365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


The Big Sick (2017)

I was all set to review this movie and talk about, what I considered to be, its major flaw before I did one thing first...I looked at other reviews and learned that this film is based on a true story. So rather than belabor the point I wanted to make, I'll simply reference it a little later in the review and talk more about its merits and more minor flaws. Before I begin, I'll mention that I didn't think Michael Showalter's (Hello, My Name is Doris) The Big Sick was marketed all that well when it was released over the summer. First of all, the title of the movie, its poster, its actors, and even its plot just didn't make sense. Through in that Judd Apatow's name was attached to it and you had the thought that this was a raunchy comedy, much in the mold of Trainwreck, This Is 40, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and a host of other movies he didn't even direct but was affiliated with as a producer or screenwriter. The Big Sick felt out of place from the start. It took word of mouth for this movie really to get noticed and appreciated by audiences (despite its 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes). If anything, moviegoers were told that this movie was more like This Is 40 than any of Apatow's other films, but even that film received more leeway because it was a sequel to Knocked Up, which was as foul-mouthed as they come. It didn't help that The Big Sick had a cast of relative unknowns. Sure it had Ray Romano (television's Everybody Loves Raymond, television's Parenthood) and Holly Hunter (The Piano, The Firm), but these two, while having a decent amount of screentime, clearly supported the two leads. Kumail Nanjiani (HBO's Silicon Valley, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates), a relatively unknown at the time, penned and stared in this film as himself. It was a calculated risk that clearly paid off in the end. Another relative unknown, Zoe Katan (Revolutionary Road, The Savages), stars opposite Nanjiani as his on again/off again girlfriend Emily. They work as a couple and the trials and tribulations experienced by each aren't completely far-fetched. Heck, it's based on a true story so some might say they aren't far-fetched at all. This movie surprised me with how much I enjoyed it and how engaged I was with it, despite its unevenness (at times) and that its conclusion could be seen by all miles away.


The Shape of Water (2017)

Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Crimson Peak) adult fairytale The Shape of Water is a movie we've seen so many different times in so many different forms that it's a wonder that we'd even be willing to see it again. Starcrossed lovers finding themselves in a situation of forbidden love while fighting off some sort of catastrophe, or at least societal pressures. Think Titanic, a nearly perfect movie that showcased this is in a way that will never be forgotten by any who watch it. So how does del Toro pull off this story in a way that is completely original, yet as equally compelling? Well, he does it in a way that only del Toro can do. And in doing so, he creates both the most unparalleled and also (with no disrespect to Call Me By Your Name) the most romantic movie of 2017. This movie certainly is not for everyone. If Thor: Ragnarok or Justice League is more your thing, then I'm not even sure I'd consider The Shape of Water. This is the ultimate independent movie and if you go into this movie with the mindset that you'll just be able to enjoy the ride and not have to think, you'll be in for a long two hours. In a year where the movies have been the worse they've been since I began my blog in 2010, it is the uniqueness of the movies (rather than the quality of them) that has really defined this year.


Loving (2016)

Jeff Nichols's (Take Shelter, Mud) Loving is an early contender for my most disappointing movie of the year. I say this for many reasons and while there are plenty of other candidates (Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, The Accountant, The Magnificent Seven, Midnight Special), Loving is the only one of these movies that are likely going to be considered for Oscar contention. It likely will get a nomination for Joel Edgerton (Warrior, The Gift) who I think is one of the best actors we currently have, but whose performance was not one of the five best of the year (and probably wasn't even one of the ten best). It likely will also get a nomination for Ruth Negga (Of Mind and Music, Warcraft) whose performance was equally as uncompelling. And it could earn Oscars for Nichols (who I also love, but who should get nominated as well as Best Picture.


Allied (2016)

While a 65% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes would suggest that a movie should be checked out (2 out of every three critics liking the film), sometimes you wonder why the score isn't higher. Allied, the Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, The Walk) World War II love story set in both Casablanca and London about two intelligence officers from opposite sides of the world says a lot. The movie, set in both Casablanca and London, has been loosely referred to as Mr. and Mrs. Smith (because of Brad Pitt) meets Casablanca (because of the period and location). While I understand the reference, this is far from the truth. I did not like either of these other two movies (I know. I know. Casablanca is one of the greatest movies of all-time...yawn), but I really enjoyed Allied.


The Light Between Oceans (2016)

The Light Between Oceans was a terribly flawed movie that is very likely to bore many, if not most, of its moviegoers. This was evidenced by the guy sitting behind me who was sawing logs for the entire second half. But I am a sucker for broken relationship movies caused by some sort of strife and that's exactly what I got here. The only thing I knew about this movie was that it was about a couple living on a small island while he managed a lighthouse and that they found a baby in a boat who they took as their own after she suffered a series of miscarriages. I actually wish I had gone in knowing nothing about this movie at all. All I needed to know was that it was a heavy drama, that it featured one of my favorite actors (Michael Fassbender - Shame, Steve Jobs), one of the next great actresses of our time who absolutely arrived on the scene with two massive performances in 2015 (Alicia Vikander - Ex Machina, The Other Danish Girl), and the director of one of my favorite movies of all-time (Derek Cianfrance - Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines). That enough would have gotten me in the theater. And that is enough for me to give this a positive review despite a story that had much promise, but had some uneven turns, and ultimately led to characters making decisions that didn't make a whole lot of sense. What I did love most about this movie (which will be a focus of this review) is how two different people can face the same ethical dilemma and how the decision that is made can eat one person up so much that they almost can't live with themselves while the other person can continue living their life peacefully as if the decision they had to make was whether to have sausage or pepperoni on their pizza the night before.