Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 5,169 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 Blood Simple
Lowest review score: 0 Police Academy
Score distribution:
5169 movie reviews
  1. Rarely have two actors been so effective playing the same character while taking totally different approaches.
  2. 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.
  3. This is a film by the Coen Brothers, and this is the first straight genre exercise in their career. It's a loving one. Their craftsmanship is a wonder. Their casting is always inspired and exact. The cinematography by Roger Deakins reminds us of the glory that was, and can still be, the Western.
  4. 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.
  5. This movie is remarkable in that it seems to be interested only in facts.
  6. The brothers Maeda are pure gold; the film captures what feels like effortless joy in their lives, and it is never something they seem to be reaching for.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Maysles gets to the heart of what is important to Apfel: truth, in a world in which it’s in increasingly short supply.
  7. The film uses a slice-of-life approach to create a docudrama of chilling horror.
  8. By the end of the movie, we have been through an emotional and a sensual wringer, in a film of great wisdom and delight.
  9. A Room with a View enjoys its storytelling so much that I enjoyed the very process of it. The story moved slowly, it seemed, for the same reason you try to make ice cream last: because it's so good.
  10. As we watch them drilling with flashcards and worksheets, we hope they will win, but we're not sure what good it will do them.
  11. The final scene of the film contains an appearance and a revelation of astonishing emotional power; not since the last shots of "Schindler's List" have I been so overcome with the realization that real people, in recent historical times, had to undergo such inhumanity.
  12. It is told from and by an adult sensibility that understands loneliness, gratitude and the intense curiosity we feel for other lives, man and beast.
  13. Good fun, especially if you like Leone's way of savoring the last morsel of every scene. (Review of Original Release)
  14. The movie's success rests largely on the shoulders of Fernanda Montenegro, an actress who successfully defeats any temptation to allow sentimentality to wreck her relationship with the child.
  15. The genius of the movie is the way is sidesteps all of the obvious cliches of the underlying story and makes itself fresh, observant, tough and genuinely moving.
  16. Here is a film of great beauty and attention, and watching it is a form of meditation. Sometimes films take a great stride outside the narrow space of narrative tradition and present us with things to think about. Here mostly what I thought was, why must man sometimes be so cruel?
  17. While the movie contains delights and inventions without pause and has undeniable charm, while it is always wonderful to watch, while it has the Miyazaki visual wonderment, it's a disappointment, compared to his recent work.
  18. The movie is funny, sassy and intelligent in that moronic Simpsons' way.
  19. The movie gets a little confused toward the end, I think, as its writer and director, Lea Pool, tries to settle things that could have been left unresolved.
  20. Riding Giants is about altogether another reality. The overarching fact about these surfers is the degree of their obsession.
  21. The little boy here, a stick-figured, button-headed, wide-eyed tot with a signature red-and-white striped shirt, is one of the most distinctive and adorable animated characters you’ll ever come across, and his introduction to “the world out there” is a moving revelation indeed.
  22. Trouble is, the Room 237 conspirators — er, contributors — don't seem to realize that those meanings are either not hidden, not meanings or not remotely supported by the secret evidence they think they've uncovered.
  23. Watching this film I reflected that there are only so many Cracker Jacks you can eat before you decide to hell with the toy.
  24. The Band’s Visit has not provided any of the narrative payoffs we might have expected, but has provided something more valuable: An interlude involving two “enemies,” Arabs and Israelis, that shows them both as only ordinary people with ordinary hopes, lives and disappointments. It has also shown us two souls with rare beauty.
  25. This is a gloomy film with weird characters doing nasty things. I've heard of eating chocolate-covered insects, but not when they're alive.
  26. 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.
  27. No, it doesn't turn into another horror film or a murder-suicide. It simply shows how lives torn apart by financial emergencies can be revealed as being damaged all along.
  28. Because their work is so varied, the director Winterbottom and Boyce, his frequent writer, are only now coming into focus as perhaps the most creative team in British film.
  29. The other key character is McCarthy himself, and Clooney uses a masterstroke: He employs actual news footage of McCarthy, who therefore plays himself.
  30. This is a movie that strains at the leash of the possible, a movie of great visionary wonders.
  31. Renier’s performance is the best thing in the movie, although all the actors, cast partly for their faces, are part of creating this desperate world.
  32. If the film is perhaps a little slow in its middle passages, maybe that is part of the idea, too, to give us a sense of the leaden passage of time, before the glory of the final redemption.
  33. A diabolical and absorbing experience.
  34. We think of first love as sweet and valuable, a blessed if hazardous condition. This film, deeper than it seems, dares to suggest that beyond a certain point, it can represent a tragedy.
  35. Leigh's Another Year is like a long, purifying soak in empathy.
  36. 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.
  37. Murmelstein answers his accusers in The Last of the Unjust. Over a compelling three hours and 38 minutes.
  38. Do we need a fourth film? Yes, I think we do. If you only see one of them, this is the one to choose, because it has the benefit of hindsight.
  39. I like the way Last Resort ends, how it concludes its emotional journey without pretending the underlying story is over. You walk out of the theater curiously touched.
  40. This film is such a virtuoso high-wire act, daring so much, achieving it with such grace and skill. Minority Report reminds us why we go to the movies in the first place.
  41. Frank Langella and Michael Sheen do not attempt to mimic their characters, but to embody them.
  42. A documentary that does the job it sets out to do. I wish it had tried for more. It is a competent TV sports doc, the sort you'd expect to see on ESPN. Unless you are a big fan of Senna or Formula One, I don't know why you'd want to pay first-run prices to see it.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Beyond the Hills is an arthouse film from Romania, yet, in its slow, lurching progress toward a tragic exorcism, it is a stylistic nephew of America's "The Exorcist."
  43. Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me is a poignant, stark, lovely and sometimes devastating film — a tribute to one of the great crossover stars of his time, and an unblinking look at how Alzheimer’s relentlessly chips away at one’s memories and thought process, brick by brick. It is worthy of an Academy Award nomination.
  44. Mark is played by John Hawkes, who has emerged in recent years as an actor of amazing versatility. What he does here is not only physically challenging, but requires timing and emotion to elevate the story into realms of deep feeling and, astonishingly, even comedy.
  45. It's poignant to watch the chicks in their youth, fed by their parents, playing with their chums, the sun climbing higher every day, little suspecting what they're in for.
  46. A touching and effective film.
  47. Breathtaking and terrifying, urgently involved with its characters, it announces a new director of great gifts and passions: Fernando Meirelles.
  48. A brave film in the way it shows two people who find any relationship almost impossible, and yet find a way to make theirs work. The problems with the film come because it overstays its welcome.
  49. There are enough plots here to challenge a Robert Altman, specialist in interlocking stories, but the director, Bob Giraldi, masters the complexities as if he knows the territory. He does.
  50. So what we're seeing here is the emergence of a promising writer-director, an actor and a cinematographer who are all exciting, and have cared to make a film that seeks helpful truths.
  51. This film moves effortlessly from some pretty intense dramatic moments to hilarious scenes showcasing the contrasting lifestyles of the gay and straight worlds to some vignettes of incredible poignancy.
  52. A great American film.
  53. Deep movie emotions for me usually come not when the characters are sad, but when they are good. You will see what I mean.
  54. Fascinating and has a lot of laughs in it.
  55. The latest in a flowering of good films from Iran, and gives voice to the moderates there. It shows people existing and growing in the cracks of their society's inflexible walls.
  56. Los Angeles always seems to be waiting for something. Permanence seems out of reach; some great apocalyptic event is on the horizon, and people view the future tentatively. Robert Altman's Short Cuts captures that uneasiness perfectly.
  57. Causes us to leave the theater quite unreasonably happy.
  58. One of the pleasures of Fiennes' film is that the screenplay by John Logan ("Hugo," "Gladiator") makes room for as much of Shakespeare's language as possible. I would have enjoyed more, because such actors as Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Cox let the words roll trippingly off the tongue.
  59. Nearly every scene in A Most Violent Year is pitch perfect. Chandor the writer comes across as a big fan of David Mamet’s, and Chandor the director invokes stylistic touches reminiscent of Sidney Lumet, among others, but Chandor is no cover artist.
  60. The editing, with so many twists and turns and so many supporting characters needing their due, is without hiccups. And thankfully, there’s plenty of dark humor.
  61. The case transfixed a racially polarized New York City. The teens were labeled as a "wolf pack" by the news media, led by the New York tabloids.
  62. The strength of Kinsey is finally in the clarity it brings to its title character. It is fascinating to meet a complete original, a person of intelligence and extremes.
  63. It is fairly lighthearted, under the circumstances; like "Catch-22," it enjoys the paradoxes that occur when you try to apply logic to war.
  64. The movie treads a dangerous line. There are times when its ferocity threatens to break through the boundaries of comedy - to become so unremitting we find we cannot laugh.
  65. These are hard men. They could have the "Sopranos" for dinner, throw up and have them again.
  66. Although there are moments when the characters in Dear White People sound as if they’re reciting different sections of a thesis, overall Simien’s screenplay is tight, funny, smart and insightful, and his direction has just enough indie feel without becoming too self-conscious or preachy.
  67. No actor is better than Bill Murray at doing nothing at all, and being fascinating while not doing it. Buster Keaton had the same gift for contemplating astonishing developments with absolute calm. Buster surrounded himself with slapstick, and in Broken Flowers Jim Jarmusch surrounds Murray with a parade of formidable women.
  68. The cinematography, the set design, the costumes, the overall feel of Loving: all first-rate. Negga and Edgerton are undeniably good. I was impressed. I just wish I’d been more deeply moved.
  69. What beauty. What brutality. What madness.
  70. This is one of Kristin Scott Thomas' most inspired performances.
  71. This is a deceptive film. It starts in one direction and discovers a better one. Cheshire is a dry, almost dispassionate narrator, and that is good; preaching about his discoveries would sound wrong.
  72. Eastwood’s two-film project is one of the most visionary of all efforts to depict the reality and meaning of battle.
  73. Not a documentary about anything in particular. That is its charm. It's a meandering visit by a curious man with a quiet sense of humor, who pokes here and there in his family history, and the history of tobacco.
  74. The movie itself is good and shows promise, except for the ending, when Trier shouldn't have been so poetic. Not only does Reprise generate itself, it contains its own review.
  75. Morris' visual style in The Thin Blue Line is unlike any conventional documentary approach. Although his interviews are shot straight on, head and shoulders, there is a way his camera has of framing his subjects so that we look at them very carefully, learning as much by what we see as by what we hear.
  76. Love proves she is not a rock star pretending to act, but a true actress, and Harrelson matches her with his portrait of a man who has one thing on his mind, and never changes it.
  77. It haunts you, you can't forget it, you admire its conception and are able to resolve some of the confusions you had while watching it.
  78. Have I mentioned A Serious Man is so rich and funny? This isn't a laugh-laugh movie, but a wince-wince movie. Those can be funny too.
  79. 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.
  80. Astonishing things happen and symbolism can only work by being apparent. For me, the film is like music or a landscape: It clears a space in my mind, and in that space I can consider questions. (Review of Original Release)
  81. The weakness of the film is the weakness of the leading role. That's not a criticism of Mark Wahlberg, who has a quite capable range, but of how he and Russell see the character.
  82. [A] diverting documentary.
  83. The Five Obstructions clearly calls for a sequel, in which Leth would require von Trier to remake "Dogville," despite Obstructions 6 through 10.
  84. Fukunaga is a dazzling stylist, and at times the shifting palettes of the cinematography and the brilliant camera moves (he’s also the DP on this film) are so impressive as to be marginally distracting.
  85. Basically aimed at audiences who want elaborate fight sequences and fidget at the dialogue in between. It's for the fans, not the crossover audience.
  86. The cinematography, the set design, the all-important soundtrack, the editing: all first-rate. This is one smart chiller.
  87. Poltergeist is an effective thriller, not so much because of the special effects, as because Hooper and Spielberg have tried to see the movie's strange events through the eyes of the family members, instead of just standing back and letting the special effects overwhelm the cast along with the audience.
  88. You hire an actor for his strengths, and Downey would not be strong as a one-dimensional mighty-man. He is strong because he is smart, quick and funny, and because we sense his public persona masks deep private wounds. By building on that, Favreau found his movie, and it's a good one.
  89. I saw Tarzan once, and went to see it again. This kind of bright, colorful, hyperkinetic animation is a visual exhilaration.
  90. Sixty seconds of wondering if someone is about to kiss you is more entertaining than 60 minutes of kissing. By understanding that, Mamet is able to deliver a G-rated film that is largely about adult sexuality.
  91. The film's buried message is that there is a reservoir of admiration and affection for America, at least among the educated classes in the Arab world, and they do not equate the current administration with America.
  92. What the film is really about is people who see themselves and their values as an organic whole. There are no pious displays here. No sanctimony, no preaching. Never even the word "religion." Just Johan, Esther and Marianne, all doing their best.
  93. This film is a documentary about the young man's devilment. He seems perfectly happy — ecstatic, even — seated at a table in front of a three-sided mirror and practicing card moves over and over and over again. As a kid, he learned moves from his grandfather. He moved away from home in his early teens.
  94. Jim Jarmusch stocks his latest low-key indie with more than his usual characters in low-velocity drift. The Akron-born auteur infuses the title couple of Only Lovers Left Alive with his taste for culture, if not cuisine.
  95. Before this movie, Lake Bell seemed to have a nice and comfortable career path ahead of her. She was an actress who always provided a spark, whether the vehicle was mundane or first-rate. Now, she’s a name that provokes keen anticipation. Can’t wait to see what Lake Bell the filmmaker does next.
  96. This is a wonderful film. There isn't a thing that I would change.
  97. This is an “Apes” for the ages.
  98. De Palma's Untouchables, like the TV series that inspired it, depends more on cliches than on artistic invention.

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