Monday, January 1, 2024

The Best Movies of 2023 that The Vern saw in theaters


Hello everyone.  It’s The Vern here and Happy New Years to you all.  2023 had a lot of great movies that came out and it was very difficult to list them all.  I was lucky to actually get out of the house and see many great movies at an actual theater.  Many I watched at home but my list got to be much too big and I had a hard time ranking those.  So instead I’m doing a list of the 10 Best Movies I watched in a movie theater.

Before that here are some honorable mentions.  Movies that were good but didn’t quite make my top 10.


Asteroid City




Spiderman: Across The Spiderverse

TMNT: Mutant Mayhem

Spirited Away: Live

Pi in IMAX


Now on to my top 10, enjoy or be angry

10.  Oppenheimer

I am thankful that Christopher Nolan likes to release movies on actual film.  Between him,Quentin Tarantino, and Martin Scorsese. They may be the only ones who are trying to hold on and preserve the dying art of screening movies on actual film.   I got to see Oppenheimer in 70mm but it was on a theater screen not meant for that large of a frame.  I tried to see it on 35mm but those shows were sold out and if I never found a good time to go.   The IMAX presentation was great and for the digital print that was the best way to see it.  It’s a monumental achievement for Nolan and his crew and it deserves all the praise it gets for its technical achievements. The sound design alone should win an Oscar because there are sequences that made my seat rumble and it wasn't Dolby Cinema.  I just wasn’t a fan of the story or characters.  I don’t have to like the people in any story but I should find them and their goals to be interesting and I didn’t with this one.  Many people found a lot of great connection to the story and if you did.  I applaud you.  I just thought it was extremely well made and that is it.  I still will pay to see another Christopher Nolan movie if I get to see it on actual film.

9.  Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny.

James Mangold (Logan) takes over the director’s chair from Steven Spielberg(Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) to create a new adventure for the famed Archeologist and the results are very good.  This is a fun movie and a return to a character I love very much.  After the disappointing entry that was Crystal Skull.  I can safely say that Indy is back and this movie was a very satisfying return.  Pheobe Waler Bridge is great as the new side kick and Im glad the writers didn’t make her in to a love interest.  It’s action packed and I appreciate that they made those moments in sync with the motions an 80 year old actor could do.  Although some scenes I had to suspend my beliefs just a tad.  Some may find the CGI to make Harrison Ford look younger distracting but I never did.  They certainly made progress in that area.




8: Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning

Not the best entry in the franchise (that one belongs to Ghost Protocol) but one that I still had a lot of joy and fun with.  Mainly because it was such a treat to see all the fantastic stunt work that Tom Cruise and company put on display.  You can hate the man and his religious beliefs but you gotta admit.  The man puts everything he has into a movie.  He risks his life in many ways just to entertain us.  When most movies are just filmed on a green screen with actors being replaced by CGI creatures.  One guy still manages to do his own stunt work and the ones in this film were truly impressive


7. Priscilla

Sofia Coppola’s tale about the life of Priscilla Presley will upset many because of the way she openly portrays the king of rock n roll.  In the movie (based upon the book Elvis and Me) Elvis does pursue a girl who is a lot younger than him.   I did appreciate that it never paints him as this monster because from her perspective she never felt that he was.  The movie follows a lot of the same ideas that she did in her other movie Marie Antionette.  You have a story about a young girl being turned suddenly into royalty and the impact that makes on her life.  Using music from different eras to express emotions from characters in the sixties to the seventies is a cool thing and Sofia is really good at doing that.  Caillee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi do a great job as both Elvis and Priscilla.  You can see why she would fall for this man and why she ultimately had to leave him. 



6. Polite Society

Charming action comedy about young stunt woman who believes her artistic older sister is being manipulated by her fiancĂ© and his mom. For years Ria has been training to be a stunt woman while her sister Lena have been attending art school.  But when she drops out and takes an interest in a new man.  Ria suspects something foul and asks for the help of her friends to help save her sister.  The story is a little predictable but the chemistry between Priya Kansara and Rita Arya as the two sisters is one of my favorite things about it. It has some really great fight sequences that were fun to watch.  I would describe it as if Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson made a Bollywood movie but wisely gave it to a woman to direct instead. 


5.  Sanctuary

The basic story is not that impressive.  Before our lead character can inherit a large promotion from his father’s company.   First, he has to buy out his dominatrix so that there wont be any records.  Things are not that easy when she demands more than what he has.  I was expecting a generic run of the mill thriller set in the world of business.  What I got was ninety minutes of some of the best acting performances I’ve seen this year.  Margaret Qualley and Christopher Abbot(who also appear in my number one pick) are astounding.  The whole movie is just them talking and it was excellent.  Like Malcom and Marie or Before Sunset. many people may find this type of storytelling to be dull.  I absolutely love movies that have just a few actors using dialogue and nothing more.  Sanctuary is funny, scary, thrilling and may be one of the most romantic movies of 2023.


4.  Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense

I know this originally came out in 1984 but A24 recently put this out in IMAX in 2023 and the results are magical.  Filmed during three different sets of The Talking Heads tour.  Jonathan Demme’s(Silence of the Lambs, Something Wild) picture is very different from all other concert films.  At the start we just see David Bryne with an acoustic guitar and a boombox to perform their hit Psycho Killer.  Next Bassist Tina Waymouth joins for Heaven and than each song a new member appears until the whole staged is filled.  Back up singers, percussionists, keyboarders and more all on a big stage. The band doesn’t just play their instruments, they move constantly while doing so.  In one song the whole band minus the drummer and keyboard player are seen running for what seems like at least 20 minutes or more.  The movie wisely never shows the audience until the very end.  This makes the experience that much more personal.  I feel like Im watching this concert with the people around me.  Instead of watching other people watch it.  When they do show the crowd and everyone is dancing and cheering at the end.  I feel like I was with them doing the same thing.   Talking Heads:Stop Making Sense was shot by famed cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth(Blade Runner) and his use of lighting was spectacular.  Even if you are not a big fan of this band, I promise you by the end you will be cheering


3. Barbie

This movie was not made for me and yet it was one of the best theatrical experiences I had.  Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach wrote a script that shows all the great things about Barbie but also many of it’s problems too.  It’s a fun satire about men and if you think this movie is just there to attack and nothing more.  You need to grow a pair and laugh a little.  It makes fun of women just as much too.  You just won’t hear them complain as much because they don’t act like little bitches like you do.  Margot Robbie is great as the stereotypical Barbie who suddenly has an existential crisis and has to travel  to the real word to fix things.  But the real MVP is Ryan Gosling as Ken.  He is extremely funny but also kind of tragic and sad at times.  I love the large dollhouse sets and the costumes that were constructed to make this film authentic as it looks.  There is very little CGI and mostly practical effects and I for one loved attention to detail it displays.  I can’t explain it but when Billie Eilish’s song ”What I was made for” comes on near the end I cry.  I have now seen it 5 times and when that song comes on and the montage begins.  I shed tears.  I’m a 45 cis white man and yet the movie gets to me.


2.Godzilla Minus One

In all honesty dear readers, Barbie and this one were neck in neck of eachother for this spot.  I ultimately chose this one because it just had more of the things I like and want in a movie.  Godzilla Minus One is the ultimate blockbuster.  Studios and producers all around need to watch this because this is how you make a great blockbuster feature.  This is what I imagine the people who saw Jaws in theaters back in 1975 felt like.   It was very scary, it made me laugh, I cried at a few moments and at the end I cheered like never before.  It had characters who had very real and heartbreaking situations that overcome their ordeals.  Plus they also had to stop a huge fucking lizard on top of all that.  It’s a movie that anyone can watch and enjoy.  Unless you are one of those pricks that complain a movie has subtitles.   


` 1. Poor Things

From the gorgeous set designs to the beautiful costumes and glorious cinematography.  Poor Things is a monumental achievement.  Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo do some of their best acting in years. It has the same dry dark humor I expect from Yargos Lanthimos(Dogtooth, The Lobster) but it has unexpected heart and emotions I was not.  In the movie Bella Baxter(Stone) is a creation by a Doctor who resurrects a woman after she is found dead.  He reanimates her by putting her unborn child’s brain in her head. When other men see her now with her childlike innocence and free spirit nature they are immediately  attracted to her.   One such guy is a adventure seeker named Duncan Wedd(Mark Ruffalo).  He seduces Bella away from her fiancĂ© to join him at many places.  At first things are great but when Bella starts seeking out other enjoyments that are not Duncan, the tension begins.  This film is gorgeous to look at.  My eyeball was dancing all over the frame of each scene just looking at all the costumes and set designs.  If it wasn’t for the hardcore sex I would have this get played as background when my parents visited.  Im happy it didn’t but this has the kind of raw footage I expect the MPAA to give it a NC-17 rating for.  Yargos doesn’t use nudity and sex just to get a reaction.  It does serve a purpose in the narrative.  It's a fantasy movie made for an adult audience and the fact it was made by Searchlight Pictures which is owned by Disney is an amazing feat that got as wide as it did. Poor Things is bizzare, its funny its sexy and its pure cinema magic.  

Happy New Years Everyone!!!   We will return with more episodes but we are taking a few weeks off in the meantime.  

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