Stephanie Zacharek

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For 1,767 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 0.7 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Stephanie Zacharek's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 64
Highest review score: 100 The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Lowest review score: 0 Youth Without Youth
Score distribution:
1767 movie reviews
    • 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.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Kids have no idea they’re feeling wonder — just feeling it is the thing. That’s the lightning in a bottle captured by director Sean Baker in The Florida Project.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Amy
    A surprisingly seamless biographical documentary, one that, even though it's been constructed largely from found elements, feels gracefully whole.
    • 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.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Like all good documentaries, Iris is about much more than what we see on the surface, no matter how dazzling that surface may be.
    • 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.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    If only every actor we loved could leave us with a farewell film like this one.
    • 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Bridges knows just what he’s doing, and with the splendid West Texas waltz of a drama, Hell or High Water, British director David Mackenzie has given him the perfect hook on which to hang his hat.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The majesty of nature is Embrace of the Serpent’s true star, and Guerra captures the glory of every leaf, every inch of sky, in pearlescent black-and-white as luminous as the lining of a clamshell. In Guerra’s eyes, as in Karamakate’s, the forest is magic itself—and it’s no less remarkable for having sprung from something as lowly as the earth’s soil.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Coming Home obviously has historical and political significance for Chinese who lived through the Cultural Revolution, and for families that were torn apart by it. But Zhang tells this particular story in a deeply personal way — the time and place of its setting have a specific meaning, but its emotional contours spread out into something bigger.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    If A Quiet Place has one flaw, it’s that it never lets up. There’s little breathing space between its breathtaking moments. Even so, Krasinski has made one of the most poetic horror movies of recent years.
    • 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.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It gradually settles and deepens into something nuanced and moving, a character study that's not so much about aging, specifically, as it is about the great and awful process of getting to know yourself.
    • 85 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.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Watching it is like being trapped in one of those nightmares where you need to get somewhere, fast, and you're distracted and delayed at every turn. Only in this case, the nightmare is happening to someone else, and it's costing an awful lot of money.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's both a perceptive dual character study and, that rarity of rarities, a large-scale action movie for grown-ups, one worth leaving the house for.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Part noir-comedy, part ghost story, but it's mostly a potent reflection on how where we come from shapes us, in ways we can't understand until we've been away for a long, long while.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Its look has the same grudging beauty that, once you get used to it, English weather does: It's so defiant in its grayness that you come to appreciate its conviction.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Noyce takes a great deal of care with this adaptation. For one thing, he includes as much of Greene's potent shorthand as he can without weighing the movie down.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's Kline who anchors the movie, swan-diving into Flynn's complexities without making excuses for him.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    If Elise and Frank are opaque to each other, they're opaque for a reason, as, sadly, lovers sometimes are. (Come to think of it, this picture has more in common with "The Lives of Others" than you might expect.)
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Frances Ha is a patchwork of details that constitute a sort of dating manual—not one that tells you how to meet hot guys, but one that fortifies you against all the crap you have to deal with as a young person in love with a city that doesn't always love you back.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture does, in places, feel like an unspoken homage to Kurosawa, though it's certainly its own distinct creation. But I wonder if it more closely resembles another end-of-an-era picture, Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch."
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini are lovely together, though her character is the sharper-edged of the two. It's Gandolfini's Albert, soft-hearted and soft-bellied, who suffers more. Gandolfini takes the movie's small, offhand jokes and intensifies them.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Cave of Forgotten Dreams is compelling, sometimes in a hypnotic, sleepy-bye way.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's nothing too clean or too overbright about it. It's magic, but not the loud, shiny kind: It has the texture of worn velvet, or a painstakingly hand-knit sweater stored away for years in tissue paper.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Pictures with the grand sweep and dreamy energy of The Lost City of Z don’t come along every year—they barely come along at all. This is itself a message in a bottle, a missive from a lost city of movies.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    So intrinsically rich that it doesn't need any metaphors.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Isn't much more than marvelous entertainment -- but then, that's a lot right there.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    My Life as a Zucchini is so warm, so alive, that we forget we're watching cartoon figures. And when they belong to us, they're no longer orphans.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Superman, born in 1938, is still very much alive in 2006. The Man of Steel has so skillfully bent the bars of our imagination that he seems real to us. And in a sense, he is.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Brewer, who spent most of his childhood in Memphis, is one of the few contemporary filmmakers I know of who can make movies about the South without sentimentalizing it, glorifying it or looking down on it.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The film is striking, at times even piercing, for the way it infiltrates some universal realities of marriage.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Anderson's Lily is the kind of heroine who earns our protectiveness by never begging for it; it's an astonishing performance.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Anton Corbijn's The American looks and feels like a movie made by a filmmaker who hasn't been to the movies since the '70s - and I mean that as the highest compliment.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    In a world of movies that try far too hard to move, entertain and dazzle us, the artistry of Hustle & Flow lies in the way it waits for us to come to it. We can walk as slowly as we want, but sooner or later, it's going to get us.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    There’s no need to worry that this version might crush the gentle charms of the 1991 picture: Even though Condon more or less faithfully follows that movie’s plot, this Beauty is its own resplendent creature.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Don't Think I've Forgotten is a testament to how much a song can mean: You can destroy the vinyl it's been recorded on, but the sound itself, and all it stands for, is indestructible. Groove is in the heart.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    In the early minutes you might not be sure what you're watching. Tangerine's a comedy, of course, laced with rambunctious, exuberantly ragged dialogue. But by the end, Baker and his actors have led us to a place beyond comedy — you may still be laughing, but your breath catches a little on the way out.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie Wenders and Juliano have made is a tribute that feels both grand and modest in scale: Just as Salgado's photographs do, it extends the notion of friends and family to include every citizen of the world.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Intelligent, visually rich filmmaking.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a tricky feat, channeling the glamour of a famous international terrorist without glamorizing him. But damned if French filmmaker Olivier Assayas doesn't pull it off with Carlos.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Adult World captures beautifully, and with a great deal of self-deprecating humor, what it's like to feel trapped in a place you think is too small to hold you.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    James — the director of Hoop Dreams and The Interrupters — gives us a sense of Ebert as a man who kept reinventing life as he went along — out of necessity, sure, though he also took some pleasure in adapting. It couldn't always have been easy, but that, too, is part of the story.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    There may not be much behind the sparkling tinsel curtain of David O. Russell's extraordinarily entertaining American Hustle. But what a curtain!
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's something grand and enveloping about Fearless.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is the kind of sophisticated storytelling you rarely get even in live-action movies any more, full of unexpected turns and unruly human complications.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Like all of Branagh's films, even some of the bad ones, Cinderella is practically Wagnerian in its ambitions — it's so swaggering in its confidence that at times it almost commands us to like it. But it's also unexpectedly delicate in all the right ways, and uncompromisingly beautiful to look at.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    At a time when our country feels divided to the point of cracking, Dave Chappelle's Block Party feels like a salve. It's a defiant act of optimistic patriotism.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    There are enough under-the-radar subtleties, rendered with a refreshing lack of smart-aleckiness, to make Zootopia feel current and fresh. It’s a modest, unassuming entertainment that’s motored by a sly sensibility.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Monster is a compassionate picture without any obvious agenda. And it's effective precisely because it's not a polemic.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    If it's a far less flashy film than The Act of Killing, it's also a better and possibly more honest one.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Van Warmerdam keeps such a calm, firm hold on the material that he practically hypnotizes you into following along to the end. The craftsmanship is precise; the result is enigmatic.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    A multifaceted, bittersweet delight.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Meek's Cutoff is an ambitious feat of visual storytelling that's alive to both its landscape and the actors who people it.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The film works on its own as an unfussy, passionate and gently erotic love story that never tips into sentimentality.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    So much modern animation is technically brilliant and yet comes off as cold and indifferent. But Wallace, Gromit, and the people and creatures in their world always look warm to the touch. Someone made, and moved, all those bunnies by hand. It's impossible NOT to believe in them.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    I suspect nearly everyone who sees the picture will have a loud opinion about this ending, which is just one way Holofcener works her stealth magic as a filmmaker and storyteller: She doesn’t close up shop on her movie until she’s made each of us an honorary New Yorker — in other words, a person with a strong stance and something to say.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Smolders with more reserved passion than "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Meticulously and sensitively made, though its best moments may be the lovely but intense watercolor-toned interstitial animated sequences that illustrate the monster’s thorny spiritual allegories, cartoons for grownups rather than for little ones.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    But Bad Santa does feature one last turn from the late John Ritter as a twittery department-store manager (his name, Mr. Chipeska, is a stroke of brilliance that I still can't quite put my finger on).
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Wonders has an intimate, subtly buzzing power.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of the most poetic comic-book adaptations to come along in years, yet it never loses its sense of lightness and fun -- del Toro gives it just enough screwball nuttiness to keep it from bogging down.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Both the material and the setting seem to have shaken something loose in Witherspoon (who is also one of the movie's producers): She's moved further away from those uptight, humorless romantic-comedy cuties she played in the mid 2000s and more toward the breezy, blunt, self- determined characters of her early career.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Ramis has made a fleet, unself-conscious, eminently enjoyable picture, where one-liners carom merrily like stray bullets, and where there's casual ease, like the drape of a sharpster's trousers, in the rapport between its two stars.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    This really is Cruz's movie: Almodóvar is her North Star -- following his lead, she's always found her surest and most graceful footing as an actress.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Casey Affleck is both the soul and the anchor of the movie.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of the most inventive and joyous movies of the year.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    People who love typewriters--you know who you are--shouldn't tap the space bar once, let alone twice, before rushing to see Doug Nichol's agile, deeply affectionate documentary California Typewriter. But anyone who loves machines, poetry or, better yet, the poetry of machines should see it too.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Dickinson is superb at tracing that veiled anguish, and Hittman--who wrote and directed the 2013 film It Felt Like Love--is a discreet and sympathetic guide to his fractured world.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    A work of astonishing delicacy and force, a tone poem about the Frankenstein jolts that all of us, at one time or another, have to live through.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Inherent Vice isn't the towering masterpiece that those who admired There Will Be Blood and The Master were probably hoping for, and thank God for that. It's loose and free, like a sketchbook, though there's also something somber and wistful about it — it feels like less of a psychedelic scramble than the novel it's based on.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a graceful and enveloping feat of filmmaking.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Demme, following in the footsteps of the late Louis Malle, takes a spare, direct approach to the material -- his economy pays off in quiet eloquence.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Anguished, beautiful and desperately alive, Oldboy is a dazzling work of pop-culture artistry.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    An affectionate, exuberant picture that seeks to bring even those who don't know Klingon from Portuguese into the embrace of a pop-culture phenomenon.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Peck captures all that’s galvanizing and forceful about Baldwin’s words and demeanor.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Dior and I is a great fashion movie, but it's also a superb picture about the art of management, applicable to any field.

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