Stephanie Zacharek
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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 The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Lowest review score: 0 Over Her Dead Body
Score distribution:
1,507 movie reviews
    • 69 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie perfectly captures the vibe of late high school, in a way that's both of its time and timeless.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    A lush, modern valentine to old-fashioned sentiment, and to old-fashioned moviemaking, too.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Kechiche and his actresses explore the in-between—ecstasy, exploration, the comfort and eventual boredom of domesticity—and the aftermath, the painful shards of feeling we cling to after something has shattered. And they don't mess around when it comes to the ferocity of love, sex, or, God help us, the two combined.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Gravity is harrowing and comforting, intimate and glorious, the kind of movie that makes you feel more connected to the world rather than less.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even beyond its charismatic star, Jauja is captivating, not least because of Alonso's ability to capture the cruel beauty of the natural landscape — you can almost see the earth itself refusing to accept European imperialism blithely.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    I see it as nearly perfect: It's one of the best fantasy pictures ever made.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a supreme example of how a filmmaker can make a work of fiction based on fact that, without didacticism or heavy-handed moralizing, leaves us feeling more connected not just with history but with what makes us human in the first place.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Strickland builds the film, artfully, into a complex and ultimately moving essay on the privileges of victimhood and the nuances of what it means to suffer for love.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Leigh and his actors work mysterious magic in Happy-Go-Lucky. This is a movie about hitting the groove of everyday life and, nearly miraculously, getting music out of it.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Vuillards are not an easy family, and A Christmas Tale is not an easy movie. But by the end, what Desplechin has given us -- in his own inexplicable way, which is sometimes meandering and sometimes piercingly direct, and sometimes both at once -- is a benediction.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Gray has a knack for wrapping big themes into an intimate embrace, and The Immigrant feels both epic and fine-grained.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Only Lovers Left Alive is silly and deeply serious at once, an elegy with a light touch and more than a dash of hope.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sachs and his performers know that the perfect marriage is a thing of phantom beauty — it doesn't exist, yet we persist in believing that someone out there must have it.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Although there isn't a single kiss in this love story, it's intensely erotic -- and more to the point, it's not afraid of eroticsm's juicier and more forthright twin, carnality.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is an unsparing picture, one whose violence, though deftly handled, is bone-crunchingly rough. Yet its emotional contours are surprisingly delicate, thanks, in large part to O’Connell’s performance.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    This wondrous, absorbing little picture covers a great deal of winding meta-territory, reflecting on the ways in which a single family's story can be told—or maybe, more accurately, examining the idea that there's no such thing as a "single story."
    • 70 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    If this Hamlet weren't so perfectly conceived visually, it would probably stand solidly on the basis of its acting alone.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Zero Dark Thirty is precise, definitive filmmaking, yet Bigelow refuses to hand over easy answers. Some people call that evasion. I call it the ultimate despair.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Incredibles has that rare quality of feeling modern and classic at the same time.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a picture that romances its audience into watching in a new way - by, paradoxically, asking us to watch in an old way. The Artist is perhaps the most modern movie imaginable right now.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sophisticated, brash, sardonic, completely joyful in its execution. It gives anyone who ever loved movie musicals, and lamented their demise, something to live for.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Very little in Under the Skin is clear at all. Its secrets unspool in mysterious, supple ribbons, but that's part of its allure, and its great beauty.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Baumbach has made some fine pictures (Frances Ha) and some deadening, hermetic ones (Margot at the Wedding), but it's While We're Young that really fulfills the promise of his brash but fine-grained debut.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Cheung is one of the finest actresses working today, an expressive, lustrous beauty capable of plumbing a boundless range of emotional hues. This is the greatest performance she's given to date.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is so imaginatively made, so attuned to sensual pleasure, so keyed in to the indescribable something that makes life life, that it speaks of something far more elemental than mere filmmaking skill: This is what movies, at their best, can be.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    The most beautiful magic in it is left unseen. And still, it emerges with absolute clarity.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Everything about Pee-wee's Big Adventure, from its toy-box colors to its superb, hyperanimated Danny Elfman score to the butch-waxed hairdo and wooden-puppet walk of its star and mastermind, Pee-wee Herman, is pure pleasure.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Aside from the effectiveness of Set Me Free as a coming-of-age story, it's also one of the most poetic avowals of love for movies that I've seen in years.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Although the Coens are consummate craftsmen, they don't always show the lightness of touch or the depth of feeling they do here.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    What Angio captures, beautifully, is that the Mekons make great music because, together and apart, they’re so alive to the world around them.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Blissful, blazingly intelligent adaptation.
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Boyhood had the curious effect of making me feel lost, uneasy, a little alone in the inexorable march forward — and also totally, emphatically alive.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Poetic, funny, darkly romantic and beautifully structured -- is a very different picture from "Pan's Labyrinth." But there's no doubt that it springs from the same cathedral.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Subtle emotional intelligence has always distinguished Bellocchio's filmmaking, and Dormant Beauty is constructed from fine-grained layers of it, the filmmaker's equivalent of a master cabinetmaker's craft.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Chris Rock couldn't have planned it this way, but his exuberant and wondrous comedy Top Five, opening at just the right time, is like an airdrop of candy over the city, if not the country.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    20,000 Days on Earth is meticulously crafted but nonetheless feels casual and heartfelt. It's revelatory, and wonderful, to watch Cave walking (or driving) around, being a real person — if the movie is somewhat staged, it's never stagey.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    The connection between Bob and Charlotte, as Coppola shows it to us at the end of Lost in Translation, is a moment of intimate magnificence. I have never seen anything quite like it, in any movie.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Lynch's Hollywood is a grand old girl, but she's one with some very treacherous curves. To trace the contours of her sensuality, you need a camera as sensitive as a set of fingertips. Lynch's is.
    • 99 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Not just one of the great films of the '60s but one of the great films, period -- and the chance to discover it at the beginning of the 21st century, in an era when we think we've seen it all, is an unquantifiable privilege.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    A great action movie, exhilarating and neatly crafted, the kind of picture that will still look good 20 or 30 years from now.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    What's remarkable about Dallas Buyers Club is its lack of sentimentality. The movie, like its star, is all angles and elbows, earning its emotion through sheer pragmatism.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of the greatest fantasy films of all time.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Leigh, Spall, and cinematographer Dick Pope — who borrows lots of lighting tricks from Vermeer and Ingres and even Turner himself, to glorious effect — have gently atomized Turner's character, breaking it into small, potent fragments that affect us in ways we don't see coming.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Before Midnight—visually stunning, in a late-summer way—is more vital and cutting than another recent marriage picture, Michael Haneke's old-folks-together death march Amour; it has none of Amour's tasteful restraint, and in the end, it says more about the nature of long-term love.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Brash and sweet, We Are the Best! captures perfectly the aimlessness of adolescence, the waiting to become something that's so often intertwined with the desire to make something, to leave your mark on the world in some small way.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    The sight of Hedwig and his band transforming a trashy trailer into a glitter-rock stage during "Wig in a Box" was so exhilarating I almost leapt out of my seat. The movie is pure theater, as it should be.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Anderson has pulled off the most elusive of goals: He's made a nonchalant masterpiece, a movie that feels dog-eared and loved before it's even reached our hands.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Coppola is a filmmaker who fills up a big canvas with small moments: That's the opposite of working in miniature, even though she's attuned to the tiniest details.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Missing Picture is so immediate, so vital, it practically breathes. Not all memoirs need to exist. But the gentle urgency of Panh's story is right there in the filmmaking. This is a story that had to be told. Even in its stillness, it moves.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    With Selma, DuVernay has pulled off a tricky feat, a movie based on historical events that never feels dull, worthy, or lifeless; it hangs together as a story and not just part of a lesson plan. The movie is at once intimate and grand in scope.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Magnificent and heartfelt.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's 85 minutes of screen time that represents one crystallized moment not in the Beatles' career per se but in the parallel career they forged inside all of us, the one that will last beyond any breakup, retirement or death.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Bird is one of the great modern animators -- as well as an astonishingly gifted filmmaker, period -- precisely because he doesn't set out to wow us.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    In Something in the Air, that past—a version of Assayas's own—is rendered in visuals so specific and evocative, it's perpetually alive.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 95 Stephanie Zacharek
    Drive not only met my hopes; it charged way over the speed limit, partly because it's an unapologetically commercial picture that defies all the current trends in mainstream action filmmaking.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 95 Stephanie Zacharek
    Fincher and his screenwriter, TV writer-god Aaron Sorkin, have made a seemingly modest picture that achieves something close to greatness the old-fashioned, slow-burning way: By telling a story with faces, dialogue and body language of all types, from awkward to swaggering.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 95 Stephanie Zacharek
    To hell with that childlike sense-of-wonder crap: Despicable Me, instead of trying to return adults to a false state of innocence, reminds us that we all started out as ill-mannered little savages.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 95 Stephanie Zacharek
    A direct and heartfelt piece of work. It's conventional, maybe, in its sense of filmmaking decorum, but extraordinary in the way it cuts to the core of human frustration and feelings of inadequacy, reminding us how universal those feelings are.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 95 Stephanie Zacharek
    If anything, Joe's sense of dream logic is more naturalistic than Lynch's, more grounded in the knowable world - as much, that is, as we can know about nature - and the luminous Uncle Boonmee is no exception.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 95 Stephanie Zacharek
    What Press comes up with in the end isn't just a portrait of individual eccentricity. Its larger subject is the way one man, just by being alive to what's around him, has created a vast, detailed anthropological record of how New Yorkers present, and feel, about themselves.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 95 Stephanie Zacharek
    The actresses' performances intertwine beautifully, like twin climbing vines vying for the attention of the sun.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 95 Stephanie Zacharek
    An adaptation that wholly and faithfully captures the spirit and mood of the book it's based on, and an example of computer animation - the 2-D sort - that shows the human touch in every frame.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 95 Stephanie Zacharek
    More universal than it is alternative, except in one sense: There's nothing else on the contemporary movie landscape like it.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 95 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie's intricacy, and the way it finds its way into the emotional lives of its characters via (and not in spite of) that intricacy, is what makes it extraordinary. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy challenges audiences to believe in craftsmanship again.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a cross between confidence and vulnerability that's hard for an actress to pull off, but Streisand hits the note perfectly. And her greatest moment of acting, I think, is also the picture's strongest musical number.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    As close to mainstream perfection as I've seen all year. It gives us everything we want, need and deserve without batting an eye.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    A sequel made with care and integrity, Toy Story 3 is just moving enough: It winds its way gently toward its big themes instead of grabbing desperately at them, and because its plot is so beautifully worked out, getting there is almost all of the fun.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The best Allen movie in 10 years, or maybe even close to 20 - is all about that idea: Reckoning with the past as a real place, but also worrying about the limits of nostalgia.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mystic River is hard-boiled beyond toughness: It's so tender the skin falls away from the bone. It's Eastwood's most soulful, and most organic, movie.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is celebratory, in its own quiet way, as well as clear-eyed.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Speaks to the teenager in all of us.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Imaginative and intricate, but it's also joyfully casual, maybe to the point of being a little messy in places. But even its flaws work in its favor.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Virtually nothing at all is wrapped up in The Lawless Heart, which is probably why it feels so satisfyingly whole by the end.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Hits every color note just right. It's a visual antidepressant.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Borat is an astonishingly entertaining picture, and it's a testament to Cohen's gifts that he can pull off a feat as extravagant and as fully realized as this one is.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The small miracle of the movie is that Simien finds so many laughs in what are genuinely bewildering issues.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    I never would have believed it, but Branagh gets the balance between pageantry and silliness just right.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's crucial to note, too, that this isn't just a nice little movie for older people: There's some real bite to the way it deals with the life questions that come with aging, and whatever sweetness it has is just an undertone, not a feel-good frosting overlay.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sex is threatening, as Brontë knew, and Wasikowska and Fassbender make this particular dance look exceedingly dangerous.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a fine-grained picture that goes for the sideways laughs rather than the straight-ahead ones. This is sketch comedy as method acting.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Hangover is a shaggy-dog tale that's actually, when you step back from it, perfectly shaped.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    In the highly imperfect world of contemporary romantic comedies, What If is as close to perfect as anything we've got, not least for the way it captures the abject hopefulness of young people who'd like to be in love but don't know how to go about it.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Curran, his actors and screenwriter Ron Nyswaner have made an old-fashioned melodramatic epic that, as steeped as it is in the language and tradition of old movies, is never less than thrummingly alive.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is that rare movie version of a great novel in which watching IS reading.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie has a crispness about it, an unwillingness to succumb to sentimentality.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mommy is first and foremost a mother-and-son story, but it's also a surprisingly delicate exploration of lonely lives, and the temporary islands of companionship that make them bearable.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    What's remarkable about Pina is how democratic it is, how casual it is about opening up the world of modern dance to people who know, or perhaps care, little about it.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It miraculously pulled off the effect of feeling like a surprise: The picture both fulfilled some vague, unexpressed hopes I didn't know I had and also left me with the sense that I'd just seen something I wasn't quite prepared for -- the kind of contradiction that great showmanship can bridge.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Class is a lovely, exhilarating work about the ways in which failure and frustration can open the pathways through which we make sense out of life.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Company Men is infinitely more despairing and yet also, paradoxically, more hopeful. It suggests that work can actually mean something to people, beyond just giving them the means to afford a nice house or a fantastic car.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's an unapologetic dazzler, which is why it's never overwhelmed by its themes.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Ondine suggests that coincidence and magic are often the same thing.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Eloquent and unassuming, it's a picture that hits home precisely because it doesn't overreach its grasp.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    For all the full-throttle dazzle of Furious 7, the best scenes are the quietest ones, in which these characters make observations about love, life, and family that would seem overcooked in any other movie.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Before I Forget is, in the broad sense, "gay-themed." But it's also one of the loveliest, most direct and most devastating pictures about aging that I've ever seen.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    We need filmmakers who can move us forward even as they maintain a sense of the past. To that end, Grindhouse captures a bit of rowdy movie history in a bell jar.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    LaBute, in his infinite and marvelous wrongness, infuses his movie with a delicacy of feeling that couldn't be more right for the material. LaBute obviously approached the project with his hands and his heart open: Frame by frame, it's a humble picture, a movie that isn't afraid to be an entertainment.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's the perfect marriage of music and animated movement. But even when there's no music playing in Waking Life, the movie's lyricism is sustained by the way it looks and feels.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    An imperfect work of genius, a satire of Hollywood excess and vanity that dares to tread territory laden with minefields.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Scorsese didn't need to remake "Infernal Affairs," but what he has done with it is a compliment rather than an affront to the original: The Departed reimagines its source material rather than just leeching off it, preserving the bone structure of the first movie while finding new curves in it. The story has been clarified; the ellipses of the original have been filled in with just the right amount of exploratory shading. This is a picture of grand gestures and subtle intricacies, a movie that, even at more than two hours long, feels miraculously lean. It's a smart shot of lucid storytelling.

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