Stephen Holden
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For 1,995 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 1.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Stephen Holden's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 About Elly
Lowest review score: 0 Whipped
Score distribution:
1,995 movie reviews
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    It succeeds at showing how one man's psychic wounds contributed to an art that transmutes personal pain into garish visual satire.
    • 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.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Audacious as it is, the movie is also a little scary.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Beautifully written and acted, Tell No One is a labyrinth in which to get deliriously lost.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    A brave film simply for daring to portray a nightmare lurking in the minds of middle-aged workers, people who might fear a film that addresses their insecurities this bluntly.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Ms. Hunt's eye for detail has the precision of a short story writer's. She misses nothing.
    • 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.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    A misanthropic dentist, a roguish ghost and a zany Egyptologist: as these unlikely companions scamper around Manhattan in the buoyant comedy Ghost Town, they resurrect the spirits of classic movie curmudgeons like W. C. Fields and such romantic comedians as Cary Grant and Carole Lombard in Woody Allen territory.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    In the manner of a Satyajit Ray film, The Pool avoids melodrama, the better to capture the texture of Venkatesh's vagabond life.
    • 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.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    A wrenching, richly layered feminist allegory as well as a geopolitical one.
    • 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.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    More than an indelible portrait of a sociopath with the soul of a zombie, Tony Manero is an extremely dark meditation on borrowed cultural identity.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The movie’s unblinking observation of a friendship put to the test is amused, queasy making, kindhearted and unfailingly truthful.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Mr. Malkovich is one of the few actors capable of conveying genuine intellectual depth.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Not a horror movie but a witty, expertly constructed psychological thriller.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    A slender Chekhovian vignette about the joys and regrets of old age and the pleasures of sociability.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Like its would-be lovers, Wild Grass chases itself in circles as it scrambles genres, examining seeing, thinking, remembering and imagining with a zany awareness. In Georges's words: "After the cinema nothing surprises you. Everything is possible."
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    One of the rare documentaries you leave wishing it was a little bit longer.
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The film's depiction of the raw fear lurking below the brothers' braggadocio is the most pronounced emotion in a movie whose focus on the personalities of its criminals suggests an Australian answer to "Goodfellas," minus the wise-guy humor.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    It makes for continuously riveting, visceral entertainment that evokes a Gallic "Scarface" without the drugs.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The story is deepened with a distinctively European political subtext as the increasingly grandiose Mesrine engages in a running dialogue with various characters about the differences between gangsters and revolutionaries.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    By showing how fiercely dedicated idealists are making a difference, it is a call to arms.
    • 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    A Jim Carrey movie all the way: a good one, I might add. With his manic glare, ferociously eager smile, hyperkinetic body language and talent for instant self-transformation, Mr. Carrey has rarely been more charismatic on the screen.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The movie is realistic enough to make all corporate climbers, but especially men over 50, quake in their boots. If you are what you do, what are you if you're no longer doing it?
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    If Hadewijch is Mr. Dumont's most overtly religious film, it is not pro-faith in any specific way, although the director clearly respects the religious impulse.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    One of the most sophisticated dog movies ever created.
    • 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
    Above all How I Ended This Summer is a merciless contemplation of the fragile human psyche under siege.
    • 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.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Putty Hill doesn't strive for overt social commentary. It drops you into a world that the director, who grew up in the area, knows firsthand: a suburban fringe of stasis, downward mobility and lowered expectations.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami's delicious brain tickler, Certified Copy, is an endless hall of mirrors whose reflections multiply as its story of a middle-aged couple driving through Tuscany carries them into a metaphysical labyrinth.
    • 85 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Your religion or lack of one doesn't matter. At some point while watching the film, you may feel that music IS God, or if not, a close approximation of divinity.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The clammy chill that pervades The Hunter, the fourth feature film by the Iranian director Rafi Pitts, seeps under your skin as you wait for its grim, taciturn protagonist to detonate.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    A preternatural self-confidence and buoyancy infuse every syllable out of Ms. Channing's mouth in this entertaining film.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    This wisp of a movie doesn't pretend to be more than a series of disconnected vignettes in a moody story that sometimes seems invented on the spot. The boy, for all his eccentricities, is a healing spirit who, without realizing it, gives Rose the fortitude to face her problems and resume her old life, for better or for worse.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    In its unassuming way, this tiny, low-budget film is a universal reflection on issues of personal identity and choice for which there are no easy answers.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The Hunter never declares who is good or bad or right or wrong. And the implications of Martin's decision when the moment of truth finally arrives are left for the viewer to unravel.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Like no other film about middle school life that I can recall Monsieur Lazhar conveys the intensity and the fragility of these classroom bonds and the mutual trust they require.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Marley is a detailed, finely edited character study whose theme - Marley's bid to reconcile his divided racial legacy - defined his music and his life.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The film skillfully interweaves several strands to tell a true story with a happy ending.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Mr. Young's passionate cracked whine assumes an oracular power.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Bachelorette is more tartly written, better acted and less forgiving than male-centric equivalents like the "Hangover" movies.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Wavering between light comedy and drama with wonderfully natural performances, 17 Girls doesn't judge anyone's behavior.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The degree to which Smashed refuses to indulge a voyeuristic taste for the kind of sordid details exploited by reality television amounts to an unspoken declaration of principle. In lieu of self-pity, Smashed substitutes tough love.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Paul is not a sociopath like Tom Ripley, and the movie does not convey the same diabolical Hitchcockian sense of being manipulated by a slightly sadistic master puppeteer. As the story sprawls across the screen, it darts from one incident to the next as though it were inventing itself as it goes along.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    For all the alarming statistics cited in the film, Burn is not a depressing movie. The firefighters interviewed are remarkably resilient men who talk enthusiastically about the adrenaline rush of their work. And the film makes you thankful for members of this macho breed, who relish risking their lives to save others.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The glue holding the film together is Adam Newport-Berra's elegant hand-held cinematography, which captures changing shades of winter and the frightened faces in natural light with an astonishing intensity.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    By focusing on musicians who are talented but finally not good or persistent enough to succeed in the big time, Not Fade Away offers a poignant, alternative, antiheroic history of the big beat.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    There isn't a dishonest moment in Fairhaven, Tom O'Brien's piercing, wistful portrait of three longtime buddies in their mid-30s who reunite around a funeral in a southeastern Massachusetts fishing community.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The film sustains an air of overarching mystery in which the viewer, like the title character, is in the position of a sheltered child plunked into an alien environment and required to fend for herself without a map or compass.
    • 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.”
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Superstition, witchcraft, exorcism, talismans that ward off evil: in this land of the supernatural, irrationality prevails. But War Witch is so cleareyed that it makes you wonder how much more irrational this world is than the so-called civilized one under its camouflage of material wealth.
    • 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.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    An indelible, gripping documentary portrait.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The film ominously conveys a world of too much information but too little communication, where people have become slaves to glowing hand-held devices that were designed to make life easier but have made it busier and more complicated.
    • 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.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The movie takes no political positions. With an icy detachment, it peers through the fog of war and examines the slippery military intelligence on both sides to portray a world steeped in secrecy, deception and paranoia.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    [A] pessimistic, grimly outraged and utterly riveting documentary.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    This is a scary but inspiring film with real heroes and villains.
    • 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.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    A sardonic, smart screwball comedy.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Even through improbable moments and abrupt changes of pace and tone, Ms. Dench and Mr. Coogan hold the movie together.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Frozen, for all its innovations, is not fundamentally revolutionary. Its animated characters are the same familiar, blank-faced, big-eyed storybook figures. But they are a little more psychologically complex than their Disney forerunners.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Mr. Elba’s towering performance lends “Long Walk to Freedom” a Shakespearean breadth.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Instead of being contemptuous and sardonic, the portrait of inchoate adolescent longing in Paradise: Hope is poignant.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    On a deeper level, Shoot Me is an unflinchingly honest examination of a woman who is aware that the end is approaching.
    • 70 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.
    • 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
    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.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    That Borgman restrains itself from turning into a full-scale horror movie makes it all the more unsettling, although it has its bumpy moments.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    This is civilized human behavior captured with a clinical precision and accuracy.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    [A] small, beautifully made film.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Like its gyrating, spasmodic staccato beats, Get On Up refuses to stand still. It whirls and does splits and jumps, with leaps around in time and changes in tempo that are jarring and abrupt and that usually feel just right.
    • 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.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    It is the kind of hearty, blunt-force drama with softened edges that leaves audiences applauding and teary-eyed.

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