Oliver has written 16 reviews for films rated ★★★★½ during 2019.

  • We Need to Talk About Kevin

    We Need to Talk About Kevin

    ★★★★½

    With a puzzling albeit mostly coherent nonlinear plot structure, this joyless but captivating family drama shows the dangers of enabling a psychopathic child when raised by a disconnected mother and an ignorant father, and it gets under our skin with its shocking realism, excellent performances, arresting visuals, and disturbing presentation of a depressing story.

  • The Wolf of Wall Street

    The Wolf of Wall Street

    ★★★★½

    A three-hour-long, adrenaline-fueled, drug-filled rush that never drags and offers a diverse selection of settings with an apt use of technical verve and seamless transitions as well as an abundance of excess, glamour, and indulgence. DiCaprio and Hill also give two great performances, and the ending is perfect with its insightful, thought-provoking message about greed and icons in modern society.

  • Casino

    Casino

    ★★★★½

    Even with a familiar story and tone, Casino is nonetheless another one of Scorsese’s underrated masterpieces, providing us an enthralling experience based on a true story told in just under three hours that fly by while featuring a confident direction, effective music choices, expository narration that’s never wasted, slick camerawork and editing, and an excellent ensemble cast.

  • The Last Temptation of Christ

    The Last Temptation of Christ

    ★★★★½

    Although the film’s length can be felt, and it only becomes considerably challenging in its final act, Willem Dafoe delivers a gripping performance, and Scorsese presents us with an intriguing interpretation of Jesus as a flawed man—with its more human approach and astute exploration of his self-discovery and battle with faith and morality possibly holding more value than what is written in scripture.

  • Psycho

    Psycho

    ★★★★½

    The cinematography, score, and Anthony Perkins’ performance are all wonderful, the script is detailed, the dialogue is revealing, and there’s no denying how innovative the film was for its time, especially with its iconic shower sequence, even if it is not as suspenseful or mysterious as some of Hitchcock’s other works.

  • Double Indemnity

    Double Indemnity

    ★★★★½

    Sharp dialogue, immaculate camerawork, and an increasingly suspenseful plot surrounding greed and love with diabolical measures make Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity a quintessential noir.

  • Parasite

    Parasite

    ★★★★½

    It is amazing how Bong Joon-ho manages to masterfully juggle multiple genres of film while creating a layered narrative with detailed metaphors and acute social commentary within an intriguing story that engrosses us until the end, raising the stakes with overwhelming tension and providing a number of hilarious and mind-boggling scenes.

  • Midsommar

    Midsommar

    ★★★★½

    Ari Aster’s astonishing sophomore effort uses a slow-burn pace to absorb us in its central couple’s deteriorating relationship and an idyllic, sun-drenched setting to illuminate and juxtapose the horrors around its characters while benefiting immensely from a sublime cinematography, a haunting score, and a phenomenal performance by Florence Pugh.

  • Sicario

    Sicario

    ★★★★½

    Sicario is a tense, slow-burn crime drama from director Denis Villeneuve that makes some powerful statements on the societal and bureaucratic ailment caused by Mexican drug cartels and is strengthened by a fine script; great lead performances, notably Benicio del Toro as a gritty assassin; and a marvelous cinematography and score.

  • City Lights

    City Lights

    ★★★★½

    A most splendid silent film that never ceases to capture our attention with its inventive sound design, vibrant characters, and hilarious sketches, City Lights is a quick, effective, and smartly told motion picture brimming with life, heart, and an acuity for visual comedy—making it a markedly affecting and immensely enjoyable production from Mr. Chaplin.

  • The French Connection

    The French Connection

    ★★★★½

    This classic procedural impresses mostly with how largely improvised it is while still riveting. It is a taut, gritty, and very well-directed thriller based on a true story that features superb performances (Gene Hackman is astounding), fantastic editing, and a deft combination of narcotics detective work and crime thrills—with one helluva chase scene in particular.

  • Annie Hall

    Annie Hall

    ★★★★½

    A charming, smart, and amusing slice-of-life film that takes place in a time much different from today while still containing relevant themes with an admirable maturity and delightful humor and benefiting from its charismatic leads, engaging script full of nuances and wit, and Woody Allen’s bold direction.