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


Stronger (2017)

Jake Gyllenhaal (Life, Everest) continues to take on roles that, seemingly, are each more challenging than his previous. In terms of how Academy Awards, I'm not sure if there is another actor under 50 years of age who has been snubbed as frequently as Gyllenhaal. To date, his only nomination is for 2005's Brokeback Mountain. However, I truly feel that he has been the odd man out with a number of other roles, most notably in Southpaw and, particularly, Nightcrawler. While I would put his performance in David Gordon Green's (All the Real Girls, Undertow) Stronger as one of his top six performances of all-time, I'm not sure it's in his top three or four. While he was absolutely terrific, this movie did not captivate me in the same way that movies like Brokeback Mountain, Nightcrawler, Southpaw, Nocturnal Animals, Life, Love and Other Drugs, or Brothers did. But it should have. This was based on a true story. It had the sentimentality about an average person overcoming odds and becoming a symbol for patriotism all wrapped into one. And while this movie was very good, it wasn't even Gyllenhaal's best performance about a character overcoming adversity. That belongs to Southpaw. But just because the movie wasn't amazing, doesn't mean that it was not very good. Because it was.


Life (2017)

Wow! Life > Alien.!

Yup. You heard that right. 2017 is off to a tremendous start! January, February, and March typically combine for the worst quarter of the year for movies. I've been reviewing movies since 2010 and each year has confirmed this belief. I didn't anticipate 2017 feeling differently but is slowly happening. First, there was the surprising Split, which I personally wasn't a fan of, but one that did fantastic with audience and critics. Then there was Logan, which at the time of this writing is one of my five favorite Marvel movies ever. Sprinkle in the surprise hit Get Out, the quality reboot Kong: Skull Island, the live-action smash success Beauty and the Beast and you already have five movies that, won't necessarily be up for awards at the end of the year, but will be remembered as success stories for 2017. Now add a late March release of Life, the Jake Gyllenhaal/Ryan Reynolds vehicle that has been wowing potential audiences with both extended trailers and television advertisements during some marquee events. And for good reason. The trailer drew my interest and, barring a complete rejection by the critics, I knew this would be a movie that I saw in the theater. I am actually surprised by the 66% critics score and even more shocked by the 61% audience score. This movie isn't necessarily a thinker in terms that you're going to get confused, but it does make you use your brain to follow along. For this reason, I don't expect an audience score to be 95% or whatever, but I would expect it to be much higher. Perhaps it was a little slow for some people at times. I certainly did not think so. I was hooked from the beginning and thoroughly engrossed the entire 103 minute run time.


Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Almost perfect. While it may not even end up in my top five movies of the year, Tom Ford's (A Single Man) Nocturnal Animals was almost perfect. There was so much I liked in this movie and Ford almost created a masterpiece, but the movie just felt short. An A- for sure. Maybe even an A. But it won't be the 49th movie that I've seen that I would classify as an A+. Jake Gyllenhaal (Love and Other Drugs, Everest) is better than ever and he COULD end up with an Oscar nomination for this film. In a perfect world, he would, especially since he very well may have been the odd man out both in 2015 (Nightcrawler) and 2016 (Southpaw) for a Best Actor Academy Award. But with four of the five slots pretty much locked up (Tom Hanks - Sully, Denzel Washington - Fences, Casey Affleck - Manchester by the Sea, Joel Edgerton (Loving), that leaves only one more nomination between Gyllenhaal, Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Warren Beatty (Rules Don't Apply), and Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge). And, to be honest, while his performance was great, it wasn't nearly the performance he gave in either Nightcrawler or Southpaw. Ford's chances for a Best Directing nod look even dimmer, and an impressive performance by Amy Adams (The Fighter, American Hustle) may be completely overlooked because she will likely receive a nomination (and may even be the frontrunner) for Arrival, a movie that was released just a week before Nocturnal Animals.


Everest (2015)

I know I am in a major minority when I give my review of this movie and I know there will be many who wonder what I'm talking about. But...this movie absolutely sucked. I realize that many have never seen a mountain climbing movie or, worse, have only the likes of Vertical Limit to compare it too. But before I get to far into my review of Everest, let me mention a few mountain climbing movies that I would watch a dozen times again before forcing myself to watch Everest. The most notable one to me is a recent one that most people have never heard of. It's the 2008 (or 2010 depending on who you ask) German released North Face (Nordwand). It takes a few minutes to get past the subtitles, but it's worth it. This movie is absolute horrifying in its detail of its climbers experiencing some of the most brutal physical elements in nature. There is also Touching the Void. There is also K2. Heck, I think I'd even put Cliffhanger up there as a more entertaining movie. And while it's not about reaching any sort of summit, the absolute best climbing-based movie is the fantastic 127 Hours, one of the best two hours you can experience with a film (side note...watch the director's cut). But as far as Everest goes, man did I have extraordinarily high hopes for this film. And it disappointed on just about every level.


Southpaw (2015)

History probably will not remember this because he just pissed earning an Academy Award nomination for the first performance and may again just miss out for this one, but the physical transformation from Jake Gyllenhaal's performance as sickly, twisted reporter Lou Bloom in 2014's fantastically crafted Nightcrawler to the lean, mean, fighting machine Billy Hope in 2015's Southpaw is remarkable. As people watch either, or both, of these movies in the future, I think they will fail to remember that these two movies were filmed back to back in his career. But aside from how he changed the physical look of his body for each of these roles, his acting performance in each of these films might be the two best in a career that continues to hit all the right buttons, save for The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. What I'll see first about Southpaw is the less you know going in, the better off I think you will be. So if you haven't seen it, I will list my overall score of the film here and I would suggest not reading anymore until after you've seen the film or if the surprise factor isn't something that you are interested. I will alert you when I add spoilers to this review. I would give Southpaw an overall score of 87.5/100.