Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 5,172 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 The Manchurian Candidate
Lowest review score: 0 Movie 43
Score distribution:
5172 movie reviews
  1. Avoids all sports movie cliches, even the obligatory ending where the team comes from behind.
  2. A complex, deeply knowledgeable story about a truly lost soul and her downward spiral.
  3. Al-Mansour has managed to embue Wadjda with a hopeful spirit, partially because she takes time to show women finding ways to be themselves in private moments. And partially because she suggests with a few subtle touches that the situation might be slowly improving.
  4. I’m not entirely convinced the ending is the perfect landing to everything that transpired before, but Arrival is not a linear adventure of the mind, and it is a film probably best seen twice.
  5. A fresh, quirky, unusually intelligent comedy.
  6. Derek Cianfrance, the film's writer and director, observes with great exactitude the birth and decay of a relationship. This film is alive in its details.
  7. Forms a community that eventually envelops us.
  8. Like the work of David Lean, it achieves the epic without losing sight of the human, and to see it is to be reminded of the way great action movies can rouse and exhilarate us, can affirm life instead of simply dramatizing its destruction.
  9. The movie has a wide appeal, with a gap in the middle. I think it will appeal to children young enough to be untutored in boredom, and to anyone old enough to be drawn in, or to appreciate the artistry.
  10. This is a smart, savvy film with sabre-sharp one-liners, a half-dozen terrific supporting turns, one of the best scores of the year, a winning romance and a heartfelt and authentic performance from Rock.
  11. 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.
  12. Now Wajda has brought some small measure of rest to their names, to Poland, and to history.
  13. Part of the greatness of this film is that it not only avoids any simple answers, but it also takes us into the awkward contradictions and internal dishonesties that help us look at the mirror each day.
  14. In writer-director Steven Knight’s mesmerizing jewel of film titled Locke, Tom Hardy is so brilliant we readily watch him drive a car and talk on the hands-free phone for virtually the entirety of the film — and it’s one of the more effortlessly intense and fascinating performances I’ve seen any actor give in recent memory.
  15. 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.
  16. If there’s one thing you can count on from indie filmmaker Kelly Reichardt, it’s a keen and unwavering ability to bring the viewer into the world of the outsider as few other filmmakers can.
  17. This is a beautiful, puzzling film. The enigmatic quality of Huppert's performance draws us in.
  18. Yes, this is a comedy, but it's also sad, and finally it's simply a story about trying to figure out what you love to do and then trying to figure out how to do it.
  19. Foxcatcher is a disturbing and memorable film.
  20. Rohmer elegantly seduces us with people who have all of the alarming unpredictability of life.
  21. One of the pleasures of Beginners is the warmth and sincerity of the major characters. There is no villain. They begin by wanting to be happier and end by succeeding.
  22. What Campion does is seek visual beauty to match Keats' verbal beauty. There is a shot here of Fanny in a meadow of blue flowers that is so enthralling it beggars description.
  23. This is a smart, sensitive, perceptive film, with actors well suited to the dialogue. It underlines the difficulty of making connections outside our individual boxes of time and space.
  24. Bowie, slender, elegant, remote, evokes this alien so successfully that one could say, without irony, this was a role he was born to play.
  25. The film proceeds like a black comedy version of "The Godfather," crossed with Oliver Stone’s "Nixon."
  26. Arnold deserves comparison with a British master director like Ken Loach.
  27. This is the kind of movie that cults are made of, and after Little Shop finishes its first run, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it develop into a successor to "Rocky Horror Show," as one of those movies that fans want to include in their lives.
    • 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.
  28. Portman’s performance carries the day.
  29. What a sad film this, and how filled with the mystery of human life.
  30. Its surprisingly effective key scene involves an argument with his captain over the dictionary definitions of the words "conscience" and "justice." This may not sound exciting, but it was welcome after legions of cop movies in which such arguments are orchestrated with the f-word.
  31. What Tarantino has is an appreciation for gut-level exploitation film appeal, combined with an artist's desire to transform that gut element with something higher, better, more daring. His films challenge taboos in our society in the most direct possible way, and at the same time add an element of parody or satire.
  32. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is gorgeous to behold and up to its jugular vein in quirky/spooky atmosphere.
  33. It is not a film for most people. It is certainly for adults only. But it shows Todd Solondz as a filmmaker who deserves attention, who hears the unhappiness in the air and seeks its sources.
  34. For a movie audience, The Hours doesn't connect in a neat way, but introduces characters who illuminate mysteries of sex, duty and love.
  35. It’s impossible to fathom how writer-director Adam McKay has turned this material into one of the funniest and yet most sobering, not to mention one of the most entertaining movies of 2015.
  36. While the overall tone of Moana is uplifting, the story makes room for some pretty deep insights.
  37. It’s funny as hell, sometimes too self-consciously “indie” — but it leaves us with a final shot as perfect as anything I’ve seen to close a movie in quite some time.
  38. This is Rourke doing astonishing physical acting.
  39. If you are squeamish, here is the film to make you squeam.
  40. Skyfall triumphantly reinvents 007 in one of the best Bonds ever. This is a full-blooded, joyous, intelligent celebration of a beloved cultural icon, with Daniel Craig taking full possession of a role he previously played unconvincingly. I don't know what I expected in Bond No. 23, but certainly not an experience this invigorating.
  41. What is remarkable is how realistic the story is.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    A slice-of-life film like you have not seen. It is the story of people in a small ordinary town, knowing nothing but their ordinary affairs, revealing their sins and crimes with an ordinary negligence.
  42. Beresford is able to move us, one small step at a time, into the hearts of his characters. He never steps wrong on his way to a luminous final scene in which we are invited to regard one of the most privileged mysteries of life, the moment when two people allow each other to see inside.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    A romance, a thriller, and a science-fiction drama, Upstream Color tantalizes viewers with an open-ended narrative about overcoming personal loss.
  43. The best of three Star Wars films, and the most thought-provoking. After the space opera cheerfulness of the original film, this one plunges into darkness and even despair, and surrenders more completely to the underlying mystery of the story. It is because of the emotions stirred in Empire that the entire series takes on a mythic quality that resonates back to the first and ahead to the third. This is the heart.
  44. The friendship that develops between Ricky and Hec is priceless; they are each other’s salvation, whether they realize it or not.
  45. The film is more violent, less cute than the others, but the action is not the mindless destruction of a video game; it has purpose, shape and style.
  46. In its closing scenes, Hell and Back Again builds to an emotional and stylistic power that we didn't see coming.
  47. The film doesn't tell a story in any conventional sense. It tells of feelings. At certain moments we are not sure exactly what is being said or signified, but by the end we understand everything that happened - not in an intellectual way, but in an emotional way.
  48. Just plain fun. Or maybe not so plain. There's a lot of craft and slyness lurking beneath the circa-1960s goofiness.
  49. The beauty of the film is in its quietness.
  50. 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.
  51. Has the sort of headlong confidence the genre requires. Russell finds the strong central line all screwball begins with, the seemingly serious mission or quest, and then throws darts at a map of the United States as he creates his characters.
  52. A magnificent entertainment. It is like the flowering of all the possibilities in the original classic film.
  53. Goodnight Mommy is the kind of movie you should experience without watching the trailer or learning too much about it — and then experience again with the full knowledge of what happened, so you can admire the ways in which the puzzle was put together.
  54. 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.
  55. Owen Wilson is a key to the movie's appeal. He makes Gil so sincere, so enthusiastic.
  56. The success of Crimson Gold depends to an intriguing degree on the performance of its leading actor, a large, phlegmatic man.
  57. A joyous movie.
  58. The cast is amazing, from the great duo of Frost and Pegg to the supporting players, many of whom are better known for taking on heavy dramatic fare. The editing, special effects and set design — a joy to experience.
  59. What a beautiful, thrilling, joyous, surprising and heart-thumping adventure this is.
  60. Despite its creativity, the movie remains space opera and avoids the higher realms of science-fiction.
  61. The movie is long and slow. Either you will fall into its rhythm, or you will grow restless.
  62. Pedro Almodovar's new movie is like an ingenious toy that is a joy to behold, until you take it apart to see what makes it work, and then it never works again.
  63. There’s joy in watching a movie like You, the Living. It is flawless in what it does, and we have no idea what that is. It’s in sympathy with its characters. It shares their sorrow, and yet is amused that each thinks his suffering is unique.
  64. We're fully aware of the plot conventions at work here, the wheels and gears churning within the machinery, but with these actors, this velocity and the oblique economy of the dialogue, we realize we don't often see it done this well. Silver Linings Playbook is so good, it could almost be a terrific old classic.
  65. It is a touching story, and the musicians (some over 90 years old) still have fire and grace onstage, but, man, does the style of this documentary get in the way.
  66. This is a must-see for anyone who loves theater, acting and especially individuals like Elaine Stritch unafraid to bare their souls — so all of us can gain more insight into the complicated essence of the human condition.
  67. Guggenheim, contends the American educational system is failing, which we have been told before. He dramatizes this failure in a painfully direct way, says what is wrong, says what is right.
  68. It is a poem of oddness and beauty.
  69. Damon is terrific. The movie lives and breathes on his performance, and he comes through in every scene.
  70. 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.
  71. Tells one of those rare and entrancing stories where one thing seems to happen while another thing is really happening.
  72. A sports documentary as gripping, in a different way, as "Hoop Dreams."
  73. Another illustration of how absorbing a film can be when the plot doesn't stand between us and a character.
  74. So good in so many of its parts that there's a temptation to forgive it when it goes wrong. But it does go wrong, insisting on making larger points than its story really should carry, so that at the end, the human qualities of the characters get lost in the significance of it all. And yet there are those moments of brilliance.
  75. 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.
  76. We are captivated by the beauty we see, lulled into a sense of bliss. We are jolted by bursts of vengeance and violence, and even those are stylized beyond all comprehension. Hou is a master indeed.
  77. This film ennobles filmmaking.
  78. These opening scenes of Love and Death on Long Island are funny and touching, and Hurt brings a dignity to Giles De'Ath that transcends any snickering amusement at his infatuation.
  79. I figured it wasn't important for me to go into detail about the photography and the editing. I just wanted to scare the bejesus out of you, which is what Food, Inc. did to me.
  80. Three varieties of love: unfulfilled, mercenary, meaningless. All photographed with such visual beauty that watching the movie is like holding your breath so the butterfly won’t stir.
  81. It is a great story of love and hope, told tenderly and without any great striving for effect.
  82. If I were choosing a director to make a film about the end of the world, von Trier the gloomy Dane might be my first choice. The only other name that comes to mind is Werner Herzog's. Both understand that at such a time silly little romantic subplots take on a vast irrelevance.
  83. Beauchamp's film has an earnest solemnity that is appropriate to the material. He has a lot of old black and white TV and newsreel footage, including shots of the accused men before, during and after their trial.
  84. 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.
  85. Some of Jackie's dialogue is so good it would distinguish a sitcom.
  86. Most people do not choose their religions but have them forced upon themselves by birth, and the lesson of Incendies is that an accident of birth is not a reason for hatred.
  87. It is not the film you think it is going to be. You walk in expecting some kind of North Beach weirdo and his wild-eyed parrot theories, and you walk out still feeling a little melancholy over the plight of Connor.
  88. A family film that shames the facile commercialism of a product like "Pokemon" and its value system based on power and greed.It is made with delicacy and beauty.
  89. The funniest movie I have seen in a long time.
  90. A con within a con within a con. There comes a time when we think we've gotten to the bottom, and then the floor gets pulled out again and we fall another level.
  91. This movie is NEW from the get-go. It could be your first Bond. In fact, it was the first Bond; it was Ian Fleming's first 007 novel, and he was still discovering who the character was.
  92. Anyone who loves movies is likely to love Cinema Paradiso.
  93. Powerfully, painfully honest.
  94. A movie like this, with the appearance of new characters and situations, focuses us; we watch more intently, because it is important what happens.
  95. The movie is a great American document, but it's also entertaining. (Review of Original Release)
  96. A Bronx Tale is a very funny movie sometimes, and very touching at other times. It is filled with life and colorful characters and great lines of dialogue, and De Niro, in his debut as a director, finds the right notes as he moves from laughter to anger to tears. What's important about the film is that it's about values.
  97. Some of the political undertones may go astray, but the emotional center of the film is touching and honest.

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