Stephanie Zacharek
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For 1,470 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 Palo Alto
Lowest review score: 0 Speed Racer
Score distribution:
1,470 movie reviews
    • 48 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A highly entertaining and refreshingly nonjudgmental 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.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    CQ
    A frothy, sexy, '60s delight with a movie lover's heart.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Visual tone poem.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is so dramatically textured that you feel something's happening every minute.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Deep End doesn't have a knotty message, but it's a much more meaningful picture than "Suture."
    • 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A rare and tender delight.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Grand, juicy fun regardless, tapping as it does into some archetypal pleasure center.
    • 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.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a breezy and entertaining little charmer.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Delicious dark comedy.
    • 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.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Westfeldt and Juergensen keep Kissing Jessica Stein bright and funny and loose.
    • 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.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    An hour and a half of giddy, ridiculous fun.
    • 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.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    I can't recall the last time a picture left me feeling so caffeinated.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A modest and tightly focused picture, and its very directness makes it piercingly intimate.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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).
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a mishmash of decoration, drapery and debauchery that's both deeply pleasurable and kitschy.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's mournful and troubling in a way that goes beyond ordinary movie manipulation. It burns clean.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The script is teasingly, pleasingly raunchy in places.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Reid is stunning here.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This quiet French thriller gets to the heart of motherhood, and then pays off with comfort and calm.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The group's members come off more like real musicians than parodists.
    • 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.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Chomet bows to the tradition of conventional animation even as he tests its limits.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's so much dreamy beauty in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that it's almost like a narcotic.
    • 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.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A dazzling true-life comedy that might be the funniest movie about grief ever made.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of the truest American gangster films of all time.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Rivers appears to have more energy than most 30-year-olds; she gets more done in a day that some of us could accomplish in a week.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It deserves to be seen on a hot Saturday afternoon in a theater (preferably an air-conditioned one) peopled with other people, the way many of us used to see movies as kids.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Heading South is a seemingly straightforward and simple picture that's really defiantly complex, sexually, politically and emotionally.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    As human beings, we're geared to desire an actual plot in our movies, and I regret to inform you that nothing really happens in Syndromes and a Century -- and yet the experience of the movie is all about the NOT happening.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Gallenberger tells Rabe’s story deftly, establishing essential elements of the man’s personality in subtle shorthand.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Other Guys isn't easy to peg. It's not a comedy that loosens you up and mellows you out; it works by needling you progressively into a state of anxiety.
    • 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.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The pleasures Get Low offers lie in the process of simply getting there, in watching performers take material that has some limitations (the script, inspired by a true story, is by Chris Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell) and turn it into something that has the rough-hewn, no-nonsense veracity of folk music.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    But at the risk of overintellectualizing what probably is, at heart, just a bunch of overgrown guys acting out, I will venture that many of the gags in Jackass 3D show plenty of visual wit, if not brilliance.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    But damned if Boyle, with the help of his star, doesn't make the experience almost… cheerful.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Breezy and enjoyable.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Aronofsky isn't loose enough, or canny enough, to be in touch with its camp soul.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A smart, sophisticated songsmith in the tradition of Cole Porter, or an inscrutable, pretentious twit? In the course of his near-20-year career, Stephin Merritt - the sort-of frontperson for the indie-rock collective Magnetic Fields - has been considered both.
    • 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.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Unsettling, energizing and more than a little mystifying, Amer is the kind of movie that may leave you feeling indifferent or puzzled at the end. But damned if it doesn't return, days later, to visit - kind of like a killer in black leather gloves.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a household in which the rules are very formal, and they're matched by the formality of the filmmaking.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's all goofy stuff, played for laughs, but it's clear we've been catapulted into a world where things are not quite right.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    In short, Cronenberg has made an elegant film, with spanking. There's some mildly kinky sex in A Dangerous Method, but Cronenberg makes it neither exploitive nor so tasteful that it loses its charge.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Ides of March doesn't cut as deeply or as sharply as Clooney might like, but at least he found the right actor to navigate its dark emotional twists and turns.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a story told in shards; Wong is so obsessed with visual details – faces refracted as if in a broken mirror, or fragile arcs of blood being traced out on the pavement by the feet of two feuding kung fu masters – that the story he’s trying to tell is partly obscured by them.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It reminds me more of Shane Black's "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang," though ultimately it's darker and more raggedy around the margins. Still, Monahan, like Black and unlike Ritchie, has some feeling for his characters.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Crude, violent and deeply enjoyable.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    You don't have to believe all of it - or even any of it - to enjoy the rascally charms of Mr. Nice.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The pleasures of the period ghost story The Woman in Black are something like the creepy shiver of delight you get from Edward Gorey's illustrated poem "The Gashlycrumb Tinies."
    • 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
    Pacific Rim is big and dumb in a smart way.
    • 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.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Bobby and Peter Farrelly's The Three Stooges is not particularly great, though it is possibly brilliant, a picture that goes beyond homage to become its own rambunctious invention - it's one big eye-poke, with footnotes.
    • 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.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The result is a kind of homespun video scrapbook, bumpy seams and glue splotches and all; it's flawed, but at least it feels handmade and human.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The real strength of The Kid with a Bike is the cautious but generous warmth of its storytelling. Not much happens in The Kid with a Bike, but it leaves you grateful that the worst doesn't happen - with these characters, you might not be able to bear it.
    • 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.
    • 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.

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