Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,294 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 42% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 56% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 2.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Lowest review score: 0 Glitter
Score distribution:
2,294 movie reviews
  1. The pace is deliberate, verging on slow — Australian filmmakers aren't keen on short takes or quick cuts — but the content is constantly surprising.
  2. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  3. Tender, funny and smart, Machuca is that rare discovery, an incisive political parable that also succeeds as a drama of sharply drawn individuals.
    • Wall Street Journal
  4. The strengths of the first "3:10 To Yuma" were enhanced by its proportionality -- an intimate story told in 92 minutes. The story is no bigger in the new version, which goes on for 117 minutes. And it's certainly not better.
  5. Almost everything about Cary Fukunaga's version of the Charlotte Brontë romance is understated yet transfixing, mainly-although far from exclusively-because of Mia Wasikowska's presence in the title role.
  6. It keeps you fascinated, even enthralled; elicits astonishment, even wonderment, and makes you grateful for the chance to meet someone remarkable.
  7. The film itself operates on shifting sands. Shot documentary-style, by Robert Elswit, and accompanied by a pounding soundtrack, Syriana makes high-octane melodrama look like revealed truth.
    • Wall Street Journal
  8. She's (Jennifer Hudson) the best part of the show by far, but the writer-director Bill Condon, who wrote the screenplay for "Chicago" four years ago, has done the original "Dreamgirls" proud without solving its dramatic problems.
    • Wall Street Journal
  9. An improbably bountiful subject -- kids on skateboards turning themselves into virtuoso artist-athletes -- has been brought to life in a wonderful, unpretentious documentary.
    • Wall Street Journal
  10. One unwelcome surprise is how shopworn the story's components prove to be. Still, they're enhanced if not redeemed by Mr. Washington's stirring portrait of a skillful, prideful pilot hitting bottom.
  11. It isn't saying too much, though, to call Mia Hansen-Løve's French-language drama beautiful, profound and, given the gathering tensions of its story, phenomenally full of life.
  12. This is filmmaking of a high order, even though the production's scale is modest and the climax is not without its facile contrivances.
  13. For the most part, though, Ms. Moncrieff has given us a portrait of a young woman with a luminous soul.
    • Wall Street Journal
  14. Rapturously beautiful, startlingly audacious and often very funny, the film employs many of the techniques that were used so pleasingly in "Amélie."
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Feast for Rolling Stones fans.
  15. Living in Emergency is anything but bleeding-heart propaganda.
  16. Period pieces can be marvelous or musty, depending on the period, as well as the piece. Soul Power is marvelous.
  17. Who knew this German-born Turkish filmmaker could perpetrate a delirious farce-in German and Greek with good English subtitles-that doesn't flag for a single one of its 99 minutes?
  18. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  19. 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.
  20. As such, it's chilling and enjoyable in unequal measure. Entertainment predominates, but entertainment with smarts, and a well-honed edge.
  21. A very entertaining black comedy for very mysterious reasons.
  22. Youth may be wasted on the young in this muddled movie. But age is equally wasted on the aging.
  23. An exhaustive and exhausting dissection of a relationship that was never all that promising in the first place.
  24. Wonderfully fresh and affecting fable from India.
  25. The distinction of this lovely, if slightly tentative, debut feature is its willingness to set forth mysteries of the human heart without solving them; everyone's fate stays unsealed.
    • Wall Street Journal
  26. This portrait of a failing marriage is one of the summer's great discoveries, and a marvel of mercurial intimacy.
    • Wall Street Journal
  27. This screen adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s autobiographical best-seller is burdened, out of fidelity to the book, with life lessons and unneeded explanations that it dispenses, like CliffsNotes, at every opportunity.
  28. 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!
  29. Yet the heart of the film lies in what it manages to say, without boldface or italics, about how hard it is for Donna, like so many of her anxious cohort, to make genuine connections, to break free of narcissistic constraints and become a stand-up grown-up.
  30. I regretted it most when the temporal hopscotching took me away from Ms. Winslet's portrait of the writer as a young sensualist, madly smitten by words and life.
    • Wall Street Journal
  31. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  32. The most intriguing question it raises is whether our feelings about Vermeer may be changed by the likelihood of him having used optics of one sort or another. The answer is yes, unavoidably, but not necessarily for the worse.
  33. 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.
  34. Blink your eyes and you've lost track of them, but one of the interesting things about the experience is that you don't want to lose track; though the film moves as slowly as its hikers, it demands, and deserves, to be watched closely. (The cinematographer was Inti Briones.)
  35. A likable lightweight, though it's heavy enough on cosmic combat and dazzling effects.
  36. The film deserves to be seen, and admired, for its own revelations, and for its unlikely, yet deeply affecting, transformation into a story of abiding love that, in its own turn, involves a deception. At the age of 86, Mr. Randi is a small, gnomish figure who walks with a cane. What seems entirely undiminished, though, is the power of his mind, driven more than ever by the dictates of his heart.
  37. Represents a big growth spurt in Mr. Cronenberg's career. Its measured pace, along with a style that is sometimes austere (though sometimes anything but) repays close attention with excellent acting and a wealth of absorbing information.
  38. Nicole Kidman places the bereaved heroine of Rabbit Hole in a nether land between life and not-quite-life. Her beautiful performance transcends the specifics of the script, which David Lindsay-Abaire adapted from his play of the same name.
  39. 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.
  40. Mud
    Jeff Nichols's third feature traffics unerringly in truth, delicious surprise, unadorned beauty and unforced wisdom.
  41. Mr. Gyllenhaal’s startling portrayal is far from the only distinction in this impeccably crafted feature film. Mr. Gilroy’s directorial debut connects its hero’s tacit madness to the larger craziness of a broadcast medium that teaches vast numbers of viewers to live with a false sense of insecurity.
  42. 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]
    • Wall Street Journal
  43. Wonderfully funny and subversively affecting.
    • 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.
  44. Modest in scale but formidable in its impact.
    • Wall Street Journal
  45. Finally seems like a bit of a con in its own right, but a marvelously smooth one.
    • Wall Street Journal
  46. Shrewdly reconceived, powerfully acted and hugely entertaining.
    • Wall Street Journal
  47. The wonder of the film is how good it makes us feel. Greenberg scintillates with intelligence, razor's-edge humor and austere empathy for its struggling lovers.
  48. 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.
  49. That's not to say that this first visit to a live-action Narnia on screen isn't enjoyable, or promising for the future of what will surely be a successful franchise. But there's not a lot of humor along the way, and the epic struggle between good and evil plays out in battles more impressive than thrilling.
    • Wall Street Journal
  50. I've made a good case for seeing Rango, and why not; an eye feast is still a feast in this lean multiplex season. Be advised, though, of the film's peculiar deficits. The narrative isn't really dramatic, despite several send-up face-offs. It's more like a succession of picturesque notions that might have flowed from DreamWorks or Pixar while their story departments were out to lunch.
  51. Frank is a genuine original in a summer sea of sameness, and a darkly comedic manifesto against the cultural status quo.
  52. JW is played brilliantly by Joel Kinnaman, who is familiar to American audiences of "The Killing" on AMC.
  53. What The Art of the Steal documents most dramatically is the irresistible pull of irreplaceable art.
  54. Goes from good to great in 90 minutes, and then it's over, except that it's really not, because this small masterwork grows even deeper and more affecting as it takes up permanent residence in your memory.
    • Wall Street Journal
  55. For all its immersion in the roar, grease and danger of Formula One, the fact-based Rush — about the sport's great rivalry of the 1970s — is also more predictable than a pit stop, something well-suited to Mr. Howard. He's made perfectly palatable pictures, but never a truly great one, partly because he has such a weakness for the commercial and a consequent gift for the obvious.
  56. 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.
  57. I’ll See You In My Dreams, has its shortcomings as drama, but she’s (Danner) the heroine, Carol Petersen, and she takes advantage of every resonant moment the role offers her.
  58. Any movie with these two comics is a trip and a half. How about France for the next one? A perfect way to revisit Michael Caine.
  59. Never lacks for extravagance — the film looks as striking as it sounds — and some of the tales certainly seem outlandish. Yet they’re part of a truly remarkable origin story that the film and its subjects explore with uncommon thoughtfulness and depth of feeling.
  60. 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]
    • Wall Street Journal
  61. Lovely & Amazing goes to the heart -- and face, and skin -- of a subject that's sure to ring true with women, and may even educate men.
    • Wall Street Journal
  62. There's plenty of scary pleasure to be had from this clever, compact thriller.
    • Wall Street Journal
  63. Major League Baseball has passed new rules for the Dominican system, according to the film's closing credits, rules that will limit signing bonuses. Yet the harvest will continue, and it's not a pretty sight.
  64. The celebrated percussionist Evelyn Glennie is the subject of a wonderful documentary called Touch the Sound, although calling her a percussionist is like calling Brancusi a demolitionist.
    • Wall Street Journal
  65. In what I think may be the filmmaker’s plan, all that stuff — that maddeningly cacophonous Stuff — is what we’re meant to cut through and get past in order to become as alert and alive as the star of Mr. Godard’s movie. In this interpretation, it’s the pooch who points the way toward perceiving beauty by learning to live in the vibrant, fragrant present.
  66. Where the movie is at its best is in the comically laconic, straight-to-the-camera remarks offered by Carthage's residents. (They're played by a mix of local actors and real townspeople doing partially scripted versions of themselves.)
  67. 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.
  68. The Invisible Woman gives us a plausible image of the great man in the fullness of his celebrity, and an affecting portrait of the woman who lived much of her life in his shadow.
  69. The film succeeds powerfully, even though it's short on practical solutions, makes some questionable statements of fact and, given Gore's current ambiguous position in public life, requires a tighter focus on the message than on the messenger.
    • Wall Street Journal
  70. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  71. Absurdist, but also condescending and self-infatuated; The Royal Tenenbaums is at least three times too clever for its own good.
    • Wall Street Journal
  72. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  73. 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.
  74. What We Do in the Shadows has nonmedicinal virtues that many large-scale movies lack: unflagging energy, entertaining inventiveness, sustained ridiculousness and even, dare I say it, a spasm of eloquence in Deacon’s twisted tribute to the frailties of the human race.
  75. The film contends admiringly, and convincingly, that Ralph Nader's authentic sense of outrage is the reason he persists when he can't prevail.
    • Wall Street Journal
  76. 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.
  77. The story is a shallow-draft bark with flat characters on board: Josh, in particular, is de-energized to the point of entropy. Night Moves suffers from a lack of mystery and a deficit of motion.
  78. A convincing, entertaining portrait of the revolutionist as a young man.
    • Wall Street Journal
  79. Mr. Field is a filmmaker with an exceptional gift for directing actors -- he's an actor himself -- and an eye for telling detail. (His cinematographer here, as in the previous film, is Antonio Calvache, and again the images are quietly sumptuous.) Yet I was put off by Little Children's satiric tone.
    • Wall Street Journal
  80. Catching Fire is exceptional entertainment, a spectacle with a good mind and a pounding heart.
  81. Any meaningful perspective on the greedfest of the period is obscured by the gleefulness of the depiction.
  82. I did enjoy the movie's mercurial moods -- anxiety, terror, whimsical horror -- and I welcomed its confirmation that the work of the devil includes SUVs.
    • Wall Street Journal
  83. A thrillingly, thoroughly wonderful film.
    • Wall Street Journal
  84. All three performances are excellent, in their different ways.
    • Wall Street Journal
  85. A smart, funny and strangely touching film.
    • Wall Street Journal
  86. Some comedies make you laugh out loud. This one makes you smile inwardly, but often.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 75 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    Born on the Fourth of July would be merely a hilariously inept gathering of Vietnam War movie cliches. Instead it is an unrelenting series of dramatic blows; almost every scene packs violence, sleaze, screamed rage and an ear-splitting music with headbutt force. For someone who despises the military, Mr. Stone is quite bellicose. [21 Dec 1989, p.1]
    • Wall Street Journal
  87. In another sense, though, everything is exactly what it seems, expertly crafted and cleverly compounded for high-dose entertainment.
  88. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  89. Horror and social value contend for equal honors in Must Read After My Death, a frightening -- and eerily edifying -- documentary that Morgan Dews created from a family trove of photos, Dictaphone letters, audiotapes, voluminous transcripts and home movies.
  90. Amy the writer has tried to reconcile her gift for whip-smart, razor-sharp comedy sketches with the demands of a feature film. On the whole she hasn’t pulled it off — the movie veers sharply off track toward the end. Still, the sum of its most memorable parts is great fun.
  91. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  92. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  93. If you lop off the closing credits of Fred Cavayé's preposterously exciting - and pleasingly preposterous - French-language thriller, the running time is a mere 80 minutes. Not since "Run Lola Run" has the term been used more aptly.
  94. It’s amazing, and genuinely touching. At the age of 53 Mr. Cruise continues to give his all to these films, and his all in this latest episode is more than enough.
  95. The writer-director Adrienne Shelly, who died in New York City late last year at the age of 40, took such perishable ingredients as wit, daring, poignancy, whimsy and romance, added passionate feelings plus the constant possibility of joy, decorated her one-of-a-kind production with pastel colors and created something close to perfection.
  96. This is only the second feature for the director: the first was "True Adolescents." But Mr. Johnson's work with his actors is impeccable, and his style is freewheeling.

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