Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,126 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 41% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 57% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 2.8 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 Where the Wild Things Are
Lowest review score: 0 Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2
Score distribution:
2,126 movie reviews
  1. Chiemi Karasawa's unblinking documentary feature watches Elaine Stritch struggle with the toughest role of her life—being old, and in constantly uncertain health.
  2. Noah can be silly or sublime, but it's never less than fascinating. I was on board from start to finish.
  3. The made movie — i.e. Mr. Pavich's documentary — makes for a great seminar on creativity. Its star is Mr. Jodorowsky, outrageously handsome and dynamic at the age of 84.
  4. What makes "The Winter Soldier" so enjoyable, though, and what will make it so profitable, is its emotional bandwidth — all the vivid, nuanced life lived by its characters in between their frenzied escapades.
  5. This film, which might have been called "The Fog of Words," isn't haunting, but dismaying. Mr. Rumsfeld is, as always, articulate, energetic and self-confident. Yet his words suggest a paradox — a restless mind with no discernible gift for self-reflection.
  6. Joe
    A beautiful film, shot by Tim Orr, that is elevated by Mr. Cage's stirring portrait of a violence-prone man who can't restrain himself from doing good.
  7. You don't have to be a fan of Mr. Jarmusch's special brand of indie spookiness to enjoy his new film. All that's required is patience with its languorous pace, plus a willingness to swing between amusement and delight, with periodic pauses at ennui.
  8. Here's a case of images in the service of important ideas, rather than entertainment, yet they could hardly be more powerful, from roaring torrents released by a dam in China to a lyrical helicopter shot of a glistening river in British Columbia.
  9. Ms. Coppola, who is Francis Coppola's granddaughter, has made a coming-of-age film about a culture in which few people — adults included — ever grow up. It's essentially plotless and slowly paced, much like the recent work of her aunt, Sofia Coppola, but astutely observed, full of fine performances and ever so guardedly hopeful about April and the boy who adores her.
  10. One of those movies that arrives every now and then with no fanfare but a canny sense of how to grab our attention and hold it in a tightening grip.
  11. Yet the heart of the film lies in what it manages to say, without boldface or italics, about how hard it is for Donna, like so many of her anxious cohort, to make genuine connections, to break free of narcissistic constraints and become a stand-up grown-up.
  12. When the time comes for suffering, the pain of watching her is mingled with the pleasure of a performance that transcends contrivance. This young actress is the real, heart-piercing thing.
  13. The Rover, is anything but lively, though it's long on menace, often violent and consistently fascinating.
  14. Ms. Stone is entrancing, whether Sophie is in or out of her trance state, and so is the movie as a whole.
  15. This isn't great filmmaking, but, under Rick Famuyiwa's direction, it's more than good enough.
  16. A strange anomaly. It's both cutting-edge entertainment and primitive precursor of unimagined wonders to come.
  17. I paid steadfast attention, both to the actress, a performer of unusual versatility, and to the character she plays, a caged -- and cagey -- bird who sings because she's too stubborn to cry.
  18. When Kevin Spacey takes center stage, our planet really does seem bright.
  19. Halle Berry is something else as Leticia Musgrove, the widow of an inmate who's just been executed by Hank and his crew, and that something else is commandingly passionate.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Especially well-rendered is the divide that occurred between the downtown and uptown worlds -- something that many who don't live in New York will grasp here for the first time.
  20. I regretted it most when the temporal hopscotching took me away from Ms. Winslet's portrait of the writer as a young sensualist, madly smitten by words and life.
  21. A Hollywood production that appeals to our patriotism while respecting our intelligence.
  22. I did enjoy the movie's mercurial moods -- anxiety, terror, whimsical horror -- and I welcomed its confirmation that the work of the devil includes SUVs.
  23. I found this film deeply affecting as well. It has a gravity that's independent of technique, and an engaging spirit that's enhanced by flashes of comedy.
  24. Mixes whiffs of Woody Allen and Federico Fellini with Mr. Farmanara's distinctive, mordant wit.
  25. Bears no resemblance to the smarmy fraud that Roberto Benigni perpetrated in "Life Is Beautiful."
  26. There's plenty of scary pleasure to be had from this clever, compact thriller.
  27. If truth be told, the film is less than the sum of its parts; the main problem is the fragmented narrative structure, a legacy of the literary source. Still, it's a joy to see men and women with dense life stories played by powerful actors with long and distinguished careers.
  28. It's hard to imagine spending $120 million on a film starring a computer-generated mouse -- an actor who barely demands a byte to eat -- but if that's how much it takes to provide innocent enchantment for the global hordes, so be it. This sequel beats the original paws down.
  29. The vision of office work that's offered up by Haiku Tunnel is as chilling as it is funny.
  30. Several startling depictions of the artist at work make you forget, if only temporarily, the serious shortcomings of the script.
  31. Beyond being entertained, I was delighted by the movie's outpouring of slapstick invention (one crazed sequence in a pet store has all the pawmarks of a classic), and the genial energy of its star, David Arquette.
  32. By the end, though, the production is engulfed by barely controlled frenzy -- all decor and no air, music as lo-cal ear candy, scenes as merchandise to be sold, people as two-dimensional props.
  33. By turns intriguing, boring, frustrating, amazing and stirring, this is a tour de force that, necessarily, lacks dramatic force, but one that creates a dream state of seemingly limitless dimensions.
  34. Ambitious and uneven.
  35. Didn't see through it, though I had a rough sense of what was coming, and didn't have all that much fun. I did enjoy the movie's cheerful preoccupation with style.
  36. Mr. Singleton is a very good storyteller, but every once in a while he stops his story cold with speeches. You can feel the audience lost interest, as though a commercial has suddenly popped on screen. [18 July 1991, p.A9(E)]
  37. May be something of a stunt, but it's a fascinating stunt that holds your attention from the start to shortly before the finish.
  38. This ambitious, entertaining movie, which showed at film festivals earlier this year, has been hailed in some quarters as a masterpiece worthy of Arthur Miller's Willy Loman or Sinclair Lewis's George Babbitt. Yet its social comments are stained by condescension, and its uplift is sustained by sentimentality that Mr. Nicholson's prickly Everyman can't conceal.
  39. It's all rather amusing, but after awhile you tire of all the perfect little nuances about characters who seem like prototypes for a certain type of Victorian novel. [6 Mar 1986, p.23(E)]
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    A romance, a detective story, a comedy and a fable. Such a mishmash prevents it from being a standout in any of those categories. -- It's lovely to look at, though, and it's ultimately carried to success on the back of a strong story.
  40. Finally seems like a bit of a con in its own right, but a marvelously smooth one.
  41. Considering the star power -- and talent -- of the cast around her, it would have been impressive if Alison Lohman had simply held her own as Astrid, the young heroine of White Oleander. Instead, she owns the movie.
  42. The cast is the main attraction in Francois Ozon's witty, even touching 8 Women.
  43. It's a shrewd little comedy that uses good British actors to challenge its star, who rises to the occasion.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    What MTV's "The Real World" would be like if its characters admitted they were simply aspiring actors. Garage Days is more clever, more compelling and genuine.
  44. Combines silly stuff about life in Los Angeles with buoyant energy, a couple of chases worthy of the Keystone Kops and quick-witted actors playing droll characters with obvious affection.
  45. This flamboyantly operatic anti-war film takes getting used to, though it leaves you with memorable images of madness, both poetic and military.
  46. This one is nowhere near as original -- it's a flawed remake of a fine first feature from Norway -- but "Insomnia" still stands on its own as a thriller with brains and scenic beauty.
  47. Pays off in surprising ways, when love of music, and fame, plays second fiddle to love of family.
  48. Howard, and the screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman, have used the book as nothing more than their jumping-off point for an erratic work of fiction that's part mystery thriller and part Hollywood schmaltz.
  49. A warm-heared picture with some hot dancing, some B movie class consciousness, lots of nostalgia and lots of cliches. [3 Sept 1987, p.17(E)]
  50. [(Cher's) never been better. [5 Jan 1988, p.22(E)]
  51. One would have to be totally tone-deaf not to notice that the director, Andrew Davis, has inflicted a broad cartoon style on adult performers who are distinctly uncomfortable with it.
  52. A movie you can't readily get out of your head.
  53. Edward Norton makes an art of self-containment. No contemporary actor gives less away to more effect, and he's at his closely held best in 25th Hour, a drama of redemption, directed by Spike Lee, that seldom rises to the level of his performance.
  54. Nothing to write home about, though nothing to stay home about either, especially if you're a dyed-in-the-polyester Powers fan.
  55. What the movie lacks in coherence it makes up for in zest, well-founded self-delight and a sharpshooter's eye for the absurdities of reality TV.
  56. The brute force of Terminator 3 is relieved, I'm happy to say, by Claire Danes's winning performance as John Connor's reluctant accomplice (whom the production notes describe, not inaccurately, as an "unsuspecting veterinarian"); by many of the special effects, which don't seem obsolete at all, and, yes, by the sinister trix of the Terminatrix.
  57. Yet dramatic energy is in short supply. The actors move about this elaborate movie museum in a modified dream state, as if living in the present while rooted in the past. But the strategy doesn't work. It's an imitation of lifelessness.
  58. A surprise and a not-so-guilty pleasure.
  59. For all its pictorial splendor and carefully calculated drama, this film misses greatness by a country mile.
  60. There's no doubt, though, that The Rundown will be a crowd-pleaser, despite a forgettable title and lots of roughness around the production's edges. It's a comedy-adventure with a frivolous soul.
  61. This story of 12 manipulable -- or manipulative -- men and women rarely fails to hold your interest, even though much of it doesn't hold water.
  62. By turns chilling, mysterious and inspiring; sometimes it's all of those at once.
  63. The film has a surprisingly sweet spirit, and its co-stars respect the human core in their garish material; Mr. Kinnear, especially, has never been more likable.
  64. Though the film is somber, it certainly commands one's attention, and for a while one's respect.
  65. Looks splendid and commands respect, but leaves you wondering what essential something you missed. It's a worthy film at war with itself.
  66. A seasoned director might have known when to ask Ms. Theron to do less, or nothing at all; as things stand, she acts at every single moment. But what brave and ferocious acting she does.
  67. The great lesson of the film is that humor, honest feelings and genuine exuberance trump technique.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Shows how a dedicated man ensured that great music could always be heard at its best.
  68. Entertaining and improbably endearing.
  69. Full of life -- which is a very good thing to say about a story that turns on death -- wonderfully odd, and a gallery of perfect performances.
  70. The fascination here is not so much the surface drama, though that is suspenseful and sometimes shocking, but Michele's inability to grasp the nature and extent of the evil that surrounds him.
  71. Isn't the best romantic comedy one might wish for, but it's more than good enough.
  72. It's a powerful polemic in its own right, despite some maddeningly glib generalizations, a documentary that functions as a 2½-hour provocation in the ongoing debate about corporate conduct and governance.
  73. Though there's less to the film than seduces the eye, the allure of those surfaces can be hypnotic.
  74. Its terrific cast kept making me laugh out loud.
  75. Supremacy certainly works on its own terms, but those terms are limiting. It's an entertainment machine about a killing machine.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    At times somber, and now and then dangerously close to self-important, Code 46 is nonetheless a smart, mature film that examines who and what we can be to each other, in a world full of invention and change.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Open Water, which was made for $130,000 -- and seemingly without special-effects assistance -- proves you don't have to have a big budget to have an audience on the edge of its seat.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Rich in motion -- the very clothes of the characters seem under a choreographer's direction -- as well as imagery.
  76. Reconstruction means to be confusing, and is. It also means to intrigue us, and does.
  77. Makes an eloquent case for John Kerry's courage, both during and immediately after his service in Vietnam.
  78. For all its energy, fine performances and dramatic confrontations, Friday Night Lights substitutes intensity for insight, dodging the book's harsher findings like a dazzling broken-field runner.
  79. Mr. Walken performs with a marvelously minimalist precision.
  80. Ms. Bening is the only reason to see the movie, but a compelling reason. Just like Julia, she prevails over lesser mortals with unfailing zest.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The devil had taken Reagan to the mountaintop and offered a world of spoils, from peace prizes to popular acclaim and a glamorous place in history. To reject it took more than guts. It took a man who put freedom ahead of his own glory. This is not a biography but the story of a man who faced off against the 20th century's "heart of darkness" and won.
  81. Watching the actors and gorgeous trappings is an adventure in cognitive dissonance. I didn't believe a single minute in almost three hours, but enjoyed being there all the same.
  82. It is thoughtful, unfashionable, measured, mostly honest, sometimes clumsy or remote, often exciting, occasionally moving and eventually surprising. It's correct.
  83. Everyone is touched by sadness or hobbled by self-deception, and everyone is interesting, even moving, to watch until the drama slowly suffocates beneath the weight of its revelations.
  84. An unusual amalgam of formulaic feel-goodism and shocking tough-mindedness, a movie that allows us to decode the inner life of its hero while he's decoding the world around him.
  85. How, then, does "In Good Company" turn out for the better in spite of itself? No mystery at all. Whatever the fate of old media, or new media, for that matter, winning performances are here to stay.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    In the end, though, it's all about seeing Clint Eastwood; it always was about Clint and always will be. To his fans, he's cool in every role (except, possibly, for that movie with the monkey). He can't help it. We can't help watching.
  86. A Knight's Tale wasn't made for people like me. It was made for the kids of summer.
  87. Crude as its build-up may be, the movie pays off with unexpected delicacy.
  88. It's no classic, but you don't need to be a cultist to get in on the tawdry fun.
  89. Joan Allen, for whom the role was written, combines severity, which she has often played before, with such levity and verve that she lifts the whole film on the wings of Terry's wrath.
  90. In the absence of internal logic, external style and emotional intelligence carry the day.
  91. Batman Begins summons up moments of great eloquence and power. If only its cast of characters was as fully inhabited as its turbulent city.

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