Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,091 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 2.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 The Piano
Lowest review score: 0 Eight Crazy Nights
Score distribution:
2,091 movie reviews
  1. Surprise, surprise. X-Men: The Last Stand, the third big-screen convocation of mutant shape shifters, weather changers, ice makers, energy suckers, healers and telepaths from Marvel Comics, has shifted the shape of the franchise from pretty good, if uninspired, to terrifically entertaining.
  2. It's as good as anything that Hurt has ever done -- a study in explosive understatement.
  3. Winningly human, and wonderfully funny.
  4. What's an eight-letter word for a non-fiction feature that is witty, wise and wonderful? "Wordplay."
  5. It's a fleeting but memorable image in a film that defines Leonard Cohen largely through the admiration of fellow artists, who performed his songs at a tribute concert last year at the opera house in Sydney, Australia. Their admiration borders on the reverential, but reverence doesn't get in the way of their performances, which are varied, impassioned and thrilling.
  6. The daunting logistics of Superman Returns have obviously affected the director's work -- thus the hit-or-miss continuity of the narrative -- but Bryan Singer hasn't been defeated by them. While his movie can be cumbersome, it's consistently alive, and that is saying a lot when many such productions are dead in the water, on land or in the air. Also, how can you resist the charm of a fantasy in which everyone gets his news from newspapers?
  7. Laurent Cantet's fascinating, troubling drama has many meanings.
  8. Overlord feels like a small but vivid tragedy inside an epic container.
  9. It's the set pieces that mark the film as something special: swirling crowds at a casino in the opening sequence, Trudy's ordeal by trailer trash, a climactic firefight that puts lightning in the shade. Very impure, and very impressive.
  10. Talladega Nights may be brash, unbridled, even unhinged, but its cornpone humor is rich in parody, and its craftsmanship is superb -- smart writing, shrewd direction, precisely calibrated performances (whether the calibration calls for delicacy or broad-gauge burlesque), inventive language, inspired silliness and all-but-flawless timing.
    • 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    In the ultimate test, Kirby submits this very documentary to the tender mercies of the MPAA. It gets slapped with an NC-17 for graphic content. He appeals. He loses -- ten votes to zip.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    What's so mesmerizing about this film is the sight, in an endless rush of color and images, of so much of his work in one place, including pieces we don't often see.
  11. The film as a whole measures up to Forest Whitaker's performance...one of the great performances of modern movie history.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The cheap perfume of sentimentality wafts through the closing moments of Flags of Our Fathers. It's all the more noticeable for having been avoided so well and so long. Mr. Eastwood knows that sort of thing doesn't mix with the stench of war.
  12. It's hard to say if Volver is a great film -- hard because every woman and girl in it is so damned endearing (the men are either impediments or bystanders to the real business of life) -- but safe to say it's right up there with Mr. Almodóvar's best.
  13. Daniel Craig isn't merely acceptable, but formidable. His Bond is at least the equal of the best ones before him, and beats all of them in sheer intensity.
  14. The screen, like the stage, can barely contain this marvelous play of intelligence.
  15. By the end I felt sure it was the most obsessively, graphically violent film I'd ever seen, but equally sure that Apocalypto is a visionary work with its own wild integrity. And absolutely, positively convinced that seeing it once is enough for one lifetime.
  16. Awash in terrific performances.
  17. Taken at face value, these two women are simply despicable. But the screenplay has a bracing tincture of Grand Guignol, and nothing is simple when the two women are played by a couple of superlative actresses who clearly delight in one another.
  18. [Sordi] lifts buffoonery to the level of high art.
  19. The movie is serious, intelligent, intentionally claustrophobic and awfully somber -- you remember it in black and white, though it was shot (by the masterful Tak Fujimoto) in color. But you'll remember Mr. Cooper's performance for exactly what it is, an uncompromising study in the gradual decay of a soul.
  20. A surprisingly agile and delightfully warm romantic comedy.
  21. This immensely pleasurable film is anything but dry. It's a saga of the immigrant experience that captures the snap, crackle and pop of American life, along with the pounding pulse, emotional reticence, volcanic colors and cherished rituals of Indian culture.
  22. With his co-writer, Randy Sue Coburn, and composer Mark Isham, director Alan Rudolph has created a sense of time and place that authentically conveys what it might have been like when writers were celebrities and special effects came from words. [10 Jan 1995, p.A18]
  23. The movie's considerable emotional force springs from the splendor of its visual poetry. Mr. Bertolucci allows the sweep of 60 years of Chinese history to unfold around Pu Yi as background noise to his peculiar, poignant role in the emergence of modern China. [25 Nov 1987, p.1]
  24. Some of Mr. Loach's earlier feature films have been easier to admire than to enjoy. This one, which won the Palme d'Or at last year's Cannes Film Festival, fairly vibrates with dramatic energy.
  25. We saw what Mr. Gordon-Levitt could do in such diverse films as "Mysterious Skin" and "Brick," and in the TV sitcom "3rd Rock From the Sun." But this performance is something else. It's unforgettable.
  26. Black Book is its own kind of thriller. The film is filled with the genre's conventions -- suspense, betrayal, melodrama, violence, music -- and it's hugely enjoyable from start to finish.
  27. Value has been added as well -- the most thrilling car chase ever committed to film, a sequence that also shows, by cutting to the psychosexual chase, why fans embraced the tawdry genre in the first place.
  28. Besides engineering top-notch performances from his actors, Mr. Demme also put together a soundtrack that enhances the movie's marvelous, quirky rhythms. He keeps you hooked into this unpredictable, pleasurable picture right through the closing credits. [6 Nov 1986]
  29. By the end there isn't anyone to cheer for, except the makers of this thoughtful and absorbing piece of work. [02 Aug 1984]
  30. To their credit, and to the credit of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in the title roles of Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, the movie doesn't condescend to these relics of the recent past, but treats them with poignancy and humor. [21 Nov 1990]
  31. With his co-writer, Randy Sue Coburn, and composer Mark Isham, director Alan Rudolph has created a sense of time and place that authentically conveys what it might have been like when writers were celebrities and special effects came from words. [10 Jan 1995, p.A18]
  32. A feature film that's often astringent on the surface, yet deeply and memorably stirring.
  33. Mr. Scorsese has created a Judea that is dusty and harsh, where visions in the middle of a night seem like. Some of the visual compositions are dizzyingly beautiful; the Crucifixion scene couldn't be more masterful, or heartbreaking. [11Aug 1988, p.1]
  34. After countless films in which immigration plays a central role -- one of the earliest was Charlie Chaplin's 1917 silent classic "The Immigrant" while one of the best, Jan Troell's "The Emigrants," has never migrated to DVD -- you'd think the canon was essentially complete. Yet this visionary work adds to it by combining harsh realities with magic-realist fantasies.
  35. Satoshi Kon, whose previous film was the remarkable "Tokyo Godfathers," uses the complex plot as a pretext for joyous psychedelia.
  36. JFK
    It's powerful film making that at the very least accomplishes what Mr. Stone said he set out to do - to offer the world an alternate myth. [20 Dec 1991]
  37. I never saw the original, but the sprightly remake couldn't be more delightful. As the ultra-suave Lawrence Jamison, Mr. Caine wears his hair and mustache Niven-like -- slicked down but never greasy. He manages to draw more laughs by merely reacting than most comics can pull out of a punchline. With his calculated coarseness, Mr. Martin is a perfect foil. Behind the scenes is former Muppet Man Frank Oz. He pulls the strings so deftly he never disturbs the froth. [15 Dec 1988, p.1]
  38. The picture sets up high expectations for itself with its wonderful casting, and the actors don't disappoint. [1 Aug 1989, p.1]
  39. With an edgy, intelligent script by playwright Tom Stoppard, Mr. Spielberg has made an extraordinary film out of Mr. Ballard's extraordinary war experience. [09 Dec 1987]
  40. As director, Mr. Branagh and his cameraman have chosen to shoot his film tight and drab, a style that allows the actors to speak the poetry without affect. Nothing's prettified. [09 Nov 1989]
  41. Sandra Goldbacher's gorgeous debut feature (shot by Ashley Rowe) stars Minnie Driver in a lovely performance as Rosina da Silva. [31 Jul 1998]
  42. Big
    I am glad to be able to say that all these clever and talented people have actually come up with the goods. The biggest goodie is Tom Hanks as the little boy after his wish has been granted. Much of the comedy in this movie is physical. Without forcing the matter Mr. Hanks has a startling ability to take on the mannerisms and facial expressions of an adolescent. [2 Jun 1988, p.1]
  43. This clever thriller has the juiced-up, hyperactive feel of a rock video. [07 Mar 1995]
  44. The strangest thing about his latest picture, Hairspray, is how very sweet and cheerful it is. In his own weird way, Mr. Waters has captured the gleeful garishness of the early '60s, when high-school girls wore demure bows in their ratted hair and deadened their lips with palest pink lip gloss -- and believed that racial harmony was inevitable if teens of all flavors could dance together on TV. [25 Feb 1988, p.1]
  45. The film's point of view is inevitably that of an outsider, which Danny Pearl was, and menace is the essence of this shattering story, which has been told with skill and urgent conviction. A Mighty Heart makes the terms of the terrorist threat palpable.
  46. This fourth iteration of a series that first burst upon the world in 1988 turns out to be terrific entertainment, and startlingly shrewd in the bargain, a combination of minimalist performances -- interestingly minimalist -- and maximalist stunts that make you laugh, as you gape, at their thunderous extravagance.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    After 18 seasons and some 400 episodes of their Fox TV series, the family created by Matt Groening, the family that put the dys in dysfunctional, makes a seamless transition from the shag carpet to the red carpet in the long-awaited Simpsons Movie.
  47. As Crowhurst's situation grows desperate, the scope of the film expands -- from a good yarn to a haunting, complex tale of self-promotion, media madness, self-delusion and, finally, self-destruction.
  48. From seductive start to shattering finish, the film is as stirring, entertaining and steadfastly thrilling as it is beautiful.
  49. This is not a drama of shadings, but of ever-increasing intensity.
  50. In the end, though, the success of American Gangster doesn't flow from the originality of its ideas, or its bid for epic status, as much as from its craftsmanship and confident professionalism. It's a great big gangster film, and a good one.
  51. I can't begin to count the ways in which The Savages pleased me, but the very best of them is the way Tamara Jenkins's comedy stays tough while sneakily turning tender.
  52. It's a comedy of crisp, mordant wit and quietly radiating warmth, as well as a coming-of-age story with a lovely twist -- you can't always spot the best candidates for maturity.
  53. It declines to take itself seriously, yet manages, sometimes simultaneously, to be exciting, instructive, cheerfully absurd and genuinely affecting.
  54. The heroes are two hit men, and the tone is often absurdist. But the film is also very funny and surprisingly affecting.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Calls to mind Lubitsch's "Trouble in Paradise" and beguiles all the way from the parade of umbrellas decorating the opening titles to the closing credits.
  55. As you watch Doc Paskowitz perform for Mr. Pray's camera, it's hard not to judge him harshly. His narcissism seems boundless, even when he cloaks it in self-deprecation.
  56. On screen it looks crazed, but the comic energy is huge, if indiscriminate, and Mr. Sandler's performance -- think Topol doing Charles Boyer -- can be as delicate as it is gleefully vulgar or grotesque.
  57. This autobiographical meditation is seductively funny, as well as deliciously strange, and hauntingly beautiful, as well as stream-of-consciousness cockeyed.
  58. A bright little screwball comedy that speaks for the vitality of new movies.
  59. The movie's main appeal is its special comic flavor -- a zesty fusion of picaresque adventure, absurdist whimsy and Chaplinesque grace.
  60. This ostensibly simple film evokes whole lives in 96 minutes, and does so with sparse dialogue.
  61. The life that swirls around Kym before, during and after her sister's densely populated, wonderfully detailed wedding seems to have been caught on the fly in all its sweetness, sadness and joy. (In its free-form style the film constitutes an elaborate homage to Robert Altman.)
  62. A remarkably fine and genuinely frightening movie about a teenage vampire.
  63. More than acting, though, Penn's performance is a marvelous act of empathy in a movie that, for all its surprisingly conventional style, measures up to its stirring subject.
  64. In a minimalist film of muted emotions, Michelle Williams gives as lovely a performance as a moviegoer could ask for.
  65. Doubt leaves none in one respect: John Patrick Shanley was the right person to direct this fascinating screen version of his celebrated play.
  66. It's a meditation, as affecting as it is entertaining, on the limits of violence and the power of unchained empathy.
  67. Director, Darren Aronofsky, and the writer, Robert D. Siegel, have turned the story of this washed-up faux gladiator into a film of authentic beauty and commanding consequence.
  68. 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.
  69. Seldom has a film explored such exotica as Valentino's world -- the gowns, the galas, the villas, the private jets -- with such a sense of momentous drama behind the glitz.
  70. Earth eloquently shows the struggle, life doing what it must to sustain life. The spectacle is stirring.
  71. Mr. Wright and his colleagues have made a movie with a spaciousness of its own, a brave willingness to explore such mysteries of the mind and heart as the torture that madness can inflict, and the rapture that music can confer. Bravo to all concerned.
  72. What's so affecting about him in the film, though, is that he doesn't seem monstrous at all. To the contrary, Iron Mike, having meted out epic suffering in the ring and other venues, seems to be a man who has suffered genuinely, even terribly, in the course of a life that he never believed would last 40 years.
  73. Mr. Spielmann's film is full of surprises and, in its distinctive way, full of life.
  74. Mr. Cuarón directs with a hand that's as sure as it is deft. The music is terrific, though I can't say the same for the fusty subtitles, and Adam Kimmel's cinematography bathes the movie's cheerful absurdities in a beautiful glow.
  75. 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.
  76. Much of Summer Hours, which was shot by the excellent Eric Gautier, feels like a Chekhov play and resonates like a Schubert quartet; it’s a work of singular loveliness.
  77. For all its awkward structure, the film is heartfelt and deeply affecting.
  78. Period pieces can be marvelous or musty, depending on the period, as well as the piece. Soul Power is marvelous.
  79. Between the two performances there's not a false note. Between the father and son there's an unbreakable bond. Though civilization has ended, love and parental duty shape the course of this fable, which is otherwise as heartwarming as a Beckett play shorn of humor.
  80. Like earlier Dardenne films, Lorna’s Silence is naturalistic, yet this one, beautifully shot in 35 mm film by Alain Marcoen, achieves a poetry of bereftness.
  81. A survey of the week wouldn't be complete without a left-handed salute--not to be confused with a backhanded compliment--to the gleeful rubbish of Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!
  82. Coco is played by Audrey Tautou, and she's phenomenal--self-contained, tightly focused, sparing with her smiles, miserly with her joy, often guarded to the point of severity, yet giving off a grave radiance at every moment she's in front of the camera.
  83. The sparkle is what's been missing in the star's (Cage) recent performances. What's not to love in a movie that transmutes Terence's moral squalor, and the squalid state of post-Katrina New Orleans, into darkly comic gold?
  84. Mr. Almodóvar's love of movies informs every frame of this beautiful film.
  85. A win-win situation in which a mainstream feature works equally well as stirring entertainment and a history lesson about a remarkable convergence of sports and statesmanship.
  86. 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.
  87. The carnival is loud, brash, brassy, sexy and sometimes tacky or silly, but always entertaining.
  88. A severe and eerily beautiful German-language drama.
  89. The big difference between Mr. Romero's film and Mr. Eisner's--which is so intelligent you fear the fanboys will scatter--is that Mr. Eisner never gives us the military's point of view. All we know is what David and Judy and Russell know, which for a long time isn't much. And The Crazies is all the scarier for it.
  90. A stylish thriller with real complexity, people with interesting faces, a sensational actress cast as an ambisexual Goth hacker heroine--the news about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is nothing but good.
  91. This faux-documentary is droll, aerosol-thin and ultrameta.
  92. An exhilarating examination of a leading Iranian criminal enterprise--music: More than 2,000 bands are said to operate clandestinely in the capital of Tehran, risking prison to play together in basements, bedrooms and rooftops.
  93. A drama that transcends cleverness. This beautiful film, directed with subtlety and grace by Juan José Campanella, really is about moving from fear to love.
  94. 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.

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