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COLUMN: A year in film and a look into the next

Illustration by Akhila Nadimpalli

The movies that came from 2023 shaped and seized pop culture entirely. Between “Barbenhiemer,” the revival of the Hunger Games series on the big screen and immediate cult classics, there was a movie for everyone this year.

Here are some of my thoughts on this year’s releases and a look into the most anticipated films for 2024.

Starting off with some of my least favorite movies of the year, Chris McKay’s “Renfield” and Elizabeth Bank’s “Cocaine Bear” both make the bottom of the list. While both films were decently entertaining, I found them to have pretty corny dialogue and a lack of a good, cohesive plot. I was also left disappointed with “Leave the World Behind,” directed by Sam Esmail. The majority of the film was full of twists and suspense, but the build up seemed worthless in the ending, which the movie pretty much lacked entirely.

Moving up on my list, I was pleasantly surprised with many of this year’s releases that were remakes or based off of other forms of media, especially Disney’s live-action version of “The Little Mermaid” and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” The musical numbers in “The Little Mermaid” were extremely visually appealing and the highlights of the film alongside Halle Bailey’s amazing performance. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” was entertaining with a great cast, but wasn’t anything special.

There were plenty of amazing movies that were released this year that I thought didn’t get the praise they deserved due to not being blockbusters. “They Cloned Tyrone,” “May December” and “The Killer” delivered amazing directing and acting performances along with strong writing. Charles Melton in “May December” was one of my favorite performances of the year. I’m glad to see him branching out from “Riverdale” and showing his skill. Contrary to many critics and fans, I enjoyed watching David Fincher’s newest film “The Killer.” I thought that it was uniquely done with amazing writing. “They Cloned Tyrone” was hilarious and such a fun movie and I believe it deserved a lot more attention than it got.

And my top five favorite movies of the year are “Bottoms,” “Barbie,” “Saltburn,” “Oppenheimer” and “Asteroid City.”

“Bottoms,” directed by Emma Seligman and starring Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri, was an unexpected but top favorite of mine this year. It was hilarious, absurd and had an unpredictable, entertaining story — and Edebiri stole the show. “Bottoms” won’t be for everyone, but I loved it and quickly put it in my favorite movies of all time.

“Barbie” was another entertaining and hilarious movie of this year, and its popularity is undeniable. Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling were amazing as usual, but I was thrilled to see some other names like Alexandra Shipp, Hari Nef and Ncuti Gatwa, who are such talented stars, in a blockbuster. “Barbie” will continue to be a favorite comfort movie for years to come.

For fans of psychological thrillers and drama, “Saltburn” quickly became a cult classic. Emerald Fennell’s newest release became a hit on social media with pretty divisive opinions. The movie was unnerving and shocking, but it had me hooked from the beginning with phenomenal acting and beautiful cinematography.

“Oppenheimer” was an extremely well-done film, with amazing visuals and acting all around. Some of the best acting performances of the year came from “Oppenheimer,” with Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr. and Emily Blunt being some of the best I have seen. I think that the film should win Best Picture in the upcoming Academy Awards for having all-around amazing acting, cinematography, sound and editing.

Wes Anderson’s latest film “Asteroid City” was released earlier this year. While it wasn’t the best of Anderson’s career, it was still a very good movie and I found myself enjoying it more than I imagined. The cast was a highlight as with most of his films, along with Anderson’s general style. Even though “Asteroid City” was ranked as one of Variety’s worst movies of the year, I thought that it was at least worth a watch and makes for a fun couple of hours.

There were plenty of other films that I saw but didn’t include, and a handful of movies that I haven’t seen yet that have been critically acclaimed. “Past Lives,” “Poor Things,” “Killers of the Flower Moon” and “Zone of Interest” have taken priority on my watchlist going into 2024, and I’m very excited to see them all.

2024 seems to be the year of the sequel. Some of the most anticipated ones that will be released are “Dune: Part 2,” “Kung Fu Panda 4,” “Joker: Folie A Deux” and “Deadpool 3.” Other releases include remakes of past movies, like “Nosferatu” and the musical version of “Mean Girls.” There are new stories coming to the big screen as well, like “Challengers” and “Mickey 17.”

I’m hoping that these sequels, remakes and originals live up to the anticipation. I’m excited for all of the new movies I’ll see this year and very pleased with what movies 2023 gave.

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Gracie Moore, Digital Editor

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