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


Passengers (2016)

Passengers is one of those movies that your interest would be better served if you looked at the audience score rather than the critics' scores. A 30% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes would suggest that you skip this one. But a 70% audience score suggests something more. This was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Plus I try to see everything. But even I was skeptical when I saw how it was getting panned by so many different critics. Even my most respected site (Roger Ebert's site) only gave the movie 1.5 stars. But I talked to a couple of different people who go to the movies a lot, and they said, despite some holes, that they recommended it. The only thing I knew about Passengers going in (I never saw a trailer) was that it starred Chris Pratt (Jurassic World, Guardians of the Galaxy) and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, Joy) and that they were lost in space. And while I suppose there were holes in this movie, they didn't in any way deter my enjoyment of this film. The parts that I found more troublesome than anything else were the personal emotions and the relationship between the two leads and, really, I didn't even have a problem with that.


Joy (2015)

Joy is the epitome of a very average movie with a standout lead performance. Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) will most definitely earn her fourth Academy Award nomination (third for Lead Actress) in five years for her role as the title character, but she does not have a chance to win. I think she would have had a shot had the movie been better received with critics and audiences, but it likely would not have been enough to knock off favorites Brie Larson (Room), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn), or Charlotte Rampling (45 Years). Lawrence and Cate Blanchette (Carol) likely will be the final two nominations with Carey Mulligan (Suffragette) having an outside chance to perhaps spoil.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 had a huge knock on it before if even hit the screen. And that was that the book was split into two movies. I have been having a huge problem with this. It's a three series book. Make it a three series movie. That's what it would have been if the first movie didn't take off and smash the box office. I understand why the studios want to break the last book into two movies. I would do it too. But as a fan, a moviegoer, and someone who pays lots of money at the movie theaters, I have a problem with paying an extra $12 when I don't feel I have to. I know that I am exactly the reason for this issue. I saw the first two movies in the theater. I contributed to that astronomical gross that each of these first two movies reached. And it's not The Hunger Games franchise that I am upset with. All of the moneymaking franchises have been doing this. Twilight. Harry Potter was seven books, but eight movies. The Divergent series is going to split its final movie into two. I do think that in many cases, including Mockingjay Part 1, that the movie gets watered down. I understand that there are those who believe that maybe there is too much great material to squeeze into one movie, but, at the same time, there isn't enough material in this one to make it a killer movie. My solution would be to just make the movie three hours. I know I would complain about that as well, but it would be my preference over two movies, each that are not going to be as the first two movies in the franchise.


American Hustle (2013)

My review of David O. Russell's (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter) American Hustle will be much quicker than some of my other recent reviews. This movie isn't exactly flying under anyone's radar. As of this post, it most likely will earn Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Director (though it likely will win neither) and has a chance to land nominations for four of its actors, though the only one that seems for certain is Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, Catching Fire) for Best Supporting Actress. There are many critics out there (currently rated as 93% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. who will rave about this movie, including Richard Roeper who listed this as his best movie of 2013. I am therefore in the minority. Perhaps the expectations were so astronomically high going into this movie, perhaps it was I had watched The Wolf of Wall Street just two days prior (a movie that dwarfed this one), or perhaps it was that I was just bored, but for whatever reason, I was very, very, very underwhelmed.


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

I suspended my beliefs at the door when I stepped into the theater to see Francis Lawrence's (I Am Legend, Water For Elephants) sequel to The Hunger Games. I wasn't able to do this for the first movie and was left feeling dissatisfied. I wanted the movie to more of a survival movie and less of a fantasy/science fiction movie. When I wasn't able to do that, I just started to question everything that was happening. I liked The Hunger Games, but did not love it. I liked it enough to continue with the franchise though. It seems like every successful fantasy book franchise is being made into a movie these days. I have never read a word of a book or seen a second of the movie in either the Harry Potter or Twilight series. I get the cult-like following to both of these movies though. I do understand how you can be engrossed in a franchise like this. I have not read, nor will I read, any of The Hunger Game books, but I will continue to see the movies, even though I am upset about the franchise's finale Mockingjay, being split up into two movies. I am also lukewarm about the Insurgent franchise coming to the theaters. They showed a trailer of the first Insurgent movies before Catching Fire and I was disappointed to see Kate Winslet on the screen. It seems like in these movies, you don't need superstars outside of the main character or two.