Jason Fraley

Jason Fraley
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
Hailed by The Washington Post for "his savant-like ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley has served as WTOP's film critic since 2011. He also founded the film history website The Film Spectrum, which The Washington Post hailed for its "spirited reviews with the ethos of a true film aficionado."
Publications: WTOP (Washington, D.C.)

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
3/4 66% The Secret Garden (2020) "The Secret Garden" pales in comparison to the 1993 children's flick, but it still provides a warm blanket of familiarity during a chaotic time. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 7, 2020
2/4 65% Aquaman (2018) Comic-book fans will find it entertaining enough to stay afloat, non-fans will start drowning and the rest of us will be tired from treading water. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3/4 64% Bird Box (2018) While it's no 4-star instant classic like "A Quiet Place," which did it first and did it better, far be it from me to nitpick a viral hit. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3.5/4 92% Stan & Ollie (2019) The real fun is simply watching Coogan and Reilly recreate all of the timeless gags. ... It's another fine mess they've gotten us into. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2.5/4 37% Glass (2019) Here's hoping "Glass" makes enough money for Shyamalan to keep trying out new ideas rather than sidetracking into franchise building. My advice is to go back and treat yourself to the ride of "Unbreakable" and only peep "Glass" if you enjoyed "Split." - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
1/4 20% Serenity (2019) The movie can't figure out what it wants to be. Is it a nautical noir like "The Lady from Shanghai?" A high-seas adventure like "Moby Dick?" Or a "Lost" island fantasy? Knight just followed "Locke" with Locke, only this time there's no moving the island. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3.5/4 92% Cold War (Zimna wojna) (2018) The result is a film that we respect, even admire, for its technical prowess more than we hold in our hearts. That is unless you hail from Poland, in which case you might get historically emotional. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2/4 85% The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) The 2014 original was better as a one-time surprise that no one saw coming, rather than a building block for an entire franchise. ... If "everything was awesome" the first time, everything is now just average. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2.5/4 70% Isn't It Romantic (2019) A clever sendup that both criticizes and cherishes its brand. It may not break much new ground - its premise is another version of Amy Schumer's "I Feel Pretty" (2018) - but it's still an undeniably cute date movie. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3/4 97% Free Solo (2018) The documentary feels more like a gripping piece of television than a fully fleshed out feature-film narrative. ... Either way, the athletic feat is undeniably impressive and the footage is inherently breathtaking. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3/4 78% Captain Marvel (2019) A film that plays it safe with familiar formula but is so entertainingly empowering that it will inspire girls everywhere. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2.5/4 70% Triple Frontier (2019) On the one hand proving that Netflix is attracting top directors (J.C. Chandor), writers (Mark Boal) and actors (Ben Affleck), while on the other hand presenting a sweeping action-adventure that's reduced on a small screen. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3/4 93% Us (2019) The larger social commentary is timely, exposing the class divides of two parallel worlds. ... yet, the underlying metaphors never fully gel with the surface-level A-story plot, which is what "Get Out" did so well. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2/4 46% Dumbo (2019) Tim Burton's new live-action remake of "Dumbo" eliminates too many of the beloved elements of the original classic for a relentlessly gloomy endeavor that's way too sad for its intended child audience. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3/4 57% The Highwaymen (2019) It's unfair to hold such a modest effort to the high standard of the 1967 masterpiece. ... Still, it's a fine companion piece that's the type of old-fashioned, midrange, character-driven story that we don't get often enough these days. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2/4 44% Mary Magdalene (2019) If you're simply looking for a spiritual reminder this Easter weekend, the film offers the disciples' Last Supper refrain: "His steadfast love is eternal." As an objective film grade, it's a 2-star take on a 4-star miracle. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3.5/4 94% Avengers: Endgame (2019) The 22nd installment is a fittingly epic, three-hour finale that packs all of the fan service you could ever want, laced with somber tones and emotional payoffs that will cause even the genre's biggest detractors to shed a tear. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2/4 65% Wine Country (2019) A boozy brunch of a flick that isn't exactly laugh-out-loud funny, but is consistently amusing in an appetizing setting with characters we care about. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2.5/4 89% John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019) A film that ups the ante on violence with some of the craziest fight sequences and highest body counts ever put on film, but a script that leaves room for little else as it jumps from action set piece to set piece. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3/4 57% Aladdin (2019) A nostalgic magic carpet ride that might not be "a whole new world" of original filmmaking, but is a welcome familiar world after the depressing downer "Dumbo" (2019). - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3.5/4 25% RocketMan (1997) A giddy yet sobering film that is part chronological biopic and part musical fantasy that's bound to have fans tapping their feet. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3.5/4 89% Always Be My Maybe (2019) This is a love story, plain and simple, a journey that is universal to all cultures. Stream it now. The title might be "Always Be My Maybe," but you should see it most definitely. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2/4 22% Dark Phoenix (2019) It's too much story to tell in one chapter while also trying to wrap up two decades worth of material. The Phoenix storyline should have been built over the past few installments, rather than cramming it all here at the end. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2/4 23% Men in Black International (2019) A fourth installment that is mindless enough to pass the time but has no real reason for existing. Why on Earth did this franchise need to continue? - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3/4 97% Toy Story 4 (2019) If the "Toy Story" trilogy took us to infinity, the fourth installment just took us beyond. Here's hoping Woody hangs his hat here and goes out on top. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3.5/4 63% Yesterday (2019) A unique premise doesn't always guarantee a great movie, but every once in a while, such a premise is executed with such heart that we can't help but leave the theater feeling changed. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3/4 91% Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) A totally enjoyable ride with a commendably creative premise. ... In the big picture, "Far From Home" is the second best "Spider-Man 2," better than Electro in 2014 but behind Doc Ock in 2004. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2.5/4 41% Stuber (2019) Not only is the subplot lazy, it exposes an overall troublesome tone where the women either die, lie, wait for men to have sex with them or wait for men to save them. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2.5/4 52% The Lion King (2019) A blockbuster that is visually mind-blowing in its photorealistic nature, yet feels oddly soulless compared to the original. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3.5/4 85% Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" is a departure from Tarantino's flashier work, showing a more mature, contemplative side to the hyper cinephile. ... Leaving the theater, you'll wonder how history might have changed had this horrific murder not occurred. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3/4 67% Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) You'll walk out smiling. Can you call it a great movie? Not with a straight face. But damned if it isn't one of the more enjoyable "Fast & Furious" flicks in years. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2.5/4 23% The Kitchen (2019) Sometimes you can have all the ingredients but too many cooks in the kitchen. That's the case in the new crime drama "The Kitchen," which features a killer cast and stylish period details, but suffers from an uneven plot that feels slapped together. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3.5/4 98% The Farewell (2019) "The Farewell" will fill you with the same feeling as Yasujirô Ozu's Japanese masterpiece "Tokyo Story." You'll want to immediately pick up the phone, call your grandparents and tell them how much you love them. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2.5/4 78% Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) A PG-13 adaptation that delivers intermittent frights amid plenty of campy nostalgia as it tries to stitch together unrelated spooky stories with mixed results. One can't help but think that it would have been better as an episodic TV series. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3.5/4 89% Blinded by the Light (2019) It certainly helps if you're already a Springsteen fan, but fandom is not a prerequisite. In fact, the film is tailor-made to convert the non-Springsteen fans. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3/4 88% Ready or Not (2019) Sometimes you watch a trailer so bonkers that you go into the movie expecting it to be awesomely bad. Then, as you sit and watch the movie itself, you realize that you actually underestimated the filmmakers. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2/4 17% The Fanatic (2019) Travolta makes specific acting choices to play a character that he said is on the spectrum, including rocking back and forth and rarely making eye contact. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3/4 84% Ad Astra (2019) There may be alien life out there, but sometimes we have to appreciate the life right in front of us. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
1/4 27% Rambo: Last Blood (2019) "Last Blood" doesn't breathe new life into the series. Instead, it cheapens a once beloved character by forcing its aging action star to deliver some of the most gruesome violence ever put on screen. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3/4 82% Judy (2019) Don't expect a comprehensive biopic. This film follows the tragic twilight of Garland's career. Rather than a star is born, it's a star burns out, so get your hankies ready. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3.5/4 68% Joker (2019) Don't expect a Marvel action flick for kids. This is a gritty character study, one where fans and critics can all agree on one thing: Joaquin Phoenix could laugh all the way to the Oscars. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2.5/4 26% Gemini Man (2019) Smith has the chops to enter a new reflective phase of his career. His younger clone, however, feels oddly lifeless. ... Perhaps it would look better in the proper frame rate. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3/4 91% El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019) A solid if unnecessary epilogue showing fans what happened to Pinkman after we last saw him drive away to freedom after being saved by Walt's blaze of glory. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2/4 63% Motherless Brooklyn (2019) Unlike "Chinatown," the hero of "Motherless Brooklyn" is not the strong, silent type like Jack Nicholson. Instead, Lionel grapples withTourette's syndrome. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3/4 68% Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) A horror-comedy sequel that may not live up to the original, but still provides plenty of brain-munching laughs. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2/4 90% The Lighthouse (2019) For all its powerful performances and haunting imagery, its setting is too bleak, its narrative too experimental, its director too indulgent, its purpose for existing too unclear. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
4/4 73% Harriet (2019) A rousing piece of work that, while traditionally structured, washes over us with such emotional resonance that it creates an almost religious experience. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3.5/4 96% The Irishman (2019) A 3 1/2 hour epic that is in many ways the antithesis of "Goodfellas," featuring many of Scorsese's auteur signatures but presented in a quiet, mournful tone asking if the gangster life was really worth it. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
2.5/4 41% Midway (2019) It might make a worthy Veterans Day watch if you bring your veteran grandparent or war-buff parent. You'll remember the experience with your loved ones more than the actual movie. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
4/4 92% Ford v Ferrari (2019) "Ford v. Ferrari" might be the best racing flick ever made. It's one that takes time building up to the big race, with plenty of character development before unleashing one of the most exciting sports action sequences in recent memory. - WTOP (Washington, D.C.) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020