Barbie Was My Favorite 2023 Movie, But Here’s Where The Other 9 Ranked On My List

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From stories of womanhood and growing up, to historic biopics to slapstick comedy involving theater and a fight club, the films on the 2023 movie schedule blew me away this year! For the first time in my life, I watched over 100 films that came out in a given year, and now I’m here to report my own best movies of 2023

While Barbie was my clear and obvious #1 film of the year, how the other nine entries shook out came as a surprise. I’m thrilled that so many highlight women’s stories and all of them tell compelling tales in totally unique ways. So, without further ado, let’s get into my top ten films of 2023.

A press image from Lionsgate of Sonw leaning forward to talk to Lucy

(Image credit: Photo by: Murray Close)

10. The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes 

As someone who grew up with The Hunger Games books, I was curious to see President Snow’s backstory, and his tale left me in shock and awe. Tom Blyth plays the future president of Panem in a way that allows you to have empathy for him while also giving us hints of the evil leader we know from the original trilogy. Then, when you pair him with Rachel Zegler’s Lucy Gray, you get a fascinating story of love and survival that also revealed a vital part of The Hunger Games history. 

The book-to-screen adaptation of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes drew me in and pulled me through this brutal story about corruption and power set in a dystopian world I grew up reading about. That mix of nostalgia and astonishment left me thinking about this movie for weeks after I saw it. 

The main cast of Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

9. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves 

The joyous fantastical romp that is Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves was one of the biggest delights of the year. Like a D&D campaign, the cast of characters, played by Chris Pine, Justice Smith, Michelle Rodriguez, Sophia Lillis and Regé-Jean Page, are true chaos together, and their chemistry is unmatched. Their scrappy attempt to save their land is full of heart, humor and some glorious practical effects – like our favorite human-sized bird Jarnathan – making John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein’s film one of the most creative of the year.  

Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri in Bottoms

(Image credit: MGM)

8. Bottoms

The Bottoms cast is led by Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri, and they play two besties who set out to start a fight club to get with their crushes. When I walked out of the theater, I couldn’t help but think about how these two women are well on their way to becoming major forces in this genre, following in the footsteps of Kristen Wiig and Tina Fey. Overall, Bottoms is raunchy, violent, wickedly fun and an excellent example of great Gen Z comedy

A screenshot of Fantasia Barrino as Celie in The Color Purple trailer.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

7. The Color Purple

After the book was adapted into a beloved film in 1985, and then into a Broadway musical in the 2000s, another adaptation of The Color Purple made its way to the big screen, blending the cinematic elements of Steven Spielberg’s film with the gorgeous music of the musical. Capturing the sunlight and darkness of Celie’s story through Dan Laustsen’s cinematography, and illustrated through the moving lyrics and choreography, this film tells the odyssey of her incredibly difficult life and her finding strength in herself and the women around her. And while everything about this film shines, if you take anything away from this it’s that Fantasia Barrino, who plays Celie, is an absolute star, and as she sings, she’s “here.”  

(L to R) Natalie Portman as Elizabeth Berry and Julianne Moore as Gracie Atherton-Yoo in May December.

(Image credit: Cr. Francois Duhamel / courtesy of Netflix)

6. May December

There’s a scene in May December in a dress shop, and Natalie Portman’s Elizabeth has come with Julianne Moore’s Gracie to study her for a film. The shot is framed so Moore and her reflection are sandwiching Portman’s Elizabeth as she imitates her subject, and it perfectly illustrates the unique tone and impeccable directing of this film. Todd Haynes directs a movie that balances perfectly between prestige drama and soap opera to tell the story of a woman attempting to figure out a couple’s story that was ripped from the tabloids for a television film. 

Portman, Moore and especially the actor behind Gracie’s husband, Charles Melton, give standout performances worthy of awards. It’s in their simultaneously subtle and over-the-top work that we get this nuanced and thought-provoking film.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

(Image credit: Sony PIctures)

5. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse redefined what was possible in animation. Then the insanely well-reviewed Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse managed to take the precedent the first film set and smash it. Every single frame in this movie is fine art, and the mixing of animation forms alone had me staring wide-eyed at the screen. However, when you mix these stunning visuals with the incredible Across the Spider-Verse voice cast and the high-stakes plot set across the vast multiverse, you get the greatest Spider-Man movie yet.

Ben Platt and Molly Gordon in Theater Camp

(Image credit: Searchlight Pictures)

4. Theater Camp

Theater Camp had me cry laughing over the genius physical comedy from Ben Platt, Molly Gordon, Noah Galvin and Ayo Edebiri, and I found myself getting actually emotional as the uber-talented children sang the finale song “Camp Isn’t Home.” Theater Camp is heartfelt and hilarious, and it harkens back to classic comedies like Best in Show while also being wholly original. It’s a movie made by theater kids, for theater kids, and you can feel the love and affection for the art radiating off of it while they absolutely roast it in the funniest way. 

Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer in Oppenheimer

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

3. Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer terrified me, and I mean that in the highest regard. This historical drama about the father of the nuclear bomb is a three-hour film that moves like a high-stakes 90-minute thriller. The way Christopher Nolan wrote and directed this movie made the tension palpable, and Cillian Murphy’s searing and masterfully subtle performance as the lead of the Oppenheimer cast underlined and emphasized that point. Complimented by a rousing score from Ludwig Göransson and impeccable sound design, this film made you feel the historical implications of this scientific discovery in a profound and deeply moving way.

Emma Stone in Poor Things

(Image credit: Searchlight)

2. Poor Things

If we don’t see Emma Stone on the Oscar stage again for Poor Things, I’ll be so mad. Her performance as Bella Baxter in Yorgos Lanthimos’ epic Frankenstein-esque fantasy is a true tour-de-force. You can feel the actress’s love and commitment bursting through the screen. Then, when you mix that with the quick-witted script from Tony McNamara, a brilliant supporting cast and the colorful-fantastical-punk-rock world designed by Zsuzsa Mihalek, and you are left with a modern sci-fi tale of a woman on a journey of self-discovery and liberation byway of confident curiosity. 

Ryan Gosling as Ken and Margot Robbie as Barbie in Barbie

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

1. Barbie

Since Barbie’s release, I have found myself referring to my apartment as a “mojo dojo casa house,” singing along to “Dance The Night” regularly and wearing more pink. The Barbie effect was, and still is, real. I’m here to say, that not only is it my favorite film of the year, I think it’s one of my all-time favorites. 

Sure, you can credit Barbie’s record-breaking box-office success to its stellar cast led by Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, immaculate candy-colored set design and wildly hilarious plot. However, I think this film resonated with so many, myself included, because of how it illuminated the experience of girlhood and all its juxtapositions. 

I can’t even begin to describe how emotional it makes me think about how many folks felt understood by Greta Gerwig’s film. Knowing that it will be around to support so many kids as they grow up for generations to come moves me to a point beyond words. 

Well, folks, there you have it! My top ten of the year. It’s safe to say that 2023 was a fantastic year in film, and it’s one I’ll remember forever. Here’s hoping 2024’s new movie releases can live up to this year’s excellence! 

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