Stephanie Zacharek
Select another critic »
For 1,507 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 Inside Llewyn Davis
Lowest review score: 0 Over Her Dead Body
Score distribution:
1,507 movie reviews
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 64 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.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a shimmery beaded curtain of a movie, a slight, charming picture that's almost all facade. But what a facade!
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Like all good documentaries, Iris is about much more than what we see on the surface, no matter how dazzling that surface may be.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Deep End doesn't have a knotty message, but it's a much more meaningful picture than "Suture."
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is probably about as good a movie as you can make from just half of a rather complicated book. But then, it's not just a movie but a promise: When Part 2 arrives, next summer, a cloud of desolation is likely to descend upon us.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Levinson and Pacino's willingness to explore the creakier end of life isn't a drawback; it's what gives The Humbling its bittersweet vitality.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a teasingly complex political thriller, but it's also a sort-of romance.
    • 97 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    12 Years a Slave works so hard to be noble, but it doesn't have to: Ejiofor is there to do all the heavy lifting.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's hard to say whether Patric Chiha's unabashedly out-there drama Domain is actually good or whether it simply nuzzles very cozily against the shoulder of so-bad-it's-good. After seeing the movie twice, I'm inclined to say Domain splits the difference.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Farewell, a cold war drama by the French director Christian Carion, isn't just a movie set in 1981; in many ways it feels like a movie made in 1981.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Weisz has never been better: She's joyously expressive and alive, but there's gravity beneath that milkmaid complexion. She's grounded even when she's being flirtatious. And Fiennes has never been more moving.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Making this kind of thriller has all but become a lost art, yet Mira clearly believes that high style is worth bothering with.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Hugely entertaining and extravagantly empathetic.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The drawback is that even though The Hurt Locker is extremely effective in places, it ultimately feels unformed and somewhat unfinished.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Florid, passionate, frequently hilarious and loaded with messy emotions that nobody in his or her right mind should even attempt to explain, it's operatic in its nutball intensity.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    American romantic comedies have become so dismal over the past 20 years that it wouldn't be hard for even the Romanian film industry to show us up. I'm still waiting for the great Romanian romantic comedy (and hey, it could be out there), but for now, France saves the day with Heartbreaker.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    What is surprising is how poetic the movie is, partly thanks to its high-lonesome sound design and the desolate beauty of its visuals, but mostly because of its star, Liam Neeson.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It doesn't sacrifice craftsmanship and elegance at the altar of its strong convictions.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's an expertly made picture that I wish I could stamp out of my mind. What's the value of artistry that sucks the life out of you?
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Gallenberger tells Rabe’s story deftly, establishing essential elements of the man’s personality in subtle shorthand.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Jalil Lespert's Yves Saint Laurent tries to sweep the evanescent butterfly Yves into its net: The movie isn't enough, but it's something.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a wonderful, horrifying performance: Whitaker doesn't take the easy way out by playing Amin as a killer clown, a treacherous buffoon.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie's climactic battle scene is mildly thrilling -- although it's not nearly as exciting as simply watching Downey and Bridges work together. Bridges makes a great villain precisely because he's such a relaxed, affable presence.
    • 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.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Watching McDormand navigate that transformation is the kind of thing that can keep your hope in movies, and in actors, alive.

Top Trailers