Monday, January 8, 2024

Top Ten Movies of 2023

2023 was a challenging year for many reasons, both personal and across the movie industry, but in the end it also gave us a number of quality films. Here's a look back on the year that was and my countdown of the best movies of 2023.

10. Assassin

David Fincher's slow burn tale of a killer's attempt to make good and a failed assassination is built around a terrific performance by Michael Fassbender. In a film about things going wrong, nearly everything goes right for The Killer. Currently available on Netflix. Read the full review.

9. Life is Better the Second Time Around

Yorgos Lanthimos makes weird movies, and Poor Things certainly qualifies with Emma Stone stumbling through life as a Frankensteinish creation of Willem Dafoe and learning more about life and love in 141 minutes than many people do in their entire lives. Still in theaters. Read the full review.

8. And For Our Controversial Selection

I was surprised at the mixed reaction to Disney's Wish which is a solid story with fun anthropometric characters, charming music, and a nice moral all built on top of a foundation celebrating Disney's 100 years in both subtle and obvious ways. Apparently the film isn't for everyone, but there's more than enough old school Disney magic here to include it on the list. Still in theaters. Read the full review.

7. Keira Knightley Returns to the Top Ten

Based on true events, Keira Knighley stars as the reporter who broke both the Boston Strangler case and the glass ceiling of female reporters covering more than just the society page. Working both as a snapshot of 60s journalism and a thriller, Boston Strangler marks the first time in four years Knightley has shown up on my top ten. Welcome back. Currently available on Hulu. Read the full review.

6. Coming of Age

Hayao Miyazaki returns with a personal film about a young boy overcoming grief and loss in this magical coming of age adventure. It's everything you would expect from a Studio Ghibli film. The Boy and the Heron is still in theaters. Read the full review.

5. The Woman Left Behind

While I thought last year's Elvis was embarrassingly bad, Sofia Coppola's lush exploration of Priscilla (Cailee Spaeny) is everything I could have wanted from a biopic focused through the lens of an isolated young woman. Currently available On-Demand, Priscilla will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 13th. Read the full review.

4. Now I am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds

With Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan tackles the father of the atomic bomb (played beautifully here by Cillian Murphy). Style is never Nolan's problem, but here he finds a story worthy of that style. Oppenheimer is currently available on streaming and home video. Read the full review.

3. Where Evil Lurks

Speaking of long engrossing tales built from true events, the latest collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio shines a spotlight at a monstrous atrocity done in the name of greed showing audiences what real evil looks like. Killers of the Flower Moon is currently available on streaming. Read the full review.

2. Return to Adventure

The hardest choice on my list was deciding between these two films and choosing one for the top spot. In the end, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse slots in at #2 but it could easily have gone the other way. I loved Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and had some doubts of a sequel being able to replicate its magic. Turns out Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was even better, diving deeper into the emotional cores of both Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) and Miles (Shameik Moore) while still providing plenty of dimension-hopping action and a few thoughts about the nature and rules of comic books. Currently available on streaming and home video. Read the full review.

1. The Best Film of 2023

Writer/director Celine Song's film about love and the passage of time earns the top spot this year in focusing on the reconnection of childhood friends over the years and exploring the nature of love. It's delicate and beautiful, and like life sometimes quite messy (but always in the best ways). In a very strong year, Past Lives earns the top spot for a film that explores the human heart beating in two characters separated by oceans and decade as it carefully avoids all cliche when bringing the pair back together again. The film is currently available on both streaming and home video. Read the full review.

No comments: