Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 5,883 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 A Serious Man
Lowest review score: 0 Dirty Love
Score distribution:
5883 movie reviews
  1. Rarely have two actors been so effective playing the same character while taking totally different approaches.
  2. He’s a real smoothie, Warren Beatty, and when he plays one in a movie he is almost always effective. But his title role in Bugsy is more than effective, it’s perfect for him - showing a man who not only creates a seductive vision, but falls in love with it himself.
  3. This is no ordinary musical. Part of its success comes because it doesn't fall for the old cliché that musicals have to make you happy. Instead of cheapening the movie version by lightening its load of despair, director Bob Fosse has gone right to the bleak heart of the material and stayed there well enough to win an Academy Award for Best Director.
  4. This is a film by the Coen Brothers, and this is the first straight genre exercise in their career. It's a loving one. Their craftsmanship is a wonder. Their casting is always inspired and exact. The cinematography by Roger Deakins reminds us of the glory that was, and can still be, the Western.
  5. There is a deep embedding of comedy, nostalgia, shabby sadness and visual beauty.
  6. Ritt directs with a steady hand, and the dialog by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Flank bears listening to. It's intelligent, and has a certain grace as well.
  7. Juan Jose Campanella is the writer-director, and here is a man who creates a complete, engrossing, lovingly crafted film. He is filled with his stories. The Secret in Their Eyes is a rebuke to formula screenplays. We grow to know the characters, and the story pays due respect to their complexities and needs.
  8. This movie is remarkable in that it seems to be interested only in facts.
  9. The brothers Maeda are pure gold; the film captures what feels like effortless joy in their lives, and it is never something they seem to be reaching for.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Maysles gets to the heart of what is important to Apfel: truth, in a world in which it’s in increasingly short supply.
  10. Good Time is a hallucinatory and often gripping one-night stand of mishaps, mayhem and madness. Ultimately, though, the sometimes clever story runs out of steam and limps across the finish line, and the in-your-face characters and camerawork, not to mention the in-your-ears score, left me not all that involved and a bit exhausted.
  11. The film uses a slice-of-life approach to create a docudrama of chilling horror.
  12. By the end of the movie, we have been through an emotional and a sensual wringer, in a film of great wisdom and delight.
  13. A Room with a View enjoys its storytelling so much that I enjoyed the very process of it. The story moved slowly, it seemed, for the same reason you try to make ice cream last: because it's so good.
  14. As we watch them drilling with flashcards and worksheets, we hope they will win, but we're not sure what good it will do them.
  15. The final scene of the film contains an appearance and a revelation of astonishing emotional power; not since the last shots of "Schindler's List" have I been so overcome with the realization that real people, in recent historical times, had to undergo such inhumanity.
  16. The style here is so seductive and witty it's hard to pin down. It's like nothing else I've seen by Hill, and at times, it almost reminds me of Jacques Tati crossed with Robert Altman. It's good to get a crime movie more concerned with humor and character than with blood and gore; here's one, as we say, for the whole family.
  17. It is told from and by an adult sensibility that understands loneliness, gratitude and the intense curiosity we feel for other lives, man and beast.
  18. Good fun, especially if you like Leone's way of savoring the last morsel of every scene. (Review of Original Release)
  19. The movie's success rests largely on the shoulders of Fernanda Montenegro, an actress who successfully defeats any temptation to allow sentimentality to wreck her relationship with the child.
  20. 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.
  21. Here is a film of great beauty and attention, and watching it is a form of meditation. Sometimes films take a great stride outside the narrow space of narrative tradition and present us with things to think about. Here mostly what I thought was, why must man sometimes be so cruel?
  22. As the film takes deeper and darker turns, it also becomes something special, something unflinchingly honest, something that will punch you in the gut AND touch your heart.
  23. It provides the most observant study of working journalists we're ever likely to see in a feature film. And it succeeds brilliantly in suggesting the mixture of exhilaration, paranoia, self-doubt, and courage that permeated the Washington Post as its two young reporters went after a presidency.
  24. While the movie contains delights and inventions without pause and has undeniable charm, while it is always wonderful to watch, while it has the Miyazaki visual wonderment, it's a disappointment, compared to his recent work.
  25. The movie is funny, sassy and intelligent in that moronic Simpsons' way.
  26. The movie gets a little confused toward the end, I think, as its writer and director, Lea Pool, tries to settle things that could have been left unresolved.
  27. Riding Giants is about altogether another reality. The overarching fact about these surfers is the degree of their obsession.
  28. The little boy here, a stick-figured, button-headed, wide-eyed tot with a signature red-and-white striped shirt, is one of the most distinctive and adorable animated characters you’ll ever come across, and his introduction to “the world out there” is a moving revelation indeed.
  29. Trouble is, the Room 237 conspirators — er, contributors — don't seem to realize that those meanings are either not hidden, not meanings or not remotely supported by the secret evidence they think they've uncovered.
  30. Watching this film I reflected that there are only so many Cracker Jacks you can eat before you decide to hell with the toy.
  31. 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.
  32. This is a gloomy film with weird characters doing nasty things. I've heard of eating chocolate-covered insects, but not when they're alive.
  33. Mamet's dialogue has a kind of logic, a cadence, that allows people to arrive in triumph at the ends of sentences we could not possibly have imagined. There is great energy in it. You can see the joy with which these actors get their teeth into these great lines.
  34. No, it doesn't turn into another horror film or a murder-suicide. It simply shows how lives torn apart by financial emergencies can be revealed as being damaged all along.
  35. You may have heard that Lorenzo's Oil is a harrowing movie experience. It is, but in the best way. It takes a heartbreaking story and pushes it to the limit, showing us the lengths of courage and imagination that people can summon when they must.
  36. 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.
  37. The other key character is McCarthy himself, and Clooney uses a masterstroke: He employs actual news footage of McCarthy, who therefore plays himself.
  38. Broadway Danny Rose uses all of the basic ingredients of Damon Runyon's Broadway: the pathetic acts looking for a job, the guys who get a break and forget their old friends, the agents with hearts of gold, the beautiful showgirls who fall for Woody Allen types, the dumb gangsters, big shots at the ringside tables (Howard Cosell plays himself). It all works.
  39. This is a movie that strains at the leash of the possible, a movie of great visionary wonders.
  40. Renier’s performance is the best thing in the movie, although all the actors, cast partly for their faces, are part of creating this desperate world.
  41. If the film is perhaps a little slow in its middle passages, maybe that is part of the idea, too, to give us a sense of the leaden passage of time, before the glory of the final redemption.
  42. 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.
  43. A diabolical and absorbing experience.
  44. Mel Brooks is home with Young Frankenstein, his most disciplined and visually inventive film (it also happens to be very funny).
  45. We think of first love as sweet and valuable, a blessed if hazardous condition. This film, deeper than it seems, dares to suggest that beyond a certain point, it can represent a tragedy.
  46. Leigh's Another Year is like a long, purifying soak in empathy.
  47. Here is a film that invites philosophical musing. Made without dialogue and often in long shots, it regards the four stages of existence in a remote Italian village.
  48. Murmelstein answers his accusers in The Last of the Unjust. Over a compelling three hours and 38 minutes.
  49. Do we need a fourth film? Yes, I think we do. If you only see one of them, this is the one to choose, because it has the benefit of hindsight.
  50. I like the way Last Resort ends, how it concludes its emotional journey without pretending the underlying story is over. You walk out of the theater curiously touched.
  51. This film is such a virtuoso high-wire act, daring so much, achieving it with such grace and skill. Minority Report reminds us why we go to the movies in the first place.
  52. Frank Langella and Michael Sheen do not attempt to mimic their characters, but to embody them.
  53. We laugh, that we may not cry. But none of this philosophy comes close to the insane logic of "M*A*S*H," which is achieved through a peculiar marriage of cinematography, acting, directing, and writing.
  54. A documentary that does the job it sets out to do. I wish it had tried for more. It is a competent TV sports doc, the sort you'd expect to see on ESPN. Unless you are a big fan of Senna or Formula One, I don't know why you'd want to pay first-run prices to see it.
  55. The part that needs work didn't cost money. It's the screenplay. Having created the characters and fashioned the outline, Tarantino doesn't do much with his characters except to let them talk too much, especially when they should be unconscious from shock and loss of blood.
  56. First reactions while viewing Time Bandits: It's amazingly well-produced. The historic locations are jammed with character and detail. This is the only live-action movie I've seen that literally looks like pages out of Heavy Metal magazine, with kings and swordsmen and wide-eyed little boys and fearsome beasts.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Beyond the Hills is an arthouse film from Romania, yet, in its slow, lurching progress toward a tragic exorcism, it is a stylistic nephew of America's "The Exorcist."
  57. Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me is a poignant, stark, lovely and sometimes devastating film — a tribute to one of the great crossover stars of his time, and an unblinking look at how Alzheimer’s relentlessly chips away at one’s memories and thought process, brick by brick. It is worthy of an Academy Award nomination.
  58. Mark is played by John Hawkes, who has emerged in recent years as an actor of amazing versatility. What he does here is not only physically challenging, but requires timing and emotion to elevate the story into realms of deep feeling and, astonishingly, even comedy.
  59. It's poignant to watch the chicks in their youth, fed by their parents, playing with their chums, the sun climbing higher every day, little suspecting what they're in for.
  60. A touching and effective film.
  61. A brave film in the way it shows two people who find any relationship almost impossible, and yet find a way to make theirs work. The problems with the film come because it overstays its welcome.
  62. There are enough plots here to challenge a Robert Altman, specialist in interlocking stories, but the director, Bob Giraldi, masters the complexities as if he knows the territory. He does.
  63. So what we're seeing here is the emergence of a promising writer-director, an actor and a cinematographer who are all exciting, and have cared to make a film that seeks helpful truths.
  64. Breathtaking and terrifying, urgently involved with its characters, it announces a new director of great gifts and passions: Fernando Meirelles.
  65. Red Rock West is a diabolical movie that exists sneakily between a western and a thriller, between a film noir and a black comedy.
  66. Sandler gives one of his most authentic performances.
  67. This film moves effortlessly from some pretty intense dramatic moments to hilarious scenes showcasing the contrasting lifestyles of the gay and straight worlds to some vignettes of incredible poignancy.
  68. A great American film.
  69. Deep movie emotions for me usually come not when the characters are sad, but when they are good. You will see what I mean.
  70. Planet of the Apes is much better than I expected it to be. It is quickly paced, completely entertaining, and its philosophical pretensions don't get in the way. If you only condescend to see an adventure thriller on rare occasions, condescend this time. You have nothing to lower but your brow.
  71. Fascinating and has a lot of laughs in it.
  72. The latest in a flowering of good films from Iran, and gives voice to the moderates there. It shows people existing and growing in the cracks of their society's inflexible walls.
  73. Los Angeles always seems to be waiting for something. Permanence seems out of reach; some great apocalyptic event is on the horizon, and people view the future tentatively. Robert Altman's Short Cuts captures that uneasiness perfectly.
  74. Causes us to leave the theater quite unreasonably happy.
  75. One of the pleasures of Fiennes' film is that the screenplay by John Logan ("Hugo," "Gladiator") makes room for as much of Shakespeare's language as possible. I would have enjoyed more, because such actors as Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Cox let the words roll trippingly off the tongue.
  76. Nearly every scene in A Most Violent Year is pitch perfect. Chandor the writer comes across as a big fan of David Mamet’s, and Chandor the director invokes stylistic touches reminiscent of Sidney Lumet, among others, but Chandor is no cover artist.
  77. Garland (adapting a novel by Jeff VanderMeer that is the first of a trilogy) does a masterful job of building the mystery, dropping plot hints like so many bread crumbs, jolting us with “gotcha!” moments.
  78. The movie is vulgar, raunchy, ribald, and occasionally scatological. It is also the funniest comedy since Mel Brooks made "The Producers."
  79. The editing, with so many twists and turns and so many supporting characters needing their due, is without hiccups. And thankfully, there’s plenty of dark humor.
  80. The case transfixed a racially polarized New York City. The teens were labeled as a "wolf pack" by the news media, led by the New York tabloids.
  81. 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.
  82. It is fairly lighthearted, under the circumstances; like "Catch-22," it enjoys the paradoxes that occur when you try to apply logic to war.
  83. The movie treads a dangerous line. There are times when its ferocity threatens to break through the boundaries of comedy - to become so unremitting we find we cannot laugh.
  84. These are hard men. They could have the "Sopranos" for dinner, throw up and have them again.
  85. All of these criticisms exist entirely apart from the performances of Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight. It is a tribute to them, and to the core of honesty in the screenplay, that Ratso and Joe Buck emerge so unforgettably drawn. But the movie itself doesn't hold up.
  86. Although there are moments when the characters in Dear White People sound as if they’re reciting different sections of a thesis, overall Simien’s screenplay is tight, funny, smart and insightful, and his direction has just enough indie feel without becoming too self-conscious or preachy.
  87. No actor is better than Bill Murray at doing nothing at all, and being fascinating while not doing it. Buster Keaton had the same gift for contemplating astonishing developments with absolute calm. Buster surrounded himself with slapstick, and in Broken Flowers Jim Jarmusch surrounds Murray with a parade of formidable women.
  88. The cinematography, the set design, the costumes, the overall feel of Loving: all first-rate. Negga and Edgerton are undeniably good. I was impressed. I just wish I’d been more deeply moved.
  89. What beauty. What brutality. What madness.
  90. This is one of Kristin Scott Thomas' most inspired performances.
  91. This is a deceptive film. It starts in one direction and discovers a better one. Cheshire is a dry, almost dispassionate narrator, and that is good; preaching about his discoveries would sound wrong.
  92. Eastwood’s two-film project is one of the most visionary of all efforts to depict the reality and meaning of battle.
  93. Not a documentary about anything in particular. That is its charm. It's a meandering visit by a curious man with a quiet sense of humor, who pokes here and there in his family history, and the history of tobacco.
  94. The movie itself is good and shows promise, except for the ending, when Trier shouldn't have been so poetic. Not only does Reprise generate itself, it contains its own review.
  95. Morris' visual style in The Thin Blue Line is unlike any conventional documentary approach. Although his interviews are shot straight on, head and shoulders, there is a way his camera has of framing his subjects so that we look at them very carefully, learning as much by what we see as by what we hear.
  96. 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.
  97. It haunts you, you can't forget it, you admire its conception and are able to resolve some of the confusions you had while watching it.
  98. Have I mentioned A Serious Man is so rich and funny? This isn't a laugh-laugh movie, but a wince-wince movie. Those can be funny too.

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