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The Top 10 Movies of 2023

The Top 10 Movies of 2023

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) – Anyone who claims cinema is dead either has horrible taste in movies or simply didn’t go to the theater on any given weekend. The year 2023 may not go down as a banner year for the medium, but it’s got more than its share of all-timers. Here’s my pick for the 10 best of the year.

Runners Up: Creed III, Air, The Boy and the Heron, Oppenheimer, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, A Haunting in Venice, The Creator, Asteroid City, The Killer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

10. Barbie – It’s almost unbelievable that this movie isn’t an airless, insufferable corporate cash-in of an iconic toy line. That it is, in fact, a smart, hilarious, poignant and nuanced examination of what it means to be a woman in the modern world feels even more miraculous. But that’s precisely what Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie deliver and they do it with style and confidence. And, despite what some detractors may decry, it isn’t “anti-men,” either. If anything, in some respects, it’s even more sympathetic toward Ken as it is Barbie and the ways that gender politics and gender assumptions can negatively affect men. Gerwig pulls off a tremendous balancing act that can’t be praised enough.

09. Ferrari – It may not be peak Michael Mann but it’s an excellent return to form after the one-two punch disaster that was Public Enemies and blackhat. Whatever creative avenues Mann was pursuing or itches he was scratching with those movies feels far behind him. The material is well-tread (some might even say cliché) for Mann, in that it’s yet another emotional and psychic dive into the life of a hard, professional man driven by a singular sense of passion and obsession, the emotional and personal cost be damned. And yet despite that it’s compelling because few directors manage to find the soul men like that so thoroughly as Mann. Enzo Ferrari was not a good person, and yet Mann and Adam Driver (miraculously playing a man 20 years his senior) find the compelling complexity beneath the obsessive need to win at automobile racing.

08. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – While I have issues with the film’s protracted cliffhanger ending, any nits to be picked are almost immaterial in the face of what an astounding artistic achievement this movie is. There’s simply nothing else like it that I’ve ever seen, visually speaking, be it in live-action or animation. I truly consider this to be a landmark film in the medium of animation, one that redefines what an animated film can be. It’s like watching a moving piece of mixed-media art with layers of water color, four-color comic book art, pencil drawings, more traditional 3D renderings and even a bit of live-action, many of which are at points all in the same scene or even the same frame. Across the Spider-Verse walks right up to the edge of what we expect animation to be and proceeds to blow past those boundaries with reckless, thrilling abandon.

07. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves – In terms of pure enjoyment experienced from beginning to end, few movies this year managed to top D&D. Light on its feet and filled to the brim with characters who manage to embody fantasy archetypes without ever feeling cliché, Honor Among Thieves is a style of high adventure romp that feels in far too short supply these days. Full review here.

06. John Wick Chapter 4 – In terms of pure action, no other movie in 2023 manages to top John Wick’s fourth rampage. It feels almost miraculous that this series exists, much less that it has flourished in such a way. In a landscape filled with movies based on pre-existing intellectual property and remakes, we now have four movies bursting with creativity and originality that also serve as love letters to the inspiring source material. If this is the last we see of John Wick, there’s no better way to send him off. Full review here.

05. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 – This is the year’s most audacious blockbuster, a movie that looks at the state of modern action filmmaking and decides it’s going to try and outdo everyone and everything else out there. No one is more dedicated to the notion of entertaining an audience than Tom Cruise and his creative partner/director Christopher McQuarrie, and they truly go for broke with the latest outing of the Impossible Mission Force. This is one of the most impressive, thoroughly entertaining tentpole blockbusters of the last decade, easily, and I can’t wait to see how it all comes to a final head in Part Two. Full review here.

04. Past Lives – Writer/director Celine Song makes a heck of an impression with her debut film. This is a quiet, melancholic, but no less emotionally ravaging, contemplation of the nature of fate, love, aging, happiness and regret. It’s a subtly crafted and acted piece that low-key enraptured me as I peered through a window into the intimate existential crises that a trio of people endure. For anyone who’s ever spent a night awake wondering if they made the right choices in life, this will resonate like few other films of late.

03. Killers of the Flower Moon – Martin Scorsese is tired of people misunderstanding the point he’s making and thus we have his latest film which delivers a scathing indictment of both the past and present. I’m not sure I could ever say I enjoyed Killers of the Flower Moon, but I am thankful for it as an examination of American history, as the work of an artist being honest with themselves and their audience, and as a genuine work of cinema. It’s an often uncomfortable film to watch, but that simply makes it all the more engaging and necessary. Give Lily Gladstone every award out there. Full review here.

02. The Holdovers – One of the year’s most quiet and unassuming films is also one of its most deeply human and affecting films. Paul Giamatti delivers what may be the best performance of his career thus far as a boarding school history teacher stranded as a chaperone during the gloomy Christmas holiday. But the unlikely bond he forms with one of his students and the school’s head lunch lady brings forth an endearing found family that warmed my heart from end to end. Conceptually, they don’t make movies like this anymore, but director Alexander Payne goes the extra mile to make the movie look, sound and move like he took a time machine back and plucked this out of a 1970s movie theater.

01. Godzilla Minus One – It feels ridiculous to say that a Godzilla movie made me cry. Preposterous, even. And yet, for roughly the final 10 minutes of Godzilla Minus One, I was a bleary-eyed, weepy mess. Such is the strength of the writing and characters in Takashi Yamazaki’s remarkable film. Godzilla Minus One is, at various points, thrilling, awe-inspiring, terrifying, beautiful and life-affirming. It would, on its own merits, be an excellent movie set during post-World War II Japan as a former fighter pilot navigates lingering survivor’s guilt as he attempts to piece together an obliterated life. That Yamazaki deftly wraps this around a Godzilla story is remarkable. That the Godzilla story only enhances this otherwise very grounded material is borderline miraculous.

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