Oliver has written 21 reviews for films rated ★★★ 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.

  • 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.

  • Airplane!

    Airplane!

    ★★★

    It has some inspired and amusing moments and some quotable lines with a handful of pop culture references, but the film is lighter on plot than it is on unfunny and juvenile gags.

  • Contagion

    Contagion

    ★★★

    Told in a clinical fashion with economical pacing through slick editing and held together by a stellar ensemble cast, Contagion proves to be less knowledgeable about epidemics than it thinks it is and loses its gravitas in favor of underexposing the development of a vaccine and turning to a lot of clichés in the end but may still be eye-opening for those careless and corrupt corporations.

  • Shaun of the Dead

    Shaun of the Dead

    ★★★

    Edgar Wright experiments with many ideas (although not all of them successful), and the execution isn’t always solid as well as the nonsensical story, but it is an amusing and sometimes witty and satiric zombie parody with great chemistry between its leads and a thought-provoking message.

  • Crazy, Stupid, Love.

    Crazy, Stupid, Love.

    ★★★

    Although a bit silly at times and generally what you’d expect from a clichéd, harmless rom-com that isn’t completely predictable, Ryan Gosling’s acting versatility is commendable, his charisma appreciable, and the rest of the cast as well as some funny and touching moments make the whole thing watchable.

  • Ocean's Thirteen

    Ocean's Thirteen

    ★★★

    Although less charming and wacky than its predecessor, which is still a step down from the riot that was the first film, Soderbergh has a stronger grip on his style and writing in this decent conclusion to a series that wasn’t needed to begin with.

  • Ocean's Twelve

    Ocean's Twelve

    ★★★

    Soderbergh doubles down on the style and witty humor this time around and offers more characters and nice settings with great élan, but this unnecessary sequel mainly suffers from pretentious, self-indulgent direction and a confusing plot full of implausibilities and inconsistencies that demand our suspension of disbelief.

  • Magnolia

    Magnolia

    ★★★

    What really holds this overambitious mess together is PTA’s acute understanding of human psychology and, of course, the stellar cast, but I think the film’s message could have been conveyed more effectively and subtly in a more intimate and focused drama than with the epic scale we have here—making the whole interconnected dynamic feel pretentious, befuddling, and unnecessary.

  • The World's End

    The World's End

    ★★★

    Despite some amusing parts, a fast pace and a nice cast to keep us engaged, and an obvious attempt to a have a message (plus points for originality), the plot doesn’t make sense, the generic score bothered me, and the numerous sci-fi action brawls eventually got boring, especially due to the lack of genuine danger and—again—the silly narrative.