In 2023, it feels like the movies are truly back; I’ve gone to more movies in theaters this year than I can recall in recent memory, and so many of those have stood out as absolutely fantastic films (even if their box offices don’t always show it). So, here are the movies that I’ve loved so far in 2023.
(spoilers for the following movies)
Honorable Mention: Avatar — The Way of Water
I’m giving Avatar: The Way of Water an honorable mention in this list because it is technically a 2022 movie. But I didn’t get a chance to see it until after the new year, so I didn’t include it in last year’s review.
When I saw Avatar in theaters in 2009, it blew my mind. The visuals were breathtaking. The 3D was outstanding. Over the years, the story hasn’t aged as well for me, but I still consider it a fantastic movie and an achievement in cinema. In many ways, I feel like that movie set the stage for the way movies have been made over the last decade and change.
When Way of Water was announced, I felt like it had been too long for a sequel; I certainly wasn’t too excited for it, even though I still planned on seeing it. And I wasn’t planning on seeing it in 3D; if anything, I figured I’d just wait for it to hit Disney+.
Thankfully, I did not make that mistake. A friend invited me to go see it in IMAX 3D and just like a decade before, my mind was blown by what I saw. Sure, the story still wasn’t top-notch (though better, I think, than the original), but the visual effects were the best I’ve ever seen by a clear mile. The 3D was so good that it got me to care about seeing movies in 3D again, which I had stopped doing years ago. This movie felt like exactly the sequel that Avatar needed 13 years later, and it’s a masterclass in doing visual effects and doing them right. This is what a movie can look like when they are given all the money they need and the effects teams have all the time they need to make it look as good as they can, and it absolutely paid off. If Avatar 3 looks this good, I’ll wait 20 more years to see it (but honestly, it will probably look even better than this one does).