Movie Final - My Favorite Movies of 2023
2023 will always be remembered as the year of "Barbenheimer". But there were plenty of other gems that granted our screens too.
Quick Note: Due to my location and/or financial situation/life responsibilities, I haven't been able to watch every movie released this year that I wanted to, so there will be gaps in this list. Some of those films were not available to me, and some were just too expensive to justify the cost, and others were around at a bad time for me to see them. I'm sure at least a few of those would have made the list, but they were not one of the 55 films released in 2023 that I have seen (which also includes short films and documentaries). There will be five honorable mentions, and 10 of my favorite films of the year. After that, I will list every film that was released this year that I have seen, that way you can see what I had to choose from!
Honorable Mention 1 - Splinter (Short)
This isn't on here because I helped fund it and my name is in the credits, but because it is a legit good short film that offers a wonderful premise. For Marc Bernadin's first go as director, he nails the narrative he set out to tell. It is a suspenseful, mysterious, and intriguing story about a boy on a plane that never lands. Hopefully this can be adapted into a full length feature, because if it does it will surely make the list that year.
Honorable Mention 2 - The Marvels
There are few movies that are are as fun and well paced as The Marvels. The 3 leads are electrifying, and the supporting cast can steal the show at any moment. The writers and actors strikes preventing promotion for this definitely hurt the film, which is a shame because it is a fun movie, that has one of my favorite gags of any MCU movie to date.
Honorable Mention 3 - BS High
Honorable Mention 4 - Blue Beetle
Honorable Mention 5 - Elemental
10. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
9. John Wick: Chapter 4
The market is so saturated right now, it takes a lot for a movie to stand out. The action scenes in the John Wick franchise have always done this. The ones in the latest installment are no exception. There is an absolutely brutal action scene on an outdoor flight of stairs that is relentless and unforgiving. Just when you think its over, and you can breathe a sigh of relief, it ramps back up. The nearly 3 hour run time flies by, and its so action packed you are as tired as the characters are. Whether this is the final chapter in the saga or not remains to be seen. But if it is, one of the greatest action franchises of all time goes out on a high note.
8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
The animation medium has taken a massive leap forward in the last few years. Technology allows the medium to grow and be more experimental, and audiences are also more open to something off the beaten path. The animation in this movie is gorgeous, second only to something that will come later on this list. The story itself is wonderful, there is a ton of worldbuilding, but it also serves as a wonderful introduction to the Ninja Turtles for the unfamiliar. For the first time in a long time, the Turtles actually feel like teenagers. Not just the references, but the voice cast are young actors who, if not still teens, are close enough to remember those years vividly. I hope all that is teased in the movie comes to fruition, because a sequel is well deserved. This is a treat for the eyes, even for people who do not care about the story. I am a casual Ninja Turtles fan at best, and I left the theater knowing I had just seen something special.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
James Gunn is about to be in charge of the DC Universe, building a shared story through many mediums with timeless heroes people love. But before he was able to completely immerse himself in that, he had some unfinished business with Marvel Studios first - finishing his Guardians trilogy. He gave these wacky characters we've loved for a decade a wonderful ending. The story was great. The allegory for animal rights worked well within the context of the universe. The makeup, visuals, and soundtrack were on point. The only reason this isn't higher is because of the many fake outs the movie offers. Some of it felt cheap. While Gunn maintains Marvel gave him no restrictions on the fate of the characters, it felt like future plans hindered the stories full potential. But if this is what Gunn wanted, I'm happy he was able to have his vision realized. The narrative paths are satisfactory at their endgame, they just had a couple of speed bumps getting there.
A movie about Nike recruiting Michael Jordan to wear their shoes? Directed by Ben Affleck? Sign me up. While this could easily be lost in all the commercial consumerism that begets a premise like this, the heart of it lies with Matt Damon's character, and Michael Jordan's mother, played by Viola Davis. Davis is the soul of the film. The movie doesn't work without her. The way they make the movie about Michael, without anyone actually playing Michael Jordan (other than a body double seen at odd angles) is innovative, and actually makes the film better. Matt Damon's monologue at the climax is one of the best movie monologues put on film. If you know the story of Michael Jordan, or have ever seen him play, Damon's monologue will send chills down your spine. There is one needle drop in particular that also just elevates the scene it takes place in. All of this under Affleck's eye makes it for a must see movie.
5. Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One
While not as strong as it's two latest predecessors, the latest outing in the Mission Impossible franchise is still a strong entry into the ever expanding antics of Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt. You will see things in this you've never seen before, and they seem to always raise the stakes, which is part of the magic of these movies. Hayley Atwell is a strong new addition to the cast, though it seems like she is a replacement for Rebecca Ferguson, which is a shame because Ferguson made the franchise better. The movie can get lost in its own macguffin journey sometimes, which is what happens when you craft a narrative around the big stunt centerpiece, instead of creating the stunt out organically out of the story you want to tell. It will be interesting to see how the next chapter will recontextualize this one, but for now, on its own, it's a solid entry in a franchise that so far, only has one bad movie.
4. They Cloned Tyrone
3. BarbieThis movie knows exactly what it is. It knows the preconceived notions. It knows the perceptions by certain groups of people, and leans into all of them. But none of that ever gets in the way of the story it wants to tell. There are some legit funny jokes in this, and Margot Robbie does a wonderful job as an existential Barbie forced into the real world, which then seeps the toxic masculinity of the real world into the world of Barbie through the Kens. Ryan Gosling should get an Oscar nomination for his turn as Ken. He plays it to absolute perfection. This was the perfect after-dinner mint for Oppenheimer. But even if you don't watch that, this still stands up. It is now available to stream, so you don't even have to leave your mojo dojo casa house to experience this wonderfully empowering story.
1. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse
2023 Films I have seen: