Stephanie Zacharek
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For 1,479 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 2.2 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Stephanie Zacharek's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 We Are the Best!
Lowest review score: 0 Miss March
Score distribution:
1,479 movie reviews
    • 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.
    • 67 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 83 Stephanie Zacharek
    A Place at the Table is a fairly no-frills effort, but the ideas behind it are sound.
    • 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.”
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A character who triumphs over a clumsy story line is a very rare creature. It takes a smart director and a sensitive actor to bring him to life, and to keep him breathing all the way through.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Dancing, like being in love, sometimes means making a mess of things. Born Romantic makes glorious sense of that mess, trampled toes and all.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Quaid doesn't make the best of the movie's baloney; he presents it to us as a believable truth.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This intelligent, breezy romantic comedy sings a love song to theater. Plus, there's a hunky lug and Mira Sorvino in drag.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    CQ
    A frothy, sexy, '60s delight with a movie lover's heart.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Westfeldt and Juergensen keep Kissing Jessica Stein bright and funny and loose.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Catherine Keener, Emily Mortimer and Brenda Blethyn shine in a delicate, loose-limbed and tremendously alive indie about women, family, self-image and survival.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Jackie Chan's latest teams him up in 1880s America with Owen Wilson -- and gives a giddy glimpse of what he'll be doing after he gets too old to do his death-defying stunts.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The script is teasingly, pleasingly raunchy in places.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a breezy and entertaining little charmer.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Deep End doesn't have a knotty message, but it's a much more meaningful picture than "Suture."
    • 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
    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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Isn't bold or daring, but it is delicately distinctive; it's the kind of picture that stirs subterranean rumbles of empathy in us rather than flashy, gushing waves.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This quiet French thriller gets to the heart of motherhood, and then pays off with comfort and calm.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's mournful and troubling in a way that goes beyond ordinary movie manipulation. It burns clean.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is so dramatically textured that you feel something's happening every minute.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    May be the best Farrellys movie yet, even though it doesn't live up to the pair's usual level of uproarious, crass comic genius. They're learning, movie by movie, to articulate ideas that are more and more sophisticated, without being oppressively heavy-handed.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Windtalkers is the best of Woo's American movies, and the one with the sturdiest and most direct links to his earlier pictures.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Grand, juicy fun regardless, tapping as it does into some archetypal pleasure center.
    • 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A rare and tender delight.
    • 32 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    See it in one glorious shot, grab as much from it as you can and run like hell. I say that not because I hated Masked & Anonymous, but because I loved it.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A highly entertaining and refreshingly nonjudgmental movie
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The scenes between LaPaglia and Weaver, directed and played with a straightforward austerity that occasionally moved me to tears, make up for every one of The Guys flaws.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Is legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans feeding us a load of crap in this documentary? When it's this much fun, who really cares?
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A modest and tightly focused picture, and its very directness makes it piercingly intimate.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Gripping, and it's moving, but it isn't particularly subtle. There's a strong thread of tabloid drama running through its core -- but at least it's sensationalistic storytelling with a heart.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Guest revels in the eccentricities of dog lovers everywhere, but there's kindness at his core. He's a mensch among mutts.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a liberating, kindhearted picture, one whose ending brings with it the feeling that something has finally been shaken free. How comfortable you feel with that is completely up to you.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Like rock 'n' roll itself, the movie's really all about girls. Even when -- no, especially when -- it's pretending not to be.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Tykwer's actors seem completely clued in to his intentions. Both Blanchett and Ribisi give performances so restrained they're almost subliminal.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A joyful mix of high and low humor, pulled off with style and an eye for glamour (Danielle Hollowell deserves special praise for her costumes; she's the high priestess of fitted snakeskin).
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    De Niro's performance works because it isn't exactly likable -- he's totally at ease with his own jokes, but he's not out to make us feel relaxed.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even after losing its sexiest, tawdriest moments, this teen romance is still hotter, smarter and more fearless than its Hollywood contemporaries.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Rodriguez is that rare filmmaker who doesn't draw a hard, fixed line between entertaining kids and grown-ups -- he knows that in order to understand what will delight kids, you have to know what will tickle adults as well.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Together, they (Clooney and Gould) threaten to sneak off with the movie when Soderbergh isn't looking, sowing madness and sex appeal in their wake.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Kinnear's performance has to be one of the most sympathetic acts of decency one actor has ever extended to another. Crane always wanted to be a real, respectable movie actor. Channeled through Kinnear, he finally gets his wish.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Can Eminem act? Who knows? But his star turn in 8 Mile -- is memorable -- even if we've seen it all before.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    But even here, in a role that doesn't ask much of Wahlberg, I find plenty of evidence that he's among the finest actors of his generation.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This film's intelligence and forthrightness about the things women sometimes do to one another -- and its resoluteness about where the line should be drawn in terms of selflessness between friends -- set it head and shoulders above most contemporary movies that deal with friendships between women.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    An hour and a half of giddy, ridiculous fun.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's something to be said for watching an animated movie not with the eyes of a child, but with those of a turned-on grownup.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The group's members come off more like real musicians than parodists.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    I can't recall the last time a picture left me feeling so caffeinated.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Cholodenko and her actors pull it off; the performances here are like a wary ballet, ruled as much by the mysterious magnetic attractions and repulsions these characters feel for one another as by anything so dully explicable as psychology or standard rules of social conduct.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A dazzling true-life comedy that might be the funniest movie about grief ever made.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A sweet and sexy celebration of real women's real bodies.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Blitz captures the intensity of the bee itself, showing how it frazzles the nerves of even the most well-prepared spellers as, one by one, their colleagues and competitors drop away.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a mishmash of decoration, drapery and debauchery that's both deeply pleasurable and kitschy.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's so much dreamy beauty in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that it's almost like a narcotic.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Delicious dark comedy.
    • 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.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Chomet bows to the tradition of conventional animation even as he tests its limits.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The heart of The Cooler is in the performances, and in the way Kramer shapes the interplay between the characters with the right amounts of ease and tension.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Visual tone poem.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's a sly intelligence at work here -- in the writing, the filmmaking and the acting -- that makes it deeply pleasurable to watch.
    • 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.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Reid is stunning here.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Just when you think The Clearing is too simplistic to have any dramatic edge, the actors dig in and flesh out the stark framework of the story.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    in its best moments, Bright Young Things is as lithe and as wicked as its source material. Depending on how much of a Waugh purist you are, its flaws may trouble you as you're watching it. But afterward, they might not matter so much.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A superb mainstream entertainment in the purest sense of the term: It's a picture made to please a wide audience without ever pandering to it.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Tsai Ming-Liang always makes you feel that there's a world of life beyond his movies -- a world populated by ghosts that are as real as we are.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of the truest American gangster films of all time.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The brilliance of The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie -- as well as the show -- is that it's cognizant without being self-consciously knowing.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Hugely entertaining and extravagantly empathetic.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Undeniably pleasant, but British actress Samantha Morton quietly explodes it: Her performance is like nothing I've seen in recent years.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It all seems calculated to churn up excitement, a promise that there's lots of dazzle, glamour and intrigue to come. An Ideal Husband actually does deliver all those things, but mostly in a pleasurably understated way -- no need for the noisy signals.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Vital and affecting romantic drama.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Happily Ever After is an exhilarating, joyous picture, but it's sometimes terrifying, too. It offers a vision of marriage as an adventure we embark on together, alone. If you didn't cry, you'd laugh.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Might not be as intriguingly odd as the picture that inspired it. But like that earlier picture, it bristles with life and energy. It's a movie made with equal measures of bravado and humility -- the same mix of qualities you need to play Beethoven, Mozart or Bach.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is absinthe in movie form, a white chocolate space egg of a picture that has a giddy hallucinatory quality in some places and an overcalculated glossiness in others. But for better or worse, it's fascinating.
    • 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    At least Linklater isn't just picking the bones of his forebears; he honors them as they deserve.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture itself is so ebullient and celebratory that it practically beams with perverted innocence.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a superb, delicately calibrated comic performance: Carell never allows the character to swerve into excessive cuddliness.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    When Craven says "Jump!" we all do it at once, and giggle at how easily we've fallen under the spell. The key is that Craven is laughing with us, not at us.

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