Film Technica: Our favorite movies of 2023

AI SaaS

Film Technica: Our favorite movies of 2023

Aurich Lawson | Getty Images

Warning: Although we’ve done our best to avoid spoiling anything too major, please note this list does include a few specific references to several of the listed films that some might consider spoiler-y.

It’s been an odd couple of years for film as the industry struggles to regain its footing in the wake of a devastating global pandemic, but there are reasons to be optimistic about its future, both from a box office and variety standpoint. This was the year that the blockbuster superhero franchises that have dominated for more than a decade finally showed signs of faltering; the Marvel and DC Universe releases this year were mostly fine, but only one (Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse) made our 2023 year-end list. There were just so many of them, one after the other, adding up to serious superhero fatigue.

We still love our blockbusters, of course. This was also the summer of “Barbenheimer,” as audiences flocked to theaters for the unlikely pairing of Barbie and Oppenheimer, breaking a few box office records in the process. It was also a good year for smaller niche fare—including two re-imaginings of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—as well as a new film from the legendary Martin Scorsese (Killers of the Flower Moon).

As always, we’re opting for an unranked list, with the exception of our “year’s best” vote at the very end, so you might look over the variety of genres and options and possibly add surprises to your eventual watchlist. We invite you to head to the comments and add your favorite films released in 2023.

Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez star as Elgin (a bard) and Holga (a barbarian) in <em>D&amp;D: Honor Among Thieves</em>.
Enlarge / Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez star as Elgin (a bard) and Holga (a barbarian) in D&D: Honor Among Thieves.

Paramount Pictures

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Over two decades later, I am still a bit bitter about paying good money to see the 2000 Dungeons and Dragons movie with a group of friends on opening night. To this day, we’ll still parody Empress Savina dramatically proclaiming something along the lines of “I declare all people equal!” at the end of the movie (spoilers for a decades-old bad movie, I guess). Honor Among Thieves didn’t have a high bar to clear to wash the taste of that horrible adaptation out of my mouth. So it was nice to find that this new take on the D&D world leapt miles over that bar with a madcap, character-driven adventure that would be the envy of many a dungeon master.  

While Honor Among Thieves drops in a few references to familiar D&D items and creatures (hi, owlbears!), the movie wisely realizes that it can’t lean on those references to make an interesting movie. Instead, it uses D&D’s class system as the basis for some broad, trope-y characters to get thrown into an unlikely partnership. Chris Pine’s winning take on a bard is the driving force here, but Michelle Rodriguez’s barbarian and (an underutilized) Regé-Jean Page’s paladin steal plenty of scenes by really hewing true to their characters’ alignment chart.

The plot won’t win any awards for originality or surprise, but that character work and some well-paced action set pieces make this a thrilling family adventure, even for those who’ve never touched a D&D character sheet.

Kyle Orland

AI SaaS

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