Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,136 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 Drive
Lowest review score: 0 Compliance
Score distribution:
2,136 movie reviews
  1. On rare occasions a movie seems to channel the flow of real life. Boyhood is one of those occasions. In its ambition, which is matched by its execution, Richard Linklater's endearing epic is not only rare but unique.
  2. The result of the intricate interplay is a fairy tale for adults that is violent, sometimes shocking, yet utterly engrossing. And eerily instructive; it deepens our emotional understanding of fascism, and of rigid ideology's dire consequences.
  3. Elegantly crafted, brilliantly acted film.
  4. Movie audiences have never been presented with anything quite like the intertwined beauty and savagery of 12 Years a Slave.
  5. The characters are irresistible -- why would anyone want to resist a hero who so gallantly transcends his rattiness? -- the animation is astonishing and the film, a fantasy version of a foodie rhapsody, sustains a level of joyous invention that hasn't been seen in family entertainment since "The Incredibles."
  6. In one form or another, motion pictures have been with us since the middle of the 19th century, but there's never been one like Gravity. What's new in Alfonso Cuarón's 3-D space adventure is the nature of the motion. It's as if the movie medium had been set free to dance in a bedazzling zero-gravity dream sequence.
  7. This account of Facebook's founder, and of the website's explosive growth, quickly lifts you to a state of exhilaration, and pretty much keeps you there for two hours.
  8. Judged solely as a film, a partially fictionalized account of the decade-long search for bin Laden, it's superbly crafted and relentlessly dramatic. More than that, though, Zero Dark Thirty is a shock to the system, one that's bound to incite discussion of profoundly troubling issues.
  9. The members of the cast represent ensemble, naturalistic acting at its finest.
  10. It is plainly, though not simply, a masterpiece from an acknowledged master of contemporary animation, and a wonderfully welcoming work of art that's as funny and entertaining as it is brilliant, beautiful and deep.
  11. The most imaginative movie to come along in ages. [18 Oct 1994, p.A14(W)]
  12. A delicately poetic, essentially plotless vision, unblinking but not unhopeful, of life in Watts, where little but the ghetto's name recognition had changed a decade after the riots.
  13. A first-rate action thriller, a vivid evocation of urban warfare in Iraq, a penetrating study of heroism and a showcase for austere technique, terse writing and a trio of brilliant performances. Most of all, though, it’s an instant classic that demonstrates, in a brutally hot and dusty laboratory setting, how the drug of war hooks its victims and why they can’t kick the habit.
  14. The first half hour of WALL-E is essentially wordless, and left me speechless. This magnificent animated feature from Pixar starts on such a high plane of aspiration, and achievement, that you wonder whether the wonder can be sustained. But yes, it can.
  15. Sideways makes you glad about America, about movies, about life.
  16. The invisible wizard Peter Jackson makes use of every scene to show us the meaning of magnificence. Never has a filmmaker aimed higher, or achieved more.
  17. One of the high points of last month's Telluride Film Festival was, as I wrote at the time, spending 5½ hours in a darkened theater-with one short break around the four-hour mark-to watch Olivier Assayas's shocking and edifying epic.
  18. Michael Haneke's French-language Amour, a perfect film about intertwined lives, proceeds at its own pace, and breathes so deeply that it takes your own breath away.
  19. What's fun about this movie is the sight of Mr. Irons's Claus stalking the mansion like a tall, skinny ghost smiling at the perverseness of it all. [18 Oct 1990, p.A14(E)]
  20. A movie that falls outside the ordinary, or even the extraordinary. There is enormous passion and artistic integrity throughout this film. [11 Jan 1994, p.A10(E)]
  21. Crumb pulls us in with rich detail, and with what it says, or suggests, about art, drugs, psychology and the subconscious.... Like last year's "Hoop Dreams," this documentary does justice to a great subject. [08 Jun 1995]
  22. The film's centerpiece is Mr. Isaac's phenomenal performance. He's an actor, first and foremost, who is also a musician.
  23. The movie has done what those who've cherished the book might have thought impossible -- intensified its singular beauty by roving as free and fearlessly as Bauby's mind did.
  24. The Class is clearly a microcosm of contemporary France, beset by social and economic tensions. More than that, though, it's a saga of education's struggles in many parts of the modern world. If only the film were pure fiction.
  25. Daniel Day-Lewis's portrayal is not just the performance of the year -- there will be injustice if he doesn't win an Oscar -- but a creation of awesome proportions.
  26. Against all odds in an era of machine-made spectaculars, Mr. Jackson and his collaborators have created a film epic that lives and breathes.
  27. The third film of the trilogy turns out to be gorgeously joyous and deeply felt.
  28. A single seeing isn't enough to take in the eccentric marvels of The Triplets of Belleville, an animated feature by Sylvain Chomet that creates a visual language all its own.
  29. Marvelously smart, funny and entertaining film.
  30. An absolute stunner, a feature-length animated documentary, from Israel, in which the force of moving drawings amplifies eerily powerful accounts of war, shaky remembrance and rock-solid repression.
  31. If watching movie violence is cathartic, then this film amounts to heavy therapy. It's much more than that, however. This is the best film the Coen brothers have done since their glory days of "Fargo" and "The Big Lebowski," maybe the best they've done, period.
  32. The Israeli journalist Dror Moreh has hit a documentarian's trifecta with The Gatekeepers. It's an exemplary piece of enterprise journalism, a vivid history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a polemic that's all the more remarkable for the shared experience of the polemicists.
  33. This unpredictable and hilarious paranoid fantasy is a contemporary, urban "Wizard of Oz," peopled by punk artists and Yuppie vigilantes instead of wicked witches and Munchkins. [5 Sep 1985, p.1]
  34. Persistently upends expectations without insult, as it pulls you into a netherworld filled with yearning, whimsy, and danger. [15 Dec 1992, p.A16(E)]
  35. Uncompromising in its style, story and characterizations.
  36. Spectacular for its humanity, austere beauty and heart-stopping urgency.
  37. Whatever thematic clarity the added footage may confer is prosaic or didactic and intrusive; this stuff hit the cutting-room floor the first time around for good reason.
  38. A harrowing lesson in unintended -- and intended -- consequences.
  39. Her
    Mr. Jonze approaches perfection in the department of deadpan humor. In other hands, his premise could have been a clever gimmick and little more. But he draws us into Theodore's world, then develops it brilliantly, by playing everything scrupulously straight.
  40. An undersea treasure all the same, and a prodigy of visual energy.
  41. Against all odds, an unquenchable artist has made yet another piece of powerful art.
  42. It's "My Dinner With Andre" for the relationship generation.
  43. A work of huge, if unobtrusive, ambition -- a vision of modern life, appropriate for sophisticated adults as well as for kids, that is both satirical and, of all things, inspirational. It's a great film about the possibility of greatness.
  44. Pirandello didn't have a patch on its complexities. Here's a popular entertainment with an eclectic soundtrack raising penetrating questions of identity in astonishing sequences that interweave live action with comic-book art.
  45. A wickedly astute and beautiful comedy of manners-cum-murder mystery, it's too dense, and occasionally confusing, to grasp fully the first time around. How lucky, then, that it's also too much fun to see just once.
  46. Quite remarkably, though, its clear-eyed view of an unprecedented American tragedy leaves us with emotions that audiences of those earlier days would readily recognize -- love of country, bottomless grief, an appreciation of life's preciousness and fragility. A film that can do this and also teach is to be cherished. And seen. It's time.
  47. In the entertainment culture that surrounds us, words like "harrowing," "anguishing," "unfathomable" or "horrifying" don't sell movie tickets. Capturing the Friedmans is all of these things and more.
  48. High-energy comedy comes naturally to the filmmaker. He exults in free association, emotional riffs, in the craziness that underlies ostensibly rational behavior. The crosscurrents have crosscurrents in his films, but the current that carries everything along here is announced by the first strains of music from the screen: Duke Ellington's "Jeep's Blues," with one of the most exuberant passages in all of jazz. David O. Russell does buoyancy better than anyone.
  49. A dazzlingly smart and entertaining animated feature by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, looks like a black-and-white graphic novel come to life.
  50. This feature-length documentary, currently entering national release, may be one of the most horrifying films you'll ever see, and one of the most edifying.
  51. Giddily funny in a singularly American idiom, and shot, by Lance Acord, with an eagle eye for cultural absurdities, Ms. Coppola's film is also a meditation on love and longing, shot through with a sensibility that's all the more surprising for being so unfashionably tender.
  52. Rather than dwell on the darkness and squalor, von Donnersmarck has fashioned a genuinely thrilling tale, leavened with sly humor, that works ingenious variations on the theme of cat and mouse, speaks to current concerns about personal privacy and illuminates the timeless conflict between totalitarianism and art.
  53. An astonishing combination of spectacle, suspense, martial-arts flash, sublime silliness, anti-gravity action and passionate intensity -- before and after everything else, it's a grand love story.
  54. Ida
    Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida, a compact masterpiece set in Poland in the early 1960s, gets to the heart of its matter with startling swiftness.
  55. James Marsh's documentary raises the bar for the genre to skyscraper height.
  56. Not since the halcyon days of Archie Bunker and "All in the Family" has so sharp a wit punctured so many balloons.
  57. Silence makes the film interesting by enticing us to concentrate in ways we're not used to, while artistry carries the day. The Artist may have started as a daring stunt, but it elevates itself to an endearing - and probably enduring - delight.
  58. With its breathtaking visual style and careful attention to sound and movement, the movie provokes contemplation about the ways people communicate – through words, through music, through sex, and, most significantly, through touch. [14 Dec 1993, p.A14(E)]
  59. One of those rare collaborations that artists dream of, and that film lovers crave.
  60. The view taken by Clint Eastwood, directing from Iris Yamashita's exemplary screenplay, is elegiac, but -- and this is remarkable, given the nature of the production and the sweep of his ambition -- not at all didactic. He lets the film speak for itself, and so it does -- of humanity as well as primitive rage and horror on both sides of the battle.
  61. Once proves to be as smart and funny as it is sweet; it swirls with ambiguity and conflict beneath a simple surface. In all of 88 minutes, Mr. Carney's singular fable follows its guy and girl through a week of musical and emotional growth that could suffice for a lifetime.
  62. Smart, surpassingly odd, extremely funny and mysteriously endearing at the same time.
  63. Give yourself away to this movie and you'll be glad you did.
  64. What Mr. Hoffman has done here borders on the miraculous.
  65. Overlord feels like a small but vivid tragedy inside an epic container.
  66. 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.
  67. Vincent is played masterfully by Aurelien Recoing, who gives him a sort of as-if anomie; this haunted hero is so detached that he may not realize he has no real life to be detached from.
  68. A feature film that's often astringent on the surface, yet deeply and memorably stirring.
  69. [Sordi] lifts buffoonery to the level of high art.
  70. Inside Job has the added value, as well as the cold comfort, of being furiously interesting and hugely infuriating. It's a scathing examination of the global economic meltdown that began more than two years ago and continues to affect our lives.
  71. Casts a spell and then some -- a ringing testament to the power of motion pictures.
  72. No screen portrait of a king has ever been more stirring-heartbreaking at first, then stirring. That's partly due to the screenplay, which contains two of the best-written roles in recent memory, and to Mr. Hooper's superb direction.
  73. Up
    I'm still left, though, with an unshakable sense of Up being rushed and sketchy, a collection of lovely storyboards that coalesced incompletely or not at all.
  74. Real life is not the movie's concern. Mr. Anderson's lovely confection — that's a pastry metaphor — keeps us smiling, and sometimes laughing out loud. Yet acid lurks in the cake's lowest layers.
  75. Apart from a singer named You who plays Keiko, the members of the cast are non-professionals. You may find that hard to believe when you see this astonishing film, as I hope you will.
  76. Astonishingly vivid. The illusion of reality is so nearly complete in this magnificent French-language film by the Belgian filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne that the screen becomes a perfectly transparent window on lives hanging in the balance.
    • 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]
  77. These miniatures magnify their subjects, and ennoble them. The picture is anguishing to see, but it isn't missing anymore.
  78. The malignity can be oppressive -- this is a far cry from Fellini finding poignant uplift in the slums -- but the dramatic structure is complex, the details are instructive, and the sense of tragedy is momentous.
  79. The illusion is seamless and the pleasure is boundless.
  80. It's a meditation on mortality, with remarkable resemblances to "Gravity," not to mention echoes of "The Old Man and the Sea." It's admirably crafted, with a wealth of detail that illustrates the sailor's resourcefulness.
  81. A remarkable -- and harrowing -- debut feature that makes you think there's hope after all for the future of independent films.
  82. 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.
  83. Haunting, troubling documentary.
  84. I can't pretend to understand the intricacies of the Buddhist belief system that informs the surreal story, or the fantasy system in which Boonmee, embodying Thailand, recalls his nation's history and shimmering myths. Yet no effort of understanding is needed to be moved by Boonmee's descent into a limestone cave shaped like a womb.
  85. Brokeback Mountain aspires to an epic sweep and achieves it, though with singular intimacy and grace.
  86. Working on a scale that's minuscule by studio standards, the Dardenne brothers have made yet another movie that does what Hollywood used to do - keep us rapt, and leave us grateful.
  87. Part 2 of The Deathly Hallows, is the best possible end for the series that began a decade ago.
  88. Mr. Moodysson's film is little only in physical and financial scale. When measured by the pleasure it confers, We Are the Best! is a big deal that will be winning hearts — and even grownup minds — for a long time to come.
  89. There are worlds within the startling world of Murderball.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Mr. Herzog's perspective is an invaluable balance to Mr. Treadwell's as the animal advocate approaches what seems like madness.
  90. Never before, though, have statistics added up to such electrifying entertainment. After the mostly minor-league productions of recent months, this movie, which was directed by Bennett Miller, renews your belief in the power of movies.
  91. Right makes might in Takashi Miike's excellent-and exceedingly violent-remake of a 1966 Japanese classic by Eiichi Kudo.
  92. 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.
  93. Mr. Day-Lewis works famously, and phenomenally, from the inside out. The mystery at the core of his gorgeous performance, which is enhanced by Mr. Kushner's script, has to do with his masterly grasp of Lincoln's quicksilver spirit.
  94. Where the film shines is in its vivid and affecting portrait of Tillman himself. Instead of the square-jawed hero memorialized by the army and lionized by the news media, we get to know a man of many gifts for many seasons.
  95. What's extraordinary is what happens at the intersection of Mr. Payne's impeccable direction and Mr. Nelson's brilliant script. The odyssey combines, quite effortlessly, prickly combat between father and son.
  96. Slumdog Millionaire is the film world's first globalized masterpiece.
  97. [Crowe] knows how to shape a scene and he's never cheap with characterization; adults are permitted to be as complex as their children; a rare event in pictures. [18 May 1989, p.A14(E)]
  98. It is thoughtful, unfashionable, measured, mostly honest, sometimes clumsy or remote, often exciting, occasionally moving and eventually surprising. It's correct.

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