Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 4,414 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 10.2 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 Wonder Boys
Lowest review score: 0 Slackers
Score distribution:
4,414 movie reviews
  1. 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.
  2. Body Heat is good enough to make film noir play like we hadn't seen it before.
  3. Kramer vs. Kramer is a movie of good performances, and it had to be, because the performances can't rest on conventional melodrama.
  4. This is a wonderful film. There isn't a thing that I would change.
  5. 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.
  6. This movie gets you coming and going.
  7. Sophie's Choice is a fine, absorbing, wonderfully acted, heartbreaking movie.
  8. 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.
  9. Here is a film that engaged me on the subject of Christ's dual nature, that caused me to think about the mystery of a being who could be both God and man. I cannot think of another film on a religious subject that has challenged me more fully. The film has offended those whose ideas about God and man it does not reflect. But then, so did Jesus.
  10. 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.
  11. The very best thing about the movie is its dialogue. Paul Brickman, who wrote and directed, has an ear so good that he knows what to leave out.
  12. 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.
  13. Like all good satirists, he knows that too much realism will weaken his effect. He lets you know he's making a comedy. There's an over-the-top exuberance to the intricate crosscut editing and to the hyperactive camera.
  14. 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.
  15. JFK
    Stone and his editors, Joe Hutshing and Pietro Scalia, have somehow triumphed over the tumult of material here and made it work - made it grip and disturb us.
  16. After seeing Awakenings, I read it, to know more about what happened in that Bronx hospital. What both the movie and the book convey is the immense courage of the patients and the profound experience of their doctors, as in a small way they reexperienced what it means to be born, to open your eyes and discover to your astonishment that "you" are alive.
  17. The funniest American comedy of the year.
  18. 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.
  19. Arthur Penn's Little Big Man is an endlessly entertaining attempt to spin an epic in the form of a yarn.
  20. The interesting thing is that Hiller has saved the movie without substantially changing anything in the book.
  21. Apart from its pure entertainment value - this is the best American crime movie in years - it is an important statement about a time and a condition that should not be forgotten. The Academy loves to honor prestigious movies in which long-ago crimes are rectified in far-away places. Here is a nominee with the ink still wet on its pages.
  22. 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.
  23. Olivier Dahan's La Vie en Rose, one of the best biopics I've seen, tells Piaf's life story through the extraordinary performance of Marion Cotillard, who looks like the singer.
  24. In a movie with the energy of this one, we're exhilarated by the sheer freedom of movement; the violence becomes surrealistic and less important than the movie's underlying energy level.
  25. Broadcast News has a lot of interesting things to say about television. But the thing it does best is look into a certain kind of personality and a certain kind of relationship.
  26. The movie is vulgar, raunchy, ribald, and occasionally scatological. It is also the funniest comedy since Mel Brooks made "The Producers."
  27. The suspense screws up tighter than a drum-head. The characters remain believable; we have a conflict of personalities, not stereotypes. The action coexists seamlessly with the message.
  28. This is clearly one of the best of the year's films. Every time an animated film is successful, you have to read all over again about how animation isn't "just for children" but "for the whole family," and "even for adults going on their own." No kidding!
  29. 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.
  30. James Mangold's 3:10 to Yuma restores the wounded heart of the Western and rescues it from the morass of pointless violence.
  31. These astronauts are still alive, but as long as mankind survives, their journeys will be seen as the turning point -- to what, it is still to be seen.
  32. Romance & Cigarettes is the real thing, a film that breaks out of Hollywood jail with audacious originality, startling sexuality, heartfelt emotions, and an anarchic liberty. The actors toss their heads and run their mouths like prisoners let loose to race free.
  33. Here is a bold, beautiful, visually enchanting musical where we walk INTO the theater humming the songs.
  34. 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.
  35. Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah is built on Tommy Lee Jones' persona, and that is why it works so well. The same material could have been banal or routine with an actor trying to be "earnest" and "sincere."
  36. Spellbinding.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. Rendition is valuable and rare. As I wrote from Toronto: "It is a movie about the theory and practice of two things: torture and personal responsibility. And it is wise about what is right, and what is wrong."
  40. A superb crime melodrama.
  41. This is an engrossing story, told smoothly and well, and Russell Crowe's contribution is enormous.
  42. Many of the scenes in No Country for Old Men are so flawlessly constructed that you want them to simply continue, and yet they create an emotional suction drawing you to the next scene. Another movie that made me feel that way was "Fargo." To make one such film is a miracle. Here is another.
  43. The movie is carefully modulated to draw us deeper and deeper into the situation, and uses no contrived plot devices to superimpose plot jolts on what is, after all, a story involving four civilized people who are only trying, each in a different way, to find happiness.
  44. At the end we are left with the reflection that human consciousness is the great miracle of evolution, and all the rest (sight, sound, taste, hearing, smell, touch) are simply a toolbox that consciousness has supplied for itself.
  45. After Hours is a brilliant film that is so original, so particular, that we are uncertain from moment to moment exactly how to respond to it. The style of the film creates, in us, the same feeling that the events in the film create in the hero. Interesting.
  46. A fresh, quirky, unusually intelligent comedy.
  47. This is one of the year's best films, a certain best picture nominee.
  48. A darker, deeper fantasy epic than the "Rings" trilogy, "The Chronicles of Narnia" or the "Potter" films. It springs from the same British world of quasi-philosophical magic, but creates more complex villains and poses more intriguing questions. As a visual experience, it is superb. As an escapist fantasy, it is challenging.
  49. Like "House of Sand and Fog" and "Man Push Cart," it helps us to understand that the newcomers among us come from somewhere and are somebody.
  50. This is a film that is affirming and inspiring and re-creates the stories of a remarkable team and its coach.
  51. While so many films about coming of age involve manufactured dilemmas, here is one about a woman who indeed does come of age, and magnificently.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. This is a powerful film and a stark visual accomplishment, but no thanks to Gabita (Laura Vasiliu). The driving character is her roommate Otilia (Anamaria Marinca), who does all the heavy lifting.
  55. 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.
  56. An endlessly surprising, very dark, human comedy, with a plot that cannot be foreseen but only relished.
  57. 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.
  58. Here is a tense and sorrowful film where common sense struggles with blood lust.
  59. May be the most intimate documentary ever made about a live rock 'n' roll concert. Certainly it has the best coverage of the performances onstage.
  60. Disturbing, analytical and morose. This is not a "political" film nor yet another screed about the Bush administration or the war in Iraq. It is driven simply, powerfully, by the desire to understand those photographs.
  61. 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.
  62. A movie that you might want to see for no other reason than because it exists. There will never be another like it.
  63. The best approach is to begin with the characters, because the wonderful, sad, touching The Edge of Heaven is more about its characters than about its story
  64. "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.
  65. It is a poem of oddness and beauty.
  66. (1) Shot for shot, Maddin can be as surprising and delightful as any filmmaker has ever been, and (2) he is an acquired taste, but please, sir, may I have some more?
  67. Man on Wire is about the vanquishing of the towers by bravery and joy, not by terrorism.
  68. 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.
  69. It's a compelling visceral film -- sound, images and characters combined into a decidedly odd visual experience that evokes the feel of a graphic novel. It seems charged from within by its power as a fable; we sense it’s not interested in a plot so much as with the dilemma of functioning in a world losing hope.
  70. W.
    W., a biography of President Bush, is fascinating. No other word for it.
  71. I find movies like this alive and provoking, and I'm exhilarated to have my thinking challenged at every step of the way.
  72. The documentary shows outrageous behavior, none more so than when they and many others are directed to a nearby Navy base for refuge.
  73. Frank Langella and Michael Sheen do not attempt to mimic their characters, but to embody them.
  74. Ballast inexorably grows and deepens and gathers power and absorbs us. I always say I hardly ever cry at sad films, but I sometimes do, just a little, at films about good people.
  75. 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.
  76. This is Mike Leigh's funniest film since "Life Is Sweet" (1991). Of course he hasn't ever made a completely funny film, and Happy-Go-Lucky has scenes that are not funny, not at all.
  77. I think you have to see Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York twice. I watched it the first time and knew it was a great film and that I had not mastered it. The second time because I needed to. The third time because I will want to.
  78. This is a breathless, exciting story, heartbreaking and exhilarating at the same time.
  79. Sean Penn never tries to show Harvey Milk as a hero, and never needs to. He shows him as an ordinary man, kind, funny, flawed, shrewd, idealistic, yearning for a better world.
  80. Doubt has exact and merciless writing, powerful performances and timeless relevance. It causes us to start thinking with the first shot, and we never stop. Think how rare that is in a film.
  81. This film is so good it is devastating.
  82. This is Rourke doing astonishing physical acting.
  83. The movie is bursting with life, energy, fears, frustrations and the quick laughter of a classroom hungry for relief.
  84. 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.
  85. Up
    This is another masterwork from Pixar, which is leading the charge in modern animation.
  86. Gomorrah looks grimy and sullen, and has no heroes, only victims. That is its power.
  87. Knowing is among the best science-fiction films I've seen -- frightening, suspenseful, intelligent and, when it needs to be, rather awesome.
  88. It is a great story of love and hope, told tenderly and without any great striving for effect.
  89. It contains risk, violence, a little romance, even fleeting moments of humor, but most of all, it sees what danger and heartbreak are involved. It is riveting from start to finish.
  90. Wherever you live, when this film opens, it will be the best film in town.
  91. I swear to you that if you live in a place where this film is playing, it is the best film in town.
  92. A documentary with no pretense of objectivity. Here is Mike Tyson's story in his own words, and it is surprisingly persuasive.
  93. Tilda Swinton hasn't often been more fascinating than in Julia, a nerve-wracking thriller with a twisty plot and startling realism.
  94. Here is a rare movie that begins by telling us how it will end and is about how the hero has no idea why.
  95. This film is true about human nature. It is not universal, but within its particular focus, it is unrelenting.
  96. A great film, an intelligent film, a film shot clearly so that we know exactly who everybody is and where they are and what they’re doing and why.
  97. The movie is uncommonly absorbing.
  98. It "explains" nothing but feels everything. It reminds me of two other films: Bresson's "Mouchette," about a poor girl victimized by a village, and Karen Gehre's "Begging Naked," shown at Ebertfest this year, about a woman whose art is prized even as she lives in Central Park.
  99. If you have never seen a single film by Agnes Varda, perhaps it is best to start with The Beaches of Agnes.
  100. As Soderbergh lovingly peels away veil after veil of deception, the film develops into an unexpected human comedy. Not that any of the characters are laughing.

Top Trailers