Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,180 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 2.7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 Y Tu Mamá También
Lowest review score: 0 Legends of the Fall
Score distribution:
2,180 movie reviews
  1. 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.
  2. George Clooney's film noir sensibility in the title role feels authentic, and admirably solid.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Mr. Washington is splendid, as always. So is Forest Whitaker as James Farmer, Sr.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. This modest little fable from Israel, in English, Hebrew and Arabic, has spellbinding resonances, yet never breaks the spell by blowing its own horn.
  10. 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.
  11. The Counterfeiters is inevitably serious, even austere, and full of chilling, ironic details.
  12. The film succeeds on the strength of the boy, and the remarkable young actor who plays him, Kodi Smit-McPhee.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. The Visitor tells of renewal through love. Its song is tinged with sadness, but stirring all the same.
  17. 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.
  18. If you're willing to go along with it, as I was, then being manipulated -- or at least actively misled -- becomes a pleasure.
  19. Mr. Ejiofor gives a commanding performance, perfectly calibrated in what's withheld just as much as what's revealed.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. It's not only fresh and unassuming, but a film that serves, very nicely, the severely underserved audience of young girls.
  24. Yes, of course this is fairly old-fashioned entertainment, but it's really, really entertaining.
  25. [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.
  26. 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.
  27. The roots are shallow, but the sequel is good-natured, high-spirited and perfectly enjoyable if you take it for what it is.
  28. 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.
  29. Once the plotters plunge into action, though, Valkyrie becomes both an exciting thriller and a useful history lesson.
  30. You'll miss out on some really great stuff if you don't see this surprising movie.
  31. 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.
  32. The price of the production's integrity is a leisurely pace -- but it's a worthwhile one. Though Sugar demands patience, it deserves attention.
  33. 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.
  34. Marvelously detailed and meticulously crafted, an elegant evocation of Depression-era America and its fascination with crime. What the movie lacks is any sense of elation--it’s joyless by choice.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. Mr. Murphy rises to every occasion, not only with the crisp wit that has long been his hallmark, but with restraint and tenderness that serve him well.
  38. I won't pretend to understand the movie's deep meaning--if it has one--but I can say three things for sure: Mr. Rockwell gives a brilliant performance, the physical production is impressive and Moon made me think. Four things: It made me smile.
  39. An improbably delicious comedy.
  40. 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.
    • 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.
  41. 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.
  42. If you're looking for an action thriller, this isn't it. The pace is deliberate, the tone is pensive, albeit punctuated by occasional violence, and the style is exceedingly lean; characters reveal themselves mainly through moral choices.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Chief among the movie's charms are Ms. Zellweger, Mr. Rendall--whose would-be actor Robbie is a dab hand at ­embroidery and accessorizing his stepmother--and Mr. Lerman, who plays George as a bookish adolescent with dreams of becoming a writer.
  43. 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Writer-director Cherien Dabis shot Amreeka in a gritty documentary style that reflects the often grim reality of the characters' situation. But he also knows how to mine the comic situations that are often part of the immigrant experience.
  44. As a whole, though, Paris pulses with a contemporary version of the energy that animated Balzac's novels, or Colette's accounts of the life she observed from the window of her apartment in the Palais Royal.
  45. 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.
  46. Nothing is simple in this film, which ramifies into parallel meditations on race, the transformation of racial politics and lessons to be learned from the lives of dogs.
  47. By turns repellent, powerful and ludicrous, Antichrist piles horror on horror with pitiless passion.
  48. The movie's distinction, however, lies in two lovely performances, and in the passion and pain of parallel lives--both girls suffering at the hands of men, both struggling to understand the brutality of the world they must share.
  49. Richard Curtis's comedy is anchored only in exuberance, but that's more than you can say for most movies these days; it keeps you beaming with pleasure.
  50. Mammoth manages to be as affecting as it is heartfelt.
  51. Youth in Revolt is basically an absurdist ramble, but a terrifically likable ramble.
  52. What The Art of the Steal documents most dramatically is the irresistible pull of irreplaceable art.
  53. 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.
  54. A leisurely and quite lovely drama that honors the conventions of gothic ghost stories without the slightest stain of self-irony.
  55. Watching these two intensely likable comedians work together is a special pleasure.
  56. 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.
  57. People might have laughed at the old Jack Rebney, but they were laughing at themselves as well. And counting their blessings. Everyone has a cranky side. Unlike Mr. Rebney's, it isn't usually gawked at by 20 million people.
  58. Directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini show the same appreciation for eccentrics and humanity they brought to "American Splendor" and Mr. Dano's Louis is a delicately wrought wonder.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. With its retro pacing, its pretentious lapses and its narrow emotional range, this elegantly crafted existential thriller risks alienating its audience; at times it feels like a test for attention deficit disorder.
  62. Good and very pleasurable provided you know what you're getting into, which is a comic roundelay of amorous ambitions and delusions-punctuated by wistful old ballads like "If I Had You"-that lead mostly but not entirely to disaster.
  63. The script, adapted by Matt Greenhalgh from a memoir by Lennon's half-sister, Julia Baird, is flagrantly Oedipal; almost every scene between John and his mother is sexually charged. The curse is taken off most of these encounters by Anne-Marie Duff's eloquent work in the mother's role.
  64. Kristin Scott Thomas is the best though not the only reason to see Leaving.
  65. The story's literary underpinnings are hilariously represented by the denizens of a seedy writers' retreat situated near Tamara's old house, which she has come back to reclaim after her mother's death.
  66. The film itself is fairly slight: I'm not sure what it adds up to. Still, I enjoyed every moment of its beguiling saga of a depressed teen named Craig.
  67. RED
    The best part of Red is the spectacle of terrific actors being terrific in novel ways.
  68. Once Lisbeth has her day in court, though, the buildup pays off and then some.
  69. Aronofsky blurs the line between reality and fantasy, turning the film into a gothic horror show that is fascinating and disappointing in equal measure. What's resplendently real, though, is the beauty of Ms. Portman's performance. She makes the whole lurid tale worthwhile.
  70. Say what you will about Eliot Spitzer, he's a marvelous subject for a documentary, and Alex Gibney has made a film worthy of him.
  71. 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.
    • 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
  72. Rio
    The production eventually succumbs to motion overload-so many characters darting off in so many directions that the ending turns unfocused, even flat. But watching them go by is great fun, and there are worse things than a movie that can't stop moving.
  73. 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.
  74. Bizarre and belabored, yet grimly fascinating.
  75. These talented, dedicated kids aren't making believe about anything - they're making art out of shimmering illusion, intricate manipulation and blithe misdirection. (In magic, as distinct from filmmaking, misdirection is a good thing.)
  76. Hardly a scene goes by that isn't visually striking or kinetically thrilling, and all of it enhanced by 3-D.
  77. Sharp-witted, sometimes surreal and largely autobiographical French-language comedy.
  78. 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.
  79. This is a modest film, and an affecting one.
  80. Errol Morris's documentary was made, and scheduled for release, long before the News of the World story broke. The smart part is that the film dissects those excesses deftly with a quasitabloid style of its own.
  81. This small-scale film has more outsize ideas than it could possibly manage. Yet Mike Cahill's debut feature exerts a gravitational pull out of proportion to its size through powerful performances, a lyrical spirit, a succession of arresting images and a depth of conviction that sweeps logic aside.
  82. 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.
  83. Instead of plunging us into a racist past, however, The Help takes us on a pop-cultural tour that savors the picturesque, and strengthens stereotypes it purports to shatter.
  84. This is a movie about longing, desire, desperation and the abandonment of principle - quite a collection of themes, all universal.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. Mr. Luchini has a touching way of opening up the repressed heroes he often plays, and Ms. Verbeke's droll manipulations - and genuine sweetness - are more than enough to justify the transformation that María and the other maids work on Jean-Louis's life.
  88. 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.
  89. Mr. Paine's follow-up lacks the conspiratorial drama of its predecessor, which blamed the EV1's death on the oil industry and the auto industry, tied as they were to the future of the internal combustion engine. But his new documentary is fascinating in its own right.
  90. 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.
  91. It's not the generic plot that's so memorable, even though its convolutions are clever enough, or the cast of mostly interesting characters, but the surreal swirl of form and color that frequently fills the enormous screen.
  92. Has much to recommend it - high-end craftsmanship, a singular heroine, a labyrinthine mystery, an intriguing milieu - yet lacks a vital spark.
  93. 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.

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