The Best Films of 2023: A Year of Empowering Women and Captivating Stories

Experience the top films of 2023, a year that showcased the power of female autonomy and explored profound themes. From Emma Stone’s career-defining performance in an offbeat tale of liberation to the thrilling exploration of guilt and grief in ‘Godzilla Minus One,’ these films captivated audiences with their emotional depth. Discover the thought-provoking consequences of greed in ‘BlackBerry’ and the exhilarating action of ‘Mission: Impossible 7.’ Wes Anderson’s introspective ‘Asteroid City’ and the gripping courtroom drama of ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ will leave you breathless. Don’t miss the beautiful yet tragic biopic ‘The Iron Claw’ and the heartwarming connection in ‘The Holdovers.’ And of course, ‘Oppenheimer’ reigns as the monumental masterpiece of the year. Get ready to be transported to a world of captivating storytelling and unforgettable performances.

Emma Stone Shines in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Unique Tale of Female Autonomy

Emma Stone delivers the best performance of her career in Yorgos Lanthimos’ offbeat take on female autonomy and sexual liberation. The film’s awkward humor and absurdity shroud it in an alien, idiosyncratic veil, but this unique tone doesn’t weaken the film’s beating heart. It sneaks in plenty of emotional gut punches due to Stone’s raw vulnerability.

The Best Films of 2023: A Year of Empowering Women and Captivating Stories - 657781602

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Thrilling Monster Movie ‘Godzilla Minus One’ Explores Guilt and Grief

Every bit of praise you’ve heard about ‘Godzilla Minus One’ is warranted. On the surface, it’s a thrilling monster movie with breakneck pacing and outstanding visual effects. At its core, though, it’s a ruminative exploration of guilt and grief. Unlike a lot of action blockbusters today, this film devotes plenty of time to getting to know the characters and their motivations, wants, fears, and flaws.

Thought-Provoking ‘BlackBerry’ Sheds Light on Consequences of Greed

2023 saw the increased popularity of what I’m calling ‘the product biopic.’ While most of these films feel like carbon copies of each other, ‘BlackBerry’ sticks out because it has something to say about the consequences of being greedy in a capitalist society. Director Matt Johnson’s goofy sense of humor shines through, and Glenn Howerton’s turn as Jim Balsillie — a cutthroat businessman — is one of the best and most underrated performances of the year.

Thrilling Set Pieces and Timeliness Make ‘Mission: Impossible 7’ Stand Out

The seventh installment in the ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchise was released at quite possibly the worst time – one week before ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ – meaning many people quickly forgot about it. Still, it’s one of the best action films of the year because of its thrilling set pieces, booming score, and timeliness. Tom Cruise literally fights artificial intelligence, and frankly, that’s enough for me to put it in my top ten.

Wes Anderson’s ‘Asteroid City’ Balances Quirks with Existential Themes

Call me crazy, but I’m a firm believer that ‘Asteroid City’ is one of Wes Anderson’s best. The signature Anderson-isms are there — quirky dialogue, centered framing, and fantastical production design, to name a few — but they work in tandem with the existential themes Anderson explores in a rather introspective manner. ‘Dear Alien (Who Art in Heaven)’ deserves an Oscar nomination.

Ruthless Carnage and Unexpected Comedy in ‘John Wick: Chapter Four’

As a ‘John Wick’ loyalist, this was everything I wanted the fourth installment to be. It’s nearly three hours of pure carnage held together by Keanu Reeves’ ruthless, yet stoic energy. The film is a visual feast for the eyes with stupidly maximalist lighting and intelligently shot set pieces. Unexpectedly, ‘Chapter Four’ also features an absurdly funny moment of slapstick comedy that’s like the cherry on top of an already perfect film. Watching this film in a huge IMAX theater is probably the closest I’ll ever get to reaching nirvana.

Deeply Tragic ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ Explores Family Dynamics Under Public Scrutiny

I didn’t immediately fall in love with ‘Anatomy of a Fall,’ a two-and-a-half-hour courtroom drama that has a relatively simple premise: did Sandra kill her husband, or did he fall out of a window? In the courtroom, different perspectives and motives are explored through wordy, dense confrontations. But as the film progresses, the narrative shifts: turning into an exploration of family dynamics under public scrutiny. In the end, the film’s humanity knocked the wind out of me.

Beautiful Yet Tragic ‘The Iron Claw’ Captures Resilience and Brotherhood

Speaking of having the wind knocked out of me, ‘The Iron Claw’ is a deeply tragic, ugly cry-inducing biopic about the Von Erich brothers. Even though the subject matter is devastating, the film is beautiful in the way it paints endurance, legacy, and brotherhood. Held together by Zac Efron’s powerhouse performance and inventive editing, ‘The Iron Claw’ captures the spirit of resilience and the beauty of Americana. The ‘Tom Sawyer’ needle drop is the best of the year.

Heartwarming Connection in ‘The Holdovers’ Tugs at Heartstrings

‘Dead Poets Society’ meets ‘Good Will Hunting’ in this future holiday classic that pulls on my heartstrings in a way that hurts so good. ‘The Holdovers’ is a deceptively simple film that reminds us of our innate desire for human connection, love, and understanding. It has a nostalgic charm due to its 1970s setting and the beautiful chemistry between the leads. Remarkably, this was Dominic Sessa’s first film role, but he effortlessly holds his own against Paul Giamatti.

‘Oppenheimer’: A Gargantuan Masterpiece That Transcends Time

‘Oppenheimer’ was always going to be No. 1. That’s a given at this point. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? It’s a gargantuan, vital piece of work that’s already cemented itself as one of the greatest films of the 21st century. It’s still selling out IMAX theaters six months after its initial release and has emerged as an awards season frontrunner. To put it in layman’s terms, ‘Oppenheimer’ is, and always will be, that girl.

Reflecting on a Fantastic Year of Film in 2023

2023 was a fantastic year for film, and this list showcases the best of the best. From the empowering performances of women to the thought-provoking exploration of themes, these films captivated audiences with their emotional depth and captivating storytelling. As we look forward to the films of 2024, let’s remember the impact that these cinematic gems had on us. Get ready for another year of cinematic magic!

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