San Francisco Chronicle's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 5,827 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 53% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 45% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 0.1 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 American Beauty
Lowest review score: 0 Venom
Score distribution:
5,827 movie reviews
  1. This wonderful romp of a movie looks magical on the big screen: colors are a picnic for the eyes, details loom so clearly you can practically touch them and there's a sense of the larger-than-life with a film that's already larger than life.
  2. In scene after scene -- the long wedding sequence, John Marley's bloody discovery in his bed, Pacino nervously smoothing down his hair before a restaurant massacre, the godfather's collapse in a garden -- Coppola crafted an enduring, undisputed masterpiece. [21 Mar 1997, Daily Datebook, p.C3]
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    One of the greatest of all epics.
  3. I'm as reluctant to stop writing about this movie as I was to stop watching it: At 166 minutes, it flies by, and you don't want to leave that world. But one thing is certain: This isn't the last word. People will be writing about this film for years - and looking at it to discover the lost history of our time.
  4. A masterpiece.
  5. Part fairy tale and part bogeyman thriller -- a juicy allegory of evil, greed and innocence, told with an eerie visual poetry.
  6. It turns out that Pepe Le Moko is even better than "Algiers."
  7. Visually stunning, it meshes haunting images with a complex multilevel story about the enchantment of youth.
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. 12 Years a Slave has some of the awkwardness and inauthenticity of a foreign-made film about the United States. The dialogue of the Washington, D.C., slave traders sounds as if it were written for "Lord of the Rings." White plantation workers speak in standard redneck cliches. And yet the ways in which this film is true are much more important than the ways it's false.
  11. Superb.
  12. Ratatouille is a classic.
  13. See Gravity in theaters, because on television something will be lost. Alfonso Cuarón has made a rare film whose mood, soul and profundity is bound up with its images. To see such images diminished would be to see a lesser film, perhaps even a pointless one.
  14. An ungainly masterpiece, but Chaplin's ungainliness is something one can grow fond of.
  15. But make no mistake, whether the movie is fair or horribly unfair - I know nothing of the actual facts and can't make that determination - its portrait of Zuckerberg is a hatchet job of epic and perhaps lasting proportions.
  16. One of the most innovative and best made films of the past year. Every now and then, even Dick Cheney gets to like a great movie.
  17. Moaadi is the standout here, subtly evoking filial worry and fatherly pride in one scene, popping off with rage in another: He's believably decent, believably flawed. A Separation touches on religious strictures and the role of women in Iran, but it does so with a light hand and not a twitch of condemnation.
  18. The latest in the wonderful "Before" series does three important things: It breaks out of the courtship formula, yet retains the series' quality, and it moves the lives of Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) forward in ways that are satisfying and believable. True, a romance you once envied might now be a relationship you'd not want to be in, but as long as Celine and Jesse are still talking, there's hope.
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  19. It is an exhilaration from beginning to end. It's the movie equivalent of that rare sort of novel where you find yourself checking to see how many pages are left and hoping there are more, not fewer.
  20. This one enters the pantheon of great American war films.
  21. Payne's little marvel.
  22. There is no turning away from the screen.
  23. The comic contrast between the genteel snobbery of von Bulow, a Danish aristocrat, and Dershowitz's dry contempt for his well-tailored client is treated with understated but stinging wit in Nicholas Kazan's brilliant script. [9 Nov 1990]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  24. The class act of action movies.
  25. By any measure, the horrifying yet powerfully uplifting Schindler's List from director Steven Spielberg is a milestone in the art of filmmaking. [15 Dec 1993]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  26. In this one masterpiece, Federico Fellini achieved the ideal balance -- between social observation and unconscious imagery, between artistic discipline and freedom, and between the neo-realism of 1950s Italian cinema and the orgiastic flights of his later work.
  27. Its deeply anarchic sensibility has kept Taxi Driver fresh all these years. (Review twenty years after release).
  28. Perfect pitch.
  29. Days of Heaven is a visual poem. Slow and elegant, reverential in the way it celebrates the earth's contours and the play of light. [27 Oct. 1999, p.B3]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  30. Crumb is one of the most provocative, haunting documentaries of the last decade.
  31. Wise, delicate and impeccably performed, Yi Yi is a three- hour drama that looks at one middle-class family in transition -- and does so with such a kind and probing eye that we all see our lives reflected through Yang's lens.
  32. A gem of fast action, sophisticated wit and inspired comedy.
  33. As French crime thrillers go, this is about as good as it gets.
  34. Gets it right. It's a wonderful movie. Watching it, one can't help but get the impression that everyone involved was steeped in Tolkien's work, loved the book, treasured it and took care not to break a cherished thing in it.
  35. An indelible statement on loneliness and spiritual thirst.
  36. 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.
  37. Star Wars' has three crucial elements going for it and they've traveled time like troopers -- it's a terrifically entertaining war story, it has memorable characters and it is visually compelling. What more do we want in movies, anyway? [Special Edition]
  38. An absolute delight, combining the cheap thrills of a biopic with the gentler, but more lasting, pleasures of a brilliant character study.
  39. 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)
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Has more originality, nitty-gritty humor, spirit and spunk than all the summer blockbuster retreads combined. Underneath the jousting and jiving, there's a sharp, uncompromising look at the anatomy of a race riot in the movie. [30 June 1989, Daily Notebook, p.E3]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  40. Riveting.
  41. The best movie of 2008? The most revealing war film ever made? The greatest animated feature to come out of Israel? All these descriptions could apply to Waltz With Bashir.
  42. Leigh goes right to the core of his character's lives and mines the place where we're weakest, most alone and sometimes the cruelest.
  43. Feels positively Greek in its magnitude, a lament about fate, age, time and life.
  44. As close to perfect as filmmaking gets.
  45. An overwhelming experience.
  46. This is one helluva drama, with one helluva star turn by Jennifer Lawrence as Ree.
  47. One of the best crime dramas to come along in years.
  48. A great achievement: tense and passionate, a film that one feels not just emotionally but also physically.
  49. A great experience, precisely because it's so intimate and unguarded.
  50. Among the great American crime movies, 1973's Badlands stands alone. [13 Feb. 1998]
  51. Egoyan's voice is so clear and loving, his vision so forgiving and his film so intelligent that you come away refreshed.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It not only evocatively captures the Russian spirit and the yearnings of a generation, but it also masterfully chronicles the historic collapse of the Soviet Union and its complex aftermath.
  52. The visuals pop, the fish emote and the ocean comes alive. That's in the first two minutes. After that, they do some really cool stuff.
  53. This Is Not a Film isn't just a film, it's a strong one. It's also an act of political defiance, a moving personal document and a meditation on what film is and can be.
  54. Part of the appeal of Topsy-Turvy is its generosity about human folly and shortcomings. Its wistfulness is very touching.
  55. It's tremendously entertaining, and probably worthy of repeat viewings.
  56. Magnificent but somewhat frustrating movie.
  57. It's a humane and witty treatment of an average life that, incidentally, speaks to the worth and inherent drama of average lives.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Sad funny and richly romantic, everything that makes Allen’s movies so beloved. [7 February 1986, Daily Notebook p.76]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Director Jesse Moss was basically a one-man production crew, which explains how he was able to film such intimate, painful conversations. His work is haunting — one of the best documentaries of the year.
  58. Ida
    Ida is a rarity, a film both intensely grounded in painful historical reality and genuinely otherworldly.
  59. An original, inspired piece of work.
  60. A superb documentary.
  61. American Hustle is David O. Russell's best film, one that finds him in that ideal zone of spontaneity and complete control.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A rare chance to see a major cinematic work on the big screen.
  62. A delicate, beautifully observed study of impossible romance, Lost in Translation is one of the best films this year.
  63. So in-depth, so appealing, so easy to sit through and so anomalously grand scale that few who see it will ever forget it.
  64. A great film, the best I've seen since Terrence Malick's "The New World," and far and away the richest and most brilliantly acted picture to be released this Oscar season.
  65. 4 Little Girls brilliantly captures a moment in American history and tells an achingly painful story of injustice and family loss.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Delightful.
  66. 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.
  67. 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.
  68. This is a remarkable feat, not only of cinematography, but of choreography. Just to film Michael Keaton and Edward Norton walking down a Manhattan street, everything had to be timed as in a dance — when the camera swirls ahead, when it goes behind, when it swoops back around. It’s all accomplished so smoothly that it would be worth doing merely as a stunt, except this is no stunt. This method carries the mood and soul of one of the best movies of 2014.
  69. The most coolheaded of the Iraq war documentaries, the most methodical and the least polemical. Yet it's the one that will leave audiences the most shattered, angry and astounded.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Almost frighteningly alive.
  70. Has there ever been a live concert film as vibrant or as brilliantly realized? I don't think so. [Review of re-release]
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A heartrending film, Lee's Poetry is indeed a work of art.
  71. In many ways - in all ways - The Artist is a profound achievement.
  72. Magical and haunting, The Piano has the power and delicate mystery of a gothic fairy tale. [19 Nov 1993]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  73. Ferocious brutality is presented without commentary or judgment, yet with unmistakable moral understanding and vision. [21 September 1990, Daily Notebook p.E-1]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  74. Frank, funny and true as "Ghost World."
  75. A triumph that goes well beyond Hoffman's tour de force performance.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    And there lies the greatest flaw with Citzenfour and Snowden himself. Despite the film’s virtues, we’re no closer to understanding Snowden than we were a year ago when this saga began.
  76. Make no mistake, Blue Is the Warmest Color constitutes a breakthrough, in addition to being the best film of 2013.
  77. "Human Resources" was a good, straightforward tale, but Time Out is better. It's haunting. It's like a poem.
  78. 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Lattuada has adapted a gritty neorealist style to suit his dark comedy and is in full command in the final half hour, when he ups the ante in surprising ways.
  79. There's such a thing as smart angry, and such a thing as stupid angry, and after seeing Inside Job, audiences will be smart angry.
  80. It will be the most talked-about comedy of summer.
  81. The King's Speech is a warm, wise film - the best period movie of the year and one of the year's best movies.
  82. That perception of Fiennes and Gustave is central to the whole enterprise. Without it, the movie just breaks off and flies away. But with it, The Grand Budapest Hotel becomes something wonderful.
  83. Robert Redford's exceptionally handsome and provocative Quiz Show manages a trick that few films even dare try -- to take a hard look at personal and public moral issues and still provide dazzling entertainment.
  84. A film of great sadness, but also a galvanizing depiction of heroism.
  85. The most entertaining movie of the year. Funny and action-packed, it's also got that rare thing, heart.
  86. The film, winsome and tragic at once and finely attuned to the rhythms of childhood, always seems quite close to real life.
  87. Life Is Sweet, a comedy with wonderfully touching moments by off-beat British director Mike Leigh, is an absolute gem of eccentric humor about family life. Fresh and quirky, the film dishes up astonishing vitality in its look at what is ostensibly a plain, lower middle-class family in Middlesex. [22 Nov. 1991, p.C5]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  88. Anyone not romantically inclined going into Shakespeare in Love surely will be by the end.
  89. This is a vision of hell conveyed in a simple, documentary style, far removed from the sumptuous American Mafia fables.

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