Sunset Boulevard ★★★★

Hot take: there are swathes (basically the entire second act, and a chunk of the third) in which I found myself struggling to continue. 

Do not get me wrong, the whole package was pretty good - some of it definitely earns the accolades, influential status, and notoriety that it does have. Holden and Swanson are undeniably great, von Stroheim is as von Stroheim-y as ever, and Wilder does what I’ve now come to expect from him by giving his own writing the direction it (mostly) deserves - even the aforementioned second act sag is still delivered well. But, sandwiched between an incredibly darkly comic and mildly nightmarish first act and the sad delusional build of the third, a fairly sluggish imitation of “domestic” “bliss” pulled an otherwise great film down into still pretty good regardless.