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. Go underground with magic glasses on your nose and you won't regret it.
  2. 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.
  3. The kind of movie they don't make any more -- a seriously beautiful, deliberately paced drama that meanders for a while at the pace of a summer romance, then explodes with phenomenal force.
  4. More than anything, Of Gods and Men is a drama of character, and warm humanity.
  5. Deliver Us From Evil has its flaws. Certain passages are diffuse, others are argumentative, and there's a discomfiting staginess to the climax... Yet the film's concern for the victims, and their families, is one of its strengths.
  6. The results are nothing less than sensational.
  7. Mr. Frears is as good with the small touches as he is with the big ones – and that means they're great. [24 Jan 1991, p.A8(E)]
  8. Beautiful (sometimes sublimely so), daring (sometimes outrageously so), seriously crazed and terrifically funny.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. This brilliant satire, styled as a murder mystery, is the best insider's view of Hollywood since "Sunset Boulevard." [15 Dec 1992, p.A16(E)]
  12. The screenplay, by William Monahan, is simply sensational. Scenes play brilliantly. Feelings flow like molten lava. The dialogue overflows with edgy wit and acidulous arias of imprecation.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  13. There's no trace of calculation, only artistic ambitions and hopes that have come to fruition in the year's finest film thus far.
  14. 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.
  15. Astonishing visually and problematic dramatically.
  16. This is hardly a film to recommend as entertainment. As an act of remembrance, though, it is singular and, in its way, soaring.
  17. Mr. Akin's film is so full of life that it leaves you breathless.
  18. 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.
  19. Never before, not even in the claustrophobic submarine epic "Das Boot," has a physical point of view so completely dictated a philosophical point of view.
  20. A marvelous story.
  21. This faux-documentary is droll, aerosol-thin and ultrameta.
  22. Excites us with words not spoken, passions not played out. A mood story more than a love story, it's all about sustaining a state of exquisite melancholy in the face of desire.
  23. The delicately subversive Mr. Panahi makes his subjects perfectly clear -- the stupidity of authority, and the hypocrisy of discrimination. Offside is surprisingly entertaining, and edifying to boot.
  24. 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.
  25. A cry of anguish for the youngest victims of every war.
  26. This beautiful -- and beautifully controlled -- film is also an object lesson in how to hypnotize an audience.
  27. This tale of an English schoolgirl's hard-won wisdom is thrilling --for the radiance of Carey Mulligan's Jenny, who's wonderfully smart and perilously tender; for the grace of Lone Scherfig's direction, and the brilliance of Nick Hornby's screenplay.
  28. 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.
  29. This ambitious, entertaining movie, which showed at film festivals earlier this year, has been hailed in some quarters as a masterpiece worthy of Arthur Miller's Willy Loman or Sinclair Lewis's George Babbitt. Yet its social comments are stained by condescension, and its uplift is sustained by sentimentality that Mr. Nicholson's prickly Everyman can't conceal.
  30. 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    This extraordinary flight from the humdrum is not to be missed.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. A singular achievement -- romantic, sensuous, intelligent and finally shattering in its sweep and thematic complexity.
  35. This movie will stir your heart and open your mind. It's a group portrait of practicing patriots.
  36. 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.
  37. Kelly Reichardt's marvelous, minimalist epic, amounts to a master class in the power of observation.
  38. It's astonishing, and moving.
  39. A magnificent documentary.
  40. A stunning drama about the desperate state of women in Iran.
  41. Before and after plot mechanics, a drama of family tension and warmth.
  42. Density of detail and intensity of experience are the twin distinctions of A Christmas Tale, a long, improbably funny and very beautiful film.
  43. 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.
  44. This autobiographical meditation is seductively funny, as well as deliciously strange, and hauntingly beautiful, as well as stream-of-consciousness cockeyed.
  45. Bloated adaptation of P.D. James's thoughtful, compact novel.
  46. Mr. Spielmann's film is full of surprises and, in its distinctive way, full of life.
  47. Beguiling and endearing.
  48. A magnificent concert film of Latino jazz.
  49. It's one of the best surprises of the holiday season.
  50. 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]
  51. 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.
  52. A deeply serious and seriously hilarious fable of the lunacy of war.
  53. Yet dramatic energy is in short supply. The actors move about this elaborate movie museum in a modified dream state, as if living in the present while rooted in the past. But the strategy doesn't work. It's an imitation of lifelessness.
  54. If this death-obsessed drama is a classic, then give me potboiling life.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  57. Needlessly long, visually drab and not just a foreign-language film, with English subtitles, but a film that's ostensibly foreign to our experience. That said, there are compelling reasons to see it.
  58. This beguiling fable, with its darkly distinctive look, does DreamWorks proud.
  59. A remarkable though sometimes frustrating film.
  60. This ostensibly simple film evokes whole lives in 96 minutes, and does so with sparse dialogue.
  61. 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.
  62. The Square stands as a valuable document of a tormented time, an anatomy of a revolutionary movement doomed by a paucity of viable institutions, and by the movement's failure to advance a coherent agenda. (It's all the more heartbreaking when a speaker at one of the protests cries fervently, "We will fill the world with poetry.")
  63. Rarely has a contemporary movie taken in so much life and revealed it with such depth of feeling.
  64. This is not a drama of shadings, but of ever-increasing intensity.
  65. I thought "Topsy-Turvy" was perfection, a spirited evocation of the partnership of Gilbert and Sullivan, plus a blithely definitive depiction of the artistic process. Happy-Go-Lucky is perfection too, assuming you go along with its leisurely pace, which I did quite happily.
    • 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.
  66. 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.
  67. 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Rich in motion -- the very clothes of the characters seem under a choreographer's direction -- as well as imagery.
  68. 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.
  69. A documentary of stunning immediacy and marvelous images.
  70. The film makes its case graphically, to say the least, yet muddies its bloody waters with an excess of artifice and a dearth of facts.
  71. 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.
  72. This one is both demanding and extremely rewarding, because it's really a meditation on violence.
  73. Crazy Heart is blessed with so many marvelous moments, lovely lines and vivid characters.
  74. For all its rich trappings, A Little Princess is impoverished at the core. [18 May 1995, p.A14]
  75. Adaptation, like "Being John Malkovich" before it, is far from a well-made film, even on its own flaky terms. But it's a brave, sometimes brilliant one, with a phantasmagoric ending, full of love and hope, that defeats prose description. Never was an adaptation more original.
  76. 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.
  77. A captivating entertainment for the holiday season and well beyond.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It’s the hilarious tumble of words--the sly cultural references, astonishingly creative invective, the veritable arias of profanity--that gives the film an unexpected heft.
  78. One of the great films of our time, or any other.
  79. Recreates the Taliban era with chilling details and startling beauty, and follows its terrified heroine on a journey that no child should have to take.
  80. Star Trek goes back to the legend's roots with a boldness that brings a fatigued franchise back to life.
  81. 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.
  82. More persuasively still, Blackfish — an Indian name for orcas — argues against the very concept of quasiamusement parks like SeaWorld that turn giant creatures meant for the wild into hemmed-in, penned-up entertainers.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. For the most part, though, the real people - the movers and shakers of Nim's world - are there to speak for themselves in the present as well as the past, and the main ones are, with a conspicuous exception, a sorry, self-serving lot.
  86. A magnificent movie. [19 Oct 1993, p.A18(E)]
  87. 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.
  88. What's on screen is a gorgeous grab bag of notions: ardent love, a salute to Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain," a bit of "Camille" and a lot — I mean a lot — of nuts-and-bolts stuff about nuts and bolts.
  89. 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.
  90. The images captured by the film - dancers in theatrical sets, dancers in surreal exterior settings - are deeply scary for their loneliness and pain, and crazily thrilling for the intensity of their joy.
  91. A phenomenal debut feature with a terrific title, David Michôd's Animal Kingdom is both a study in Darwinian survival-in this case survival of the shrewdest-and a group portrait of ruthless predators in the underworld of Melbourne, Australia.
  92. Visually Hugo is a marvel, but dramatically it's a clockwork lemon.
  93. The film succeeds on its own terms — an exciting entertainment that makes us feel good about the outcome, and about the reach of American power, rather than its limits. Yet the narrative container is far from full. There isn't enough incident or complexity to sustain the entire length of this elaborately produced star vehicle.
  94. With someone else in the central role, Gloria might have been cloyingly sentimental or downright maudlin. With Ms. García on hand, it's a mostly convincing celebration of unquenchable energy.

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