Stephanie Zacharek
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For 1,504 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 2.3 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Stephanie Zacharek's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 A Christmas Tale
Lowest review score: 0 The Amityville Horror
Score distribution:
1,504 movie reviews
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A rare and tender delight.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A sweet and sexy celebration of real women's real bodies.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    So unapologetically loopy and lush and ridiculous that I found it irresistible.
    • 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.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie "Munich" should have been. At the very least, it's got to be the first picture to use smelly-feet jokes as a means of parsing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But more than that, it's a mainstream movie that dares to make jokes about the kinds of complex political realities that most of us don't dare bring up at dinner parties.
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel charm the pants off us -- and each other! -- in this irresistible comedy.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The magic of Summer Hours is that even in its elusiveness, it gives us something to hang onto.
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's Foster who rules the movie like an ice queen.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Reid is stunning here.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Carell's physical comedy is close to genius.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Westfeldt and Juergensen keep Kissing Jessica Stein bright and funny and loose.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Visual tone poem.
    • 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.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a comedy that moves with a sense of purpose, as Gordon-Levitt does in the title role.
    • 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.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Chomet bows to the tradition of conventional animation even as he tests its limits.
    • 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of the truest American gangster films of all time.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    So refreshingly straightforward that at first you may not know what to make of it.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Danish director Tobias Lindholm's wiry, neatly crafted thriller A Hijacking wrests fact into the shape of believable fiction, although the movie is most remarkable for everything it doesn't show.
    • 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.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A dazzling true-life comedy that might be the funniest movie about grief ever made.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Habicht has made a lovely film that’s partly about Pulp and partly about Sheffield: It’s hard to know where one leaves off and the other begins.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Philip Seymour Hoffman utters one of the year's most refreshing lines in this terrific tale of political wheeling and dealing.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Charlie Victor Romeo shows us how much of life's weight and meaning can be packed into one second of thought or action; it's a work of shivery intimacy.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is beautifully paced, with an exhilarating, comically violent opening, a halcyon middle section where, in what could be viewed as a sideways homage to "Rebel Without a Cause," our rootless wanderers share a brief respite in an empty, lavish mansion, and a finale filled with light and color and movement (as well as piles of vanquished zombies).
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Crude, violent and deeply enjoyable.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Delicious dark comedy.
    • 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.
    • 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
    It's a mishmash of decoration, drapery and debauchery that's both deeply pleasurable and kitschy.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    But damned if Boyle, with the help of his star, doesn't make the experience almost… cheerful.
    • 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.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Howard has made a picture for grown-ups, a well-constructed entertainment that neither talks down to its audience nor congratulates it just for showing up.
    • 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
    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.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is so dramatically textured that you feel something's happening every minute.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The kind of smart, openhearted comedy that doesn't come along every day.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The film Hawke has made — which borrows its title, though little else, from J.D. Salinger — works both as a celebration of Bernstein, whose spirit is at once gentle and boldly generous, and as a way of exploring creativity and the meaning it can have in our lives.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Daniels is that rare contemporary filmmaker who's not afraid of melodrama. The Butler is so old-school it feels modern: Stylistically, it could have been made 30 years ago, but its time is now.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Berry isn't afraid to use melodrama as a tool to highlight injustice. It's his very un-flashiness that makes Frontera effective.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A beautifully shaped piece of work: There are no slack patches, no gratuitous feel-good moments -- if you walk out of Knocked Up feeling good, that means you've earned it.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A modest and tightly focused picture, and its very directness makes it piercingly intimate.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Rudd's timing has always been good, but in I Love You, Man he gives the finest performance of his career, breaking his comic beats down into weird and wonderful fractional increments. It's as if he's invented a new comedy dialect.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture's ending -- which is satisfying, possibly even happy, depending on how you look at it -- is almost inconsequential; it's the texture of everything leading up to it that matters. The Pursuit of Happyness, even within its slickness, gets at intangibles that allegedly grittier movies fail to capture -- like how heavy a wallet can feel when you're down to your last dollar.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A solemn, haunting picture, but it's also a thrilling one, partly because of the sheer bravado with which it's made. It left me feeling more fortified than drained. Cuarón, the most openhearted of directors, prefers to give rather than take away.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Bridges performance in Crazy Heart, for my money the finest male performance of the year, reels us right back to understanding why: Instead of dressing up words, he sends them out naked. It's everything he subtracts that matters.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a much better and far less silly movie than its predecessor.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Grand, juicy fun regardless, tapping as it does into some archetypal pleasure center.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Although there's plenty of music, and plenty of joy, in Once, it's ultimately a quiet, wistful picture.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The script is teasingly, pleasingly raunchy in places.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Instead of taking control of the movie in any overt way, Clooney commands our attention by swimming just beneath its surface. He's a disappearing act with staying power.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Heading South is a seemingly straightforward and simple picture that's really defiantly complex, sexually, politically and emotionally.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Fading Gigolo is a breeze, enjoyable both for its sweetness and its unapologetic silliness.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 32 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Hot Pursuit is a quiet triumph of tone and timing. Nearly every scene is cut at just the right point, often topped off with a fantastic kicker of dialogue.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This quiet French thriller gets to the heart of motherhood, and then pays off with comfort and calm.
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    On the strength of Gyllenhaal's performance, Nightcrawler works best as a character study. It's chilling, but also wickedly funny and strange, like a good, dark Brian De Palma joke — in short, it's everything the stolid and humorless Gone Girl should have been.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A movie isn’t a cliché when it can sing like this.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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."
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture throws off an aura of wistfulness, which may be Mann's acknowledgment that of course he can't re-create the past. The best he can do is to honor the idea of it, storybook-style, and to remind us that before there was gangsta, there were gangsters.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is half silliness, half swagger, but Branagh's arms-akimbo impudence as a director makes it work. He takes it all seriously, but with a wink.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The women of Pussy Riot have an idea of what the new Russia should sound like; Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer shows just how hard it is to make that new world audible.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Fruitvale Station is intimate in the best way, thanks largely to Jordan's deft, responsive performance.
    • 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
    Is legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans feeding us a load of crap in this documentary? When it's this much fun, who really cares?
    • 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    At least Linklater isn't just picking the bones of his forebears; he honors them as they deserve.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    What We Do in the Shadows is never as self-conscious as you fear it might be, and it has some of the loose, wiggy energy of early Jim Jarmusch, only with more bite. It makes getting poked a pleasure.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A comedy embedded with secret tips for better, more enjoyable living.
    • 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.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The good news is that Anchorman 2 is pretty funny. It's also more rambling and hit-or-miss than its predecessor, which means, thankfully, that it's less likely to become what we euphemistically call iconic: In other words, fewer annoying guys will be inspired to quote it.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Although there's nothing sensationalistic about his approach, [Graf] treats the characters' tentative, often problematic bohemianism as a wild, brave, and precious thing, and the lead actors — restrained where it counts and bold where it matters — are a pleasure to watch.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A highly entertaining and refreshingly nonjudgmental movie

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