Oliver has written 67 reviews for films during 2020.

  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

    Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

    ★★★

    Despite losing the freshness and prominence of its predecessor, Lost in New York is even more entertaining and is anchored yet again by a strong ensemble and an even bigger (and welcome) cast while doubling down on the insane antics and ridiculous implausibilities and packing in more engaging spectacle and heart than before.

  • Four Christmases

    Four Christmases

    ★★★

    A perfectly watchable holiday rom-com, with two solid turns from Vince Vaughn as himself and Reese Witherspoon, that has its funny moments but peaks too early in excitement before eventually losing its steam in a humdrum story with ordinary messages about family.

  • Prisoners

    Prisoners

    ★★★★

    Although occasionally repetitive or maladroit, the strong atmosphere, fine attention to detail, sublime cinematography, haunting score, excellent performances, and tense plot full of anguish and suspense make Prisoners a solid thriller and a worthy first entry into Denis Villeneuve’s anglophone filmography.

  • Sleepy Hollow

    Sleepy Hollow

    ★★★

    Albeit with a gorgeous Gothic atmosphere and an expectedly skittish turn from Johnny Depp, Sleepy Hollow puts too much of its energy into being campy and silly to take its story seriously or find its antagonist frightening.

  • Devs

    Devs

    ★★★

    Despite its sensational technicality, captivating visuals, fascinating story, and thought-provoking ideas, Devs is far too problematic in its storytelling to add up to a satisfying whole, especially when its finale makes everything that came before it feel a lot less important.

  • 3:10 to Yuma

    3:10 to Yuma

    ★★★★½

    An excellent little Western and remake that manages to shine past its genre conventions with a surprisingly engaging script that handles its premise well with convincing pathos, taut plotting, and astounding performances.

  • The Lodge

    The Lodge

    ★½

    While reminding me of other much better films (it even includes John Carpenter’s The Thing in one scene), the idea of testing its audience’s patience with a ponderous buildup is completely hampered by a weak ending that couldn’t tie up the loose ends of its nonsensical story, which doesn’t fully explore its characters or their motivations.

  • Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

    Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

    ★★½

    A watchable and competent but vulgar, lazy, vapid, biased, and affected piece of impromptu political propaganda that doesn’t match the hilarity or ingenuity of its predecessor.

  • Tenet

    Tenet

    ★★★½

    It still looks and sounds amazing (despite the “intentionally” crappy sound mixing at times), and it’s so fast-paced, action-packed, and energetic yet so convoluted at the same time that it feels both effortless and arduous to watch, but I did discover some major problems with the script, which ended up making the outcome less cohesive and impressive than I thought on a second viewing. 

    Edit: Nonetheless, this remains Nolan’s most memorable, confusing, urgent, unrestrained, quotable, shallow, spectacular, and loudest film to date as well as one of his most flawed among several others. A work of art.

  • Da 5 Bloods

    Da 5 Bloods

    ★★½

    Ignoring its preachy politics and useless stylistic choices (such as its visual callbacks to the past), the lead cast put out strong work, and there are some tense moments in the story, but the film still takes way too long to get going, and once its underdeveloped, operatic exploration of PTSD and brotherhood devolves into predictable action-thriller territory, the final result remains maladroit and messy.

  • I'm Thinking of Ending Things

    I'm Thinking of Ending Things

    ★★★★½

    A surreal, atmospheric, complex, and nuanced existential drama about memory, identity, mortality, regret, and loneliness—superbly acted, magnificently composed, brilliantly realized by Charlie Kaufman, and with an unforgettable ending as heartbreaking as it is beautiful.

  • Three Kings

    Three Kings

    ★★★½

    A bizarre but engaging and mostly successful hodgepodge of satire, drama, and action based on true events that took place following the Gulf War.