San Francisco Chronicle's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 6,440 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 52% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 46% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 0.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 13 Assassins
Lowest review score: 0 Mother of Tears
Score distribution:
6440 movie reviews
  1. The main thing that keeps audiences glued throughout its running time is that it's a love story, easily one of the best American love stories of the past year.
  2. Intelligence and beauty -- and teasing romance -- shape Mansfield Park into a gorgeous, enchanting experience.
  3. Breaks the formula for teen romances. Martin Short, as the vain and zany drama teacher, does not disappoint.
  4. Rich with physical and psychological texture, and boosted by Thomas Newman's muted score, Unstrung Heroes is that rare mainstream film that doesn't shout in our ear to make its points. It draws us in, subtly and gracefully, and casts a lingering charm.
  5. An unforgettable examination of a host of dark impulses.
  6. Every now and then, a film comes along that both defies and compels description. District 9 is one such movie: a science-fiction action vehicle so brilliantly and fully imagined that real life, when it resumes after the credits, arrives with a new sense of dread.
  7. Both a memoir and a history lesson, the film looks back on their late father - a crusading civil rights lawyer who later defended a host of unsavory characters - with a combination of love, admiration and bafflement for the man he was and the career he forged.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A one-of-a-kind cinematic experience. This musician may not be a genius along the lines of Brain Wilson, as Feuerzeig claims, but Johnston has a knack for revealing innermost thoughts in an offhand way that is eerie and uncanny.
  8. All things considered, The Long Day Closes is a remarkable film -- tender and intelligent, long on mood and short on ''action,'' a cinematic poem that stands head and shoulders above the summer harvest of bonehead action thrillers. [23 July 1993, p.C9]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  9. As French crime thrillers go, this is about as good as it gets.
  10. The language is brilliant, and the laugh lines come so quickly that you'd probably have to watch the movie twice to get them all.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A rare, sumptuous movie treat.
  11. Sparrows is a kind of cinematic fable. At times funny, sad, poignant and suspenseful, Sparrows is a showcase for Majidi's masterful storytelling - and Naji's superb acting.
  12. Humpday succeeds, often beautifully, by grounding its risque premise in the awkwardness and humor of real people trying their damnedest to communicate. A lot.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It must be fun to make a film about a con artist when the con artist is a full and willing participant, literally going to the ends of the Earth to prove she is the real deal.
  13. It's hard not to come away in awe of a director in complete control of every frame.
  14. This one is dazzling.
  15. Friedkin has said the new, expanded version of his film has a more spiritual tone. But it's still a shocker.
  16. This wacky buddy road film... has a brilliant glow of intelligence behind the stupidness. It's easily the funniest movie of the year.
  17. The film is a damning look at a key Bush operative.
  18. Movie magic.
  19. A superb documentary.
  20. Inspiring and largely unsentimental, this is as much a love story as a tale of courage.
  21. First, this movie should be enjoyed. Later, marveled at. And then, once the excitement has faded, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days really should be studied, because director Cristian Mungiu creates scenes unlike any ever filmed.
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  22. What makes The White Ribbon a big movie, an important movie, is that Haneke's point extends beyond pre-Nazi Germany.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    I'll go ahead and call Drug War the best Hong Kong action movie since "Infernal Affairs" (the 2002 film that Martin Scorsese remade as "The Departed"), even though technically it's a Chinese film.
  23. Chilling, superbly acted.
  24. It is, all in all, off its rocker. But it's gorgeous.
  25. Documentaries can be informative, entertaining and provocative, but rare is the documentary that makes you feel so engaged (and enraged) that it prompts you to action somehow. Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion is that kind of film.
  26. The experience of seeing this film is cumulative, sober and profound.
  27. Typically, films about '60s subculture recycle the same set of media cliches and teach us nothing. Harron approaches the milieu with curiosity, compassion and an anthropologist's eye.
  28. Glatzer and Westmoreland live in Echo Park, and they have given their film a remarkable sense of place.
  29. A first-rate thriller about arrogance at the top.
  30. A terrific documentary.
  31. A film of wisdom, emotional subtlety and power.
  32. The director has said that, though the story was inspired by the deaths of his parents, he hoped to make a film "brimming with life." He's succeeded.
  33. Comedy is getting more and more nasty and more and more funny. But it’s hard to imagine any movie more nasty-funny than Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.
  34. Allen's most satisfying film since "Bullets Over Broadway" (1994) and his most compelling since "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989).
  35. To say it is about a debilitating disease is as reductive as saying "Little Miss Sunshine" is about a beauty pageant. Both are intimate stories of family ties that bind but sometimes also choke.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The most important mainland Chinese film this decade.
  36. The resulting film is neither better nor worse than the Swedish film, but it's more cinematic.
  37. An ungainly masterpiece, but Chaplin's ungainliness is something one can grow fond of.
  38. Funny People is a true brass ring effort, a reach for excellence that takes big risks. It's 146 minutes, with a story that's more European in feeling than American.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A hell of a movie.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Bujalski's writing is so good, and every shot and edit seems exactly right. Hopefully, there will always be a place for a film like this on a theater screen, no matter the whims of the marketplace.
  39. A great achievement: tense and passionate, a film that one feels not just emotionally but also physically.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Filmmaker Michael Almereyda gives the most persuasive possible account of the upswing in Eggleston's critical standing.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    All the requisite talking heads pop up - Dylan, Springsteen, Baez - but it is Seeger himself who towers over the landscape. The filmmakers treat this aged curmudgeon almost too reverently, but it is hard not to be awed by this gentle, resolute soul because of the ideas he steadfastly and faithfully represented.
  40. A great movie.
  41. A masterpiece.
  42. Using documentary-style Super 16 film and staged cutaway interviews with friends and family, James and his photographer and co-producer, Peter Gilbert, fashioned a movie with an affecting, candid look.
  43. It's a beautiful machine, thought out and revved up to the last detail, with no other purpose but to delight - and it delights. [24 May 1989, Daily Notebook, p.E1]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  44. This is one helluva drama, with one helluva star turn by Jennifer Lawrence as Ree.
  45. The first great Hitler movie.
  46. A mesmerizing documentary.
  47. The movie is funny, definitely funny. But underlying the humor is a vision so bleak, so despairing and so utterly hopeless as to make "No Country for Old Men" almost look cheerful.
  48. The picture, written and directed by Francis Veber, the screenwriter of "La Cage Aux Folles,'' is a complete success.
  49. It's screamingly, hysterically, laugh-through-the-next-joke, laugh-for-the-next-week funny. It's so inventive…This is a film by an original and significant comic intelligence.
  50. The beauty of Morris' achievement is the way he fuses Hawking's work in theoretical physics with his subject's life history -- finding subtle connections between the two, and avoiding the pat, predictable structure of biographical film. [28 Aug 1992, p.C3]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  51. One of Miyazaki's most kid-accessible movies, but still an unnerving film.
  52. The Devil's Advocate is a sharp, suspenseful and completely satisfying movie.
  53. A mystical masterpiece about a lonely man who helps a widower perform last rites for his wife, is an astonishing, haunting, sensual, lyrical, bleak and ultimately beautiful road-trip movie.
  54. The picture gently caricatures the folk music scene with dozens of delicate brush strokes, creating a picture that's increasingly, gloriously funny -- as in entire lines of dialogue are lost because the audience's laughing so hard.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Almost frighteningly alive.
  55. Toy Story 3 is a better film than "Wall-E" and "Up" in that it succeeds completely in conventional terms. For 103 minutes, it never takes audience interest for granted. It has action, horror and vivid characters, and it always keeps moving forward.
  56. One of very few films to accurately portray the experience of growing up male.
  57. It is, simply, the alienation-invasion movie to beat all alien-invasion movies: meticulously detailed and expertly paced and photographed, with sights so spectacular and terrible that viewers will have to consciously remind themselves to close their mouths when their jaws drop open.
  58. A first-rate crime thriller and further proof that Soderbergh is one of our great contemporary film stylists.
  59. Jim Jarmusch has come up with something strange and amazing.
  60. This is sublime filmmaking, a textbook example of how indies can tell groundbreaking stories in a way that Hollywood simply can’t match.
  61. Rippingly good, old-fashioned movie epic.
  62. Beautiful in both its brevity and its vision of contemporary Indian culture, the film abounds in easygoing humor.
  63. A breed apart from anything coming off the Hollywood assembly line or, for that matter, from the saccharine romances Britain has lately produced.
  64. It's a tribute to Day-Lewis that he can play a character like Danny -- cautious, withdrawn, inarticulate -- and endow him an eloquence and grace that aren't dependent on language. Without him, The Boxer might still be a powerful tale of loyalty and love, with a core of moral complexity; with Day-Lewis in the lead, it approaches greatness.
  65. It's a complex, satisfying piece of entertainment, a succession of unexpected, outrageous scenes.
  66. A movie about serendipity and spontaneity.
  67. Crumb is one of the most provocative, haunting documentaries of the last decade.
  68. A caustic comedy of Hollywood manners.
  69. As a great New York story, it’s also a great American story about ambition and failure, about the kind of people who make it, the kinds who don’t, and all the things that can go wrong.
  70. Israeli writer-director Joseph Cedar imbues his tale of academic maneuvering, misunderstanding and mystery with the zest of passion and the zing of intrigue, It's a vivacious film, having its little fun with suspense-flick conventions (including Amit Poznansky's bouncing score) that build to a climactic finish.
  71. A special film.
  72. Has its awkward and rough edges, but there's a purity here, a goodness of intention and a commitment to justice.
  73. This film delivers an emotional wallop, and it's hard to argue against that. Don't miss it.
  74. The Perks of Being a Wallflower hurts. It hurts because it depicts the loneliness, anxiety and all-out quivering mess of adolescence in a manner not often seen since John Hughes' heyday.
  75. Through a simple story line, dramatic acting and National Geographic-like shots of the city's rough and pristine edges -- creates cinematic magic.
  76. Exceptional, powerful new documentary.
  77. If it falls short of greatness, it's not by much - and it could end up growing with the years. At the very least, it is exceptional and one of the best and most original pictures to come along in 2012.
  78. A wonderful French offering whose jumping-off point is a bullfight.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Hurrah! Poetry and passion, comedy and tragedy are fused into one absolutely marvelous affirmation of independent spirit in Dead Poets Society. [2 June 1989, Daily Notebook, p.E1]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  79. Seeing it is a time-bending experience, a way of visiting the past and glimpsing the past's idea of the future. A masterpiece of art direction, the movie has influenced our vision of the future ever since, with its imposing white monoliths and starched facades.
  80. Ten
    A minimalist film, Ten looks and feels like a documentary. At the end, there is no big denouement, but a profound realization that the people we see on camera are all aching for answers -- and struggling to come to terms with their lives.
  81. Explosive entertainment, with the tension and volatility of its subject matter.
  82. In the hands of visionary filmmaker Alexander Sokurov, this simple material makes for a haunting drama about war, generational relationships and the human condition.
  83. Harrowing and unforgettable film.
  84. The cruelty of his methods aside -- and Polanski wasn't the first director to terrorize an actor for the sake of a performance -- Repulsion is a frightening, fiercely entertaining experience that holds up to time. (Review of May 1998 revival)
  85. Ambitious and brilliant.
  86. This is a remarkable movie: lovely, slow-paced and almost silent, rich with pathos and deft comic gestures.
  87. He (Aronofsky) has put together a phantasmagoria of self-destructive obsession that is so visually astounding it becomes its own saving grace. Otherwise, we might not be able to bear it.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
  88. The film is exciting in two big ways: its simplicity of story (Tanovic does not get bogged down trying to give us an epic history) and the breadth of Tanovic's vision.

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