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Are there certain instances where you can tell Bradley Cooper is a first time director? Sure, but it was still fantastic and Cooper is able to retell this story for a modern audience. I definitely felt the emotions of the movie and got teary eyed during the ending. So it accomplishes what it set out to do and it goes to show you why stories like this when they are well told work. More importantly though Cooper and Lady Gaga give performances almost certain to get nominations and probably win. Gaga portrays vulnerability very well. You can tell she is pulling a lot of her own emotions from her own life. And of course she is talented as always anytime she gets a chance to sing. Her chemistry with Cooper is one of the best things about this, which speaking of Cooper his performance is one of the best drunk acting performances I have ever seen. He even sounds drunk and it gets deeply uncomfortable at times. Cooper isn't afraid to showcase his ugly side to this so it especially helps it feel authentic. Along with the great music this becomes one of the best remakes of this story.
The Sisters Brothers (2019)
Westerns lately have been really awesome. The trailers for this made this seem like a comedy but it's much more sadder than the marketing led you believed. It also was really violent. A lot of that violence comes courtesy of the two leads. Joaquin Phoenix is a master at playing violent weirdos and he reveals a certain maniac nervous energy that really makes you feel for him. The whole cast was good but I think John C. Reilly was my favorite. This is a sad man who masks his depression with violence. Along with Jacques Audiard capturing some great shots, this was one of the year's best.
This felt like if David Fincher decided to make a comedy. It was a movie that knew how to put Jason Bateman's talents to good use and that Rachel McAdams is an underrated actress. The rest of the cast each gets good material with Jesse Plemons being especially hilarious as a creepy neighbor. John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein along with writer Mark Perez know how to balance the dark comedic moments where it doesn't ever get too dark or tonally off. Plemons character really could have easily been one note and used too much but the movie knows at the right moments to use him. There's also a ton of great shots in this and I liked how the shots of the city made it look like a board game. One of the more thrilling comedies to come out in a long time.
It has a lot of tropes and cliches of the romantic comedy genre but it's done well and the cast make it very charming. Just goes to show you why they work in the first place. Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, and Nico Santos were my favorite actors but everyone gets a chance to shine and there was no weak link among the cast. Jon M. Chu shoots this beautifully and you truly get the sense of just how wealthy this family is. It's shot almost like a musical which makes me want to see this on broadway someday. I was always entertained and charmed by everything on screen. And like many people have said, it is nice to see an all Asian cast in an American film that rarely gets seen in the mainstream.
This is basically "The Raid 3" that we are never going to get and I couldn't be happier. You are not exactly coming here for the story but the plot still has that classic gangster triad story that keeps things going and doesn't bore you. Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, and Julie Estelle continue to show why they are the best action stars today. The fight scenes featured in this are some of the best action scenes I have seen since The Raid movies. What really helps those action scenes is you care about the characters and the actors are masters at their craft. Timo Tjahjanto keeps the intensity throughout almost never letting up but it never loses its momentum. I really honestly can't put into words why this is so awesome. You just need to see this. Netflix has truly put out one of their best movies with this one and it is one that I see myself watching again and again.
These films have never really been about plot or anything cause we all come here for the action and to see Cruise do crazy stunts. This delivers in all aspects. It is not as action heavy as some of the previous ones as it saves its best one for the end but all the thrilling little set pieces definitely make it beyond entertaining. The new additions to the cast are good too with Henry Cavill using his physical presence to his advantage. This is a movie that knows how to use him and I hope future movies follow soon. Sean Harris also continues to be a fun crazy villain that is almost Joker-esque. But you come for Cruise and holy shit is he good. After the criminally underrated The Way of the Gun, I am glad to see Christopher McQuarrie get work now. He knows what he is doing and is a master at this kind of stuff. He knows exactly what to do with the cast and keep you invested in the action. I'm not sure if this one can be topped but I look forward to more from these films.
Yeah this was awesome. It's funny and tense. Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal have great chemistry and both give great performances. I like how the movie touches on race and privilege and gives it the complexity and care it deserves. It does all this and is still able to be hilarious. Can't wait to see more from Carlos López Estrada.
After watching this as I was driving home, I was thinking about it and creeping myself out so much that I put on some happy music to make myself feel better. That to me is great horror. It might not have jumpscares or traditional haunted house kind of scares, but it has a creeping and unsettling kind of horror that gets under your skin and stays with you. Everything from the set designs to the lighting to the cinematography is perfect and creeps you out. It's like a horrifying nightmare where something is wrong but you can't put your finger on why. And perhaps more horrifyingly, it reminds you of the fear that a lot of people have which is: we are fated to become just like our family for better or for worse. The performances are across the board amazing. I really hope Toni Collette gets a nomination as she gives one of the most captivating performances of her career. Alex Wolff and Milly Shaprio are great too with Shaprio well on her way to an amazing career.
Alfonso Cuarón is one of my favorite directors and with this one I feel he has made another classic. The use of black and white invokes a time that existed at one point but feels lost. There's a nostalgia to a certain degree but it also remains a distant memory and maybe that's for the best. The film is anchored by an amazing performance by Yalitza Aparicio. I really hope this performance isn't overlooked because she is tasked with a lot and she does it effortlessly. It's amazing this got released onto Netflix cause I really hope more people watch this because movies like this deserve attention.
I came late into Giorgos Lanthimos' filmography and it is a shame cause he really is a fantastic director. I normally am not crazy about period pieces but I think anyone can enjoy this one. It helps that you get two of the best performances this year from Olivia Colman and Emma Stone. Like a lot of Lanthimos' work it is really funny even when it gets terribly dark. It was fun watching royalty fight and scheme against each other and I ended up having a great time with it.
Barry Jenkins is able to capture some of the best shots in film every time he makes a movie. This film is no different. There's a real love and innocence in the beginning with a hint of darkness that is on the horizon. The cast too is something to behold. Regina King might finally win the Oscar she deserves but Kiki Layne shouldn't be overlooked either. Jenkins is able to capture the pain and trauma of racism and adapt Baldwin's novel perfectly.
Guardians of the Galaxy has always been my favorite Marvel movie. But now with this, it is going to give it a run for its money. What I instantly loved about this was the world building and the people within this world that the movie inhabits. This is a movie that I wish was longer just so I could spend more time with it. Every single person in this cast is great and they all serve a purpose with even one scene characters being memorable. Chadwick Boseman is great at being a charming hero. He might be naive and indecisive but he does care about his people (and the world), and always tries to do good. Letitia Wright practically steals the movie. She provides most of the comic relief while still being a person who matters to the story and to their own story. Danai Gurrira is a badass but still showing that warmth that is needed to keep her from becoming one note. But I feel special praise has to be given to Michael B. Jordan. He is probably close to being the best Marvel villain. You get what he is coming from and you sympathize with him. I could feel his rage yet also the hurt he feels at being wronged. But Coogler and Jordan remind you that his methods are still cruel and that he is a villain for a reason. With his other movies and now this, Ryan Coogler has more than proven himself time and time again at being one of the best current filmmakers. He understand you need the emotional hook with the story and characters to care about the big spectacle or action on screen.
Paddington 2 (2017)
One of the sweetest and most pure movies I have ever seen. Movies like this are needed especially during times like this to remind people of the power of kindness. Ben Whishaw does a wonderful job of getting to the center of Paddington and just why he is able to change people just by being a good friend. All of this too is balanced out by a fun villainous turn from Hugh Grant. I would love to see Grant get a nomination for this. Paul King really captures the magic and wonder of a lot of this and I can't wait to see what else this film series brings.
There's a lot going on in this film. When I say there is a lot going on, I mean it. The trailers don't do justice to what happens in this movie. Anyone who says they saw it coming is either lying or was spoiled. It's both a hilarious satire and..........well I really don't want to ruin it so let's just say things happen that really turn the film on its head. I loved every single cast member with Lakeith Stanfield, Jermain Flower, Tessa Thompson, and Armie Hammer all being favorites. But even one scene characters were memorable. The "white voice" actors all are hilarious too. Just everything about this is amazing that I am surprised Boots Riley hasn't directed more. I noticed too that even a lot of indies kind of look the same and feel the same that it is nice to see something weird and inventive. Just go see this. We need to reward films that take a chance.
I want to talk about everything in this movie. But I fear it would ruin the journey you go on with these people, and the layers upon layers this movie reveals about people. This is not only a journey of the mystery that is George (you will come out of this hating him) but a journey about Sandi and her friends learning about themselves and how they fit into this world. Sandi doesn't hold anything back. She let's her friends reveal everything from their own friendships to how they feel about Sandi herself. It feels super honest and brave. The film they made also looks super cool and interesting and I do wish it could have been viewed. It's hard to talk about this film without revealing too much so I'll just say that you need to see this and experience this for yourself. I haven't been this intrigued or in love with a documentary since The Imposter.
There are certain stories that just instantly hook me and I can't quite explain why. This is one of those stories. There's a lot that the film talks about: duality, change, depression, loneliness, and what it means when it feels like our bodies are betraying us. But I think what struck me most about the film, was how it shows just how resistant humans are to change. Natalie Portman portrays that perfectly. A lot seem to have problems with her character and I don't get it. This is a woman who has had so much going on in her life that when she gets the chance to bring things back to "normal" she jumps at the chance no matter the cost. Portman helps you to understand that and shows the sadness of a human who is afraid of change but refuses to admit it and accept it. But you understand why she is the way she is. The rest of the cast is great too. A good sci-fi horror movie needs a great atmosphere and Alex Garland has created a super eerie one. This is the kind that gets under your skin and stays with you for days. Weird things happen but the really bizarre and cerebral stuff doesn't happen till the third act. And wow, does the third act live up to its promise. I don't want to reveal anything but I don't think I ever took my eyes off the screen or made a sound during the entire final 20 minutes. Everyone involved with this brought their "A' game and it shows. It's hard to say if this will be viewed as a classic but it feels like a movie that needs to be analyzed and viewed multiple times.
When Spike Lee delivers, he fucking delivers. Maybe this will finally win him the Oscar he should have won a long time ago. John Denzel Washington definitely got his dad's charisma and talent while still on his way to becoming his own actor. He is tasked with a lot of difficult moments and he pulls it off effortlessly. Adam Driver continues to show why he is one of the best new actors working today. There is a scene in particular where as a Jewish man (who isn't practicing) he has to force himself to say things that are very anti-Sematic. It's a disturbing scene to watch but Driver portrays that conflict perfectly. I also look forward to more from Laura Harrier in the future. This really is a good detective movie too. I do disagree with a lot of people though that this was funny. There are absurd moments involving Stallworth when he imitates a white guy trying to join the KKK, but I don't think the movie is really asking you to laugh. It rightfully portrays this as disturbing and sad so prepare yourself for that. Not much more I can say about this but it was fantastic and one of my favorites of the year.
Not only the best Spider-Man movie but one of the best superhero movies of all time. It's hilarious, fun, and has a real sweet emotional center. I just love the whole cast. Everyone from John Mulaney, to Hailee Steinfeld, and to good ol' Nic Cage all bring their own charm to their performances. But I think Shameik Moore definitely stole the show with that right mix of geekiness, sincerity, and heroism that makes Spider-Man so great. The animation for this too is so damn beautiful. Like right out of a comic book great. So much love and attention was put into every frame, that I hope people do truly appreciate that work that goes into this. There is so much going on in this but it never overwhelms you. Not only is this one of the best of the year, this is one I will be watching again multiple times.
I just loved this movie. It's a sad, tense, funny, and compelling true crime drama thriller that both sympathizes with its subject while also showing why she is so lonely and desperate in the first place. I never knew about the real Lee Israel but McCarthy definitely makes her seem like a real person, flaws and all. McCarthy brings a lot of her natural comedic chops to this but she shows she definitely has a career in drama ahead of her. Her chemistry with Grant is one of the best things about this with Grant being an absolute delight in this. There really isn't much else I can say about this other than how much I loved it.
Genre movies are harder to do than people realize. You have to respect the genre and some of its tropes while still making everything interesting. The heist/crime thriller genre is one that has so much of those that people can pretty much predict how things will turn out in a story. But what Steve McQueen and Gillian Flynn have done is taken some of those tropes, flipped them while still using the ones that work to keep the momentum and intrigue going. Setting the action in Chicago was a right move with all the political intrigue that comes with that city. Everything from the roads, to the skyscrapers, and to warehouses all look great. McQueen is a master at this and he creates some intense action scenes. The cast for this though, is one of the best of the year. People like Elizabeth Debicki, Brian Tyree Henry, Michelle Rodiguez, Colin Farrell, and Cynthia Erivo all make the most of their screen time. Henry in particular finds that right balance between menace and showing hints of a good person that was once there. But this movie belongs to two people: Viola Davis and Daniel Kaluuya. Davis is tasked with a lot. She has to be a strong leader, a widow grieving, a terrified person in the cross hairs of violent men,and someone who when they show hints of vulnerability has to bury it for fear of death or breaking down. Kaluuya is excellent as one of those violent men and he is terrifying at every turn. He has a look in his eyes of a man with no soul. He enjoys inflicting pain and death on people. When we say a movie speaks to what is going on right now this is it. Race, sexism, politics, and class are all rolled into this film seamlessly. McQueen and Flynn allow the genre to speak to those themes and inform the environment they inhabit. This is my favorite of the year and one I hope is not ignored in award season.
NOTE: Paddington 2 was released in the US in 2018 so I consider it a 2018 release.
Searching, Mary Poppins Returns, Halloween, Three Identical Strangers, and Destroyer.
Searching, Mary Poppins Returns, Halloween, Three Identical Strangers, and Destroyer.
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