Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,190 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 2.7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 Winter's Bone
Lowest review score: 0 Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Score distribution:
2,190 movie reviews
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. A magnificent movie. [19 Oct 1993, p.A18(E)]
    • Wall Street Journal
  4. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Visually Hugo is a marvel, but dramatically it's a clockwork lemon.
  9. 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.
  10. The Lego Film has a specialness all its own. There's never been a hodgepodge quite like it.
  11. 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.
  12. [(Cher's) never been better. [5 Jan 1988, p.22(E)]
    • Wall Street Journal
  13. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  14. This film is cunningly crafted in every detail--direction, script, performances, comic timing, special effects--from thunderous start to delicious finish.
  15. This unique enterprise, which began as a documentary experiment almost a half century ago, has grown into an inspiring testimonial to the unpredictability of the human spirit.
  16. 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.
  17. Here's an entertainment to warm the heart of anyone who grew up (or failed to) on the formative joys of action movies.
    • Wall Street Journal
  18. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  19. Demanding, quietly breathtaking film.
    • Wall Street Journal
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  22. 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.
  23. 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]
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    A deeply moving story of resilience and redemption.
  24. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  25. What's on screen, though, is a peculiar clutter of gentle sentiment, awkward dialogue, shaky contrivance — especially the resolution of Joey's feelings — and monotonous performances from a supporting cast that includes Marisa Tomei and Darren Burrows.
  26. 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.
  27. The situation is fascinating, and given an illuminating investigation here.
  28. Awash in terrific performances.
    • Wall Street Journal
  29. It's powerful entertainment. [22 Sept 1992, p.A16(E)]
    • Wall Street Journal
  30. It's exciting, stirring, often funny, sometimes lyrical and unusually thoughtful. And, with that one egregious exception, genuinely pleasurable.
  31. Thrillers aren't always so thrilling, but Tell No One is -- and absorbing, sometimes perplexing and often stirring as well.
  32. Exquisite images, poignant humor, echoes of cinema history and a sense of having watched genuine magic.
  33. 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.
  34. Gives us the same sort of perverse pleasure that's been a staple of "60 Minutes" over the years -- watching world-class crooks tell world-class lies.
    • Wall Street Journal
  35. 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.
  36. Duma is not a masterpiece, but its deficits recede into insignificance once you open yourself to the movie's mystery and visual splendor.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 82 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    In the end, The Constant Gardener is hardly more than yet another study of white, upper-middle-class martyrdom rather than the hard look at third-world suffering it might've been.
    • Wall Street Journal
  37. 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.
  38. The picture sets up high expectations for itself with its wonderful casting, and the actors don't disappoint. [1 Aug 1989, p.1]
    • Wall Street Journal
  39. The price of the production's integrity is a leisurely pace -- but it's a worthwhile one. Though Sugar demands patience, it deserves attention.
  40. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  41. Still, the cynosure of all eyes is honest, articulate Elizabeth, her own woman in an era when women belonged to men, and at the same time full of love. Lizzie is the best, and Keira Knightley does right by her.
    • Wall Street Journal
  42. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  43. The absence of any nuance in the father's character bespeaks the filmmaker's unwillingness to trust his audience. Making the movie may have been therapeutic for him, but I can't say the same about watching it.
    • Wall Street Journal
  44. This joyous farce is a big, big deal, and Jack Black is nothing less than majestic as a scruffy, irreverent rocker passing himself off as a pedagogue in a private school.
    • Wall Street Journal
  45. 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]
    • Wall Street Journal
  46. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    A loopy, endearing documentary.
  49. The Trip is probably too long, but I have to say "probably" because I would have been happy with an additional half-hour of Steve and Rob doing more impressions.
  50. The right word for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is wondersful -- as in full of wonders, great and small.
    • Wall Street Journal
  51. George Clooney's film noir sensibility in the title role feels authentic, and admirably solid.
  52. As a piece of filmmaking, it's stunningly effective.
    • Wall Street Journal
  53. 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.
  54. A remarkably fine and genuinely frightening movie about a teenage vampire.
  55. Taxi to the Dark Side adds something new to our awareness -- interviews with soldiers who served as interrogators in Afghanistan, and in Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison, and who, in some cases that ended in courts martial, served prison terms themselves.
  56. Footnote does function as a character study, an exceptionally rich one.
  57. The director, Kevin Macdonald, searches for clarity amid the contradictions of Marley's life and reaches no conclusions, but that's a tribute to his subject's complexity in a film of fascinating too-muchness.
  58. A severe and eerily beautiful German-language drama.
  59. An absolutely thrilling recreation, in documentary style, of a now-legendary story.
    • Wall Street Journal
  60. 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.)
  61. Le Havre stands on its own fragile but considerable merits.
  62. A splendid war movie. The combat sequences are harrowing -- all the more so for the director's spare, sharp-eyed style -- and the performances are phenomenally fine.
    • Wall Street Journal
  63. Since you can't read my lips, read my words: See this movie.
    • Wall Street Journal
  64. A film that asks its audience to invest serious thought, and in return, bestows serious pleasure.
    • Wall Street Journal
  65. Christopher Nolan's latest exploration of the Batman mythology steeps its muddled plot in so much murk that the Joker's maniacal nihilism comes to seem like a recurrent grace note.
  66. Foxcatcher is a radical departure from Mr. Miller’s previous feature, the smart and entertaining “Moneyball.” It isn’t meant as conventional entertainment, but it’s fascinating to watch from start to finish.
  67. 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.
  68. Though the picture by no means endorses drugs, and paints the junkie life as almost intolerably dull as well as destructive, it is a welcome relief from the mostly heavy-handed Hollywood pictures that tackle the subject. [05 Oct 1989]
    • Wall Street Journal
  69. Deeply affecting.
    • Wall Street Journal
  70. The silents, as this film suggests, achieved aesthetic marvels before sound came along to set things back for a while.
  71. By the end, though, the production is engulfed by barely controlled frenzy -- all decor and no air, music as lo-cal ear candy, scenes as merchandise to be sold, people as two-dimensional props.
    • Wall Street Journal
  72. Viggo Mortensen's performance is flat-out brilliant, and this relentlessly dramatic thriller represents a mid-life growth spurt for its director, David Cronenberg.
  73. At Berkeley is more than the sum of its minutes. Narration-free and artfully discursive, it's a one-of-a-kind mosaic portrait of a great institution struggling, under dire stress, to retain its essential character at a time of declining support for public education.
  74. This peculiarly predictable picture has been calculated, or miscalculated, to set up certain expectations, fulfill them, and then do the same thing again, thereby giving us a chance to see what's coming and, at least in theory, be shocked when it actually comes.
    • Wall Street Journal
  75. Watching this surrealist silliness, I would have welcomed the sight of a geezer on a riding mower.
    • Wall Street Journal
  76. I laughed myself silly through most of A Mighty Wind, and was pleasantly surprised when it took a turn toward genuine feeling near the end.
    • Wall Street Journal
  77. 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.
  78. 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.
  79. The film feels freshly minted because the man who made it has such a lively mind and fearless style. At a time when all too many movies are selling bleakness and dysfunction, it also feels like a revenant from Hollywood’s golden age, when an entertainment’s highest function was to entertain.
  80. 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.
  81. Just as Aubrey's authority springs from skill and knowledge, so does the film's power. They don't make movies like this any more because few people know how to make them.
    • Wall Street Journal
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. It's a portrait, by turns chilling, thrilling, mysterious and terrifying, of a woman who refuses to be terrorized.
  85. A droll and affecting debut feature by Tom McCarthy.
    • Wall Street Journal
  86. The film's special mixture of sadness, comedy and hope sneaks up on you and stays in your memory.
  87. Jane Campion has performed her own feat of romantic imagination.
  88. So much movie can be made with so little plot, given sufficient humanity and dramatic tension. That's the case with Andrew Haigh's eloquent chamber piece.
  89. 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.
  90. 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]
    • Wall Street Journal
  91. No
    Like "Argo" or "Zero Dark Thirty," the film dramatizes a fertile subject — in this instance, the language of advertising in modern politics.
  92. The movie comes on like a put-on--next to nothing happens for an excruciatingly long time--and ends as a fascinating dialectic between following one's conscience or following the law.
  93. Likely to create considerable nervous tension among viewers who think they've seen this all before. They haven't.
  94. 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.
  95. 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.
  96. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  97. Little by little, though, the cluelessness grew endearing, the cross-purpose conversations intricately funny, the gritty look appealing.

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