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  • Writer's pictureRua Fay

The Best Films of 2023

Updated: Jan 3

2023 was a great year for film. It seemed as though there was a new fantastic movie coming out every month, there was no shortage of entertainment this year. So let's take a look back at the eventful year that was 2023, and Happy New Year from everyone here at Cinemasters!

#10: Nimona dir. Troy Quane, Nick Bruno

Nimona was the success that no one saw coming. It came from the failing Blue Sky studio before it was acquired by Disney, it was stuck in development hell, and had its release date delayed by three years. A true cinematic underdog. I can't even recall the sheer number of times this movie was recommended to me before I ended up watching it. Nimona tells a story of going against the grain and unlikely friendship. The titular character, played by Chloë Grace Mortez, is insanely charismatic, and the film has a strong voice cast with beautiful, unorthodox animation. Not to mention a clear, unabashed same sex relationship on screen. Overall, a great family movie and a reminder to never count out the little guy.

#9: Elemental dir. Peter Sohn

2023 was probably the worst year Disney has ever experienced. None of their projects were able to achieve both critical and commercial success, at least not like they used to. But despite being sort of a financial disappointment, I absolutely adored Elemental. It's a very personal story, loosely based on the director's parents and their story of immigrating from Korea to the US. It's a tale about clashing cultures, tradition, and interracial love that really tugs at your heartstrings. The animation is gorgeous and colorful, the quality you'd expect from Pixar. I'd be lying if I said I didn't shed a tear in the theater...

#8: Godzilla Minus One dir. Takashi Yamazaki

I am the first person to admit that I am not a fan of action movies, and I've never really cared about Godzilla. I've respected it as the world's longest running film franchise, but I've never been a fan of monster movies. But if you look closer, Godzilla Minus One is not really a monster movie, it's an allegory for World War II. A large portion of the film doesn't even include the creature on screen, but is instead dedicated to developing the human characters. It's an insanely well-made film with astounding special effects and great performances. It's a Godzilla movie made by the country that knows Godzilla best: Japan. Whatever you do, don't overlook this film.

#7: Priscilla dir. Sofia Coppola

I walked into Priscilla an Elvis fan, and walked out a former fan. Priscilla is an insanely emotional film about the pop culture icon, Priscilla Presley and her relationship with Elvis throughout her life. A relationship that began when he was 24 and she was 14. It's incredibly well-shot and it's easy to tell how much effort was put into the makeup and costumes as well as the two lead performances of Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi. Despite being surrounded by wealth a glamor, my heart aches for Priscilla the entire runtime. It opened my eyes as well as thousands of others to the abusive predator that Elvis was. It's an emotionally conflicting film that's not for the faint of heart.

#6: May December dir. Todd Haynes

Like Priscilla, May December attempts to tackle the issue of predators with an unique and nuanced approach. It's about an actress, studying a subject for a future biopic, that person being Julianne Moore's character, Gracie, a woman who began a relationship with a 13 year old boy when she was 36. The film is set twenty years later, after the couple have had children and built a life together. It's an incredibly difficult subject to capture on film, but May December treats it with beauty and grace. It was a real standout at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, and fans of the film are already clamoring to get supporting actor, Charles Melton, an Oscar nomination.

#5: Oppenheimer dir. Christopher Nolan

Oppenheimer is Christopher Nolan's highly anticipated biopic about the man that made the atomic bomb, leading to an emotionally complicated masterpiece. It has quite possibly the most star-studded cast I have ever seen. Cillian Murphy plays J. Robert Oppenheimer with such nuance and subtlety, it's truly something to behold. It would not surprise me at all if Murphy and Robert Downey Jr both won Oscars for their respective performances. In addition, the film includes amazing editing, cinematography, and music, staples of a good Nolan film. Don't let the lengthy runtime fool you, Oppenheimer is worth every bit of your attention.

#4: Barbie dir. Greta Gerwig

Greta Gerwig's Barbie was the ultimate cultural phenomenon of 2023, swiftly becoming the highest grossing film by a female director, ever. It's an over-the-top, campy movie that also has a lot of heart. It has a lot of laughs and a great soundtrack, not to mention the "What Was I Made For?" scene being my favorite scene of the entire year, it literally brought me to tears in the theater. And do I even need to mention Ryan Gosling as Ken? Best performance of the year. Barbie is a movie guaranteed to put a smile on your face no matter who you are. I hope that the success of Barbie encourages more studios to put their faith in female directors looking to tell stories of womanhood.

#3: Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse dir. Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin K Thompson, Kemp Powers

It's an incredibly daunting task to follow up one of the most beloved animated films of all time, but Across the Spiderverse still manages to blow expectation out of the water. It is the most visually beautiful animated film I have ever seen, but it isn't merely style over substance. This film further explores the characters we know and love from the first movie and manages to create an insanely complicated yet intriguing story. Not to mention the wealth of references and easter eggs for comic book fans to point out. Daniel Pemberton also returns with an amazing, futuristic score. If you're a fan of Spider-Man, comic books, or animation, Across the Spiderverse is the whole package.

#2: Poor Things dir. Yorgos Lanthimos

Yorgos Lanthimos has been one of my favorite directors for years now, so of course I was eager to see Poor Things. It's a surrealist, highly stylized film about a woman learning how to be human after receiving an infant brain transplant. It's like a mix of Frankenstein and Swiss Army Man but with a much more dramatic tone and a female protagonist. It's a film that can be hilarious, uncomfortable, but always deeply human. It has an incredibly unique soundtrack and an overall style that makes it entirely unique. Mark my words, this will get Emma Stone her second Oscar.

#1: Saltburn dir. Emerald Fennell

Saltburn is an absolutely unhinged film. It deals with themes of greed, wealth, deception, and decadence. By all accounts, it is a "weird" movie with an intense magnetism to it, coming from multiple aspects. Actors, Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Alison Oliver, Archie Madekwe and Rosamund Pike all give incredible performances. The production design and cinematography are flawless, every frame a painting. The film does not spoon-feed you what it's trying to say, leading to multiple interpretations from the audience, which I appreciate. Saltburn also includes my favorite conclusion of any film released in 2023. If this is where film is going, consider me on-board.

In 2024, Cinemasters will be going into its third official year of publishing, thank you to everyone who has ever read our material. Once again, Happy New Year and never stop watching!

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