Stephanie Zacharek

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For 1,602 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 53% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 45% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 1.9 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Stephanie Zacharek's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 Mr. Turner
Lowest review score: 0 The Amityville Horror
Score distribution:
1602 movie reviews
    • 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!
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Deep End doesn't have a knotty message, but it's a much more meaningful picture than "Suture."
    • 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.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Levinson and Pacino's willingness to explore the creakier end of life isn't a drawback; it's what gives The Humbling its bittersweet vitality.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a teasingly complex political thriller, but it's also a sort-of romance.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 61 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.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Hugely entertaining and extravagantly empathetic.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The drawback is that even though The Hurt Locker is extremely effective in places, it ultimately feels unformed and somewhat unfinished.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It doesn't sacrifice craftsmanship and elegance at the altar of its strong convictions.
    • 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?
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Gallenberger tells Rabe’s story deftly, establishing essential elements of the man’s personality in subtle shorthand.
    • 51 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a wonderful, horrifying performance: Whitaker doesn't take the easy way out by playing Amin as a killer clown, a treacherous buffoon.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie's climactic battle scene is mildly thrilling -- although it's not nearly as exciting as simply watching Downey and Bridges work together. Bridges makes a great villain precisely because he's such a relaxed, affable presence.
    • 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.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Watching McDormand navigate that transformation is the kind of thing that can keep your hope in movies, and in actors, alive.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Less like a movie than an interpretive-dance piece, with Cage as its lurching, depressed-satyr star.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Best of all may be the narration, by Sam Shepard: His voice, the kind of voice God might have if he'd ever smoked Camels, frames this gentle but potent little story with good-natured authority, making it feel modern and ageless at once.
    • 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.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a chilly, elegantly assured little picture, a horror story with its roots not in fantasy but in the reality of hurt feelings.
    • 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.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie glows with vitality, thanks largely to the performers, who revel in one another’s company.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    So refreshingly straightforward that at first you may not know what to make of it.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Like the provocative classics Dog Day Afternoon and Network, this is discomfiting entertainment–its edges are serrated, sharp enough to cut. The camera moves to just the right place every minute, and the editing is crisp. Moments of nearly unbearable tension are broken by bursts of energy and even humor.
    • 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.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Boldly entertaining.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Wave, with the exception of a few overwrought moments, is low on sadism and high on humbling. We’re all at the mercy of nature’s power. It’s the Whatever we can never outrun.
    • 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.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    What really registers is how frustrating Krisha’s erratic, furtive behavior would be if she were part of your family — and how deeply sympathetic she is because, thankfully, she is not. Fairchild’s performance is key to the movie: Krisha is witty and chatty one moment, and shut down like a deserted fairground the next.
    • 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.

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