ESJ's Movie Project

By Eric Johnson

I'm reviewing every movie I watch, and watching every movie I own. Settle in, this is going to take a while.

I'm reviewing every movie I watch, and watching every movie I own. Settle in, this is going to take a while.

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🎬 A fresh start for this newsletter

This newsletter is a side project for me. I haven't put any time or money into marketing it, apart from the occasional tweet, and I am so grateful to those of you who have been reading for months or years. Some of you have told me you look forward to reading …


🔢 Every movie I saw in 2020, ranked: The final list

Soul Dick Johnson Is DeadBoys StateHamiltonThe Old GuardLittle WomenMarriage StoryPortrait of a Lady on FirePalm SpringsFirst Cow1917Uncut GemsBorat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of…


🏆 Movies I loved this year that you can stream right now

#3 - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring#7 - Parasite#21 - West Side Story#25 - 12 Years a Slave#29 - Booksmart


🎄 "I don't know what to say, except it's Christmas, and we're all in misery."

Gosford Park was the first time writer Julian Fellowes got to indulge his interest in the upstairs-downstairs dynamics of old-money English aristocrats, nine years before Downton Abbey became an international phenomenon. Although that show ran too long and gr…


🎬 "If they gave a prize for being mean, the winner would be him!"

Animals Are Beautiful People is a lighthearted nature documentary that I found to be surprisingly lovely. The conceit, which you might have guessed from the title, is simple but effective: Fun and relatable anthropomorphic stories and characters based on well…


🎬 "You see gum on the street? Leave it there. It isn't free candy."

When I reviewed Zoolander back in October, I singled out Ben Stiller’s earnest commitment to the part as that movie’s strongest asset, and the same is absolutely true of (Zoolander co-star) Will Ferrell’s starring role in the disarmingly wholesome Elf. Not un…


🎬 "I'll stop a car, and I won't use my thumb!"

Captain America: The First Avenger is a sometimes-frustrating debut for my favorite character in the Marvel canon. Chris Evans acquits himself well as Cap through the constant adversity he faces, and it helps that he’s surrounded by an excellent supporting ca…


🦃 No newsletter this Friday, but ...

Hey everyone — I'm taking this Friday off, so no normal newsletter this week.However: I have a very special announcement going out next week, on Tuesday December 1. I'll be using a different email list to make this announcement, which means you need to opt-in…


🎬 "You wouldn't like me when I'm ... hungry."

Kahaani is a solidly entertaining Indian crime thriller with a really strong sense of place. Vidya Balan stars as a woman from London who arrives in Kolkata following the trail of her missing husband, and crosses paths with a federal agent looking for a suspe…


🎬 “You haven’t worked a day in your life. How could you be exhausted?”

Moana is one of my favorite Disney movies, period. The animation is beautiful, the songs are catchy, and the story is heartfelt without being sappy, and familiar without being contrived. If you missed this one when it came out in late 2016 — a time when I rea…


🎬 "I volunteer as tribute!"

Having never read the books or seen any of the movies, I liked 2012’s The Hunger Games much better than I expected. Through cultural osmosis, I knew certain things about the movie already: Jennifer Lawrence, a possible love interest named Peeta, that three-fi…


🎬 Comfy, feel-good movies to get you through Election Day/Week/Month

Currently streaming on Disney+.


🎬 "Good evening, Clarice."

I didn’t realize that when I revisited 2006's Borat earlier this year, I was willing into existence a surprise sequel, filmed mid-pandemic and perfectly timed for the US elections. But Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm (etc.) is the movie America deserves right now…


🎬 "What is the Matrix?"

The Matrix should be any screenwriter’s bible for effective world-building. In just over two hours, it sets up an insanely convoluted techno-fantasy world (or is it?), and pays off everything in the most entertaining fashion. Today, it seems the movie’s legac…


🎬 “I like my blood. I’ve grown accustomed to it.”

I liked the visual design of Elysium and I didn’t mind its simplistic politics — but this is a movie with a lot of unrealized potential that misses too many opportunities to ignore. In 2154, we're told, Earth’s wealthy people have fled their polluted home pla…


🎬 "YOU ... SHALL NOT ... PASS!"

Zoolander is a very silly movie carried almost entirely by Ben Stiller’s commitment to his character: A "really, really, really, ridiculously good looking" male model who is brainwashed by a fashion magnate to kill the prime minister of Malaysia. Stiller's co…


🎬 “He’s invisible, that’s what’s the matter with him.”

Shakespeare in Love is a passable fictionalization of how William Shakespeare wrote Romeo & Juliet, but its triumph at the 1999 Oscars is reflective of Hollywood at its most corrupt. This is a blandly directed, extremely unsubtle movie. It has a killer ca…


🎬 "Snakes ... Why did it have to be snakes?"

9 to 5 is a classic comedy that deserves a re-appreciation — I hadn't seen it in maybe 15 years, but I'm glad I hunted down the DVD on eBay.Starring the triple threat of Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin, this an unintentional period piece that captur…


🎬 "Hello, boys! I'm baaaaack!"

12 Years a Slave should be assigned viewing in schools across the United States. This is an unflinching, nuanced, artfully directed and acted portrait of American slavery, and it directly engages with the lie which I and countless others were fed in school: T…


🎬 "Have you seen this chicken?"

The Lives of Others is an excellent, tense, politically resonant drama about privacy, freedom of expression, and the potential for change. It's not showy in any particular way, but mesmerizing performances and a damn-near-perfect script carry it all the way. …