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


The Glass Castle (2017)

2017 has been a year that started out as stronng as any year in recent memory when it comes to movies. From the January and February box office smashes of Split (which I personally did not like as much as many others) and Get Out to the successful continuations or reboots of franchise movies such as Kong: Skull Island, Alien: Covenant, War of the Planet of the Apes, and Logan to the absolutely captivating Life and Wind River, we had about ten movies heading into September, whereas in a normal year, we might have half that many. Now if I asked a common moviegoer to name five non-animated movies that were released before September, the five they might mention might not include any of the ones I have just listed. They may have said Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Dunkirk, Spider-Man Homecoming, and Transformers: The Last Knight. Notice I did not list any of these films. Sure, Wonder Woman was fun and well-made, but it offered nothing that any other superhero origin movie in the last 10 years hadn't already offered. Spider-Man Homecoming I didn't even give a chance. Homecoming is the sixth Spider-Man release and third "origin" movie in the last 15 years. Eventually, you just have to throw your hands up in the air and say, "Enough is enough. Stop taking my money." The only one on this list of five that I had any real expectations for was Dunkirk and, while I didn't dislike it, it failed to overwhelm me and certainly failed to live up to the lofty expectations I had set for it. There was also the little surprise of Baby Driver, which I have so much appreciation for because of its originality, but one that ultimately fell off the tracks the deeper it got into the movie. And as we head into Oscar season, I'm worried that 2017 is going to be a forgotten year. I hope to be surprised, but I have a feeling that the movies nominated for Best Picture this year are going to disappoint. I hope to be wrong. I mention all of this because there have been some diamonds in the rough and one of those is Destin Daniel Cretton's (Short Term 12) The Glass Castle.


Dunkirk (2017)

Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception) might be the best technical director we've ever seen. His precession is perfect. His attention to detail is unmatched. His brain operates in a way that it is always a step ahead of his actors and two steps ahead of his audience. We've seen technical masterpieces throughout his, already, storied career. At 47 years of age, he already has masterpieces like Following, Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, The Prestige, Inception, and Interstellar all underneath his belt. His "worst" movie, according to Rotten Tomatoes, is Interstellar and that still has a 71% fresh rating. That means his "worst" movie still had five out of every seven critics still gave the movie a positive rating. But for all of the positives associated with Nolan's films (and there are many), he has failed to capture the often needed emotional component with every single one of them. When I am enjoying his films for their near technical perfection, their unpredictability, their vision, etc. (and I have enjoyed every single one), I wonder why I feel nothing emotionally. I'm loving these films, but I'm not invested in any single one of them (well...maybe The Dark Knight because that's one of the ten greatest films ever made). He had the perfect opportunity to create a situation that could have drawn out feelings in the audience with Interstellar. You had the actors for it. You had the story for it. Everything was in place for a story that could have been remembered for years. And it fell flat in its attempt to draw out human emotion. Nolan had the opportunity, once again, to right himself with Dunkirk. But he fell back into his old ways, retelling one of the more inspirational war stories of our time and leaving us completely detached from its characters, many of whom we are unable to differentiate from each other anyway. It is one of nine nominated movies for Best Picture. I believe it should be there. I think it could even win. I don't think it will. And I hope that it won't. It was by no means a bad film. In fact, it was a good one and even great in some ways. It just wasn't an overly memorable movie all around. And with all of the hype associated with it, I don't know how you can't be disappointed with the end product.


The Post (2017)

I was able to preview Steven Spielberg's (Jaws, Saving Private Ryan) The Post two years before it was released to the public and even a year before it went into the production. It was called Spotlight and it won the Oscar for Best Picture. It was a fantastic movie. I wish I was more than kidding and with that, I could be more positive about my viewing of, what I hoped could be, one of the best movies of the year. That was months ago when I only knew of the movie title and that it starred Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. In my head, I envisioned a movie about an army outpost and was very intrigued. But then I saw the preview and I wished the movie would have been about a post office instead. Then, when I was halfway through the movie, I wish I had been watching a movie about a bedpost, a fence post, or any other post that would have represented something far less predictable and boring than the waste of talent and time that was being projected on the screen in front of me. It was one of those times (I've had many recently) where I have been more than grateful for having a MoviePass. The thought of actually paying for some of these 2017 movies is even more terrifying than the disappointing IT, a movie that was neither scary nor good. And, with the exception of a couple of non-Oscar nominated movies that I am still looking forward to, but have yet to see (Hostiles, The Florida Project), The Post successfully ends 2017, the worst year for movies so far this century.


I, Tonya (2017)

Boy, do I have a completely different opinion of Tonya Harding after seeing Craig Gillespie's (Lars and the Real Girl, The Finest Hours) I, Tonya. The movie revolves around the 1994 Winter Olympics when her main competition for a gold medal that year (Nancy Kerrigan) had her knee taken out after a 1993 skating session in Detroit, MI by someone on Harding's payroll. Kerrigan's recorded screams of "Why?! Why ?!" that were then shown in media outlets throughout the world still resonate in our heads. Harding became the punchline of every late night talk show host's monologue and, unlike any time other time in history, we had a physical, life-altering altercation between two of the very best competitors in their sport. Even without all of the facts, we identified Kerrigan as the protagonist and Harding as the antagonist. And rightfully so. However, though it is made clear from the film's first scene that what we were about to see was going to be a "mostly true, wildly contradictory" account of what happened. Yes, Gillespie only gave us one side of the story, but it's a side that makes us think of Harding as an extremely sympathetic, misinterpreted, and even likable character who was, perhaps, as much a victim as Kerrigan was. Personally, I have a newfound affinity towards Harding that I hadn't had in the 24 years since the near 25 years since the incident happened. 


Darkest Hour (2017)

Before I start the review for Darkest Hour, we might as well get one thing out of the way. It's Gary Oldman's (Sid and Nancy, The Dark Knight Rises) will win this year's Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. Whoever the other four nominees don't even need to show up for the ceremony. Buried in thick coats of makeup and padding that make him unrecognizable, Oldman (who was only six years younger in real life than the many he was portraying on screen was at the time of this movie but who clearly takes better care of himself physically than the man he is portraying) pulls off one of the most remarkable actor/character transformations in recent memory in his portrayal of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  His performance will draw comparisons to Colin Firth's portrayal of King George VI (who ironically was a character in this movie) in 2010's The King's Speech, a role in which earned numerous awards for, including the coveted Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Oscar. When an actor's performance is so much greater than that of his peers in a given year, I often find myself comparing that role against roles in previous years. I do believe, had Darkest Hour come out last year that Oldman would have beat Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) and had it come out in 2015, he would have given Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) a run for his money. Ultimately, though, this is a movie review site and not an acting review site. Darkest Hour is a good movie but, in my opinion, doesn't rival The King's Speech, Manchester by the Sea, or The Revenant in terms of entertainment and lasting impact. But in terms of the importance of telling its story and doing so in a way that keeps the audience interested and educated, Darkest Hour tops the other three.