Oliver has written 17 reviews for films rated ★★★½ during 2020.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Training Day

    Training Day

    ★★★½

    This raw and tense good-cop-bad-cop drama features a sterling performance from Washington and is captivating enough to outweigh its occasionally cheesy dialogue, lackluster ending, and one major deus ex machina.

  • Tenet

    Tenet

    ★★★½

    Despite its obvious issues, Nolan’s boldest film yet offers an enthralling and mind-boggling experience full of exhilarating action, dazzling artistry, spectacular set pieces, and an intriguing blend of complex science fiction and modern espionage.

  • Us

    Us

    ★★★½

    A third viewing confirms that Us is still fun, intense, challenging, memorable, ambitious, creative, thought-provoking, and delicately directed, full of icons and subtle symbolism yet bereft of any real meaning and not entirely satisfying, as it is narratively flawed, tonally inconsistent, and thematically muddled if you try to make any sense of its half-baked premise.

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

    ★★★½

    Not as well-directed or interesting as the other films, this is probably the weakest of the series but still marks an essential prelude to the epic finale, this part focusing more on the characters and their rough journey to find the seven Horcruxes.

  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

    ★★★½

    With lots of drama, potions, and mature themes, this is a gloomy and pessimistic but important chapter, bolstered by a dull color palette, a dismal atmosphere, and a tense plot with slowly mounting conflicts that become more apparent as it progresses.

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

    ★★★½

    As Hogwarts reaches havoc, Harry has to regain trust while becoming a leader, and Voldemort begins assembling his army, this film is rather uneventful and more expository than some of the other films—even if it condenses the longest book into the second shortest film—but it is nonetheless an enjoyable ride.

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

    ★★★½

    This sequel is a slight improvement to its predecessor in terms of pacing and in its plot, with a convoluted mystery, new problems and characters, a darker progression of the story, and a more moving ending.

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    ★★★½

    The massive runtime and heavy exposition can make the experience boring at times, but this is still a great commencement for the series, featuring a nice cast, technical virtuosity, and wondrous world building.

  • Blood Simple

    Blood Simple

    ★★★½

    We can see the Coen Brothers establish their distinct style in their first collaborative effort, a solid neo-noir that relies on a lot of misunderstandings and marks a notable start for Frances McDormand while revealing a heavy attention to detail as well as an early trademark for the Coens’ notorious oddball humor and stark violence.

  • The Darjeeling Limited

    The Darjeeling Limited

    ★★★½

    While the characters feel soulless, the dialogue insensitive, and some of the themes reminiscent of Anderson’s previous film, I found the visuals resplendent, the artistry splendid, the set pieces captivating, and I enjoyed the serious tone and the conflicts the three brothers faced in a rather forgettable but ultimately rewarding story that ends with a great motif.