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


An Education (2009)

Set in 1961 England, Carey Mulligan's (Shame, Drive) breakout performance in Lone Scherfig (One Day, Their Finest) is a movie that resonates in a way that is completely independent of its time frame as well as location. Does this mean it's a timeless classic? Well, when I think of timeless classics, I think of very different films than An Education. This beautiful film was on pace to be a timeless classic, one where everything is fine and dandy and one that I probably would not have enjoyed as much if not for a late twist. The setting of 1960's Europe doesn't exactly perk my interest. If as I write this in 2018, in my early 40's, when I am much more into the independents than I am the big blockbusters, the synopsis for this film doesn't attract, I can only imagine what I thought going into it back in 2009. I honestly have no idea what peeked my interest about this movie or what even got me past the first 15 minutes. Sure, a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes will have some sort of positive effect, but even that can only care me so far. Whatever it was that encouraged me to continue on with this movie even, when I suspect, that I thought that I was getting into some sort of variation of Pride and Prejudice, Atonement or one of the many other Keira Knightley movies, I am grateful. I'd like to say that this movie had a lasting impact on me because it did. However, upon watching it for a second time, with an eight-year gap between viewings, I can unequivocally say that how I thought I remembered this movie was considerably different than what actually happened. I think I like it the same though I do feel differently about it, especially how I view the final act.


Jackie (2016)

Less than a month ago, I would have said Natalie Portman (Black Swan, Brothers) was the one lock for an Academy Award win. Her portrayal as the grieving Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the wake of her husband's assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald. Portman just looked the part and it felt like this was the role she was born to play. Portman is a fantastic actress, and she did an above average job in Jackie. But this movie was so flat and depressing that I wonder if it's going to be enough to take out Emma Stone in La La Land, the movie that has been gaining lots and lots of steam in recent weeks. As I look at this list of contenders for Best Actress, I'm not overly impressed. This definitely helps Portman. This film only had to be pretty good to convince me that she should win. Unfortunately, the movie did not live up to my expectations at all. While I learned a lot about Jackie Kennedy, her relationship with her family, the media, and the people of America, and the events that occurred on November 22, 1963, and the week afterward, I felt this movie overall was very dark and very dull. Though only an hour and a half, it felt like a three-hour snoozefest. It's hard to recommend a movie that felt more like a history lesson that you should be required to watch in your 11th-grade US History class.


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.


Blue Jasmine (2013)

Woody Allen (Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris) has done more than enough in his latest venture to interest me in checking out some of his past films that I have yet to see. Blue Jasmine is a terrific little movie about crushed dreams, deception, and trying your best to accept the life you have, regardless if it is the life that you want. It stars Cate Blanchett (The Aviator, Notes on a Scandal) as the title character, a woman whose life is turned completely upside down when her life of luxury is uprooted as a result of her husband Hal's (Alec Baldwin - The Cooler, The Departed) poor personal and professional decision-making. Instead of continuing to live her posh lifestyle in New York City with (what she thought) was her perfect husband, she is forced to move in with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins - Happy-Go-Lucky, Submarine) and her two sons in a rundown San Francisco apartment because she has absolutely no where else to go. Blanchett (Best Actress), Hawkins (Best Supporting Actress), and Allen (Best Original Screenplay) were all nominated for Academy Awards. While Blanchett and Allen were most deserving, I didn't think Hawkins was particularly great. It furthers the argument that the award is most likely a two person race between Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave) who should win and Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle). Blanchett has a small chance to unseat the favorite Sandra Bullock (Gravity), but I just don't see it happening. Bullock carried a Best Picture nominee by herself for more than an hour. Even if Blue Jasmine had been nominated for Best Picture, it would still have been hard for her to defeat Bullock.