Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 5,481 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 Turtles Can Fly
Lowest review score: 0 Fist Fight
Score distribution:
5481 movie reviews
  1. Brave dissenting Islamic filmmakers are risking their lives to tell the story of the persecution of women, and it is a story worth knowing, and mourning.
  2. This moving, Oscar-nominated documentary is an odyssey of a tragic observer.
  3. Basically what we have here is a drama, with comedy occasionally lifting the mood. The result is a surprising seriousness; this isn't the mindless romp with cute animals.
  4. Now we have an American film with the raw power of “City of God” or “Pixote,” a film that does something unexpected, and inspired, and brave.
  5. It's the kind of movie you know you can trust, and you give yourself over to affection for these characters who are so lovingly observed.
  6. The movie is funny, but it's more than funny, it's exhilarating.
  7. '71
    Frame by frame, ’71 is one of those intense war thrillers where you know it’s fiction, you know it’s not a documentary, and yet every performance and every conflict feels true to the history and the events of the time.
  8. Dispiriting as Blackfish is at times, it offers beautiful advocacy for orca freedom. Anecdotes and data indicate these mammals are highly sensitive and social. Treating them as we do for our entertainment and profit is unconscionable.
  9. This is a very promising first feature by Eggers and showcases some exceptional acting.
  10. Not the macabre horror story the title suggests, but a sweet and visually lovely tale of love lost.
  11. The movie suggests that humans benefitted little from Project Nim, and Nim himself not at all.
  12. If The Wind Rises falls a bit short in regard to historical drama, however, it’s still a Miyazaki movie, meaning he casts the same magically beautiful spell.
  13. I have seen love scenes in which naked bodies thrash in sweaty passion, but I have rarely seen them more passionate than in this movie, where everyone is wrapped in layers of Victorian repression.
  14. It's a real movie, full-blooded and smart, with qualities even for those who have no idea who Stan Lee is. It's a superhero movie for people who don't go to superhero movies, and for those who do, it's the one they've been yearning for.
  15. It is a new documentary of a past event, recapturing the electricity generated by Muhammad Ali in his prime.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    From front to back stage, 20 Feet From Stardom is a compelling look at the spirit of these giving artists as they navigated the rapid musical and social change of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
  16. There’s not a single false, “actor-y” note in Bening’s work. It is a master class in nuanced acting, and it is deserving of an Academy Award.
  17. I watched the film in a sort of reverie. The dancers seemed particularly absorbed. They had performed these dances many times before, but always with Pina Bausch present. Now they were on their own, in homage.
  18. McQueen is great in Bullitt, and the movie is great, because director Peter Yates understands the McQueen image and works within it. He winds up with about the best action movie of recent years.
  19. The way Hugo deals with Melies is enchanting in itself, but the film's first half is devoted to the escapades of its young hero. In the way the film uses CGI and other techniques to create the train station and the city, the movie is breathtaking.
  20. Even as Greengrass’ signature kinetic style renders us nearly seasick and emotionally spent from the action, it’s the work of Tom Hanks that makes this film unforgettable.
  21. 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.
  22. It is to Lelio’s credit that he steers clear of stereotypes and lets the story unfold organically without judgment or sentimentality. There is an unflinching honesty and intelligence here.
  23. In its warmth and in its enchantment, as well as in its laughs, this is the best comedy in a long time.
  24. The details of the film and of the performances are meticulously realized; there is a reward in seeing artists working so well. But the story has no entry or exit, and is cold, sad and hopeless. Afterward, I feel more admiration than gratitude.
  25. this is a very good movie. Woody Allen is ... Woody, sublimely. Diane Keaton gives us a fresh and nicely edged New York intellectual. And Mariel Hemingway deserves some kind of special award for what's in some ways the most difficult role in the film.
  26. A documentary that is beyond strange, follows two arch-enemies in their grim, long-term rivalry, which involves way more time than any human lifetime should devote to Donkey Kong.
  27. The movie finds the right tone to present its bittersweet wisdom. It's relaxed. It's content to observe and listen.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    The remarkable if unorthodox life and art of the classically trained pianist Seymour Bernstein is explored with acute feeling and quiet tenderness in Ethan Hawke’s terrific biographical portrait, Seymour: An Introduction.
  28. It is a mystery, this business of life. I can't think of any under cinematic undertaking that allows us to realize that more deeply.
  29. Up in the Air takes the trust people once had in their jobs and pulls out the rug. It is a film for this time.
  30. A movie made with charm and wit, and unlike some family movies it does not condescend, not for a second.
  31. Duvall's screenplay does what great screenwriting is supposed to do, and surprises us with additional observations and revelations in every scene.
  32. Put the two parts together, and Tarantino has made a masterful saga that celebrates the martial arts genre while kidding it, loving it, and transcending it.
  33. The strength of Leigh's film is that it is not a message picture, but a deep and true portrait of these lives.
  34. A perplexing and disturbing film of great effect.
  35. 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.
  36. In Gabe Polsky’s Red Army, the Iron Curtain surrounding the Soviet dynasty is pulled back to reveal an immensely effective but dehumanizing machine in which hockey served as an important propaganda tool, resulting in some of the most impressive teams ever to take the ice.
  37. Is something being hidden? No. It's more that something doesn't want to be known.
  38. This is a movie to surrender yourself to. If you require logic, see something else. Mulholland Drive works directly on the emotions, like music.
  39. A harrowing look at institutional cruelty, perpetrated by the Catholic Church in Ireland, and justified by a perverted hysteria about sex.
  40. A documentary with no pretense of objectivity. Here is Mike Tyson's story in his own words, and it is surprisingly persuasive.
  41. 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.
  42. Although The White Diamond is entire of itself, it earns its place among the other treasures and curiosities in Herzog's work. Here is one of the most inquisitive filmmakers alive, a man who will go to incredible lengths to film people living at the extremes.
  43. The documentary shows outrageous behavior, none more so than when they and many others are directed to a nearby Navy base for refuge.
  44. The mood is somber, ominous and increasingly suspenseful throughout (despite an awkwardly handled final showdown), goosed along by an intense John Carpenter-esque electronic music score.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    It’s a movie that fleshes out the people who entertain us, not with bemusement like a Christopher Guest mockumentary, but with compassion.
  45. Helena Bonham Carter may be Burton's inamorata, but apart from that, she is perfectly cast, not as a vulgar fishwife type but as a petite beauty with dark, sad eyes and a pouting mouth and a persistent fantasy that she and the barber will someday settle by the seaside. Not bloody likely.
  46. Marjorie Prime sounds like the title of a British miniseries, but is in fact one of the strangest, most disturbing and most thought-provoking films of 2017.
  47. Alexander Payne is a director whose satire is omnidirectional. He doesn't choose an easy target and march on it. He stands in the middle of his story and attacks on all directions.
  48. Thanks to a charismatic, natural performance from star-in-the-making Michael B. Jordan, a script from writer-director Ryan Coogler that expertly navigates paying tribute to the franchise while creating an effective stand-alone film and fine work from Stallone...Creed is a terrific addition to the “Rocky” canon.
  49. One of the qualities of Monsieur Lazhar is that it has no simple questions and simple answers. Its purpose is to present us with a situation, explore the people involved and show us a man who is dealing with his own deep hurts.
  50. Watching this movie is like daydreaming.
  51. The latest and one of the most harrowing films set along the religious divides in Israel.
  52. Is the film watchable? Yes, compulsively.
  53. Even when it's baffling, it's never boring. I've heard of airtight plots. This one is not merely airtight, but hermetically sealed.
  54. However much it conceals the real-life events that inspired it, it lives and breathes on its own, and as an extension of the mysterious whimsy of Tati.
  55. The film most of all is about Hester, who stares out the window and smokes.
  56. It’s a brilliant slice of life.
  57. This is not a political documentary. It is a crime story. No matter what your politics, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room will make you mad.
  58. What a magical movie.
  59. You would imagine a film like this would be greeted with rapture in France, but no. The leading French film magazine, "Cahiers du Cinema," has long scorned the filmmakers of this older generation as makers of mere "quality," and interprets Tavernier's work as an attack on the New Wave generation which replaced them.
  60. Cage and Shue make these cliches into unforgettable people.
  61. The Mexican drug cartels have inspired countless films, but never one as final as Natalia Almada's documentary El Velador.
  62. Serkis is brilliant and memorable and sometimes absolutely heartbreaking as Caesar. The supporting players excel, with each getting a moment or two in the sun.
  63. An astonishing film.
  64. Like "City of God," it feels organically rooted. Like many Le Carre stories, it begins with grief and proceeds with sadness toward horror. Its closing scenes are as cynical about international politics and commerce as I can imagine. I would like to believe they are an exaggeration, but I fear they are not. This is one of the year's best films.
  65. It’s one of the best movies of the year and one of the truest portrayals I’ve ever seen about troubled teens and the people who dedicate their lives to trying to help them.
  66. Ron Howard's Parenthood is a delicate balancing act between comedy and truth, a movie that contains a lot of laughter and yet is more concerned with character than punch lines.
  67. Algenis Perez Soto plays the character so openly, so naturally, that an interesting thing happens: Baseball is only the backdrop, not the subject. This is a wonderful film.
  68. The high-tech stuff is flawlessly done, but the intriguing elements of the movie involve the performances.
  69. For about an hour, The Lobster is pure absurdist greatness, brimming with pitch-black shock humor and big, wild ideas. The second half of the film isn’t nearly as imaginative and startling, but I walked out of the screening with the surefire knowledge I wouldn’t soon shake off its most inspired sequences.
  70. The movie is well cast from top to bottom; like many British films, it benefits from the genius of its supporting players.
  71. Was and is a brilliant horror film, one with an archetypal ability to reach and disturb us. If I were showing The Exorcist to a friend, I would show the 1973 version without the slightest hesitation.
  72. Jacques Perrin's Oscar-nominated Winged Migration does for birds what the 1996 documentary "Microcosmos" did for insects: It looks at them intimately, very close up, in shots that seem impossible to explain.
  73. All I know is, it is better to be the whale than the squid. Whales inspire major novels.
  74. If quirky, independent, grown-up outsider filmmakers set out to make a family movie, this is the kind of movie they would make. And they did.
  75. The movie deals with narrative housekeeping. Perhaps the next one will engage these characters in a more challenging and devious story, one more about testing their personalities than re-establishing them. In the meantime, you want space opera, you got it.
  76. It has been said that all modern Russian literature came out of Gogol’s “Overcoat.” In the same way, all of us came out of the overcoat of this same immigrant experience.
  77. Filled with witty dialogue and natural performances, Frances Ha marks a return to form for Baumbach.
  78. The movie, based on the famous comic novel by Stella Gibbons, is dour, eccentric and very funny, and depends on the British gift for treating madness as good common sense.
  79. Sands' death is shown in a tableaux of increasing bleakness. It is agonizing, yet filmed with a curious painterly purity.
  80. What a courageous first feature this is, a film that sidesteps shopworn stereotypes and tells a quiet, firm, deeply humanist story about doing the right thing. It is a film that avoids any message or statement and simply shows us, with infinite sympathy, how the life of a completely original character can help us lead our own.
  81. "How many bands stay together for 30 years?" asks Slash of Guns N' Roses, in a backstage interview. "You've got the Stones, the Who, U2 -- and Anvil." Yeah. And Anvil.
  82. This is a great deal more entertaining than it sounds, in large part because the two actors are gifted mimics - Brydon the better one, although Coogan doesn't think so.
  83. Is Prisoner of Azkaban as good as the first two films? Not quite. It doesn't have that sense of joyously leaping through a clockwork plot, and it needs to explain more than it should. But the world of Harry Potter remains delightful, amusing and sophisticated.
    • 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
  84. 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.
  85. 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.
  86. Here is the best American movie of the year so far.
  87. 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.
  88. For me, it is too clever by half, creating full-bodied characters but inserting them into a story that is thin soup.
  89. It's a tribute to The Celebration that the style and the story don't stumble over each other. The script is well planned, the actors are skilled at deploying their emotions, and the long day's journey into night is fraught with wounds that the farcical elements only help to keep open.
  90. 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.
  91. 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.
  92. 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.
  93. As can be said of most Apple products, it’s a wonder to behold — despite a few irritating glitches.
  94. Marley, an ambitious and comprehensive film, does what is probably the best possible job of documenting an important life.
  95. The film is visually masterful. It's in black and white, of course.
  96. Some kind of weird of the best movies of the year.

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