Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

As of 18 January 2020, 563 films have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and 1967’s Doctor Dolittle is the worst one of them. This is not, we must immediately make clear, an example of a film that’s not very good that still got that nomination, and several others, because it was […]

First, let’s address the misconception that seems to be all over: there haven’t been “so many” film adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved 1868 novel Little Women. In the 92 years of sound cinema, there have been three: the one directed by George Cukor in 1933, the one directed by Mervyn LeRoy in 1949, and […]

Clint Eastwood, a director I have admired and enjoyed far more often than not, has always had two pronounced weaknesses. One is that he directs like an actor, famously remaining hands-off and letting his cast find their characters, while using few takes to avoid draining their freshness. And this only works with a certain kind […]

The new anti-death penalty film Clemency offers no surprises; some unexpected emphases, maybe, but no surprises. And given what message movies are, and what Oscarbait is, surprises weren’t the point, of course. The only thing we can really hope for is that the execution of the not-surprises will be effective, and in this case, I […]

As a story, The Two Popes is a confused and messy thing. “Popes! They’re just like us!” it declares in its pizza party scene, or the moment when Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), the future Pope Francis, whistles “Dancing Queen” by ABBA in the Vatican men’s room. But it’s also about the intractable battle […]

I find Sam Mendes to be a frustrating director far more often than not – he lets his actors get away with a whole lot of very easy choices, and he gravitates towards projects with the most desperately banal bourgeois middlebrow sensibilities – but if one of the signs of a great film director is […]

There is one truly sublime moment in Just Mercy, near the beginning. Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), a legal intern on the verge of taking the bar, has been sent to meet with Henry (J. Alphonse Nicholson), a young man of about Bryan’s age on death row, to give him the news that there is […]

That Bombshell wants to be The Big Short would be embarrassingly obvious anyway, but the fact that Charles Randolph wrote both films seals the deal. No question about it, this The Big Short of #MeToo biopics; the Vice of #MeToo biopics might even actually be more accurate, but I don’t want to be too hard […]

The Hegelian dialectic is a concept that sometimes gives people trouble (it is also a concept that Hegel did not devise and openly derided, at least its typical formulation), but it’s not that hard to understand. There exists a condition; a thesis. The existence of this condition necessarily triggers its opposite reaction; an antithesis. The […]

All the credit in the world to Shia LaBeouf – there’s a phrase that makes me feel unwell just typing it out – for how unfathomably hard it must have been to write and then act in Honey Boy. The film is a barely-disguised autobiography drawing a bright, bold line from LaBeouf’s years as a […]

I admire The Aeronauts for its purity. This not a movie that does anything. It’s a movie that seems to exist because somewhere along the line, a producer or writer or director (here, Tom Harper is all three, which means it’s probably safe to blame him) heard about how 19th Century scientists figured out a […]