Stephanie Zacharek
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For 1,431 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 1.8 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Stephanie Zacharek's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 61
Highest review score: 100 Somewhere
Lowest review score: 0 Over Her Dead Body
Score distribution:
1,431 movie reviews
    • 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.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    El Crimen Perfecto is a joyride that leaves you feeling drunk and dizzy and swearing that you haven't touched a drop.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 35 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Gloriously excessive, passionate and messy, A Life Less Ordinary is the kind of picture that's becoming more and more of a rarity in the landscape of American movies: a love story with a hard-on.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Lord of War skims along like a dance routine. Political morality doesn't usually get such fleet choreography in the movies.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It doesn't sacrifice craftsmanship and elegance at the altar of its strong convictions.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    I suspect many Cash fans will think it's too conventional. But I think its conventionality is part of its power.
    • 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!
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Jackson is far more interested in the relationship between the girl and the ape than he is in the power of special effects for their own sake. As big as King Kong is, its sense of intimacy is what really sticks with you. This is an epic Big Little Book of a picture.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Exhilarating and exhausting, the kind of picture you don't bounce back from immediately. Yet its elusiveness is the very source of its poetic energy.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Among the least-heralded of the Christmas releases, Casanova is one of the few that's wholly enjoyable.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A comedy embedded with secret tips for better, more enjoyable living.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Something New is the perfect date movie, not only because it explores a range of suitably romantic sentiments, but because it's so canny sociologically, as well as being delightfully good-natured.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's Foster who rules the movie like an ice queen.
    • 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.
    • 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?
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    In these three potent miniatures, Hou Hsiao-hsien suggests that time passes differently when you're deeply in love. He captures the mystical quality of that time on film, making us feel as if we're living in it, rather than simply watching it.