Mark’s Review of Cinema in 2023

L to R: Benny Safdie is Edward Teller and Cillian Murphy is J. Robert Oppenheimer in OPPENHEIMER, written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan.

The year 2023 was a very interesting one in film. It marked a turning point for comic-book superhero movies. While I liked and enjoyed some of the offerings from both Marvel Studios and Warner Bros/DC, most other critics did not feel the same way. I am not saying I completely adored all these movies and everything about them because I didn’t. The quality of writing and directing hasn’t been the same as those types of movies in previous years.

For the comic book movie fan in me, this was somewhat disappointing. For the cinephile in me, it made me happy to see several of my favorite filmmakers re-emerge with their new projects to take cinema by storm. New films by Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Michael Mann, Yorgos Lanthimos, Alexander Payne, and Todd Haynes were released. It was as if they were the voices of resistance challenging and certainly out-doing Marvel and DC. It was an excellent year for first-time directors such as Celine Strong (Past Lives), A.V. Rockwell (A Thousand and One), and Chloe Domont (Fair Play).

Cinema is like a living, breathing organism that is always in flux–often evolving but sometimes stagnating or in a state of sloth. And because I love high-quality comic-book films, that doesn’t mean those are the only movies I want to see. Too much of anything is not good. Cinema and its creators and benefactors must find a balance between art and entertainment.

I realize it is getting increasingly difficult to fill the seats in theaters, but if you give everyone a good reason to get out of the house and spend their money, the theater experience doesn’t have to die. We need more movies like Oppenheimer, Barbie, Killers of the Flower Moon, and The Holdovers, which all bring something different to the theater but look gorgeous on the big screen. As an optimist, I hope changes will be made from the green light to the writing and direction. We cannot take for granted that our older filmmakers will be able to keep creating masterpieces.

I hope comic movies will begin to improve and production will be scaled back so as not to oversaturate our theaters. Meanwhile, I would love some of our finest new filmmakers to step forward and take over for our veterans who are slowing down. Cinema can be saved, and it is an experience worth saving. Like Nicole Kidman says in her AMC promos, “We come here for magic.” I implore the filmmaking industry and its artists to bring more of that magic back.

Well, that’s enough of my cinema soapbox. It’s time for me to get to my award choices. Here is my top ten list of 2023’s best movies and my choices for more specific film categories. Happy New Year!

Top Ten Films of 2023:

  1. Oppenheimer
  2. Poor Things
  3. The Zone of Interest
  4. All of Us Strangers
  5. Past Lives
  6. The Boy and the Heron
  7. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
  8. Barbie
  9. The Iron Claw
  10. Every Body

Honorable Mentions: Killers of the Flower Moon, The Holdovers, A Thousand and One, Godzilla Minus One

Best Director: Christopher Nolan – Oppenheimer

Best Original Screenplay: Celine Song – Past Lives

Best Adapted Screenplay: Tony McNamara – Poor Things

Best Female Actor: Emma Stone- Poor Things

Best Male Actor: Cillian Murphy – Oppenheimer

Best Supporting Female Actor: Da Vine Joy Randolph – The Holdovers

Best Supporting Male Actor: Charles Melton – May December

Best Cinematography: Robbie Ryan – Poor Things

Best International Film: The Zone of Interest

Best Documentary Feature Film: Every Body

Best Animated Film: The Boy and the Heron

Best Original Film Score: Robbie Robertson – Killers of the Flower Moon

Leave a comment