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 Big Night
Lowest review score: 0 Dirty Love
Score distribution:
5481 movie reviews
  1. A voluptuary of a film, drunk on primary colors, caressing Penelope Cruz, using the devices of a Hitchcock to distract us with surfaces while the sinister uncoils beneath. As it ravished me, I longed for a freeze frame to allow me to savor a shot.
  2. 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.
  3. But I'm making Welcome to the Dollhouse sound like some sort of grim sociological study, and in fact it's a funny, intensely entertaining film.
  4. A perplexing and disturbing film of great effect.
  5. The splendid cast embodies the characters so fully that the events actually seem to be happening to them, instead of unfolding from a screenplay.
  6. The film is a glorious experience to witness, not least because, knowing the technique and understanding how much depends on every moment, we almost hold our breath.
  7. A masterpiece, pure and simple, deep and true...The best film of the year.
  8. A film that with quiet confidence creates a fragile magic.
  9. The performances are crucial, because all of these characters have so completely internalized their world that they make it palpable, and themselves utterly convincing.
  10. It is a great film about greatness, the story of the horse and the no less brave woman who had faith in him.
  11. Jeff Bridges is a virtual certainty to win his first Oscar, after four nominations.
  12. Oldboy is a powerful film not because of what it depicts, but because of the depths of the human heart which it strips bare.
  13. This film is true about human nature. It is not universal, but within its particular focus, it is unrelenting.
  14. Best of all, this movie is inhabited by a real cinematic intelligence. The audience isn't condescended to. In sequences like the one in which Travolta reconstructs a film and sound record of the accident, we're challenged and stimulated: We share the excitement of figuring out how things develop and unfold, when so often the movies only need us as passive witnesses.
  15. Only a few films are transcendent, and work upon our minds and imaginations like music or prayer or a vast belittling landscape...Alone among science-fiction movies, 2001 is not concerned with thrilling us, but with inspiring our awe.
  16. A remarkable film.
  17. Inception does a difficult thing. It is wholly original, cut from new cloth, and yet structured with action movie basics so it feels like it makes more sense than (quite possibly) it does.
  18. Body Heat is good enough to make film noir play like we hadn't seen it before.
  19. The actors, as sometimes happens, create those miracles that can endow a film with conviction. Moadi and Hatami, as husband and wife, succeed in convincing us their characters are acting from genuine motives.
  20. In its heedless energy and joy, it reminded me of how I felt the first time I saw "Raiders of the Lost Ark." It's like a film that escaped from the imagination directly onto the screen, without having to pass through reality along the way.
  21. It’s all perfectly, wonderfully, fantastically crazy. Amidst all those ingenious, power-packed road warrior sequences, Fury Road contains a surprising amount of depth and character development.
  22. The funniest movie I have seen in a long time.
  23. Films like this are more useful than gung-ho capers like "Behind Enemy Lines." They help audiences understand and sympathize with the actual experiences of combat troops, instead of trivializing them into entertainments.
  24. This is a brave, layered film that challenges the wisdom of victory at any price. Both of its central characters would slip easily into conventional plot formulas, but Bahrani looks deeply into their souls and finds so much more.
  25. As a portrait of a deteriorating state of mind, We Need to Talk About Kevin is a masterful film.
  26. A few great directors have the ability to draw us into their dream world, into their personalities and obsessions and fascinate us with them for a short time. This is the highest level of escapism the movies can provide for us.
  27. Sully is an absolute triumph.
  28. Carl Franklin's film is true to the tone and spirit of the book. It is patient and in no hurry. It allows a balanced eye for the people in its hero's family who tug him one way and another.
  29. 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.
  30. The performance by Flora Cross is haunting in its seriousness. She doesn't act out; she acts in.
  31. It is a luxury to be enveloped in a good film.
  32. Seductive and beautiful, cynical and twisted, and one of the best films of the year.
  33. Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris is one of the great emotional experiences of our time.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The Gatekeepers has a cold air to it: washed-out colors, tan ominous soundtrack, eerily floating satellite footage… The most chilling aspect, however, is the blunt commentary about the work itself.
  34. It’s an unusual mix of big-picture issues, grindhouse pulp and pure, rough entertainment, bolstered by one of the better ensemble casts of the year. This movie is not, um, fussing around.
  35. Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid and Dennis Haysbert are called on to play characters whose instincts are wholly different from their own. By succeeding, they make their characters real, instead of stereotypes.
  36. Kill Bill: Volume 1 shows Quentin Tarantino so effortlessly and brilliantly in command of his technique that he reminds me of a virtuoso violinist racing through "Flight of the Bumble Bee" -- or maybe an accordion prodigy setting a speed record for "Lady of Spain."
  37. This film is so good it is devastating.
  38. The affirmation at the end of the film is so joyous that this is one of the few movies in a long time that inspires tears of happiness, and earns them. The Color Purple is the year's best film.
  39. 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.
  40. 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."
  41. 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.
  42. By now, everyone knows who wins, but the scenes before the fight set us up for it so completely, so emotionally, that when it's over we've had it. We're drained.
  43. Harrelson is an ideal actor for the role. Especially in tensely wound-up movies like this, he implies that he's looking at everything and then watching himself looking.
    • 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.
  44. It is more of a wonderment, lolling in its enchanting images--original, delightful and funny.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. It
    IT...carried me along from the opening frame, rarely missing a beat.
  48. The work of a born filmmaker, able to summon apprehension out of thin air.
  49. Chazelle’s script is hopeful and sweet and clever and rich. His direction is innovative and captivating.
  50. The movie is a great American document, but it's also entertaining. (Review of Original Release)
  51. The dialogue is so spare and cynical it has not grown old-fashioned. Much of the emotional effect of Casablanca is achieved by indirection; as we leave the theater, we are absolutely convinced that the only thing keeping the world from going crazy is that the problems of three little people do after all amount to more than a hill of beans.
  52. Fred Zinnemann’s The Day of the Jackal is one hell of an exciting movie. I wasn’t prepared for how good it really is: it’s not just a suspense classic, but a beautifully executed example of filmmaking. It’s put together like a fine watch. The screenplay meticulously assembles an incredible array of material, and then Zinnemann choreographs it so that the story--complicated as it is--unfolds in almost documentary starkness.
  53. It is one of the year's best films.
  54. It's a superb film -- funny, insightful and very wise about the realities of political life.
  55. It is a surprisingly entertaining film - funny, wicked, sharp-tongued and devious. It does not solve the case, nor intend to. I am afraid it only intends to entertain.
  56. One of the best films of the year.
  57. It just might be the most impressive piece of filmmaking I’ve seen in 2015, and it features a great lead performance by a rising star, a memorable supporting role by a familiar veteran — and one of the most amazing acting jobs by a child I’ve ever seen.
  58. The peculiar quality of Vanity Fair, which sets it aside from the Austen adaptations such as "Sense and Sensibility" and "Pride and Prejudice," is that it's not about very nice people. That makes them much more interesting.
  59. A brilliant nightmare and like all nightmares it doesn't tell us half of what we want to know. (Review of Original Release)
  60. The movie makes no attempt to psychoanalyze its Kit Carruthers, and there are no symbols to note or lessons to learn. What comes through more than anything is the enormous loneliness of the lives these two characters lived, together and apart.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
  63. Superman is a pure delight, a wondrous combination of all the old-fashioned things we never really get tired of: adventure and romance, heroes and villains, earthshaking special effects, and -- you know what else? Wit.
  64. Keke Palmer, a young Chicago actress whose first role was as Queen Latifah's niece in "Barbershop 2," becomes an important young star with this movie. It puts her in Dakota Fanning and Thora Cross territory, and there's something about her poise and self-possession that hints she will grow up to be a considerable actress.
  65. Has maturity and emotional depth: There are no cheap shots, nothing is thrown in for effect, realism is placed ahead of easy dramatic payoffs, and the audience grows deeply involved.
  66. This profound and immensely touching film in only 75 perfect minutes achieves the profundity of an epic.
  67. Junebug is a great film because it is a true film. It humbles other films that claim to be about family secrets and eccentricities. It understands that families are complicated and their problems are not solved during a short visit, just in time for the film to end. Families and their problems go on and on, and they aren't solved, they're dealt with.
  68. Here's a technological sound-and-light show that is sensational and brainy, stylish, and fun.
  69. This restored 35mm print, now in art theaters around the country, may be 37 years old, but it is the best foreign film of the year.
  70. It is not a "dirty movie," and in fact takes spirituality and morality more seriously than most films do. And in the bad lieutenant, Keitel has given us one of the great screen performances in recent years.
  71. What happens is that we get vested in the lives of these characters. That's rare in a lot of movies.
  72. After seeing Kinyarwanda, I have a different kind of feeling about the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994. The film approaches it not as a story line but as a series of intense personal moments.
  73. I can't single out a performance. This is a superb ensemble, conveying hat joy actors feel when hey know they're good in good material. This is not a traditional feature, but it's one of Spike Lee's best films.
  74. Halloween is an absolutely merciless thriller, a movie so violent and scary that, yes, I would compare it to “Psycho.”
  75. Cocteau, a poet and surrealist, was not making a "children's film" but was adapting a classic French tale that he felt had a special message after the suffering of World War II: Anyone who has an unhappy childhood may grow up to be a Beast.
  76. Play Misty for Me is not the artistic equal of Psycho (1960), but in the business of collecting an audience into the palm of its hand and then squeezing hard, it is supreme. It doesn't depend on a lot of surprises to maintain the suspense. There ARE some surprises, sure, but mostly the film's terror comes from the fact that the strange woman is capable of anything.
  77. Mel Brooks is home with Young Frankenstein, his most disciplined and visually inventive film (it also happens to be very funny).
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80. This is a movie to surrender yourself to. If you require logic, see something else. Mulholland Drive works directly on the emotions, like music.
  81. McNamara speaks concisely and forcibly, rarely searching for a word, and he is not reciting boilerplate and old sound bites; there is the uncanny sensation that he is thinking as he speaks.
  82. 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.
  83. The film is inspirational and educational - and it is also entertaining, as movies must be before they can be anything else.
  84. Is it real? Is this whole story real? I refuse to ask that question. Life of Pi is all real, second by second and minute by minute, and what it finally amounts to is left for every viewer to decide. I have decided it is one of the best films of the year.
  85. 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.
  86. There has never been a movie quite like Northfork… The movie is visionary and elegiac, more a fable than a story, and frame by frame, it looks like a portfolio of spaces so wide, so open, that men must wonder if they have a role beneath such indifferent skies.
  87. So the movie's flawed. So it leaves us with loose ends and questions. That finally doesn't bother me, because what it does accomplish is done so well, is seen so sharply, is presented so unforgivingly, that Network will outlive a lot of tidier movies.
  88. It is a remarkable film, immediate, urgent, angry, poetic and stubbornly hopeful.
  89. In an era when hundreds of lives are casually destroyed in action movies, here is an entire film in which one life is honored, and one death is avenged.
  90. 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.
  91. What a beautiful and epic film is Interstellar, filled with great performances, tingling our senses with masterful special effects, daring to be openly sentimental, asking gigantic questions about the meaning of life and leaving us drained and grateful for the experience.
  92. In the way it combines sports with human nature, it reminded me of another wonderful Indiana sports movie, "Breaking Away." It's a movie that is all heart.
  93. (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?
  94. I find movies like this alive and provoking, and I'm exhilarated to have my thinking challenged at every step of the way.
  95. One of those rare movies where you leave the theater having been surprised and entertained, and then start arguing.
  96. This is pure filmmaking, elegant and slippery. I haven't had as much fun second-guessing a movie since "Mulholland Drive."
  97. James Mangold's 3:10 to Yuma restores the wounded heart of the Western and rescues it from the morass of pointless violence.
  98. 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.

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