USA Today's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 3,440 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 61% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 36% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 0.8 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 Black Swan
Lowest review score: 0 Idle Hands
Score distribution:
3,440 movie reviews
  1. Every so often a film gets under our skin with its haunting authenticity, reinforcing our faith in the wonderfully transporting power of cinematic storytelling. Winter's Bone is unquestionably that film.
  2. Emperor is like Full Metal Jacket - uneven, fuzzy, imperfect, and one of the reasons the movies were invented. [20 Nov 1987, p.1D]
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  3. Director Gillian Armstrong takes the delicate snow globe that is Little Women and gives it a bold new shake. [21 Dec 1994]
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  4. Just as funny, sweet and engaging as the first film starring the big galoot.
  5. This definitive "life goes on" movie does what Altman does best: juggle 22 characters, deftly switch moods, and offer a comlex warts-and-all characters whose lives seem to extend beyond the screen. Few movies attempt this; Fewer succeed. [1 Oct 1993]
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  6. The snappy sci-fi hoot Men in Black...is a kind of "Independence Day" for smart people.
  7. What results is a disarmingly honest tale of affection, both romantic and filial.
  8. The crucifixion is the strongest such scene of all time. [26 Aug 1988]
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  9. This is a great movie, but it needs a sales job because it's in Mandarin.
  10. It's equally endearing as a sweetly funny romance between two likable oddballs and as a low-tech time-travel thriller, and has something profound to say about making the most of the present.
  11. Even in the classiest movie summer of the decade, Mob is destined to demand respect for Pfeiffer. [19 Aug 1988]
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  12. This installment, the best of the three, is everything a movie should be: hilarious, touching, exciting and clever.
  13. A premier boxing movie and a forceful Depression remembrance for the socially conscious, Cinderella Man also ices it for stargazers that Russell Crowe is the dominant screen actor working today.
  14. So many movies try to capture human relationships and fail miserably. A few come close. Your Sister's Sister nails it with grace, humor and winning charm.
  15. Director Danny Boyle's riveting and kaleidoscopic tale, based on Vikas Swarup's debut novel "Q and A," is exquisitely adapted to the screen by Simon Beaufoy.
  16. A perfect fit between filmmaker (Memento's Christopher Nolan) and material (Norway's same-name psycho-chiller from 1997), this remake gets all there is to get out of a peculiar premise with promise.
  17. Doremus' elegant filmmaking is key to the appeal of the film, but it would never work as superbly without the wonderfully natural, believable performances and powerful chemistry of the lead actors.
  18. Though there is plenty of gunplay, this is a wondrously contemplative and poetic saga that offers a fresh and bewitching take on a timeworn genre.
  19. This is a building-block movie: Its stand-out excellence becomes apparent only gradually.
  20. If artist R. (Robert) Crumb can dispense immediately with his resume in Terry Zwigoff's superb Crumb, we can, too. [21 Apr 1995]
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  21. "The Right Stuff" will endure as the more ambitious movie, but this book-faithful, 2-hour team effort shrewdly keeps its eye on the ball.
  22. Heat is in the cop-movie pantheon with Akira Kurosawa's "High and Low," and that's as "right" as the genre gets.
  23. A thoroughly compelling political thriller, at once intellectually challenging and profoundly emotional.
  24. A masterwork of suspense, romance and political intrigue.
  25. One of the most extraordinary films in decades, this family drama is also one of the most ambitious in scope, having taken more than a decade to shoot. Yet it comes across as effortless and unassuming. Boyhood is an epic masterpiece that seems wholly unconcerned with trying to be one.
  26. The generally faithful script is by Anne Rice herself, the director is "The Crying Game"'s Neil Jordan, and both seem true to themselves and as true as they can be to artistic and visceral expectations. [11Nov1994 Pg. 01.D]
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  27. One of the rare sports films that devotes extensive screen time to heartbreaking losses is full of other surprises as well. [13 Oct 1994, p.1D]
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  28. What's most amazing is the finely nuanced performances these bits and bytes deliver.
  29. A movie with this kind of haunting power comes along only once every decade or so. [20 February 1991, Life, p.11D]
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  30. A contender for the year's best film.
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  31. Despite the film's sporadic lulls, both director and star are on full beam. The first and third hours of this 20th-century epic are as dazzling as big-scale movies get.
  32. The harrowing 12 Years a Slave is a mesmerizing period drama for the ages.
  33. Murderball brilliantly captures the intensity of the little-known athletic competition, offering more intimacy and drama than most Hollywood sports movies.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Sling Blade is about a society barely holding on by its fingernails, the home and hearth hardly a place of respite. Unlike "The Ice Storm" or "The Sweet Hereafter," Sling Blade is devoid of the creature comforts of middle-class life that at least allow people the degraded hobbies that keep them functioning. [May, 1998]
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  34. A riotous and wee bit PG-racy computer-animated family fable, is the most thoroughly enjoyable cartoon feature since "Toy Story" burst out of its box.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    In many ways delivers an experience that's even better than the real thing. It brings U2's dazzling rock spectacle to the multiplex with VIP comforts, all-access viewpoints and telescopic close-ups.
  35. Comprehensive and blisteringly paced.
  36. A musical detective story, this enthralling documentary focuses on a little-known American musician whose haunting voice and poetic lyrics were essentially unknown in his own country, but had a massive impact across the globe.
  37. If it isn't flawless, neither is "Fantasia"... Here's a live-action/animated marvel with no screen antecedent; “Chinatown” may actually come closest. [22 June 1988]
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  38. It's a precarious balance, but Payne blends wit and poignancy so artfully it feels like an exquisitely choreographed dance.
  39. Campion's script is very well received, but the film finally makes it on cinematics: bleakly beautiful photography, haunting score, and good acting. [12 Nov 1993]
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  40. Up
    Easily the summer's, and probably the year's, most enchanting movie, Up is a buoyant delight.
  41. An unflinching, powerfully visceral and haunting portrait of the tragic events aboard one of the terrorist-commandeered flights on the fateful morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
  42. The movie is so fun that it wouldn't need the mystery to be top-notch entertainment.
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  43. A movie this diminutive can be easily oversold, but we might see it on some year-end best lists. It eats at you, just like renewed love.
  44. Emerges as an African version of "Schindler's List."
  45. The mesmerizing, heart-tugging concert film Heart of Gold confirms Neil Young's stature as a national treasure.
  46. The best news the G rating has had since the ratings system was instituted in 1968.
  47. Timeliness can be tricky to pull off convincingly in movies. It's tough to capture an era while it's still happening, yet Up in the Air does so brilliantly, with wit and humanity.
  48. The only things missing from making this showdown worthy of a Western is Murrow's sheriff's badge, a dusty street and maybe a spittoon for McCarthy's infamous invectives.
  49. His (Cameron) movie may not be perfect, but visually and viscerally, it pretty well is.
  50. Great cinema - and also a whopping good time. [19 September 1990, Life, p.1D]
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  51. Michael Mann , directs with his standard prejudice toward the sheer physical. The result, almost musical, has only a couple recent movie precedents. [25 Sep 1992, p.1D]
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  52. As good as each individual movie is, the third film vaults the work into the stratosphere of classic movies. Key characters are enhanced, new civilizations visited and battles fought more intensely, while feelings and motivations are plumbed more deeply and movingly.
  53. With this, possibly his most subdued film, Almodo´var reinforces his status as one of the most distinctive and talented filmmakers working today.
  54. The rawest, most sustained screen portrayal of 20th century combat.
  55. Both a nostalgic throwback to the silent-picture era and an ultra-modern animated tale, the slyly humorous Triplets of Belleville is artful, engrossing and oddly touching.
  56. A superbly crafted and darkly funny real-life political thriller, with pitch-perfect performances.
  57. Bruce Dern gives the performance of his career as the headstrong Woody in the brilliant, wisely observed and wryly funny Nebraska. What stands out is the fullness of the character, with mannerisms and expressions that make him wholly dimensional.
  58. Gosling and Williams have the most palpable chemistry of any screen couple this year, never striking a false note in this achingly tender tale of a love that implodes before our eyes.
  59. Emma is the peak of the recent Austen pack and a star-maker, too -- an antidote to a summer in which even good movies have subordinated writing and characters to special effects. [02 Aug 1996, Pg.01.D]
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  60. Half-factual, half-fanciful and all funny, this labor of love is also unexpectedly touching. [28 September 1994, Life, p.5D]
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  61. Though Weaver is by all accounts (mine included) in the real-life “none-nicer'” class, I've always suspected she might be great as a shrew. She is. [21 Dec 1988, Life, p.1D]
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  62. More than any other example in recent memory, Chicago shows how much the element of surprise is missing from today's movies.
  63. A singular accomplishment so specifically keyed to Spacey's talents that it mandates going out on a limb to say it contains the performance that will ultimately be regarded as "the one."
  64. Forman finesses the story's grimmer aspects as he did in "Cuckoo's Nest," and his ability to switch moods on a dime remains unsurpassed.
  65. It's clever, farcical and offers wry social commentary. With its heartfelt performances, intelligent writing and subtle humor, this is easily one of the most perceptive and engaging movies of the year.
  66. For a brutal black comedy about L.A. hitmen, Pulp Fiction bursts out of its binding with loopy delights. [14 Oct 1994]
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  67. Happily, there's nothing to misconstrue about the film: It's fabulous.
  68. Unstintingly explores and exposes excruciating pain, raw grief, ruinous vengeance and life-affirming resilience, creating human portraits that are uncommonly exhilarating in their honesty. This is cinematic art in its highest form.
  69. After watching Pfeiffer and Day-Lewis submerge molten 19th-century sparks here, it is now conceivable that Scorsese could make compelling cinema out of “Three Blind Mice.” [17 Sept 1993, Life, p.1D]
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  70. Only a truly visionary filmmaker could take a story largely set in a cramped canyon and give it a sense of openness and hope.
  71. It's hard to imagine how a film built around one-on-one interviews could be entertaining, but Frost/Nixon could not be more enthralling.
  72. Tucker is the best Capra movie since Capra quit making them himself. [12 Aug 1988]
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  73. Michael B. Jordan is superbly multi-dimensional as Grant.
  74. There've been few screen moments more moving this year than Cruise's initial reaction to his brother's almost superhuman math prowess. [16 Dec 1988]
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  75. One of the best films of the year.
  76. It's a rare film that can challenge our minds and rattle our nerves so profoundly. This is unequivocally a thriller for adults. A deftly written, tautly suspenseful and intellectually demanding morality tale.
  77. This is the kind of people-driven story that the movies used to give us - before special effects took over.
  78. Every performance in the film is flawless.
  79. Stripped of all bravado, Cruise delivers a raw and probably detractor-proof performance. Spielberg does what he did right in creating a novel milieu for "A.I. Artificial Intelligence," but this time the writing is fresher and anything but unwieldy.
  80. This Pride & Prejudice is a stellar adaptation, bewitching the viewer completely and incandescently with an exquisite blend of emotion and wit.
  81. A great movie just got greater, thanks to this thorough restoration. [Director's Cut; 27 June 1997, p.D3]
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  82. Who would have thought that one of the most provocative and affecting films made about the fallout from 21st century divorce would have emanated from a 19th century novel?
  83. The exhilarating, inventive and suspenseful story hinges on a pair of commanding performances.
  84. The most powerful of all recent wayward-youth sagas; indeed, it's tough to recall the last such drama that packed as much emotional clout.
  85. Sophisticated and universal yet deeply intimate, A Separation is an exquisitely conceived family drama that has the coiled power of a top-notch thriller.
  86. An outstanding lead performance by Mads Mikkelsen (who won best actor for the role at Cannes in 2012) anchors this hauntingly layered and nuanced drama of a man falsely accused of a terrible deed.
  87. Cinematic poetry in black and white. It also is a deeply affecting tale of the power of resilience and an unflagging sense of humor through the worst of situations
  88. A rich gem expertly told in a surprisingly scant 95 minutes.
  89. Black Hawk turns nightmare into great cinema.
  90. As good as "Unforgiven." Or, to put it another way, as good as any movie Eastwood has ever directed.
  91. An instant classic, an Oscar-worthy showcase for Jeremy Irons, and a tightrope ballet over dicey screen material… A subtle movie - and thus a disturbing one. Like “Vertigo,” “The Night of the Hunter,” “Repulsion” and a few others, it finds beauty in morbidity - then nags you to come back for a second dose. [23 Sept 1988]
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  92. The best action thriller of the year.
  93. Can be taken on many levels, and that's why it works so completely.
  94. A monumentally moving experience, from the powerful acting by Javier Bardem to the evocative music, composed by the director, Alejandro Amenábar.
  95. One of the year's best movies and certainly its most delightful screen surprise.
  96. Let's say it without equivocation: Colin Firth deserves an Oscar for his lead role in The King's Speech as the stammering King George VI.
  97. The film now seems both mellowed and --thanks in part to the most vibrant-looking prints in its 22-year history -- revitalized.
  98. Though his film is like no other baseball movie, it may remind you of Paul Newman's hockey comedy Slap Shot: a knowing look at sport's underbelly - punctuated by jelly-belly laughs. [15 June 1988]
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