Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 5,652 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 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 West of Memphis
Lowest review score: 0 Freddy Got Fingered
Score distribution:
5652 movie reviews
  1. Peggy Sue Got Married is a lot of things - a human comedy, a nostalgic memory, a love story - but there are times when it is just plain creepy, because it awakens such vivid memories in us.
  2. 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.
  3. Amy
    The film is often uncomfortable to watch, prompting that little voice inside each of us to scream out “Somebody help her!”
  4. It is intriguing to wonder what Scorsese saw in the Hong Kong movie that inspired him to make the second remake of his career (after "Cape Fear"). I think he instantly recognized that this story, at a buried level, brought two sides of his art and psyche into equal focus.
  5. The Year of Living Dangerously is a wonderfully complex film about personalities more than events, and we really share the feeling of living in that place, at that time.
  6. American Hustle is the best time I’ve had at the movies all year, a movie so perfectly executed, such wall-to-wall fun, so filled with the joy of expert filmmaking on every level I can’t imagine anyone who loves movies not loving THIS movie.
  7. The only other film I've seen with this boldness of vision is Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," and it lacked Malick's fierce evocation of human feeling.
  8. At a time when too many movies focus every scene on a $20 million star, an Altman film is like a party with no boring guests.
  9. 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.
  10. Of all the Bonds, Goldfinger is the best, and can stand as a surrogate for the others. If it is not a great film, it is a great entertainment, and contains all the elements of the Bond formula that would work again and again.
  11. Here is the best American movie of the year so far.
  12. Light Sleeper isn't about the help he can get from psychics, however; it's about desperation that makes him project healing qualities upon anyone who is halfway sympathetic. The movie is familiar with its life of night and need. It finds the real human qualities in a person like the Susan Sarandon character - who, in a crisis, reacts with loyalty and quick thinking.
  13. Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare’s classic tale is swanky, sexy and sophisticated, as bracing as a dry martini poured from a silver shaker on a summer night.
  14. Scarface is one of those special movies, like "The Godfather," that is willing to take a flawed, evil man and allow him to be human.
  15. Breaking Away is a wonderfully sunny, funny, goofy, intelligent movie that makes you feel about as good as any movie in a long time.
  16. This is a masterful and heartbreaking film, and it does honor to the memory of the victims.
  17. Nothing Cruise has done will prepare you for what he does in Born on the Fourth of July. His performance is so good that the movie lives through it. Stone is able to make his statement with Cruise's face and voice and doesn't need to put everything into the dialogue.
  18. They are all so very articulate, which is refreshing in a time when literate and evocative speech has been devalued in the movies.
  19. The Big Easy is one of the richest American films of the year. It also happens to be a great thriller.
  20. There's not a scene here where Badham doesn't seem to know what he's doing, weaving a complex web of computerese, personalities and puzzles; the movie absorbs us on emotional and intellectual levels at the same time. And the ending, a moment of blinding and yet utterly elementary insight, is wonderful.
  21. What a lovely film this is, so gentle and whimsical, so simple and profound.
  22. Plays like an anthology of the best parts from all the Saturday matinee serials ever made.
  23. Pocahontas was given the gift of sensing the whole picture, and that is what Malick founds his film on, not tawdry stories of love and adventure. He is a visionary, and this story requires one.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. The most accurate movie about campus life that I can remember.
  27. It takes on the resonance of classic tragedy. Tragedy requires the fall of a hero, and one of the achievements of Nixon is to show that greatness was within his reach.
  28. 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.
  29. Son of Saul is lasting work of art — difficult to watch, impossible to forget.
  30. No Way Out is a superior example of the genre, a film in which a simple situation grows more and more complex until it turns into a nightmare not only for the hero but also for everyone associated with him. At the same time, it respects the audience's intelligence, gives us a great deal of information, trusts us to put it together and makes the intellectual analysis of the situation one of the movie's great pleasures.
  31. Unflinchingly directed by Steve McQueen, led by Ejiofor’s magnificent work, 12 Years a Slave is what we talk about when we talk about greatness in film.
  32. Like Water for Chocolate creates its own intense world of passion and romance, and adds a little comedy and a lot of quail, garlic, honey, chiles, mole, cilantro, rose petals and corn meal.
  33. It is a film with a political point of view, but often its characters lose sight of that, in their fascination with each other and with the girl.
  34. 'Return of the Jedi' is fun, magnificent fun. The movie is a complete entertainment, a feast for the eyes and a delight for the fancy. It's a little amazing how Lucas and his associates keep topping themselves.
  35. David Schwimmer has made one of the year's best films: Powerfully emotional, yes, but also very perceptive.
  36. They are adults, for the most part outside organized religion, faced with situations in their own lives that require them to make moral choices. You shouldn’t watch the films all at once, but one at a time. Then if you are lucky and have someone to talk with, you discuss them, and learn about yourself. Or if you are alone, you discuss them with yourself, as so many of Kieslowski’s characters do.
  37. 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.
  38. That could have been a good movie, but predictable. Mike Nichols' Silkwood is not predictable.... We realize this is a lot more movie than perhaps we were expecting.
  39. What is important about this film is not that it serves as a history lesson (although it does) but that, at a time when the threat of nuclear holocaust hangs ominously in the air, it reminds us that we are, after all, human, and thus capable of the most extraordinary and wonderful achievements, simply through the use of our imagination, our will, and our sense of right.
  40. A family film of limitless imagination and surprising joy.
  41. One of the greatest of all American films, but has never received the attention it deserves because of its lack of the proper trappings. Many "great movies'' are by great directors, but Laughton directed only this one film, which was a critical and commercial failure long overshadowed by his acting career.
  42. Annie Hall is a movie about a man who is always looking for the loopholes in perfection. Who can turn everything into a joke, and wishes he couldn't.
  43. Spacey, an actor who embodies intelligence in his eyes and voice, is the right choice for Lester Burnham.
  44. Spielberg has taken an important but largely forgotten and hardly action-packed slice of the Cold War and turned it into a gripping character study and thriller that feels a bit like a John Le Carre adaptation if Frank Capra were at the controls.
  45. Nolan has crafted a tight, gripping, deeply involving and unforgettable film that ranks about the best war movies of the decade.
  46. Powerfully, painfully honest.
  47. Not only does this second movie match the charm, wit, animation skill and intelligent storytelling of the original, I think it even exceeds it.
  48. The other key character is McCarthy himself, and Clooney uses a masterstroke: He employs actual news footage of McCarthy, who therefore plays himself.
  49. Leconte brings his film to transcendent closure without relying on stale plot devices or the clanking of the plot. He resorts to a kind of poetry. After the film is over, you want to sigh with joy, that in this rude world such civilization is still possible.
  50. Animals is a stark, brilliant, uncompromising, beautifully acted piece of work that deserves to be mentioned with “Panic in Needle Park” and “Requiem for a Dream” as a cautionary tale about drug addiction that doesn’t glamorize but also steers clear of proselytizing.
  51. 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.
  52. A movie for more than one season; it will become a perennial, shared by the generations. It has a haunting, magical quality because it has imagined its world freshly and played true to it,
  53. 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.
  54. Allen's writing and directing style is so strong and assured in this film that the actual filmmaking itself becomes a narrative voice.
  55. Breathtaking and terrifying, urgently involved with its characters, it announces a new director of great gifts and passions: Fernando Meirelles.
  56. Each character in this movie is given the dramatic opportunity to look inside himself, to question his own motives as well as the motives of others, and to try to improve his own ways of dealing with a troubled situation. Two of the characters do learn how to adjust; the third doesn't. It's not often we get characters who face those kinds of challenges on the screen, nor directors who seek them out. Ordinary People is an intelligent, perceptive, and deeply moving film.
  57. Ran
    Ran is a great, glorious achievement.
  58. There are many documentaries angry about the human destruction of the planetary peace. This is one of the very best -- a certain Oscar nominee.
  59. Arthur Penn's Little Big Man is an endlessly entertaining attempt to spin an epic in the form of a yarn.
  60. 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.
  61. A big, bold, audacious war movie that will annoy some, startle others and demonstrate once again that he’s (Tarantino) the real thing, a director of quixotic delights.
  62. The Mighty Quinn is a spy thriller, a buddy movie, a musical, a comedy and a picture that is wise about human nature. And yet with all of those qualities, it never seems to strain: This is a graceful, almost charmed, entertainment.
  63. It is perfectly cast and soundly constructed, and all else flows naturally. Steve Martin and John Candy don't play characters; they embody themselves.
  64. In a time when our cities are wounded, movies like Grand Canyon can help to heal.
  65. This is a remarkable film about a strange and prophetic man. What does it tell us? Did living a virtual life destroy him?
  66. If "Henry V," the first film [Branaugh] directed and starred in, caused people to compare him to Olivier, "Dead Again" will inspire comparisons to Welles and Hitchcock - and the Olivier of Hitchcock's "Rebecca."
  67. What beauty. What brutality. What madness.
  68. 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.
  69. The film reflects a passing era even in its visual style.
  70. The interesting thing is that Hiller has saved the movie without substantially changing anything in the book.
  71. This is one helluva compelling film that presents us with several of the very best performances of the year. Lerman and Letts, in particular, present us with fully-developed characterizations that will remain with audiences long after they leave the theater.
  72. Sometime miraculous films come into being, made by people you've never heard of, starring unknown faces, blindsiding you with creative genius. Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of the year's best films.
  73. 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.
  74. Even though it is a highly stylized, stop-motion animation film featuring puppet-like human characters, it is a pinpoint-accurate encapsulation of some of the most banal AND some of the most exhilarating moments virtually all of us have experienced at some point in our lives.
  75. [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.
  76. One of the most effective thrillers ever made.
  77. Watching The American President, I felt respect for the craft that went into it: the flawless re-creation of the physical world of the White House, the smart and accurate dialogue, the manipulation of the love story to tug our heartstrings.
  78. Wilder's 1959 comedy is one of the enduring treasures of the movies, a film of inspiration and meticulous craft, a movie that's about nothing but sex and yet pretends it's about crime and greed.
  79. Some kind of weird masterpiece...one of the best movies of the year.
  80. 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.
  81. One of those entertainments where you laugh a lot along the way, and then you end up on the edge of your seat at the end.
  82. A wild elaboration. If you have never seen a Japanese anime, start here. If you love them, Metropolis proves you are right.
  83. One of the purest and most uncompromising of modern films noir. It captures above all the lonely, exhausted lives of its characters.
  84. 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.
  85. This film ennobles filmmaking.
  86. It fascinates in the moment. It's getting from one moment to the next that is tricky. Surely this is one of the most ambitious films ever made.
  87. 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.
  88. This is the kind of movie Frank Capra might have directed, and James Stewart might have starred in - a movie about dreams.
  89. A magnificent entertainment. It is like the flowering of all the possibilities in the original classic film.
  90. Starting with Le Petit Soldat, Godard was forging his own individualistic art and becoming the most relevant director of our time.
  91. Transcendence is a bold, beautiful, sometimes confounding flight of futuristic speculation firmly rooted in the potential of today’s technology.
  92. Maborosi is one of those valuable films where you have to actively place yourself in the character's mind. There are times when we do not know what she is thinking, but we are inspired with an active sympathy. We want to understand. Well, so does she.
  93. Oslo, August 31st is quietly, profoundly, one of the most observant and sympathetic films I've seen.
  94. Argo the real movie about the fake movie, is both spellbinding and surprisingly funny.
  95. This is a film for intelligent people who are naturally curious about what happens when the shutters close.
  96. I swear to you that if you live in a place where this film is playing, it is the best film in town.
  97. It is refreshing to see Cruz acting in the culture and language that is her own. As it did with Sophia Loren in the 1950s, Hollywood has tried to force Cruz into a series of show-biz categories, when she is obviously most at home playing a woman like the ones she knew, grew up with, could have become.
  98. This time the dad is the hero of the story, although in most animation it is almost always the mother.
  99. This happens in 1961, when 16-year-old girls were a great deal less knowing than they are now. Yet the movie isn't shabby or painful, but romantic and wonderfully entertaining.
  100. 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.

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