The Best and Worst of Elizabeth Olsen
Elizabeth Olsen is one of those few actresses who started out making thought-provoking films instead of easing into them over time or doing one every now and then. She's obviously a smart young woman and she shows it through her films. In the following article I will list her four best and four worst films. As always, a complete rated filmography is included.
Best #1: Wind River
Wind River is a spectacular film, one that is stunning and disturbing and shakes you to the core. What makes the film so impactful is its honesty, showing crime exactly how it is and never shying away from the grim reality most young people face today.
The film takes place on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Inspired by actual events, the film follows Cody Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a tracker and game hunter who stumbles upon the body of a young girl while hunting mountain lions. FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) leads the investigation and asks Cody to help her solve the crime. What they find is more than Jane expected and the investigation hits Cody a little too close to home.
The story is a well-written and remarkably directed cat-and-mouse thriller, but what makes the film so much more intense is the setting: a barren, snow-covered landscape that is prone to blizzards and heavy snowstorms. This beautiful yet dangerous location gives the audience the feeling of loneliness and inescapability.
The acting was impressive as well. Not only was this a step up for Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen but it also showed just how incredible Gil Birmingham can be in serious roles. Gil was only on-screen for a short time but he stole the scenes he had.
Wind River also featured a surprise cameo from Jon Bernthal who is fast-becoming a superstar. Known for his dark and sometimes villainous roles, it was a good change of pace (albeit a sad scene) to see him as a good man defending the one part of him that he couldn't live without.
In conclusion, I have nothing but high praise for Wind River. I hope that it can gain attention and be seen by many more people out there. The message is important to hear and understand while the film as a whole is a tragic, heartbreaking, and truly eye-opening experience that will stick with you for a long time. I give it a perfect 4 out of 4.
Best #2: Avengers: Infinity War
Remember a few years back when final films in a series were split into two parts? Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Twilight to name a few. Be aware - Avengers: Infinity War is a two-part film. The conclusion will come next year. So, while this review will have NO spoilers, I just want to warn you all that the film has a massive cliffhanger.
The film sees our divided heroes as they form an alliance with the Guardians of the Galaxy in order to take on Thanos. Thanos is seeking the six Infinity Stones. If he gets his hands on all six stones, he will not only become the most powerful being in the galaxy, but also will wipe out half the population of the universe. Thanos saw his own planet become overpopulated and eventually his entire world died. Thanos took it upon himself to wipe out half the population planet by planet until the universe was in balance once again.
What I loved most about the film was how you couldn't really argue with Thanos. While his methods were extreme and, in many ways, devastating, he had a point. Earth teeters on the edge every day because of overpopulation, pollution, perverted politicians keeping the rich rich and the poor poor, etc. There's a ton of factors bombarding the human race. While I'm in no way condoning genocide, wouldn't we be better off if there were less people in the world? Maybe instead of killing half of us, help us colonize Mars, Thanos!
Thanos's perspective upped the stakes and gave the film a unique tension that most superhero films don't have. It was unpredictable and kept you on the edge of your seat for the entire 2 and a half hours. It also didn't even feel like a long film. There was so much going on that it kept your attention and kept you guessing. It had a ton of humor, excitement, and just as much heart as heartbreak. The visuals were outstanding and many moments breathtaking.
In conclusion, I have nothing but praise for this film, aside from one small complaint. Elizabeth Olsen has just given up completely as far as trying to keep up her Russian accent. They did, however, explain that the accent is gone because Natasha was training her to be a spy, which makes sense. Either way, that's a small issue though and I'm not going to let it detract from how great this film was. Marvel really stepped it up with this film and took a huge risk on making it two parts. It certainly paid off and gave us one of the most incredible films with one of the most heartbreaking endings ever. I give the film a 4 out of 4.
Best #3: Ingrid Goes West
Ingrid Goes West was an honest, shocking look inside the mind of the obsessed. Ingrid, a girl who obsesses over and stalks people on social media, is fresh out of a psychiatric institution and is ready for a fresh start. When she finds someone new on Instagram, she begins her cycle once again and even goes so far as to kidnap the woman's dog just to get close to her.
Ingrid Goes West is proof mental illness exists and I don't mean that in a derogatory way. Anyone who denies mental illness's existence needs to see this film. There are so many people out there who are like Ingrid and it is easy to do so on social media. It's easy to get obsessed over a certain person and want to be just like them but in reality even a frequent poster on social media can be as fake as they come.
The film is deep and makes you both hate and feel sorry for Ingrid. I hope that people can see this film and encourage people they know like her to get the help they need. I give the film a 4 out of 4.
Best #4: Oldboy
Oldboy is probably the best remake out there. Normally I'm against any type of remake because they are never the same quality nor do they have the same impact the original has. Remakes are hardly ever fresh or surprising but somehow Oldboy managed to be both a remake and fantastic.
We all know the story right? A man is kidnapped and held prisoner in a small room for 20 years and after his release he sets out to find his captors and bring them to justice.
The film is mind-boggling and twisted and makes you feel for this man and breaks your heart as the truth is revealed in the end. I give Oldboy a perfect 4 out of 4.
The Worst and the Lesser
Now we move along to the "Worst" section. None of these films are truly bad or horrible but just lesser than the quality of Elizabeth's other films. Some needed work with the writing and others needed work with everything else. So, without further ado, here are the four worst/lesser films of Elizabeth Olsen's career.
Worst #1: Silent House
Silent House was Elizabeth's first film and it could have been amazing but the writing is what made the film suffer so much. I like when the real-time approach is used but it did not do this story justice. One-Continuous-Shot directing can be a huge asset when you're filming epics like Alejandro Inarritu does but in this case it made the film feel rushed and incomplete in a sense. The big reveal came out of nowhere, mainly because we had no idea what the point was. Poor Elizabeth must have been told to run around and scream for an hour and then when she lands in the living room for the 5th time then the plot will start.
If you're looking for a good mindbender, I suggest watching The Uninvited or Secret Window instead. I give Silent House a 2 out of 4.
Worst #2: Very Good Girls
Very Good Girls had what seemed like a good plot line but it turned into a slow and dull film with only one real moment of emotion. Dakota Fanning was so subpar in this film and I'm not sure if it was her or the writing that was weighing the film down. She was basically a zombie through the whole thing and was so hypocritical that it was almost sickening. The fact that Elizabeth's character accepts and forgives Dakota's character's actions and acts like all's well and good is the biggest cop out in recent drama film history. I give Very Good Girls a 2 out of 4.
Worst #3: In Secret
In Secret was almost amazing. Almost. It had such a good story and really pulled you in but somewhere around the halfway mark the film dwindled ad became less interesting and more dull as each minute passed. The ending was sudden and left you without any kind of resolution. It tried, as did the entire cast, but sadly it just didn't reach as high as it could have. I give the film a 2.5 out of 4.
Worst #4: Godzilla
Godzilla had some cool action scenes but that's about it. The story starts out well but loses steam along the way. Much of the film's issues are because of the fact that there was very little Godzilla. Pretty awkward when you have a monster movie with maybe ten minutes screen time from the title monster.
The actors did a good job with what they were given and you could tell the crew and cast were trying to be respectful of the original classic. Sometimes reboots just don't pan out well. I give the film a 2.5 out of 4.
*Because Elizabeth had a two-second cameo in How the West Was Fun, that is not included in the filmography.*
- Silent House - 2 out of 4
- Martha Marcy May Marlene - 3 out of 4
- Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding - 3.5 out of 4
- Red Lights - 3 out of 4
- Liberal Arts - 3 out of 4
- Kill Your Darlings - 3 out of 4
- Very Good Girls - 2 out of 4
- In Secret - 2.5 out of 4
- Oldboy - 4 out of 4
- Godzilla - 2.5 out of 4
- Avengers: Age of Ultron - 4 out of 4
- I Saw the Light - 3 out of 4
- Captain America: Civil War - 4 out of 4
- Ingrid Goes West - 4 out of 4
- Wind River - 4 out of 4
- Kodachrome - 3.5 out of 4
- Avengers: Infinity War - 4 out of 4
What's Your Favorite Elizabeth Olsen Film?
Elizabeth seemed to rocket directly to stardom and shows no intention of slowing down. From spectacular indie films to superheroes, she has literally done it all and I personally can't wait to see where she goes after her Marvel contract expires.
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© 2017 Alec Zander