For 415 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 65% higher than the average critic
  • 1% same as the average critic
  • 34% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 9.1 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Stephanie Zacharek's Scores

  • Movies
Average review score: 68
Highest review score: 100 Something in the Air
Lowest review score: 10 Oldboy
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 20 out of 415
415 movie reviews
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    On the surface, The Salt of Life may seem like a movie made just for old folks. The trick is that it really is about the youth that stays with you, even when your aging body is working hard to convince you otherwise.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a much better and far less silly movie than its predecessor.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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
    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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Fruitvale Station is intimate in the best way, thanks largely to Jordan's deft, responsive performance.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Byzantium isn't Jordan's first movie about bloodsuckers—that would be 1994's Interview with the Vampire—but it's the right vampire movie for today, poetic and elegant in an artfully tattered way.
    • 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.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a comedy that moves with a sense of purpose, as Gordon-Levitt does in the title role.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Bell captures the insularity of certain professional pockets of Hollywood, with all their petty rivalries and backstabbing. But she's sharpest in her exploration of what makes women desire success, and what prevents them from getting it.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    More Than Honey isn't just 91 minutes of dead bees. Who could bear that? Instead, it's a delightful, informative, and suitably contemplative study of the bee world and the bee-population crisis, though in the end it does offer enough dewdrops of hope to fill up a bluebell or two.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 73 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.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Get On Up isn't a perfect-picture; there are moments of awkwardness, little gambles that don't quite pay off. But it's one of those experiments that's both flawed and amazing, a mainstream movie (with Mick Jagger as one of its producers) that fulfills old-fashioned, entertainment-value requirements, even as it throws off flashes of insight.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Fading Gigolo is a breeze, enjoyable both for its sweetness and its unapologetic silliness.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Buirski clearly shows that the spark that made her great couldn't be snuffed out so easily.
    • 62 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.
    • 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.
    • 50 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.
    • 79 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a love story in which one of the partners repeatedly does some really bad stuff, and while it's easy enough to admire him for his ability to get away with it all, it's harder to square the way he so cheerfully dupes innocent people, including his beloved.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Eat Pray Love works quite serviceably as a light comedy and a pleasing travelogue.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's a degree of gruff integrity at work for at least two-thirds of Alexandre Aja's grindhouse piranhapalooza Piranha 3D, in which a megaschool of man-eating fish thought to be extinct burst through an underwater fissure to terrorize a normally placid lake in Arizona.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Those of us who love Michael Caine have to recognize that his capacity for coldness is part of what makes him great. And in that respect, what he does in Harry Brown is something of a bookend to his extraordinary, and extraordinarily chilly, turn in Mike Hodges' cold-blooded 1971 Get Carter.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    This picture belongs to Jason Bateman, who, after years of playing the second or third banana (and plenty of times being the best thing in a given film), finally gets to show off his considerable gifts as the co-lead in a mainstream comedy.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sometimes, maybe, it's a little too unoffensive: It's Kind of a Funny Story is so gentle, so anxious not to put a foot wrong, that it doesn't have much sticking power. But its casually compassionate perspective is also what makes it work.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    These are all people you feel you've met before in other movies, if not all at once. But the movie's saving grace is that they don't always behave as you expect them to.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    But what makes Burlesque truly delectable - for the first half, at least, before its going-nowhere storyline really heads south - is its less obvious camp value.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    The plot is worked out with care, and it takes its time, unapologetically, in a manner that's perfectly suited to thinking adults. The whole enterprise reeks of class.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Leaving is a bit too dry and controlled, as well as too relentlessly bleak, to be a satisfying melodrama.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's even a shootout sequence that plays out, from start to finish, while our hero is in flagrante. That's something I don't believe I've ever seen in a movie.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    To paraphrase something Quentin Tarantino once said about Sergio Corbucci, Verbinski loves the uglies. They return the favor by looking almost beautiful.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's either genius or madness to put Diesel and Johnson in the same movie, or the same scene. They're both enormously appealing performers.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's the most imaginative picture in the franchise.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Furman keeps the drama taut when it needs to be, and loosens the reins easily when it's time to kick back - he has good control over the movie's rhythms.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Everything in The Adventures of Tintin is meticulous - this is a Steven Spielberg movie, after all.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even the gags we've all seen before are handled so deftly you almost forget how ancient they are.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Crazy, Stupid, Love. is, for the most part, an effective love story, but the two figures in thrall to one another aren't the ones you think: The magnetism between the movie's two male stars, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling, is what really makes the movie tick.
    • 35 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's painful to watch a movie like Dream House - well-acted, beautifully shot and directed with extraordinary care and attention to craft - only to realize that the story, the alleged backbone, is absurd.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Ifans takes dorky, grandiose dialogue and turns it into something almost - well, Shakespearean.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's such a thing as having too much reverence for your material, and although Davies is an extraordinarily gifted and principled director, The Deep Blue Sea may suffer for that reverence.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture could be so much better than it is, and yet it's also the kind of movie that makes you want to grade on the curve, adding extra points for good intentions.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    One thing My Week with Marilyn does get right is that women were as enchanted by her as the men were, if perhaps in a different way.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even if Dolphin Tale hits every note square on the nose - or maybe because it does - watching it is surprisingly pleasurable.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Spirit counts for something too, and John Carter has plenty of that, in addition to the requisite dashes of wit.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Ted
    One of the tricks of Ted -- perhaps its smartest one -- is that everyone, not just John, knows the bear can talk.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    How much human love is too much for an elephant? That's the question Lisa Leeman's One Lucky Elephant attempts to answer, without sentimentality but with the right amount of compassion.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    The economics of star casting aside, what would Take Shelter have been like with James McAvoy or Mark Wahlberg or Jake Gyllenhaal at its center?
    • 75 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture's finale isn't as smart as it ought to be. Cornish tries to make a damning social statement, but the only thing you take away from the movie is how cool it is to kick alien ass.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sleeping Beauty is best experienced as a piece of fragmented poetry rather than a strict ideological tract.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Is it entertainment? Is it satire? Is it art? It's probably a little of all three, and yet ultimately not quite enough of any.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Naranjo keeps the action tense but understated; instead of allowing explosions and shootouts to pile up, he rations them in taut doses.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    To Rome with Love - rangy, vaguely ridiculous and trepidatiously optimistic - is Allen's film for tomorrow.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    What Cedar captures here is the way a father and son can be bound so tightly they almost choke the air out of one another. You can't exactly call it affection; it's that far more complicated thing we call kinship.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 75 Stephanie Zacharek
    Rather than rushing to determine the cause of death – of love, or of a country -- it stubbornly keeps listening for a heartbeat, even though there may not be one.
    • 33 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    At times Jonah Hex carries whispery echoes of The Searchers and Sam Peckinpah.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The funniest bits in the movie are, by and large, the small, offhanded gags stuffed into the corners.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The problem is that just as we’re getting to know these characters as people, the movie pulls a veil over them: It loses its nerve and mutates into an only mildly compelling crime drama, albeit one whose protagonist is maybe more tortured than usual.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Debra Granik's Winter's Bone is one of those movies -- like last year's inner-city down-a-thon, "Precious" -- that can't quite make a distinction between profundity and plain old bleakness.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is well-crafted; it just doesn't breathe.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Barney's Version is too much of a sprawl to have much of a lasting emotional effect.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The idea, in the end, is that even lovable loonies can do a lot of damage.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Nothing says "Awards Season" like feel-bad cinema, and with Biutiful, Iñárritu hauls out the big guns. He also, maddeningly, has one hell of a weapon in his star, Javier Bardem.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is so fluttering and tender, so guileless, that you almost can't believe it was made by an old hand like Van Sant. Then again, maybe you can.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A small movie with modest ambitions, and accordingly, it packs only a modest emotional punch.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's all just too cute for words, and more's the pity. Because in the end, No Strings Attached is more meaningful for what it does rather than for what it says along the way.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Thus ends one of the most understated shark-attack sequences, ever; it's almost Bressonian, except it's not boring.