I’ve watched well over 100 movies this year, and I’ve posted a review of every one to a thread on Mastodon, as well as my Letterboxd profile. But since I know not everyone follows me there and others would prefer a blog post, here’s my reviews of all 32 movies that came out in 2023 that I’ve watched so far. As many of us get some more free time these next few weeks, maybe you’ll see something on here that peaks your interest.
The below reviews are broken into 4 categories:
Oh, and before we get going, here are the 2023 films I haven’t seen yet, but are on my todo list:
- The Holdovers
- The Boy and the Heron
- The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
- Leave the World Behind
- May December
- The Creator
- Godzilla Minus One
- Suitable Flesh
- The Marvels
- When Evil Lurks
- Anatomy of a Fall
- American Fiction
- Dream Scenario
- Poor Things
- The Last Voyage of the Demeter
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
- Kill Boksoon
Woof, lots to see in the next few months 😱
Few movies get this classification from me, and the ones that do not only exude excellence, but they connected personally with me in a way most movies simply can’t.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
They did it again.
Just like the first one, I simply can’t understand how they made this movie. The artwork, animation, and music all come together in a way that feels erratic but also perfect for the story being told here.
One of the better cliffhangers of all time, too.
"You make my life bigger, and I wonder if I do the same for you."
"See you then."
Usually these quick reviews come to be easily while I watch the credits roll, but this one made me stew for a bit to try and sum up my thoughts.
I think this movie has problems with how the story is framed and how underserved some characters were while others were…overserved(?).
That said, Nolan shows why he is clearly one of the most talented artists in Hollywood today, bringing his distinctive style to the table, evolving it in ways we haven’t seen from him before, and taking a film that has zero action scenes or superheroes and turning that into a summer blockbuster. It’s not my favorite movie of the year, but it’s quite the achievement.
Killers of the Flower Moon
Scorsese turned 80 during the production of this movie and he proved he's still got it. Killers of the Flower Moon is an incredible, top-tier addition to his already remarkable filmography.
And Lily Gladstone steals the show with a quiet, powerful performance.
I saw this in a local theater in Portland it it may have been the best possible way to see it. The audience loved it and it was palpable how much it was resonating deeply with so many people there.
I don’t really have personal history with Barbie, so it didn’t land as hard for me, but it was funny as hell and tells a more nuanced story about gender roles than its critics give it credit for (if they even watched it).
Maybe too bold, but I was really blown away by this movie.
Yes, he's doing "that Wes Anderson thing" like always, but I think this movie shows why he's still the only one who can really do this style and do it well. He doesn't hit every time for me, but when he does, it's something special, and I think Asteroid City is absolutely something special.
Evil Dead Rise
Positively deranged and disgusting…and tons of fun.
A no-nonsense script gets going right away and never lets up. Add in some incredible imagery & some inspired performances and you've got yourself a perfect camp-horror flick.
These are films I liked, maybe even liked a lot, but they lacked that special something that elevates them to my top tier.
An exceptionally well-executed film with kinda low stakes. I can’t say anything bad about it other than it didn’t have that special x-factor that Fincher films often has that makes them next level for me.
That said, this feels like a film I might enjoy even more the second time.
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour
Seeing the show in person was unlike anything I’ve seen before, and this version does a good job capturing the grander as well as the closer up details you just couldn’t get from the live show.
Sitting through the performances again, all I want is a feature length documentary showing how this whole thing was planned and executed behind the scenes during the show.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
Lots of good fun and an animation style I haven't seen before, but really dig (shout out to Spider-Verse for energizing 3D animation in feature films).
I enjoyed the cartoon as a kid, but I'm not a particular TMNT fan, but I think this is a great re-introduction to the franchise, and I hope we get some fun sequels out of this really good start.
I nearly started skipping through this after the first act…it was kinda cringy. But then it started to pull me in and by the end I really enjoyed it.
The film is written and directed by Peter Sohn, who has said the story is inspired by his experience growing up as a son of immigrants. His parents both passed away during the production of this film.
"I really do love it when you light does that" ❤️
No One Will Save You
A unique take on the alien abduction story with striking visuals and a healthy dose of horror.
Oh, and there is literally one line of dialogue in this thing.
John Wick: Chapter 4
Credit where it's due, Stahelski & Reeves keeping this franchise interesting without losing what made it special in the first place. A bit more of the same here, but there are enough unique set pieces here to keep me wondering what crazy thing they come up with next.
Oh, and Donnie Yen is an A+ addition to the cast.
P.S. If I had to rank them, 3 is my favorite, then 1, 4, and 2
They Cloned Tyrone
The first act is fun, the second is silly, and then it gets surprisingly heavy…before getting silly again.
Really fantastic debut film for Juel Taylor 👌
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
Cruise and McQuarrie can keep making these as long as they want and I’ll be there for each one. After 3 of these together, I’m convinced their superpower isn’t the stunts, but their ability to weave elaborate stories with like 5 teams (sometimes all in the same room) and you can usually keep up.
A couple story beats didn’t perfectly land for me, but this is exactly the sort of summer blockbuster I love.
Raine Allen-Miller's debut feels very much like a debut film, and I mean that in the best way possible. The story feels very personal and the production is loose and refreshing, even if it's telling the type of story you've seen many times before.
Knock at the Cabin
This isn't the best movie ever made, but I really just want M. Night Shyamalan to keep making movies like this. He obviously had a pretty bad run for many years, but his recent work is interesting and unique in a way that I really appreciate.
Also, Dave Bautista is just an incredible talent. I love every time I see him on screen.
Easily my favorite Brandon Cronenberg movie, Infinity Pool is disgusting, vile, offensive, ferocious, and ultimately - an absolute delight. It packages questions about wealth and responsibility in a truly unique package. I felt delirious when the credits rolled, and I mean that in the best way possible.
Mia Goth steals the show here with yet another killer performance as well.
A Haunting in Venice
The single crime of Branagh‘s first two films in this series is they were BORING. Beautiful productions with talented actors, but movie made to take a nap during.
His latest manages to hold onto the first two elements but is actually compelling this time. The horror elements are pretty mild, but they spiced it up for me and it all just worked.
Extra shout out to the cinematographer, who shot this beautifully and creatively at every turn.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
A fun romp with enough references to D&D for fans, but super accessible to anyone who just wants a fun ride.
I don’t think this will be in my top 10 of the year or anything, but everyone involved seemed to be having fun making this, and it shows on screen.
A very solid film about the business dealings that made a shoe. The fact this is at all exciting is a compliment on its own.
These are films I’m not upset that I watched, but that didn’t do much for me. I wouldn’t call any of these bad movies, but they’re the ones that had me reaching for my phone or checking the time on my watch.
Wasn’t loving it in the first half, but it picks up in the second half. I wish I had something more profound to say, but it’s just pretty funny and pretty fun.
It was completely fine but sadly nothing special for me. The characters were decent and I enjoyed the themes in the film, but it all felt pretty vanilla. Kinda funny, kinda fun, and just kinda alright.
No Hard Feelings
I chuckled! I even gasped a few times. JLaw kicks the absolute shit out of people while completely nude. Solid.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie
It's cool to see Mario in super high fidelity and this is a decent enough kids movie, but the rest was just kinda fine.
Chris Pratt was totally fine, for what it's worth.
Any movie with Jimmy Tatro (American Vandal) playing a dumb bro is going to be solid at worst.
This was borderline terrible, but the cast hammed it up enough to make it a bit entertaining anyway. Nick Cage in a particular is perfectly cast as Dracula.
Have I mentioned everything is a franchise with so much more you need to know to keep up with what’s going on? Yeah, Scream is deep on this too.
Honestly though, a horror franchise this many deep that’s still decent fun…it could be a lot worse. Just maybe rewatch the last one again before you sit down for this.
I mostly choose to watch movies I think I’ll enjoy, so very few movies fall into this category, but a few sadly do. These are films that really make me want my 2 hours back.
Running with Speed
Kinda bummed about this one, as I enjoy speed running and I love Summoning Salt's videos on YouTube, so his narration brought me in. The movie itself is way too dry for its own good, especially considering its 2.5 hour runtime, though.
I will say full credit goes to the filmmakers for getting interviews with many of the big voices in this community who you'd want to see.
There will be people who love this movie, and to those people, all I can say is, "I see you, I'm just not one of you".
This movie is often genuinely funny, with a talented cast doing good work, but I just found the film to be generally unpleasant to watch.
One of the things I love about film is that often a movie is someone involved's life's work. They've been trying to get this art created for many years, if not most of their life. Not everything, of course, but the great stuff always feels that way.
Totally Killer is nothing like that and feels like a soulless piece of "content" created with a random assortment of trendy and nostalgic items from a checklist created by an executive with 3 summer homes and their eye on a 4th.
The Nun II
It's the same formula as the first film: see creepy nun, creepy nun goes 👹, creepy nun zips towards the camera, repeat for 110 minutes. Yet, it's somehow worse and more boring in every way than the first.
The magazine flip scene was fun, though.