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 2.2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 Shall We Kiss?
Lowest review score: 0 Jumper
Score distribution:
2,091 movie reviews
    • 71 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    Lacks a crucial element of the heist subgenre: ingenuity.
  1. Ms. Ferrera is an engaging performer; you find yourself rooting for Ana from the start, even though you know, from the predictable script by George LaVoo and Josefina Lopez, that rooting isn't required for a happy outcome.
  2. The result is an enchanting story of love from an idealized past that endures in the mundane present.
  3. The Man Nobody Knew is packed with knowledge of another sort. It amounts to an absorbing, sometimes appalling course in how U.S. foreign policy evolved and functioned following World War II.
  4. Don't miss an opportunity to see Mad Hot Ballroom, though. It will sweep you off your feet.
  5. Has much to recommend it - high-end craftsmanship, a singular heroine, a labyrinthine mystery, an intriguing milieu - yet lacks a vital spark.
  6. Endearing, though sometimes belabored.
  7. Intriguing and affecting documentary.
  8. This adroit and understated coming-of-age film reminded me of the New Wave of Czech films in the 1960s, but with a distinctive poignancy that translates to wisdom.
  9. Sleepwalk With Me makes the subject palatable, funny and maybe even touching.
  10. The intricacies here are moral and ethical, and they're fascinating.
  11. An exhilarating examination of a leading Iranian criminal enterprise--music: More than 2,000 bands are said to operate clandestinely in the capital of Tehran, risking prison to play together in basements, bedrooms and rooftops.
  12. As wish-fulfillments go, this is a movie lover's dream.
  13. If you're willing to go along with it, as I was, then being manipulated -- or at least actively misled -- becomes a pleasure.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Hugely entertaining thriller.
  14. Though the film is somber, it certainly commands one's attention, and for a while one's respect.
  15. It's a stirring portrait of a singular artist, a gorgeously photographed album of his buildings, and, perhaps most importantly, a film that manages to demystify the way he works without diminishing it.
  16. One would have to be totally tone-deaf not to notice that the director, Andrew Davis, has inflicted a broad cartoon style on adult performers who are distinctly uncomfortable with it.
  17. Black Book is its own kind of thriller. The film is filled with the genre's conventions -- suspense, betrayal, melodrama, violence, music -- and it's hugely enjoyable from start to finish.
  18. Like Crazy develops slowly, and threatens at first to be just another movie about beautiful young people in the Age of Fraught Relationships. It's much more than that, though. Without belaboring any issues, it speaks volumes about fear of commitment.
  19. What the film does best is document the lengths to which people are going to protect themselves -- subcutaneous microchips for identification, ever-heavier armor for fancy cars.
  20. Through exquisite details, evocative music and bold dramatic strokes -- including a tragedy that transcends the melodrama it might have been -- Rain renders this family's life in its full dimensions.
  21. One of the wittiest comedies to come our way in a very long time.
  22. Batman Begins summons up moments of great eloquence and power. If only its cast of characters was as fully inhabited as its turbulent city.
  23. The film grows on you too, a later-stage version of "The Big Chill" that starts schematically and ends as a stirring celebration.
  24. For all its energy, fine performances and dramatic confrontations, Friday Night Lights substitutes intensity for insight, dodging the book's harsher findings like a dazzling broken-field runner.
  25. Charlotte Rampling is the best reason, though far from the only one, to see Swimming Pool, a mesmerizing mystery, plus a wonderfully sensuous fantasy.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The narration, aided by a terrific score, does streamline the storytelling, and adds to it a faintly sardonic top note.
  26. Marvelously detailed and meticulously crafted, an elegant evocation of Depression-era America and its fascination with crime. What the movie lacks is any sense of elation--it’s joyless by choice.
  27. Presley Chweneyagae's Tsotsi makes his presence deeply felt. In a world of heedless children wielding guns, his tale is a heartening one.
  28. Strong stuff, and all the stronger for having taken itself so comically.
  29. As odd as it may sound, it's a remarkably beautiful movie.
  30. Benjamin Button is all of a visionary piece, and it's a soul-filling vision.
  31. Unstrung Heroes is a revelation. [15 Sep 1995]
  32. Here's a debut feature from Norway, a coming of age comedy so fresh and droll that the actors seem not to have been directed at all, but simply observed as they went about their odd lives.
  33. Walks a fine line between bold indie film, with the attendant in-your-face roughness, and sodden Lifetime Original Movie.
  34. Everything and everyone is observed sharply, succinctly and indelibly.
  35. Delightful and insightful romantic comedy.
  36. Rousing, provocative film.
  37. Ultimately an original film that forces us, time and again, to reconsider what we think we've just seen, and what we're sure we feel - not only about mere appearance, or fateful gender, but about who, under our skin, we truly are.
  38. Shall We Kiss? gives us storytelling as art. Emmanuel Mouret's romantic drama, in French with English subtitles, is expert, intricate, ineffably droll, ultimately provocative and entirely enchanting.
  39. Calmly, almost serenely, Mr. Van Sant and his superb cinematographer, Harris Savides, reveal a vision of contemporary American youth quite unlike any other.
  40. The narrative engine leaves the rails when Irving, like Hughes, plunges into paranoia (though Irving actually is the object of a high-level plot) and the style turns to the sort of intensely manipulated surrealism that Charlie Kaufman practiced, not successfully, in "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind."
  41. Who Killed the Electric Car?, a fascinating feature-length documentary by Chris Paine, opens with a mock funeral, then follows the structure of a mock trial in which multiple suspects are found guilty.
  42. Makes an eloquent case for John Kerry's courage, both during and immediately after his service in Vietnam.
  43. Winningly human, and wonderfully funny.
  44. Mr. Penn has been praised lavishly for his work in "Mystic River," in a role that was no reach for him at all, but this is one of the stand-out performances of his career, layered and exquisitely nuanced. And, remarkably, he's only one-third of a stellar ensemble.
  45. All but one of the actresses in Caramel are nonprofessionals -- not unprofessional, just untrained in the craft -- and they are, to a woman, enchanting. So is this Lebanese comedy.
  46. With Mr. Harrelson, Mr. Moverman has created an antihero of epic proportions and indiscretions.
  47. What makes "The Winter Soldier" so enjoyable, though, and what will make it so profitable, is its emotional bandwidth — all the vivid, nuanced life lived by its characters in between their frenzied escapades.
  48. Training Day can be simplistic, formulaic and absurdly melodramatic -- but Mr. Washington is flat-out great.
  49. Pieces of April would deserve your attention and respect even if all these colorful threads didn't come together into a luminous whole. But they do, beautifully and unaffectedly, because what's been on Mr. Hedges's mind is not just a comedy of alienation but a drama of acceptance and reconciliation.
  50. I wanted to believe in Bad Santa. At least half of the time I did.
  51. Real-life events have overtaken District B13, and they give this feverish, yet oddly flat French action adventure a whiff of substance to go along with its spectacular stunts.
  52. The main thing about Cedar Rapids is that it makes you laugh-often and out loud.
  53. Once in a great while a film seems right in every detail. Andre Techine's Strayed ("Les Egares") is such a film.
  54. It's nothing less than a miracle that the director, Craig Gillespie, and the writer, Nancy Oliver, have been able to make such an endearing, intelligent and tender comedy from a premise that, in other hands, might sustain a five-minute sketch on TV.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Rough around the edges, it's humor decidedly sophomoric in parts. But that's part of its charm. [19 Jan 1995, p.A16(E)]
  55. Boy
    Mr. Waititi, a popular standup comic in New Zealand, is wonderfully droll and entertaining in this acting role, which isn't all that far, geography and culture notwithstanding, from Steve Zahn at his stoner best.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Nothing about the emotionally unmoored Inglourious Basterds adds up. Whether it's parody, farce or a fever dream is anyone's guess.
  56. For its delicate tone, provocative themes, impeccable craftsmanship and superb performances-by Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley-Never Let Me Go earned my great admiration. I wish I'd been affected in equal measure, but I wasn't, and it's not the sort of film you can will yourself to enjoy.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    The ultimate poor judgment: the decision to put Babel before the camera. That defies comprehension in any language.
  57. The sparkle is what's been missing in the star's (Cage) recent performances. What's not to love in a movie that transmutes Terence's moral squalor, and the squalid state of post-Katrina New Orleans, into darkly comic gold?
  58. Who knew that Unstoppable would be sensational? Talk about well-kept- and welcome-surprises. Tony Scott's latest thriller turns out to be pure cinema in the classic sense of the term. It's a motion picture about motion, an action symphony that gives new meaning to the notion of a one-track mind.
  59. This is less a film in the lustrous Pixar tradition than a Disney fairy tale told with Pixar's virtuosity. As such, it's enjoyable, consistently beautiful, fairly conventional, occasionally surprising and ultimately disappointing.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Ultimately, Crash succeeds in spite of itself. Its color war starts to feel obvious and schematic. Its coincidences and clichés become like a pileup on the 405 freeway, but there it is -- you find yourself rubbernecking and can't manage to look away.
  60. An endearing film, and a fascinating one.
  61. The movie is stifling, all right, and depressing in the bargain.
  62. This fourth iteration of a series that first burst upon the world in 1988 turns out to be terrific entertainment, and startlingly shrewd in the bargain, a combination of minimalist performances -- interestingly minimalist -- and maximalist stunts that make you laugh, as you gape, at their thunderous extravagance.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    The press notes boast that Mr. Cutler was given "unprecedented access" and the right of final cut; these advantages don't seem to have done much for this listless film.
  63. Ron Howard's Depression-era movie also works from the inside out, building a classic underdog drama from depth of character, rich texture, vivid detail and stirring performances.
  64. One's confidence in factuality is weakened by a cliché-ridden narrative that reads Ma di Tau's mind during her buffalo hunt, and by incessant manipulation of the imagery-not only the use and abuse of slo-mo, but digital enhancement of colors in concert with an almost obsessive concentration on stalking and killing.
  65. Its ironic complexities tease the brain without pleasing the heart.
  66. Terrific actors give glum performances.
  67. The more elaborate the plot becomes, the sillier it gets.
  68. The common problem of Solondz's characters is an inability to see the world in shades of grey, which is fitting in a film where color-garish, boring or just plain ugly-is so important, and the actors are working off palettes of such extreme emotions. A few of them-notably Ms. Rampling, Mr. Hinds and Ms. Sheedy-are as good here as they've ever been.
  69. This film, which might have been called "The Fog of Words," isn't haunting, but dismaying. Mr. Rumsfeld is, as always, articulate, energetic and self-confident. Yet his words suggest a paradox — a restless mind with no discernible gift for self-reflection.
  70. Halle Berry is something else as Leticia Musgrove, the widow of an inmate who's just been executed by Hank and his crew, and that something else is commandingly passionate.
  71. Like no one before or since, she had what she valued most in others - good, old-fashioned pizazz.
  72. A slow start, a single star performance surrounded by indifferent acting and an onslaught of computer effects that range from seen-it-all-in-"Transformers" to a whole sky full of spectacular stuff in the midtown Manhattan climax.
  73. But even as the film's weaknesses make themselves more and more apparent, so does Mr. Turturro's virtuosity. [15 Aug 1991, p.A10(E)]
  74. If only the showmanship were equal to the scholarship. As beautiful as the film is (despite notable variations in the quality of the cinematography), it is also sluggish, underdramatized after that initial suspense, and for the most part emotionally remote.
  75. Essentially a coming-of-age story set in working-class North Carolina in the 1970s. But it's so startlingly original that it transcends the genre. This is a wonderful film, from puckish start to momentous finish.
  76. I felt much the same way as I sat goggle-eyed through this endless extravaganza of visual abracadabra. It seemed entirely possible that I might die of the fidgets or old age while waiting for Baron Munchausen to kill the Turks. And yet I found myself wanting to see the end of the movie before I expired. [9 Mar 1989, p.1]
  77. Still, the essence of the film lies in the athletes' towering charm, and the nature of their journey.
  78. It's a fascinating story, but Mr. Nichols and his actors never stop reminding us how fascinating it is. With the exception of Mr. Hoffman, a master of understatement, everyone acts up a storm, yet context is lacking.
  79. The film's real shocker is its unpleasantness.
  80. The Bank Job engages us fully with a tale that's well-fashioned more than anything else, a fascinating study of morality at several levels of English society, and of honor, or the lack of it, among implausibly likable thieves.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    For a movie that celebrates the power of speech, Talk to Me is oddly tongue tied. Its dialogue, equal parts uptight honky and jumping jive seems, particularly in the early stretches, to have been generated by a computer.
  81. Deeply felt convictions and first-rate craftsmanship-craftswomanship, in the case of the Spanish director, Icíar Bollaín-win out over contrivance in this parallel drama of exploitation in the New World discovered by Columbus, and in the Bolivia of 2000.
  82. Truly transporting film.
  83. Ms. Englert's performance isn't as interesting as it might have been if the writing hadn't favored Ginger. But Ms. Fanning, a young actress of seemingly unerring instincts, is a wonder.
  84. This cheerfully chaotic, gleefully vulgar action-comedy retread of the old television series has box-office success written all over it, and where's the harm? It's irresistibly funny until it isn't.
  85. Mr. Ejiofor gives a commanding performance, perfectly calibrated in what's withheld just as much as what's revealed.
  86. Most of the scenes depicting the couple's domestic life are borderline-banal, and they miniaturize the political drama that plays out partly in public, partly in the shadows but almost always in a middle distance just beyond emotional reach.
  87. For all his years doing "E.R." and other top-line TV series, Mr. Wells hasn't yet tailored his techniques to the big screen.
  88. Bears no resemblance to the smarmy fraud that Roberto Benigni perpetrated in "Life Is Beautiful."
  89. Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill inflicts intolerable cruelty on its characters, and on its audience -- though I'd like to believe that there is no mainstream audience for what has already been described, quite correctly, as the most violent movie ever released by an American studio.
  90. Full of life -- which is a very good thing to say about a story that turns on death -- wonderfully odd, and a gallery of perfect performances.
  91. A surprisingly agile and delightfully warm romantic comedy.

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