Favorites of 2023: Movies

Made it back to the theater for more movies this year than any year since before we had kids so I actually have a lot of opinions on 2023 movies in 2023. I logged 303 movies on Letterboxd this year, 45 of which were released this year.

Here’s my top 10 movies of the year:

1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

I wish I had 1/100th of the creativity, imagination of the artists behind the visuals of this movie. Somehow manages to match the emotions of my favorite movie of 2018 with its increased focus on Gwen while still keeping Miles at the center as well. The chase scene is hilarious. Truly remarkable to see with the kids in the theater.

2. Oppenheimer

Finally watched this on New Year’s Eve and came really close to putting it up at number one, maybe I would have if I had gotten to see it in theaters. Or after a rewatch or two. Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr. are fantastic. Nolan’s Interstellar has become a movie I watch over and over again sometimes just in the background while I work and I’d be surprised if Oppenheimer doesn’t also become something I rewatch often (though it is certainly heavier subject matter).

3. Barbie

I only cried twice during this not totally unrelated to my eldest being about to head into her teenage years and you know just the patriarchy in general. I liked it quite a bit but it wouldn’t have ended up this high without the great musical numbers in the last third.

4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

I liked all the MCU movies this year well enough (and apparently way better than most people) but Guardians Vol. 3 was my favorite this year as they did a great job of wrapping up things particularly for Rocket. Never thought a CGI raccoon could create so many emotions in me. Bummer that James Gunn won’t be able to make more MCU movies with this humor and attitude.

5. The Boy and the Heron

Just now realizing Oppenheimer is the only movie in my top 5 that didn’t make me cry because of course I cried watching a Miyazaki movie with my daughters. Fantastically beautiful in both expected and unexpected ways. The animation in the fire scenes was remarkable and surprisingly evocative and scary. Not our favorite Miyazaki but the kids and I both really enjoyed it, though I wonder how much of it they followed in parts.

6. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

My least favorite of the McQuarrie movies but still pretty good. Not enough Benji and Luther but Mission Impossible is my favorite action ongoing action series and I could watch any of them (other than MI-2) any time. Looking forward to a little more of a conclusion in the next one.

7. Nimona

Really enjoyed both the look of this and the story, with a great underlying message and representation. Found out after the fact that this is from Nate Stevenson, the same writer/creator as Netflix’s She-Ra series that was really great and have since also really enjoyed reading Stevenson’s original Nimona graphic novel and Lumberjanes series.

8. Theater Camp

The songs and staging of all the songs in “Joan, Still” are absolutely fantastic. Overall pretty funny but this wouldn’t have been in my top 10 until that last production. Molly Gordon is great. Not sure my theater kid is old enough to get most of the humor but both kids like the songs at least. Very sing-a-longable and very rewatchable.

9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

This was so cool to look at and funny as heck in a bunch of spots, but also kinda shallow maybe in ways I can’t put my finger on. Not that it doesn’t have heart, just maybe that a few too many of its jokes were references to other timely things? Is the humor of this going to age poorly a la Shrek versus the timelessness of the Pixar classics?

10. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Just flat out entertainment. Chris Pine is the best Chris.

New to Me Faves

Some of those 250+ other non-2023 were first watches for me that deserved mentioning.

  • The Fugitive (1993) – How have I never watched this before? Fantastic, well acted thriller.
  • The Game (1997) – A Fincher blindspot for me. I knew 95% of this plot via various podcasts etc. but I either forgot or missed the very last twist and legit said “holy shit” out loud when it happened.
  • Michael Clayton (2007) – And another thriller. Great performances from George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and the recently departed Tom Wilkinson. Poor Arthur.