For many of us, the end of the year signifies some much-needed time off work, school or other commitments, leaving us with endless options to fill up our time. As 2023 draws to a close, there’s no better way to unwind and relax than watching some of the best movies of the year.
Expertly picked by our team of misfits, these films are sure to fuel your holiday binge. From dramedy and animated romance, to sci-fi fantasy and horror, you’re bound to find a film that’s right up your alley.
Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One
The Mission Impossible franchise is perhaps my favourite of all time. The plots, the twists and the stunts have me like putty in Tom Cruise’s hand. I went to see Dead Reckoning by myself at the cinema because it was a movie I couldn’t not see on the big screen. I did not leave disappointed. The very epitome of Hollywood blockbuster, it gave me everything I expected and more, and I’m literally counting down the days until part 2 is released. — Max Langridge, Senior Editor
Stream it on Amazon Prime Video
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour
It’s been a longgggggg time coming but… for die-hard Swifties, or even a casual listener, this stunning documentary delivers exactly what it promises. With seamless transitions, impeccable visuals, and an array of music spanning over 17 years, Taylor Swift’s concert film captures it all. For those lucky enough to score tickets to the history-making tour hitting Aussie shores in February, this film is a sure-fire way to get hyped up for the real deal (or as a way to experience it for those who might have missed out!). As a low-key Swiftie, it was highly cathartic to scream-sing the Cruel Summer bridge in my living room, so I would definitely recommend it. — Lucy Scotting, Staff Writer
Rent it on Apple TV
Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre
I only saw Operation Fortune within the last couple of months. It was a movie I always knew existed, but never found the time to watch. You’ll find other online reviews being far less than positive about it, and sure, it’s not the absolute best movie ever released, and it’s certainly not Guy Ritchie’s best work. I will admit it’s a bit dumb, but I still found it entertaining. Hugh Grant was a particular highlight for me. I could never really make my mind up if I liked his character or not, which ultimately had me more invested than with anyone else. His deadpan delivery, echoing his character in The Gentleman, I also couldn’t help but laugh at. I would certainly recommend watching every other movie on this list first (I wrote this before knowing Taylor Swift was going to feature), but if you’re looking for something simple to put on when you can’t think of anything else, Operation Fortune fits the bill perfectly. — Max Langridge, Senior Editor
Stream it on Amazon Prime Video
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
As the second entry into the epic Spider-Verse series, we follow Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) as he catapults across the multiverse and encounters a team of Spider-People determined to protect its existence. We also meet a powerful new villain, The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), who gives the Spiders a run for their money. My favourite new additions to the Spider-Verse include Pavitr Prabhakar — the web-slinging, masala-chai drinking Spider-Man from Mumbattan on Earth-50101 — and Hobie Brown — the rebellious Spider-Punk, who uses an electric guitar to play supersonic frequencies that blast enemies away. For me, it was such an easy pick as my favourite film of the year, alongside Barbie, of course. — Lucy Scotting, Staff Writer
Charting the meteoric rise and disastrous fall of the world’s first mass-market smartphone, BlackBerry could’ve easily been just another stuffy and formulaic tech-themed biopic where guys in suits congratulate each other about all the money they’ve made. Instead, the story of BlackBerry is scruffier than you might expect, showcasing the (distinctly Canadian) misfits and nerds who were basically responsible for the creation of an entirely new tech category. It’s also one of the funniest movies of the year, with a delightfully aggro performance by Glenn Howerton (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as Jim Balsillie, former CEO of BlackBerry, and impressive work from Jay Baruchel (Goon) as its co-founder, Mike Lazaridis. Director Matt Johnson (Operation Avalanche) also stars as the hilariously immature Doug Fregin, vice president of Research In Motion (now known as BlackBerry Limited) who got out while the getting was good. — Stephen Lambrechts, Managing Editor
Barbie is arguably one of the defining films of 2023. It lured us in with the promise of a perfectly pink Barbie Land where every day is the best day ever, and punched us in the gut as the real world crept in. Led by Margot Robbie in the title role, Greta Gerwig’s film explores feminism, the patriarchy, and finding one's place in the world, sparking the kinds of conversations we rarely get from a blockbuster — let alone one that is based on a toy. The film is also a visual feast — Barbie Land is authentically inauthentic, whether it’s the hand-painted sets inspired by musicals from the golden age of Hollywood, or Barbie’s Dreamhouse with no walls and a slide into a pool instead of stairs. It’s a movie that leans into the imagination that comes with playing with dolls, giving us new details to be caught on every viewing. — Jasmine Gearie, Staff Writer
Rent or buy it on Apple TV or Amazon Prime Video
Director Christopher Nolan pairs up with actor Cillian Murphy once again, this time to deliver a fantastic movie about one of the biggest events of the mid-20th century. Nolan's film takes the audience through the life of theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, from his early academic studies right through to the Manhattan Project and the major political consequences that followed. Visually stunning, Oppenheimer does a brilliant job of showcasing the aftermath of the atomic bomb, cutting between past and future storylines to display the ethical dilemma faced by the scientists who invented this devastating technology. The acting in it is top tier, playing on Murphy’s strengths, (having previously played a physicist in 2007’s Sunshine), and boasting a stunning cast that includes Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr,. Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett and many other recognisable names. My only regret with this film was not watching it in IMAX. — Petra Player, Staff Writer
Rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV
I’m a sucker for movie adaptations of true stories, and it was a toss up between choosing Nyad or Air as my favourite of 2023. I’ve gone with Nyad on the basis it was a story I never knew existed, so not only did I feel it was incredibly well produced and performed, but it was educational and had me hooked from start to finish. It had also been a while since I’d personally seen Jodie Foster in anything, and I was totally captivated by her performance and on-screen chemistry with Annette Bening. — Max Langridge, Senior Editor
Stream it on Netflix
Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves took me out of the cinema and back to the gaming table, with hidden dice rolls and familiar enemies making me feel like I was in the middle of a new campaign. A fun adventure filled with critical fails and big laughs, the party consisting of bard Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine), Holga the barbarian (Michelle Rodriguez), Simon the sorcerer (Justice Smith) and Doric the druid (Sophia Lillis) must take on the Lord of Neverwinter (Hugh Grant) in order to save Edgin’s daughter, with a small side quest of saving the entire realm from a greater evil as well. Sure, this one’s really made for the D&D players, but if you’re not familiar with the tabletop game, you’ll still have a ball. — Petra Player, Staff Writer
Stream on Paramount Plus, or rent it on Amazon Prime Video
If you saw the trailers leading up to M3gan’s release, you probably thought the film looked really goofy. And you’d be right, it is really goofy, but in a good way — M3gan plays on the very real fear people have with artificial intelligence and threads it into a story that’s very Black Mirror-esque. Toy designer Gemma (Allison Williams) wants to create the ultimate toy, and her niece Cady (Violet McGraw) is the perfect little girl to test it with. And so M3gan (Amie Donald) is born — a life sized children’s doll and the ultimate best friend. Things don’t ever work out well in a horror movie when a life sized doll is involved (see Child’s Play), so the story quickly takes a dark and sinister turn, where M3gan does absolutely everything she can to ensure Cady’s happiness and protection, all while sporting some funky dance movies. — Petra Player, Staff Writer
Opposites really do attract in Elemental— this colourful and fun story takes us into the lives of Ember (Leah Lewis) and Wade (Mamoudou Athie) in Element City, and the consequences of when fire and water combine. I thoroughly enjoyed this romantic comedy, and it touched on some great subjects throughout that are very familiar to a lot of people — Ember comes from a family of immigrants, who paved the way for the fire people to live alongside the other elements, and expect her to take over the family shop, while Wade comes from a very affluent water family, and holds a government job. It’s a tale told several times over across different media, but this time with the bright and brilliant Pixar flair. — Petra Player, Staff Writer
Stream it on Disney Plus
His first film as director since 2016’s forgettable Live By Night, Ben Affleck (Argo) returns in top form with Air, the story of how Nike signed Michael Jordan on the cusp of his becoming the biggest athlete in the world. Of course, every shoe-maker in the game wanted to court Jordan, and Nike, then known primarily as a track and field brand, was far from the top of his list. Knowing this, marketing exec Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) tried a different approach — convincing Michael’s mother, Deloris (Viola Davis), that he and Nike had her son’s best interest in mind. Featuring a whip-smart script that’s filled with hilarious banter, Air is rounded out by an excellent cast which includes the likes of Chris Tucker, Jason Bateman, and yes, Affleck as Nike CEO Phil Knight. — Stephen Lambrechts, Managing Editor
Stream it on Amazon Prime Video
The Super Mario Bros. Movie
For any Mario fans, this movie was hard to miss. While some felt the plot fell short in doing the Super Mario Bros. justice, I thoroughly enjoyed the film, despite a few hiccups along the way. Notably, Jack Black’s performance as Bowser is top-tier, adding to his collection of awesome voice-overs across the span of his career. Visually, the film beautifully portrays iconic game locations such as the Mushroom Kingdom and Donkey Kong’s Jungle Kingdom. I’d say it's worth a watch, especially if you’re looking for some lighthearted fun. — Lucy Scotting, Staff Writer
Stream it on Netflix.
Killers of the Flower Moon
Never one to shy away from tough material, director Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) offers one of the more sad and introspective films of his career, detailing the true story of the Osage Indian murders, which saw many members of the Osage Nation exploited and killed for their oil money in 1920s Oklahoma. Taking advantage of a law which required a white guardian to oversee and control an Osage person’s wealth, William King Hale (Robert De Niro) masterminded a plot to gain Osage headrights by having his nephew, Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), marry into the rich family of Mollie Kyle (Lily Gladstone). Unfortunately, the next step involved ordering the murders of each family member standing ahead of Mollie’s claim. Featuring great performances across the board, including a star-making turn from Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon holds a mirror up to a society which has routinely turned a blind eye to murder of indigenous people in the name of greed. — Stephen Lambrechts, Managing Editor
Talk to Me
Who could’ve possibly predicted that Danny and Michael Philippou, founders of the zany RackaRacka YouTube channel and two of the loosest units you’re ever likely to witness, would be responsible for writing and directing one of the most uncompromising horror movies since Hereditary? Talk to Me follows a group of South Australian teenagers who get caught up in a new craze which involves conjuring spirits through an embalmed hand. The spirits temporarily possess the teens, allowing them to talk through their hosts — thrilling at first, until the grief-stricken Mia takes things too far by attempting to pry answers from her recently deceased mother, opening a door to a malevolent force which can’t be contained. — Stephen Lambrechts, Managing Editor
Stream on Netflix
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