Stephanie Zacharek
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For 1,523 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 52% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 46% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 2.1 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Stephanie Zacharek's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Lowest review score: 0 Miss March
Score distribution:
1,523 movie reviews
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's the perfect marriage of music and animated movement. But even when there's no music playing in Waking Life, the movie's lyricism is sustained by the way it looks and feels.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    An imperfect work of genius, a satire of Hollywood excess and vanity that dares to tread territory laden with minefields.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Scorsese didn't need to remake "Infernal Affairs," but what he has done with it is a compliment rather than an affront to the original: The Departed reimagines its source material rather than just leeching off it, preserving the bone structure of the first movie while finding new curves in it. The story has been clarified; the ellipses of the original have been filled in with just the right amount of exploratory shading. This is a picture of grand gestures and subtle intricacies, a movie that, even at more than two hours long, feels miraculously lean. It's a smart shot of lucid storytelling.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Watching it is like being trapped in one of those nightmares where you need to get somewhere, fast, and you're distracted and delayed at every turn. Only in this case, the nightmare is happening to someone else, and it's costing an awful lot of money.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's both a perceptive dual character study and, that rarity of rarities, a large-scale action movie for grown-ups, one worth leaving the house for.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Part noir-comedy, part ghost story, but it's mostly a potent reflection on how where we come from shapes us, in ways we can't understand until we've been away for a long, long while.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Its look has the same grudging beauty that, once you get used to it, English weather does: It's so defiant in its grayness that you come to appreciate its conviction.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Noyce takes a great deal of care with this adaptation. For one thing, he includes as much of Greene's potent shorthand as he can without weighing the movie down.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's Kline who anchors the movie, swan-diving into Flynn's complexities without making excuses for him.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    If Elise and Frank are opaque to each other, they're opaque for a reason, as, sadly, lovers sometimes are. (Come to think of it, this picture has more in common with "The Lives of Others" than you might expect.)
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Frances Ha is a patchwork of details that constitute a sort of dating manual—not one that tells you how to meet hot guys, but one that fortifies you against all the crap you have to deal with as a young person in love with a city that doesn't always love you back.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture does, in places, feel like an unspoken homage to Kurosawa, though it's certainly its own distinct creation. But I wonder if it more closely resembles another end-of-an-era picture, Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch."
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini are lovely together, though her character is the sharper-edged of the two. It's Gandolfini's Albert, soft-hearted and soft-bellied, who suffers more. Gandolfini takes the movie's small, offhand jokes and intensifies them.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Cave of Forgotten Dreams is compelling, sometimes in a hypnotic, sleepy-bye way.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's nothing too clean or too overbright about it. It's magic, but not the loud, shiny kind: It has the texture of worn velvet, or a painstakingly hand-knit sweater stored away for years in tissue paper.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    So intrinsically rich that it doesn't need any metaphors.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Isn't much more than marvelous entertainment -- but then, that's a lot right there.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Superman, born in 1938, is still very much alive in 2006. The Man of Steel has so skillfully bent the bars of our imagination that he seems real to us. And in a sense, he is.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Brewer, who spent most of his childhood in Memphis, is one of the few contemporary filmmakers I know of who can make movies about the South without sentimentalizing it, glorifying it or looking down on it.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The film is striking, at times even piercing, for the way it infiltrates some universal realities of marriage.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Anderson's Lily is the kind of heroine who earns our protectiveness by never begging for it; it's an astonishing performance.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Anton Corbijn's The American looks and feels like a movie made by a filmmaker who hasn't been to the movies since the '70s - and I mean that as the highest compliment.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    In a world of movies that try far too hard to move, entertain and dazzle us, the artistry of Hustle & Flow lies in the way it waits for us to come to it. We can walk as slowly as we want, but sooner or later, it's going to get us.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Don't Think I've Forgotten is a testament to how much a song can mean: You can destroy the vinyl it's been recorded on, but the sound itself, and all it stands for, is indestructible. Groove is in the heart.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    In the early minutes you might not be sure what you're watching. Tangerine's a comedy, of course, laced with rambunctious, exuberantly ragged dialogue. But by the end, Baker and his actors have led us to a place beyond comedy — you may still be laughing, but your breath catches a little on the way out.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie Wenders and Juliano have made is a tribute that feels both grand and modest in scale: Just as Salgado's photographs do, it extends the notion of friends and family to include every citizen of the world.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Intelligent, visually rich filmmaking.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a tricky feat, channeling the glamour of a famous international terrorist without glamorizing him. But damned if French filmmaker Olivier Assayas doesn't pull it off with Carlos.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Adult World captures beautifully, and with a great deal of self-deprecating humor, what it's like to feel trapped in a place you think is too small to hold you.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    James — the director of Hoop Dreams and The Interrupters — gives us a sense of Ebert as a man who kept reinventing life as he went along — out of necessity, sure, though he also took some pleasure in adapting. It couldn't always have been easy, but that, too, is part of the story.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    There may not be much behind the sparkling tinsel curtain of David O. Russell's extraordinarily entertaining American Hustle. But what a curtain!
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's something grand and enveloping about Fearless.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is the kind of sophisticated storytelling you rarely get even in live-action movies any more, full of unexpected turns and unruly human complications.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Like all of Branagh's films, even some of the bad ones, Cinderella is practically Wagnerian in its ambitions — it's so swaggering in its confidence that at times it almost commands us to like it. But it's also unexpectedly delicate in all the right ways, and uncompromisingly beautiful to look at.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    At a time when our country feels divided to the point of cracking, Dave Chappelle's Block Party feels like a salve. It's a defiant act of optimistic patriotism.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Monster is a compassionate picture without any obvious agenda. And it's effective precisely because it's not a polemic.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    If it's a far less flashy film than The Act of Killing, it's also a better and possibly more honest one.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Van Warmerdam keeps such a calm, firm hold on the material that he practically hypnotizes you into following along to the end. The craftsmanship is precise; the result is enigmatic.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Meek's Cutoff is an ambitious feat of visual storytelling that's alive to both its landscape and the actors who people it.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The film works on its own as an unfussy, passionate and gently erotic love story that never tips into sentimentality.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    So much modern animation is technically brilliant and yet comes off as cold and indifferent. But Wallace, Gromit, and the people and creatures in their world always look warm to the touch. Someone made, and moved, all those bunnies by hand. It's impossible NOT to believe in them.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    I suspect nearly everyone who sees the picture will have a loud opinion about this ending, which is just one way Holofcener works her stealth magic as a filmmaker and storyteller: She doesn’t close up shop on her movie until she’s made each of us an honorary New Yorker — in other words, a person with a strong stance and something to say.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Smolders with more reserved passion than "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    But Bad Santa does feature one last turn from the late John Ritter as a twittery department-store manager (his name, Mr. Chipeska, is a stroke of brilliance that I still can't quite put my finger on).
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of the most poetic comic-book adaptations to come along in years, yet it never loses its sense of lightness and fun -- del Toro gives it just enough screwball nuttiness to keep it from bogging down.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Both the material and the setting seem to have shaken something loose in Witherspoon (who is also one of the movie's producers): She's moved further away from those uptight, humorless romantic-comedy cuties she played in the mid 2000s and more toward the breezy, blunt, self- determined characters of her early career.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Ramis has made a fleet, unself-conscious, eminently enjoyable picture, where one-liners carom merrily like stray bullets, and where there's casual ease, like the drape of a sharpster's trousers, in the rapport between its two stars.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    This really is Cruz's movie: Almodóvar is her North Star -- following his lead, she's always found her surest and most graceful footing as an actress.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of the most inventive and joyous movies of the year.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    A work of astonishing delicacy and force, a tone poem about the Frankenstein jolts that all of us, at one time or another, have to live through.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Inherent Vice isn't the towering masterpiece that those who admired There Will Be Blood and The Master were probably hoping for, and thank God for that. It's loose and free, like a sketchbook, though there's also something somber and wistful about it — it feels like less of a psychedelic scramble than the novel it's based on.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie's true center, the meteorological phenomenon that makes it so pleasurable to watch, is the half-prickly, half-affectionate interplay between Binoche and Stewart.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a graceful and enveloping feat of filmmaking.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Demme, following in the footsteps of the late Louis Malle, takes a spare, direct approach to the material -- his economy pays off in quiet eloquence.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Anguished, beautiful and desperately alive, Oldboy is a dazzling work of pop-culture artistry.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    An affectionate, exuberant picture that seeks to bring even those who don't know Klingon from Portuguese into the embrace of a pop-culture phenomenon.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Dior and I is a great fashion movie, but it's also a superb picture about the art of management, applicable to any field.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a lean, mean movie, and not a pretty one, but it leaves no question as to Breillat's angular originality as a filmmaker.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Rosewater is an earnest picture, but it's also got some juice — there's vitality and feeling in it, the secret ingredients so often missing from even the most well-intentioned first features.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Serenity is a trim little picture of epic proportions.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    A triumphant movie about failure.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's nothing quite like it in the world of Hollywood documentaries, though Riley's presentation of this rich material is at times a little discomfiting.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Venus belongs to O'Toole. This is, hands down, my favorite performance of the year, largely because I love the way O'Toole (and the filmmakers) refuse to yield to the all-too-pervasive idea that it's "icky" for old people to even think about sex.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Le Havre proceeds from the usual Kaurismäkian premise: Things are only going to get worse, so why not just go with it?
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's more drama, and more heartbreak, in March of the Penguins than in most movies that are actually scripted to tug at our feelings.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mirren's performance is glorious: Rather than impersonate the queen -- which would have been all too easy to do -- she reaches deeper to locate the buried, calcified thoughts and feelings that might guide this deeply inscrutable woman.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The chase scenes in The Italian Job are the most exciting ones I can remember seeing in a movie in a long time, probably because they're the only ones I can remember -- and that's saying something.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Polanski orchestrates this cat-and-mouse game with devilish delight, dancing around Ives's play as if it were a pagan bonfire, jabbing at it with his figurative pitchfork.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    As Adenike, Gurira is wonderful: Her face is equally radiant whether she's channeling anguish or joy, and she captures the ways in which this woman, so old-country dutiful, also longs to join the modern world.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    This explicit movie about a sexually insatiable 19th century courtesan emerges like an erotic dream.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The story matters only in that it creates opportunities for heaps of ridiculousness, and writer-director James Bobin (who also directed The Muppets), along with co-writer Nicholas Stoller, mines them skillfully and breezily.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Wonderful...It's funny and offbeat, sometimes raucous, but it still manages to come at you in gentle layers.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    A narrative picture with many of the qualities of a documentary, not to mention a comic book -- is one of those rare, inventively made movies that isn't so taken with its own novelty it loses sight of its characters. Its warmth is for real, and it enwraps you.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is almost shamefully entertaining, bold and self-effacing at once: Its intelligence reveals itself as a devilish gleam, not a pompous layer of shellac. Why can't more Hollywood movies be like this one?
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Birds are not just the movie's stars, but its whole universe. They inspire in Perrin and his crew, and in us, not just awe but humility. You'll never look at them the same way again.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Wild Tales is loose-limbed, rowdy, and exhilarating — in its vibrant lunacy, and with its cartoonishly brash violence, it's a little bit Almodóvar, a little bit Tarantino.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    A quiet, raggedly beautiful mini-epic, Eden isn't a success story; it's a failure story. But it's also a glittering acknowledgement of the fact that failing is the only path toward growing.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Now that Pitt no longer has brash youth on his side, he's digging deeper and doing more with less. It's the kind of acting - understated but woven with golden threads of movie-star style - that gives us more to look at rather than less.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Together is the kind of picture that makes you feel that there are many good reasons to actually LIKE mankind.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Hugo states, in its adamant, straightforward poetry, that old things do matter.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The triumph of Still Alice is that it’s not about an illness; it’s about a person.
    • 98 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a true fairy tale, and one of the finest fantasy pictures ever made, but please do not take your young children to see it unless you want them to be scarred for life.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Every single actor here rises to the occasion.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    In Time has so much style and energy that it comes across as an act of boldness rather than just a liberal-minded tract, though of course, it's that too. If there were ever a movie made for the 99 percent, this is it.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture sparkles, but in the nighttime way - its charms have a noirish gleam.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sin City is the first mainstream American picture I've seen this year that feels even remotely brash or original. It's a hard, viciously funny little movie, one with all the subtlety of a billy club. But there's artistry here.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sordi is an elegant comic actor in the vein of America's William Powell; the world may confound him, but it can never rumple him.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is Bond as we've never seen him, more naked, alive and mysterious than ever.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie's final moments are the equivalent of the half-jubilant, half-mournful thrill you get when you close the cover of a book you've savored.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a dense, multilayered picture, one firmly rooted in a specific landscape, a dramatic coastal spot dotted with the carcasses of decrepit fishing boats, as well as the magnificent skeleton of one long-dead whale.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Get On Up isn't a perfect-picture; there are moments of awkwardness, little gambles that don't quite pay off. But it's one of those experiments that's both flawed and amazing, a mainstream movie (with Mick Jagger as one of its producers) that fulfills old-fashioned, entertainment-value requirements, even as it throws off flashes of insight.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Idlewild has just about everything a popular entertainment can offer. It also has a soul, and that comes free with the price of a ticket.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Unlike so much contemporary horror, it's devoid of sadism and mean-spiritedness. The looseness Raimi allows himself here results in an especially joyous kind of filmmaking, the sort where the filmmaker's delight in scaring us (and making us laugh) becomes part of the movie's fabric.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    (Coppola) connects with the essential purity of Eugenides' story, stripping it down to its bare essentials and cutting straight to everything that's wonderful about it.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's rare to see a movie adaptation in which a filmmaker has taken so much care in translating the odd little qualities that make a particular novel special, to preserve the complex and fragile threads of feeling between characters that are often much easier to grasp on the page.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    May not hit every note perfectly, but the picture they've come up with is full-bodied and intelligent.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 87 Stephanie Zacharek
    I recently heard someone describe Gloria as a midlife-crisis drama, which stunned me. In the most convenient terms, I guess that’s what it is. But what Lelio and Garcia pull off here is so delicate and sturdy that it defies such easy categorization.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    Like its star, Salt is a spare and lean piece of work; it's everything a modern action movie should be, a picture made with confidence but not arrogance, one that believes so wholeheartedly in its outlandish plot twists that they come to make perfect alt-universe sense.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    In the early moments of The Trip, you wonder if either actor will survive the enterprise.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    Beginners is all about beginnings that begin with endings - the point, Mills seems to be saying, is that sometimes you need to say good-bye to make room for hello.

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