4 stars

Every time there is a new Quentin Tarantino film in theaters, the film is put up against a rigorous test. Tarantino is one of the few directors in Hollywood that is almost more famous than the movies he works on. This “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” is an exception with a cast that had some of the biggest names in Hollywood.

“Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” follows veteran Hollywood actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double best friend combo Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) as they navigate through a changing industry in the late 1960s. The film acts as an homage to Hollywood’s golden age.

All of Tarantino’s films have a sense of fantasy to them in their storytelling. Tarantino’s ability to blend what feels like a fairy tale in some parts with the time period nuance and characters that stand out is not only remarkable but unmatched. I’m a firm believer in the theory that there is a formula to movie making, but “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” diverts just enough off beaten path to feel like its own unique experience.

I really enjoyed the way that DiCaprio and Pitt were able to play off each other. Unlike some films, where it almost feels like a competition between the actors on screen to win every scene, the two veteran actors work off each other perfectly. DiCaprio, who has historically played more narrative-driven roles, works well to move the overarching story along while Pitt, known more for his looks than his acting chops, has a handful of “eye candy” moments that remind you of his past.

What this movie does so well is remind you not only of Hollywood’s past but also of the characters on the screen. Both DiCaprio and Pitt are getting up there in age when you consider them for the leading men in films.

Margot Robbie plays Sharon Tate, an actress best known for her untimely death during the “Manson Murders.” Like Tate, Robbie is a well-known actress but has a lot of career left in her. I think it can’t be understated that the casting of Robbie felt right, not only because she could be transformed into Tate, but also because of the fact she is one of the most talented actresses in Hollywood.

This was one of the first of the Oscar movies to come into theaters and because of that, it might not necessarily still be in the public’s collective consciousness. It should. DiCaprio and Pitt are at their best in this movie.

For a Best Picture nominee, it checks the boxes it needs to. I wouldn’t vote for it as the winner, but it is another good addition to Tarantino’s filmography.

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