Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,252 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 The Ghost Writer
Lowest review score: 0 Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Score distribution:
2,252 movie reviews
  1. It's easy to speculate that the loving Cleo and the frequently absent Johnny are stand-ins for Ms. Coppola and her own famous father, but Somewhere needn't be seen as a film à clef. The movie stands on its own terms as a slow-burning drama of life in a Hollywood purgatory where you can not only check out but leave.
    • 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  2. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    An affecting story of punishment and crime, of betrayal and redemption marred by preachiness and a treacly ending, Catch a Fire is notable for its refusal to see things in terms of black and white.
    • Wall Street Journal
  3. A freewheeling denunciation of the capitalist system that is often mordantly funny and, by lurching turns, scornful, rambling, repetitive, impassioned, mock-lofty, pseudo-lowbrow, faux-naïve, persuasive, tabloid-shameless and agit-prop-powerful.
  4. The essence of the film is slapsticky, chopsocky action, rendered with great verve and accompanied by bromides having to do with the need to believe.
  5. There's plenty of scary pleasure to be had from this clever, compact thriller.
    • Wall Street Journal
  6. Several startling depictions of the artist at work make you forget, if only temporarily, the serious shortcomings of the script.
    • Wall Street Journal
  7. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  8. A series of picaresque adventures in a notably picturesque land. Is it enough to sustain anything resembling dramatic momentum? For a while it isn't, but then, unexpectedly, it is.
  9. There's the expected, though no less astounding, profusion of life forms on the way down — Mr. Cameron calls them "critters" when he isn't using their scientific names — but the essence of the drama is the explorer's deepening solitude.
  10. Horror and social value contend for equal honors in Must Read After My Death, a frightening -- and eerily edifying -- documentary that Morgan Dews created from a family trove of photos, Dictaphone letters, audiotapes, voluminous transcripts and home movies.
  11. The repetitions are meant as a sort of metajoke, and it works well enough, more often than not, though heightened levels of raunch and chaos seem not so much meta as frantic.
  12. Odd as it seems for a film built on such a grand scale, sweet is the operative word here, and that's not meant as an insult. [29 May 1992]
    • Wall Street Journal
  13. Much of this is fascinating, as far as it goes, but it wouldn't go as far as it does into drama were it not for Ms. Johansson's wonderfully strange performance.
  14. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  15. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  16. Mixes whiffs of Woody Allen and Federico Fellini with Mr. Farmanara's distinctive, mordant wit.
  17. A P.T. Anderson film is, by definition, an event, even if this one doesn’t measure up to such absurdist landmarks as Howard Hawks’s “The Big Sleep,” the Coen brothers’ “The Big Lebowski” and Robert Altman’s peerless “The Long Goodbye.”
  18. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  19. Roger Donaldson's film is endearing in its own right as a celebration of a strong-willed eccentric, and memorable as a showcase for a brilliant actor in a benign mode.
    • Wall Street Journal
  20. Much of the film is banal or pretentious, or both - vacuous vignettes about emptiness. Occasionally, though, those vignettes burst into life and burn with consuming fire.
  21. It's a privilege to watch peerless actors at the peak of their powers.
  22. Here’s a nice surprise, a zestful, slightly autobiographical debut feature from Israel, written and directed by a woman, Talya Lavie, that takes satirical aim at the passions, frustrations and sexual politics of women in the army.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    A loopy, endearing documentary.
  23. The music is shamelessly entertaining, and the warmth of Morgan Freeman's narration conveys the possibility that, for all the imminent peril, the lemurs of this enchanted forest still have a fighting chance.
  24. 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
  25. The movie as a whole is clever, and conspicuously overwrought. But Mr. Downey's performance is elegantly wrought; he's as quick-witted as his legendary character, and blithely funny in the lovers' spats—all right, the mystery-lovers' spats—that Holmes keeps having with Jude Law's witty Dr. Watson.
  26. Bizarre and belabored, yet grimly fascinating.
  27. There are worlds within the startling world of Murderball.
  28. This modest little fable from Israel, in English, Hebrew and Arabic, has spellbinding resonances, yet never breaks the spell by blowing its own horn.
  29. My advice to "Hobbit" fans is not only to see this one, but to see it as I did, in 3-D projected at the normal rate of 24 frames per second. The film will also be shown in what's called High Frame Rate 3-D, at 48 frames a second, but that made the last installment look more like video than a regular movie. Smaug is scary enough without a turbo boost.
  30. 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
  31. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  32. Guaranteed to fan antigovernment sentiments among its audiences, Dinosaur 13 is less about paleontology than it is about prosecutorial overreach, political gamesmanship, dinosaur swindlers and true crime — if in fact crimes were even committed, and/or committed by the people accused.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Audiences will be rooting for him all the way to the end zone.
    • Wall Street Journal
  33. Mammoth manages to be as affecting as it is heartfelt.
  34. Mr. Van Sant and his star, Michael Pitt, together with the cinematographer Harris Savides, set out to do a somber, rigorously distanced study of a man drained of all resources, and slowly though inexorably approaching his end. That they have done exactly what they meant to do is notable.
    • Wall Street Journal
  35. The Visitor tells of renewal through love. Its song is tinged with sadness, but stirring all the same.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Shows how a dedicated man ensured that great music could always be heard at its best.
    • Wall Street Journal
  36. When Kevin Spacey takes center stage, our planet really does seem bright.
    • Wall Street Journal
  37. Sharp-witted, sometimes surreal and largely autobiographical French-language comedy.
  38. The movie isn't deep, or particularly intricate; it doesn't play all that much with the potential for mistaken identities, and the cruelty it depicts becomes repetitive or, worse still, desensitizing. But The Devil's Double does give us indelible images of Uday's decadence - the filmmakers say they're understated - and a double dip of dazzling acting.
  39. Modest in scale but formidable in its impact.
    • Wall Street Journal
  40. The film benefits enormously from having the luminous Rebecca Hall as its lead. It also gains an ominous gravity from the haunted, wounded and wobbly England in which it's set.
  41. Edges have been softened, harshness has been transformed into happiness sprinkled with eccentricity. And the paradox, of course, is that we're glad to be seduced. As Disney films go, this is a good one.
  42. The structure is sheer contrivance — three narratives intricately interlocked — while the plot amounts to a convenience store of variably credible, or borderline incredible, strands. Yet the film is impressive all the same.
  43. The film transcends its various borrowings and occasional stumblings with a modern, exuberant spirit that draws heat from Broadway-style musical numbers and, before and after everything else, from marvelous 3-D animation
  44. Gets lots of mileage from a combination of high spirits, scorn for the laws of physics, readily renewable energy and an emphasis on family values-not those of the nuclear family, but of hell-raising, drag-racing outlaws who genuinely care for one another.
  45. It's short, taut, nicely shot, well-acted, astutely directed, specific where it might have been generic, original enough to be engrossing and derivative enough to be amusing.
  46. 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)]
    • Wall Street Journal
  47. Fascinating not only for its portrait of an emergent--and endearing--superstar, but for the evolution of three teammates the young LeBron came to love, and the hard-driving coach who evolved with them.
  48. Once Lisbeth has her day in court, though, the buildup pays off and then some.
  49. The taste with which one is left is not savory, exactly, but it certainly lingers.
  50. Where the movie is at its best is in the comically laconic, straight-to-the-camera remarks offered by Carthage's residents. (They're played by a mix of local actors and real townspeople doing partially scripted versions of themselves.)
  51. It's a genre film, not great art, though there's a good joke about art - a pricey piece of action painting, appropriately enough - but it's a thoroughly satisfying entertainment, and, in this season of lowered expectations, a nice surprise.
  52. Ken Loach better watch out. From the start of his illustrious career his name has been synonymous with left-wing politics expressed in remarkably fine, consistently serious social-realist dramas, most of them set in England or Scotland. Now he has gone and directed a comedy from a script by his longtime collaborator Paul Laverty, and it's so delightful that his fans will be clamoring for more.
  53. The film is thin and mannered, even though many of the mannerisms are intrinsic to its shrewd vision of cult behavior. There's no arguing, though - and who would want to? - Ms. Marling's extraordinary gift for taking the camera and weaving a spell.
  54. Bears no resemblance to the smarmy fraud that Roberto Benigni perpetrated in "Life Is Beautiful."
    • Wall Street Journal
  55. Isn't the best romantic comedy one might wish for, but it's more than good enough.
    • Wall Street Journal
  56. This is a movie about longing, desire, desperation and the abandonment of principle - quite a collection of themes, all universal.
  57. The Man Nobody Knew is packed with knowledge of another sort. It amounts to an absorbing, sometimes appalling course in how U.S. foreign policy evolved and functioned following World War II.
  58. The film is almost distractingly beautiful to look at, something that accentuates the tension between the film's conflicting quantities, i.e., the glories of the physical world, and the corrupted humanity it hosts.
  59. Nothing to write home about, though nothing to stay home about either, especially if you're a dyed-in-the-polyester Powers fan.
    • Wall Street Journal
  60. Tetro turns out to be not one movie but, at the very least, two--a Fellini-esque (or Coppola-esque) concatenation of drama, dance and opera (with a nod to Alphonse Daudet), and a modest, appealing coming-of-age story that involves Maribel Verdú (from “Y Tu Mamá También”) as Tetro’s girlfriend.
  61. A solid success, primarily though not entirely because of Jeremy Renner. He's a star worthy of the term as Aaron Cross, another haunted operative who, like Jason Bourne, is as much a victim of the government's dirty deeds as a covert super-agent. But the production is impressive too.
  62. Goofily funny, and silly, and in many ways follows the currents of contemporary comedy into the gulf stream of inanity. And yet Ned turns out to be a strangely moving figure, a comic foil worthy of affection, perhaps even respect.
  63. The movie perseveres with affecting, sometimes startling candor, and eventually delivers on its promise by confronting the dark fears and furtive hopes of a couple no longer young.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It's important to keep in mind that little in The Illusionist is quite what it seems. That goes for the movie itself, fashioned from smoke, mirrors and, fortunately, Mr. Norton's magical performance.
    • Wall Street Journal
  64. Before Wanted reaches the end of its wild course, the violence that's been nothing but oppressive becomes genuinely if perversely impressive; the ritual carnage becomes balletic carnage (railroad cars included); the Walter Mitty-esque hero, Wesley, played by James McAvoy becomes a formidable enforcer of summary justice, and Mr. McAvoy, most memorably the young doctor in "The Last King of Scotland," becomes a certified star.
  65. This is a film with a positive message that's delivered eloquently, and who's to say that joyous purpose doesn't have its place?
  66. The cleverness gives considerable pleasure until the story grows absurd and the story within the story turns unpleasant, like the creepily precocious young man who tells it.
  67. That's not to say that this first visit to a live-action Narnia on screen isn't enjoyable, or promising for the future of what will surely be a successful franchise. But there's not a lot of humor along the way, and the epic struggle between good and evil plays out in battles more impressive than thrilling.
    • Wall Street Journal
  68. Déjà Vu is pretty dazzling, as action adventures go, even when it's wildly, almost defiantly, implausible. Movies can make us semi-believe the damnedest things.
    • Wall Street Journal
  69. For the most part, though, the real people - the movers and shakers of Nim's world - are there to speak for themselves in the present as well as the past, and the main ones are, with a conspicuous exception, a sorry, self-serving lot.
  70. It's loud, raunchy, semicoherent and stuffed to the bursting point with heavy weaponry and car chases, most of which involve a red, cocaine-covered Prius that's been pressed into service as a police car. But Adam McKay's comedy of chaos, which he wrote with Chris Henchy, can also be very funny.
  71. I found the film borderline bleak, and borderline predictable, at least in its resolution, yet admirable as well. Winter Passing almost always operates on the right side of the border, the full-of-life side where compelling characters live with urgency and intensity.
    • Wall Street Journal
  72. A fine Argentinean film with English subtitles.
  73. A surprise and a not-so-guilty pleasure.
    • Wall Street Journal
  74. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  75. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  76. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  77. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  78. The film makes its case graphically, to say the least, yet muddies its bloody waters with an excess of artifice and a dearth of facts.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Ultimately, Crash succeeds in spite of itself. Its color war starts to feel obvious and schematic. Its coincidences and clichés become like a pileup on the 405 freeway, but there it is -- you find yourself rubbernecking and can't manage to look away.
    • Wall Street Journal
  79. Yes, of course this is fairly old-fashioned entertainment, but it's really, really entertaining.
  80. Soon I realized that the real subject of this film, with its philosophical voice-overs by the filmmaker and its haunting shots of decayed American downtowns, is the passage of time and the toll it takes. The effect of the Super 8 is to give present moments historical weight by making them look primitive; it's a kind of instant oldening that seems to pause time if not to stop it. It's About You is an odd and touching little film. I'm glad I stuck it out.
  81. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  82. Merchants of Doubt, a provocative and improbably entertaining documentary by Robert Kenner, means to make people angry, and to make them think. It will surely do the former. I’d like to think it will do the latter.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Rich in motion -- the very clothes of the characters seem under a choreographer's direction -- as well as imagery.
    • Wall Street Journal
  83. Clouds Of Sils Maria. swirls with provocative ideas, but they’re talked about more than dramatized
  84. Silverado looks great and moves fast. Mr. Kasdan has packed his action well against the fearsomely long, dusty stretches of Western plain. [11 Jul 1985, p.1]
    • Wall Street Journal
  85. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  86. The film deserves to be seen, and admired, for its own revelations, and for its unlikely, yet deeply affecting, transformation into a story of abiding love that, in its own turn, involves a deception. At the age of 86, Mr. Randi is a small, gnomish figure who walks with a cane. What seems entirely undiminished, though, is the power of his mind, driven more than ever by the dictates of his heart.
  87. An evil spell nearly does Snow White in, but it's lifted in the nick of time. The strangest spell afflicts Kristen Stewart; she can't seem to imbue Snow White with anything more than a semblance of feeling. That spell never lifts, but it doesn't make much difference in the end because the forces of good manage to work around it.
  88. The film celebrates artistic freedom without preaching a sermon, and often flies when Mr. Chi is on screen. When he is on stage, spinning and leaping to the strains of magnificent music, the film soars.
  89. A thoroughly serious film, full of vivid details, but also a relentlessly serious one that requires Mr. Wilson to spend a great deal of time looking disconsolate.
    • Wall Street Journal
  90. The script — by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul — is erratic, to put it generously. Yet the 3-D animation is so stylish and, from time to time, so downright beautiful, that you hardly notice when the storytelling loses track of itself.
  91. Since Mr. Stone is a prisoner of his penchant for pop-psychologizing on a cosmic scale, his movie has the astounding effect of absolving President Nixon of personal guilt for his crimes and misdeeds without bothering to explain what he did wrong. [21 Dec 1995, p.A12]
    • Wall Street Journal
  92. Movies often turn on slender notions worked up to look like full-fledged ideas. Once in a while, though, a notion will be fertile to begin with, a self-renewing source of delight. That's the case with Luc Besson's Angel-A.

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