Stephen Holden
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For 1,926 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 The Waiting Room
Lowest review score: 0 Whipped
Score distribution:
1,926 movie reviews
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    Throughout We Were Here there is not a hint of mawkishness, self-pity or self-congratulation. The humility, wisdom and cumulative sorrow expressed lend the film a glow of spirituality and infuse it with grace.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    Gideon’s Army is a bare film with no narrator and a minimal soundtrack. That’s all it needs to grab you by the throat.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    A film that has the sweep and esthetic power of a full-length ballet.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    Extraordinary labor of love.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    My Perestroika gives you a privileged sense of learning the history of a place not from a book but from the people who lived it. Watching it is a little like attending a party in an unfamiliar city and discovering the place's secrets from the guests.
    • 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.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    A virtuoso ensemble piece to rival the director's "Nashville" and "Short Cuts" in its masterly interweaving of multiple characters and subplots.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Recoing's performance is a sensitive portrayal of a man in the throes of an excruciating spiritual crisis.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    Post-Soviet Russia in Andrei Zvyagintsev's somber, gripping film Elena is a moral vacuum where money rules, the haves are contemptuous of the have-nots, and class resentment simmers. The movie, which shuttles between the center of Moscow and its outskirts, is grim enough to suggest that even if you were rich, you wouldn't want to live there.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    Sustains a documentary authenticity that is as astonishing as it is offhand. Even when you're on the edge of your seat, it never sacrifices a calm, clear-sighted humanity for the sake of melodrama or cheap moralizing.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    If there's one movie that ought to be studied by military and civilian leaders around the world at this treacherous historical moment, it is The Fog of War, Errol Morris's sober, beautifully edited documentary portrait of the former United States defense secretary Robert S. McNamara.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    Mr. Ledger magically and mysteriously disappears beneath the skin of his lean, sinewy character. It is a great screen performance, as good as the best of Marlon Brando and Sean Penn.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    The evenness of its emotional pitch almost incidentally helps the film become an unusually deep exploration of sports, machismo and the competitive spirit.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    A magnificent conjuring act, an eerie historical mirage.
    • 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.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    A small miracle of a film.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    In the words of Mr. Kramer: "The government didn't get us the drugs. No one else got us the drugs. We, Act Up, got those drugs out there. That is the proudest achievement that the gay population of this world can ever claim."
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    When a film as profoundly quiet as In the Bedroom comes along, it feels almost miraculous, as if a shimmering piece of art had slipped below the radar and through the minefield of commerce.
    • 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.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    May be the first Hollywood movie since Robert Altman's "Nashville" to infuse epic cinematic form with jittery new rhythms and a fresh, acid- washed palette.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    As Mark Li Ping-bing's beautiful cinematography observes the change of season, the movie becomes a broader meditation on rebirth, and how, in the language of T. S. Eliot, April, the month that stirs such hopes for the future, is also "the cruellest month" for awakening such keen desire.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    Like a deathbed dream it leapfrogs through Arenas's life, reconstructing crucial moments as a succession of bright, feverish illuminations.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    A singularly depressing film. In the face of such unrelieved, grinding poverty, hope fades.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Melancholy little gem of a movie.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    This remarkably terse movie doesn’t waste a word or an image. It refuses to linger over each little crisis its characters endure. And its detachment lends a perspective that widens the film’s vision of people reacting to events beyond their control.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    What lifts the film above many other high-minded documentaries dealing with poverty and the welfare cycle is this filmmaker's astounding empathy for both Diane and Love.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    What makes this exquisitely observed slice of American screen realism transcend itself is finally its moral sensibility.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    Clever, funny, wildly innovative film.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    The best way to enjoy The Intruder is to surrender to its poetry without demanding cut-and-dried explanations.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    A deeply personal film, and at times a touching one, it is a collection of fragments and memories artfully pieced into a quirky, captivating book of dreams.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    Scrupulously apolitical, The Waiting Room is the opposite of a polemic like Michael Moore's "Sicko." But by removing any editorial screen, it confronts you head-on with human suffering that a more humane and equitable system might help alleviate.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    In the Shadow of the Moon is such a morale booster. The power of its archival images hasn’t diminished with familiarity.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    An astonishing documentary of culture clash and the erasure of history amid China’s economic miracle.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 70 Stephen Holden
    One of the movie's dark running jokes is that everyone seems to speak a different language and has trouble communicating. The continual struggle of people to make themselves understood becomes a metaphor for the war itself.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    A thorny masterpiece.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    What appears on the screen has a starkness that is almost indelible.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Fowler may be the richest character of Mr. Caine's screen career. Slipping into his skin with an effortless grace, this great English actor gives a performance of astonishing understatement whose tone wavers delicately between irony and sadness.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    Eloquent, meticulously structured documentary -- Sober political and legal analysis alternates with grim first-hand accounts of torture and murder in a film that has the structure of a choral symphony that swells to a bittersweet finale.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    For all its eccentricities and technical quirks, Dracula is a compelling expressionistic work.
    • 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.
    • 83 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.
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    Belongs to a school of Central European surrealism that marries nightmarish horror with formal beauty.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    Brilliantly realized but bone-chillingly bleak.
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Until it goes haywire with the cabbage scene, Stray Dogs sustains a hypnotic intensity anchored in exquisite cinematography that portrays the modern industrial cityscape as a chilly wasteland.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    The movie maintains a refreshingly light touch in spinning a fable about individualism and conformity.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    The Magdalene Sisters would be too painful to watch if it didn't have a silver lining. Suffice it to say that it is possible to fly over this religious cuckoo's nest and remain free. All it takes is courage and the timely kindness of strangers.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    Mark Kendall’s quietly moving documentary, La Camioneta: The Journey of One American School Bus, is as modest and farsighted as its cast of Guatemalans who make a living resurrecting discarded American school buses.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    As the film's images accumulate, the movie becomes a sustained and ultimately refreshing meditation on surrender to the idea of temporality.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Beautifully written and acted, Tell No One is a labyrinth in which to get deliriously lost.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    Natalia Almada's eloquent documentary portrait of a sprawling graveyard in Culiacán, Mexico, in the northwestern state of Sinaloa. The rapidly expanding cemetery has become the burial ground of choice for the country's slain drug lords.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    Ron Howard's bittersweet adult comedy, Parenthood, lays out an entire catalogue of psychological stresses afflicting family life in white middle-class America, then asks if the rewards of being a parent are worth all the agony.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Stephen Holden
    It may sound facetious, but Winged Migration provides such an intense vicarious experience of being a flapping airborne creature with the wind in its ears that you leave the theater feeling like an honorary member of another species.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    A very funny for-kids-of-all-ages delight that should catapult Mr. Black straight to the top of the A-list of Hollywood funnymen.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    It is impossible not to be fired up by Kurt Kuenne's incendiary cri de coeur, Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    The integrity of the film, whose directorial team has collaborated on numerous Belgian documentaries, extends to its sad final moments, in which nothing is left neat and tidy.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The most remarkable achievement of the film is its presentation of Lilya's story as both an archetypal case study and a personal drama whose spunky central character you come to care about so deeply that you want to cry out a warning at each step toward her ruination.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Ms. Hunt's eye for detail has the precision of a short story writer's. She misses nothing.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    Drugstore Cowboy, Gus Van Sant Jr.'s glum, absorbing film about a clan of heroin addicts who travel around the Pacific Northwest Looting pharmacies of their supplies the way Bonnie and Clyde cleaned out banks, gives Matt Dillon the role of his career.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    Powerful and very bitter comedy.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The sweet, solemn music of George Harrison, who died two years ago, has rarely sounded more majestic than in the sweeping performances of the enlarged star-studded band that gathered in London at Royal Albert Hall on Nov. 29 to commemorate his legacy.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    So verbally dexterous and visually innovative that you can't absorb it unless you have all your wits about you. And even then, you may want to see it again to enjoy its subtle humor and warm humanity.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    Gonzalo Arijón’s documentary offers an incontrovertible argument for the necessity of team spirit in the face of catastrophe.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    A documentary necessarily conveys a point of view, and although Mr. Wiseman, as is his wont, is neither seen nor heard in a film that proceeds without commentary or subtitles, his spirit is palpable. Without overtly editorializing, the film quietly and steadfastly champions state-funded public education available to all.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    As these tumultuous events play out in the film... they generate the suspense of a smaller-scale "Seven Days in May."
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    By surrendering any semblance of rationality to create a post-Freudian, pulp-fiction fever dream of a movie, Mr. Lynch ends up shooting the moon with Mulholland Drive.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    With its free-floating imagery, Elena unfolds like a cinematic dream whose central image is water, which symbolizes the washing away of grief. But more than that, it represents the stream of life, with beautiful images of women floating through time.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    Brilliant, maddeningly enigmatic puzzle of a movie.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    Invites you to contemplate the symbolic vibration of every hue in its teeming, overcrowded canvas.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    As operatic cinema, it ranks alongside the best of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    The son's search is one of three strands of a story that the movie weaves into a meticulously structured portrait of a complicated man who remains elusive even after key elements of the puzzle have been pieced together.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    Ms. Kidman, in a performance of astounding bravery, evokes the savage inner war waged by a brilliant mind against a system of faulty wiring that transmits a searing, crazy static into her brain.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    Several times while watching the movie I laughed until the tears were running down my face.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    There is not a decent (or even half-decent) male character to be found in Chaos, a gripping feminist fable with a savage comic edge.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Stephen Holden
    Bad Education is a voluptuous experience that invites you to gorge on its beauty and vitality, although it has perhaps the darkest ending of any of the films by the Spanish writer and director.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The concert scenes find the stage awash in such intense joy, camaraderie and nationalist pride that you become convinced that making music is a key to longevity and spiritual well-being.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    By showing how fiercely dedicated idealists are making a difference, it is a call to arms.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 Stephen Holden
    A respectful portrait of General Dallaire, now retired, who comes across as a thoughtful, resolute but profoundly shaken man, more philosopher than warrior.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    The man who emerges is a likable, unpretentious musical enthusiast and roll-up-your-sleeves problem-solver who apparently led a charmed life.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    Junebug envelops us in texture of a world the movies rarely visit.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Stephen Holden
    Because federal indictments for conspiracy to murder have yet to be handed down, the documentary is necessarily discreet about naming names and detailing its evidence. A sequel would go a long way toward solving the documentary's many unanswered questions.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 Stephen Holden
    In Ms. Irving's affectionate film, Mr. Bittner is more of a sage than a deadbeat.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Stephen Holden
    The kind of movie that seduces you into becoming putty in its manipulative card-sharking hands and making you enjoy being taken in by its shameless contrivance.