Features, Movie Reviews

My Top 10 Movies of 2023 – From Saltburn to Scream VI

2023 was a phenomenal year for movie lovers. It seemed like all of the productions delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic were finally ready to drop, and distributors were eager to get people back in theatre seats. Fortunately, in addition to cinematic excellence, there was also enough diversity in the releases to have something for everybody. While we’ve already looked at some of the best movies of the year, here are my personal top 10 movies of 2023, in no particular order.

My Top 10 Movies of 2023

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Into the Spider-Verse blew me away in 2018. So, I had high hopes for a sequel. But in a time when superhero fatigue was finally getting the best of me, I was apprehensive. However, the sequel, helmed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson, featured the same ingenuity as the first film. We see Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) reunite with Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), who has taken a different approach to heroism. Our Spider-Folk are up against the Spot (Jason Schwartzman), an insanely threatening villain, but they’re also up against each other.

The film takes us through the multiverse yet again and brings in twists and turns that we would have wanted to see in every universe where we’re watching this movie. It uses ambitious and impressive visuals that feel mind-blowing months after its release. A third installment in the trilogy, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, will be released in the near (but unknown) future.

Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse cameo Feaured..

Image via Sony Pictures.

Asteroid City

As a big fan of director Wes Anderson, I was surprised to see Asteroid City making some “Worst Movies of 2023” lists by film critics, especially given that it made my top 10. Sure, the film is Wes to the max, utilizing all visual elements synonymous with the director. We have the pastel color pallets, the witty dialogue, and the intense symmetry. It could be exhausting, but the plot keeps things fresh. Asteroid City is a narrative within a narrative, telling a story through a play while focusing on the folks behind the scenes. The play portion pulls us in the most as we journey through a desert town that has just been introduced to alien life.

A crucial element of Wes Anderson’s style is his ensemble casts. Asteroid City features Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Edward Norton, and Live Schreiber, to name a few. His style isn’t for everybody, but this film feels more accessible than some of his others, as it is objectively funny and undeniably charming.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

For ages, many of us have hoped for a prequel to The Hunger Games, but I don’t think we ever thought that day would come. The story of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes was initially told through Suzanne Collins’ 2020 novel, sharing the perspective of the iconic villain President Snow (Tom Blyth) in his early years as he rose to power in the Capitol. He is assigned to mentor Rachel Zegler’s Lucy Gray, a tribute from District 12 with a lot of spunk and a captivating singing voice. There are moments when we forget the danger that Snow becomes, proving how alluring the President can be.

The film works as both a prequel and a standalone story, though it is much more enjoyable if you’re a fan of the original trilogy. As it takes place decades before The Hunger Games, we’re introduced to a whole new crop of characters, including Jason Schwartzman’s Lucky Flickerman – because, of course, Jason Schwartzman has been in the first picks of my top 10 movies of 2023. What a year he’s having!

You’re missing out if you haven’t watched The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes yet. It has entertaining music, gorgeous cinematography, and enough character chemistry to keep us invested. There are no concrete plans for future prequels, but we’d be surprised if there aren’t any soon.

The Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2023).

Image via Lionsgate.

Bottoms

Sometimes, the low-budget, unexpected films are the ones that surprise you the most. Bottoms released this summer, bringing Emma Seligman’s sophomore movie to the big screen. It follows PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri) as they start a fight club in their high school as a way to hook up with girls. It brings up classic high school themes like social status and all-consuming infatuation while also proving that the teen comedy genre always has something fresh to add.

The film is beautifully quirky, well-acted, and charming as heck. It flew under many radars this year but will surely surprise you.

Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer was destined to be an incredible film, and I’m not surprised that it made it on my top 10 movies of 2023. With beloved director Christopher Nolan behind the scenes to tell the story of one of the most noteworthy men of the last century, I can’t say I was surprised at how great this biopic was. However, the near-billion-dollar box office draw was impressive.

Oppenheimer follows the titular character (expertly portrayed by Cillian Murphy) through his life as a young student, through his love affairs and professional development, past his time as the Father of the Atomic Bomb. It makes theoretical physics sound as intense and dangerous as it really is while approaching the sensitive topics of World War II in surprising ways. Though it may not have as much re-watchability as some of the other films on this list, it’s definitely one that everybody should watch at least once.

Oppenheimer

Image via Universal Pictures.

Scream VI

Arguably the biggest “popcorn flick” of this list, Scream VI barely made it onto my top 10 movies of 2024. The latest in the Scream franchise, this movie takes our latest gang to the streets of New York as Sam and Tara Carpenter (Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega) try to escape the trauma of the most recent Woodsboro killings.

The film doesn’t necessarily add anything innovative to the franchise. The reveal of Ghostface can be predicted with a good enough eye for detail, and the violence is as typical as it has been in the last few movies. But the sixth installment has a gang with such great chemistry that you dread finding out who the killer is, and there’s more heart than you expect from your typical slasher film.

Another sequel is planned, but there has been plenty of controversy between the cast and the producers. So, it may be a while before we see Ghostface again.

Scream 6 official trailer cast.

Image via Paramount Pictures.

Barbie

I don’t think anybody could have predicted the success that Greta Gerwig’s Barbie found. Hoards of movie-goers showed up to premieres wearing pink, pulling in a whopping $1.4 million that broke multiple records. The doll we all know and love, played by Margot Robbie, faces off against the patriarchy and even her own Ken (Ryan Gosling) while discovering what it means to be alive.

Barbie had its moment in the sun, but I can tell that it is going to be on our minds for a long time. It is a film worthy of multiple watches, and it may be iconic enough to have fame for generations to come. It’s funny, heartwarming, and goofy enough to find fans in plenty of audience demographics. Now, excuse me while I go and stream “I’m Just Ken” for the 1.4 billionth time.

my top 10 movies of 2023

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

BlackBerry

BlackBerry was barely on my radar when it was released. It seemed like an interesting enough concept, telling the story of the rise of the BlackBerry phone. However, its marketing was slow to take off, and nobody around me was talking about it. I eventually rented the film, watched it on an uneventful night, and was completely blown away. It’s clever and entertaining and shines a new light on the smartphone that seemed to disappear amongst the success of the iPhone. Matt Johnson directs a career-best performance by Glenn Howerton as Jim Balsillie, and Jay Baruchel also defies expectations as Mike Lazaridis.

This movie hasn’t been getting much awards buzz, but if anything is to surprise us in the upcoming Oscar nominations, I hope that it’s this one, as it was an easy pick for my top 10 movies of 2023.

Poor Things

I knew I would need to wait to write this list until I saw Poor Things. Yorgos Lanthimos seems incapable of making a bad movie, and this is no exception. The Frankenstein-esque tale follows Emma Stone’s Bella Baxter as she is brought (back) to life following a brush with death. Willem Defoe’s Dr. Goodwin Baxter experiments on her, creating a woman with the brain of an infant. She grows up at a rapid pace, having to experience everything that the world has to offer. In addition to marvellous food and complex relationships, she also learns about the atrocities of the world and is faced with various philosophical dilemmas.

This was another film that I wouldn’t expect to be anything less than great, but I was still blown away by just how incredible it was. There is surprising humour, stunning visuals, and perfect acting performances, especially by Dafoe and Stone. Enough mature subject matter ensures this movie won’t be for everybody. But if it is for you, you’ll be blown away.

Saltburn

Do you ever walk away from a movie and think, “Wow, it’s almost like this movie was made for me”? This is how I felt leaving Saltburn. It is director Emerald Fennell’s first film since her award-winning Promising Young Woman, providing that her potential has no limit.

The film is led by Barry Keoghan’s Oliver Quick. An Oxford student, Oliver lives in the shadows of the elite surrounding him. When invited to spend the summer at Saltburn, the estate of the mega-rich Felix (played by a charming Jacob Elordi), he can’t pass up the chance to be around riches and a loving family. There is a lot to uncover in Saltburn that can only be discovered by watching, and it is best enjoyed unspoiled.

The film quickly went from theatres to streaming services, so you’re behind if you haven’t caught on to this one yet.

Saltburn teaser trailer

Image via MGM.

A Year Full Of Excellent Film

My picks for the top 10 movies of 2023 were harder to craft than I had expected. There were plenty of movies that nearly made the cut, including Priscilla, May December, and Quiz Lady. We earned lots of treats this year, and I can’t wait to see what 2024 holds.

What was your favorite movie of 2023? Drop your top 3 in the comments!

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