Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,117 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 2.9 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 Carlos
Lowest review score: 0 Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Score distribution:
2,117 movie reviews
  1. It's a portrait, by turns chilling, thrilling, mysterious and terrifying, of a woman who refuses to be terrorized.
  2. Who knew that Unstoppable would be sensational? Talk about well-kept- and welcome-surprises. Tony Scott's latest thriller turns out to be pure cinema in the classic sense of the term. It's a motion picture about motion, an action symphony that gives new meaning to the notion of a one-track mind.
  3. Exquisite images, poignant humor, echoes of cinema history and a sense of having watched genuine magic.
  4. More than anything, Of Gods and Men is a drama of character, and warm humanity.
  5. Denis Villeneuve's screen adaptation of a play by the Lebanese-Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad tells a story-masterfully-of courage, cruelty, family mysteries and a chain of anger that can only be broken by love.
  6. Kelly Reichardt's marvelous, minimalist epic, amounts to a master class in the power of observation.
  7. Right makes might in Takashi Miike's excellent-and exceedingly violent-remake of a 1966 Japanese classic by Eiichi Kudo.
  8. Through it all -- the free-form conversations, the brilliant set pieces, the preposterous gross-outs, the flawless performances -- Kristen Wiig's forlorn maid of honor, Annie, seeks her own destiny with a wrenchingly cockeyed passion.
  9. Wonderfully funny and subversively affecting.
  10. It keeps you fascinated, even enthralled; elicits astonishment, even wonderment, and makes you grateful for the chance to meet someone remarkable.
  11. The pulp-fictional hero is inhabited by the charismatic Andy Lau who, together with Chinese stars Bingbing Li, Ms. Lau and Tony Leung Ka-fai, makes Detective Dee the most purely entertaining film of our vanishing summer.
  12. Few actors working today could make emotional sense of such a protean character, but Ryan Gosling does so with calm authority. He's a formidable presence in a film that grabs your gaze and won't let go except for moments when you can't help but look away.
  13. 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.
  14. Rarely has a contemporary movie taken in so much life and revealed it with such depth of feeling.
  15. The members of the cast represent ensemble, naturalistic acting at its finest.
  16. Against all odds, an unquenchable artist has made yet another piece of powerful art.
  17. 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.
  18. There's no trace of calculation, only artistic ambitions and hopes that have come to fruition in the year's finest film thus far.
  19. So what's left for the audience to hook into? Only pounding action, elegant style, steady-state suspense, marvelous acting and, despite that droll pooh-poohing every now and then, haunting explorations of youth, age and personal destiny. It's a lot to claim for a sci-fi thriller, but I was blown away by Rian Johnson's Looper.
  20. The results are nothing less than sensational.
  21. 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.
  22. Everything comes together brilliantly in Silver Linings Playbook - for the film's crazed but uncrazy lovers; for the filmmaker, David O. Russell, and best of all for lucky us.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. The film doesn't play it safe, so neither will I. Instead, I'll say that it finds Mr. Tarantino perched improbably but securely on the top of a production that's wildly extravagant, ferociously violent, ludicrously lurid and outrageously entertaining, yet also, remarkably, very much about the pernicious lunacy of racism and, yes, slavery's singular horrors.
  26. 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.
  27. Mud
    Jeff Nichols's third feature traffics unerringly in truth, delicious surprise, unadorned beauty and unforced wisdom.
  28. Elegantly crafted and filled with flawless performances, this mysteriously charged drama comes alive in its very first frames.
  29. Here's an iffy proposition. If A Hijacking was in English, or if U.S. audiences weren't finicky about reading subtitles, or if life was fair, this brilliant thriller, by the Danish filmmaker Tobias Lindholm, would be playing on multiplex screens throughout the country.
  30. It's a joyous movie, the best one I've seen in a very long time.
  31. At the age of 27 Mr. Coogler seems to have it all, and have it firmly in place a clearsighted take on his subject (no airbrushing of flaws or foibles here, just confident brush strokes by a mature artist); a spare, spontaneous style that can go beyond naturalism into a state of poetic grace, and a gift for getting, or allowing, superb actors to give flawless performances.
  32. Cate Blanchett tops anything she's done in the past with her portrait of a fallen woman who's a hoot, a horror, a heartbreaker and a wonder. The mystery of the movie as a whole is that it depicts a bleak world of pervasive rapacity, deceit and self-delusion, yet keeps us rapt with delight.
  33. 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.
  34. Zachary Heinzerling's feature-length documentary gathers force slowly, but with such wisdom and calm mastery that I found myself stunned, toward the end, by the beautiful vastness of it all.
  35. 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.
  36. Movie audiences have never been presented with anything quite like the intertwined beauty and savagery of 12 Years a Slave.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. This tale of forbidden friendship between a bear and a mouse is so winning that audiences will cherish it as the classic it's sure to become.
  42. Tom Hardy, the actor who plays him, is by turns spellbinding, seductive, heartbreaking, explosive and flat-out thrilling. At a time when the studios are spending vast sums of money on a bigger-is-better aesthetic, here's a chamber piece with the impact of high drama.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. Gleeful and smart, funny and serious, this sequel surpasses the endearing original with gorgeous animation — a dragon Eden, a dragon scourge, an infinitude of dragons — and one stirring human encounter after another.
  46. [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)]
  47. Through exquisite details, evocative music and bold dramatic strokes -- including a tragedy that transcends the melodrama it might have been -- Rain renders this family's life in its full dimensions.
  48. This film is extraordinary on several counts: its knowledge of an arcane trade (Mr. Cohen ran his family's diamond business after his father died); its fondness for telling good life stories; and, above all, its superb starring performance.
  49. Mr. Quaid has long been a reliably likable actor, but this time he pitches a perfect performance -- no frills, no tricks, not a single false note -- in a film that's true to its stirring subject, and to the sweetest traditions of the game.
  50. Directed with such a confident, delicate touch. Nothing is insisted on, yet whole lives are discovered and revealed in vignettes that seem as spontaneous as a laugh or a gasp.
  51. A thriller with a quietly sensational performance by Tilda Swinton.
  52. A huge delight.
  53. A handsome, absorbing debut feature by the fiction and television writer Henry Bromell.
  54. A magnificent concert film of Latino jazz.
  55. It's astonishing, and moving.
  56. A thrillingly, thoroughly wonderful film.
  57. A stunning drama that's distinguished by a magnificent performance; the most powerful scenes are those that play, as recollection or confession, on Lena Endre's lovely face.
  58. The team's (Merchant-Ivory) best adaptation yet of a Henry James novel.
  59. Proves to be a remarkably lean and incisive film about the fateful power of sexuality.
  60. A stunning drama about the desperate state of women in Iran.
  61. 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.
  62. See The Magdalene Sisters for its own sake; the performances alone are inspirational. But see it too as an example of how powerful a feature film still can be in the hands of an impassioned filmmaker.
  63. The good news about Claude Lelouch's And Now Ladies and Gentlemen -- there's no bad news -- is that the man who made the sublimely superficial "A Man and a Woman" almost four decades ago has grown in wisdom and artistry, but hasn't lost his love of glossy surfaces.
  64. This portrait of a failing marriage is one of the summer's great discoveries, and a marvel of mercurial intimacy.
  65. Like his (David Gordon Green's) debut feature of three years ago, the exquisite "George Washington," this new one has my heart, and I think it will have yours.
  66. Who doesn't need what this movie has to give?
  67. A marvelous story.
  68. A smart, funny and strangely touching film.
  69. I loved this movie, and I wish it could be seen by all those kids who turn out every weekend for shoddy studio comedies that show them who they'd like to be. Raising Victor Vargas shows young lovers as they are.
  70. A deeply serious and seriously hilarious fable of the lunacy of war.
  71. 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.
  72. Terrifically funny and remarkably wise, a comedy that speaks volumes, without a polemical word, about the tension between rigid politics of any stripe and the imperatives of life and love.
  73. Meticulously crafted and beautifully performed.
  74. This is a woman's work in the best sense -- empathetic, inferentially erotic and delicately intuitive, as well as fiercely intelligent.
  75. (Morton's) character here is emotionally mute -- though Morvern speaks, she can't or won't reveal what's in her heart -- and her performance is brilliant from start to finish.
  76. Mr. Tykwer's hands the movie changes almost magically from drama to chase to romance. As it does so its moral weight lessens; by the end there is less than what first engaged the mind. What meets the eye, though, is unforgettable.
  77. Pulls you in with smooth assurance, then holds you hostage to extremely creepy developments in the most awesome haunted house since "The Shining."
  78. The result is an enchanting story of love from an idealized past that endures in the mundane present.
  79. The explosively combative young hero, Liam (a brilliant performance by Martin Compston), has only the illusion of a fighting chance. Yet Sweet Sixteen is powerful because of the searing honesty with which it strips Liam of his illusions.
  80. Now the movie can be seen for what it was all along, remarkable by any standards.
  81. Better than a feelgood movie, it's a feelgreat movie -- genuinely clever, affecting when you least expect it to be and funny from start to finish.
  82. Persistently upends expectations without insult, as it pulls you into a netherworld filled with yearning, whimsy, and danger. [15 Dec 1992, p.A16(E)]
  83. 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.
  84. Depends on comic timing so precise that it seems weightless and all but effortless. And it depends on performers, of course, who can do a comic turn just as readily as a deft writer can turn a phrase. In that department, Ocean's Eleven is at least 11 times blessed.
  85. What it's about is also what it requires for proper appreciation -- the ability of the human mind to hold, and even cherish, diametrically opposite thoughts.
  86. 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.
  87. Shrewdly conceived, confidently executed and outrageously entertaining.
  88. Ever since the movie made a brief appearance late last year to qualify for Oscar consideration, Mr. Caine's performance has been hailed as the best of his career, and surely that's true.
  89. Since you can't read my lips, read my words: See this movie.
  90. Ingeniously scary.
  91. A film that is both touching and generous of spirit - and funny as well. [15 Dec 1988, p.A16(E)]
  92. A romantic comedy of grace notes and mini-epiphanies -- mini, that is, except for Ms. McDormand's Jane, who is memorable to the max.
  93. This beguiling fable, with its darkly distinctive look, does DreamWorks proud.
  94. It's classic animation wedded to modern technology -- painted pictures that move in magical splendor.
  95. Nair's movie, far from being paste, is a string of small, exquisite gems.
  96. A glorious feature-length documentary -- This film will leave an indentment, and a deep one, on anyone who loves great, joyous music and cares about the people who make it.
  97. Rarely has so scary a thriller been so well made, and never has digital video -- by the English cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle -- been put to grittier use.
  98. Everything and everyone is observed sharply, succinctly and indelibly.
  99. Blissfully funny, terrifically intelligent and tender when you least expect it to be.
  100. This screwball comedy about a scrappy Hawaiian kid and the rabidly destructive little alien she mistakes for a dog is powered by ferocious joy. And, remarkably, it manages to incorporate traditional Disney values, such as the sanctity of the family, in a visually bold, subversively witty package that's as far from corporate as mainstream movies get.

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