Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,088 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 2.2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 The Story of the Weeping Camel
Lowest review score: 0 Because I Said So
Score distribution:
2,088 movie reviews
  1. The Matador has its dull patches, one of which is relieved by Hope Davis's endearing presence as Danny's wife. But what fun it is to watch Julian losing it, and Pierce Brosnan nailing it. He's worth the price of admission and then some.
  2. 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.
  3. Munich is a Spielberg film for better and worse, a vivid, sometimes simplistic thriller in which action speaks louder than ideas.
  4. The film's power also lies in the honesty of its observation. Though Gyuri survives unfathomable horrors, he can't forget them and, in the end, doesn't want to. They're the only history he has.
  5. 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.
  6. Modest in scale but formidable in its impact.
  7. 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.
  8. Presley Chweneyagae's Tsotsi makes his presence deeply felt. In a world of heedless children wielding guns, his tale is a heartening one.
  9. 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.
  10. Of all the funny things in Thank You for Smoking, and there are many, the most striking is Robert Duvall's absolutely mirthless laugh.
  11. When a feelgood formula is fleshed out artfully, going along with it can feel very good indeed.
  12. To give the film its due, the direction is expert, the writing is shrewd, the cinematography is stylish, and the performances are extraordinary... Hard Candy is also sadistic in its own right, relentlessly ugly, entirely heartless and eventually unendurable. It's torture.
  13. Ms. Shortland has announced her presence as a new filmmaker to be taken seriously, while her star, Abbie Cornish, gives a performance that starts impressively, and gets even better as it goes along.
  14. The summer's first action epic does exactly what it's supposed to do, more clearly than "M:i:I," and more likeably than "M:i:II."
  15. Offers plenty of modest pleasures.
  16. The film succeeds powerfully, even though it's short on practical solutions, makes some questionable statements of fact and, given Gore's current ambiguous position in public life, requires a tighter focus on the message than on the messenger.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. An odd but agreeable little comedy.
  20. 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.
    • 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.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Audiences will be rooting for him all the way to the end zone.
  21. Loosely organized but still fascinating.
  22. Deliver Us From Evil has its flaws. Certain passages are diffuse, others are argumentative, and there's a discomfiting staginess to the climax... Yet the film's concern for the victims, and their families, is one of its strengths.
  23. The film benefits from three splendid performances: Toby Jones as Capote, an aggressively gay elf exuding a tosspot charm; Sandra Bullock as Nelle Harper Lee, a novelist who uses spoken words with quiet precision, and Daniel Craig as Perry, a deluded monster who is nonetheless forthright and strong.
    • 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.
  24. Pulls us along in a state of pleasant expectation.
  25. The essence of this inventive though erratic animated feature is joyous music and eye-popping motion.
  26. 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.
  27. She's (Jennifer Hudson) the best part of the show by far, but the writer-director Bill Condon, who wrote the screenplay for "Chicago" four years ago, has done the original "Dreamgirls" proud without solving its dramatic problems.
  28. The film flirts frequently with sentimentality, falling for it heedlessly at a couple of crucial junctures. Still, the overall style is more astringent than moist, and the hero is a little toughie of endearing tenderness.
  29. A case of good works done well.
  30. The delicately subversive Mr. Panahi makes his subjects perfectly clear -- the stupidity of authority, and the hypocrisy of discrimination. Offside is surprisingly entertaining, and edifying to boot.
  31. 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.
  32. Smart, funny and authentically terrifying. It's a comedy that explains how network television succeeds in being so horribly awful.
  33. Too often the film languishes as Mr. Kasdan poses Big Questions and then has his characters answer them in conversations that are so casual they seem improvised. [26 Dec 1991]
  34. Green Card is quite pleasant to watch mainly because Mr. Weir hasn't disturbed its simple virtues with undue portent. Sometimes a plate of spaghetti with a simple tomato sauce is just the thing, and this is the movie equivalent of that. [10 Jan 1991, p A12]
  35. Though the picture by no means endorses drugs, and paints the junkie life as almost intolerably dull as well as destructive, it is a welcome relief from the mostly heavy-handed Hollywood pictures that tackle the subject. [05 Oct 1989]
  36. 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]
  37. 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.
  38. 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]
  39. Mad Dog and Glory also seems like two movies at once, only in this case the split comes off like a case of Siamese twins. Actually, it's girls on one side and boys on the other, and the boys get all the breaks. [4 Mar 1993, p.A12]
  40. The Man Without a Face is nothing if not respectable, and occasionally it is something more than that. [26 Aug 1993, p.A9]
  41. The filmmakers aren't out to make a crisp action fantasy like the vigilante movies of the 1970s. Their disaffected man has no specific enemy or at least not one that he acknowledges; modern life is his enemy. This realization hits him one day and he begins to act on it, spontaneously. He's an existential vigilante. [25 Feb 1993, p.A12]
  42. 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.
  43. 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]
  44. 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]
  45. 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]
  46. The film is long and sometimes harrowing, but also enthralling.
  47. Mr. Carter's intelligent, straight-forward style and the good performances of the young actors prohibit hooting at the story's completely American approach to a German story. [11 Mar 1993]
    • 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]
  48. This debut feature, occasionally arch but consistently affecting, shares the deadpan esthetic of "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Ghost World."
  49. This fairy tale is a weirdly enchanting mixture of old-fashioned whimsy and up-to-the-minute special effects. It brings back the early excitement of reading as a child, when the act of turning pages took on a magical quality. [19 Jul 1984, pg.1]
  50. Whatever the movie's failings, it had enough poignancy and beauty to make me want to find out what was missing. [08 Oct 1992]
  51. I felt much the same way as I sat goggle-eyed through this endless extravaganza of visual abracadabra. It seemed entirely possible that I might die of the fidgets or old age while waiting for Baron Munchausen to kill the Turks. And yet I found myself wanting to see the end of the movie before I expired. [9 Mar 1989, p.1]
  52. Lots of Sicko stands as boffo political theater, but its major domo lost me by losing his sense of humor.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    For almost two hours of car chases and car wrecks and extraordinary animated transformation sequences that meld fluidly with live action, the welcome mat is out for Michael Bay's cheerfully dopey saga.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    In the musical numbers, where by rights Mr. Travolta should shine, he's almost out-danced and certainly out-charmed by Edna's better half, Wilbur (Christopher Walken), who is one of the movie's great assets, an oasis of calm amid the twisting and shouting.
  53. A fine Argentinean film with English subtitles.
  54. The film functions as a high-wire act that can leave you giddy with laughter.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Immensely winning and visually arresting adaptation of Gaiman's 1998 fantasy.
  55. What the film does best is document the lengths to which people are going to protect themselves -- subcutaneous microchips for identification, ever-heavier armor for fancy cars.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. Sumptuously produced and beautifully visualized, this is a filmmaker's meditation on the culture that nurtured him. As a piece of entertainment, however, it's hoist by its own paradox -- an almost thrill-free thriller that seems seductive, yet stays resolutely remote.
  59. George Clooney's film noir sensibility in the title role feels authentic, and admirably solid.
  60. The film as a whole operates in Mr. Anderson's patented, semi-precious zone of antic and droll. It's not as if the filmmaker has gone off the rails. He's just not solidly on them.
  61. 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.
  62. This is a road movie unlike any other, the comical and mystical odyssey of old Mamo (an extraordinary performance by Ismail Ghaffari), a venerated musician who heads for Iraq from exile in Kurdish Iran with a busload of his musician sons to give a concert after Saddam's fall.
  63. Mr. Washington is splendid, as always. So is Forest Whitaker as James Farmer, Sr.
  64. Taxi to the Dark Side adds something new to our awareness -- interviews with soldiers who served as interrogators in Afghanistan, and in Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison, and who, in some cases that ended in courts martial, served prison terms themselves.
  65. All but one of the actresses in Caramel are nonprofessionals -- not unprofessional, just untrained in the craft -- and they are, to a woman, enchanting. So is this Lebanese comedy.
  66. This modest little fable from Israel, in English, Hebrew and Arabic, has spellbinding resonances, yet never breaks the spell by blowing its own horn.
  67. 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.
  68. The Counterfeiters is inevitably serious, even austere, and full of chilling, ironic details.
  69. The film succeeds on the strength of the boy, and the remarkable young actor who plays him, Kodi Smit-McPhee.
  70. The Bank Job engages us fully with a tale that's well-fashioned more than anything else, a fascinating study of morality at several levels of English society, and of honor, or the lack of it, among implausibly likable thieves.
  71. 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Feast for Rolling Stones fans.
  72. A good deal of the freshness comes from a grand, clownish slob played by Thomas Haden Church -- he's actually the smartest person of the piece -- while Dennis Quaid occupies the center with a mastery that's all the more notable for its humanity.
  73. The Visitor tells of renewal through love. Its song is tinged with sadness, but stirring all the same.
  74. Ms. Kunis, a petite brunette, plays Rachel, a hotel receptionist by day and a party girl by night (and day), with a sparkling smile, a seductive voice that can sharpen to a rasp and a quick wit that suggests withheld knowledge. Good for her in a sex farce that lets so much hang out.
  75. If you're willing to go along with it, as I was, then being manipulated -- or at least actively misled -- becomes a pleasure.
  76. Mr. Ejiofor gives a commanding performance, perfectly calibrated in what's withheld just as much as what's revealed.
  77. Anders Danielsen Lie, gives a performance that's as distinctive as any in recent memory -- casually witty, remarkably graceful and yet terrifying in its explosiveness.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80. It's not only fresh and unassuming, but a film that serves, very nicely, the severely underserved audience of young girls.
  81. Yes, of course this is fairly old-fashioned entertainment, but it's really, really entertaining.
  82. [Luhrmann's] movie is all over the map. But what a gorgeous map it is. The too-muchness, like the too-longness, befits the Northern Territory's vastness. In its heart of hearts Australia is an old-fashioned Western -- a Northern, if you will -- and all the more enjoyable for it.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The narration, aided by a terrific score, does streamline the storytelling, and adds to it a faintly sardonic top note.
  83. 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.
  84. The roots are shallow, but the sequel is good-natured, high-spirited and perfectly enjoyable if you take it for what it is.
  85. 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.
  86. Once the plotters plunge into action, though, Valkyrie becomes both an exciting thriller and a useful history lesson.
  87. You'll miss out on some really great stuff if you don't see this surprising movie.
  88. 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.
  89. The price of the production's integrity is a leisurely pace -- but it's a worthwhile one. Though Sugar demands patience, it deserves attention.
  90. The Song of Sparrows becomes a parable of corruption, catastrophe and eventual redemption. Mr. Majidi's tale wasn't meant to be timely, of course, but the shoe fits, and the film wears it well.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    A loopy, endearing documentary.

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