10 Best Films 2023: Margaret Roarty

5. Asteroid City

Asteroid City Review

Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City is a poignant post-pandemic film that ponders existential questions about the meaning of life and the stories we tell through the filmmaker’s distinct signature style and pitch perfect ensemble cast. Though Anderson is no stranger to framing devices, Asteroid City’s ‘play within a play’ may be his most effective.

Asteroid City is a melancholy film that follows characters who are stuck in a sort of liminal space between letting go and moving on. Jason Schwartzman gives a career best performance as Augie Steenbeck, a photojournalist and widower having recently lost his wife due to a short illness. Scarlett Johansson is also brilliant and heartbreaking as the weary Midge Campbell, a famous actress looking for meaning between the lines in her script.

The film is dripping in 1950s iconography, a fantasy of a time that is fondly remembered more for what it wasn’t than what it actually was. This nostalgia for a time long gone, a play that was never staged, coupled with Anderson’s meticulous composition and aesthetic, speaks to how we, as people, deal with pain and loss. In the end, we’re all just stumbling through life, asking the same old question: what’s the point? Asteroid City doesn’t have an answer to that question, but it does offer a suggestion: it doesn’t matter – live anyway.

Recommended for you: Wes Anderson Movies Ranked

4. Godzilla Minus One

Godzilla Minus One Review

Godzilla Minus One is the 37th entry in the Godzilla franchise and is perhaps one of the best Godzilla films ever made, with hands down the best special effects of 2023. Working from a $15million budget, it completely blows recent Hollywood spectacles that cost upwards of $300million out of the water. Godzilla Minus One is a reminder of what massive, epic and awe-inspiring films can be.

The film takes inspiration from both the original 1954 film and Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. It’s an obvious homage, but an incredibly effective one. The score is exhilarating and operatic, and expertly weaves in the original, iconic Godzilla theme. Written and directed by Takashi Yamazaki, the film is a masterclass in nail-biting tension. With a creature design that is truly terrifying, Godzilla Minus One takes a monster that has been around for 70 years and makes him feel formidable and unstoppable.

The stakes are raised even higher thanks to the film’s focus on its human characters and their relationships with each other. Set in the aftermath of World War II, Godzilla Minus One assembles an ensemble cast filled with characters beaten down by war, including Kōichi Shikishima, who is riddled with guilt and shame for not being able to destroy Godzilla when he had the chance. The effects of the war, including the Bombing of Tokyo and the US nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll, hang heavy in the air, coloring the film with a deep sadness for so much unnecessary death and destruction. Godzilla Minus One is not only a damning portrayal of the meaninglessness of war and the dangers of atomic warfare, but also a thrilling monster movie that is fun, hopeful, and satisfying.

3. May December

May December Review

May December, directed by Todd Haynes, is a funny and deeply uncomfortable melodrama that forces us to take a good long look at ourselves and the culture of abuse and tabloid fodder that we perpetuate.

Loosely inspired by the real-life story of Mary Kay Letourneau, who was sent to prison for the rape of a 12-year-old boy who she later married and had children with, May December plays with our perception of the events happening on screen, exploring the way we exploit victims of abuse for our own entertainment. The film’s tone is perfectly balanced, its more melodramatic and over the top moments, layered with ones that are truly heartbreaking and emotionally resonant.

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore unsurprisingly give fantastic performances, but it’s Charles Melton as Joe who completely steals the film. This is not only a breakthrough role for him, but also one of the best supporting performances of the year. His physicality, the way he folds in on himself, his shoulders hunched, his body crumbling, is a such a nuanced, visual representation of the powerful effects of trauma.

May December uses melodrama to point out our obsession with true crime and sensationalism, and asks some tough questions about the ethical implications of dramatizing real world crime on screen. When Portman’s character Elizabeth points out that the child actors currently in the running to play the fictional version of Joe aren’t hot enough, it’s such a scathing critique of the way media sexualizes and shames victims who have been sexually abused.

May December is an uncomfortable film, filled with characters who are selfish, delusional, and unable to take responsibility for their actions. It forces us to acknowledge some painful truths about the society we live in and the role we, as people and content consumers, play in it.

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Leave a Comment