Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,425 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 42% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 56% 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 Animal Kingdom
Lowest review score: 0 Rock the Kasbah
Score distribution:
2425 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. Eureka demands active attention, but rewards it with emotional resonance, thematic complexity and a succession of images that take up permanent residence in our brains.
  3. The screen, like the stage, can barely contain this marvelous play of intelligence.
    • Wall Street Journal
  4. Serendipity is "Sliding Doors" with no alternate versions; it's willed enchantment all the way.
    • Wall Street Journal
  5. More than a deadpan comedy about oddball losers. This dork has his day, and this story has its touching subtext -- growing pains relieved by unlikely hope.
    • Wall Street Journal
  6. A convincing, entertaining portrait of the revolutionist as a young man.
    • Wall Street Journal
  7. Clearly Mr. Altman was enthralled by the company's work process, an alchemy through which sweat and muscularity on the rehearsal-room floor become exquisite abstractions on stage. His pleasure is infectious.
    • Wall Street Journal
  8. What makes this nominee for the best-foreign-film Oscar singular among Holocaust movies is the way it characterizes the banality of life underground.
  9. This English film, directed by Nicholas Hytner, is also wonderfully funny, terribly touching and a vehicle — with comically dilapidated vehicles — for the boundless gifts of Maggie Smith.
  10. Koch the film makes the point without belaboring it — a mayor and a metropolis linked by tumultuous events in the worst and best of times.
  11. 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.
  12. Pathos isn't Ms. Dunham's bag. What makes her film fascinating is the delicate mood it sustains.
  13. Boy
    Mr. Waititi, a popular standup comic in New Zealand, is wonderfully droll and entertaining in this acting role, which isn't all that far, geography and culture notwithstanding, from Steve Zahn at his stoner best.
  14. Words of wisdom keep popping up in My Dog Tulip with gratifying regularity. They're more likely to gratify dog lovers than anyone else, but that's a large group to which I belong.
  15. 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.
  16. [Sordi] lifts buffoonery to the level of high art.
    • Wall Street Journal
  17. The entire film is a seduction, one that draws us into a vanished world where Count Leo Tolstoy and his wife of 48 years, Countess Sofya, come to joyous, tempestuous life in a matched pair of magnificent performances by Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren.
  18. A daring and unstable mélange of styles--working-class realism, deadpan fantasy, shameless buffoonery. At times it falls flat, or fails to rise. More often than not, though, it's a heartbreaker.
  19. Mr. Stettner has a serious subject here -- how the hurts that women suffer at the hands of men can be internalized more deeply than the victims know -- and his film is graced with a stunning performance by Ms. Channing.
    • Wall Street Journal
  20. More persuasively still, Blackfish — an Indian name for orcas — argues against the very concept of quasiamusement parks like SeaWorld that turn giant creatures meant for the wild into hemmed-in, penned-up entertainers.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Mason and Odgers are charming young performers with cheeks that shade of pink generally found only in picture books or among English school children. That color goes perfectly here. There is an unabashed old-fashioned quality to the story-telling, not quaint, not fusty, but very much of another era -- and what a relief that is.
    • Wall Street Journal
  21. An endearing film, and a fascinating one.
    • Wall Street Journal
  22. An accomplished and enjoyable Spanish-language debut feature by Fabían Bielinsky.
    • Wall Street Journal
  23. Head, shoulders, funny bone and brain above the competition. It's the best comedy I've seen this year.
    • Wall Street Journal
  24. In a literal sense this delightful film, in Norwegian with English subtitles, is about retirement and the prospect of loss. But Mr. Hamer, a poet of the droll and askew, sends the aptly named Odd--it's also a common Norwegian name--on a cockeyed journey from regret through comic confusion to a lovely eagerness for new adventures.
  25. It’s the film Hesse deserves — lively and concise, though calmly comprehensive; thoughtful and essentially serious, but with a witty appreciation of the oddity, recklessness and absurdity that its subject valued; rich with history, and beautifully made in its own right.
  26. The results are startlingly original, if occasionally overambitious. This is "Tsotsi" without the feel-good glow, a tale of entrepreneurship's perils and boundless pleasures.
  27. Heathers gave me the creeps but it also made me laugh. This bizarre variation on that Hollywood staple, the teen movie, is one weird original. [30 Mar 1989 p.A12(E)]
    • Wall Street Journal
  28. 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.
  29. CQ
    Exceptionally likable and affecting as well as entertaining.
    • Wall Street Journal
  30. This is a special film whose delicate tone ranges from tender to astringent, with occasional side trips into sweet.
    • Wall Street Journal
  31. Readily accessible, slyly subversive and perfectly delightful film.
    • Wall Street Journal
  32. "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.
  33. Fatih Akin is a filmmaker to be reckoned with. His characters grow and change in a stunning film that pulses with life.
  34. 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.
  35. A feature film that's often astringent on the surface, yet deeply and memorably stirring.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The movie is, at times, funny enough to make you cry, and, when it's not, it moves nicely as a parody.
    • Wall Street Journal
  36. The movie's main appeal is its special comic flavor -- a zesty fusion of picaresque adventure, absurdist whimsy and Chaplinesque grace.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A wildly wondrous reinvention of the story of the chroniclers of dark, occasionally horrific, child-pleasing fairy tales.
    • Wall Street Journal
  37. An expertly developed farce that's very funny and surprisingly affecting in the bargain.
    • Wall Street Journal
  38. A severe and eerily beautiful German-language drama.
  39. The essence of this inventive though erratic animated feature is joyous music and eye-popping motion.
    • Wall Street Journal
  40. Along the way Dori Berinstein's cameras catch gallant theater people doing what they've done since Sophocles was a pup: rehearsing, revising, worrying, learning, stretching, struggling to bump things up from good to wonderful and constantly, fervently hoping.
  41. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  42. An overlong adventure enlivened by wonders.
  43. This enjoyable shambles of a sci-fi thriller, directed by Marc Forster in impressive 3-D, stands on its own as a powerful vision of planetary chaos.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It’s the hilarious tumble of words--the sly cultural references, astonishingly creative invective, the veritable arias of profanity--that gives the film an unexpected heft.
  44. This wonderful little film, directed by Fernando León de Aranoa and set “somewhere in the Balkans” in 1996, is extremely witty and light on its feet, yet it manages to be thoughtful, even philosophical, in an absurdist way, about the roots of human conflict.
  45. These young men and women aren't in it for the money, or the glory; they only want to save lives and heal wounds. That's another kind of glory.
  46. Ms. Englert's performance isn't as interesting as it might have been if the writing hadn't favored Ginger. But Ms. Fanning, a young actress of seemingly unerring instincts, is a wonder.
  47. Cadillac Records may be a mess dramatically, but it's a wonderful mess, and not just because of the great music. The people who made it must have harbored the notion, almost subversive in a season of so many depressing films, that going out to the movies should be fun.
  48. Seldom has a film presented such a richly ambiguous juxtaposition of modernity (among the toys showered on the boy is a really cool radio-controlled helicopter), ancient mindset and, to be sure, possible miraculousness.
  49. The whole thing comes together surprisingly well, as a celebration of its own milieu, and of a tender teen's transformation into a strong young woman.
    • Wall Street Journal
  50. This isn't a great film, but it's a surprisingly good and confident one, with a minimum of the showboating that often substitutes, in the feelgood genre, for simple feelings.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 87 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Ms. Armstrong's Little Women, which has enough sugar to make your teeth sing, if not your heart. [29 Dec 1994]
    • Wall Street Journal
  51. A consistently entertaining, frequently violent and generally slapdash action comedy.
  52. The most remarkable thing about The Mermaid, though, is its clarity as a cautionary fable.
  53. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  54. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  55. Reconstruction means to be confusing, and is. It also means to intrigue us, and does.
    • Wall Street Journal
  56. What's troubling about the film's technique is its lack of context; we must take Yuris, who speaks serviceable English, pretty much at his word. What's troubling about his story is its ring of truth.
    • Wall Street Journal
  57. Despite the righteous indignation that is so clearly fueling the film--much of its $8 million budget was raised from off-island Taiwanese--the movie is a sturdy entry in the paranoid-thriller genre, and raises some interesting issues about our relationship with the country we used to call China.
  58. Real-life events have overtaken District B13, and they give this feverish, yet oddly flat French action adventure a whiff of substance to go along with its spectacular stunts.
    • Wall Street Journal
  59. The movie blurs into a continuum of cars pounding one another and closeups of faces showing disgust, happiness, fear and outrage. It's the kind of shorthand imagery that works best in brief spurts, say, the amount of time it takes for a television commercial to implant a spark-plug brand into your brain. [5 Jul 1990, p.A9]
    • Wall Street Journal
  60. Who Killed the Electric Car?, a fascinating feature-length documentary by Chris Paine, opens with a mock funeral, then follows the structure of a mock trial in which multiple suspects are found guilty.
    • Wall Street Journal
  61. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  62. To do rough justice to this special treat in not much space, let me first stipulate that it evokes any number of Woody Allen films, thanks to its therapy-centric characters and its Upper West Side milieu.
  63. Crude as its build-up may be, the movie pays off with unexpected delicacy.
    • Wall Street Journal
  64. The plot has an intriguing twist, and the production, in addition to Mr. McKellen’s commanding presence, has fine work by Laura Linney as Holmes’s housekeeper, Mrs. Munro, and by Milo Parker as Roger, Mrs. Munro’s son. The boy is vividly intelligent, ferociously angry and a force to be reckoned with.
  65. At a time when so many movies look alike, and studio productions sometimes look aggressively ugly, here's a quirky vision at the intersection of sci-fi and romance. Upside Down can be beguiling if you're willing to invert disbelief.
  66. When a feelgood formula is fleshed out artfully, going along with it can feel very good indeed.
    • Wall Street Journal
  67. Pays off in surprising ways, when love of music, and fame, plays second fiddle to love of family.
    • Wall Street Journal
  68. I’ll See You In My Dreams, has its shortcomings as drama, but she’s (Danner) the heroine, Carol Petersen, and she takes advantage of every resonant moment the role offers her.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The jokes fly fast and sometimes very funny. They are, more often, crude and homophobic. Still, a genuine sweetness lurks.
    • Wall Street Journal
  69. It is fun: Watching Ms. Jolie do her own acrobatics, under the direction of her longtime stunt coordinator Simon Crane, is a kick, especially in an era when our knowledge of special effects have so diluted the vicarious thrills of high-wire moviemaking.
  70. This screen adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s autobiographical best-seller is burdened, out of fidelity to the book, with life lessons and unneeded explanations that it dispenses, like CliffsNotes, at every opportunity.
  71. Beowulf deserves to be taken semiseriously; its eye candy is mixed with narrative fiber and dramatic protein. But it begs to be taken frivolously. Effects have grown so exciting in the realm of the third dimension that you just sit there all agog behind your polarizing glasses.
  72. Pulls us along in a state of pleasant expectation.
    • Wall Street Journal
  73. The movie, with some of the trappings of a murder mystery, makes its points with blunt force. Fun seldom figures in this adaptation, which is overlong and mysteriously unaffecting. Still, Mr. Fincher's film has many fascinations.
  74. The language of its narrative, like that of its characters, may be elevated -- a literary Western version of Damon Runyon -- but the words are intriguing, challenging and, occasionally, very funny.
  75. Its terrific cast kept making me laugh out loud.
    • Wall Street Journal
  76. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  77. With a refreshing absence of earnestness, the movie mainly spins out many variations on a theme: Easy Street begins and ends on Capitol Hill. [03 Dec 1992]
    • Wall Street Journal
  78. Ambitious and uneven.
    • Wall Street Journal
  79. The children's real world, or what passes for real in a fantasy, could hardly be more inviting, for reasons that are hardly mysterious: the strong performances, under Mark Waters's accomplished direction; the smart, bright language, much of it taken from the books; the stylish cinematography, by Caleb Deschanel.
  80. Once the plotters plunge into action, though, Valkyrie becomes both an exciting thriller and a useful history lesson.
  81. 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
  82. Eye in the Sky is literally all over the map in its depiction of drone warfare, and right on target, if flagrantly contrived, in examining the ethics of killing by remote control.
  83. 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
  84. Plain-spoken and unpretentious, he’s a fount of surprising information and informed opinion.
    • 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
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. There's plenty of scary pleasure to be had from this clever, compact thriller.
    • Wall Street Journal
  88. Several startling depictions of the artist at work make you forget, if only temporarily, the serious shortcomings of the script.
    • Wall Street Journal
  89. 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
  90. 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.
  91. 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.
  92. 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.

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