Six new year-end awards seasons reviews from Danielle Solzman of Cultured Vultures

CV

Click on the titles for full reviews

PHANTOM THREAD

The eighth film from Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread, also serves as what is expected to be Daniel Day-Lewis’ last appearance as an actor.

A world in which Daniel Day-Lewis –who reunites with his There Will Be Blood director– is not acting is not one that’s fun to think about. The three-time Oscar winner goes out with one of the strongest performances of his career. No stranger to method performances, it’s because of this that the actor has decided to effectively retire from acting following the release of Phantom Thread. Day-Lewis’ use of method acting is one that comes through in his performance as Reynolds Woodcock, a dressmaker living in 1950s London. Reynolds runs The House of Woodcock with his sister, Cyril (Lesley Manville), during a period of time when haute couture was on the rise in postwar London.

HOSTILES

Writer-director Scott Cooper has provided us a contemporary Western in his newest film, Hostiles. The film is contemporary through its message, even though it still takes place in the gritty Old West.

Christian Bale stars as Cavalry Captain Joseph Blocker, war hero-turned-jailer, who’s reluctant to take on a mission to escort the dying Cheyenne war chief, Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi), and his family from Fort Berringer, a New Mexico prison outpost and settle them back in Montana. Blocker isn’t a fan of this mission and being threatened with a court martial won’t change his feelings.

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

The Greatest Showman may have some awesome music and set pieces, but when it gets down to the thick of it, P.T. Barnum’s personal history is largely ignored.

For the second time in as many months, a film or documentary is released following an episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on the CW that features the person in question. Suffice it to say, the comic book series addressed Barnum’s past in a way that the film largely ignores. It’s telling that Australian filmmaker Michael Gracey’s feature directorial debut chooses to ignore Barnum’s past as a slave owner. Even though Barnum may have reformed as a person, there’s a lot about his past that the film ignores.

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

At first glance, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle feels like it would be an unnecessary sequel following the passing of Robin Williams. That being said, the original film doesn’t necessarily need to be viewed to enjoy the fun there is to be had in the sequel directed by Jake Kasdan.

MOLLY’S GAME

One should not enter Molly’s Game with the expectations that it’s going to be The Social NetworkA Few Good MenSports Night, or The West Wing. Sorkin does his best work when he’s writing, not directing. Molly’s Game just doesn’t meet the high standards set by prior Sorkin projects.

DOWNSIZING

Writer-director Alexander Payne has made a lot of great films in the past but Downsizing is not one of those films. It’s so poorly executed that one can only wonder what film the National Board of Review saw when they were putting together the top films of the year. Think about it.  This is the same filmmaker who gave the world films such as ElectionAbout SchmidtSidewaysThe Descendants, and Nebraska. These were films that well-executed in not only their storytelling but in the strong acting performances as well.

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