In what seems to be a year of quality revival for the film industry, this year’s biggest and most popular blockbusters prove that not all movies are superhero-oriented. Biopics such as Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer bring back the silver screen epic centered around political turmoil, with the added awe of mind-blowing effects (no pun intended). Other films like Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon bring awareness to Native American stories while maintaining the draw of a period piece. Another film Greta Gerwig’s Barbie provides much-needed laughs and a direct reflection on what it means to be a woman in a patriarchal society.
With many more films following the trends of biopics, political dramas, and just plain fun movies, it is crucial to note this year could be recorded as a sort of turning point within the film industry. The question that remains is, which one of these movies released reigns supreme?
If you would prefer to watch a film that focuses on plot while providing a variety of characters fluctuating between good and evil to create a grey moral landscape, look no further than legendary director Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, and Scorsese favorite Robert DeNiro, this film is based on a book of the same name which documents the terrors the native Osage tribe faced in Oklahoma. With a plot full of revenge, betrayal, and an analysis of contradictory characters, Killers of the Flower Moon is a much-needed refreshment in an industry full of franchise revivals and comic-book epics. It also sheds light on the mistreatment of Native Americans all throughout the United States’ westward expansion. The camera work and cinematography are comparable to that of other Scorsese films, and its complex band of characters creates seemingly endless conflicts and clashes in the unravelment of an ongoing mass murder mystery.
On the other side of the spectrum is where Greta Gerwig’s Barbie resides. At first glance, this star-studded cast is a family fun adventure based on the Mattel toy doll, Barbie, who is our main character. This movie lets the igneous chemistry between Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling) dominate the majority of the screen time. Other well-known actors appear for cameos playing their individual takes on Barbie & Ken, a nod to the many job-themed dolls Mattel has produced throughout the years. Witty comedy, epic musical acts, and a deep dive into the topic of feminism and patriarchal standards create a film that is both comedic and endearing in nature. A movie no doubt that will remain iconic for years to come.
The best film of 2023, however, utilizes aspects from both of these movies (star-studded casts, complex and slow-burning plot, climax scenes of epic proportions). The movie remains heralded as the best this year almost unanimously, is of course Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. Countless A-list actors appear throughout the film led by Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt, each adopting a portrayal of important historical figures of the infamous Manhattan Project. The film is a biopic about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the widely critiqued and troubled physicist who was the spearhead for the US government’s atomic weapons program that developed the first WMDs the world has seen. With a churning plot focusing both on Oppenheimer’s moral conflicts and the cruel actions of the US government, this film no doubt is a frontrunner in the race for best picture. If you’re looking for a complicated romance, then look no further. How about heavy dialogue that carries the plot? Oh, you want action? Here is this 10-minute sequence of the army launching an atomic bomb in the desert.
With only just a few more movies to come out this year, it is safe to say Oppenheimer has the best picture category on lock. This upcoming wave of dramas, biopics, and fun films will only become more prevalent in the following year. Movies such as Maestro or A Complete Unknown will be topics of great discussion not only in next year’s Academy Award races but in the decades to come.