2023 was the year of the clash of the Titans. The entire world was divided into black and pink. Yes, you guessed it right – Barbie and Oppenheimer. Everywhere, everyone just talked about these two movies; hence, it came as no surprise when these two made it to the top three highest grossers of this year. Where it is difficult to think of any other movies instantly that made so much noise, we cannot forget that this year also saw the return of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider Man, Fast and the Furious, and the list goes on.
Ooh! Just writing these names has made me excited about the wonderful year we had in movies. So, without further ado, here are the top picks of the year 2023.
Every other year without fail, we mention one movie from the Fast and the Furious franchise. It has become repetitive. All Fast and the Furious movies are the same. Some mission, someone’s life at risk, family comes first; it’s like watching the same thing all over again. But how they make every movie as thrilling as the previous one, and give you an adrenaline rush, is beyond me.
With an ensemble cast led by Vin Diesel, and John Cena, Jason Statham, Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron reprising their roles, it was a riveting experience. But the cherry on top has to be Jason Mamoa as the antagonist who is sadistic and scary yet witty at the same time. He was the star of Fast X. If you have seen all the previous ones and are still looking for some fast-paced adventure, Fast X will not disappoint you.
With an extremely elaborate marketing campaign, it was thought that Barbie would just be colourful, fun and mindlessly entertaining. However, it proved us all wrong as it turned out to be so much more. It was a visually dazzling cinematic experience, exploring our mindsets and challenging several contradictory standards designed for women in male-dominated societies. Barbie was played to perfection by the gorgeous Margot Robbie, who actually brought to life our childhood’s most cherished character in all its glory. She really lived up to her name and fame. Ryan Gosling as Ken was, well, what Ken has always been in Barbie’s life. Present but not of any consequence.
Clever, poignant and funny, Barbie is full-on entertainment with a great message.
While we are on the topic of bringing our favourite childhood characters to life, this year also brought us The Super Mario and his brother. Now this was nothing but a dream come true for all Nintendo fans who fought tirelessly with Super Mario to save the princess. With amplified graphics (of course, we have come a long way from Nintendo games), exhilarating music and the exciting mission, this movie catered to all ages; the young ones for an animated movie and the older ones to kick in their nostalgia.
Voiced by Chris Pratt as Mario and Charlie Day as Luigi, the movie is an adventurous ride for not just the brothers but all of us. If you have ever played Super Mario at home or an arcade, this movie is going to bring back a lot of memories for you.
The movie was based on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, an American theoretical physicist who developed the nuclear weapons that were used against Japan in the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer, the movie was a cinematic marvel by all measures.
Where there are contrasting views from extremely engaging to plain boring, no one can deny the fact that Oppenheimer highlighted the personal life of the acclaimed scientist and the conflict he went through after his big breakthrough. Where everyone praised him for aiding to Japan’s submission, his moral compass was shaken by the death and destruction his creation caused. The movie beautifully portrays that life is not black or white but all the shades in between and it’s about your choices that make or shape history.
For me, this was the most anticipated movie of the year. I kept on thinking what will the Guardians do without Gamora as she died in The Avengers: Infinity Wars. But, guess what! We had a Gamora look alike. Yay! Why was this movie so important? Because it was ‘supposedly’ the end of the Guardians’ franchise. Well, even if they do return, we all know it’s not going to be the same.
This movie is focused on saving Rocket’s life so the missions revolved around the same theme. Guardians of the Galaxy is undoubtedly one of the most entertaining franchises from the Marvel universe. It has a perfect mix of comedy, action, amazing music and performances. We all love the guardians. By the end of the movie Rocket is the new captain while the other members embark on their separate journeys. Man, Guardians will be sorely missed.
Like the Guardians, it seems like Ethan Hunt is all set to retire, too. The journey that started in 1996, with Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt saving the world in Mission Impossible has had us spellbound all this while. For 27 years he has not rested, but with Dead Reckoning, they are preparing us to say good bye to our most beloved agent.
As the technology advanced, the threats in the movies have advanced too and Dead Reckoning is also about solving one such case with the help of a two-piece key. Like all the previous ones, this doesn’t end in the mission completion but leading us to the next part that will be released in 2025. What’s special about this Mission Impossible? Well, it has always been the stunts and this movie doesn’t disappoint you in any way when it comes to nail-biting action sequences. So, let’s enjoy the Mission Impossible till they permanently take away Ethan Hunt from us after two years.
We never thought we would see the day when the 1989 Disney animated movie The Little Mermaid will get its live action version. So, when the movie was announced, it became the talk of the town. I believe after Beauty and the Beast’s live-action version, this was inevitable, knowing how Ariel has been our favourite mermaid since ages. To be fair, we don’t know a lot of mermaids so, for us, Ariel is all we have got.
The Little Mermaid was beautifully shot. The underwater sequences, Ariel and her sisters, Prince Eric’s castle and his town … all were breathtaking. Just like the animated movie promised us years ago. Halle Bailey did justice as Ariel, the mermaid so smitten with the land that she gave up her magical voice to explore it. And, it was so refreshing to watch Melissa McCarthy as evil Ursula. All in all, The Little Mermaid checked all the boxes for a memorable and riveting Disney experience.
There were not many notable mentions in Pakistani cinema this year but one movie I would like to mention here is Teri Meri Kahaniyan. It was an anthology of three short films directed by Nabeel Qureshi, Marina Khan and Nadeem Baig.
The first one was Nabeel Qureshi’s Jin Mahal starring Mani, Hira Mani and Gul-e-Rana in lead roles. The genre was horror-comedy and it was a blast of entertainment. From acting to dialogues and from comic timing to music, it was flawless. I wish it could be a whole feature film instead of just a short movie.
The second one was Marina’s Khan Pasoori starring Ramsha Khan and Sheheryar Munawar. This rom-com was the dullest amongst the three so let’s not get into its details.
However, the last one was Nadeem Baig’s Ek Sau Taeeswan, starring Mehwish Hayat and Wahaj Ali. The story revolved around a train journey in which these two strangers meet and through the course of reaching their destinations, they found new meanings to their lives. It was worth a watch.
Some other notable mentions are John Wick Chapter 4, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Air, Killers of the Flower Moon, etc.