USA Today's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 3,357 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 0.9 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Lowest review score: 0 Idle Hands
Score distribution:
3,357 movie reviews
    • 86 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Crowe has invented a fresh character in Lloyd Dobler, and Cusack has invested him with an ingratiating persona that helps avert disaster when things become a bit melodramatic in the final resolution. [14 April 1989]
    • USA Today
  1. The best news the G rating has had since the ratings system was instituted in 1968.
  2. With the astonishingly assured newcomer Jason Schwartzman to bounce off of, Murray has his best comic foil since those feisty rodents in Groundhog Day and Caddyshack. [5 February 1999, Life, p.11E]
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  3. As good as "Unforgiven." Or, to put it another way, as good as any movie Eastwood has ever directed.
  4. This gem features five topnotch, multidimensional performances in one of this summer's most engaging films.
  5. A weeper poised to endure as one of the dominant independent features of the year.
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  6. 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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  7. Fury, I Am a Fugitive, Wild Boys of the Road and Emperor of the North come immediately to mind as definitive Depression movies. This little gem, which may get overlooked, deserves to be on the same list. [20 August 1993, p.5D]
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  8. One of the year's most audacious, savagely funny and unpredictable films, it features an outstanding performance by Michael Keaton as the has-been star of a superhero franchise desperate to be taken seriously.
  9. Bedroom succeeds with performances that get some of their power from imaginative casting.
  10. A great movie just got greater, thanks to this thorough restoration. [Director's Cut; 27 June 1997, p.D3]
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  11. Deliver Us From Evil is so horrifying it makes "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" look like a walk in the park.
  12. A superbly crafted and darkly funny real-life political thriller, with pitch-perfect performances.
  13. More than anything, The Grifters isn't dramatically shot; black-and-white would have made a huge difference. [5 Dec 1990]
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  14. The story itself is surprisingly seamless, yet it's the individual components that linger.
  15. It is at once warmly humanistic and boldly innovative, raising philosophical questions but not answering them.
  16. Anderson has taken pains to re-create the '50s with superb production design and gorgeous cinematography. But he seems less concerned with whether the audience is along for the ride. The story can leave viewers at sea, floundering to give meaning to what they are watching.
  17. Joins company with "Sullivan's Travels" and "Sunset Boulevard" as the quintessential Hollywood peek-a-boos...[and] Tim Robbins' modulated performance rates rhapsodic praise. [10 Apr 1992]
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  18. The film's score and editing brilliantly heighten the film's energy, keeping the audience somewhat off-kilter and unsure where things are headed.
  19. Miyazaki creates fascinating, fluid and whimsical scenarios.
  20. An enthralling tale of friendship that transcends biases, Ernest & Celestine offers a lovely lesson on acceptance and inclusion.
  21. 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."
  22. It's unlikely there will be a film as visually stunning or poetic this year - or perhaps any year - to rival Beasts of the Southern Wild.
  23. Plays like a labor of love.
  24. The best action thriller of the year.
  25. The best drama you've seen about Anytown, USA, since "American Beauty."
    • USA Today
  26. With this 2002 Cannes Film Festival best-picture winner, Polanski skips the quirky flourishes and simply brings history to life.
  27. With its ceaseless music, large canvas, shrewd casting and flawless ensemble acting and the dexterity of its whiplashing mood switches, the movie recalls Robert Altman's "Nashville" more than any subsequent movie has.
  28. While the film is heart-wrenchingly sad, it also is mordantly funny, uncomfortably prickly and above all, unflinching in its depiction of a believable sibling relationship.
  29. A stylistically fastidious, exasperatingly affected package that will put most people in the mood for slumber.
  30. What makes the movie so winning are its endearing and relatable characters who spout believable dialogue and amusing banter, steeped in clever pop-culture references and sharp observations of human nature.
  31. Through stellar performances, clever writing and exquisite cinematography, the story is fresh and thoroughly captivating.
  32. The film employs a largely British cast that is perhaps the most impressive ensemble of any movie this year.
  33. A compelling drama that establishes Ryan Gosling as one of the finest actors of his generation.
  34. Lean, mean and mordant black comedy.
  35. Nicholson has at least three magnificent moments in Hour 2. The best is a wedding toast that comes after another that will painfully remind you of every banal wedding toast you've ever heard.
  36. The mesmerizing, heart-tugging concert film Heart of Gold confirms Neil Young's stature as a national treasure.
  37. Wildly witty, but also inventive, audacious and poignant.
  38. Farhadi's latest film is almost hypnotically compelling, spinning an intricate web of predicaments, emotional reactions and resolutions in a domestic drama that leaves the viewer reeling by its conclusion.
  39. We are happy to report there is intelligent life in feature animation beyond planet Disney and the gaseous ball of foul language known as South Park.
  40. The movie version feels like a stately, but watered down, episode of "Masterpiece Theatre" fused with "The English Patient."
  41. This Korean-made film takes the well-worn creature-feature genre and spins it on its head thrillingly.
  42. The low-key approach probably gets closer to the soul of Leonard, but it lacks zip. As a result, Out of Sight sometimes runs out of gas.
  43. A shape-shifting film, it resembles a poem. At other moments, it is closer to a symphony. Most often, it approximates a fervent prayer.
  44. Michael B. Jordan is superbly multi-dimensional as Grant.
    • 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]
    • USA Today
  45. If feuds, drunken outbursts and thoughtless bed-hopping sound like fun, then A Christmas Tale is a hoot. Some wry humor runs through the course of the overly long saga. But there's not enough dark wit to mitigate the tedium and pretentiousness.
  46. One small documentary for a filmmaker and one giant leap in inspiration for audiences.
  47. An exhilarating sci-fi action thriller with a powerful social and political message.
  48. This thorough original is a wall-to-wall exercise in gallows humor, a movie whose full funny/sad effect doesn't hit until you reflect upon the subject and the cast of characters.
    • USA Today
  49. Literate, melancholy and magical, Moonrise Kingdom is quintessential Wes Anderson, infused with his brand of daffy wit.
  50. The result is almost enough to make an audience levitate.
  51. Every movie year has one, and now it's Britain's Mike Leigh who's conjured up the professional reviewer's worst nightmare: the picture so original, well-acted and witty that it must be given its ample due - despite being heavy on components guaranteed to bum out all but the most frequent moviegoers. [23 Dec. 1993, p.5D]
    • USA Today
  52. News is right, completely right, until it slips just a bit at the end.By that time it hardly matters because you've seen the best of the holiday films, as well as the most all-around entertaining movie of 1987 - a bittersweet media comedy-drama that surpasses its potential. [16 Dec 1987, p.1D]
    • USA Today
  53. Penn's Oscar-caliber transformation is breathtaking, and the saga of one man's fight for human rights is engrossing.
  54. Land has a lot of funny moments, which are no less serious for being so, especially when the script turns politically prickly.
  55. Glossy or not, the movie is unflinchingly tough-minded, down to its Hollywood-weepy ending, which, if you think about it, may be the year's gloomiest.
  56. River ranks with the best movies Eastwood has directed: "The Outlaw Josey Wales," "Unforgiven" and "The Bridges of Madison County." But this time, the work is strong without his own on-screen presence -- a significant achievement.
  57. Each character is decent and likable, as well as complex. The four main portrayals are outstanding -- so natural and believable that you are drawn into their story immediately.
  58. When so much of what Hollywood churns out is almost instantly forgettable, it says a lot about a film when viewers want to take time to argue, ponder and puzzle over it.
  59. 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.
  60. But the film's emotional core is father-son reconciliation, and Pete Postlethwaite is very sympathetic as Dad. [29 Dec 1993 Pg. 01.D]
    • USA Today
  61. With this, possibly his most subdued film, Almodo´var reinforces his status as one of the most distinctive and talented filmmakers working today.
  62. At its best, hard-hitting grown-up cinema (rare these days) and a movie blessed with a villain (Big Tobacco) for which all gloves can be removed and heaved into the next county.
  63. 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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  64. It's a precarious balance, but Payne blends wit and poignancy so artfully it feels like an exquisitely choreographed dance.
  65. One bad idea can unravel and ruin lives in unimaginably horrific ways.That's the concept underlying the riveting Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, a sharply acted and highly entertaining morality play.
  66. It is that rare film that is equal parts entertaining, life-affirming and thought-provoking.
  67. A rare hybrid that perfectly blends the dazzle of a futuristic action thriller with the intellectual substance of an art film.
  68. Besides being filled with Chappelle's hilarious sense of humor, the movie features life-affirming messages and great music by serious rap artists with political, socio-cultural and spiritual themes.
  69. This is intelligent grown-up entertainment on both a political and a humanistic level.
  70. A movie just good enough to keep nurturing rooting interest as you watch it.
  71. Thompson has had the good sense and sensitivity to get Austen right, while letting Winslet steal the show.
  72. Through its detailed depiction of the lead character and McConaughey's outstanding portrayal, Dallas Buyers Club enlightens compellingly without sermonizing.
  73. Crazy Heart, based on a 1987 novel by Thomas Cobb, also has great music. Even if you're not a country music fan, the songs, by T Bone Burnett and the late Stephen Bruton, are infectious.
  74. A Little Princess is the first of its progeny to blend brains with entertainment. This stylish sleeper easily outpaces the studio's starchy updates of "Black Beauty" and "The Secret Garden", and even betters Shirley Temple's 1939 take on Frances Hodgson Burnett's Princess perennial. [18 May 1995, 12D.]
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  75. Even at its best, Adaptation is one of the movie year's most esoteric outings -- more so than even Paul Thomas Anderson's far superior "Punch-drunk Love." Too smart to ignore but a little too smugly superior to like, this could be a movie that ends up slapping its target audience in the face by shooting itself in the foot.
  76. The scenes in Pandora -- a planet with an Earth-like environment -- are so breathtaking that the narrative seems almost beside the point.
  77. Welcome to the Dollhouse does, with accessible dark comedy and chilling honesty, reminding us right off that school-cafeteria agonies only begin with the cuisine. [24 May 1996 Pg.04.D]
    • USA Today
  78. It's an intriguing match of material and filmmaker. Dahl's distinctive, edgy storytelling seems to fit well with Anderson's idiosyncratic worldview and visuals.
  79. Drawing upon "Wag the Dog," "Dr. Strangelove" and "This Is Spinal Tap," this sardonic tale is adapted from the critically acclaimed BBC series "The Thick of It."
  80. The gritty, Oscar-nominated "Traffic" is a limo ride compared with the bloodletting in this year's foreign-film nominee from Mexico.
  81. A smooth mix of humanism and keen filmmaking instincts.
  82. When it comes to sheer spectacle, Star Trek, as re-imagined by J.J. Abrams, delivers.
  83. Landed exactly the right actors for a script that already gets points for respecting its teenage characters.
  84. 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]
    • USA Today
  85. Features the season's most tragic heroine along with some of the liveliest dead people ever seen on film.
  86. Jiro is a thoughtful engineer and a romantic, not a soldier. And The Wind Rises conveys the visual poetry of its titular reference.
  87. 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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  88. With special effects so convincing you don't even think about them, a head-case hero and a three-dimensional villain who is his equal, socko Spider-Man 2 has something for everyone.
  89. Audiences meet the most memorable voices in the world of backup singers. They perform with world-famous musical acts, but theirs are not household names. Their stories, however, are inspiring, heartbreaking and enthralling.
  90. Overall, however, the manner in which the film blends the tale of an imperiled boy and the history of cinema makes for an ambitious and fanciful ride.
  91. The climactic rescue by Navy SEALs is riveting. But it's Phillips' devastating after-the-fact shock that leaves the most haunting impression in this ambitious, taut and captivating thriller.
  92. I enjoyed everything about Moonstruck except for its meandering mid-section. On cassette, with vino accompaniment, it may seem perfect. In theaters, with a diet drink, it still rates as the holiday sleeper. [18 Dec 1987]
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  93. This is the kind of well-made movie you wish well but you don't particularly wish to see again.
  94. Drag Me to Hell is unlike any scary thriller in a while: frightening, frenzied and fun.
  95. 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.
    • 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.
  96. Babe, a live-action fable about a valiant pig who conquers prejudice like a barnyard Jackie Robinson, is in a league of its own when it comes to enchantment.
  97. A good little movie dominated by a great central performance that's likely to endure. [30 Jan 1998, p.D2]
    • USA Today

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