Stephen Holden
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For 2,026 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 1.8 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Stephen Holden's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 Gosford Park
Lowest review score: 0 Hemingway's Garden of Eden
Score distribution:
2,026 movie reviews
    • 84 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.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    The connections made in Photographic Memory are more tentative than those found in Mr. McElwee's earlier films, which also seek answers in roundabout ways while maintaining an acute eye for light, color, space and atmosphere.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    Eureka never comes to life. -- In pursuing its aesthetic agenda so single-mindedly, the movie leaves the characters behind in the muck.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Almost in spite of itself, The House of Mirth is powerful, at times even moving.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    Despite its hip, off-center style and pointed de-glamorization of its singles, the movie adds up to little more than feel-good fluff.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Instead of feeling universal, the movie feels claustrophobic.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    The Hunt doesn’t know where to stop. It is undermined with a short, unsatisfying epilogue whose shocking final moment isn’t enough to justify its inclusion.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 40 Stephen Holden
    A surprisingly unpolished piece of work that plays as though it were written for the stage and only slightly modified for the screen.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Throughout the film there is an abundance of sumptuously photographed flesh on view. But House of Pleasures is not an erotic stimulant so much as a slow-moving, increasingly tragic and claustrophobic operatic pageant set almost entirely in the brothel.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    The film fails to convey the claustrophobic terror experienced by a man who called his book "Letters From Hell."
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Settles for being an atmospheric scenes-in-the-life biography of someone's most unforgettable character. It could have been so much more.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Mendelsohn's fusion of science fiction and Chekhovian melancholy finds a fresh perspective on a familiar theme.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 40 Stephen Holden
    Narco Cultura feels like two short films sandwiched together to make a feature. One is a shallow pop-music documentary focusing on Mr. Quintero. The other is an equally superficial portrait of the embattled Ciudad Juárez, across the border from El Paso.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Like most documentary polemics, it simplifies the issues it confronts and selects facts that bolster its black-and-white, heroes-and-villains view of raw economic power.
    • The New York Times
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    The movie is an amusing ball of fluff that refuses to judge its characters’ amoral high jinks. Winking at the vanity of wealthy voluptuaries and hustlers playing games of tainted love, it heaves a sigh and says welcome to the human comedy.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    It's all so seamy, sordid, lurid and shocking! And dull, despite a noirish gloss of wide-angle cinematography and a jaundiced, smoggy color scheme.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    What does it all mean? Less than meets the eye. Amer is a voluptuous wallow in recycled psychosexual kitsch.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Fallen Angels certainly abounds in visual pizazz, clever in jokes and trendy pop references, but such things can carry a movie only so far.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    A small, mildly entertaining documentary.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    If Divan is often fascinating, it is sometimes frustrating.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    The movie is so busy constructing its labyrinthine plot that it often forgets to plumb the souls of its characters.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Throughout Grbavica the desire to forget and the need to remember are at loggerheads. At Sara’s school the psychological wounds of the war are being handed down to her generation through the separation of heroes and nonheroes. Fathers pass their weapons down to their sons. Even as you leave a war behind, you bring it with you.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Though less reassuring and not as dramatically coherent as "Hotel Rwanda," it still packs a hard punch.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Keeps its claws carefully retracted. That's probably for the best, since the documentary still leaves a bitter aftertaste.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    For all its sensitivity to the subject, The Farewell Party makes a number of tonal missteps of which the most glaring is the insertion of a musical number that upsets the movie’s otherwise sensible balance between the comedic and the morbid.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Instead of seriously investigating corruption, money laundering and the buying of politicians, Manda Bala would rather spend its time showing slimy brown frogs slithering over one another as they are dumped from one container into another.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    If it's all very clever for a teen-age film, it also feels terribly forced.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    If the film's sentiments about the madness of war are impeccably high-minded, why then does Joyeux Noël, an Oscar nominee for best foreign-language film, feel as squishy and vague as a handsome greeting card declaring peace on earth?
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Life of Riley is neither especially profound nor riotously funny. An element of caricature is palpable in the performances but restrained.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    A sly retrospective exercise in corporate self-congratulation masquerading as an insider’s tell-all.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    This loose-jointed ensemble comedy is funny in a squirm-inducing way.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    Polite, detached documentary in which there are no highs or lows. Politically and emotionally, the movie's thermostat remains at medium cool.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    This modest film observes evacuees from Futaba, a small town near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, making do in their temporary shelter. Partly because this version of the movie was drastically edited to 96 minutes from 145, it feels sketchy and disjointed.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    As much as the story, based on a novel by Emmanuèle Bernheim, has the irresistible earmarks of the kind of high-toned bodice-ripper at which the French excel, its cinematic realization is oddly gawky and tepid.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    As it abruptly crosscuts among the five friends, it fails to lend the characters' individual stories enough dramatic resonance to make us care about them.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Part character study, part crime thriller, Bullhead is the impressive but deeply flawed first feature written and directed by Michael R. Roskam.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    Watching the movie is a little like gorging on chocolate and Champagne until that queasy moment arrives when you realize you’ve consumed far too much.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    A liability of Casino Jack is the relative absence of its subject.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    A film of noble intentions that eventually wears out its welcome.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    This modest, unassuming documentary about an illegal Mexican immigrant living in San Francisco is a case study of a life defined by poverty.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    [A] shallow but enjoyable all-American morality play.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    However persuasively acted, this mélange of cinéma vérité, slapstick and murder - whose story has a lot in common with the recent Australian gangster film "Animal Kingdom" - has too many narrative gaps for its pieces to cohere satisfactorily.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    As Maria crumples before our eyes, many will find Stations of the Cross heartbreaking and infuriating. Others may laugh out loud at her mother, a walking nightmare of pious, punishing rectitude.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 40 Stephen Holden
    May be as exhaustive a study of one man's midlife crisis as has ever been brought to the screen. But as the movie lopes along, exhaustive becomes exhausting.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Kisses may strike you as either ingeniously magical or insufferably cute, depending on your taste. But more than the story, which circles back on itself, the natural performances of its young stars, Shane Curry and especially Kelly O'Neill, nonprofessional actors, lend the movie a core of integrity.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Honeydripper is agreeable, well-intentioned and very, very slow. Sadly, it illustrates the difference between an archetype and a stereotype. When the first falls flat, it turns into the other and becomes a cliché.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    The cinematic equivalent of sampling goodies from a spartan tastings menu in which the entrees, desserts and appetizers are confusingly jumbled together.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 40 Stephen Holden
    It has the loose-jointed feel of a bunch of sketches packed together into a narrative that doesn't gather much momentum. Its conspiratorial eager beavers are so undeveloped that they could hardly even be called types. You don't care for a second what happens to them.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    The Galapagos Affair would be a much stronger film were it not padded with the dull reminiscences and speculation of the settlers’ descendants.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    The shallowness of this idealized depiction of European cultural homogeneity is largely camouflaged by the comfortable fit of its director's sensibility with the actors' likable, lived-in performances. An apt alternative title for Russian Dolls might be "Lovers Without Borders."
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    The unabashedly sentimental film is a juicy morsel for the great British actress Dame Joan Plowright, who endows Mrs. Palfrey with stoic charm and decency.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Rachid Bouchareb's tidy little two-character film, London River, demonstrates how great acting can infuse a banal, politically correct drama with dollops of emotional truth.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    As both an actor and a playwright, Wallace Shawn, at his most audacious, goes for the jugular, but in sneaky roundabout ways.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    It's a good thing the movie has so little dialogue, because when it talks, the words dilute its almost surreal visual spell, and the fructose turns to saccharine.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    It is left for Mr. Heidbreder to offer the fanciest rationalization for their addiction. Asked whether the movies are a substitute for life, he rejects the suggestion that their behavior is pathological and declares that film itself "is a form of living."
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Once Price Check darkens, it loses its comic footing, along with its nerve, and becomes a wishy-washy potpourri of elements that fail to mesh: backing away from its satirical potential, it sputters toward an evasive and unsatisfying ending. Ms. Posey, however, blithely sails above the fray.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    The beauty of the landscape and the monk’s sweetness, humility and good humor evoke a plane of existence, at once elevated and austere, that is humbling to contemplate. That said, Unmistaken Child offers no scholarly perspective on Tibetan Buddhism and leaves fundamental questions unanswered.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    What began as a reasonably hardheaded look at profound and rapid cultural change turns into a feel-good fantasy of salvation.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    As an outcry against the forcible conscription of children into armies around the world, Innocent Voices, is an honorable film. But as a balanced portrait of a tragic civil war, it is simplistic and opaque.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    The impact of these stories is not in the words but in the way the mood, texture and the acting build each situation into a visually intense parable about the similarity of spiritual, erotic and aesthetic aspiration.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 40 Stephen Holden
    Veering wildly between farce and suds, the movie never makes up its mind whether it's a spoof, a soap opera or a feminist pep talk.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Watching it is like receiving a hard slap in the face from someone who expects you to laugh it off, even though the sting lingers.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    Despite some pretty seasonal photography and evocative scenes of the nuns’ rigorous daily rituals, which involve many hours of prayer, The Monastery is a flighty, disorganized film with a blurry timeline and a wandering attention span.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    A cinematic tasting menu consisting entirely of amuse-bouches. After two hours of such tidbits the palate is sated. But if there is no need for a main course, you still leave feeling vaguely disappointed at not being served one.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    With its dearth of substance and its wandering focus, this is a middlebrow bodice-ripper posing as an epic that hasn’t the foggiest idea of what it wants to say.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    Retooled into a sleek pop fable that doesn't bother to connect all its dots, the movie aspires to fuse the mystical intellectual gamesmanship of "2001: A Space Odyssey" with the love-beyond-the-grave romantic schmaltz of "Titanic," without losing its cool. It's a tricky balancing act that doesn't quite come off.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Quietly inflammatory film.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    West, for all its intensity, becomes too bogged down in detail to be as strong as it might have been.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    The wonder is that The Great Debaters transcends its own simplifying and manipulative ploys; it radiates nobility of spirit.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    Ms. Montenegro's rough-hewn integrity is the one quality that ennobles The Other Side of the Street, an otherwise confused mixture of cat-and-mouse thriller and sentimental old folks' love story that is well below the level of "Central Station."
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Probably the first romantic drama ever narrated by a smelly dead fish.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    The movie jolts you with the realization that the AIDS epidemic and the public debate about such issues have retreated so far under the news radar as to be half-forgotten.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    Despite the humanity and courage exhibited by the members of Exit, the film is inescapably grim.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Softening that apocalyptic undercurrent is a counter-strain of quiet nobility.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Uplifting it may be, but to swallow it whole is to believe in happily ever after.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    Although Maxed Out would like to be this year’s "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," it doesn’t measure up. "Enron" was a stronger film because its focus was specific, the personalities under its microscope were outsize, and its story had a beginning, middle and end. Maxed Out, which has no narrator, gathers facts, opinions and impressions and tosses them into a blender. And its story is still unfinished.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    Because The Matador sustains a tone of screwball insouciance and keeps its trump card hidden up its sleeve, it must be counted as a well-made comic thriller. That doesn't mean it has any depth, credibility or artistic value beyond its capacity to divert.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    An uproariously dizzy satire...Hedaya has created the year's funniest film caricature.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Everything that happens in the last half-hour betrays the canny, hardheaded perspective of what came before.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    For all its untidiness, Washington Heights teems with life, and its star, Mr. Perez, has charisma to burn. The movie vividly depicts the interdependence and solidarity of people in working-class urban neighborhoods where residents really need one another.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    [An] incisive, queasy-making documentary.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    The movie’s extreme compression is its biggest failing. The business end is so minimally sketched, you are left wanting to know a lot more.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    Like most movies that examine specific ailments, this gawky, occasionally touching film has the feel of a dramatized case history whose purpose is to educate as much as it is to tell a story.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    Dramatically Joe the King feels unglued, as if crucial sequences had been left on the cutting-room floor.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    As inspiring as it is, Doing Time, Doing Vipassana is too sweet for its own good; it plays like a spiritual infomercial.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Behind the film's brass knuckles are tender fingers. Why else would Goon use music from Puccini's "Turandot" to underscore critical dramatic moments?
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    The chemistry between the two is as old as Abbott and Costello. Harold is the sensible worried one, and Kumar zany and reckless. The movie's funniest moments, set at Princeton University, caricature and then demolish the image of Asian-Americans as nerdy, sexless bookworms incapable of fun.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    For all its bleakness, the movie, filmed in nearly a dozen states and in half a dozen countries, is not without a certain beauty. There is comfort to be found in blandness and homogeneity.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 40 Stephen Holden
    You really can't hang a drama on a mathematical theory and expect it to serve as a shortcut for storytelling.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    An incisive but static and occasionally confusing character study of Lucy Fowler, a disheveled, hard-drinking single woman who has a day job as a contractor and a dissolute night life.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    Although it leaves you with a knot in your stomach, its power is undercut by its own head-banging obviousness.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    If Conan O'Brien Can't Stop is consistently watchable, it isn't especially funny, nor does it give any deeper insight into its star than you might get from seeing his late-night shows.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    Best approached as an admiring portrait of a likable, creative powerhouse at midcareer. No disapproving voices interrupt the stream of praise for his politics and his art. Mr. Kushner’s place in the history of American theater and in American culture, in general, is left unexamined. These are subjects well worth exploring in another, deeper film.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    If the movie has loads of nerve, its ambitious fusion of cartoons and live-action comedy is only fitfully amusing.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    If The Imperialists Are Still Alive! doesn't go much of anywhere despite its peripatetic characters, that stasis seems intentional.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 40 Stephen Holden
    Like "The Sixth Sense," He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not reaches for a crowning final twist, but in this case it falls flat.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    Leaves a sour aftertaste since it's obvious that the filmmaker's intrusion on these unhappy people, fictional or not, only further worsens their discomfort and their difficulty communicating.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    The insensitivity of the news media and law enforcement is an implicit acknowledgment of the gap between men and women on the issue; in the film's view men just don't get it. And the submerged rage that wells up in Nira and Lily is boiling hot. The film is less successful in depicting their personal lives.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Stephen Holden
    A film divided against itself. The more the cat-and-mouse game between prisoner and reporter points it in the direction of "The Silence of the Lambs," the closer it inches toward the sort of exploitation it condemns; for me, that's too close for Crónicas to be taken without a big grain of salt.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Stephen Holden
    As gamely as the movie tries to make sense of its title character, there remains a huge gap between the film's creepy, clean-cut Dahmer (Jeremy Renner) and fiendish acts that no amount of earnest textbook psychologizing can bridge.

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