Stephen Holden

Select another critic »
For 2,186 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 50% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 47% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 3.2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Stephen Holden's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 The Waiting Room
Lowest review score: 0 Addicted to Love
Score distribution:
2186 movie reviews
    • 59 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The Playroom captures the malaise of mid-’70s suburbia with a merciless accuracy not seen since Ang Lee’s 1997 film, “The Ice Storm.”
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    This small, nearly perfect film is a reminder that personal upheavals are as consequential in people's lives as shattering world events.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    During this meticulously written and exquisitely acted film, you come to sense the bonds and the wounds binding three generations of Monopolis, who definitely love one another, but with reservations.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Time slows to a near-standstill as the film peers into humanity’s troubled soul, glimpsed through the individual faces, which sometimes appear to be studying us as intently as we are studying them.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    It is easily the finest American comedy since David O. Russell's "Flirting With Disaster," another road movie that never ran out of poignantly funny surprises.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    As the movie's frenetic visual rhythms and mood swings synchronize with the zany, adrenaline-fueled impulsiveness of its lost youth on the rampage, you may find yourself getting lost in this teeming netherworld.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Zero Days has a similarly balanced outlook along with a critical political viewpoint that avoids hysteria and demagogy. Its strongest protest is against what Mr. Gibney sees as the dangers of excessive American secrecy.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Mr. Hawke’s anguished performance gives Good Kill a hot emotional center.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The wistful, overarching theme is the passing of time in the lives of young adults, aware of growing older, who seek to ground themselves in relationships and work, but relationships most of all. The movie reminds you with a series of gentle nudges that whether you want it to or not, the future happens.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    We’re all familiar with the term contact high, but not with its antithesis. Because it is so believable, White Girl is a contact bummer that’s hard to shake.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    A Summer’s Tale has room to focus on Rohmer’s brilliance at revealing human nature through articulate, multidimensional characters, perfectly cast, who in some ways seem to exist outside of time.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The Fool is a hard movie to shake.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    You are left with an overall impression of a movie so full of life that it is almost bursting at the seams.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Instead of being contemptuous and sardonic, the portrait of inchoate adolescent longing in Paradise: Hope is poignant.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The movie's steady attention to detail lends it a texture rarely found in films about domestic life. Its eye and ear for the particular and for what is left unsaid in tense conversation is unerring.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Here the clinical, stopwatch precision of Mr. Tykwer's explorations of synchronicity and Kieslowski's warmer, metaphysically dreamy speculations about the role of chance and coincidence in human affairs synchronize into a film whose formal elegance is matched by its depth of feeling.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    There is nothing more enthralling than a good yarn, and Ten Canoes interweaves two versions of the same story, one filmed in black and white and set a thousand years ago, and an even older one, filmed in color and set in a mythic, prehistoric past.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    A slender Chekhovian vignette about the joys and regrets of old age and the pleasures of sociability.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Heavily seasoned with epigrams worthy of Oscar Wilde, this entertaining documentary portrays Vidal as a pessimistic political prophet with streaks of paranoia and misanthropy, but a truth teller nonetheless.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The movie’s eerie, climactic image challenges our conventional notions of human identity and leaves us reflecting on the possibility that every being in the universe is an alien in disguise.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Needlessly complicated, life already has more than enough petty dramas. Let It Rain may not be funny in a ha-ha sense, but it gave me an amused open-mouthed appreciation of life’s absurdities, including unanticipated nuisances like bad weather.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Time and again, Microbe and Gasoline risks cuteness without going overboard. Too easily taken for granted, its accomplishment is its ability to gaze steadily with warmth but minimal sentimentality at the world through unjaded 14-year-old eyes.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The New Girlfriend never pretends to be more than what it is, a delicious and frothy fantasia with a teasing erotic frisson.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    As La Ciénaga perspires from the screen, it creates a vision of social malaise that feels paradoxically familiar and new.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Blistering.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Testament of Youth, James Kent’s stately screen adaptation of the British author Vera Brittain’s 1933 World War I memoir, evokes the march of history with a balance and restraint exhibited by few movies with such grand ambitions.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The film's passionate insistence on remembrance lends it a moral as well as a metaphysical weight. Mr. Guzmán's belief in eternal memory is an astounding leap of faith.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The movie is an entirely absorbing, occasionally revelatory portrait of a brilliant talent driven to greatness by an inner chorus of demons and angels.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Few films have explored the human face this searchingly and found such complex psychological topography. That's why The Wings of the Dove succeeds where virtually every other film translation of a James novel has stumbled.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Its insistent zaniness makes Soul Kitchen very different in spirit from Mr. Akin's two previous films, "Head-On" and "The Edge of Heaven," which established him as a major European filmmaker. Seriously silly, it evokes the same high-spirited, pan-European multiculturalism in which people of all ages and backgrounds blithely traverse national borders as they aggressively pursue their destinies.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Buoyed by the wonderfully natural performances of its young leads, La Jaula de Oro is a compelling social-realist drama that owes much to the style of the British social-realist filmmaker Ken Loach.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The most gripping scene in this near-perfect little sports comedy is a fraternal arm-wrestling contest that reaches apoplectic intensity.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    This devastating film persuasively portrays them (Tillman family) as finer, more morally sturdy people than the cynical chain of command that lied to them and used their son as a propaganda tool.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    This calm, hardheaded film never sacrifices its toughness for a swooning, misty-eyed moment of hope.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    If you compared the two main characters with the cowboys in "Brokeback Mountain," they would be ignoble versions of Ennis del Mar (Jimmy) and Jack Twist (Lars). Like their American counterparts, they barely know what to do with their passion.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Mr. Elba’s towering performance lends “Long Walk to Freedom” a Shakespearean breadth.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    It is the kind of hearty, blunt-force drama with softened edges that leaves audiences applauding and teary-eyed.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    This coldly compelling film doesn't try to explain Michael's behavior or analyze his disease. As if doing penance for Michael's sins, it eventually metes out unequivocal punishment, but it is small consolation.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Focusing on the magazine and not its offshoots, the film is uproarious, not for what its many talking heads say but for its astonishing procession of brilliant, boundary-breaching illustrations and captions (augmented by some animation), many of which are as explosively funny today as they were when first published.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Recoing's performance is a sensitive portrayal of a man in the throes of an excruciating spiritual crisis.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The brilliant, sinister French thriller Red Lights is a twisty road movie in which every sign points toward catastrophe.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The humor bubbling through Finding Nemo is so fresh, sure of itself and devoid of the cutesy, saccharine condescension that drips through so many family comedies that you have to wonder what it is about the Pixar technology that inspires the creators to be so endlessly inventive.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    An indelible, gripping documentary portrait.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Methodically ticks off the forms of oppression visited on gays and lesbians in the days before the gay rights movement.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Ultimately lacks the epic dimension of "Y Tu Mamá También," but its vision of that awkward age when sex threatens to overwhelm everything else is acute enough to make everyone who has been there squirm with recognition.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    [A] small, beautifully made film.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Supremely entertaining.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    "We are not pickers of garbage; we are pickers of recyclable materials," Tião, an impoverished Brazilian catadore, or trash picker, declares to a talk-show host in Lucy Walker's inspiring documentary Waste Land.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Along the way, Paradise Now sustains a mood of breathless suspense. Politics aside, the movie is a superior thriller whose shrewdly inserted plot twists and emotional wrinkles are calculated to put your heart in your throat and keep it there.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Gives you the steady pulse of life in a beautiful city viewed through the eyes of a character who, in spite of tragic loss and increasing decrepitude, knows in his bones that he is one of the luckiest men alive.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Remarkable concert documentary.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Charles Ferguson’s latest documentary, Time to Choose, is a sobering polemic about global warming that balances familiar predictions of planetary doom with a survey of innovations in renewable energy technology that hold out some hope for the future.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    As the director of the documentary Shine a Light, Martin Scorsese is a besotted rock ’n’ roll fan who wholeheartedly embraces its mythology.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    A profound and provocative exploration of cultural inheritance, communications technology and the roots and morality of terrorism, the Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan nimbly wades into an ideological minefield without detonating an explosion.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Above all How I Ended This Summer is a merciless contemplation of the fragile human psyche under siege.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Together, however, they add up to a film that may be the closest movies have come to the cinematic equivalent of a collection of Chekhov short stories.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    A visual adventure worthy of that much degraded adjective, awesome.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    One of the rare documentaries you leave wishing it was a little bit longer.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Gathers you up on its white horse and gallops off into the sunset. Along the way, it serves a continuing banquet of high-end comfort food perfectly cooked and seasoned to Anglophilic tastes.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Audacious as it is, the movie is also a little scary.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Into the Woods, the splendid Disney screen adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical, infuses new vitality into the tired marketing concept of entertainment for “children of all ages.” That usually translates to mean only children and their doting parents. But with Into the Woods, you grow up with the characters, young and old, in a lifelong process of self-discovery.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The masterstroke of this small, heartfelt directorial debut (by Peter Care, from a screenplay by Jeff Stockwell) is its integration of animated sequences (by Todd McFarlane) in which action-adventure caricatures of the comic book characters parallel or comment on events in the boys' lives.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Ms. Zellweger accomplishes the small miracle of making Bridget both entirely endearing and utterly real.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    This is high-speed action realism carried off with the dexterity of a magician pulling a hundred rabbits out of a hat in one graceful gesture. The crowning flourish is an extended car chase through the streets and tunnels of Moscow that ranks as one of the three or four most exciting demolition derbies ever filmed.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    If the narrow biographical focus of “The Iceman” prevents it from being a great crime movie, on its own more modest terms it is an indelible film that clinches Mr. Shannon’s status as a major screen actor.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Wavering between light comedy and drama with wonderfully natural performances, 17 Girls doesn't judge anyone's behavior.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    How was this careless, self-destructive human rhythm machine able to outlast almost all her peers? Maybe the vitality of the jazz she made kept her alive. She was one tough lady.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    One of the juiciest male characters to pop up in an independent film this year.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The movie, like its subject, refuses to stir up unnecessary melodrama. There are many small conflicts and psychological undercurrents, but the closest thing to a narrative theme is the effect Andrée has on the Renoir household.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    In small but significant ways, Queen to Play defies expectations. It dangles the possibility of an affair between Hélène and Kröger in games that the film likens to courtship rituals in a classic screwball comedy.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Ruby Sparks doesn't try to pretend to be more than it is: a sleek, beautifully written and acted romantic comedy that glides down to earth in a gently satisfying soft landing.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Winter Sleepers has many such breathtaking moments in which sounds and images synergize with an explosive precision.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    More than in any of his previous films, Mr. Swanberg and his cast have refined a seemingly effortless style of semi-improvised storytelling so natural that it barely seems scripted. Life just happens.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The Namesake, adapted from Jhumpa Lahiri’s popular novel, conveys a palpable sense of people as living, breathing creatures who are far more complex than their words might indicate.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Family dynamics examined through the prism of art: The Woodmans, C. Scott Willis's compelling documentary study of an artistic clan whose comfortable life was shattered by the suicide of its youngest member, asks profound questions to which there really are no answers.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    [An] exquisite, beautifully shot meditation on love clouded by fear and doubt.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The film is a requiem for the living as well as for the dead.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    It would be comforting to imagine that The Optimists, Goran Paskaljevic's viciously funny gloss of Voltaire's "Candide," was a site-specific satire of this Serbian director's homeland in the post-Milosevic era.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    In juxtaposing two extraordinary personal histories, it ponders in a refreshingly original way unanswerable questions about memory, imagination, history and that elusive thing we call truth.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Valley of Saints finds a poignant humanity in this chaste romance, which awakens in Gulzar a wondrous sense of possibility, along with a new awareness of the world’s complexity.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Indignation might be dismissed as a small, exquisite period piece, but it is so precisely rendered that it gets deeply under your skin.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Although Ms. Berg’s enthralling film tells a story somewhat similar to “Amy,” Asif Kapadia’s recent documentary portrait of Amy Winehouse (who also died at 27), the demons that devoured Winehouse came from outside as much from within. Not so with Joplin.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Such an accomplished piece of filmmaking that it interweaves enough characters and themes to fill three movies.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The elegantly structured documentary weaves extensive footage of Mr. Bachardy rummaging through their house and reminiscing with readings from Isherwood's diaries by Michael York, old interviews with Isherwood, home movies of their travels and glamorous social life, and commentary by friends, including Leslie Caron and the British filmmaker John Boorman.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The film’s vision of a long-married couple keeping each other going with mutual love and support, and a shared resistance to outside interference, is more vital than a thousand movies populated by hot, squirming teenagers.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Sustains a perfect balance of pathos, humor and a clear-headed realism. One tiny misstep, and it could have tumbled into an abyss of tears.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    As the local boys (there are no girls) explore the natural world in summer, this gorgeously photographed movie bombards you with imagined scents of ripeness and decay.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    This is civilized human behavior captured with a clinical precision and accuracy.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    A magnificent conjuring act, an eerie historical mirage.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Much more than a perfectly realized vignette about seduction. It is the latest and most powerful dispatch yet from Ms. Breillat, France's most impassioned correspondent covering the war between the sexes.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    I'm Glad My Mother Is Alive is anything but the clichéd fantasy of a blissful mother-child reunion. Although there are hints of joy once they reconnect, the wounds are too deep, and the characters too complex.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Gathers riveting, rarely seen news clips from the era into a chronology that plays like a suspenseful police drama.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    One reason the film version of Terrence McNally's play Love! Valour! Compassion! is so moving is that this complicated group portrait never loses its slippery emotional footing.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    It Follows recycles familiar teenage horror tropes — a girl alone in a house, evil forces banging on a door — but its mood is dreamy. Seldom do you feel manipulated by exploitative formulas. The violence, when it comes, is sudden, and the camera doesn’t linger over the gore.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    With its casual deadpan attitude, Buzzard offers a nightmare portrait of arrested development and anomie for the age of inequality.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Scene by scene, The Rookie does a better job of capturing the rhythms and rituals of the playing field and the electricity that flows between a team and its fans than well-regarded baseball films like "Field of Dreams" and "The Natural."
    • 66 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    In its jagged style and tone Black Butterflies is as close to an inside-out view of Jonker's tumultuous life as a movie could go without sinking into chaos. Its hues are continuously changing, and the seaside weather around Cape Town reflects her tempestuous emotional life.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Splendidly panoramic. The scenes of Columbus's arrival and of his imperialist and religious sloganeering, and of the carnage he wreaks, have a grandeur and a force reminiscent of Terrence Malick films. The segments about the chaotic water riots have a documentary immediacy.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    A grim, suspenseful farce in which unpredictable human behavior repeatedly threatens an operation of astounding technological sophistication.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Looks and feels like a fever dream about an alternate universe. Suffused with a sense of wonder, it hovers, dancing inside its own ethereal bubble.

Top Trailers