Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,194 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 Winter's Bone
Lowest review score: 0 Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Score distribution:
2,194 movie reviews
    • 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)]
    • Wall Street Journal
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  6. An endearing film, and a fascinating one.
    • Wall Street Journal
  7. The movie is stifling, all right, and depressing in the bargain.
  8. 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.
  9. Ms. Coppola, who is Francis Coppola's granddaughter, has made a coming-of-age film about a culture in which few people — adults included — ever grow up. It's essentially plotless and slowly paced, much like the recent work of her aunt, Sofia Coppola, but astutely observed, full of fine performances and ever so guardedly hopeful about April and the boy who adores her.
    • 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.
  10. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  11. 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.
  12. Its ironic complexities tease the brain without pleasing the heart.
  13. Terrific actors give glum performances.
    • Wall Street Journal
  14. The more elaborate the plot becomes, the sillier it gets.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  18. Like no one before or since, she had what she valued most in others - good, old-fashioned pizazz.
  19. 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.
  20. 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)]
    • Wall Street Journal
  21. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  22. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  23. 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]
    • Wall Street Journal
  24. Still, the essence of the film lies in the athletes' towering charm, and the nature of their journey.
  25. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  26. The film's real shocker is its unpleasantness.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. Truly transporting film.
    • Wall Street Journal
  30. 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.
  31. When the time comes for suffering, the pain of watching her is mingled with the pleasure of a performance that transcends contrivance. This young actress is the real, heart-piercing thing.
  32. 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.
  33. Mr. Ejiofor gives a commanding performance, perfectly calibrated in what's withheld just as much as what's revealed.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. Bears no resemblance to the smarmy fraud that Roberto Benigni perpetrated in "Life Is Beautiful."
    • Wall Street Journal
  37. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  38. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
  39. A surprisingly agile and delightfully warm romantic comedy.
    • Wall Street Journal
  40. A curious combination of strident preachment and smartly farcical thriller; it's heavy-handed and light-footed at the same time.
    • Wall Street Journal
  41. Ting's exploits grow ever more violent and repetitive, but a lot of Ong-Bak is very enjoyable.
    • Wall Street Journal
  42. Mr. Hardy's Brooklyn accent is not only flawless — a Londoner by birth, he's a vocal chameleon who played a Welshman in "Locke" — but tinged, I do believe, with a blithe, spot-on tribute to a blue-collar guy from another borough, Ernest Borgnine's immortal Marty. Here's a far-from-minor performance by a major star in the making.
  43. The film benefits from three splendid performances: Toby Jones as Capote, an aggressively gay elf exuding a tosspot charm; Sandra Bullock as Nelle Harper Lee, a novelist who uses spoken words with quiet precision, and Daniel Craig as Perry, a deluded monster who is nonetheless forthright and strong.
  44. A long, slow slog through what could have been, and should have been, a more absorbing story.
    • Wall Street Journal
  45. The silliness of Jump Tomorrow takes your breath away, and I mean that as high praise.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The effect is a haunting vision of neediness, age and rejection.
    • Wall Street Journal
  46. Seldom has a film explored such exotica as Valentino's world -- the gowns, the galas, the villas, the private jets -- with such a sense of momentous drama behind the glitz.
  47. Doubt leaves none in one respect: John Patrick Shanley was the right person to direct this fascinating screen version of his celebrated play.
  48. The movie also fights for what it wants - to touch us in the course of entertaining us - and it succeeds, with its zinger-studded script that transcends clumsy mechanics and a spirited cast that includes Marisa Tomei as a nymphomaniacal middle-school teacher, and Jonah Bobo as a lovesick eighth-grader.
  49. Shallow down inside, End of Watch is a music-video Frappuccino of quick cuts, sparkling banter, serial crises, grisly violence and tongue-jerk profanity. But the film is exciting, in its manipulative way, and exhausting.
  50. By the end I felt sure it was the most obsessively, graphically violent film I'd ever seen, but equally sure that Apocalypto is a visionary work with its own wild integrity. And absolutely, positively convinced that seeing it once is enough for one lifetime.
    • Wall Street Journal
  51. I never saw the original, but the sprightly remake couldn't be more delightful. As the ultra-suave Lawrence Jamison, Mr. Caine wears his hair and mustache Niven-like -- slicked down but never greasy. He manages to draw more laughs by merely reacting than most comics can pull out of a punchline. With his calculated coarseness, Mr. Martin is a perfect foil. Behind the scenes is former Muppet Man Frank Oz. He pulls the strings so deftly he never disturbs the froth. [15 Dec 1988, p.1]
    • Wall Street Journal
  52. The motion-capture animation is spectacular..Yet the action grows wearisome as it grinds on, and the film becomes a succession of dazzling set pieces devoid of simple feelings.
  53. The big difference is that "The Exorcist" took the nation by storm with fresh ideas and brilliant filmmaking. The Conjuring conjures with amped-up echoes of old ideas, and represents a bet that they still retain their creepy appeal for today's audience.
  54. Roger Donaldson's film is endearing in its own right as a celebration of a strong-willed eccentric, and memorable as a showcase for a brilliant actor in a benign mode.
    • Wall Street Journal
  55. In addition to the dismaying facts and figures is a fuller sense of what hunger can look like, and feel like, among the millions of Americans classified as "food-insecure" — those who may not know, for themselves or their children, where the next meal will come from.
  56. I found it insufferably fatuous and damned near interminable. [26 Jun 1998]
    • Wall Street Journal
  57. It's a fleeting but memorable image in a film that defines Leonard Cohen largely through the admiration of fellow artists, who performed his songs at a tribute concert last year at the opera house in Sydney, Australia. Their admiration borders on the reverential, but reverence doesn't get in the way of their performances, which are varied, impassioned and thrilling.
    • Wall Street Journal
  58. Here's a case of images in the service of important ideas, rather than entertainment, yet they could hardly be more powerful, from roaring torrents released by a dam in China to a lyrical helicopter shot of a glistening river in British Columbia.
  59. Monster House benefits from strong graphic design and lovely lighting, but the script is nothing to write home about.
    • Wall Street Journal
  60. Given the white-on-white color scheme, I didn't expect so many shades of feeling.
    • Wall Street Journal
  61. Uncommonly smart and interesting.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It's important to keep in mind that little in The Illusionist is quite what it seems. That goes for the movie itself, fashioned from smoke, mirrors and, fortunately, Mr. Norton's magical performance.
    • Wall Street Journal
  62. Ms. O'Hara, like almost everyone else, falls victim to a prevailing tone that's short on wit and long on self-congratulation.
    • Wall Street Journal
  63. I found Hustle & Flow hard to get into at first, if only for its dialogue. But DJay's turf turns out to be everyone's turf -- a jagged landscape of hopes, disappointments, folly and fulfillment.
    • Wall Street Journal
  64. Never mind the awfulness of the three madwomen being relentlessly mad, or the silliness of their journey’s logistics; not for a moment do you believe that this grievously afflicted trio actually inhabits what amounts to a small, rickety and unadorned paddy wagon. What’s definitively awful is the spectacle of unrestrained vanity.
  65. Like the "girls," the movie is flamboyant in almost every respect - the costumes, the humor and the sentimentality. [1 Sep 1994]
    • Wall Street Journal
  66. This nasty little bottom-feeder of a film is too condescending to be trusted, too manipulative to be believed, too turgid to be enjoyed, too shameless to be endured and, before and after everything else, too inept to make its misanthropic case.
  67. Mr. Tykwer's hands the movie changes almost magically from drama to chase to romance. As it does so its moral weight lessens; by the end there is less than what first engaged the mind. What meets the eye, though, is unforgettable.
    • Wall Street Journal
  68. The outcome is distinctive and entertaining. There's no way you'd mistake this for James Bond, and no reason you would want to.
    • Wall Street Journal
  69. It's sometimes exciting but rarely thrilling, a victory of formula over finesse.
    • Wall Street Journal
  70. The movie's sense of place is hypnotic, but there's more to it than gorgeous images -- Campbell Scott's astute direction; Joan Allen's beautifully laconic performance; a sense of lively, if occasionally pretentious, inquiry into the wellsprings of art.
    • Wall Street Journal
  71. A series of picaresque adventures in a notably picturesque land. Is it enough to sustain anything resembling dramatic momentum? For a while it isn't, but then, unexpectedly, it is.
  72. "Another Earth" and "Moon" transcended their financial and physical limitations with mystery and ambiguity. Europa Report goes ploddingly where bolder films have gone before.
  73. It's a joyous movie, the best one I've seen in a very long time.
  74. Like so much in Chef, the plot resolution seems contrived and a bit silly. By then, though, we've had plenty of laughs, and generous helpings of warm feelings—the meat and potatoes of real life.
  75. Say what you will about Eliot Spitzer, he's a marvelous subject for a documentary, and Alex Gibney has made a film worthy of him.
  76. Mr. Jarecki undercuts his own case -- not just undercuts but carpet-bombs it -- by using the same propaganda techniques he professes to abhor.
    • Wall Street Journal
  77. Judged, though, as the action extravaganza it means to be, Rise of the Planet of the Apes wins high marks for originality, and takes top honors for spectacle.
  78. A drama of rare distinction, and wonderfully funny in the bargain.
    • Wall Street Journal
  79. Anger is the rocket fuel of drama. Of the four women in Nicole Holofcener's Friends With Money, only Frances McDormand's Jane is flamingly angry, and she's the most vivid character in the group.
    • Wall Street Journal
  80. All the same, X2 and recent action adventures like it constitute a mutation in their own right: fast-paced, slow-witted movies in which the impact is the message; impersonal movies that deny any need for characterization; disjointed movies that make no apologies -- and pay no penalties -- for making no sense. Their special gift is giving little and getting a lot.
    • Wall Street Journal
  81. Mr. Ayoade's new film, adapted from Dostoyevsky's novella "The Double," is at least as startling as "Submarine" in its visual design, eerie environments and unusual premise. But it's lifeless, for the most part, a drama suffocated by its schematic style.
  82. One-third wonderful, The Place Beyond the Pines weakens as it unfolds for lack of what makes the early part so good.
  83. The scenery, effects and balletic, iconic combats are perfectly wonderful, but there's an emotional black hole where the hero should be.
    • Wall Street Journal
  84. As a whole, though, Paris pulses with a contemporary version of the energy that animated Balzac's novels, or Colette's accounts of the life she observed from the window of her apartment in the Palais Royal.
  85. The language of its narrative, like that of its characters, may be elevated -- a literary Western version of Damon Runyon -- but the words are intriguing, challenging and, occasionally, very funny.
  86. This hugely entertaining thriller is what's needed to banish a winter-long case of movie blues.
    • Wall Street Journal
  87. Beautiful moments abound. In Departures, the contemplation of death prepares the way for an appreciation of life.
  88. Jacob Kornbluth's lively documentary is both a polemic and a teaching tool.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Fits nicely among the contemporary comedies that teeter at the brink of delivering messages of one sort or another, but are in fact, nothing more than lots of fun. Which is no small achievement.
    • Wall Street Journal
  89. The best car commercial ever, an absolute triumph of product placement, and great fun as a movie in the bargain.
    • Wall Street Journal
  90. Noah can be silly or sublime, but it's never less than fascinating. I was on board from start to finish.
  91. Whatever the movie's failings, it had enough poignancy and beauty to make me want to find out what was missing. [08 Oct 1992]
    • Wall Street Journal

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