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Our favorite movies of 2023

Our+favorite+movies+of+2023

Despite both a writers’ and actors’ strike, 2023 was one of the best years in recent movie history. The global box office surpassed $9 billion, the highest since the pandemic. We saw Greta Gerwig’s pretty bright pink “Barbie” compete with Christopher Nolan’s nuclear drama “Oppenheimer.” We saw Sony’s action-packed sequel “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” alongside the year’s best prequels, Warner Bros’ colorful “Wonka” and Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.” We saw excellent filmmaking and astounding acting in 2023 in stark contrast to the usual superhero-led blockbusters. These were the films that we loved the most.

 

Atisa’s list:

 

  1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” 

Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) and Gwen Stacy (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) strike once again to save the Multiverse. Along with a plethora of other Spidermen, Spiderwomen and Spider…animals(?), Miles takes on Marvel’s new villain, the Spot, all while undergoing struggles with teenagehood. With the wonderfully crafted animations, plots and voice-overs, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is for the art lovers, the Marvel geeks and anyone who has a good eye.

Available on Netflix 

 

  1. Oppenheimer

If you’re a historian or if you’re simply a cinephile, Christopher Nolan’s latest masterpiece “Oppenheimer” is made for you. Filled with beautiful desert landscapes, fantastic shots of fire and historical references and scenes that leave you on the edge of your seat, this is the story of how physicist Robert J. Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) created the very first atomic bomb during World War II. A movie in stark contrast with its summertime sister “Barbie”, Oppenheimer is dark, abstract, and nuanced. It includes performances by many talented actors like Florence Pugh, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr, and Emily Blunt, portraying the supporting characters. This film will make you see the world differently when you exit the theater.

Available on Apple TV 

 

  1. Wonka” 

Timothée Chalamet stars as the eclectic candy-man Willy Wonka in Paul King’s sugary prequel of the two previous movies, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971) and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005). The young chocolatier goes on an appetizing adventure around the globe to change the world with his art. There is so much time and so little to tell in this film–nope, scratch that, reverse it. If you’re a fan of musicals, sweets, or anything that brings you back to the pure imagination of childhood, do like Augustus Gloop, and dive right into the world of “Wonka.”

Available in theaters now

 

  1. No Hard Feelings” 

32-year-old Maneater Maddie (Jennifer Lawrence) is on the brink of losing the house she’s spent her whole life in and the car she uses for her second job as an Uber driver. Her only other option is to take a job from two wealthy helicopter parents and date their introverted, awkward 19-year-old son Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) in exchange for a Buick. Percy can never find out about his parents’ and Maddie’s transaction, but despite the summer secrecy, a caring and unique friendship blooms between Maddie and Percy. If you enjoy a fun, raunchy comedy and the timeless ‘opposites attract’ trope, then “No Hard Feelings” should be the next film on your list.

Available on Netflix

 

  1. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” 

“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is the long awaited prequel to the “Hunger Games” quartet that took the 2010’s by storm. “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” tells the story of President Corionlanus Snow (Tom Blythe), the inhumane mutt from the original films, as a teenager in Panem’s Capitol. It is his senior year at the Academy and the 10th anniversary of the Hunger Games … but there’s a problem. The citizens of the Capitol have grown bored of the Games; the only solution is to provide each tribute with a mentor from the Academy to help them shine for the audience. Coriolanus is assigned to none other than the female tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler). The prequel offers fans a look into the retro-futurism of the Capitol and District 12 as well as what the Games were like before Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark’s (Josh Hutcherson) victory. The book by Suzanne Collins of the same may have a few different characters, more gruesome imagery and a longer timeline of Lucy Gray and Coriolanus’ relationship, but Francis Lawrence adapts the book to the screen in an unimaginable way. Whether you are a bookworm or an avid filmaholic, this 2023 villain origin story will not fail to blow you away.

Available on Apple TV

 

Vivian’s list:

 

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3” 

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3” is the last installment in Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie trilogy. Anyone who knows I’m a Marvel fan knows that I do not like the first two “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies. But when it’s a late night during winter break and you can’t fall asleep and you are in desperate need of a movie to watch, you go to Disney Plus, since it never disappoints. This movie just happened to be on my suggestion stream and managed to grab my attention. In this movie, Peter Quill (the leader of the guardians) reassembles the group of intergalactic space warriors to find a way to keep their gravely injured comrade alive while also protecting the universe from the powerful High Evolutionary. This movie was funny. Way funnier than the other two “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies. What I liked most about this movie was the flashbacks which introduced lovable new characters and dug deeper into Rocket Raccoon’s origin story.  Enjoy the ups and downs of the last “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie that I still can’t believe I actually watched.   

Available on Disney+ 

 

  1. Elemental” 

“Elemental” is an animated Pixar film that tells the story of Ember, made of fire, and Wade, made of water. While traveling through a city made entirely of elements, they realize they aren’t so different from each other after all. The cinematography in this movie, done by David Bianchi and Jean-Claude Kalache, is breathtaking and plays a significant role in further portraying Ember and Wade’s relationship. The camera would often zoom out into the background of where a character is standing, putting landscape and city elements at the forefront. I think that creative choice represents not to overlook what is happening around you and not to overlook certain people because they are different from you.The excellent themes of embracing people who are different from us makes this one of my favorite motion pictures this year.

Available on Disney+

 

  1. Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny” 

“Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny” is the action-packed and highly enjoyable fifth Indiana Jones movie. Set in 1969, the story centers around archaeologist Indiana Jones and his goddaughter Helena as they embark on a mission to find a lost time-machine dial before it falls into the hands of Nazis. “Dial of Destiny” features extravagant fight scenes, and excellently-performed stunts that were performed flawlessly by the actors involved. I have not watched any of the other Indiana Jones movies, but “Dial of Destiny” was so good I’m placing it in my top five.     

Available on Disney+

 

  1. The Little Mermaid” 

“The Little Mermaid” is a popular Disney classic that has brought excitement to many people over the years, and 2023’s live-action version is no exception, highlighting the setting and time period with a vibrant set, costume designs and an all-star cast. In the 18th-century Caribbean, Ariel (Halley Bailey), a mermaid living under the sea, is curious about the world above her. She decides to journey to the surface, where she falls in love with Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King). To become a part of the surface world, Ariel makes a deal with Ursula (Melissa McCarthy), an evil sea witch, trading her captivating voice for human legs. Ariel then starts her journey to find the prince so she can live happily ever after. I loved the costumes for this movie and felt like the new renditions of the songs fit very well with the time period while still having some modern elements. The same can be said about the set design. Melissa McCarthy as Ursula was special to see, and her performance of Poor Unfortunate Soulshas to be one of my favorite songs from the movie. Ultimately, the incredible cast of Melissa McCarthy, Daveed Diggs, Jessica Alexander, and the extraordinary Halle Bailey made this movie a must-watch.     

Available on Disney+   

 

  1. Knock At The Cabin

Night Shyamalan’s “Knock At The Cabin,” adapted from the book “The Cabin At the End of the World” by Paul G. Tremblay, follows a family of three (two parents and one little girl) vacationing in a remote cabin in the woods. Things go awry when the family is taken hostage by four armed strangers who tell them that there is an apocalypse outside, and in order to stop it, one of the three family members must be sacrificed. The audience as well as the family are then left to wonder what really lies outside of the cabin. This movie really made me want to jump inside the world of these characters, and it informed me about different ways people cope with scary situations (some ways are more helpful than others). This movie made 54.8 million USD at the box office and garnered six award nominations thus far, but I still think it’s severely underrated. Even now, I can’t stop thinking about it.

Available on Amazon Prime Video

 

Tyler’s list:

 

  1. A Haunting in Venice

“A Haunting in Venice” is Kenneth Branaugh’s third film in his murder-mystery series based on the books by Agatha Christie. It follows Hercule Poirot (Branaugh) as he visits a supposedly haunted house on Halloween. Along with being in the starring role of detective Hercule Poirot, Branaugh is also once again in the director’s chair, doing his best and darkest work yet. Branaugh is clearly getting more comfortable in the role of the director and showcases some stunning images of the macabre in this movie. With an intriguing, creepy murder mystery and a stacked cast, including Kenneth Branagh, Tina Fey, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Dornan, Kyle Allen and Kelly Reilly, “A Haunting in Venice” proves itself a worthy adaptation of the Christie novels.

Available on Hulu

 

  1. Barbie” 

“Barbie” is not only the highest-grossing movie of 2023, but also one of its best. “Barbie” follows the titular plastic doll as she (and Ken) go on a journey of self-discovery into the real world. This movie had it all: blindingly pink sets, musical numbers, and beach fights. A modern classic with outrageous performances by the entire cast and an Oscar-worthy performance by Ryan Gosling. “Barbie” is a riotous must-watch.

Available on Max

 

  1. Asteroid City

“Asteroid City” is weird in the very best way, featuring Wes Anderson at his most abstract, existential, and colorful. “Asteroid City” takes place in a desert town circa the 1950s. It follows a family in town for a stargazing competition when an alien lands. The following events are bizarre and so very Anderson-like. There’s a quarantine, a revolt, bomb tests, grief, love. This all, of course, happens within “Asteroid City” the play. “Asteroid City” the movie, however, is about a TV show about the making of a play about the making of “Asteroid City.” Confused? Me too, and I saw this six months ago! “Asteroid City” is bizarre, whimsical, and endlessly delightful. What more could you want from a Wes Anderson movie?

Available on Amazon Prime

 

  1. The Creator” 

If you’ve already read the review, you know that I LOVED this movie. “The Creator” doesn’t slow down for a second in its whole two-hour and 13-minute run. This pulse-pounding adventure is equally compelling as it is beautiful. Director Gareth Edwards is able to craft a very human story about AI, weaving moral dilemmas in and out of action-packed visuals and dense worldbuilding. “The Creator” is intense and heartbreaking. A phenomenal entry into the 2023 lineup

Available on Hulu

 

  1. Godzilla Minus One

“Godzilla Minus One” is a triumph, and far better than anything made in the United States this past year. “Godzilla Minus One” is the second Japanese Godzilla film not made by the American company Legendary after Legendary acquired the rights (and made a slew of mediocre Godzilla films). You can tell the difference. While American movies are too busy portraying Godzilla as some form of superhero, this Japanese film shows Godzilla as what he is, a monster. In this period piece set after WWII, Godzilla doesn’t throw jabs, he vaporizes cities. “Godzilla Minus One” follows a cowardly, disgraced kamikaze pilot, a single mother, and a self-organized group of citizens dedicated to taking down Godzilla. This movie doesn’t have giant gorillas with axes; it has PTSD and grief, survivor’s guilt and strife. It takes Godzilla seriously. “Godzilla Minus One” is gorgeous, heartbreaking, and action-packed. I could not recommend this any more.

Available in theaters now

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About the Contributors
Atisa D’abdon, Staff Writer
Tyler Press, Staff Writer
Hey! My name’s Tyler Press and I’m a Staff Writer for Arts and Entertainment! I’m a Freshman and am overjoyed to be spending it with The Evanstonian. Outside of The Evanstonian, you might catch me acting in a play or two, watching a movie, or learning something new. A proud theater kid and movie buff, ask me about anything Marvel, Wes Anderson, or Agatha Christie. Hope to see you around!
Vivian Solomon, Staff Writer
Hello! My name is Vivian and I’m a freshman writer for A&E. This is my first year on staff and so I’m looking forward to feeling a sense of community and improving my writing skills. Beyond The Evanstonian, I’ve showed interest in ETHS’s Black Student Union and E-Squad. I also have a passion for theater and music. In my free time, I love to go on walks, spend time with friends and watch TV. I’m very excited to contribute to The Evanstonian!
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