I haven’t done one of these since 2019, and that is mainly because of the COVID lockdowns resulting in cinema shutdowns, I hadn’t seen enough movies from 2019-2021 to really justify it, since it really impacted the frequency that I could go to the cinema.
2023, on the other hand, while I had a few setbacks and a few weeks of not seeing films, was the first time I felt I had seen enough to make a comprehensive list comprehensively. Not a top 10, since I didn’t have enough films, and there were a few I left out of this list, but I couldn’t exactly make a top 6..
I also didn’t see that many films that I didn’t review, the only one in recent memory was Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron, which I considered to be a middling film compared to his others. I found it rather bizarre that considering Mamoru Hosoda was taken off Howl’s Moving Castle, this felt like a film that he would write and direct.
Many films did come out in 2023, and there is a lot that I didn’t see. Because of train issues, I wasn’t able to get out to see The Marvels, which was the only MCU film I missed this year. In fact, train services did impact me from seeing a lot of films that are getting a lot of Oscar buzz. If you don’t see a film here, that’s probably the reason why I couldn’t see it.
Thankfully, a new cinema has opened up in my hometown so I’ll be less reliant on train services this year, though event movies may require some travel.
2023 saw the release of some excellent movies. A few that didn’t make the list include films like Wonka, which came out fairly recently which I really enjoyed, as well as Elemental, which I thought was a really good throwback with Pixar, but personally, I didn’t feel it was their best. I felt tempted to put Polite Society on the list, but that film goes a bit too bonkers at the end and it pulled me out a little bit. I also did not see enough crap to the point where I was going to make a Worst Of list.
I did see a lot of bad films including The Flash, and The Exorcist Believer, but the worst films I saw in 2023 had a common theme: Pretentiousness! I can’t stand over-pretentious movies, and there were a couple this year. I nearly gave it to Babylon for basically doing a vulgar version of Singing in the Rain whilst getting around it by calling it a homage, which made me wonder why I didn’t just watch Singing in the Rain. It accumulated at the end to something that just felt like Hollywood higher-ups sniffing their own farts.
That only technically came out in 2023, and it also didn’t infuriate me as my worst movie of the year. That goes to Asteroid City, a movie that was so annoying and nonsensical that it made me ask the question: Has Wes Anderson ever been good? Because I really couldn’t stand the style of filmmaking he put into this movie.
As for the actual list, these 5 movies were the ones that filled me with the most happiness or emotion coming out of seeing them. I was trying to keep it to original movies and projects, since you could make a point that sequel bias would play a part, however, this year there were a bunch of very good franchise movies. Only one of the top 5 is an original property, the rest are either sequels or reboots.
THE TOP 5
I’ve been growing very tired of the MCU lately, the amount of stuff we were getting from them, not to mention the bad quality of some of them, but Guardians of the Galaxy 3 was a rare exception. It really was fantastic. The film gave us one of the best new villains of the MCU and told us a brilliant story that played off of all the other movies. While I don’t think it quite matches the heights of its previous, 3 is an excellent movie and I’m happy that it managed to unite a lot of the previous Marvel fans that came back to watch this.
A brilliant return to form for the Evil Dead franchise. This film does what a lot of reboot horror movies don’t do: do something with the spirit of the original but make it different. Instead of being in a cabin in the woods, it was set in a rundown apartment complex that would make escape very difficult. It’s gruesome and gory as you need it to be, and it was surprising just how high of a body count that it went for. It also understands that really great horror comes from fears that people can relate to, which adds to the film’s atmosphere.
Another excellent entry into this Spider-man timeline. This one pays homage to everything Spider-Man. Sony has looked at what they have and did a brilliant job. Thanks to the excellent writing from Lord and Miller. It tells one of the best Miles Morales stories that directly challenges the toxic members of the fanbase that question his legitimacy as a Spider-man. It’s a very well-done movie with brilliant animation, but I will say that the reason it isn’t higher on the list is because the ending leads into the next movie, which I wasn’t aware of- and I’m getting kind of sick of the Part one and Part two films.
The only Netflix entry to make the list. The fact that this wasn’t up for nomination at the Golden Globes is appalling! Nimona is a brilliant look into societal structures that deem who is or isn’t the bad guys, and how they use fear to install an enemy for the people. They manage to do it in a way that isn’t incredibly dour- while it’s incredibly emotional, it’s also really fun! If this is the end of Blue Sky Studios, they’ve gone out on a brilliant note.
A very late entry into the list, but they’ve made what is probably my favourite Godzilla movie ever. The acting is great, and many of the cast should be up for Oscars in my opinion. The writing is great, it does a brilliant job at making Godzilla terrifying, and it plays on real-world history and Japanese society in a way that is bold and interesting, and it delivers a brilliant, complete story that makes you root for the human characters. Yeah, someone made a Godzilla movie where you care about the humans! Not a good sign for the upcoming Kong movie next year. The use of tension is excellent also. I could review the whole movie for an hour and I would have a great time, but what I will say now is that this is currently my pick for Best Picture at the Oscars, and if it isn’t nominated, then something has gone wrong.
Director of Axia ASD Ltd.
Self-proclaimed Nerd Consultant
and Head of Axia’s Film Society.
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