Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,088 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 Lars and the Real Girl
Lowest review score: 0 Because I Said So
Score distribution:
2,088 movie reviews
  1. The links and resonances remain largely abstract -- to understand them isn't necessarily to be moved by them -- while the individual dramas of those three lives are often stirring, and the three starring performances are unforgettable.
  2. The most elegantly crafted and confidently directed of all his (Cronenberg's) films, it's a calm, chilling portrait of a blighted soul and, just as calmly but quite stunningly, an evocation of the thought processes behind the blight.
  3. An undersea treasure all the same, and a prodigy of visual energy.
  4. Operates in an orbit somewhere between Oliver Sacks and Lewis Carroll. I can't remember when a movie has seemed so clever, strangely affecting and slyly funny at the very same time.
  5. Seduces us with its leisurely pace and felicitous details into believing that something miraculous is afoot in a mundane rural community.
  6. A magnificent documentary that flies us along with migratory birds on their intercontinental travels, it's the polar opposite -- North Pole, South Pole and all latitudes in between -- of modern feature films that rely on special effects.
  7. It is, simply and stirringly, a kind of beau ideal of education, a vision of how the process can work at its best.
  8. Pieces of April would deserve your attention and respect even if all these colorful threads didn't come together into a luminous whole. But they do, beautifully and unaffectedly, because what's been on Mr. Hedges's mind is not just a comedy of alienation but a drama of acceptance and reconciliation.
  9. Calmly, almost serenely, Mr. Van Sant and his superb cinematographer, Harris Savides, reveal a vision of contemporary American youth quite unlike any other.
  10. Mr. Penn has been praised lavishly for his work in "Mystic River," in a role that was no reach for him at all, but this is one of the stand-out performances of his career, layered and exquisitely nuanced. And, remarkably, he's only one-third of a stellar ensemble.
  11. Magic suffuses this film -- performances that approach perfection, or achieve it, moments of exceptional grace as a troubled family plays out a contemporary version of a classic immigration saga, healing itself in the process.
  12. The energy is genuine, and the level of invention is remarkable, sustained as it is by Mr. Baseman's genially garish art, Timothy Bjoerklund's direction from a script by Bill and Cherie Steinkellner, and Nathan Lane's madly passionate performance as the canine who was famously born on the wrong end of a leash.
  13. A film that asks its audience to invest serious thought, and in return, bestows serious pleasure.
  14. A perfect fit in the category of instant classic, and, not incidentally, fits the profile of super-profitability. Bursting the bonds of its genre, Hellboy fills the screen with gorgeous imagery, vertiginous action and a surprising depth of feeling.
  15. This beautiful -- and beautifully controlled -- film is also an object lesson in how to hypnotize an audience.
  16. Deeply affecting.
  17. There's an old-Hollywood feel to the movie's solid showmanship and unabashed sophistication. These days it's feature-length 'toons, sporting the newest-fangled technology, that take kids and adults alike back to the movies' good old days.
  18. The right word for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is wondersful -- as in full of wonders, great and small.
  19. A lovely surprise. Ripe with feeling and lush with physical beauty, it's a love story that swings confidently between age and youth, and, like the young Tiger Woods of old, avoids every trap along the way.
  20. A lot of talent to lavish on a single movie, but the result is uncommonly smart for the genre, and not just smart but tremendously enjoyable.
  21. Every sport, and every sports film, must have its superman. The role is filled here by Laird Hamilton, who, we are told -- and, more astonishingly, shown -- took "the single most significant ride in surfing history." Seeing is believing.
  22. A remarkable -- and harrowing -- debut feature that makes you think there's hope after all for the future of independent films.
  23. Shrewdly reconceived, powerfully acted and hugely entertaining.
  24. Mr. Luchini gives one of the best performances of the year, in one of the best movies of the year.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Hugely entertaining thriller.
  25. As an evocation of English working-class life half a century ago, it feels utterly authentic, and is ennobled -- not too strong a word, I think -- by Imelda Staunton's performance in the title role.
  26. Ray
    At the center of it all is an incomparable singer brought to life by a sensational actor. With a huge soul to fill, Jamie Foxx has filled it to overflowing.
  27. Liam Neeson has never had a richer character to play on screen -- including his landmark role in "Schindler's List" -- and has never displayed such formidable energy and virtuosity.
  28. When movie lovers are looking back on the best of 2001, they will still be marveling at the beauty, intelligence and seemingly effortless mastery of Ms. Blanchett's performance.
  29. Truly transporting film.
  30. 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.
  31. As a piece of filmmaking, it's stunningly effective.
  32. Rousing, provocative film.
  33. The near-miracle worked by Mr. Boyle, whose exuberant style brings several saints to scruffy life, is a movie that's joyously funny and hugely inventive -- occasionally to the point of preciousness -- yet true to the spirit of the saintly little kid at its center.
  34. Movies as strong and provocative as this one are a special pleasure.
  35. Despite its cargo of meaning, 3-Iron feels marvelously weightless, like the lovers as they stand on a scale that the hero has fixed.
  36. A drama of uncommon moral complexity, unexpected humor, convincing transformations (for good and bad) and, best of all, vibrant, unpredictable energy. In a movie landscape littered with dead souls, here's a live one.
  37. A remarkable though sometimes frustrating film.
  38. A moveable feast of delights.
  39. Bursting with joy and throbbing with music, Rize has a tragic dimension too. When you see the clown cry, you'll be with him all the way.
  40. With this genuinely big entertainment, powered by a beating heart, Steven Spielberg has put the summer back in summer movies.
  41. There are remakes and there are remakes. I don't want to belabor the flaws and sexual excesses of the original; its great strength was its explosive energy. Still, this one investigates the unfulfilled potential of the first one so thoroughly, and develops it so audaciously, that it qualifies as a brilliant reinvention.
    • 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.
  42. This isn't entertainment in any conventional sense, but it's a mesmerizing film all the same.
  43. This stop-action animated feature is downright sweet and tender, as well as all the other things we've come to expect from him -- funny, bizarre, graphically stunning and blithely necrophilic.
  44. A feature-length documentary, by Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller, of absolutely breathtaking sweep and joyous energy.
  45. The studio, like plucky Harry, passes with flying colors. The new one, directed by Mike Newell from another astute script by Mr. Kloves, is even richer and fuller, as well as dramatically darker. It's downright scary how good this movie is.
  46. Breaks through the conventions of its biopic form with a pair of brilliant performances and a whole lot more.
  47. In one sense, Neil Young: Heart of Gold is just a simple concert film -- no cutaways during the music for interviews, no cameras swooping and soaring on giant booms. But simplicity in this case also means no barrier between us and the people on stage, as they sing some of the most soul-stirring pop songs I've seen performed in a very long time.
  48. The comedian has had his ups and downs recently, but the film is pure up, a wonderfully genial and inclusive record -- not that the music is devoid of anger or social protest -- of a day-long, freestyle show.
  49. It's a stirring portrait of a singular artist, a gorgeously photographed album of his buildings, and, perhaps most importantly, a film that manages to demystify the way he works without diminishing it.
  50. Both magical and consistently joyous. The director, Robert Altman, and the writer, Garrison Keillor, have, against all odds, transmuted the fatigued public radio institution into a lovely fable about mortality, fleeting fame, fondness for the past and the ineffable beauty of life in the present.
  51. While the film itself isn't perfect, who cares about perfection in the face of abundant life, authentic screwiness and lovely surprises by the busload?
  52. Marvelously smart, funny and entertaining film.
  53. Not since the halcyon days of Archie Bunker and "All in the Family" has so sharp a wit punctured so many balloons.
  54. A documentary of stunning immediacy and marvelous images.
  55. Blissfully silly, triumphantly tasteless and improbably hilarious.
  56. A thrilling -- and harrowing, and beautiful -- celebration of the unpredictability of life.
  57. 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.
  58. The movie's metaphorical dimensions rarely interfere with the concrete, quirky pleasures of its story. The Flower of My Secret is Mr. Almodovar's most entertaining work since his phenomenal "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown." [15 Mar 1996]
  59. Unstrung Heroes is a revelation. [15 Sep 1995]
  60. 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]
  61. This is a first-rate squealer. [07 Aug 1986]
  62. This hugely entertaining thriller is what's needed to banish a winter-long case of movie blues.
  63. There's no better fun for movie lovers than a small, unheralded film that turns out to be terrific -- unless it's a small, unheralded sequel that trumps the original.
  64. The director Penny Marshall has gone straight to the heart of this complex story and made a powerfully poignant and illuminating film. She doesn't hesitate to push for the grand sentimental moment, but balances the teary stuff with restraint and humor. To be sure, Awakenings seems calculated to induce weeping -- and it does, without making the weeper feel cheap. [20 Dec 1990, p.A14]
  65. Judd Apatow's high-density, high-intensity comedy of bad (and good) manners is a cause for celebration -- the laugh lines are smart, and they come faster than you can process them.
  66. The dialogue in "Broadcast News" is so quick and clever I wanted to see the movie again the minute it ended because I knew I couldn't have possibly caught it all. I caught most of it though, and certainly enough to know that this is one terrific movie. [15 Dec 1987, p.1]
  67. This musical about a plant that craves blood has a smart and snappy score -- and Steve Martin in a hilarious bit as a dentist who gives himself laughing gas as he treats his unanesthetized patients. [23 Dec 1986, p.1]
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    What's most memorable, most striking about Superbad is the canny evocation of male friendship in all its richness and complexity.
  68. This magnificent documentary, directed by David Sington and presented by Ron Howard, rises to the occasion by interspersing its interviews with NASA footage that evokes the grandeur of the whole Apollo adventure.
  69. Viggo Mortensen's performance is flat-out brilliant, and this relentlessly dramatic thriller represents a mid-life growth spurt for its director, David Cronenberg.
  70. A dazzlingly smart and entertaining animated feature by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, looks like a black-and-white graphic novel come to life.
  71. An elegant horror film, starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, that takes pleasure in its own theatricality, gives pleasure with caustic wit, trusts the power of Stephen Sondheim's score and exults in flights of fancy that only a movie can provide.
  72. It's a new and inspired vision of a familiar state of being -- teenage anomie amidst the crumbling wreckage of a middle-class American family. In the space of 78 minutes, Mr. Van Sant and his cinematographer, the peerless Christopher Doyle, manage to suffuse that state with haunting sadness, ubiquitous danger, pulsing power and flickers of hope.
  73. What Mr. Hou has done is borrow power and some gentle intimations of a state of grace from one of the most enchanting images in movie history.
  74. Mr. Akin's film is so full of life that it leaves you breathless.
  75. Hugely inventive -- and smashingly beautiful.
  76. I don't know the Mongolian word for panache, but Mongol's got plenty of it. The battle scenes are as notable for their clarity as their intensity; we can follow the strategies, get a sense of who's losing and who's winning. The physical production is sumptuous.
  77. Thrillers aren't always so thrilling, but Tell No One is -- and absorbing, sometimes perplexing and often stirring as well.
  78. Andrew Garfield's phenomenal performance makes room for the many and various pieces of Jack's personality, whether or not they're securely fastened together.
  79. This is a debut feature, though you'd never know it from the filmmaker's commandingly confident style, or from the heartbreaking beauty -- heartbreaking, then heartmending -- of Melissa Leo's performance as a poor single mother who's living her whole life on thin ice.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    A deeply moving story of resilience and redemption.
  80. What Ron Howard gets, to a degree that's astonishing in a two-hour film, is the density and complexity, as well as the generous entertainment quotient, of Peter Morgan's screenplay.
  81. Philippe Claudel gives his heroine unusual depth, which Kristin Scott Thomas reveals with unusual passion.
  82. Density of detail and intensity of experience are the twin distinctions of A Christmas Tale, a long, improbably funny and very beautiful film.
  83. For a filmmaker who has made his reputation with such crime thrillers as "Little Odessa" and "The Yards," James Gray reveals an unexpected gift for the mysteries of romance.
  84. One of the best of the genre. If it doesn't serve oysters, per se, this submarine wonder offers marvels in abundance.
  85. This exquisite film by the Swedish master Jan Troell is about seeing clearly, and fearlessly. It's also about subdued passion, the birth of an artist and a woman's struggle to live her own life.
  86. Beautiful moments abound. In Departures, the contemplation of death prepares the way for an appreciation of life.
  87. The new film, shot in vivid hi-def video, is part documentary and part fiction based on interviews; it uses on-camera interviews with workers, some played by themselves and some played by actors, to evoke a past of unimaginable toil, and suffering, in the service of the Communist state.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    If the plot of Ponyo is small as a minnow, its themes--the relationship between parent and child, between the young and the elderly, between friends, between man and nature--are large and fully realized.
  88. Not since "Raging Bull" has Mr. Scorsese so brazenly married brutality to beauty. Not since "Kundun" has one of his films felt so aspirational.
  89. Much of the time, though, you're transfixed by the beauty of a spectacle that seems all of a piece. Special effects have been abolished, in effect, since the whole thing is so special.
  90. A captivating entertainment for the holiday season and well beyond.
  91. Jane Campion has performed her own feat of romantic imagination.
  92. 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.
  93. 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.
  94. A spectacular record of rehearsals for a show that wasn't to be.
  95. The immensity encompasses such variety, subtlety and intimacy that you may find yourself yearning for more.

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