Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,205 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 2.6 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 Stephanie Daley
Lowest review score: 0 FeardotCom
Score distribution:
2,205 movie reviews
  1. Herb and Dorothy, a documentary by Megumi Sasaki, grows on you just as its subjects do.
  2. There's a near-sacred history in Hollywood of non-U.S.- born directors providing fresh perspectives on America. Miloš Forman. Alfred Hitchcock. Ang Lee. Ernst Lubitsch. Billy Wilder. For Prisoners, a stress-inducing trip into child abduction, the director is Quebecois filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, who gives us an American "hero" guaranteed to push many buttons, many times, and who might not have been allowed to be quite so awful, under a different director's lens.
  3. "Witty and brisk" is not the name of a French breakfast cereal, but it does describe a certain brand of French film, the type that coquettishly flirts with comedy while sprinting in the direction of dry, sophisticated charm. Such is Haute Cuisine.
  4. Beautiful images can be a distraction in a serious documentary, but that's hardly the case here. They draw us in so we can better understand the hurtling changes that endanger the future of Cambodia and, by extension, much of the developing world.
  5. The performances are nothing less than astonishing. It's easy to understand why the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival went to both actresses, though not easy for me to see why the movie itself was included in the unprecedented joint award.
  6. The Square stands as a valuable document of a tormented time, an anatomy of a revolutionary movement doomed by a paucity of viable institutions, and by the movement's failure to advance a coherent agenda. (It's all the more heartbreaking when a speaker at one of the protests cries fervently, "We will fill the world with poetry.")
  7. At Berkeley is more than the sum of its minutes. Narration-free and artfully discursive, it's a one-of-a-kind mosaic portrait of a great institution struggling, under dire stress, to retain its essential character at a time of declining support for public education.
  8. Visualizations are Mr. Jung's province, and they're what make his movie so deeply moving, as well as literally illuminating.
  9. All four performances are first-rate, and the action is staged with shattering intensity.
  10. The Invisible Woman gives us a plausible image of the great man in the fullness of his celebrity, and an affecting portrait of the woman who lived much of her life in his shadow.
  11. Family dysfunction has seldom been as flamboyant—or notable for its performances and flow of language—as it is in this screen version of the Tracy Letts play.
  12. What's on screen is a gorgeous grab bag of notions: ardent love, a salute to Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain," a bit of "Camille" and a lot — I mean a lot — of nuts-and-bolts stuff about nuts and bolts.
  13. With someone else in the central role, Gloria might have been cloyingly sentimental or downright maudlin. With Ms. García on hand, it's a mostly convincing celebration of unquenchable energy.
  14. Like Father, Like Son has still more on its mind — a vision of a Japan in which work will be balanced with leisure and love.
  15. The most intriguing question it raises is whether our feelings about Vermeer may be changed by the likelihood of him having used optics of one sort or another. The answer is yes, unavoidably, but not necessarily for the worse.
  16. Growth is the film's subtext, and finally its subject. Never has a line of dialogue been more freighted with symbolism, or more grounded in literal reality, than when Barbu says, ever so quietly, "Mother, please unlock me."
  17. Wonderfully fresh and affecting fable from India.
  18. Chiemi Karasawa's unblinking documentary feature watches Elaine Stritch struggle with the toughest role of her life—being old, and in constantly uncertain health.
  19. Noah can be silly or sublime, but it's never less than fascinating. I was on board from start to finish.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. The Rover, is anything but lively, though it's long on menace, often violent and consistently fascinating.
  31. Ms. Stone is entrancing, whether Sophie is in or out of her trance state, and so is the movie as a whole.
  32. All the more remarkably, then, this flawed but startling biopic stars another performer, Chadwick Boseman, who fills Brown's shoes with a dynamism that transcends imitation.
  33. It's a film of modest means and great ambition, a darkly comic drama concerned with nothing less than the place of faith, and an embattled Church, in modern life.
  34. Any movie with these two comics is a trip and a half. How about France for the next one? A perfect way to revisit Michael Caine.
  35. Clark Terry the teacher sometimes talks like a trumpet, even though he's dealing with a pianist—"daddle-leedle-daddle-loodle" is how he wants Justin to play one phrase. Clark Terry the man personifies generosity, and it's lovely to behold.
  36. Pride may not be a model of impeccable craftsmanship, but it's a fine example of turning a terrific subject into a gleeful event. It's also an example of the power of entertainment — of entertainment within entertainment.
  37. It also happens to feature a pair of performances that eclipse all else around them.
  38. Mr. Ostlund positions his troubled characters in an environment of polished ash and Scandinavian spotlessness, under which there are dark mutterings — the constant creak of tow cables and un-oiled metal.
  39. A very entertaining black comedy for very mysterious reasons.
  40. James Marsh’s movie, which co-stars Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking, the celebrated physicist’s wife, is a biographical love story that doesn’t depend on science to shape the plot — it’s rich in emotional intelligence.
  41. Foxcatcher is a radical departure from Mr. Miller’s previous feature, the smart and entertaining “Moneyball.” It isn’t meant as conventional entertainment, but it’s fascinating to watch from start to finish.
  42. Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. (What a terrific title!) This precocious, faux-primitive first feature, in Persian with English subtitles, and a sensationally eclectic score, was shot in wide-screen black-and-white, and frequently mimics the dreamlike rhythms of silent films.
  43. As a director, working with actors, she may have drawn on her own experience acting in features and TV; whatever her method, she has come up with a matched pair of terrific performances.
  44. What’s admirable about Pioneer is its succession of interesting environments, both below and above the water’s surface, and the quietly appealing figure at the center of the international intrigue.
  45. Now, thanks to this last film, in 3-D, the pleasure is intense, and mixed with awe. There is majesty here, and not just because we’re in the presence of magnificently regal madness.
  46. Red Army is about many things — politics and sport, service and servitude, integrity trumped by money. Most memorably, though, it celebrates a good man living a great life by his own lights.
  47. This isn't great filmmaking, but, under Rick Famuyiwa's direction, it's more than good enough.
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  48. A strange anomaly. It's both cutting-edge entertainment and primitive precursor of unimagined wonders to come.
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  49. 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.
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  50. When Kevin Spacey takes center stage, our planet really does seem bright.
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  51. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 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.
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  52. 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.
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  53. A Hollywood production that appeals to our patriotism while respecting our intelligence.
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  54. 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.
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  55. 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.
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  56. Mixes whiffs of Woody Allen and Federico Fellini with Mr. Farmanara's distinctive, mordant wit.
  57. Bears no resemblance to the smarmy fraud that Roberto Benigni perpetrated in "Life Is Beautiful."
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  58. There's plenty of scary pleasure to be had from this clever, compact thriller.
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  59. 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.
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  60. 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.
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  61. The vision of office work that's offered up by Haiku Tunnel is as chilling as it is funny.
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  62. Several startling depictions of the artist at work make you forget, if only temporarily, the serious shortcomings of the script.
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  63. 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.
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  64. 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.
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  65. 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.
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  66. Ambitious and uneven.
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  67. 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.
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  68. 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)]
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  69. May be something of a stunt, but it's a fascinating stunt that holds your attention from the start to shortly before the finish.
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  70. 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.
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  71. 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)]
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  72. 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.
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  73. Finally seems like a bit of a con in its own right, but a marvelously smooth one.
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  74. 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.
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  75. The cast is the main attraction in Francois Ozon's witty, even touching 8 Women.
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  76. It's a shrewd little comedy that uses good British actors to challenge its star, who rises to the occasion.
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    • 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.
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  77. 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.
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  78. This flamboyantly operatic anti-war film takes getting used to, though it leaves you with memorable images of madness, both poetic and military.
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  79. 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.
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  80. Pays off in surprising ways, when love of music, and fame, plays second fiddle to love of family.
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  81. 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.
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  82. 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)]
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  83. [(Cher's) never been better. [5 Jan 1988, p.22(E)]
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  84. 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.
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  85. A movie you can't readily get out of your head.
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  86. 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.
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  87. Nothing to write home about, though nothing to stay home about either, especially if you're a dyed-in-the-polyester Powers fan.
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  88. 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.
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  89. 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.
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  90. 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.
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  91. A surprise and a not-so-guilty pleasure.
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  92. For all its pictorial splendor and carefully calculated drama, this film misses greatness by a country mile.
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  93. 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.
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  94. 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.
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  95. By turns chilling, mysterious and inspiring; sometimes it's all of those at once.
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  96. 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.
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  97. Though the film is somber, it certainly commands one's attention, and for a while one's respect.
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  98. Looks splendid and commands respect, but leaves you wondering what essential something you missed. It's a worthy film at war with itself.
    • Wall Street Journal

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