The Darkest Hour: A
In "Darkest Hour,” Gary Oldman gives a commanding performance as Winston Churchill as he is made prime minister of England in 1940 as the island nation once again faces world war. He doesn't have the complete support of the crown or his own party, but what director Joe Wright shows is how Churchill had the unmistakable statesmanship that eventually galvanized his king and country. I recommend a "Darkest Hour"/"Dunkirk" movie night for fellow history buffs.
The Disaster Artist: A-
Imagine, if you will if the guys from "Dumb & Dumber" had millions and millions of unlimited funds? That's the feeling some may come away with watching James Franco star in "The Disaster Artist" which he also directed. You'll alternate between cringing and guffawing of this drama-mentary about the making of the 2003 film "The Room."
If you're a fan of Denzel Washington, there is much to like in "Roman J. Israel, Esq." Washington is the titular character who finds himself on the uncomfortable end of change. Israel is a legal dilettante, and the audience can infer he is likely someone who could be classified as high-functioning on the autism spectrum due to his ability to quote legalese chapter and verse. While the trailer makes this film seem as if it is some kind of action drama, it's merely the story of one unusual man making a life-defining ethical compromise in response to the disappearance of the familiar. Washington is the strongest part of a story that leaves some elements unexplored and includes some that are unnecessary, but it is solidly engaging.
Wonder Wheel: C+
One of the few reasons to see Woody Allen's "Wonder Wheel" is Kate Winslet's performance as a failed actress turned Coney Island waitress. She's disappointed in her working-class husband and has a firebug young son. Having a beautiful stepdaughter doesn't help the situation. Enter a younger, dashing lifeguard (Justin Timberlake) and a rather benign drama of a love triangle begins. While shot quite nicely, this is movie seems to be working out something of the Allen mystique that falls flat.