Oliver has written 107 reviews for films during 2019.

  • Uncut Gems

    Uncut Gems

    ★★★★

    Gone are the beauty and potency found in Good Time, yet present is still another technically well-made crime thriller that I found more frustrating than thrilling, with a career-best performance from Adam Sandler, who plays a scumbag jeweler and husband we wish we weren’t forced to root for; a frenetic pace mixed with a taut, reckless plot that almost never gives us time to breathe; several stressful scenes that raise the film to the level of exhausting; and a shocking albeit rightfully uncompromising ending.

  • Apollo 11

    Apollo 11

    ★★★½

    The restoration of the archival footage is of course stunning, but although this groundbreaking documentary provides plenty of awe-inspiring sequences and a narrative structure to hold our attention, excitement and engagement begin to wane after takeoff.

  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

    National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

    ★★

    Predictable and mostly not outrageously unexpected, this American holiday classic is an obnoxiously patriotic and unfunny Christmas farce that hardly works as a drama or a comedy, with a boring series of gags, antics, nonsense, beats of nothing, a far-fetched plot, disasters, circumstances, and even animal cruelty.

  • The Conjuring

    The Conjuring

    ★★★★

    A good old-fashioned horror movie that doesn’t rely on cheap gimmicks or illogical plotting but instead takes its time to invest us in the characters and pin us to our seats with its butt-clinching tension and an ominous atmosphere helped by a formal rigor whose fine attention to detail and understanding of genre and structure make its chills and scares more terrifying and effective than we could imagine.

  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    ★★

    It starts off engaging and urgently paced and has its moments, but it ignores a lot of what happened in its predecessor, and as it progresses, it rushes story development and becomes more tedious, bloated, and evidently soulless, with an artificial plot full of conveniences and stupid contrivances.

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    ★★★★

    Exquisitely directed and handsomely acted, Portrait of a Lady on Fire makes up for a dull plot with a sumptuous cinematography that captures the beauty of its environment without the need to impress its audience while also showing that people’s feelings for each other do not end just because of the restrictions enforced by society in a male-dominated world, and I was taken aback by the final shot that accentuates that message.

  • Victoria

    Victoria

    ★★★½

    Although logic seems to falter at one point once the plot takes off, what initially begins as an enjoyable outing for its protagonist turns into a restless nightmare, benefiting from a strong sense of immersion with its character dynamics and a single take that never stops—all to set up a tense, nerve-racking second half that ends with a heavy blow.

  • Us

    Us

    ★★★½

    Although the metaphor on the doppelgängers doesn’t hold much truth in reality and isn’t very well conveyed, which ends up taking a toll on the plot and themes, this is still a memorable horror thriller with more laughs than frights; a remarkable score; a stellar performance by Lupita Nyong’o; and an impressive display of artful direction, symbolism, and iconic imagery.

  • One Cut of the Dead

    One Cut of the Dead

    ★★★★

    An impressive feat for low-budget filmmaking, One Cut of the Dead is an entertaining, unconventional zombie flick that lives up to its title and subverts viewers’ expectations by turning into something unexpectedly awesome.

  • Marriage Story

    Marriage Story

    ★★★★

    Showing an admirable maturity behind the camera and featuring some of the year’s best performances, Noah Baumbach brings us an intimate, perceptive, and enlightening divorce story crafted with the necessary acuity to make it authentic and emotionally powerful.

  • Jojo Rabbit

    Jojo Rabbit

    ★★★½

    A charming, amusing, and well-acted satire that balances comical irreverence with heartfelt emotion.

  • Silence

    Silence

    ★★★½

    Scorsese has obviously created a film almost personal to a fault, losing some of its effect in being heavy-handed at times but eventually becoming more challenging, as it raises intelligent questions about blind devotion, holding steadfast to one’s religious beliefs despite the suffering it may cause to others in an intolerant country, as well as the frustration and corruption that can come with praying to a silent deity.