Opinion: The top ten movies of 2023
It also contains two adaptations of toy properties and two Marvel movies! Got to let people know it’s still me.
So, a few words of explanation before we begin, but this is a top ten list of movies, and that shouldn’t be too hard to figure out. I’m going by commercial theatrical release rather than, say, film festival release to count as a 2023 movie, but there aren’t any borderline cases here to begin with. This is not a furry list, which should also be pretty obvious. I’ve been doing this since 2011, and people do occasionally grumble, but the editors keep running it, anyway. Going the other way, if anyone is actually interested in my other non-furry movie opinions, I did join Letterboxd last year. Also, I traditionally give out a
blatant attempt to tilt the Ursa Majors Best Furry Movie mention, and for 2023, that movie is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Now for the main event! Keep in mind all picks, good or bad, are from me. Film titles and posters link to IMDB or Flayrah reviews for more information. Have fun!
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Of the four John Wick movies, I still like Chapter 3 the best. But I interrupted my own mini-review of the best episode of Helluva Boss to gush about the dragon’s breath shotgun scene in this movie, so it’s fair to say I enjoyed this one, too.
There’s not a lot to say about John Wick movies, other than they are really well done action movies. I mean, that’s the point, right? I could tell you how exciting some of the action scenes are, but this movie is perhaps best explained by watching it. It effectively asks, “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if our action hero did this?” and then having the stunt men do that.
9. The Marvels
Directed by: Nia DaCosta
My number nine spot I traditionally reserve for my “really, you’re going with that?” pick, which often means going with a movie that the consensus has mostly agreed was bad. I don’t even have an argument against that, but I like it anyway. The Marvels is an unusual case, because it’s not “bad” (people are just mean), it’s still a good movie, but it’s not great, either.
So, why a spot at all? Well, while mostly being just another slightly-above-average Marvel flick, one scene wound up being my favorite of the year. It was so great, I won’t spoil it, but I will say, it also means my number nine spot still fits in with another running gag with my number nine spots.
Directed by: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
I’m doing a year end top ten list, and honestly, I would not be surprised if the thing that annoys people more than anything else is that I basically called Dungeons & Dragons a toy property in my introduction. Well, I’m not going to take it back, and further double down that the movie understands its property very well, and makes a fun movie out of its toy.
Furthermore, this one could be considered borderline furry, for those interested in keeping up the quota. Plenty of magical creatures, both anthropomorphic and non-. One main character can transform herself into a variety of animals; there’s inventive uses of this power throughout.
Directed by: Takashi Yamazaki
This is a Godzilla movie that does two things that are very hard for Godzilla movies to get right. First of all, it made Godzilla scary in a personal way. He’s too big and powerful to target individuals. But in Godzilla Minus One, whether it was an early scene featuring a pre-atomic Godzilla, or a scene where he chases a lone wooden boat, he focuses on individuals in way he hasn’t in the past.
But those individuals being menaced are also one of the few times the human characters are actually really worth caring about in a Godzilla movie (which also helps with the menace). Oftentimes in a kaiju movie, the human story feels superfluous - or, let’s face it, just plain bad. But in Godzilla Minus One, acting, writing and themes come together to finally actually give us humans worth worrying about at an individual level.
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Living in Oklahoma, I’m basically surrounded by the American destruction of entire native cultures. Looking back at my education, I feel lucky to have had teachers that didn’t shy away from pointing out that this was not really my land.
And so is Martin Scorsese, in case you’re unaware. But he went even farther, getting closer to the story. Maybe not yet as close as we really need, but closer, anyway. The true story this movie is based on is still not widely known, even in Oklahoma. At least it wasn’t, until the movie came out.
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Yes, I did Barbenheimer, opening night. Of course I did! It was fun. It wasn’t a really big deal where I was from (that was last entry’s movie), but it was fun. Admittedly, fun isn’t a word I’d readily use to describe the movie Oppenheimer. It’s a somber piece. Though it had scenes in black-and-white and color, unusually, it was the color scenes that came out more somber.
Ironically, a major strength of Oppenheimer (or Godzilla Minus Two, as a possible alternative title) may have actually hurt it a bit as a part of Barbenheimer. The bomb goes off, and I was ready to go home, especially after already watching Barbie. That’s where biopic movies like this usually end, right? But Oppenheimer, like the life of its protagonist, keeps on going. It’s not just about doing the thing. It’s about the consequences of doing the thing.
Directed by: Greta Gerwig
Okay, practical advice, if you’re going to do a double feature, whether it’s an at home Barbenheimer or something else down the road, aways start with the lighter feature. Going into the comedy in a somber mood doesn’t do anyone any favors.
That’s why I did Barbie first. And I’m glad I went that way, because going into this in a somber mood would have put me out of an otherwise great experience. Maybe I’m just a sucker for meta comedies over portentous biopics, but I was probably always going to like Barbie more. Unlike Oppenheimer, I can describe Barbie as fun without it coming out weird!
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
I like a good ghost story, and the first half of this movie is definitely that. The Heron is a genuinely creepy “ghost”, and I liked that. The second half isn’t bad, either, though it’s the first half that really got stuck in my throat. It could have made a very good supernatural horror movie, if desired.
Of course, this is not the first time Miyazaki has told a similar story. Even Totoro started out as a bit of a “ghost”, just much more benign than the Heron. But Miyazaki can get darker when he wants to, and this is maybe the closest he’s come to wanting to do a good supernatural horror movie.
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson is one of those directors I’ve started to count on, almost take for granted. Oh, he’s got a movie out this year? Well, there’s a spot in my top ten list taken care of. Probably top five. Heck, probably second, if there’s not something furrier that more appeals to my specific cinematic fetishes out that year. Ahem. [More than we needed to know, crossie…]
But Asteroid City is still a weird, wild movie for Anderson. It’s his first science fiction story, probably. He’s obviously done fantasy before, but there’s something special about Wes Anderson science fiction. He may not even get science fiction, but that’s okay. He just keeps telling the story, and I just keep watching.
Directed by: James Gunn
So, how’s this for a twist? Since I didn’t really get to talk about it when I reviewed it as I didn’t want to run afoul of spoiler-phobes, I’m going to complain about my favorite movie of the year for it’s top ten blurb! Still wish they could’ve found something, anything, to do with Lylla the otter other than just fridge her (again!), but, to be fair, it’s not like she did much in the comics but be a damsel in distress.
Oh, well. Also wish Jame Gunn, given the perfect opportunity to bow out of comic book movies on top, wouldn’t have just gone right back to them, except not even with any talking animals, next time. Then again, he just seems to like comic books. And he does seem to make good ones. So, never mind the quibbles, favorite movie of the year.