Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 5,564 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 8.3 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 The Color Purple
Lowest review score: 0 Jupiter Ascending
Score distribution:
5564 movie reviews
  1. 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
  2. Both Linney and Hoffman are so specific in creating these characters that we see them as people, not elements in a plot. Hoffman in particular shows how many disguises he has within his seemingly immutable presence; would you know it is the same actor here and in two other films this season, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" and "Charlie Wilson's War"?
  3. What made Shackleton's adventure so immediate to later generations was that he took along a photographer, Frank Hurley, who shot motion picture film and stills.
  4. The widespread speculation that Exit Through the Gift Shop is a hoax only adds to its fascination.
  5. The most ingenious device in the story is the way Chow and Su play-act imaginary scenes between their cheating spouses.
  6. What you remember most are the shots of Baker roaming around Santa Monica, Calif., in what feels like endless late-afternoon sun, or riding at night in the back of a convertible with a woman on each arm.
  7. It is about the actual lives of refugees, who lack the luxury of opinions because they are preoccupied with staying alive in a world that has no place for them.
  8. 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.
  9. One of the funniest, most intelligent, most original films.
  10. 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.
  11. I enjoyed the film's look and feel, the perfectly modulated performances, and the whole tawdry world of spy and counterspy, which must be among the world's most dispiriting occupations. But I became increasingly aware that I didn't always follow all the allusions and connections. On that level, "Tinker Tailor" didn't work for me.
  12. The film is beautifully well-mounted. The locations, the sets, the costumes, everything conspire to re-create the Rome of that time. It provides a counterpoint to the usual caricature of Mussolini. They say that behind every great man there stands a great woman. In Mussolini's case, his treatment of her was a rehearsal for how he would treat Italy.
  13. Rotates its story through satire, comedy, suspense and violence, until it emerges as one of the best films I've ever seen.
  14. The film reflects a passing era even in its visual style.
  15. About Schmidt is billed as a comedy. It is funny to the degree that Nicholson is funny playing Schmidt, and funny in terms of some of his adventures, but at bottom it is tragic.
  16. A visual poem of extraordinary beauty.
  17. Regardless of language, this film speaks volumes about the human condition. About childhood. About loss. About family. About unconditional love.
  18. A movie that is not only ingenious and entertaining, but liberating, because we can sense the story isn't going to be twisted into conformity with some stupid formula.
  19. There's some kind of pulse of sincerity beating below the glittering surface, and it may come from Mitchell's own life story.
  20. The Past is an understated study of two marriages in transition.
  21. Shines with a kind of inspired madness.
  22. This is one of the year's best films, a certain best picture nominee.
  23. 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.
  24. The point is that for the soldiers, it's a dead zone, life on hold, a cheerless existence. And this plain-spoken old woman reminds them of a lifetime they are missing.
  25. Max is played by Jean Gabin, named "the actor of the century" in a French poll, in Jacques Becker's Touchez Pas au Grisbi, a 1954 French crime film that uncannily points the way toward Jean-Pierre Melville's great "Bob Le Flambeur" the following year.
  26. The first film to build on the enormously influential "Pulp Fiction" instead of simply mimicking it. It has the games with time, the low-life dialogue, the absurd violent situations, but it also has its own texture.
  27. The actors all find the correct notes. It is a French film, and so they are allowed to be adult and intelligent.
  28. There is the sense they're fighting for each other more than for ideology.
  29. Coppola is unable to draw all this together and make it work on the level of simple, absorbing narrative. The stunning text of "The Godfather" is replaced in Part II with prologues, epilogues, footnotes, and good intentions.
  30. The movie has an unforced, affectionate sense of humor about its characters.
  31. Not just a cute romp but an involving story that has something to say.
  32. 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.
  33. Meek's Cutoff is more an experience than a story. It has personality conflicts, but isn't about them. The suspicions and angers of the group are essentially irrelevant to their overwhelming reality. Reichardt has the courage to establish that.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    After the curtains close on The Long Day Closes, its special light lingers, sending us back to the beginning for another "hearing." Such is the singular intensity of Davies' vision; even the rug has much to say. [30 July 1993, p.40]
    • Chicago Sun-Times
  34. Think of how we read the thoughts of those closest to us, in moments when words will not do. We look at their faces, and although they do not make any effort to mirror emotions there, we can read them all the same, in the smallest signs. A movie that invites us to do the same thing can be very absorbing.
  35. The intimacy of debut writer-director Ryan Coogler’s approach to the film and the no-frills, believably real quality of the main performances combine to drive the senselessness of Oscar’s killing home with visceral impact.
  36. Brian De Palma's Carrie is an absolutely spellbinding horror movie, with a shock at the end that's the best thing along those lines since the shark leaped aboard in "Jaws."
  37. It has been a good long while since I have felt the presence of Evil so manifestly demonstrated as in the first appearance of Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs.
  38. The Circle is all the more depressing when we consider that Iran is relatively liberal compared to, say, Afghanistan under the Taliban.
  39. Tells a story of conventional melodrama, and makes it extraordinary because of the acting.
  40. Here is a film that is exasperating, frustrating, anarchic and in a constant state of renewal. It's not tame. Some audience members are going to grow very restless. My notion is, few will be bored.
  41. There is pain, humor, irony and sweetness in the character, and a voice and manner so distinctive, he is the most memorable movie character I've seen in a long time.
  42. For long stretches A Christmas Tale seems to be going nowhere in particular and using a lot of dialogue to do so. These are not boring stretches. The movie is 151 minutes long and doesn't feel especially lengthy. The actors are individually good. They work together to feel like a family.
  43. 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.
  44. A crisp, smart, cynical film about dishonor among thieves.
  45. The performances are crucial, because all of these characters have so completely internalized their world that they make it palpable, and themselves utterly convincing.
  46. Revanche involves a rare coming together of a male's criminal nature and a female's deep needs, entwined with a first-rate thriller. It is also perceptive in observing characters, including a proud old man. Rare is the thriller that is more about the reasons of people instead of the needs of the plot.
  47. A very funny, sometimes very sad documentary.
  48. At the end of The Man Without a Past, I felt a deep but indefinable contentment. I'd seen a comedy that found its humor in the paradoxes of existence, in the way that things may work out strangely, but they do work out.
  49. Yes, we know these events are less than likely, and the film's entire world is fantastical. But what happens in a fantasy can be more involving than what happens in life, and thank goodness for that.
  50. High Hopes is an alive and challenging film, one that throws our own assumptions and evasions back at us. Leigh sees his characters and their lifestyles so vividly, so mercilessly and with such a sharp satirical edge, that the movie achieves a neat trick: We start by laughing at the others, and end by feeling uncomfortable about ourselves.
  51. The first hour of this movie belongs among the great filmgoing experiences. It is described as an epic, and earns the description.
  52. It’s a beautifully filmed, wonderfully challenging, multi-layered tale of trickery upon trickery, short con upon long con, deception upon deception.
  53. This description no doubt makes the film seem like some kind of gimmicky puzzle. What's surprising is how easy it is to follow the plot, and how the coincidences don't get in the way.
  54. 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.
  55. I am not British, was born 14 years before the subjects, and yet by now identify intensely with them, because some kinds of human experience -- teenage, work, marriage, illness are universal. You could make this series in any society.
  56. This is a painful movie to watch. But it is also exhilarating, as all good movies are, because we are watching the director and actors venturing beyond any conventional idea of what a modern movie can be about. Here there is no plot, no characters to identify with, no hope.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. The whole movie is quiet, introspective, thoughtful.
  60. It's a bleakly funny parable that could be titled "Between Enemy Lines."
  61. An enormously entertaining movie, like nothing we've ever seen before, and yet completely familiar.
  62. 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.
  63. A movie like this touches everyday life in a way that we can recognize as if Turkey were Peoria. I can imagine a similar film being made in America, although Americans might talk more.
  64. (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?
  65. To see strong acting like this is exhilarating. In a time of flashy directors who slice and dice their films in a dizzy editing rhythm, it is important to remember that films can look and listen and attentively sympathize with their characters. Directors grow great by subtracting, not adding, and Eastwood does nothing for show, everything for effect.
  66. Oslo, August 31st is quietly, profoundly, one of the most observant and sympathetic films I've seen.
  67. This film leads to a startling conclusion that wipes out the story's paradoxes so neatly it's as if it never happened. You have to grin at the ingenuity of Johnson's screenplay.
  68. I cannot stress enough how truly stunning the brilliant visuals are in this movie. Laika has again crafted a world that is such an original vision, one that will live on as a new classic in the world of animation.
  69. This is not your average family cartoon. Shrek is jolly and wicked, filled with sly in-jokes and yet somehow possessing a heart.
  70. A film that unfolds like a court case in which all of the testimony sounds like the simple truth, and none of it agrees.
  71. The movie does a harrowing job of showing how, and why, a man might be made to confess to a bombing he didn't commit.
  72. 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.
  73. 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.
  74. The interesting thing is that Hiller has saved the movie without substantially changing anything in the book.
  75. Roughly 60 percent of A Ghost Story is disturbingly beautiful and spiritually challenging and stuck to me like a memory magnet. About 40 percent of A Ghost Story is maddeningly still and achingly self-conscious and just a little too pleased with itself.
  76. Observant with mannered edits, Jem Cohen’s modest story delivers a character sketch and a traveler’s essay.
  77. Power to absorb, entertain and anger.
  78. Like a flowering of talent that has been waiting so long to be celebrated. It is also one of the most touching and moving of the year's films.
  79. What happens is that we get vested in the lives of these characters. That's rare in a lot of movies.
  80. A superb crime melodrama.
  81. Bong, above all, is a world-class visual stylist, and he proves that again here with a few dazzling flourishes, despite Snowpiercer’s dismal gray palette and train-bound claustrophobia.
  82. 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.
  83. The real star of the film is writer-director Jordan Peele, who has created a work that addresses the myriad levels of racism, pays homage to some great horror films, carves out its own creative path, has a distinctive visual style — and is flat-out funny as well.
  84. As for the movie, I've seen better comedy films and better concert films. It noodles around too much and gets distracted from the music. Michel Gondry, who directed, makes good fiction films but is not an instinctive documentarian and forgets that even a fly on the wall should occasionally find some peanut butter. As the record of a state of mind, however, the film is uncanny.
  85. One of the strengths of this film is that it never pauses to explain.
  86. 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.
  87. An enjoyable film, and yet it left me somehow unsatisfied...there is too much contrivance in the way [Austen] dispatches her men to London when she is done with them.
  88. The cameras simply follow Weiner’s every move, which includes disastrous public appearances, embarrassing press conferences, and media interviews that don’t exactly go Weiner’s way.
  89. Thanks to the superb screenplay by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack and the brilliant, brave performances by the cast, Dallas Buyers Club gets just about everything right, save for a few over-the-top scenes that hammer home points that have already been made.
  90. There are many documentaries angry about the human destruction of the planetary peace. This is one of the very best -- a certain Oscar nominee.
  91. The film is poetic and erotic, creepy and melodramatic, overwrought and sometimes mocking, as if F. W. Murnau's "Nosferatu" (1922) had a long-lost musical version.
  92. It may be that Together only wants to remember a time. That it does with gentle, observant humor. If it has a message, it is that ideas imposed on human nature may be able to shape lives for a while, but in the long run, we drift back toward more conventional choices.
  93. The film is terrifically entertaining, an ambitious big-budget epic, directed with great visuals and sound by Takeshi Miike.
  94. Jeff Bridges is a virtual certainty to win his first Oscar, after four nominations.
  95. Linklater introduces us to an abundance of characters, but it’s a tribute to his writing (and the performances) that each of the baseball players has a distinct personality and story thread.
  96. Cuaron's version of magic realism consists of seeing incredibly fanciful sets and situations in precise detail, and Johnson has provided him with the freedom and logistical support to create such places as the street where Miss Minchin's school looms so impressively.
  97. In this movie the war is not quite over. For those who survived it, maybe it will never be.
  98. What a bewilderingly brilliant and entertaining movie this is.
  99. Once again, [Cameron] has silenced the doubters by simply delivering an extraordinary film. There is still at least one man in Hollywood who knows how to spend $250 million, or was it $300 million, wisely.

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