Stephanie Zacharek

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For 1,602 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 53% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 45% 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: 62
Highest review score: 100 Palo Alto
Lowest review score: 0 The Amityville Horror
Score distribution:
1602 movie reviews
    • 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.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is Bond as we've never seen him, more naked, alive and mysterious than ever.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The devastating truth of 45 Years, so beautifully wrought, is that even the most devoted couples are made up of two people who are essentially alone.
    • 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.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The film works on its own terms, capturing, at least, the mournful vibe of O'Brien's book. What's more, Zobel's revision opens up plenty of space for the three actors who inhabit this circumscribed little world, all of whom are terrific.
    • 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.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Roy-Lecollinet’s face, both haughty and welcoming, both anchors the movie and sets it free in the wind. No wonder Paul can’t shake the memory of it. It’s the thing that will age him before his time—and also keep him young forever.
    • 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    Breillat manages to give us a lush, quiet spectacle with The Sleeping Beauty.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's action here, too, and a great deal of vitality that feels true both to the spirit of Collins' book and to the idea of movie entertainment as it exists.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is rambunctiously affectionate; Guiterrez may go for the broad joke, but never the cheap one.
    • 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.
    • 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."
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mirror Mirror has a great deal of energy and wit and color, so much that it sometimes threatens to go right over the top. Somehow, though, it always stops short of being just too much.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    My heart belongs to Bear Elinor, whose movements and mannerisms are a tender echo of Human Elinor's – her character is designed and drawn just that carefully.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    By the end you feel you've learned something about the man, yet his mystique emerges intact.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Dictator, for all its liberal leanings, doesn't let anyone off the hook, not even well-intentioned liberals. Cohen comes right out and says things that most of us, in polite conversation, wouldn't dare. He knows it's the impolite conversation that really gets things moving.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    The faces of these performers - particularly Williams' - are the key to Blue Valentine.
    • 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.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a straightforward family comedy-drama, a movie made for adults, and one that actually gives its actors – among them Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer and Philip Baker Hall – something to do. That's more of a rarity on today's landscape than it should be.
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    Olsen's performance is restrained but not tentative; you could say the same for the movie around it.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 85 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Extra Man is something of a love letter to the marvelous weirdos of New York.
    • 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?
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 83 Stephanie Zacharek
    Dark Skies is about the fragility of family, a muted meditation on how precious it is...it does affirm that genre filmmakers who work with their eyes, their hearts and their brains still walk among us.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 83 Stephanie Zacharek
    LUV
    LUV is partly a story about drugs, guns and street crime, the legacies we pass on to our children despite our efforts to do otherwise. But it’s also about the things we pass on to our children with love: How to tie a necktie, hold a steering wheel, shake another person’s hand. And it’s about the hope that those things will win out in the end.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 83 Stephanie Zacharek
    No
    No is anything but a somber political tract; it’s a little bit of a thriller, and more than a little bit of a comedy.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 83 Stephanie Zacharek
    If Broken City – the first film to be directed solo by Allen Hughes, one-half of the Hughes Brothers directing team – is a little flawed and cracked itself, it still squeaks by as a reasonably thoughtful piece of big-screen entertainment.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 83 Stephanie Zacharek
    A true New York City movie, alive every minute. There’s some Woody Allen in its veins, but it’s driven more by the free-for-all spirit you find in pictures like Peter Sollett’s 2002 “Raising Victor Vargas” and Spike Lee’s 1986 “She’s Gotta Have It.”
    • 59 Metascore
    • 83 Stephanie Zacharek
    Levine – whose last picture was the intriguing, if only partly effective, cancer comedy “50/50” — is going for something more here, exploring what makes us human by contrasting it with a character who has lost all the basics and is desperate to get them back.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 83 Stephanie Zacharek
    A Place at the Table is a fairly no-frills effort, but the ideas behind it are sound.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Somehow this Jungle Book works, because Favreau has both a sense of humor and a sense of spectacle.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    You’ve seen every element of Sing Street hundreds of times before — it’s Carney’s knack for assembling them that makes the difference. In his hands, this isn’t just a nostalgia trip. It’s an homage to teenage kicks and the urgency of getting them any way you can.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Wedding Crashers may be the most optimistic Hollywood comedy of the year, because it restores at least some dim hope that directors, writers and actors with actual brains in their heads can somehow triumph over unimaginative studio execs. In that way, Wedding Crashers isn't just the life of the party, but its pulse.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The group's members come off more like real musicians than parodists.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's mournful and troubling in a way that goes beyond ordinary movie manipulation. It burns clean.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Fans of "Swingers" may be disappointed. Made doesn't give us as many jazzy catchphrases to latch onto, or figuratively hoist us aloft on a giant martini glass of prolonged adolescence. But then that's precisely why it's the better movie.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    I can't recall the last time a picture left me feeling so caffeinated.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    In A Touch of Sin, Jia is attuned to, and saddened by, the violence he sees creeping through his country, caused at least partly by the ever-widening disparity between rich and poor. He ends on a note that's more haunting than hopeful.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Documentaries don't have to be technically great to be irresistible, and Bess Kargman's First Position, which follows six young ballet dancers as they prepare for an elite competition, is a case in point.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Buirski clearly shows that the spark that made her great couldn't be snuffed out so easily.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Such an exhilarating, spirited piece of work that its embellishments and omissions cease to matter.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Nichols—director of Take Shelter, Mud and, most recently, Midnight Special—tells the Lovings’ story in a way that feels immediate and modern, and not just like a history lesson.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A picture that's fully open to some pretty rough truths. But it's also a joyful, heartfelt movie, one that speaks to the openness and vitality we see in Bettie's pictures.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A clever picture, and something of a novelty -- it's not going to change the face or direction of horror filmmaking in any drastic way. But it's fun to watch something that's so obviously made with love.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This odd little wonder captures the delicate textures and shadowy half-secrets of family life, mapping them out in a mosaic of fragmented dialogue and half-poetic, half-prosaic images.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This ambitious blend of live action and computer animation runs the risk of being overwhelming and sterile, but it turns out to be a pleasing and sweet-natured adventure thanks in large part to Spielberg’s big, friendly secret weapon: Mark Rylance, as the BFG himself.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The kicker is that Joy Ride is funny, too. In fact, it would be a superbly frightening entertainment if not for the way Dahl fixates, disturbingly, on sadistic details.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Like so many movie love stories before it - from Murnau's "Sunrise" to Linklater's "Before Sunrise," and beyond - Cairo Time is about two wandering lovers, people spending time together without realizing how precious that time will come to be.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Although Eggers is discreet – the things you don’t see are more horrifying than those you do – the picture’s relentlessness sometimes feels like torment. But if you can survive it, The Witch is a triumph of tone.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture itself is so ebullient and celebratory that it practically beams with perverted innocence.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is clever and vivacious -- at times, like the first "Shrek," it seems a bit taken with its own precociousness. But its moments of sheer inventiveness can still catch you off-guard, and some of them are wittily poetic.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Among the least-heralded of the Christmas releases, Casanova is one of the few that's wholly enjoyable.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Lee seems less interested in capturing how people of color talk than in capturing how people talk. He coaxes us to step in and listen, and the very casualness of his invitation is the key to the joyousness of The Best Man Holiday, flaws be damned.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's so much dreamy beauty in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that it's almost like a narcotic.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The World's End is a big, shaggy dog of a thing, a free-spirited ramble held together by off-kilter asides, clever-dumb puns, and seemingly random bits of dialogue that could almost become catchphrases in spite of themselves.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A picture that's by turns inventive, tender and boring, and one that uses a variety of novelty point-of-view techniques: If Penisvision isn't your thing, then Vagin-o-rama just might float your boat.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    What you DO get with Secretariat is a picture that, unlike its bland predecessor Seabiscuit, actually captures some of the thrill of racing.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a breezy and entertaining little charmer.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Cooper also pulls off the near-impossible, making us feel dashes of sympathy for this twisted and unscrupulous man.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture works because, despite the fact that it took nearly six years for the filmmakers to bring it to the screen, it doesn't strive for greatness. It's fleet, concise and clever in a nut-ball way.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Pacific Rim is big and dumb in a smart way.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Breezy and enjoyable.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The best rock 'n' roll movies are less about strict authenticity than about capturing a vibe. And The Runaways gets the vibe just right, from its opening shot.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's such a lovely piece of work -- and, especially for a filmmaker whose name is barely known outside of art-house circles, so pleasingly accessible -- that it's troubling to think that few people outside of major cities will be able to see it.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    There are so many ways Despicable Me 2 could have gone wrong, and so many things it does right.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Elf
    How many human beings among us are capable of making a comedy with wit and intelligence that also takes bold pleasure in unabashed silliness? I think this is what happens when you let an elf loose with a movie camera.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    An intelligent adult thriller about the death of newspapers.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's immediate and vital, and it doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve got all the right answers.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    At once deeply affectionate and sharply observed: There's never anything smart-alecky about Wright's approach as a director.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Director John Cameron Mitchell - adapting David Lindsay-Abaire's play - has a surprisingly deft touch with this admittedly downbeat material; he builds dramatic intensity in subtle layers, rather than slapping it on with a trowel.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Coppola captures the luxe insularity of Marie Antoinette's world in a way that leaves no doubt why the revolution had to happen. The picture's final image is a moment of devastating stillness that wouldn't be out of place in Luchino Visconti's end-of-an-era masterpiece "The Leopard."
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    That sense of one small, private world shattering within the larger and even more unstable one around it is the essence of Michael Winterbottom's unmooring, bleakly beautiful film version of A Mighty Heart.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    As good as Harris is, though, it's Harden's performance that sticks with you long after you've seen the movie. She understands what Krasner must have known intuitively. Greatness comes not from cleaning up messes, but from allowing them to be made in the first place.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a superb, delicately calibrated comic performance: Carell never allows the character to swerve into excessive cuddliness.

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