Thursday 28 December 2023

2023 in Review: Top 10 Movies

There was no shortage of movies to watch in 2023, that's for sure, thanks largely to a packed theatrical slate. But there are still quite a number of them that I have yet to see. For example, I am still slogging my way through Rebel Moon: Part One. Then I still haven't seen Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny which is odd considering it was up there with the rest of my most anticipated movies for the year. The big omission though, at least as far as this Top 10 list is concerned, is Godzilla Minus One as it never got released over here in Nigeria. So with that disclaimer out of the way, here are my Top 10 movies for 2023.

10. The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Nintendo finally decided to take another shot at bringing their beloved mascots to the big screen, some 30 years after their first failed attempt. Thankfully, they'd opted to go the animation route this time around, teaming up with Illumination Studios to help bring the Mushroom Kingdom to life. And what a delight the new film ended up being, with every scene practically crammed with Easter eggs. So while it ultimately left critics divided, the audience certainly ate it up as it easily became the highest-grossing video game adaptation with more than $1.3 billion earned at the global box office.

9. Killers of the Flower Moon

Martin Scorsese brings two of his biggest frequent collaborators together for the first time in Killers of the Flower Moon, a historical drama about the Osage County murders. And while both Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio gave standout performances in the film, it was actually Lily Gladstone that left the biggest impression in my opinion, all but guaranteeing that she'll be getting all the recognition she deserves at the Oscars next year. Expect to see the movie itself continue to rack up even more nominations as we progress further into awards season.

8. Talk to Me

You'll be forgiven for taking one look at Talk to Me and thinking you've seen that before. After all, a group of teenagers messing around with the supernatural for kicks is a well-worn trope in horror films. I mean, what could possibly go wrong, right? But what helps to set Talk to Me apart from the rest of its ilk is its devilishly effective premise and a cast of well-rounded characters with real, emotional stakes. And to think that the movie was made by a pair of YouTubers in their directorial debut. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for their future work as well as the inevitable sequel.

7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

James Gunn bids farewell to the MCU with Vol. 3 of Guardians of the Galaxy. And what a last hurrah he has turned in too. At a time when it feels like the MCU is in shambles or otherwise directionless, his movie serves as a bright spot of hope. But more than anything else, the film caps off his trilogy of films (not counting the holiday special) with the perfect sendoff for this particular iteration of the team. There were definitely plenty of tears at the cinema when I saw the movie as it tugged on the heartstrings without being too heavy-handed about it, a balancing act that James Gunn seems to have perfected at this point.

6. Sisu

I'm a sucker for revenge movies especially ones with a protagonist that happens to have a unique set of skills. In the case of Sisu, those skills come in the form of resilience in the face of impossible odds. But to say that the movie draws some inspiration from the likes of John Wick would be putting it lightly. Just like the Baba Yaga, our main character here is a man of few words. He even has a little dog that helps endear him to the audience, much like that other film. Its World War II setting does help set it apart though, and sometimes that's all it takes to get a pass.

5. Air

2023 had a number of notable films about the creation of popular products. We of course had both BlackBerry and Tetris tell those respective products' stories of how they made it to market, and as its title suggests, Air is all about the inception of the popular line of Nike basketball shoes called Air Jordans. The film tells the story of the men who worked to convince a young Michael Jordan to sign an endorsement deal. It's hard to believe that there was ever a time when Nike wasn't at the top of the game, given how popular the brand is today, which is what makes getting to see stories like this so great.

4. Evil Dead Rise

The Evil Dead franchise proved that it was anything but dead this year with the release of Evil Dead Rise. And this latest film more than lives up to its title by taking the scares and gore to a whole new level. Unlike previous entries, which typically take place in a dilapidated cabin in the middle of nowhere, this one is set in a city highrise scheduled for demolition. And that setting is used to great effect throughout the movie. It's funny to think that this was originally scheduled to debut on HBO Max before getting the proper theatrical release that it deserved. And while I didn't get to see it in a theater, I am still happy for those who got to enjoy its many thrills that way.

3. Oppenheimer

2023 gave us one of the strangest pop culture crossovers in the form of Barbenheimer. And while I didn't much care for the first half of that phenomenon, I was very much on board for Oppenheimer. The fact that it was getting released on my birthday only made the prospect of seeing it that much more exciting. And the film ended up delivering the way that only Christopher Nolan tends to do. Many have gone as far as calling this his best work, a designation I'd still reserve for Inception. And despite its 3-hour length, the film would go on to earn north of $900 million in box office receipts which is crazy for what is effectively a biographical epic with no superheroes in it.

2. John Wick: Chapter 4

As far as action film archetypes go, my favorite remains the one where one man singlehandedly dispatches a bunch of bad guys. That is to say that John Wick didn't invent the formula but it has certainly refined it over the years. And just when I thought I'd seen all that the John Wick franchise had to offer in that regard, John Wick: Chapter 4 comes along to raise the bar even further. Clocking in at nearly 3 hours, the film is so packed with balls-to-the-wall action that it almost becomes numbing. Except each setpiece went bigger and louder than the last until it finally culminated in one of the wildest third acts I've seen in recent memory. This is, without a doubt, the best one in the series and one of the best action movies I've seen, period.

1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

So this year marked the first time I ever awarded a film a perfect 10/10 score. And that film was none other than Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. I am of course a very huge Spider-Man fan and still consider Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2 the greatest comic book movie of all time. But dang it doesn't Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse come in a close second. I could proceed to wax lyrical about why I felt the movie was as close to perfection as a superhero film can realistically get. But I already did that in my review, so I'll just say this instead: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse reminded me of why I love movies as much as I do.


  1. I don't know what happened that I only saw 10 & 7 on your list and I thought they were OK but I wasn't rushing out to buy either one. I suppose part of it is I haven't gone to a movie theater in 4 years and then some like Across the Spider-Verse go to a streaming service I don't have.

    1. 4 years is a long time! The good thing about movies though is that it is never too late to watch them. For example, I finally saw Citizen Kane during the pandemic and it was still amazing. 😁