Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com
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For 1,010 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 45% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 53% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 0.8 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Stephanie Zacharek's Scores

  • Movies
Average review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 Pride & Prejudice
Lowest review score: 0 Over Her Dead Body
Score distribution:
1,010 movie reviews
    • 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.
    • 98 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a true fairy tale, and one of the finest fantasy pictures ever made, but please do not take your young children to see it unless you want them to be scarred for life.
    • 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.
    • 95 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture feels weirdly, and disappointingly, disjointed, something that starts out as poetry and ends as product.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's so much dreamy beauty in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that it's almost like a narcotic.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Speaks to the teenager in all of us.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    There are epic impulses everywhere you look in There Will Be Blood; what's missing is character development, focused storytelling and, most significantly (apart from that terrific opening sequence), any sense of raw, intuitive drama.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    I see it as nearly perfect: It's one of the best fantasy pictures ever made.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Chomet bows to the tradition of conventional animation even as he tests its limits.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mirren's performance is glorious: Rather than impersonate the queen -- which would have been all too easy to do -- she reaches deeper to locate the buried, calcified thoughts and feelings that might guide this deeply inscrutable woman.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie has a crispness about it, an unwillingness to succumb to sentimentality.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's all beautiful, all right. But before long I began to feel beaten against the rocks of that beauty -- Finding Nemo smacks of looky-what-I-can-do virtuosity, and after the first 10 minutes or so, it's exhausting.
    • 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.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Incredibles has that rare quality of feeling modern and classic at the same time.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Like rock 'n' roll itself, the movie's really all about girls. Even when -- no, especially when -- it's pretending not to be.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    A narrative picture with many of the qualities of a documentary, not to mention a comic book -- is one of those rare, inventively made movies that isn't so taken with its own novelty it loses sight of its characters. Its warmth is for real, and it enwraps you.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Isn't much more than marvelous entertainment -- but then, that's a lot right there.
    • 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?
    • 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.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a graceful and enveloping feat of filmmaking.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a teasingly complex political thriller, but it's also a sort-of romance.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Represents a failure of nerve: As if Gondry and Kaufman weren't sure that the story of Joel and Clementine would hold us, the doomed couple's unfolding-in-reverse romance is intercut with a subplot filled with zany touches.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Eastwood is so busy humanizing Japanese soldiers that he ends up rewriting history.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Although there's plenty of music, and plenty of joy, in Once, it's ultimately a quiet, wistful picture.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    While the filmmaking overall suffers from a kind of tasteful, low-key blandness, Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of Capote keeps the blood coursing through it. He's the bright, chilling spot of color at the center of an otherwise beige movie.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sordi is an elegant comic actor in the vein of America's William Powell; the world may confound him, but it can never rumple him.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Up
    Save for a few inspired canine gags and a handful of very pretty visual details, Up left me cold. Its charms appear to have been applied with surgical precision; by the end, I felt expertly sutured, but not much else.
    • 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.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Takes great pains to be a compassionate love story; but the filmmaking itself, self-consciously restrained and desiccated, is inert and inexpressive.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    So intrinsically rich that it doesn't need any metaphors.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Gripping, and it's moving, but it isn't particularly subtle. There's a strong thread of tabloid drama running through its core -- but at least it's sensationalistic storytelling with a heart.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Talk to Her is much better than Almodóvar's "bad" movies. But it never soars as freely as his best ones do -- it has a very trim, manicured wingspan.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Whatever allure The Son has lies in its very remoteness, in its resolute refusal to show us all but the most delicate emotional vibrations. It also moves very sluggishly.
    • 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.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    His (Miyazaki) stories, and often his character design, just leave me cold. I know I'm supposed to be magically transported by his fanciful tales and his whimsical grandiosity, but they make me listless.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Smolders with more reserved passion than "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The group's members come off more like real musicians than parodists.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Heart of Gold is a sweet, gentle picture, if not a particularly exhilarating one.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    Exhilarating and exhausting, the kind of picture you don't bounce back from immediately. Yet its elusiveness is the very source of its poetic energy.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    May not hit every note perfectly, but the picture they've come up with is full-bodied and intelligent.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is so dramatically textured that you feel something's happening every minute.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    The magic of Summer Hours is that even in its elusiveness, it gives us something to hang onto.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Am I alone in thinking that computer animation is the work of the antichrist?
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Together is the kind of picture that makes you feel that there are many good reasons to actually LIKE mankind.
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    It is a very expensive-looking, very flashy entertainment, albeit one that groans under the weight of clumsy storytelling in the second half and features some of the most godawful dialogue this side of "Attack of the Clones."
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    In the Loop is clever and lively, but it isn't sharp or nasty enough to cut very deep; at best it's just a peppery trifle.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Something of an odd bird, a cross between a documentary, an art film and a personal reflection on aging.
    • 83 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    A modest and tightly focused picture, and its very directness makes it piercingly intimate.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    A lush, modern valentine to old-fashioned sentiment, and to old-fashioned moviemaking, too.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 87 Stephanie Zacharek
    I recently heard someone describe Gloria as a midlife-crisis drama, which stunned me. In the most convenient terms, I guess that’s what it is. But what Lelio and Garcia pull off here is so delicate and sturdy that it defies such easy categorization.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Unlike so much contemporary horror, it's devoid of sadism and mean-spiritedness. The looseness Raimi allows himself here results in an especially joyous kind of filmmaking, the sort where the filmmaker's delight in scaring us (and making us laugh) becomes part of the movie's fabric.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Comes off not as topical but as opportunist. The picture is brushed with a fine glaze of slickness, a product sealed in a blister pack. It's like airplane air -- it has a packaged freshness that isn't really fresh at all.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture throws off no feeling, not even the misanthropic kind; at best, it manages a dull, throbbing energy, as if Burton were dutifully pushing his way through the material instead of shaping it.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Venus belongs to O'Toole. This is, hands down, my favorite performance of the year, largely because I love the way O'Toole (and the filmmakers) refuse to yield to the all-too-pervasive idea that it's "icky" for old people to even think about sex.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Intelligent, visually rich filmmaking.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Blissful, blazingly intelligent adaptation.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephanie Zacharek
    Birds are not just the movie's stars, but its whole universe. They inspire in Perrin and his crew, and in us, not just awe but humility. You'll never look at them the same way again.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Has so much going for it -- including intelligent performances that mesh beautifully, and a keen understanding of how seemingly small moments can rattle the foundations of families -- that you walk away from it feeling it should add up to more.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    In her adaptation of The Namesake, Mira Nair hits it right at least half the time. In places, the movie feels aimless and misshapen; it doesn't have the gentle but focused energy of Lahiri's book. And sometimes Nair goes overboard in heightening the cultural contrasts -- the inevitable incongruities between East and West -- that Lahiri navigates so subtly.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of the greatest fantasy films of all time.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture may end a little too breezily, but Demme knows we have to be left with some hope for these wandering souls. Someday, they'll find their way home; it just may not be the same thing as going home.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Nolan may want us to believe in the darkness that lurks within each of us, but instead of leading us to it visually, he chops it up and sets it out in front of us, a grim, predigested banquet.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    As lively and entertaining as Juno is, Reitman and Cody have also done the work of shaping the story into something emotionally direct, unsparing and generous.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Stephanie Zacharek
    Magnificent and heartfelt.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 83 Stephanie Zacharek
    No
    No is anything but a somber political tract; it’s a little bit of a thriller, and more than a little bit of a comedy.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Stephanie Zacharek
    At once deeply affectionate and sharply observed: There's never anything smart-alecky about Wright's approach as a director.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 83 Stephanie Zacharek
    A true New York City movie, alive every minute. There’s some Woody Allen in its veins, but it’s driven more by the free-for-all spirit you find in pictures like Peter Sollett’s 2002 “Raising Victor Vargas” and Spike Lee’s 1986 “She’s Gotta Have It.”
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Whatever Aronofsky did -- or didn't -- do, Rourke's performance comes off beautifully. The Wrestler may not be the "best" Aronofsky movie in any technical sense. But the director clearly feels a great deal of tenderness toward his lead character.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Travolta, looking believably pretty and sweet under layers of fondant Latex, is a wholly different incarnation of Edna. And he's not bad. But that right there is the problem with Hairspray: It's all so "not bad" that it isn't nearly enough, even when Shankman and his cast work hard to send it soaring over the top.