Best Movies of 2023

Best Movies of 2023

Photo Courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

In a wave of nostalgia, the live-action “Barbie” movie, released in July, has transported audiences to a real-life Barbie Land that brought the beloved childhood icon to life. From its stunning visuals to its feminist-coded storyline, the film captivated viewers of all ages, reigniting a fervent love for the Barbie doll and solidifying her status as an enduring cultural phenomenon. 

The film, directed by “Lady Bird” and “Little Women” director Greta Gerwig, stars Margot Robbie as stereotypical blonde Barbie, Ryan Gosling as stereotypical blonde Ken, and a star-studded side cast composed of Will Ferell, Simu Liu and Michael Cera, amongst others. In the film, Barbie – the most popular of all the Barbie’s in Barbie Land – begins to experience an existential crisis, forcing her to embark on a journey to the “real world” in order to discover herself and her true purpose.  

Don’t be fooled: Gerwig’s version of the iconic Mattel doll is a strong, independent woman who challenges societal norms and emphasizes the importance of female empowerment. Barbie is not just a pretty face; she is depicted as a capable and intelligent leader who uses her creativity and resourcefulness to overcome any obstacle in her path. 

Throughout the film, we see Barbie develop her own identity, refusing to be defined solely by her appearance. Gerwig’s Barbie is multi-faceted, with dreams and ambitions that go beyond the superficial stereotypes typically associated with the doll.

While the film presents many laughable moments, it left most of the audience in tears by the end. If you haven’t yet watched the Barbie movie, I recommend you do. This film was my favorite of 2023, and is sure to leave a lasting impression. 

Photo Courtesy of Mattel, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Released June 16, “Elemental,” which reached the most-watched movie premiere of the year on Disney+ and is among the Top 10 movie premieres of all time, received mixed reviews. Some felt this movie lacked character development and a solid storyline, while other audience members insisted this movie had a more profound message told in an engagingly animated way. 

While the trailer for the movie was a bit misleading as it left many people expecting a love story instead of a valuable lesson about being true to themselves, “Elemental” was not a disappointment when watched with an open mind. 

The film takes place in a city where fire, water, land and air residents live together, mostly in peace. However, the fire residents are severely disliked as they either kill or get killed by all other elements. The movie follows a young fire girl named Ember, who is supposed to take over her father’s shop when he deems her ready, and a water guy named Wade, who is trying to make it through his day and keep his job as a city inspector. 

After an incident in Ember’s basement in which a pipe bursts, she meets Wade, who had gotten sucked into a pipe earlier that day. Knowing her father has endured a lot of hate since moving to the city and, in turn, hates the water residents, she tries to prevent conflict by getting Wade out of the shop without being noticed. However, Wade sees hazards around the hand-built shop and, in a panic about losing his job, sends a notice to the city, which would shut down the shop. 

Worried about the impact of the shop getting shut down, Ember ends up working with Wade to try to stop the shutdown from happening, and together, they embark on a journey of self-discovery, acceptance and unexpected love.

Their opposite elements aren’t the only difference these two have. Ember pushes down her emotions and dreams, fearing disappointment from her family for everything her parents left behind. At the same time, Wade lets all his emotions flow freely within seconds of feeling them. However, as they learn more about each other, they bring out traits in the other that tend to go unnoticed and are underappreciated.

This movie showcases the power of embracing who you are, what you love and the beauty of differences, which can connect two people and give them a new perspective on life instead of tearing them apart.

Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures
Photo courtesy of Blumhouse Productions
Five Nights at Freddy’s

In a year of delayed movies and box office flops, the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” movie surprised fans with its October release. Initially announced as early as 2015, the movie faced numerous delays and reshoots until it finally hit theaters for Halloween.

Starring Josh Hutcherson and Matthew Lilliard, the movie revolves around a long-running story spanning books, video games, as well as numerous comics and animated adaptations. The newest addition strives to centralize the established “Five Nights at Freddy’s” story into one consumable package for new and returning fans alike.

The animatronic bear, rabbit, chicken and fox are heavily inspired by the Chuck-E-Cheese brand of restaurants, a familiar location for pretty much anyone living in the United States. Although now mostly defunct, its strange and lifeless animatronics that are taller than most adults serve as an odd, familiar and slightly terrifying memory of what we found entertaining as young children.

The story focuses on Mike Schimdt, an unemployed orphan serving as the parental figure of his younger sister. As he battles his aunt for custody of his sister, he works constantly to keep himself as a prime candidate for parenthood. After getting fired from his previous security job, he takes the night shift at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria, a now-abandoned restaurant that once starred 8-foot-tall animatronics that would walk around the store. After a few nights working, he discovers the animatronics to be sentient, and they take a particular liking to his younger sister.

Over the course of the movie, Mike tries to uncover the secret behind the robots’ apparent awareness and simultaneously discovers the cause of his younger brother’s disappearance.

Although the movie certainly has flaws, it’s a very fun watch that’s extremely satisfying for a long-time fan and a rather interesting idea for those new to the concept. Grossing over 200 million dollars for its 20 million dollar budget, the movie has almost definitely secured a sequel in the coming years. Blumhouse puts a fresh spin on “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” bringing it to the limelight for those who had never previously heard of the franchise. For most concerned, it was definitely worth the long wait.

Photo courtesy of Blumhouse Productions
Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” had a very difficult task: To be a fitting ending to the story of everyone’s favorite ragtag group of space aliens. This movie is more than a fitting ending to the trilogy of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies due to its focus on one of the main members of the team, Rocket Raccoon, who hasn’t gotten a lot of time devoted to his origin story. 

For many audience members, it feels cathartic to finally see the beginnings of a fairly liked character, even though his origin is very traumatic and dark. Rocket was mistreated by his creator, The High Evolutionary – a geneticist so narcissistic he couldn’t fathom his creation somehow becoming better than him. Unexpectedly, at the end of the movie, Rocket lets The High Evolutionary live. Rocket is a very violent creature, but he lets the man who tortured and abused him live because he has empathy and cares about others. 

This entire movie is focused on moving on from relationships and growing from them. Another character that reappears in the movie is a time-displaced Gamora, a founding member of the Guardians. But, by the end of the movie, the Guardians, mostly Star-Lord, have moved on from Gamora and are progressing from the team to find themselves. Fortunately, the movie ends on a good note with every character in a satisfied place with themselves and their actions, leaving most audiences satisfied with where the Guardians are at the end of the movie.

Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios
Photo courtesy of Lionsgate
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

In a world filled with destruction, power and forbidden love, “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” masterfully portrays the beloved trilogy. 

The main characters are played by talented singer and actress Rachel Zegler and rising star Tom Blyth. The movie takes place during the 10th Annual Hunger Games, where Lucy Gray and Coriolanus (Corio) Snow’s worlds collide. Gray grew up in a musical family in District 12 and is underestimated among citizens in the Capitol, but very much like Katniss Everdeen, she came out on top as a victor. But little did she know that the terror brought upon her by the games would linger on forever. 

Gray and Snow form a connection through the trails of destruction and fall in love, despite their upbringings. Yet, their backgrounds come back to haunt them as Snow slowly transforms into his father, a cold-blooded killer. He spends the rest of his life demanding the continuation of the Hunger Games, resulting in the murder and defeat of many more Panem citizens. 

While some fans were initially upset by the lack of familiar faces on the screen, the new cast has managed to captivate the audience. The intricate storyline and magnetic performance by the actors have created a connection with many fans, just as deep as the ones they shared with characters of the past.

With talented artists such as Ziegler herself and Olivia Rodrigo, the songs created for this movie were show-stopping. Emotion poured through the lyrics, bringing the pages to life and creating an experience that lingers long after the credits roll. The Hunger Games will forever be an iconic series and is a great addition to the collection. With heartbreak, action and betrayal, every person will find something to love.


Photo courtesy of Lionsgate
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures
The Little Mermaid

“The Little Mermaid,” released on May 26, is a movie that took the film industry by storm. The live-action remake of the beloved 1989 movie was a huge success, hitting the worldwide box office in the 7th spot, and is arguably the best movie of 2023. 

The movie follows the same storyline as the original, with Halle Bailey starring as Ariel and Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, among many others. This movie tells the story of a young mermaid eager to learn about the human world, especially after meeting Prince Eric, who is played by Jonah Hauer-King.

Within the first five days of the movie’s release, the film accumulated an astonishing 16 million views on Disney+ alone, earning the title of one of the most viewed movie premiers and collecting over 570 million dollars at the box office.

What makes this movie so special is its ability to stay true to the original story, yet expand in thought-provoking ways. For example, the classic songs such as “Part of Your World” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls” were just as great as the original movie, but the addition of the rap “Scuttlebutt” made for a nice twist.

Not only was the music outstanding, but so was the casting. Each character was brought back to life with each remarkable actor. In fact, Jodi Benson, who played Ariel in the 1989 version, can be seen in some of the scenes. 

It goes without saying that there was a lot of talent behind the film, and the revamped movie has rightfully stolen the hearts of many.

Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures
Photo Courtesy of ACE Entertainment
Love at First Sight

When the news that another fan-favorite romance novel was being turned into a movie, book and movie lovers rejoiced, overjoyed at all this new film has to offer. 

Books are adapted into movies all of the time, most notably including “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games” series and movies “The Notebook” and “P.S. I Love You.” Time after time, these movies have taken audiences on whimsical and thrilling journeys and are a hit with avid book readers. Even people who haven’t read those books before can enjoy these well-written movies, and this time is no different. 

“Love at First Sight” follows closely to its original form, “The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight” by Jennifer E. Smith, where two strangers embark on a 24-hour journey of laughs and coincidences. The story is set in an airport where we meet Hadley Sullivan, played by Haley Lu Richardson, a girl who is stubborn and witty. She arrives at her gate late and misses her flight to London for her father’s wedding. It is here that we meet Oliver Jones, played by Ben Hardy, a guy who is equally as quick-witted and charming. To help her stress, Oliver offers Hadley a charger for her dead phone. Words are exchanged and the adventure of love and fate begins.

Overall, this movie is a heartwarming crowd-pleaser that will have you swooning and sitting on the edge of your seat until the end credits start rolling. Even if you’re not into romance movies, consider this your sign to rethink why you haven’t been a fan because audiences agree, after watching this, it’ll be love at first sight for you.

Photo Courtesy of ACE Entertainment
Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Meg 2: The Trench

Long awaited by fans of “Meg,” comes the sequel “Meg 2: The Trench,” released five years after the first movie. The movie was adapted from “Meg: A Novel of Great Terror” by Steve Alten. “Meg 2: The Trench” opens up with animals like the marine reptile nothosaurus, the giant octopus and the T. rex from the Cretaceous period.

 In the opening scene, you can see these creatures on some sort of island, and as the camera pans out the marine reptiles are revealed to be eating a dead dinosaur. A T. rex comes out from the jungle and runs to the marine reptiles. They start to run back to the ocean, and seconds later Meg jumps out of the water and bites the head of the T. rex

The movie follows the journey of one of the ‘trained’ megalodons, an enormous fossil shark found in many seas during the Miocene and Pliocene eras, who escaped from the area where Jiuming held the creature. There are many action scenes and suspenseful moments that are sure to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. This thriller also comes with more drama and suspense than the first “Meg” movie. 

Many of the main cast members have come back to continue filming such as Jason Statham, who plays Jonas, Shuya Sophia Cai, who plays Meiying, Page Kennedy, who plays DJ and Cliff Curtis, who plays Mac. However, Li BingBing doesn’t return to play Suyin in “Meg 2.” The movie introduces Suyin’s brother, Jiuming Zhang, portrayed by Wu Jing, as the new owner of his father’s company.

Huge fans of sea creatures, specifically sharks, will undoubtedly be excited about this film. This movie may be seen as the best movie of the year by many viewers because it brings audiences so many different feelings. “Meg 2: The Trench”  will make you scream, laugh and have you constantly awaiting the next scene in suspense. 

Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

In a year jam-packed with new movie releases, it was easy to captivate the excitement of moviegoers as films seemed to release every week. In terms of viewer excitement, almost none had more anticipation than Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer.” The film gave watchers a fascinating portrayal of the events that happened throughout the intriguing life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, who was primarily responsible for the development of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.

What makes “Oppenheimer” so fascinating was the way in which the story was told. With a number of major developments throughout the scientist’s life, the writers played an influential role in sharing these events by splitting the movie up into two different kinds of scenes; those shot in color were the events leading up to and during the development of the atomic bomb, and those following the development as Oppenehimer was tried for allegedly being a Soviet spy were black and white. Near the end of the movie when these events coincide, the movie shifts back to being full color, which helps viewers fully piece together the storyline, and understand what led up to the events at the end of the film.

While “Oppenheimer” may be considered confusing to many viewers, the storyline ultimately ends up being very fascinating once properly understood. The unique method of telling such an important story to the history of the world truly made “Oppenheimer” a very unique film and one of the best releases in a year full of fantastic cinema.

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures
Photo Courtesy of Amazon Studios
Red, White & Royal Blue

On August 11, the movie adaptation of “Red, White & Royal Blue,” a book originally written by Casey McQuiston, came to Amazon Prime Video. The fictional story follows the President of the United States’ son, Alex, and the Prince of England, Henry, and their hateful relationship towards each other. Their hatred starts to threaten the relationship between the U.S. and Britain, and they are forced to start acting like real friends for the sake of peace between the nations. As they start to be in each other’s presence more, they both develop feelings beyond friendship and have to decide if they should end their relationship or risk it all for their love. 

This movie’s cast includes famous actors such as Nicholas Galitzine, Taylor Zakhar Perez, Uma Thurman and more. All of these talented actors play their characters very well, embodying the book characters perfectly. 

As we watch the movie, we get to see Alex and Henry’s relationship grow from enemies to lovers. Once their love starts to blossom, the media finds out about them and they are then forced to stay away from each other. This does not stop them from being who they are. Even after getting told that they should not be public about their relationship, they go out into the world anyway. This is very inspiring because it tells viewers that we should be open about our true selves. 

Overall, “Red, White & Royal Blue” is well done and pulls in anyone who watches with its funny and enjoyable characters, great storyline and romance. All of these elements combined put this movie on top for best movie of 2023. 

Photo Courtesy of Amazon Studios
Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Scream VI

Horror movies can be controversial, and many fail to understand why someone would voluntarily terrify themself. However, critics’ minds will change when they go to the movie theater to see “Scream VI.” While the ironic gore of the “Scream” movies may not compare to the mind-bending horror of “The Conjuring,” the cinematography and suspense will convince audiences “Scream VI” is still worth the watch. The jumpscares and mystery of Ghostface’s identity will always leave fans entertained in their seats. 

The “Scream” franchise has continuously adapted since its first film in 1996. Audiences may be skeptical of the movie meeting their expectations as it has been 27 years since the first film, but after watching the opening kill, they will know they are in for a treat.

 “Scream VI” takes place in New York City following the main survivors of the latest Woodsboro massacre. We see Sam Carpenter, portrayed by Melissa Barrera, and her sister, Tara Carpenter, portrayed by Jenna Ortega, struggle to move on after the traumatic events of “Scream V.” Before things even have the chance to be resolved, the iconic Ghostface returns, this time accompanying the Carpenter sisters in the city. The two attempt to flee with returning characters Chad, played by Mason Gooding, and Mindy, played by Jasmin Savoy Brown, but unfortunately none are fast enough for this new masked killer. The gang must prepare to fight against the strongest threat yet.

“Scream VI” carries on the franchise’s legacy while bringing new ideas and theories to the table. The realistic gore and nerve-wracking moments make this movie a rollercoaster of emotions. The jaw-dropping unveiling of Ghostface at the end is always captivating. If nostalgia and action-packed horror is up your alley, this is the movie for you. 

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

If a movie is enjoyed by a large audience, production companies will most likely make a sequel. That is what Peter Ramsey did when he made “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” After five years, the long-awaited “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” has finally been released. “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is amazing for a multitude of reasons and can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages.

Firstly, the animation style is mind-blowing. “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” has a perfect blend of traditional and modern techniques, creating a visually stunning experience. Not only is there the original style of art animators used in the first movie, but every character has a unique style since they are all from different universes. Some scenes even use the old styles for characters from animated shows and games.

Many audience members also enjoy how the story is captivating and keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s filled with action, humor and heartwarming moments. “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” has everything you need when you want to watch a movie. 

Lastly, the movie introduces new characters and expands the Spider-Verse by showing characters we already know and love, making it even more exciting for Spider-Man fans. Even if you don’t know all of the characters, it still has many characters to make you laugh, cry and feel on edge for what might happen next in the movie. 

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider Verse” is definitely a must-watch. This movie went beyond what was expected and showed off its unparalleled brilliance. This movie is on Netflix, Youtube, Vudu, Apple TV and many other streaming platforms, so swing on by and watch it.

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