Hey, movie lovers! Continuing the tradition I started the previous year, here's an overview of what I saw in 2023. I watched a total of 438 movies, surpassing my goal of 365. By my rough estimation, my film reviews totaled around 14,000 words.
My Top Films of 2023
I saw many great films released last year, with many trips to the theater – at least twenty times. Feels great after a couple of years of not being able to go. My favorite theatrical experiences were watching RRR (2022) with my wife and friends, who were first-timers and loved it, seeing Killers of the Flower Moon after waiting in anticipation all year, and watching Godzilla Minus One with my wife and Godzilla-obsessed son.
Killers of the Flower Moon →
Killers of the Flower Moon is a thrilling adaptation of a book I love. I consider it the most important film of the year due to how it sheds light on a dark part of American history that I wasn't aware of until reading the book. I appreciate its different perspective, making it a great companion piece to the book rather than a redundant retelling.
It's my favorite film of the year, and I'm excited to see what Scorsese does with David Grann's next book, The Wager, one of my favorite reads of 2023.
Godzilla Minus One →
Godzilla Minus One is Toho's first Godzilla film since Shin Godzilla in 2016. I wasn't sure if they could top that film, but they did. In fact, I'm close to admitting that this is my favorite Godzilla film of all time. It has a great story, amazing effects, and perfectly constructed set pieces.
My son and I spent the last couple of years watching all the Showa era Godzilla films, and we didn't realize this one would owe so much to those films. All the direct visual and thematic references made us so happy.
And the next 10 in no particular order:
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse →
Past Lives →
The Boy and the Heron →
May December →
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One →
Anatomy of a Fall →
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves →
Rye Lane →
My Top Films Watched in 2023
Next, I'd like to highlight my favorite films I watched for the first time in 2023 that were not released during that year. Here are the top ten that have stuck with me to the point where I still think about them and bring them up in conversation with friends.
High and Low →
Lawrence of Arabia →
La Samouraï →
Paths of Glory →
Finding Frances →
Synecdoche, New York →
The Lunchbox →
The Verdict →
My Top Obscure Films Watched in 2023
I'd love to draw your attention to some great films you might not have bumped into yet. Here are my favorite obscure films watched last year, calculated by sorting my Letterboxd list by popularity and picking the last 10 films that I've rated 4 stars or higher.
I'd like to highlight “The High Sign,” one of my favorite Buster Keaton shorts. I also really enjoyed “The Natural History of the Chicken” and “Cane Toads: An Unnatural History,” which are humorous documentaries by Mark Lewis, an Australian filmmaker I'd never heard of before.
The Natural History of the Chicken →
Cane Toads: An Unnatural History →
The Boat →
Convict 13 →
No Smoking →
Safe In Hell →
Battling Butler →
The High Sign →
Horror Survey 2023
I tried something new this past October; I did a Horror Survey where I sorted my watchlist from earliest to latest and watched all the horror films available to stream.
I watched 42 horror films during this time, starting with “The Cat and the Canary” (1927) and ending with “Blade II” (2002). I really enjoyed experiencing film history through the lens of horror, starting with the silent era to talkies to the rise of the slasher and beyond. Here are my top 10 horror films I watched in October.
Day of the Dead →
The Happiness of the Katakuris →
Night of the Comet →
The Wolf Man →
The Haunting →
The Wicker Man →
My Top Reviews from 2023
Here are a few of my more popular film reviews from last year.
For the second year in a row, my most-watched actor and director were the same: Buster Keaton. I watched 34 films he acted in, 32 of which he also directed. Keaton has quickly become one of my favorite filmmakers of all time. My son and I have had a lot of fun screening his movies for family when they visit.
My movie chat group, #BongHive, remains undefeated. In December, we did a Secret Santa where we each gifted a film or film-adjacent item to another member. I received the Criterion edition of Drunken Angel (1948), which I loved!
This coming year, we're doing a monthly challenge where one member of the group picks a film for the rest of us to watch. The first was Army of Shadows (1969). I'm excited to see what else we watch together this year.
I also want to give a shout-out to my wife who gifted me The Criterion Channel last year for Christmas. I watched a lot of great films, including many mentioned above – 82 in total during the year!
Finally, thanks to an upgrade to my home theater, I've begun to collect physical media again. I've been picking up a lot of 4K UHD Blu-rays and have been enjoying rewatching many of my favorite films in high definition.
That's all for now! I've already kicked off 2024 with some great films and I'm looking forward to more during the coming year. If you check out any of the films I mentioned above, let me know what you think! Happy watching!