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The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Five of the Best Films From 2023: A Review

Film critic Josue Villatoro ranks his favorite five movies from 2023.

5: Wonka   

Your craving for chocolate will skyrocket after watching this.

Timothee Chalamet delivers a performance that rivals Gene Wilder’s classic portrayal and serves as a pleasant adaptation to Roal Dahl’ iconic chocolatier while introducing a lovable supporting cast of characters that deliver heartwarming moments.

The costume, set design, and musical numbers are all Oscar worthy, yet received no nominations within any category, yet blooms with vibrancy and bliss that pair perfectly with its tone throughout. This film shows what a lot of Hollywood films are missing: magic, wonder, and a love for the craft at hand. It screams with insane optimism and inspiration for future generations.

Wonka not only provides a sweet and pleasant story filled with wonderful musical moments and a memorable and whole aura that everyone will enjoy, making this easily one of the best films of the year. 

#4: John Wick: Chapter 4   

Easily the best entry in this entire series and one of the greatest action films of all time. It easily has the best fight and stunt choreography that tops the previous installments.

Once again, Keanu Reeves is iconic as the titular assassin and brings in even more creative action sequences. Though we still see returning characters in this chapter, we are introduced to a lot of fresh faces in this entry such as Bill Skarsgard, Donnie Yen, Hiroyuki Sanda, and Scott Adkins, who are not just there for star glamour but serve a great purpose in the story.

The lore and world-building continues to expand and opens a lot of interesting concepts within its thrilling narrative. Director Chad Stahelski knows exactly who his audience is and knows what to offer them at the end of the day. John Wick: Chapter 4 continues its streak of being one of the best action film franchises of all time with fantastic direction and stunning visuals that serve as a great reminder of what action films can accomplish on the big screen.   

#3: Barbie   

One of the biggest surprises to ever hit the big screen. From another remarkable cast we have received this year from Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Micheal Cera, and many more, to one of the best set and costume designs, Barbie dominated the box office and broke records in cinematic history.

The script has a ton of hilarious and quotable moments but also shocked audience members on how surprisingly philosophical and deep it became towards the end. Greta Gerwig captured lighting in a bottle with her phenomenal direction and writing, highlighting themes on identity, feminism, and masculinity.

Barbie is very bright, vivid, and colorful, both literally and metaphorically speaking, with its world and appears charismatic and clever with its comedy that offers beauty and heart to the narrative it tackles. Many did not expect to go in and view a film based on a popular toy line to be as impactful as it was, but here we are standing and witnessing one of the greatest films of our time with a high chance of becoming a classic

 #2: Oppenheimer   

One of the best experiences within modern cinema. It is quite different from Christopher Nolan’s previous films, mainly because it was a biopic, but it still manages to be executed swiftly.

Cillian Murphy’s performance rightfully earned him the academy award for best lead performance alongside Robert Downey Jr, who gives an excellent supporting role that rivals Murphy and even won him the academy award for best supporting role. It is stacked with an incredible ensemble of actors along lines of Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, and countless more featured within.

The IMAX cinematography really makes this film come to life and really fixates your focus on the world around this film. Eventually, when it comes to the history behind this film, many witnessed some of the most enthralling moments to ever hit the big screen.

The sound design is chilling and the score by Ludwig Goransson has now become one of the most iconic soundtracks within recent cinema. Nolan outdoes himself once again and this is a huge achievement for everyone’s careers during the making of this film.

Oppenheimer is a cinematic landmark with its extraordinary spectacle and its faithful sense of biographical storytelling that contains thoughtful themes on intentions, guilt, and humanity.  

#1: Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse   

Another case of a sequel being better than the original. The animation somehow improved despite its already beautiful predecessor and gave us so many different but stunning art styles for not just the characters, but for the many eye-catching universes shown.

This sequel had both die-hard Marvel fans and regular movie-goers rewatching it for the action-packed narrative and to catch the many easter eggs and details hidden throughout. Miles Morales’s journey continues to develop wonderfully and has a great arc shown throughout with memorable and deeply layered characters like Gwen Stacy, The Spot, and Spider-Man 2099.

It did not hold back at offering mature themes and dialogue but had plenty of jokes that blend well with the serious moments. This film shows that superhero fatigue is not a thing and is all about showing both an entertaining and engaging story towards the audience.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller continue to write hit after hit and after this, it is guaranteed that cinephiles, comic-book fans, and average moviegoers will come back to the theaters 

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