Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,126 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 2.8 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 House of Flying Daggers
Lowest review score: 0 Lethal Weapon 3
Score distribution:
2,126 movie reviews
  1. A captivating entertainment for the holiday season and well beyond.
  2. Jane Campion has performed her own feat of romantic imagination.
  3. The film takes itself frivolously when that's appropriate--some of it is charmingly silly--and seriously when, as is often the case, all sorts of good surprises are unleashed.
  4. The best of Up in the Air--meaning most of it--is right up there with the fresh and sophisticated comedies of Hollywood's golden age.
  5. A spectacular record of rehearsals for a show that wasn't to be.
  6. The immensity encompasses such variety, subtlety and intimacy that you may find yourself yearning for more.
  7. Crazy Heart is blessed with so many marvelous moments, lovely lines and vivid characters.
  8. It's been a good while since I've seen a movie whose most powerful sequence was both unforeseen and entirely unpredictable as it played out.
  9. This wonderfully strange and exquisite little feature was created, especially for young children, to celebrate the book through another kind of illumination that's been falling into disuse--hand-drawn animation.
  10. This beautifully strange and affecting comedy, which Agnès Jaoui directed from a screenplay she wrote with her husband, Mr. Bacri, is about men who are weak and insecure, and one woman, Agathe, played superbly by Ms. Jaoui, coming to terms with the price of being strong.
  11. Star Trek goes back to the legend's roots with a boldness that brings a fatigued franchise back to life.
  12. As odd as it may sound, it's a remarkably beautiful movie.
  13. The actress gets immeasurable help from the writing: Lisbeth's anger is matched by her intelligence and her physical prowess, which enables her to administer as well as absorb pain in megadoses. But none of it would register without Ms. Rapace's singular combination of eerie beauty and feral intensity. She's a movie star unlike any other.
  14. 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.
  15. Why, then, am I so pleased with Easy A? Because the movie, despite a few flaws, seems to have been made by higher intelligence, and because it catapults Emma Stone into a higher place reserved for American actors who can handle elevated language with casually dazzling aplomb.
  16. As a thriller, The Town has what it takes and then some.
  17. This one is both demanding and extremely rewarding, because it's really a meditation on violence.
  18. While the film handles itself well in the ring, it's brilliant in the arena of a blue-collar family that brutalizes its younger son and best hope for worldly success in the name of sustaining him.
  19. It's exciting, stirring, often funny, sometimes lyrical and unusually thoughtful. And, with that one egregious exception, genuinely pleasurable.
  20. Here's one vote for the most affecting, anguishing, revealing and prophetic scene of the movie year-and yes, it's all of those things at once in a powerful film that alternates between moments of earlier happiness and later pain.
  21. 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.
  22. Almost everything about Cary Fukunaga's version of the Charlotte Brontë romance is understated yet transfixing, mainly-although far from exclusively-because of Mia Wasikowska's presence in the title role.
  23. Go underground with magic glasses on your nose and you won't regret it.
  24. In Woody Allen's beguiling and then bedazzling new comedy, nostalgia isn't at all what it used to be - it's smarter, sweeter, fizzier and ever so much funnier.
  25. Daring in concept, occasionally daffy in execution and ultimately unforgettable, Mr. Malick's film offers a heartfelt answer to the question of where we humans belong - with each other, on this planet, bound by love.
  26. This new film isn't perfect, and may not be a world-changer, but it's certainly a world-pleaser.
  27. This is hardly a film to recommend as entertainment. As an act of remembrance, though, it is singular and, in its way, soaring.
  28. Judged, though, as the action extravaganza it means to be, Rise of the Planet of the Apes wins high marks for originality, and takes top honors for spectacle.
  29. What's most rewarding, though, is that Mr. Senna speaks extensively and eloquently for himself, and reveals himself to be an eminently human hero. He's thoughtful, even philosophical, about decisions that deprive him of seemingly well-earned victories.
  30. A dazzling piece of filmmaking, and much of the dazzle - as well as the anguished darkness - comes from Adam Stone's cinematography, which expresses the swirling state of Curtis's mind with richly varied flavors of light.
  31. Ultimately an original film that forces us, time and again, to reconsider what we think we've just seen, and what we're sure we feel - not only about mere appearance, or fateful gender, but about who, under our skin, we truly are.
  32. Its true subject is melancholia as a spiritual state, a destroyer of happiness that emerges from its hiding place behind the sun, just like the menacing planet, then holds the heroine, Justine, in its unyielding grip and gives Ms. Dunst the unlikely occasion for a dazzling performance.
  33. This version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy turns on the presence of Mr. Oldman, and he is an actor of great experience and accomplishment who has finally found a film that fully deserves him.
  34. A cockeyed comic triumph that flashes between bright and dark like a strobe light of the spirit. And Ms. Theron, as Mavis Gary, a self-styled author rather than a mere writer, succeeds sensationally at something much harder than playing ravaged.
  35. It is marvelously funny - a screwball comedy with more layers than a pearl - and visually sumptuous.
  36. Footnote does function as a character study, an exceptionally rich one.
  37. What makes the film enthralling is the wisdom and grace with which it addresses the twin subjects of grief and healing, and the quiet beauty of Mohamed Fellag's performance in the title role.
  38. A transgenre thriller that glides effortlessly from crisp social commentary through off-kilter comedy to paranoid terror, it's on my short list of the most enjoyable movies in recent memory.
  39. What makes it such a singular experience is the convergence of fine acting, moral urgency and a willingness to linger on moments of great intensity.
  40. Beguiling and endearing.
  41. Years after its initial release, Ornette: Made in America, part of Milestone's continuing "Project Shirley," still feels fresh - its moves always surprising, yet always somehow perfect.
  42. Paul Thomas Anderson's remarkable sixth feature addresses, by extension, the all-too-human process of eager seekers falling under the spell of charismatic authority figures, be they gurus, dictators or cult leaders. Or, in the case of this masterly production, a couple of spellbinding actors.
  43. What's so remarkable about their decadeslong campaign, though, is how desperation led to inspiration - to the inspired notion that they, as nonscientists, could still take their fate in their own hands.
  44. What makes The Flat mesmerizing is its wealth of historical detail. What makes it universal is what it says about families everywhere - that children, being children, don't want to know what their parents are up to, and that grown-ups, being human, don't want to credit troubling facts that conflict with what they need to believe.
  45. We need 007, even after half a century of his ups and downs in various incarnations, to remind us how deeply pleasurable an action thriller can be. The latest addition to the Bond canon goes beyond thrilling into chilling and enthralling, plus a kind of stirring that has nothing to do with martinis.
  46. With its sumptuous settings, urgent romance and intellectual substance, A Royal Affair is a mind-opener crossed with a bodice-ripper.
  47. Yet it's not just the visuals that make the movie what it is, a thrilling, if also punishing, tale of heroic endurance. The Impossible, based on a true story, derives most of its impressive power from two remarkable performances: Naomi Watts as Maria, and Tom Holland as Lucas.
  48. This "Les Mis" does make you feel, intensely and sometimes thrillingly, by honoring the emotional core of its source material.
  49. Ms. Berg's film, which she wrote with Billy McMillin, tells the story with unprecedented clarity. She has a dramatist's eye for what was irretrievably lost-the innocent lives of the children, plus 18 years of three other innocent lives.
  50. Should be a delight for everyone. Bird watchers will find affirmation and even explanation for their avocation. People who can't tell a towhee from a titmouse will still wonder at the beauty of it all.
  51. In another sense, though, everything is exactly what it seems, expertly crafted and cleverly compounded for high-dose entertainment.
  52. No
    Like "Argo" or "Zero Dark Thirty," the film dramatizes a fertile subject — in this instance, the language of advertising in modern politics.
  53. The greatest fascination is watching these three people when they're planted firmly inside the frame, talking at cross-purposes while trying to perceive one another in the reflected light of their needs and risky assumptions.
  54. The silents, as this film suggests, achieved aesthetic marvels before sound came along to set things back for a while.
  55. Room 237, which goes into national distribution this weekend, may be the surpassingly eccentric — and enormously entertaining — film that Kubrick deserves.
  56. Frances Ha also marks the rare instance in which an actress has the perfect role at the perfect time. Ms. Gerwig's work here is fragile, delicate, subject to bruising; something that could wither under too much attention. Perhaps Ms. Gerwig is the greatest actress alive. And maybe Frances Ha is just the ghost orchid of independent cinema.
  57. Remarkably accomplished and self-confident. In dramatic terms The Attack borrows a page from Alfred Hitchcock's playbook — an innocent in a strange land, delving into dangerous matters he doesn't understand. In political terms, though, the script is unsparing and ultimately bleak. It doesn't justify terrorism, but it does dramatize the rage and despair that dominate life in the occupied territories.
  58. This is filmmaking of a high order, even though the production's scale is modest and the climax is not without its facile contrivances.
  59. A movie of uns — unforced, unhurried, unpretentious. Though it's sometimes underdramatized, this story of adolescents on the brink of adulthood is refreshingly, and endearingly, unlike the overheated features that have come to define the genre.
  60. It's a tone poem, really, less concerned with conventional action than with exploring themes of love and commitment through understated performances, sumptuous images (Bradford Young did the cinematography), lovely music (Daniel Hart composed the score) and very few words, intoned elegiacally.
  61. The Grandmaster, may well be the definitive illustration of kung fu in all its arcane schools and intricate styles. There's never been anything like it — a seemingly endless flow of spectacular images in a story about Ip Man (Tony Leung), the legendary kung-fu master who trained Bruce Lee.
  62. Short Term 12, a low-budget feature only 96 minutes long, is a big deal on a small scale: for what it reveals of Mr. Cretton as a filmmaker — especially as a storyteller, and a director of actors within tautly constructed scenes — and of Ms. Larson's abundant talent.
  63. I can't say enough about the way Enough Said keeps its scintillating sense of humor as it grows deeper and more affecting.
  64. Joseph Levy's sneakily stirring documentary opens up feelings you would never have expected from the premise — a portrait of three American restaurants.
  65. This classic tale of a little guy taking on giants benefits from being essentially true, and from accomplished filmmaking, but most of all from the beautiful vitality of Mr. McConaughey's performance.
  66. Catching Fire is exceptional entertainment, a spectacle with a good mind and a pounding heart.
  67. The film's centerpiece is Mr. Isaac's phenomenal performance. He's an actor, first and foremost, who is also a musician.
  68. The Past plays out within narrower bounds than "A Separation," and often at lower velocity — a few moments feel almost Chekhovian. Yet the film is commanding in its own right, another exploration of a volatile situation — an estranged husband returning from Iran when his wife requests a divorce — in which flashes of insight or understanding lead to new mysteries.
  69. Watching Ahlo mix his explosives is like watching a Cordon Bleu chef whipping up a stupendous soufflé.
  70. The new film may not qualify for masterpiece status, but it's an enthralling portrait of a man — an exceptionally brilliant and articulate man — who personified the courage, complexity and moral ambiguity of his tortured time.
  71. 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.
  72. These miniatures magnify their subjects, and ennoble them. The picture is anguishing to see, but it isn't missing anymore.
  73. The most striking thing about X-Men: Days of Future Past is its generosity. Huge franchise installments are rarely as enjoyable as this one. They aren't as inventive, richly detailed, surprisingly varied, elegantly crafted or improbably stirring.
  74. It's gleefully bold, visually adventurous, often funny, strikingly concise — the whole heart-pounding tale is over in 90 minutes — and 100% entertaining.
  75. Challenging and fascinating -- everything you didn't know you didn't know about Derrida's life and work.
  76. A minor comedy, though a major delight.
  77. A hoot, or at least a collection of delightful hootlets hung on a short, frayed line.
  78. CQ
    Exceptionally likable and affecting as well as entertaining.
  79. A small independent feature that's everything an independent feature -- small or big -- should be.
  80. Lovely & Amazing goes to the heart -- and face, and skin -- of a subject that's sure to ring true with women, and may even educate men.
  81. Apollo 11's mission was a singular chapter in the story of mankind; The Dish finds a whimsical, winning way of telling it anew.
  82. For him (Schneebaum) it's a journey of stunning rediscovery. For us it's the discovery of a brave soul.
  83. A wonderfully generous spirit. It's a film about cultural yearning and fearless love.
  84. I took it as a pretty piece of ephemera, and I must confess that I laughed a lot.
  85. It's hard to stop quoting from a movie this good.
  86. All the backing-and-forthing between olden and modern days intensifies the emotional impact of a compelling story, and underlines the enduring power of narrative itself.
  87. The main reason to see Bandits is celebrity actors riffing with each other. That's not a bad reason, though. These two actors are also skillful comedians.
  88. It's a horror flick, and a creepily good one, that also functions as an allegory of the war that still haunts Spain seven decades later.
  89. An expertly developed farce that's very funny and surprisingly affecting in the bargain.
  90. Mr. Miller tells several interlocking stories with such daring and intensity that you sense he could go on indefinitely, spinning one terrific yarn off another.
  91. Looks like Weimar decadence and feels like down-home friendship.
  92. Ambitious, visually stunning and hugely accomplished.
  93. 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)]
  94. 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)]
  95. Elegant and sometimes inscrutable.
  96. All three performances are excellent, in their different ways.
  97. 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Rough around the edges, it's humor decidedly sophomoric in parts. But that's part of its charm. [19 Jan 1995, p.A16(E)]
  98. One of the many stylistic distinctions of this outwardly modest production is the complex voice that the filmmaker has found for his young hero.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The thriller aspect of this work, happily, doesn't overshadow its real beauty -- its stark portrayal of the nightmare despair of aliens, hunted, on edge, prepared to risk all for a new start.

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