Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,242 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 2.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 Pan's Labyrinth
Lowest review score: 0 Flipped
Score distribution:
2,242 movie reviews
  1. The film's power is undercut by its narrow geographic focus, which seems to associate bullying with conservative or working-class areas in red states. The filmmakers could easily have found similar cases involving the children of urban sophisticates.
  2. 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.
  3. Munich is a Spielberg film for better and worse, a vivid, sometimes simplistic thriller in which action speaks louder than ideas.
    • Wall Street Journal
  4. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  5. His film is not for the weak of stomach or heart, but it's a stunner all the same.
    • Wall Street Journal
  6. After countless films in which immigration plays a central role -- one of the earliest was Charlie Chaplin's 1917 silent classic "The Immigrant" while one of the best, Jan Troell's "The Emigrants," has never migrated to DVD -- you'd think the canon was essentially complete. Yet this visionary work adds to it by combining harsh realities with magic-realist fantasies.
  7. The film transcends its various borrowings and occasional stumblings with a modern, exuberant spirit that draws heat from Broadway-style musical numbers and, before and after everything else, from marvelous 3-D animation
  8. As a thriller, The Town has what it takes and then some.
  9. It's a tone poem, really, less concerned with conventional action than with exploring themes of love and commitment through understated performances, sumptuous images (Bradford Young did the cinematography), lovely music (Daniel Hart composed the score) and very few words, intoned elegiacally.
  10. What makes this nominee for the best-foreign-film Oscar singular among Holocaust movies is the way it characterizes the banality of life underground.
  11. A dulcetly crazy, certifiably hilarious and eerily mysterious little comedy.
  12. Lost in La Mancha, a documentary about a movie that never got made, is more involving -- and heartbreaking -- than many movies that do get made.
    • Wall Street Journal
  13. If you're looking for an action thriller, this isn't it. The pace is deliberate, the tone is pensive, albeit punctuated by occasional violence, and the style is exceedingly lean; characters reveal themselves mainly through moral choices.
  14. Nolan’s 168-minute odyssey through the space-time continuum is stuffed with stuff of bewildering wrongness. Eager for grandeur, I went in hoping for the very best from a filmmaker with his own vision of the theatrical medium’s potential. The last thing I expected was a space adventure burdened by turgid discussions of abstruse physics, a wavering tone, visual effects of variable quality and a time-traveling structure that turns on bloodless abstractions.
  15. Though the first-time director, Gabor Csupo, has achieved distinction as an animation artist, he lacks experience directing actors. The best adult performance in the film is that of Zooey Deschanel; she comes off -- again, agreeably -- as self-directed.
    • Wall Street Journal
  16. Remarkably accomplished and self-confident. In dramatic terms The Attack borrows a page from Alfred Hitchcock's playbook — an innocent in a strange land, delving into dangerous matters he doesn't understand. In political terms, though, the script is unsparing and ultimately bleak. It doesn't justify terrorism, but it does dramatize the rage and despair that dominate life in the occupied territories.
    • Wall Street Journal
  17. Apollo 11's mission was a singular chapter in the story of mankind; The Dish finds a whimsical, winning way of telling it anew.
    • Wall Street Journal
  18. An unusual amalgam of formulaic feel-goodism and shocking tough-mindedness, a movie that allows us to decode the inner life of its hero while he's decoding the world around him.
    • Wall Street Journal
  19. The screen, like the stage, can barely contain this marvelous play of intelligence.
    • Wall Street Journal
  20. The film's point of view is inevitably that of an outsider, which Danny Pearl was, and menace is the essence of this shattering story, which has been told with skill and urgent conviction. A Mighty Heart makes the terms of the terrorist threat palpable.
  21. A win-win situation in which a mainstream feature works equally well as stirring entertainment and a history lesson about a remarkable convergence of sports and statesmanship.
  22. Herb and Dorothy, a documentary by Megumi Sasaki, grows on you just as its subjects do.
  23. The film flirts frequently with sentimentality, falling for it heedlessly at a couple of crucial junctures. Still, the overall style is more astringent than moist, and the hero is a little toughie of endearing tenderness.
    • Wall Street Journal
  24. Mommy is certainly a showcase for powerful acting: Anne Dorval is the coarse but affecting Diane, Antoine-Olivier Pilon is terrifying as Diane’s teenage son, Steve.
  25. 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.
  26. There's a near-sacred history in Hollywood of non-U.S.- born directors providing fresh perspectives on America. Miloš Forman. Alfred Hitchcock. Ang Lee. Ernst Lubitsch. Billy Wilder. For Prisoners, a stress-inducing trip into child abduction, the director is Quebecois filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, who gives us an American "hero" guaranteed to push many buttons, many times, and who might not have been allowed to be quite so awful, under a different director's lens.
  27. Mr. Rourke's performance is quite phenomenal, a case of unquenchable talent bursting the bonds of dehumanized artifice.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Especially well-rendered is the divide that occurred between the downtown and uptown worlds -- something that many who don't live in New York will grasp here for the first time.
    • Wall Street Journal
  28. 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.
  29. The Song of Sparrows becomes a parable of corruption, catastrophe and eventual redemption. Mr. Majidi's tale wasn't meant to be timely, of course, but the shoe fits, and the film wears it well.
  30. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  31. The movie is serious, intelligent, intentionally claustrophobic and awfully somber -- you remember it in black and white, though it was shot (by the masterful Tak Fujimoto) in color. But you'll remember Mr. Cooper's performance for exactly what it is, an uncompromising study in the gradual decay of a soul.
    • Wall Street Journal
  32. Rarely has so scary a thriller been so well made, and never has digital video -- by the English cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle -- been put to grittier use.
    • Wall Street Journal
  33. From seductive start to shattering finish, the film is as stirring, entertaining and steadfastly thrilling as it is beautiful.
  34. The immensity encompasses such variety, subtlety and intimacy that you may find yourself yearning for more.
  35. It's not the generic plot that's so memorable, even though its convolutions are clever enough, or the cast of mostly interesting characters, but the surreal swirl of form and color that frequently fills the enormous screen.
  36. This screwball comedy about a scrappy Hawaiian kid and the rabidly destructive little alien she mistakes for a dog is powered by ferocious joy. And, remarkably, it manages to incorporate traditional Disney values, such as the sanctity of the family, in a visually bold, subversively witty package that's as far from corporate as mainstream movies get.
    • Wall Street Journal
  37. A singularly strange and affecting comedy.
    • Wall Street Journal
  38. Why are certain films less than the sum of their appealing parts?
  39. What's an eight-letter word for a non-fiction feature that is witty, wise and wonderful? "Wordplay."
    • Wall Street Journal
  40. Like Father, Like Son has still more on its mind — a vision of a Japan in which work will be balanced with leisure and love.
  41. Challenging and fascinating -- everything you didn't know you didn't know about Derrida's life and work.
    • Wall Street Journal
  42. Ordinary moviegoers, on the other hand, may wonder what they're supposed to feel, apart from bored.
    • Wall Street Journal
  43. Supremacy certainly works on its own terms, but those terms are limiting. It's an entertainment machine about a killing machine.
    • Wall Street Journal
  44. A visionary tale -- bleak but visionary all the same -- of a fragile civilizing impulse crushed by family loyalty and a lust for revenge in the vast Outback of the late 19th century.
    • Wall Street Journal
  45. I wish I could say that the film gives a great actor a worthy role, but the truth is otherwise. The character is banal — Günther lavishes attention on remarkably uninteresting spycraft — and Mr. Hoffman, like everyone else, is stuck with the glum tone set by the director, Anton Corbijn ("Control," "The American").
  46. "Just One More Chance," Billie Holiday implores on the soundtrack. The nice paradox of Arbitrage is that we're interested to see whether Robert gets one, even though he's the villain-in-chief of a suspense thriller whose plot turns on generalized scurrilousness. That's a tribute to Mr. Jarecki's smart writing, and to the take-no-prisoners performance of Mr. Gere.
  47. Ms. Shortland has announced her presence as a new filmmaker to be taken seriously, while her star, Abbie Cornish, gives a performance that starts impressively, and gets even better as it goes along.
    • Wall Street Journal
  48. Besides engineering top-notch performances from his actors, Mr. Demme also put together a soundtrack that enhances the movie's marvelous, quirky rhythms. He keeps you hooked into this unpredictable, pleasurable picture right through the closing credits. [6 Nov 1986]
    • Wall Street Journal
  49. It’s a marvelous story about science and humanity, plus a great performance by Benedict Cumberbatch, plus first-rate filmmaking and cinematography, minus a script that muddles its source material to the point of betraying it. Those strengths make the movie worth seeing, but the writing keeps eating away at the narrative’s clarity — and integrity — until it’s impossible to separate the glib fictions from the remarkable facts.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This award-winning picture from Belgium is the kind Hollywood seems no longer interested in making: a sophisticated drama that presumes a level of insight and maturity in an audience that doesn't need winks and arrows to understand what's going on.
    • Wall Street Journal
  50. Yet it's not just the visuals that make the movie what it is, a thrilling, if also punishing, tale of heroic endurance. The Impossible, based on a true story, derives most of its impressive power from two remarkable performances: Naomi Watts as Maria, and Tom Holland as Lucas.
  51. The fascination here is not so much the surface drama, though that is suspenseful and sometimes shocking, but Michele's inability to grasp the nature and extent of the evil that surrounds him.
    • Wall Street Journal
  52. Laurent Cantet's fascinating, troubling drama has many meanings.
    • Wall Street Journal
  53. The main — and for my money only — attraction in Le Week-End, which was directed by Roger Michell, is the marvelous Scottish actress Lindsay Duncan. She is witty, fiercely intelligent and intensely sexy in the role of Meg, a woman stuck in a failing marriage.
  54. Looks splendid and commands respect, but leaves you wondering what essential something you missed. It's a worthy film at war with itself.
    • Wall Street Journal
  55. The essence of the film is slapsticky, chopsocky action, rendered with great verve and accompanied by bromides having to do with the need to believe.
  56. Mr. McKay is in his mid-30s, and doesn't conceal it, so what's the point? By taking the KIND out of WUNERKIND, the movie also removes the WUNDER.
  57. Quietly affecting and surprisingly dramatic, so long as you're willing to watch it unfold at its own deliberate pace.
  58. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  61. An improbably delicious comedy.
  62. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  63. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  64. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  65. One of those movies that arrives every now and then with no fanfare but a canny sense of how to grab our attention and hold it in a tightening grip.
  66. 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)]
    • Wall Street Journal
  67. 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."
    • Wall Street Journal
  68. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  69. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  70. 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]
    • Wall Street Journal
  71. 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)]
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  72. With its sumptuous settings, urgent romance and intellectual substance, A Royal Affair is a mind-opener crossed with a bodice-ripper.
  73. 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."
    • Wall Street Journal
  74. With this genuinely big entertainment, powered by a beating heart, Steven Spielberg has put the summer back in summer movies.
    • Wall Street Journal
  75. 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.
  76. This remarkable piece of antiwar cinema honors its theme, and the movie medium.
  77. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  78. Visualizations are Mr. Jung's province, and they're what make his movie so deeply moving, as well as literally illuminating.
    • 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.
  79. Finding words for the starring performance is easy. After breaking through as a brilliant comic actor in “The Hangover,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle,” Mr. Cooper turns out to be just as brilliant at intensely dramatic inwardness. In his extraordinarily austere portrayal, Kyle’s silences are eloquent, his impassivity interesting, his inner conflicts implied without a trace of sentimentality.
  80. Long and winding though it may be, Road to Perdition gets to places that are well worth the trip.
    • Wall Street Journal
  81. That Mr. Rohmer is an octogenarian just beginning to play with digital technology makes the venture even more intriguing.
    • Wall Street Journal
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  88. 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]
    • Wall Street Journal
  89. 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.
  90. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  91. This feelbad movie makes you glad when it's over.
    • Wall Street Journal
  92. 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.
  93. Eye caviar that doesn't pretend to be much else.
    • Wall Street Journal
  94. 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]
    • Wall Street Journal
  95. 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.

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