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This NERD's Top Ten


I love movies and 2023 is over. This was inevitable.

 

My Favorite Movies of 2023:


10-1


"If you want to be inspired, watch A Million Miles Away. If you want even just a sliver of hope about this often horrendous world of ours, watch A Million Miles Away. It will have you cheering for these characters and if anything will simply leave you happier that it found you. I think that alone is worth the time. If you tend to find yourself sifting through the darker side of storytelling like I often do, A Million Miles Away will undoubtedly shine through." - Chase G.


"The Killer is a character study interrupted by moments of shocking savagery. From the opening sequence to the closing of the final chapter we are rooted deep within the mind of this hired hitman. At times he demonstrates qualities resembling a human only to flip a switch and dispose of actual humans with a disturbing amount of apathy. We can fall prey to his efficiency as if he’s a contractor simply demonstrating how to construct a house for a family of four when in reality he’s luring us in only to cold-cock us with his unwavering aloofness. The Killer is concise and efficient and confident in just about every regard. It’s stimulating and engrossing without ever sacrificing quality in story for the sake of superficial excitement." - Chase G.


Past Lives is brilliant in its simplicity. It focuses on the relationship of a Korean man and woman but their experience of missed opportunities are universal. It both speaks on and remains in the silence of looks of longing for what may have been but can never be. The acting is subtle and hauntingly honest. The cinematography feels organic while always finding the beauty of a cold New York morning or a pristine Korean sunset. The two leads feel real as if we as their audience are seeing the most private moments of their lives. It beautifully examines the idea of finding happiness while still finding oneself feeling incomplete as if something, or in this case, someone, is the missing puzzle piece that will likely never be found or no longer fits in the bigger picture as it or they may have in the past.


"So much of this movie is pure, unquestionable entertainment with unbelievable performances. Cillian Murphy is phenomenal and destined for a stellar awards season. An absolute scene stealer is Robert Downey Jr. who I believe has given the greatest performance of his entire career and is the immediate front runner for the Supporting Actor Nomination. Emily Blunt gives one of the coldest, most severe performances of her career and she is absolutely brilliant in her limited screen time. Matt Damon is emphatic and commanding as a General trying to maintain the greatest secret in our nation’s history. Everyone in this film is at the top of their respective game and it’s truly something to admire. Visually it is stunning in many ways causing everything from the discussions in an unassuming closet of a room to the unceasingly beautiful and wild landscape of rural New Mexico to completely jump off the screen. So much of this movie is masterful as was expected." - Chase G.


"While Part One definitely sets up Part Two, it stands completely on its own achieving what I consider to be the best thing about it; leaving me wanting more. At a lengthy two and a half hours, I couldn’t get enough. I didn’t want it to end. Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One is my favorite of the entire franchise and may just end up as my favorite movie of 2023. If there is any saving of Hollyweird needed, it appears Tom Cruise has done it again for the second year in a row. If Part Two is as good as Part One, I think he’s primed to do it again next year." - Chase G.


"American Fiction is a complicated, witty, relatable and undeniable laugh riot that confronts some difficult topics and does so with relatability and fervor. The characters are complex and the dialogue is whip-smart. It is timely and I believe will prove to be timeless. The acting is superb and their trials, tribulations and successes feel effortlessly universal. I think its only real fault is that not enough people will discover and appreciate it. I spoke about in another review that giving movies a chance that I might not necessarily have great interest in is important. Poor Things with Emma Stone is a prime example of something I wasn’t anticipating and ended up thoroughly enjoying everything about it. American Fiction is very much the same. It was nowhere on my radar and will now certainly end up on my top ten of the year." - Chase G.


John Wick: Chapter 4 is gloriously over-the-top and absolutely revels in it. It is unquestionably one of the greatest action movies ever made. If it proves to be the finale chapter it officially closes out one of the greatest action franchises in cinematic history. Keanu Reeves is as spectacular as ever as the titular assassin. His dialogue is limited but his convictions are shown through the amazing fight choreography that rivals and arguably surpasses any real, in-camera stunt work that came before it. Rarely has there ever been a movie with such a hefty runtime that flew by so effortlessly. After nearly three hours of truly exhilarating fighting, driving and gun-fu choreography it left me somehow dying for more. I hope Chapter 5 is coming but if not I can't imagine a better finale.


"Killers of the Flower Moon is brilliant. (I think Kurosawa might be onto something.) Scorsese continues to demonstrate that despite his age, his touch and aptitude for sharp storytelling has in no way dulled. He’s as remarkable as ever. His continued working relationship with De Niro and DiCaprio keeps paying off with commanding, often intimidating performances. At the heart and soul of this story is Mollie, played stoically and confidently by Lily Gladstone. She is at once tender but rarely without a sense of unease about those waving their dirtied white flags with claims of no harm or foul as they near her doorstep and by proximity, her inheritable wealth. While it does stretch to a heart-skipping three hours and twenty-six minutes the runtime is justified to tell such a complete and compelling story that is both brilliantly entertaining and unceasingly horrendous, showcasing past atrocities gone by the wayside for far too long. Go for the performances, beautiful cinematography, the sweeping scale of the film and commanding leadership of Scorsese, stay for the stories of loss and violation that plagued an entire tribe of native Americans just trying to justify their existence among the most bloodthirsty of predators. It is a harrowing story in dire need of being told and more importantly, heard." - Chase G.


"Poor Things is from the mind of Yorgos Lanthimos, creator of The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and the Oscar darling, The Favourite. Poor Things is Lanthimos at his most fantastical, ethereal and masterful. It feels like the most free he’s ever been behind the camera and because of it the film shines with all the uniqueness, oddity, beauty and even danger of a lightning strike in the middle of a blizzard but with the lasting effects of a full blown ice age. It is something to behold and one film I believe will be the talk of the town over the coming months." - Chase G.


"All of Us Strangers just might be my favorite surprise of 2023. It is unbelievably moving and gorgeous to experience. It is incredibly sad, yes but never without reason. If you can accept the tears it will bring you then it will also bring you a pleasant story of love however brief it may be. It is magical and impossible but somehow feels like the most raw, realistic and relatable story of grief and love that has in some way touched each and every one of us. We have all been Adam at some point in our lives. We’ve met a Harry that brings a glimpse of something better into our graying existence. I am so lucky to have experienced this film and I hope you give it a chance just like I did." - Chase G.


 

HONORABLE MENTIONS:


17-11


The Passenger is horrific as it feels both ultra-surreal and raw in its pessimism. Every moment feels like an impending explosion and when something or someone finally does it's absolutely abhorrent in its unforgiving gaze and violent nature. It's true life horror.


Missing is the second in a series of brilliantly structured, fast-paced thrillers. It utilizes modern technology and youthful technical prowess to reach an exciting and surprising finale that will leave you absolutely floored. If the creators of Searching and Missing continue in this format I can't wait to see what they come up with next.


15. AIR

"Air isn’t a crime drama like his previous projects. Even Argo had elements of violence and danger as his characters fled for safer lands outside of Iran. Air is purely an office drama with the promise of something bigger. We all know the final product, Air shows how the sausage is made. Believe it or not, Jordan was once considered a risk. Despite the majority of the story taking place in the Nike offices located in rural Beaverton, Oregon, Air is no less engaging and thrilling as any one of his heightened crime dramas. The focus of the drama is simply different but just as fascinating. The cast is absolutely at the top of their respective games with special note going to Matt Damon and Viola Davis. In this story they are the definition of powerhouse performers. With an assured, veteran hand at the helm, Air conducts a story of greatness by showing the early roots of both a corporation and a once-in-a-lifetime talent. Air is in certain aspects familiar as a biopic but with its tenacious dialogue and outstanding cast it rises above most making it something genuinely special. Now if they made a film about the man himself, this would be a fantastic companion piece to his life story." - Chase G.



"Known for the humor, larger than life action sequences, the epic soundtracks and the guardians themselves, volume three ends their tale in grand fashion. Every bit of this installment feels final and contains particular elements that feel like it’s all really coming to an end. While so often we can rely on the safety net of a potential sequel, this time around it doesn’t appear to have that in place to make us feel better. Rocket might actually die. One of his fellow guardians could die trying to save him. It all feels possible now and because of this Gunn and company have created the perfect culmination to a wonderfully contained trilogy within the whole of the MCU. If this is really the end of the Guardians as we know them, they will be missed. If it is the end, this is a fantastic sendoff for our galaxy guardians." - Chase G.


"Outside of the relationship of Adonis and Damian I don’t find part 3 as engaging as its predecessors. But as I said before with parts 1 and 2, the differences in quality between each story, part 3 included, is minimal. I think the best thing I can say about each new story in the name of Creed is that each has left me wondering what might be next. While I didn’t think it was necessary to go on after part 2, but knowing part 3 was inevitable (because it’s Hollyweird), I accepted its impending release and remained hopeful. I’m happy that if anything, part 3 is worthy of the name." - Chase G.


The Holdovers is the pessimist's quintessential Christmas tale. Alexander Payne returns to form delivering a poignant, dramatic and hilariously drab story about finding the familiar in the mundane without losing the core of who these characters are. They are stuck and resentful but slowly finding the beauty of discovering who each person is on a deeper, more meaningful level. Paul Giamatti is a curmudgeon of epic proportions but isn't without heart, however deep it may be buried. Da'Vine Joy Randolph is of special note delivering a heart wrenching performances worthy of awards consideration.


"While it may not exactly be made for a thirty-four year old white dude like myself it still manages to be for everyone regardless of its main point of view, that of an eleven year old girl in 1970’s New Jersey. Its greatest strength is never relegating the specific experience of an adolescent girl to something as less important to focus on the general life experiences of someone who is simply eleven, boy or girl. It gives a spotlight to both sides creating a larger picture that is just wonderful to see and relate to and cherish." - Chase G.

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