Oliver has written 60 reviews for films rated ★★★★½ .

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    A magnificent, touching, darkly humorous, and very well-written drama about anger, loss, grief, despair, and compassion—with outstanding work from its superb ensemble cast (minus Lucas Hedges’ underacting) and one all-time great scene that surely won Sam Rockwell his well-deserved Oscar.

  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

    Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

    ★★★★½

    Due to the repetitive and predictable nature of its plot, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World burns itself out too quickly, and the romance is a bit iffy between the two leads—feeling like a realized fantasy, in the end, of Scott’s longing for someone unattainable (yet without the punchline). But it still has a lot of amusing parts, with perfectly cast caricatures and a unique, impressive visual style—earning the film its status as a cult classic.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The Pianist

    The Pianist

    ★★★★½

    Featuring flawless performances and an understated craftsmanship, Roman Polanski’s essential WWII masterpiece depicts a true story in its most brutal and realistic form while delivering a devastating, beautiful, and poignant drama that follows the life of a Holocaust survivor and pianist played superbly by Adrien Brody.

  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

    ★★★★½

    In spite of its incompetent and senseless characters, this macabre slasher got under my skin with its documentary-style direction and droning soundscapes while leaving me shaking after its intense buildup of nerve-racking tension, disgust, and absolute hysteria. A masterwork of low-budget horror.

  • Midsommar

    Midsommar

    ★★★★½

    Notwithstanding its magnificent artistry and impressive lead performance, those looking for a thematically coherent and realistic story will be disappointed, but those looking for a beautifully nightmarish phantasmagoria of Swedish folklore, emotional trauma, toxic relationships, stunning imagery, and many transfixing scenes in an idyllic setting to contrast with its macabre pagan cult plot will relish in Ari Aster’s lyrical, evocative, and incredibly cathartic horror breakup movie. The director’s cut, however, still reigns superior.

  • Knives Out

    Knives Out

    ★★★★½

    Much more rewarding on second viewing. The attention to detail is superb. The dialogue is full of double meanings. Complementing it is the delicate cinematography that also reveals subtle details about the characters’ motivations and the plot. The film can be a bit on the nose at times, draw too much attention to itself, and be too much to take in, but aside from that, it is a perfectly constructed and original take on the murder mystery with interesting characters, a nice production design, an amusingly quirky sense of humor, and a smartly woven commentary on class warfare.

  • Little Women

    Little Women

    ★★★★½

    Despite the slightly disorienting jumps in time and a few other imperfections, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women is a joy to watch from beginning to end and is a splendid adaptation of its source material that feels bound to become a classic, with its sensibly told story and the timeless themes within it, while also making a great use of its cast and featuring a gorgeous costume and production design.

  • 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.