Oliver has written 35 reviews for films rated ★★★½ during 2019.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Dolemite Is My Name

    Dolemite Is My Name

    ★★★½

    Eddie Murphy shines as the boisterous and tenacious Dolemite in this enjoyable biopic with a welcome message of striving to succeed despite the obstacles one may encounter, even if its harmless narrative rejects any desire for something more memorable and evocative.

  • Knives Out

    Knives Out

    ★★★½

    Although the plot is hard to follow (as expected from Rian Johnson) while not offering any startling surprises, and the film is clumsy in some other areas, this is still an effectively entertaining, stylish, quirky, and humorous murder mystery containing witty dialogue and a remarkable lead turn from Ana de Armas.

  • Ford v Ferrari

    Ford v Ferrari

    ★★★½

    The by-the-numbers storytelling approach checks all the boxes for a family-friendly underdog racing film, even with one jarring instance of melodrama, but while Ford v Ferrari doesn’t bring many surprises until the end, Matt Damon and Christian Bale have a nice chemistry together, the racing scenes are well-edited and thrilling, and there are some welcome messages about friendship, loyalty, perseverance, and corporate corruption.

  • Looper

    Looper

    ★★★½

    Even with its time travel elements and alternate timelines, the script is not very well-constructed, but the visual effects, world-building, and aesthetics are impressive, and the plot offers plenty of urgency, suspense, tension, and sci-fi thrills to keep us engaged despite the story’s lack of thematic depth.

  • Gangs of New York

    Gangs of New York

    ★★★½

    Daniel Day-Lewis steals every scene he’s in, and the production design, while still marred by the film’s ostentatious style, is admirably meticulous and aids in immersing us in the old New York setting, but it doesn’t help that several American actors play Irish characters, and the story is also forgettable despite how hard the film tries to make us care about it, especially in the final scene.

  • The Brothers Bloom

    The Brothers Bloom

    ★★★½

    Similar in tone to the works of Wes Anderson and the Coen Brothers while still keeping Johnson’s signature quirky but less endearing style, The Brothers Bloom pulls strong performances from its cast and manages to keep us engaged despite how messy and irregular, even if well tied-up and easy to follow, its storyline is.

  • Dragged Across Concrete

    Dragged Across Concrete

    ★★★½

    While still losing a lot of credibility due to some frustrating plot points as well as its florid dialogue and self-indulgent violence, Dragged Across Concrete mostly works thanks to the memorable performances from the three leads, a delightful soundtrack, and a gripping tension that sustains its long runtime and makes us forget how attached we’ve become to its characters despite their flaws.