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


Black Mass (2015)

Black Mass? More like Black Mess. This movie was not just a story that most of us could care less about, but it's boring. It reminded me a lot of American Hustle in that it was set in the same time period, it had an amazing cast, and, most importantly, the high expectations coming into it. I wouldn't say that this movie was as disappointing because it didn't have the Oscar expectations going into it like American Hustle did. Nonetheless, like the Christian Bale led movie, I expected big things out of this Johnny (Finding Neverland, Chocolat) endeavor. I don't know if this movie was trying to be a combination of The Godfather/The Departed/Public Enemies and others, but it didn't succeed outside of making Depp look like an old Jack Nicholson. I did like seeing Depp outside of the quirky roles he has been performing in as of late. And while he was pretty good, I really did feel like the movie was brought down, in part, to how boring his character was. Unlike American Hustle, in which the performance were good (yet still overrated), the performances in Black Mass were flat. A terrific cast is absolutely wasted here. It is a disappointing movie in every sense of the word.


The Imitation Game (2014)

The one movie of 2014 that I really was not looking forward to seeing but knew that I had to see was, without a doubt, The Imitation Game. I learned early in the year that this would end up being one of the movies to beat, but there was something about the trailer that told me that the movie would probably be well made and tell a great, true story, but also be extremely boring and long. Boy was I wrong. The first thing to point out was that this movie was only 1 hour ad 50 minutes. I love a movie that can tell its story under two hours. I understand the standard is tending to be closer to 2 hours and 15 minutes (with many, many movies pushing or exceeding 3 hours), but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Secondly, this movie was never dull. In the wrong hands, this movie as being a complete snooze-fest. It was anything but. This is why,without even having seen some of the probably Oscar nominated movies yet to be released (most notably Unbroken, American Sniper, Selma, Mr. Turner, and Into the Woods), I am ready to give Morten Tyldum a Best Director nomination. The only other nomination I have cemented is Richard Linklater (Boyhood). The direction in this movie was outstanding and I am confident there will not be three better directed movies in 2014 that I have yet to see.


August: Osage County (2013)

Largely known for his work as executive director of some of the best television shows of the last 20 years (ER, The West Wing, Third Watch, Southland), John Wells is a newcomer when it comes to directing a feature film. Prior to August: Osage County, he has just one movie credit to his name (2010's slightly disappointing The Company Men...a movie whose trailer made it seem like it was going to be a contender for movie of the year). But when it comes to assembling casts, I'm not sure a director can do any better. For his first film, he was able to reel in Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Mario Bello, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Craig T. Nelson. Not bad. But even the cast of The Company Men has nothing on August: Osage County. For this effort, with apologies to American Hustle, Wells has assembled put together the best cast ensemble that you will see in all of 2013. American Hustle got five of the best actors and actresses on the planet, but August: Osage County got eight or nine really, really great ones.


12 Years A Slave (2013)

The common moviegoer of America will soon be introduced to one of the next big names in feature film directing when the Academy Award nominations come out in a few weeks. Steve McQueen will undoubtedly earn a Best Director nomination for 12 Years A Slave, a movie that some say is the greatest movie about slavery ever told. While those who have seen the movie have talked a lot about the acting (and rightfully so), this movie, like any great movie, needs a captain to steer the ship and bring the story together. McQueen does just that. In a few weeks, the common moviegoer will be asking what else has McQueen directed. Well, this is just his third feature film. He has 23 "Shorts" that he is credited with directing, but only two feature-length films. But these two other films weren't just any movies. Much like Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Memento) everything that McQueen has touched in his young career has had purpose. He doesn't have any "throw away" movies. The movies he has tackled thus far in his full-length directorial career have been on slavery, sex addiction (Shame), and the true story of an Irish Republican Army activist who, in 1981, protested the way he and fellow inmates were being treated by British guards by embarking on, perhaps, the most internationally recognized hunger strike since Ghandi (Hunger). While both Shame and Hunger earned critical acclaim, they weren't seen by many people. I personally found Shame to be an absolutely brilliant movie. McQueen not just touched, but his ear to the burner in how he tackled the taboo topic of sex addiction. I think as a result, I expected much more when I saw Hunger after this. While I appreciated many aspects of Hunger, I found it to be rather dull. So now with 12 Years A Slave, McQueen has three movies that I admire and two that I think are brilliant.