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 Get Low
Lowest review score: 0 Premonition
Score distribution:
2,088 movie reviews
  1. It's a powerful polemic in its own right, despite some maddeningly glib generalizations, a documentary that functions as a 2½-hour provocation in the ongoing debate about corporate conduct and governance.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Writer-director Cherien Dabis shot Amreeka in a gritty documentary style that reflects the often grim reality of the characters' situation. But he also knows how to mine the comic situations that are often part of the immigrant experience.
  2. It doesn't make Cars a bad picture -- the visual inventions are worth the price of admission -- but it constitutes conduct unbecoming to a maker of magic.
  3. An improbably delicious comedy.
  4. I found this film deeply affecting as well. It has a gravity that's independent of technique, and an engaging spirit that's enhanced by flashes of comedy.
  5. Mr. Miller tells several interlocking stories with such daring and intensity that you sense he could go on indefinitely, spinning one terrific yarn off another.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's a simple story, exposing the beauty that lives inside difficult relationships, and it leaves you feeling quietly exalted without ever seeming to try.
  6. We saw what Mr. Gordon-Levitt could do in such diverse films as "Mysterious Skin" and "Brick," and in the TV sitcom "3rd Rock From the Sun." But this performance is something else. It's unforgettable.
  7. Heathers gave me the creeps but it also made me laugh. This bizarre variation on that Hollywood staple, the teen movie, is one weird original. [30 Mar 1989 p.A12(E)]
  8. Every action adventure needs a memorable villain, but no movie needs the strident intensity of Mr. Dafoe, who either has no interest in, or no grasp of, the sort of charmingly malign wit that Gene Hackman brought to "Superman," or Jack Nicholson to "Batman."
  9. Clearly Mr. Altman was enthralled by the company's work process, an alchemy through which sweat and muscularity on the rehearsal-room floor become exquisite abstractions on stage. His pleasure is infectious.
  10. 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.
  11. To their credit, and to the credit of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in the title roles of Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, the movie doesn't condescend to these relics of the recent past, but treats them with poignancy and humor. [21 Nov 1990]
  12. Mr. Singleton is a very good storyteller, but every once in a while he stops his story cold with speeches. You can feel the audience lost interest, as though a commercial has suddenly popped on screen. [18 July 1991, p.A9(E)]
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The jokes fly fast and sometimes very funny. They are, more often, crude and homophobic. Still, a genuine sweetness lurks.
  13. With its sumptuous settings, urgent romance and intellectual substance, A Royal Affair is a mind-opener crossed with a bodice-ripper.
  14. A smart, suspenseful drama, starring Hayden Christensen, that honors its own factual roots as no movie about journalists has done since "All the President's Men."
  15. With this genuinely big entertainment, powered by a beating heart, Steven Spielberg has put the summer back in summer movies.
  16. Along the way Dori Berinstein's cameras catch gallant theater people doing what they've done since Sophocles was a pup: rehearsing, revising, worrying, learning, stretching, struggling to bump things up from good to wonderful and constantly, fervently hoping.
  17. Taken at face value, these two women are simply despicable. But the screenplay has a bracing tincture of Grand Guignol, and nothing is simple when the two women are played by a couple of superlative actresses who clearly delight in one another.
  18. Visualizations are Mr. Jung's province, and they're what make his movie so deeply moving, as well as literally illuminating.
  19. Long and winding though it may be, Road to Perdition gets to places that are well worth the trip.
  20. That Mr. Rohmer is an octogenarian just beginning to play with digital technology makes the venture even more intriguing.
  21. Storytelling problems surface toward the overwrought climax, but the worst problem is the unrelenting grimness. It's hard to like a movie that leaves you with no hope.
  22. The process is called acting, and the man (Tatum) in the title role of Steven Soderbergh's flashy, not-so-trashy entertainment does it so well that the debate should be officially ended.
  23. Jon Shenk's fascinating documentary feature The Island President personalizes the threat of global warming, and nationalizes it too, by focusing on Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives.
  24. The initial brilliance of the premise is eventually dulled by illogic, the whole thing proves unmanageable and the filmmakers unmanage their climactic revelation with far more zest than finesse. Still, zest counts for a lot, and resonance carries the day.
  25. The second film, in particular, grows tediously episodic, and the exploits become a blur. What never blurs is Mr. Cassel's presence. We're told that he bulked up for the part-though Mesrine was many things, lithe wasn't one of them-but it's his phenomenal zest for his checkered character that fills the screen.
  26. Inside the mysterious factory, a psychedelic realm where Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka holds sway, pleasure gradually gives way to a peculiar state that I can only describe as engagement without enjoyment.
  27. The Grandmaster, may well be the definitive illustration of kung fu in all its arcane schools and intricate styles. There's never been anything like it — a seemingly endless flow of spectacular images in a story about Ip Man (Tony Leung), the legendary kung-fu master who trained Bruce Lee.
  28. Big
    I am glad to be able to say that all these clever and talented people have actually come up with the goods. The biggest goodie is Tom Hanks as the little boy after his wish has been granted. Much of the comedy in this movie is physical. Without forcing the matter Mr. Hanks has a startling ability to take on the mannerisms and facial expressions of an adolescent. [2 Jun 1988, p.1]
  29. A transgenre thriller that glides effortlessly from crisp social commentary through off-kilter comedy to paranoid terror, it's on my short list of the most enjoyable movies in recent memory.
  30. The whole thing comes together surprisingly well, as a celebration of its own milieu, and of a tender teen's transformation into a strong young woman.
  31. This feelbad movie makes you glad when it's over.
  32. This is a road movie unlike any other, the comical and mystical odyssey of old Mamo (an extraordinary performance by Ismail Ghaffari), a venerated musician who heads for Iraq from exile in Kurdish Iran with a busload of his musician sons to give a concert after Saddam's fall.
  33. Eye caviar that doesn't pretend to be much else.
  34. JFK
    It's powerful film making that at the very least accomplishes what Mr. Stone said he set out to do - to offer the world an alternate myth. [20 Dec 1991]
  35. The cleverness gives considerable pleasure until the story grows absurd and the story within the story turns unpleasant, like the creepily precocious young man who tells it.
  36. It's a meditation, as affecting as it is entertaining, on the limits of violence and the power of unchained empathy.
  37. This is a film that adds to our understanding of human nature. Yet its impact is lessened by a lack of factual context, and by an inspirational climax that may leave one feeling good and uneasy in equal measure.
  38. A small independent feature that's everything an independent feature -- small or big -- should be.
  39. For all its pictorial splendor and carefully calculated drama, this film misses greatness by a country mile.
  40. Despite its cargo of meaning, 3-Iron feels marvelously weightless, like the lovers as they stand on a scale that the hero has fixed.
  41. Earth eloquently shows the struggle, life doing what it must to sustain life. The spectacle is stirring.
  42. Joe
    A beautiful film, shot by Tim Orr, that is elevated by Mr. Cage's stirring portrait of a violence-prone man who can't restrain himself from doing good.
  43. The daunting logistics of Superman Returns have obviously affected the director's work -- thus the hit-or-miss continuity of the narrative -- but Bryan Singer hasn't been defeated by them. While his movie can be cumbersome, it's consistently alive, and that is saying a lot when many such productions are dead in the water, on land or in the air. Also, how can you resist the charm of a fantasy in which everyone gets his news from newspapers?
  44. This beautifully strange and affecting comedy, which Agnès Jaoui directed from a screenplay she wrote with her husband, Mr. Bacri, is about men who are weak and insecure, and one woman, Agathe, played superbly by Ms. Jaoui, coming to terms with the price of being strong.
  45. 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.
  46. Igby has his own prickly charisma and bleak humor; he's a character you'd like very much to embrace. But he's surrounded by insufferable fools in the airless Manhattan universe of a film that's as offputtingly precocious as its preppy hero.
  47. Noisy, frenetic, grandiose and essentially a soap opera, director J.J. Abrams's second contribution to the franchise has everything, including romance: Never before have Capt. James T. Kirk and his Vulcan antagonist, Mr. Spock, seemed so very much in love.
  48. Amazingly and incessantly funny, a free-form riff on Hollywood shenanigans, the film noir genre and film in general.
  49. A daring feature debut by Evan Glodell, Bellflower looks like it was shot with the digital equivalent of a Brownie box camera, and generates an almost palpable aura of anxiety.
  50. The best parts are the in-between ones, neither laugh-out-loud funny nor overtly heart-wrenching.
  51. This new film isn't perfect, and may not be a world-changer, but it's certainly a world-pleaser.
  52. The result is a film that may stay in the mind's eye longer than it lingers in the heart.
  53. Your reaction to the film will depend on your tolerance for scatology -- some of this stuff is very funny, although most of it is grindingly, numbingly awful -- and your interest in standup comics.
  54. Why, then, am I so pleased with Easy A? Because the movie, despite a few flaws, seems to have been made by higher intelligence, and because it catapults Emma Stone into a higher place reserved for American actors who can handle elevated language with casually dazzling aplomb.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Calls to mind Lubitsch's "Trouble in Paradise" and beguiles all the way from the parade of umbrellas decorating the opening titles to the closing credits.
  55. It's a lovely pretext for dazzling visuals, yet the production is diminished by the clumsiness of an 8-bit script.
  56. The movie's main appeal is its special comic flavor -- a zesty fusion of picaresque adventure, absurdist whimsy and Chaplinesque grace.
  57. Throbs with an ambition that sends it soaring, then brings it down.
  58. 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.
  59. Everywhere in Nowhere in Africa, skill and art translate into vivid life.
  60. Howard, and the screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman, have used the book as nothing more than their jumping-off point for an erratic work of fiction that's part mystery thriller and part Hollywood schmaltz.
  61. Lynn Shelton's lovely tale of swirling feelings was shot in a mere 12 days, on a budget that must have been minuscule. A couple of minutes after it's started, though, you know you're in the presence of people who will surprise and delight you.
  62. In a film that's carefully crafted but also airless and overcalculated, Mos Def walks away with every scene he's in because we're never sure what his character is up to, and we're never told.
  63. Much of the film is banal or pretentious, or both - vacuous vignettes about emptiness. Occasionally, though, those vignettes burst into life and burn with consuming fire.
  64. Has the inherent limits of all movies that feed on movies, rather than life -- it's original, yet it's not.
  65. Eventually, though, Ghost Town buckles beneath the weight of contrivance -- so many ghosts to dispel, so many lessons to learn.
  66. Pathos isn't Ms. Dunham's bag. What makes her film fascinating is the delicate mood it sustains.
  67. An expertly developed farce that's very funny and surprisingly affecting in the bargain.
  68. Breaks through the conventions of its biopic form with a pair of brilliant performances and a whole lot more.
  69. Make what you will of the story and its symbolism, but Mr. Antal has made a remarkable feature debut with this visionary film, chockablock with memorable images.
  70. The movie wears thin as its style turns from light parody into affectation, and the plot, which certainly generates lots of anxiety, eventually settles for facile irony.
  71. Watching Ahlo mix his explosives is like watching a Cordon Bleu chef whipping up a stupendous soufflé.
  72. As you watch Doc Paskowitz perform for Mr. Pray's camera, it's hard not to judge him harshly. His narcissism seems boundless, even when he cloaks it in self-deprecation.
  73. For the director, Mr. Leconte, and for the usually volcanic Mr. Auteuil, the quiet, cumulative power of this film is a striking departure from the dazzling energy of their previous collaboration in "Girl on the Bridge."
  74. It looks so stylish that thinking about its plot is strictly optional.
  75. One of the reasons documentaries often take so long to make is the filmmakers' need to keep their subject from giving a performance. They want something genuine, something that materializes only when the camera disappears. Nothing Mr. Courtney is says is inaccurate or, God knows, dishonest. But it isn't quite true either.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Director David Yates, who is new to the Potter franchise, moves the story along briskly, at the expense of texture and nuance.
  76. A valuable film, provided one doesn't ask too much of it.
  77. It declines to take itself seriously, yet manages, sometimes simultaneously, to be exciting, instructive, cheerfully absurd and genuinely affecting.
  78. 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.
  79. Of all the funny things in Thank You for Smoking, and there are many, the most striking is Robert Duvall's absolutely mirthless laugh.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Although The Good Girl is peppered with amusing small-town eccentrics in refreshingly original guises, it gets off to a long, slow start.
  80. None of this would work, of course, without stylish performances in the leads and Mr. Clooney and Ms. Zeta-Jones do themselves and their dubious characters proud.
  81. Mr. Luchini gives one of the best performances of the year, in one of the best movies of the year.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Like a dinner whose hors d'oeuvres are far more satisfying and well-composed than the slightly warmed-over main course. Among them are the inspired mock movie trailers and the fake ad that precede "Thunder's" opening credits.
  82. Nothing is simple in this film, which ramifies into parallel meditations on race, the transformation of racial politics and lessons to be learned from the lives of dogs.
  83. Koch the film makes the point without belaboring it — a mayor and a metropolis linked by tumultuous events in the worst and best of times.
  84. A work of fiction, Mr. Féret's film is ardent in its inventions, modest in scale, playful in its speculations about Nannerl's influence on her brother's music, and graced by the filmmaker's daughter, Marie Féret, in the title role.
  85. Mad Dog and Glory also seems like two movies at once, only in this case the split comes off like a case of Siamese twins. Actually, it's girls on one side and boys on the other, and the boys get all the breaks. [4 Mar 1993, p.A12]
  86. Trumbo doesn't pretend to be tough-minded about its subject, and its failure to date the letters is an annoyance. But the substance of those letters, along with documentary footage and a touching appearance by Kirk Douglas, throws a baleful light on a bleak chapter of American history.
  87. The film is picture-book pretty and fairly conventional, except for the 3-D, which is emerging as a convention in its own right. Still, the prettiness comes with brains, and the whole production, like those newly eye-catching models of American-made cars, bespeaks resurgent confidence.
  88. The movie looks lovely, but it's luminous prose.
  89. A cockeyed comic triumph that flashes between bright and dark like a strobe light of the spirit. And Ms. Theron, as Mavis Gary, a self-styled author rather than a mere writer, succeeds sensationally at something much harder than playing ravaged.
  90. Mr. Nichols decided to preserve the jokiness of the original material, even while shifting the emphasis to the mother-daughter conflict. There may have been a way to do this and end up with a clever movie, but Mr. Nichols seems to have had an even cleverer idea: He decided to use this movie as a way to pay back social obligations. [13 Sep 1990, p.A14]
  91. People might have laughed at the old Jack Rebney, but they were laughing at themselves as well. And counting their blessings. Everyone has a cranky side. Unlike Mr. Rebney's, it isn't usually gawked at by 20 million people.
  92. The problem isn't a lack of substance, and certainly not a dearth of talent, but a shortage of fun.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    Lacks a crucial element of the heist subgenre: ingenuity.

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