Stephanie Zacharek
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For 1,459 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 51% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 47% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 1.9 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Stephanie Zacharek's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 61
Highest review score: 100 Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Lowest review score: 0 The Amityville Horror
Score distribution:
1,459 movie reviews
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's something grand and enveloping about Fearless.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Borat is an astonishingly entertaining picture, and it's a testament to Cohen's gifts that he can pull off a feat as extravagant and as fully realized as this one is.
    • 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
    This is Bond as we've never seen him, more naked, alive and mysterious than ever.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Curran, his actors and screenwriter Ron Nyswaner have made an old-fashioned melodramatic epic that, as steeped as it is in the language and tradition of old movies, is never less than thrummingly alive.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    We need filmmakers who can move us forward even as they maintain a sense of the past. To that end, Grindhouse captures a bit of rowdy movie history in a bell jar.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Imaginative and intricate, but it's also joyfully casual, maybe to the point of being a little messy in places. But even its flaws work in its favor.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of the most inventive and joyous movies of the year.
    • 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.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Eloquent and unassuming, it's a picture that hits home precisely because it doesn't overreach its grasp.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It miraculously pulled off the effect of feeling like a surprise: The picture both fulfilled some vague, unexpressed hopes I didn't know I had and also left me with the sense that I'd just seen something I wasn't quite prepared for -- the kind of contradiction that great showmanship can bridge.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    This explicit movie about a sexually insatiable 19th century courtesan emerges like an erotic dream.
    • 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.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Before I Forget is, in the broad sense, "gay-themed." But it's also one of the loveliest, most direct and most devastating pictures about aging that I've ever seen.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Class is a lovely, exhilarating work about the ways in which failure and frustration can open the pathways through which we make sense out of life.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Hangover is a shaggy-dog tale that's actually, when you step back from it, perfectly shaped.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    A triumphant movie about failure.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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!
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    In the highly imperfect world of contemporary romantic comedies, What If is as close to perfect as anything we've got, not least for the way it captures the abject hopefulness of young people who'd like to be in love but don't know how to go about it.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's Kline who anchors the movie, swan-diving into Flynn's complexities without making excuses for him.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The small miracle of the movie is that Simien finds so many laughs in what are genuinely bewildering issues.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The film is striking, at times even piercing, for the way it infiltrates some universal realities of marriage.
    • 66 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.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    A sequel made with care and integrity, Toy Story 3 is just moving enough: It winds its way gently toward its big themes instead of grabbing desperately at them, and because its plot is so beautifully worked out, getting there is almost all of the fun.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Ondine suggests that coincidence and magic are often the same thing.
    • 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.
    • 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.)
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Company Men is infinitely more despairing and yet also, paradoxically, more hopeful. It suggests that work can actually mean something to people, beyond just giving them the means to afford a nice house or a fantastic car.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sex is threatening, as Brontë knew, and Wasikowska and Fassbender make this particular dance look exceedingly dangerous.
    • 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.
    • 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."
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Cave of Forgotten Dreams is compelling, sometimes in a hypnotic, sleepy-bye way.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    I never would have believed it, but Branagh gets the balance between pageantry and silliness just right.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The best Allen movie in 10 years, or maybe even close to 20 - is all about that idea: Reckoning with the past as a real place, but also worrying about the limits of nostalgia.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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?
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Hugo states, in its adamant, straightforward poetry, that old things do matter.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    What's remarkable about Pina is how democratic it is, how casual it is about opening up the world of modern dance to people who know, or perhaps care, little about it.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is celebratory, in its own quiet way, as well as clear-eyed.
    • 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.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture sparkles, but in the nighttime way - its charms have a noirish gleam.
    • 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.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    Redgrave puts all she’s got into something other actors might just toss off or throw away. She’s present every moment; this is an actress who doesn’t have a second to waste.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    The low-key quality of the filmmaking in Restrepo only intensifies the reality of how much these kids are risking.
    • 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.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Extra Man is something of a love letter to the marvelous weirdos of New York.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a picture whose dance steps are determined by any number of mishaps and misfortunes; like the dance floor of a great club on a good night, it's gorgeous, unruly and exhilarating all at once.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Tillman Story isn't designed to be a shockeroo exposé; it's more a slow, steady rumble of anger and dismay at what the U.S. military, and the government, can get away with in the name of public relations, as if PR - and not human lives - were the most important consideration during wartime.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    Let Me In is a chilly little story set in a very cold place. But Reeves still knows when to go for the burn.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    The thrill of Tony Scott's Unstoppable, in which a runaway freight train hurtles through rural - and toward not-so-rural - Pennsylvania, is that its setup asks us to believe only in human ineptitude.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mattie is a no-nonsense mite with a forthright manner and a mean head for figures; she wears her hair in two sturdy braids whose tips have never seen the inside of any inkwell, believe you me.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    The faces of these performers - particularly Williams' - are the key to Blue Valentine.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is rambunctiously affectionate; Guiterrez may go for the broad joke, but never the cheap one.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of those big, extravagant-looking romances that you might automatically deem "conventional" - except for the fact that almost nobody makes big, extravagant-looking romances anymore.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    In the early moments of The Trip, you wonder if either actor will survive the enterprise.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    While the media desk isn't the whole of the New York Times, it does give Rossi a solid perch from which to survey the paper's recent and ongoing struggle for both relevancy and revenues.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    O'Brien describes a number of those basic human feelings that drop-kick all of us from time to time, like being resentful of anyone and everyone who still has a job when we don't.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    Bad Teacher is hardly a perfect picture, but in the context of every other comedy on the summer movie landscape - from the faux empowerment of "Bridesmaids" to the neurotic frat-guy heteromania of "The Hangover Part II" - it feels revolutionary.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    Breillat manages to give us a lush, quiet spectacle with The Sleeping Beauty.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    The "black maid" may be a cliché. But when was the last time we saw a story told from her point of view?
    • 75 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    I've seen Detective Dee twice now, and I still don't think I've taken the full measure of the visual nuttiness, and lushness, Tsui has packed in there.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    Olsen's performance is restrained but not tentative; you could say the same for the movie around it.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mulligan is terrific here, and restrained in a way that suggests an actorly generosity unusual for someone so young: Her scenes with Fassbender don't so much say "Look at me" as "Look at him."
    • 71 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    Craig has one clear advantage over Michael Nyqvist, the actor who played the same character in the Swedish Girl movies: He has erotic charisma to spare, as opposed to Nyqvist's perfunctory, doughy sexuality.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    For all its borrowing from old Hollywood, I don't think War Horse is particularly nostalgic. The word I'd use is wistful. It's the largest, most lavish handful of wistfulness money can buy, and sometimes it's too much. Yet it's nice to know that even Steven Spielberg can still wish for something.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    A Separation doesn't try to make easy sense of that world, or of this family's suffering. It's simply a quiet cry of anguish.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    That she makes it all look so effortless is part of the fun – as long as you're not unlucky enough to be the guy with his nut in the nutcracker.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's the kind of movie that makes the world feel like a smaller place, suggesting that the similarities connecting us across continents and cultures are more resonant than the things that divide us.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    A small but extremely significant message in a bottle. That metaphor is almost literal: The picture made its way to Cannes via a USB drive -- which was smuggled in a cake.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    At its simplest level, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a portrait of a master. In its deeper layers, it explores what drives us to make things: Beautiful, jewel-like things, or things that delight our palate – or, in this case, both.

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