remarkable documentary by two Irish filmmakers that is playing in theaters on its way to HBO. It is remarkable because the filmmakers, Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain, had access to virtually everything that happened within the palace during the entire episode.
  42. Seems deceptively straightforward, coming from a director with Cronenberg's quirky complexity. But think again. This is not a movie about plot, but about character.
  43. This is a movie to surrender yourself to. If you require logic, see something else. Mulholland Drive works directly on the emotions, like music.
  44. The edge is missing from Guest's usual style. Maybe it's because his targets are, after all, so harmless.
  45. Avoids all sports movie cliches, even the obligatory ending where the team comes from behind.
  46. A complex, deeply knowledgeable story about a truly lost soul and her downward spiral.
  47. A fresh, quirky, unusually intelligent comedy.
  48. Al-Mansour has managed to embue Wadjda with a hopeful spirit, partially because she takes time to show women finding ways to be themselves in private moments. And partially because she suggests with a few subtle touches that the situation might be slowly improving.
  49. Juan Jose Campanella is the writer-director, and here is a man who creates a complete, engrossing, lovingly crafted film. He is filled with his stories. The Secret in Their Eyes is a rebuke to formula screenplays. We grow to know the characters, and the story pays due respect to their complexities and needs.
  50. Derek Cianfrance, the film's writer and director, observes with great exactitude the birth and decay of a relationship. This film is alive in its details.
  51. Forms a community that eventually envelops us.
  52. Like the work of David Lean, it achieves the epic without losing sight of the human, and to see it is to be reminded of the way great action movies can rouse and exhilarate us, can affirm life instead of simply dramatizing its destruction.
  53. The movie has a wide appeal, with a gap in the middle. I think it will appeal to children young enough to be untutored in boredom, and to anyone old enough to be drawn in, or to appreciate the artistry.
  54. With access to remarkable archival footage, old TV shows, home movies and the family photo album, Brown weaves together the story of the Seegers with testimony by admirers who represent his influence and legacy.
  55. Now Wajda has brought some small measure of rest to their names, to Poland, and to history.
  56. Part of the greatness of this film is that it not only avoids any simple answers, but it also takes us into the awkward contradictions and internal dishonesties that help us look at the mirror each day.
  57. In writer-director Steven Knight’s mesmerizing jewel of film titled Locke, Tom Hardy is so brilliant we readily watch him drive a car and talk on the hands-free phone for virtually the entirety of the film — and it’s one of the more effortlessly intense and fascinating performances I’ve seen any actor give in recent memory.
  58. This is a beautiful, puzzling film. The enigmatic quality of Huppert's performance draws us in.
  59. Yes, this is a comedy, but it's also sad, and finally it's simply a story about trying to figure out what you love to do and then trying to figure out how to do it.
  60. Rohmer elegantly seduces us with people who have all of the alarming unpredictability of life.
  61. 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.
  62. What Campion does is seek visual beauty to match Keats' verbal beauty. There is a shot here of Fanny in a meadow of blue flowers that is so enthralling it beggars description.
  63. This is a smart, sensitive, perceptive film, with actors well suited to the dialogue. It underlines the difficulty of making connections outside our individual boxes of time and space.
  64. The film proceeds like a black comedy version of "The Godfather," crossed with Oliver Stone’s "Nixon."
  65. Arnold deserves comparison with a British master director like Ken Loach.
  66. This is the kind of movie that cults are made of, and after Little Shop finishes its first run, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it develop into a successor to "Rocky Horror Show," as one of those movies that fans want to include in their lives.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    No
    The film becomes a sort of boxing match, getting more intense with each round, building to an exciting finish.
  67. What a sad film this, and how filled with the mystery of human life.
  68. Its surprisingly effective key scene involves an argument with his captain over the dictionary definitions of the words "conscience" and "justice." This may not sound exciting, but it was welcome after legions of cop movies in which such arguments are orchestrated with the f-word.
  69. What Tarantino has is an appreciation for gut-level exploitation film appeal, combined with an artist's desire to transform that gut element with something higher, better, more daring. His films challenge taboos in our society in the most direct possible way, and at the same time add an element of parody or satire.
  70. Skyfall triumphantly reinvents 007 in one of the best Bonds ever. This is a full-blooded, joyous, intelligent celebration of a beloved cultural icon, with Daniel Craig taking full possession of a role he previously played unconvincingly. I don't know what I expected in Bond No. 23, but certainly not an experience this invigorating.
  71. It is not a film for most people. It is certainly for adults only. But it shows Todd Solondz as a filmmaker who deserves attention, who hears the unhappiness in the air and seeks its sources.
  72. For a movie audience, The Hours doesn't connect in a neat way, but introduces characters who illuminate mysteries of sex, duty and love.
  73. It’s funny as hell, sometimes too self-consciously “indie” — but it leaves us with a final shot as perfect as anything I’ve seen to close a movie in quite some time.
  74. This is Rourke doing astonishing physical acting.
  75. What is remarkable is how realistic the story is.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    A slice-of-life film like you have not seen. It is the story of people in a small ordinary town, knowing nothing but their ordinary affairs, revealing their sins and crimes with an ordinary negligence.
  76. 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    A romance, a thriller, and a science-fiction drama, Upstream Color tantalizes viewers with an open-ended narrative about overcoming personal loss.
  77. The film is more violent, less cute than the others, but the action is not the mindless destruction of a video game; it has purpose, shape and style.
  78. In its closing scenes, Hell and Back Again builds to an emotional and stylistic power that we didn't see coming.
  79. Just plain fun. Or maybe not so plain. There's a lot of craft and slyness lurking beneath the circa-1960s goofiness.
  80. If you are squeamish, here is the film to make you squeam.
  81. The beauty of the film is in its quietness.
  82. 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.
  83. Has the sort of headlong confidence the genre requires. Russell finds the strong central line all screwball begins with, the seemingly serious mission or quest, and then throws darts at a map of the United States as he creates his characters.
  84. A magnificent entertainment. It is like the flowering of all the possibilities in the original classic film.
  85. The movie has an emotional payoff I failed to anticipate. It expresses hope in human nature. It is one of the year's best films.
  86. Bonnie and Clyde is a milestone in the history of American movies, a work of truth and brilliance. It is also pitilessly cruel, filled with sympathy, nauseating, funny, heartbreaking, and astonishingly beautiful.
  87. This movie is NEW from the get-go. It could be your first Bond. In fact, it was the first Bond; it was Ian Fleming's first 007 novel, and he was still discovering who the character was.
  88. Owen Wilson is a key to the movie's appeal. He makes Gil so sincere, so enthusiastic.
  89. The success of Crimson Gold depends to an intriguing degree on the performance of its leading actor, a large, phlegmatic man.
  90. A joyous movie.
  91. The cast is amazing, from the great duo of Frost and Pegg to the supporting players, many of whom are better known for taking on heavy dramatic fare. The editing, special effects and set design — a joy to experience.
  92. Despite its creativity, the movie remains space opera and avoids the higher realms of science-fiction.
  93. The movie is long and slow. Either you will fall into its rhythm, or you will grow restless.
  94. Pedro Almodovar's new movie is like an ingenious toy that is a joy to behold, until you take it apart to see what makes it work, and then it never works again.
  95. There’s joy in watching a movie like You, the Living. It is flawless in what it does, and we have no idea what that is. It’s in sympathy with its characters. It shares their sorrow, and yet is amused that each thinks his suffering is unique.
  96. 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.
  97. It is a touching story, and the musicians (some over 90 years old) still have fire and grace onstage, but, man, does the style of this documentary get in the way.

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