It’s that time of year again! Everyone wants to make sure you know what their top movies of the year are and we’re no different. Instead of reading about what I thought was the best of the best, click the link to listen to this Big Movie Mouth Off “Best Movies of 2023” episode, or the embed, to find out what made the list!
Along with Poor Things, Godzilla Minus One, and the like, there was something for everyone over the last few months. Why don’t we take a look at some of those that haven’t been covered individually, or on Big Movie Mouth Off, shall we?
The Iron Claw — Writer/director Sean Durkin does what he can to try to elevate his biopic of the Von Erich brothers to standard A24 critical acclaim, but it seems like everything that was left out could have been used to heighten the drama. The boys’ father, Fritz, sounds like he made out like a bandit and was the real issue behind the family’s supposed “curse.” Leave it to Hollywood to scrap an entire brother from the story and lay blame to exactly that trope. Durkin’s ensemble — led by super puffy Zac Efron — barely makes the production feel more than standard biopic flare, and anyone who happens to have no idea what “brotherly love” is will feel nothing as they all slowly succumb to sheer bad luck. At least as far as the movie’s concerned. Jeremy Allen White is the only one to make it out unscathed, but what else would we expect from our favorite “Bear?”
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom — For everyone who felt there were no stakes in Marvel Studio’s Black Widow, you ain’t seen nothing yet. James Wan returns to direct what could have been a fond farewell to the DCEU, but everything falls flatter than the 3D we had to sit through thanks to the film being slightly out of focus the entire runtime. Jason Momoa still reigns supreme as one of the few actors who truly relish their superhero portrayal, while also showing some fun camaraderie alongside Patrick Wilson. Had Wan been able to find a focus, he could have finished things in style. Instead, he’s stuck with screenwriter David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick’s channel surfing genre antics where you never once care about what’s going to happen, because none of it matters in the slightest with the DCEU now officially closed.
Wish — If you were running the show at Walt Disney Pictures and deciding on what to release for the 100th anniversary, you could do worse than this. Unfortunately, you can also do a whole lot better. Directors Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn fail to deliver anything remotely new, instead, using the kitchen sink approach to try to create a film that tries to say, “This is where it all began.” The voice cast do what they can with the tired Disney jokes, but you know something is awry when not even Alan Tudyk can catch a laugh. The songs play like Lin Manuel-Miranda lite, with the animation trying to serve as a bridge between traditional and modern. Ultimately, this is like a band’s greatest hits album released by a cover band.
Dream Scenario — So far, it probably sounds like I didn’t like a whole lot over the last few months, but now we’re finally getting to some good stuff. For those in the mood for something more Cagey — and who isn’t? — this one is fantastic from start to finish. Super weird, with an award worthy hilarious lead performance, writer/director Kristoffer Borgli gives Nicolas Cage another amazing character for him to sink his teeth into. The other, of course, being Dracula in Renfield. The supporting cast all keep the shenanigans grounded as Nic’s character becomes more un-Caged, but this is hands down one of the most perfect actor/film pairings, and dark comedy, of the year.
Dumb Money — There were two films centered around well-known events of which I knew very little. The first was the fantastic Air, and the second is Craig Gillespie’s hilarious take on the GameStop short squeeze. Underdog stories are always fun, and watching the everyman get a hand up on Wall Street feels very extremely satisfying in this day and age. Not knowing how it would all end adds some surprise to the film, even if a quick online search would give you all you need to know. Marked with a horrible title, the film came and went, but it features one of the year’s best adapted screenplays and is filled with amazing performances. Something that should come as no surprise with Paul Dano leading the charge.
Wonka — And now for something completely scrumdiddlyumptious. Considering Warner Bros. has continued the recent trend of not marketing musicals as such, there was still plenty to give audiences pause. Thankfully, co-writer/director Paul King brings every ounce of whimsy you’d expect from the man who gave us Paddington, crafting a prequel the likes of which we’ve been yearning for. Timothée Chalamet delivers an amazing performance, bringing Willy Wonka to brilliant life, making us finally forget how atrocious Johnny Depp’s was. Huge musical numbers, a hilarious cast, and King’s deft touch, all come together to give us something that opens up Wonka’s world, with an ending that leaves things open for Warner Bros. to do whatever they want, without having to worry about linking directly to the 1971 classic. With how good things have started, I can only imagine where it can go from harem and can’t wait to see.

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