Hope you enjoy my movie reviews which reflect my opinion of the many movies I’ve enjoyed or not!

PHANTOM THREAD (2017) – My rating: 7/10

Phantom Thread is a drama written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.  This unusual film is about a couturier who takes a young waitress as his muse.  I didn’t think this film was Oscar worthy nor did I think it made a whole lot of sense.  I did feel the acting was brilliant and the fashions were exquisite.

In 1954 London, renowned fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock (Danial Day-Lewis) creates dresses for members of high society. His charisma and genius is matched by his obsessive, controlling personality. Cyril (Lesley Manville) his sister, manages the day-to-day operations of his fashion house and has significant influence over his life. Reynolds is haunted by the death of their mother, and stitches hidden messages into the linings of the dresses he makes to show the artistry of his work.

While visiting a restaurant in the countryside, Reynolds is drawn to a waitress named Alma (Vicky Krieps). After some conversation, he asks her on a date, and she accepts. Their relationship develops, and she moves in with him, becoming his assistant and muse. Cyril initially distrusts Alma but comes to respect her willfulness and determination.

At first, Alma enjoys being a part of Reynolds’ work, but he proves aloof and hard to please, and they bicker. When Alma makes him a romantic dinner, Reynolds lashes out, saying he will not tolerate deviations from the routines he has worked hard to perfect.

Alma poisons Reynolds’ tea with poisonous mushroom gathered outside his country house. As he readies a wedding gown for a Belgian princess, Reynolds collapses, damaging the dress and forcing his staff to work all night to repair it. He becomes gravely ill and has hallucinations of his mother. Alma nurses him back to health and he asks her to marry him. She accepts.

Reynolds and Alma soon start bickering again. As Reynolds feels his work is suffering, he concludes it may be time to send her away. Alma responds by making Reynolds a poisoned omelette. As he chews his first bite, she informs him that she wants him weak and vulnerable with only her to take care of him. Reynolds swallows the omelette and tells her to kiss him.

Where Phantom Thread ends up was unclear to me and I’m not sure it will be any clearer to you.  You will have to see the movie to determine if the rest of the story makes sense to you or not.  I did not see the fabulous plot noted by other critics or the Academy.  As usual, Danial Day-Lewis’ acting was outstanding.  It is rumored that this will be Danial’s final role before retiring. Frankly, I was disappointed by this long and drawn out bazaar story that nearly put me to sleep.  There were some highs but lots of lows.  You’ll have to decide for yourself if Phantom Thread is a worthy movie!

[Phantom Thread is Oscar nominated for BEST: Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress, Costume Design and Original Score]



DUNKIRK (2017) – My rating: 8/10

Dunkirk is a war film written, directed, and produced by Christopher Nolan.  The film portrays the miraculous evacuation during World War II from three perspectives: land, sea, and air. It has little dialogue, as Nolan sought to create suspense from cinematography and music. The film has extensive practical effects, employs thousands of extras, historic boats and period airplanes. Dunkirk is a true story about 300,000 plus soldiers hopelessly trapped on the beach at Dunkirk.

Because Dunkirk is a well known story in history, I’ve decided to post the entire story as it doesn’t take anything away from the movie.


In 1940, during the Battle of France, when allied soldiers retreated to Dunkirk, Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), a young British private, became the sole survivor when he escaped a German ambush and ended up on the beach in Dunkirk.   There he found thousands of troops awaiting evacuation. Soon after meeting Gibson (Aneurin Barnard), who was burying a soldier, the two found a wounded man as a result of a German dive-bomber attack.  They transported him by stretcher onto a hospital ship and was hoping to remain aboard, but were ordered off and the ship was sunk by dive bombers.  Tommy then helped another soldier named Alex (Harry Styles) from out of the water. They decided to leave at night on a destroyer, but it was sunk by a torpedo. Gibson opened a hatch, freeing Tommy and Alex from the hold, and they ended up back on the beach.

With only 1 mole available for embarking on deep-draft ships, the Royal Navy requisitions civilian vessels that can get to the beach. In Weymouth, an amateur sailor named Dawson (Mark Rylance) and his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) set out on his boat, Moonstone instead of letting the Navy commandeer her. Impulsively, Peter’s teenage friend George (Barry Keoghan) joins them. At sea, they rescue a shell-shocked soldier from a wrecked ship. When he realizes that Dawson is continuing on to Dunkirk, the soldier demands that they turn back and tries to wrest control of the boat; in the struggle, George falls and suffers a head injury that renders him blind. Elsewhere, three Spitfires cross the English Channel, heading towards Dunkirk. After their leader is shot down in a dogfight, one of the pilots, Farrier (Tom Hardy), assumes command even though his fuel gauge is shattered. They save a minesweeper from a German Heinkel He 111 bomber, but the other surviving Spitfire is hit and ditches. The pilot, Collins (Jack Lowden), cannot open his canopy to escape his sinking airplane, but is rescued by the Moonstone.

Tommy, Alex and Gibson join a group of Scottish soldiers and hide inside a trawler that lies beached outside the Allied perimeter, waiting for the rising tide to re-float it. German troops shoot at the boat, and water enters through the bullet holes. Alex, hoping to lighten the boat, accuses Gibson, who has been silent throughout, of being a German spy and demands that he leave. Gibson reveals he is French; he stole the identity of the soldier he buried, hoping to be evacuated with the British. Everyone abandons the fishing boat when it begins to sink. Gibson is unable to get out and drowns. Alex and Tommy swim towards a nearby destroyer, but it is sunk by a bomber. Moonstone manoeuvres to take on those in the water, including Alex and Tommy. Peter discovers that George is dead; when asked by the shell-shocked soldier, he lies that George will be fine. Farrier shoots down the bomber before his fuel runs out. Gliding over the beach, he lands beyond the Allied perimeter. He sets fire to his airplane and is taken prisoner. At the beach, Royal Navy Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh) watches the last British soldiers leave. He notes that nearly 300,000 have been evacuated, ten times more than British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had hoped for. He remains to oversee the evacuation of the French.

Arriving back in Weymouth, Dawson is congratulated for having saved so many men. The shell-shocked soldier sees George’s body being carried away. Peter goes to the local newspaper; a front-page article later commends George as a hero. Alex and Tommy board a train in Weymouth. Alex expects public hostility as the train approaches Woking, but they receive a hero’s welcome instead. Tommy reads out Churchill’s address to the nation from a newspaper.

Dunkirk shows a lot of war action.  If you’re not into war movies, you’ll probably hate the this one.  I didn’t find Dunkirk easy to follow or easy to accept.  There is a lot of death, destruction and defeat.  While this is the reality of war, it’s not easy to relive.  I think Nolan did a tremendous job with Dunkirk war is just not my favorite subject.  I highly recommend Dunkirk if you fuzzy on your history re ww2.  Check it out.

[Dunkirk is Oscar nominated for BEST: Picture, Director, Cinematography,  Production Design, Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Film Editing]


CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (2017) – My rating 7.2/10

Call Me by Your Name is a coming-of-age drama directed by Luca Guadagnino and written by James Ivory and based on the 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman.  Call Me by Your Name chronicles the romantic relationship between a 17 year old Jewish-American Italian boy and a 24 year old  Jewish-American graduate student who meet and start a  romance in Italy.  At face value, I got very little from this movie but am certain many others found it very informative and touching.

Call Me By Your Name opens in Italy, 1983 at the family home of the Perlman’s.  17 year old Elio, (Timothée Chalamet) lives in the northern Italian countryside with his parents. His father (Michael Stuhlbarg), a professor of archaeology, invites a 24-year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer), to live with his family during the summer to help with his academic paperwork. Elio, an introspective bibliophile and musical prodigy, finds little in common with Oliver’s carefree and exuberant personality and also resents vacating his bedroom for the duration of Oliver’s stay. Elio spends much of the summer reading books and hanging out with his girlfriend, Marzia (Esther Garrel), while Oliver is attracted to one of the local girls, much to Elio’s chagrin.

Elio and Oliver begin to spend time with each other, and a seductive courtship emerges—they swim together, go for long walks in the town, and accompany Elio’s father on an archaeological trip. Although Elio begins a sexual relationship with Marzia and brags about it in front of Oliver to gauge his reaction, he increasingly finds himself attracted to Oliver. During a trip to the post office, Elio subtly confesses his feelings to Oliver, who gently tells him that he should not act on them. Later that day, Elio and Oliver kiss, though Oliver is reluctant to go further but the two manage to cultivate a full blown affair.

With the end of Oliver’s stay imminent, the couple find themselves overcome by uncertainty and longing. Elio’s parents, conscious of the bond between the two, recommend they take a trip to Bergamo together before Oliver goes back to America. They spend three romantic days together, after which Oliver leaves, and a heartbroken Elio returns home.

Call Me By Your Name is truly a love story.  While I’ve left out most of the details of their relationship, I’ve tried to reveal the innocence and relevance of the relationship.  You will have to see this coming of age film to really understand the entire meaning of the story.  While I didn’t find it to be the greatest, you might feel differently.  I felt it took a long road to get to the point.

[Call Me By Your Name is Oscar nominated for BEST: Picture, Actor, Adapted Screenplay and Original Song]


DARKEST HOUR (2017) – My rating: 9/10

Darkest Hour is a British war drama directed by Joe Wright and written by Anthony McCarten. It is an account of the early days of Winston Churchill as Prime Minister, when Nazi Germany swept across Western Europe, threatening to defeat the United Kingdom during World War II. This threat lead to friction at the highest levels of government between those who would make a peace treaty with Hitler and Churchill who refused.

Darkest Hour starts in May of 1940 with the opposition Labour Party in Parliament demanding the resignation of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) for being too weak in the face of the Nazi onslaught. Chamberlain tells Conservative Party advisers that he wants Lord Halifax (Stephen Dillane) as his successor, but Halifax does not want to become Prime Minister yet. Chamberlain must choose the only other man whom other parties will support: Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman), the First Lord of the Admiralty.

Churchill, who was not well liked, tried to dismiss his new secretary Elizabeth Layton (Lily James) for mis-hearing him, which caused his wife Clementine, (Kristin Scott Thomas) to strongly reprimand him. After Churchill’s acceptance, King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn) reluctantly invited him to form a government that would include Chamberlain and Halifax.

Despite being right about the danger from Adolf Hitler, Churchill’s poor reputation remained because of his record in the Admiralty, the Gallipoli Campaign in the First World War, his views on India and his support for Edward VIII during the Abdication Crisis. Churchill’s first speech is aggressive, promising “Blood, toil, tears and sweat,” for which he is chastised by the King and practically ignored by Parliament. Churchill refuses to negotiate for peace, believing that the Germans are untrustworthy.  Eventually, a plan was devised to cause a vote of no confidence that would allow Halifax to replace Churchill as Prime Minister.  The British Expeditionary Force is trapped at Dunkirk and Calais. Against the advice of the War Cabinet, Churchill orders Brigadier Claude Nicholson in Calais to lead the 30th Infantry Brigade in a suicide attack to distract the enemy while the soldiers at Dunkirk evacuate.

Defeat in France causes the War Cabinet to support negotiating with Germany. George VI unexpectedly visits Churchill, the King, not wanting to rule in exile should Britain be invaded, encourages the Prime Minister to continue the war. Still uncertain of what to do, Churchill decides to ask London Underground passengers; the civilians want to continue to fight. Churchill meets with the Outer Cabinet and other members of Parliament, who also support him. The evacuation of troops from Dunkirk, Operation Dynamo, is successful.

As Churchill prepares to address Parliament, Halifax asks Chamberlain to continue with their plan to resign, but Chamberlain decides to listen to the address first. Towards the end of his speech, Churchill proclaims that “We shall fight on the beaches” should the Germans invade. Chamberlain decides to support Churchill, and Parliament applauds the Prime Minister’s defiance.

Darkest Hour is a great movie and a tells a pretty accurate history of Churchill’s appointment to Prime Minister and the extraordinary rescue of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk.  I highly recommend this movie to all.  Check it out — this is one of Gary Oldman’s greatest performances.

[Darkest Hour is nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor Cinematography, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling and Production Design]



LADY BIRD (2017) – My rating: 6.5/10

Lady Bird is a comedy drama written and directed by Greta Gerwig.   Just by the title alone, I thought this was a movie about the wife of LBJ, whose name was Claudia Alta Johnson but was affectionately nicknamed Lady Bird by her nursemaid because she thought Claudia was as “purty as a ladybird”.  To my surprise, Lady Bird is as far from a story about a president or his wife as a story can get.  Instead it is a story about a typical high-school senior and her turbulent relationship with her mother.

Lady Bird is set in Sacramento, California in 2002-03 and tells the story of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) who is a senior student at a Catholic high school and is looking to some day attend an ivy league college in a city with lots of culture.  The problem is, her family is financially strapped and her mother, Marion McPherson (Laurie Metcalf) constantly reminds the family of their financial woes.

Trying to make the best of her situation, Lady Bird joins the school theater program along with her best friend Julie Steffano (Beanie Feldstein) and starts intimately dating Danny O’Neill (Lucas Hedges).  However, her relationship with Danny is short lived when she catches him making out with another boy in the bathroom stall.  Lady Bird moves on at her mother’s request, taking a job at the coffee shop where she meets her next boyfriend, a musician named Kyle (Kyle Scheible). Lady Bird gives Danny’s grandmother’s home as her address to appear wealthy and drops out of the theater program. At the coffee shop, she consoles Danny after he expresses his struggle to come out.  Lady Bird discovers that her father, Larry McPherson (Tracy Letts) has lost his job and has been battling depression for most of his life. Despite all, she begins applying to east-coast colleges and is placed on NY colleges wait list.  At this point, Lady Bird picks up with some good points and some interesting resolutions that made the movie worth while to those who relate to this type of saga.

Personally, I found Lady Bird slow and somewhat boring.  The answers to their problems were obvious to me so I didn’t really get much from the movie and I definitely didn’t think it was Oscar worthy.  The acting was brilliant and the story was not alien.  I’m sure many would be able to relate to the dysfunction that surrounded this family.  There’s much more to be heard and seen but I didn’t want to spoil it — Check it out, there may be something in it for you!

[Lady Bird is nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director.]


I, TONYA (2017) – My rating: 8/10

I, Tonya, is a biographical film directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Steven Rogers.  There has been so much publicity and research into the Tonya Harding Saga, I wanted no parts of any future stories depicting the ups and downs or the rights and wrongs of the haves vs. the have none.  Because of the Oscar nominations, I was destine to see I, Tonya.  I’m glad I did.

I, Tonya, opens in 1970 when Tonya (Maizie Smith [age 4] / Margot Robbie [older adult]  / Mckenna Grace [young adult]) was 4 years old.  Taken to an ice skating rink by her abusive mother Lavona Fay Golden (Allison Janny) who  also took Tonya out of school to persue ice skating full time and employed a full time coach for Tonya, Diane Rowlinson (Julianne Nicholson).  Before long, Tonya becomes one of the best ice skaters in the US.  By the age of 15, she starts to date 18 year old Jeff Gillooly (Sebastion Stan) and despite his abusiveness and her mother’s disapproval, she marries him anyway.  The abuse gets worse but Tonya forges on becoming the first and only skater to accomplish a 2 triple Axel jump in competition.  Tonya hires a new coach for the 1992 Winter Olympics after a fight with Diane but comes in 4th.  Tonya’s status is viewed by the judges as White uneducated trash with a challenged wardrobe and a loud mouth.  Her husband, Jeff cooks up a scheme to scare rival skater, Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver) but the plan backfires, Nancy is badly injured and Jeff ends up arrested.  Tonya and Jeff divorce as Tonya is banished from ice skating for life.

While I, Tonya is a true story, this version goes more into the details as they actually happened, giving the audience a more descriptive account and timeline than any of the previous movies about Tonya I’ve seen.  If the motive here is to drum up sympathy and understanding into the plight of Tonya’s life and circumstances, I think I, Tonya accomplished that goal.  The movie managed to be entertaining as well as clear up any questions you may still have about the whole Nancy/Tonya saga.  The problem is, at this point you just might not care.  I still highly recommend this movie.  Check it out!

[I, Tonya received Oscar nominations for Best actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Editing]



Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a crime film written, produced, and directed by Martin McDonagh. Simply put, “3 Billboards” is about a mother who rents three billboards to call attention to her daughter’s unsolved murder.  It sort of reminds me of the TV hit, “Wisdom of the Crowd”.  Instead of using computer technology it’s local, instead of involving the world, it only involves those who see the billboards and instead of having information at your fingertips, you have to make phone calls or rely on logic and whatever detective skills you may have achieved over time.

Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) is grieving the rape and murder of her teenage daughter, Angela seven months earlier. Angry over the lack of progress in the investigation, she rents three abandoned billboards near her home, which in sequence reads “RAPED WHILE DYING“, “AND STILL NO ARRESTS?“,  “HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?” The billboards are obviously upsetting to the townspeople, including Sheriff Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and racist officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell). The open knowledge that Willoughby is terminally ill is adding to the towns disapproval of the billboards. Mildred and her depressed son Robbie (Lucas Hedges) are harassed and threatened, but stay firm.

Willoughby is sympathetic to Mildred’s frustration but finds the billboards an unfair attack on his character. Angered by Mildred’s lack of respect for his authority, Jason threatens Red Welby (Caleb Landry Jones), who rented her the billboards, and arrests her friend and coworker, Denise (Amanda Warren) on trivial marijuana-possession charges. Mildred is also visited by her abusive ex-husband Charlie (John Hawkes), who blames her for their daughter’s death. Mildred is also confronted by the local priest over the town’s disapproval of the billboards, this was one of the great highlights of the movie.  Mildred worked her smart retorts against the priest’s words of reprimand, which had audiences cheering at best. The list of disapproving “billboards against Willoughby” supporters continued when Mildred pays a visit to Geoffrey (Jerry Winsett), the local dentist, which resulted in Willoughby bringing her in for questioning because of injuries Geoffrey obtained when he approaches her with a drill while voicing the town’s disapproval of the billboards.  During the interview, Willoughby coughs up blood and is taken away by ambulance.  Later, Mildred manages to set the police station on fire using Molotov cocktails but is not charged because the town dwarf, James, (Peter Dinkladge) who happens to be smitten with Mildred and provides her with an alibi.  In the meanwhile, Jason assaults Red and his assistant, which is witnessed by Willoughby’s replacement, Abercrombie, (Clarke Peters) who fires him.

At this point, 3 Billboards is pretty intriguing and has just about everyone’s attention.  I highly recommend this movie because it’s different and quite entertaining.   I won’t say you’ll be happy with the ending but you will not forget the movie.  Check it out!  I think it’s awesome!

[Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri has been nominated for Best Picture, 2Best Actor awards, Best Actress, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score and Original Screenplay]