FILM REVIEW — The Movie Guy’s favorite films of 2023

Published 12:02 am Friday, December 29, 2023

I hate compiling a top movies list of any year. No sooner do I finalize the list, than a handful of other movies pop into my head, demanding to be considered.

Still, a Top 10 List is a time-honored tradition, so here are my favorite films of the past year.

10 – “Spider-Man” Across the Spider-Verse.” (Netflix)

Visually stunning and filled with solid voice performances and an intriguing storyline, this is my favorite animated movie of the year. It’s every bit as good as the first film, and definitely leaves me excited to see part 3 when it hits theaters.

9 – “Anatomy of a Fall” (In Theaters and VOD)

A woman is accused of killing her husband in this superb courtroom drama. It’s a very European film, switching from English to French from scene to scene. Sandra Hüller turns in a pitch-perfect performance as the wife on trial for murder — easily some of the best acting of the year,

8 – “John Wick: Chapter 4” (Starz and VOD)

Action films are often dismissed by snooty film critics, but this one is so well-made that it deserves to be praised as an example of film craftsmanship of the highest order. That, and the fact that it’s edge-of-your-seat entertaining.

7 – “May December” (Netflix)

An actress preparing for a movie in which she will play a pedophile meets with the woman at the center of the scandal in this battle-of-wits between two formidable women. I’ll let you decide which one is the real monster in this sudsy melodrama that leaves audiences divided. My decision is that it’s a very good drama.

6 – “Oppenheimer” (In Theaters, Max and VOD)

I suspect this film is the one to beat on Oscar night, and it certainly deserves all the awards for this warts-and-all biography about the father of the atomic bomb. I still think it’s too long, but the acting, cinematography and production design are all notably great.

5 – “American Fiction” (In Theaters)

This is a sly comedy, the story of a Black author who can’t get traction for his writing until he writes a Blacksploitation book, something he personally hates, but the rest of the world seems to love. It’s one of those thorny, thinking movies that is certain to engender debate from audiences.

4 – “Barbie” (Max)

This cultural phenomenon is also an extremely well-crafted movie. Kudos all around to the writers, director and actors, but let’s not forget the marketing team that turned this popcorn movie into a global sensation. I think that it deserves all of its acclaim as both a work of art as well as delightful piece of bubblegum pop.

3 – “Past Lives” (VOD)

A woman emigrates from South Korea to America, but she can’t quite leave her past behind in the form of her girlhood crush. When they reconnect years later, she’s torn between her feelings for her husband and her past love in this messy-but-satisfying love story.

2 – “Poor Things” (In Theaters)

Emma Stone will surely be Oscar nominated for her tour de force performance playing an adult woman who mentally grows from toddler to young adult over the course of the film. It deals with themes of female empowerment and finding one’s place in the world, even if all the men in her life want to tie her down to traditional female social roles. It’s visually stunning, filled with powerful performances, but also a lot of sex and nudity that will give some audiences pause. Still, a very impressive movie from an intriguing director.

1 – “The Holdovers” (In Theaters, Peacock and VOD)

A cranky boarding school professor and the school’s cafeteria manager are left to care for a lonely student in a delightful movie about three caustic people who form a makeshift family for Christmas. The three central performances all deserve Oscar nominations, as does the screenplay and the 1970s period design. I love it for its artistic achievement as well as its feel-good vibe. This is far and away my favorite film of the year.

Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Orange Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at sean@seanthemovieguy.com.