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  1. AVClub's The Best Films of 2023's icon

    AVClub's The Best Films of 2023

    Favs/dislikes: 3:0. [By Sam Barsanti, Mary Kate Carr, Murtada Elfadl, Saloni Gajjar, Drew Gillis, Courtney Howard, Jen Lennon, Tim Lowery, and Cindy White] Was 2023 the year that the movie theater finally made a comeback? Maybe, but it was definitely the year that brought film to the forefront of the cultural conversation again. The Barbenheimer phenomenon is largely to thank for that; it’s been years since we’ve had such a big cinema-going event. It helped, too, that both Barbie and Oppenheimer were uncommonly good, especially for blockbusters. But there were other cinematic successes: A24 continued to dominate the indie space with films like Past Lives and Anatomy Of A Fall, animation came to play with a new entry in the Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse franchise and a surprisingly good Ninja Turtles movie and, of course, Martin Scorsese brought us another mega-sized American epic in Killers Of The Flower Moon. It was a triumphant year for film, and we’ve done our best to sort through everything that was on offer. Here are our picks for the best films of 2023.
  2. Indiewire's The 25 Best Movies of 2023's icon

    Indiewire's The 25 Best Movies of 2023

    Favs/dislikes: 2:0. BY DAVID EHRLICH, KATE ERBLAND. In hindsight, it shouldn’t be surprising that the cinema of 2023 was so preoccupied with the unknown, as the first proper year after the start of the pandemic was always going to find the movie industry plunging into a brave new world. Some of the most pressing questions we had at the start of January were answered with resounding force. Would the studios — some of which had fatally diluted their brands with streaming options in a desperate bid to appease the stock market — find that once-reliable franchises had lust their luster? Yes. Would audiences — so eager for a different breed of “event film” that they had already started to redefine the term themselves — actually follow through on the “Barbenheimer” meme that first spread across social media in late 2022? Yes. Would titans like Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, and Wes Anderson make good on the breathless chatter that surrounded their latest projects and predictably inspire some of the most illuminating and demented takes in the history of human opinion along the way? Absolutely. On the other hand, some of the year’s most pressing questions were harder to see coming in advance, although several of those have also been resolved as well to one degree or another. Would the strikes ever end? Good news! Would documentaries start to feel depressingly irrelevant in the face of a streaming ecosystem that’s made it all but impossible to market anything besides celebrity profiles and concert films? Kind of! (Festival highlights like “Milisuthando” are still awaiting distribution, while other major efforts like “Kokomo City,” “Four Daughters,” and the fittingly titled “A Still Small Voice” have struggled to be heard amid the ever-loudening din of movie discourse). Did David Zaslav learn a valuable lesson from the whole “Batgirl” disaster last summer? Not so much! And yet it was how the films themselves confronted the unknown that proved most notable about the year in cinema, as several of 2023’s defining movies found their characters and creators looking beyond the limits of their lived experience — or, in the case of “The Zone of Interest” and its timeless moral compartmentalizations, resisting the urge to do so at any cost. This, more than the happy coincidences of their shared release date, is what bonded “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” together; where one film saw heartfelt wonder, the other discovered unholy dread. That fascination with the unknown is the connective tissue between the mysteries of “Asteroid City” and “The Boy and the Heron,” between the real or imagined multi-verses of “Spider-Man” and “Past Lives,” and between Scorsese’s defeated humility at the end of “The Killers of the Flower Moon” and the barrister’s grinning arrogance throughout the courtroom scenes in “Anatomy of a Fall.” This was a year in which many of the most resonant movies tried to capture the past in hopelessly cracked vessels and/or embraced total disorder in a bid to reconcile the tensions of the present. Sure, there was comfort food par excellance courtesy of Frederick Wiseman and Tran Anh Hung, but even their films served as tasty reminders that great cinema always takes us just a little further into the future — or into ourselves — than we can dare to imagine without it. Here are IndieWire’s picks for the 25 best movies of 2023. This article includes contributions from Carlos Aguilar, Christian Blauvelt, Jude Dry, Sophie Monks Kaufman, and Ryan Lattanzio.
  3. AVClub's The Best Films of 2021's icon

    AVClub's The Best Films of 2021

    Favs/dislikes: 3:0. 2021 would seem like the strangest year for moviegoing in all of our respective lifetimes were it not for 2020. Things didn’t exactly return to normal over the last 12 months; we’re still very much in a pandemic, and in fact are facing the very real possibility of a return to strict lockdown conditions, if those Omicron numbers are any indication. But thanks to the rollout of vaccines (and subsequent booster shots), movie theaters did scrape out some wins, welcoming audiences again with all the blockbusters delayed over the previous year. Those looking for symbolic evidence that #MoviesAreBack could find it in the triumphant return of James Bond, suiting up for a climactic adventure on the big screen, 18 months after the dramatic announcement that No Time To Die would not be coming soon to a theater near anyone. Movies never left, of course. Not really. We got plenty of fine ones last year, when theaters were mostly dormant or sparsely occupied, and plenty more over the course of 2021, regardless of fluctuating attendance numbers. As in any other year, most of the films on The A.V. Club’s best-of list were not the kind of major-studio productions mounting some measure of comeback right now; only one of the 25 films in our ranked rundown had a giant budget, and its spectacle was more song-and-dance than cape-and-cowl. You want superheroes? Look for them on the box office charts, not here. So what did our 10 ballot-filing contributors gravitate towards instead? Westerns and musicals. Anthology projects and stage adaptations. A joyous concert film and a melancholy animated documentary. If these movies had anything in common beyond their general excellence, it was the opportunity to see each of them on the big screen—a once-normal privilege that became an abnormal (and sometimes stressful) treat in 2021, and which we hope won’t become a total pleasure of the past, again, in 2022.
  4. Mike D'Angelo's A and A- Films [82 to 100 score]'s icon

    Mike D'Angelo's A and A- Films [82 to 100 score]

    Favs/dislikes: 7:0. Mike D'Angelo is one of the first online critics. He has written for Esquire, Las Vegas Weekly, Village Voice, The Dissolve and the AVClub. He is a notoriously difficult critic. High scores are very rare. These are some older movies that are listed in his site as having a score of 80 or higher. Ordered in descending fashion by scores out of 100.
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