Our Top Ten Films of 2023

It’s been a crazy year for the movies, and it’s been a crazy year for Hollywood. There was Barbenheimer, the massive SAG-AFTRA/WGA strike, the continued streaming wars, the decline in the popularity of superhero movies, the end of the DCEU, the phasing out of physical media in major chain stores, and twenty five years after “Family Matters” ended, Steve Urkel got his own animated movie.

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Here are Our Top Ten Movies of 2023.

Please to remember this is our opinion, and only our opinion, not gospel. But we encourage you to let us know your top ten movies of the year or what other nineties icon you think will get an animated movie next.

10. No One Will Save You
Directed by: Brian Duffield
Written By: Brian Duffield
Apocalypse movies have really pivoted over the years from “We can save it if we try,” to “No one or thing is coming to save the world. We’re doomed.” The obvious proof is “No One Will Save You,” a twisted amalgam of a survival film, a home invasion film, an alien film, and an apocalyptic horror film. “No One Will Save You” garners zero lines of dialogue and is primarily a visual and emotional experience allowing everyone from director Brian Duffield to star Kaitlyn Dever to shine and shine bright.

Dever’s performance as a pariah tasked with fending off against aliens in her home is just a mind blowing experience teeming with tension, anxiety, and one hell of a deliciosuly demented final scene. Dever offers one of the most out of left field performances of the year, proving she’s an actress to look out for.

9. M3GAN
Directed by: Gerard Johnstone
Written By: Akela Cooper
Universal Pictures
Two big doll movies were released this year, both were viral sensations, and out of the pair, I had the best time with “M3GAN.” I mean, yes, I enjoyed “Barbie” quite a lot, but “M3GAN” was so much more on my speed. Filled with buzz and word of mouth before it was even released, “M3GAN” is thankfully a fun, weird, and campy good time that packs in some good old fashioned good toys gone bad spooks for good measure.

Along with a slew of great performances from folks like Violet McGraw, and Allison Williams, there are also some raucous moments sure to go down in horror history including M3GAN’s famed dance of death, her bloody confrontation with a bully in the woods, and the big robot throw down in the finale. I’m sure with the inevitable sequel we’ve only just begun to see what M3GAN is capable of.

8. Enter the Clones of Bruce
Directed by: David Gregory
Severin Films
Ever since I was a kid the idea of the Bruce Lee clones trying to fill the meteor sized hole that Lee left after his untimely death was a running joke. We often mocked the “lame” Bruce Lee wannabes, but David Gregory takes a deep dive in to an often derided sub-genre giving dignity to the performers that studios tried to use as a means of continuing making money for them.

These men were filled with talent and charisma, and were mostly mainly seen as a means of producing cash. Only a few of them managed to stand out and rise above the pigeonholing. Every surviving Lee stand in are given a chance to discuss how hard they worked and how little they were appreciated. “Enter the Clones of Bruce” is a marvelous, long overdue history of this criticized and lampooned corner of the movie world that will keep movie buffs buzzing for days.

7. Past Lives
Directed by: Celine Song
Written By: Celine Song
Celine Song’s romance drama is a movie for the old fashioned romantics, and the people that have had their “past lives.” This is a movie where I could constantly hear “Erykah Badu’s” “Next Lifetime” playing over and over in my head. It’s just an absolutely gut wrenching and emotional tale about three people stuck in this awkward moment in time where love and nostalgia are in this dead heat. Nora is faced with the love of her past.

Meanwhile the love of her present and is forced to come to grips with how she feels about who she always considered first love. What could have been an infuriating experience is a gentle, sweet, and mature look at love’s complexities. It’s also an ode to the pain and joy of true love. We’re not quite sure what will happen from the moment the screen fades to black, but we know these characters are never going to be the same again.

6. Reality
Directed by: Tina Satter
Written By: Tina Satter, James Paul Dallas
HBO Films, Inc.
While Sydney Sweeney is getting a ton of attention in late 2023 for her role in a cheesy stock rom-com, her best role of the year is “Reality.” That is where Sweeney is able to smash her pigeonholing from HBO’s “Euphoria” and really shine as an actual actress of clear cut substance and range. Sweeney is intense as Reality Winner, the Intelligence specialist who received jail time for leaking Russian interference in the elections to the American media.

Sweeney is completely void of the usual polish, shedding her sex symbol status in favor of a down to Earth and stark performance of a young girl who’s sadly going to be harshly punished merely for doing the job she signed up for. It’s a sobering and grim drama piloted by Sweeney’s vulnerable starring turn. I hope we get to see more of these roles from the actress very soon as she has promise.

5. Scream VI
Directed by: Tyler Gillett, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin
Written by: James Vanderbilt, Guy Busick, Kevin Williamson
SpyGlass Entertainment
SpyGlass Entertainment had it in the bag. They made the smooth transition from Sidney Prescott to a pair of engaging final girls. They gave the main final girl a link to the original “Scream,” and created a festering conflict that could have exploded at any time. And, like it or not, they even had the marketable “Core Four” nickname. And they blew it.

That said, “Scream VI” is a great final (?) romp for Tara and Sam Carpenter; it’s a New York centric, Halloween tinted outing for Ghostface that is packed with grue, mystery, and respect for creator Wes Craven’s groundwork. Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega are as great as ever, and if this has to be the final journey with the “Core Four” I’m glad it ended on a clear cut resolution. In the end, the Carpenters set out together to face whatever awaited them. It’s been a fun ride.

4. Full Time (À plein temps)
Directed by: Éric Gravel
Written By: Éric Gravel
Music Box Films
It’s tough to imagine a more anxiety laden drama this year than “Full Time.” Director Éric Gravel’s drama is a masterpiece that any working class family that’s ever existed can relate to. Faced with raising two kids on her own, a job hanging on by a thread, and an impending transit strike, she spends the duration of “Full Time” racing against the clock, and working at an almost Sisyphean fervor.

Éric Gravel’s direction is just dynamite successfully conveying the stress Julie must endure day in and day out. Seemingly small tasks like looking for babysitters and making it to work on time become massive endurance tests. Through it all she has to hope against all odds that for once life will give her a much deserved window to breathe for a little while. If you’ve ever been a single parent, this film is for you.

3. Are you There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Directed by: Kelly Fremon Craig
Written By: Kelly Fremon Craig
Lionsgate Films
I was never a reader of Judy Blume books as a kid as she wrote specifically for young girls but I was more than optimistic about her iconic book being turned in to a film. Thankfully, the big screen version of Blume’s coming of age drama is a fantastic, sweet, and touching tale about growing up, grappling with your faith, and realizing that you ultimately have to make decisions that work for you, even if they hurt the ones in our lives.

“Are you There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.” is an absolute gem that every mother and daughter should watch together. It confronts the tough topics with great subtly while also delivering on an engaging story. Abby Ryder Fortson does a wonderful job leading a cast that includes Kathy Bates, and Rachel McAdams, respectively. I loved this movie, and I wish it’d been more of a box office smash.

2. The Iron Claw
Directed by: Sean Durkin
Written By: Sean Durkin
A24 Studios
It’s one of the most tragic, if not the most tragic story in all of pro wrestling history, and it’s transformed in to a respectful albeit emotionally turbulent drama. “The Iron Claw” will just rip you to shreds. It’s a sad and affecting tale about brothers, toxic masculinity, family, and the all too unsafe conditions that wrestlers worked in and continue to work in to this day.

Although realistically to tell the full story of the Von Erich’s you’d have to build a six hour epic film, “The Iron Claw” does a wonderful job of telling this family tragedy while also delivering some of the best performances of the year bar none. Folks like Jeremy Allen White, Zac Efron, Maura Tierney, Harris Dickinson, and Holt McCallany (respectively) offer mind blowing turns in what promises to become a classic film about fathers and sons.

1. Evil Dead Rise
Directed by: Lee Cronin
Written By: Lee Cronin
Starring: Alyssa Sutherland, Morgan Davies, Nell Fisher, Lily Sullivan, Gabrille Echols
Warner Bros. Pictures
Damn it, Lee Cronin tried for something different and it was a rollicking success. Ever since it premiered, I’ve seen “Evil Dead Rise” at least twelve times. And every single time it manages to just get nastier, gorier, and slicker. “Evil Dead Rise” is a meticulously crafted and beautifully composed horror sequel in the tradition of Sam Raimi’s original films that doesn’t mind fucking with us every now and then. Veering away from the cabin in the woods setting to an abandoned high rise in the middle of the city is a stroke of genius, and Cronin is able to derive so many interesting ideas and concepts with this confined setting.

Co-star Alyssa Sutherland is mind blowing as the resident mommy deadite Ellie, who, like every other deadite before her, is a nasty, sadistic, and manipulative demon bitch that delights in tormenting her family psychologically as well as physically. Cronin is able to garner so many interesting sequences and scenes of pure dripping terror from his own installment, whether it’s a horrific wig pull, the opening title emerging from a lake, a call back to the sneak a peek game from the first film, or an excellent variation on the possession sequence set in an elevator.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing carnage sequence witnessed through a peephole that is as effective as it is fucking cool. I love “Evil Dead Rise” from its gory gooey center to its clever commentary about motherhood.

Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny

Almost Made It: Skinamarink, Creed III, Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, Sisu, Barbie, Oppenheimer, Joy Ride, Cobweb, John Wick Chapter 4, The Holdovers, Leave The World Behind, Saltburn, Talk to Me, The Marvels, Dumb Money, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, May December, Monica, Poor Things

The Worst of the Year: Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, House Party, Pet Sematary: Bloodlines, Elemental, Expendables 4, Children of the Corn, Flamin’ Hot