OPINION: The 10 best movies I saw in 2023

Photo illustration by Marvin Espinoza

2023 has overall been a pretty good year when it comes to movies. This year brought us some very popular films like Barbenheimer, John Wick: Chapter 4, Evil Dead Rise and a few more MCU films that no one really asked for.

This year, I have had a lot of time to go to the movie theater either by myself or with some friends and family members. I have seen some mediocre films, But when I saw these 11 films, I left the theater very satisfied, yet also disappointed that the movies weren’t as long as Oppenheimer, a three-hour movie.

10. M3GAN 

Release date: Jan. 6, 2023

Are you looking for a good substitute for Child’s Play with Chucky? Well, say hello to M3GAN, your new greatest companion.

M3GAN is a sci-fi slasher film directed by Gerald Johnstone. This movie focuses on the relationship between humans and AI. Gemma, a robotics engineer, creates a child-size robotic doll that can be used as a kid’s best friend and their parent’s most trusted ally. The doll’s name is M3GAN. 

Gemma gave the prototype of the doll to Cady, her 8-year-old niece, to test it. At first, everything seemed fine with Cady becoming such great friends with M3GAN despite Gemma’s concerns of Cady not making any real friends.

Eventually, things go wrong as M3GAN becomes way too protective of Cady. The doll begins to kill anyone who gets in her way of Cady’s protection.

While the plot seems fairly similar to that of the Child’s Play movies, M3GAN is a very entertaining film with lots of good family drama, clever kill scenes, great suspense, and a dash of comedy. Where else can you see a robotic doll do a little dance to distract its victim before it kills him. It’s just brilliant.

7.5 out of 10

9. Missing 

Release date: Jan. 20, 2023

It’s not every day that you see a movie or a video that is shown only through phone screens, laptop screens and webcams. This movie proves that when the editing is done correctly from this point of view, the results can be amazing.

Missing is a thriller directed by Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick. In the film, A teenager’s mother goes on vacation with her new boyfriend to Colombia, but June, the teenager, starts to get very worried when her mother never comes back and would not respond to any calls or text messages.

The search for her mother was filled with much support, some controversies behind her mother’s past under a different last name, and the reveal of the new boyfriend’s crimes involving drugs which made him the main suspect of the kidnapping. All the events in the film were only shown through technology screens and web cameras.

Reading the plot alone made me very interested in watching this film, but I did not expect how gripping and intense this story would be. The twist near the end was unexpected, and it kept my eyes glued to the theater screen the entire time. I almost shed a tear at the ending, both from the end itself and from how great this entire film was. 

Oh, and a big round of applause to the editors of this film. I seriously hope they get a raise.

8.7 out of 10

8. Creed 3 

Release date: March 3, 2023

Creed 3 is the third installment in the Creed movie franchise, directed by Michael B. Jordan, who also stars as the main protagonist, Adonis Creed. This is also Jordan’s directorial debut.

In this film, Creed’s childhood friend, Damien, played by Jonathan Majors, got released from prison after an incident that occurred when they were children. Damien tries to get a shortcut to success by going to Creed for a head start on a boxing career. 

It all goes wrong when Damien uses his boxing skills for bad instead of good. The only way to calm Damien down is if Creed puts him down through a boxing match.

This film was such a thrill to watch the entire time. Jordan performed very well as Creed, the boxing match at the end was very fun to watch, and just like in the other Creed movies, the training montages did not disappoint. If you love the noble art of boxing, you will certainly love this movie.

At this point in his life, Adonis Creed has proven himself as a legend in boxing through much training, hard work and dedication. He also gets inspiration and training from Rocky Balboa, the famous boxer from the Rocky movies and the first two Creed movies, played by Sylvester Stallone. Stallone was not in this film due to creative differences behind the scenes.

8.5 out of 10

7. The Super Mario Bros. Movie 

Release Date: April 5, 2023

Ever since I was a kid, I have been waiting for a Mario Bros. movie to be released. The Mario video games have been a big part of not just my childhood, but a lot of other people’s childhoods. Let’s a go!!!

Mario and Luigi, brothers and plumbers from Brooklyn, go through a pipe that sent Luigi to being captured by Bowser, and Mario to the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario gets help from Princess Peach, Toad, Donkey Kong, and many other characters to save Luigi and take down Bowser and his army.

The plot of this film was not original, but as a huge fan of the Mario games, it is more than enough to make me leave the theater satisfied. The animation was great, the voice acting was brilliant, and all the references to Mario Kart, 2D Mario platformers, and power-ups really put a smile on my face. I am absolutely looking forward to seeing the next Mario film because we all know Nintendo will green-light a sequel in the future. 

7.7 out of 10

6. Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse 

Release Date: June 5, 2023

Ever since I was a kid, one of the only superheroes that I was actually into is Spiderman. I really enjoyed most of the Spiderman movies that have Toby Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland. But in my book, they can not compare to Miles Morales.

This movie takes place sometime after the events of the previous movie, Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse. Gwen’s situation got even worse when her father found out that she is a Spider-Woman, and he tried to arrest her before she was saved by Spiderman 2099, and a different Spider-Woman from another dimension. 

On Miles’ side, he has a very hard time capturing criminals and villains while also trying to find some time to spend with his family. It would be much easier if his parents knew that he is Spider-Man, but Miles has to keep his identity a secret, and he is very afraid that his parents will not take the news well. That seems to be the least of his problems when Gwen takes Miles in between dimensions and finds out that his dad needs to die according to canon, and Miles can not stop it. But he does not listen, and he tries to go back to his dimension to save his dad.

Into the Spider-Verse was amazing, but Across the Spider-Verse made it look mediocre. This was such a fantastic film in every way. The animation was beautiful and the storyline holds onto you and never lets go, which is why I am desperate to see the next film after that cliffhanger ending.

9.5 out of 10

5. Elemental 

Release Date: June 16, 2023

Pixar has made a bunch of movies from my childhood. Toy Story one through three, Cars, The Incredibles, Up and my personal favorite, Coco. This new film brought to us by the animation studios nearly failed at the box office, but that does not reflect how touching it was.

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Elemental is set in a world where four different elements, water, land, fire and air live together as residents. A young fire woman named Ember falls in love with a water element named Wade and he shares the same feelings for her.

Unfortunately for them, they face some obstacles in their relationship. Ember’s father’s hatred for water, Ember’s lack of patience, and most importantly, fire and water cannot mix! But does any of that stop them from trying to make it all work? 

This unlikely love story was a thrill to watch the entire time. Watching these two Elements working hard to not only save the town from a flood but also keeping their love as strong and as possible, really touched my heart. 

Surprise Surprise, this movie made me cry near the end. You got me again, Pixar

8.4 out of 10

4. Barbie 

Release Date: July 21, 2023

Barbenheimer is the biggest movie trend of 2023 where people go to see the two movies Barbie and Oppenheimer. I did not get to see Oppenheimer, but I was lucky enough to see Barbie with my mom and my sister. And yes, we wore pink along with everybody else in the theater

This movie had a big-name cast with Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Will Ferrell, Michael Cera, Kate McKinnon and many others. Each of these actors and actresses did great in their roles. Everyone looked like they had fun. McKinnon’s version of Barbie stands out for me because she was hilarious and brilliant.

The movie certainly has funny moments, but what also stands out is the messages on how society treats women, and how the Barbie dolls show it. Seeing Mattel admit their mistakes and controversies really is a breath of fresh air and they made up for it with this really entertaining movie. 

8.7 out of 10

3. Blue Beetle 

Release Date: Aug. 18, 2023

I’m not much of a superhero person, but I do like Spider-Man, Deadpool, and now Blue Beetle. DC movies almost never interest me, but this one really stood out to me. And it has nothing to do with George Lopez being in the movie – sarcasm

Blue Beetle is a superhero film based on a comic book hero of the same name. Jaime Reyes, a recent college graduate, mistakenly ends up with a beetle-shaped relic, which chooses to morph with Jaime and create a suit of armor with lots of powers and weapons. He uses the suit to protect himself and his family from a greedy and power-hungry CEO who wants to take the beetle relic for herself to create a line of military robotics.

I found some parts of this film quite relatable, with Jaime and his family being Mexican. Some jokes and phrases had me trying to hold in my giggles in the movie theater. And that is especially true whenever George Lopez is on screen. His character getting angry when he finds out his truck was totaled after a chase scene, is hilarious. 

A few parts of the film almost made me cry. Especially when a family member of Jaime dies in the middle of a fight scene. But then again I also cry easily from Pixar movies so I would not expect that many other people to bring out any waterworks from this film. Still, this was a pretty good movie, better than I expected it and do recommend it for anyone who doesn’t watch that many superhero movies

7.9 out of 10

2. Dumb Money 

Release Date: Sep. 15, 2023

Gamestop is a gaming store where they give you just 10 cents for a couple of games, but then sell those same games for about $10 each. This however was not the reason they did so well in the stock market back in 2021, and this movie did a pretty good job showing how it all went down

Dumb Money is a comedy/drama film based on the true story of middle-class citizens who were able to take on and defeat some Wall Street billionaires by just investing in stock from Gamestop. The film has big-name actors like Paul Dano, Seth Rogan and Pete Davidson. 

The name “Dumb Money” references a term made by rich investors, referring to people who make bad investments. That is the kind of name that Seth Rogen’s character as a billionaire investor gives to people on social media who invest in low-value retail stocks like Gamestop. Seth Rogan did very well in his role, and I honestly expected less from him since I normally see him in films that are much more comedic than dramatic. 

Paul Dano portrayed Keith Gill, a streamer who was responsible for Gamestop’s stock rise, very well. Near the end, Dano got the facial expressions and emotions spot on when Gill had to testify in front of Congress. As for the comedy, it really blends well with the rivalry between amateur investors, and billionaires. Especially when Pete Davidson is on screen, he’s hilarious.

8.2 out of 10

1. Saw X 

Release Date: Sep. 29, 2023

Jigsaw is back, and he wants to play a game. His most personal game yet.

Saw X is the 10th installment of the Saw horror franchise. This film takes place after the events of the first movie, and unlike every other installment, it focuses on John Kramer, the killer known as Jigsaw, rather than a detective in the police force.

Jigsaw is expected to live only a few more months because of his brain cancer. Desperate to fight it off, he takes advice from a fellow cancer support group member and he goes to Mexico for a surgery that supposedly can get rid of his cancer. But when the procedure turns out to be a scam, Jigsaw captures the ‘surgeons’, and places them in tests of torture, which is his way of determining whether or not they deserve to live despite their crimes.

This installment is the best one since the original Saw movie. Tobin Bell, the actor for Jigsaw, gives his best-ever performance along with Shawnee Smith, the actress for Amanda, Jigsaw’s apprentice. Going back to the franchise’s roots and ditching the style of the last two films was a great decision. Most of the traps were creative, very gory and also disturbing.

The villain, Cecilia Pederson, the doctor who scammed Jigsaw, is very infuriating and it’s very hard to feel any sympathy for her when her time is up to play a game. But that’s how you know that she works as a villain. You won’t even feel any sympathy for her even if she has to cut her leg off or break all of her fingers in one hand. Speaking of which, if any of those gross you out, you may want to skip this movie. 

Otherwise, it’s an amazing film, even to the point where I consider this my favorite movie from 2023. Spider-Verse is the best movie this year, but Saw X really stood out for me. It reminded me why I am such a fan of this franchise. Great characters, interesting storylines, and very bloody yet clever kill scenes.

8.9 out of 10

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