2023 Mid-Year Film Ranking

Below is my current mid-year ranking of all the new 2023 releases I’ve seen so far, with some quick thoughts on each film. As of right now, these are my current ratings and ranking for each but they are subject to change by the end of the year when heavy hitters such as Oppenheimer, Dune: Part 2, Killers of the Flower Moon, and others release.

#15: Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania – Walt Disney Studios

Jonathan Majors’ Kang is the one bright spot in the horrendously shallow written, cheap Spy Kids-esque green screen-looking, overabundant CGI mess that was Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania. Following in the footsteps of Thor Love & Thunder, the film had little to no actual substance outside of Kang’s proper introduction. The writing is all surface-level and embarrassingly corny. Apart from Jonathan Majors and Michelle Pfeiffer, none of the other performances had any depth to them. Cassie’s new actress was the least convincing with a pretty underwhelming performance. I had higher expectations for this third film in the Ant-Man trilogy but it ended up following in the line of its predecessors though with a single bright spot in Kang. Without that character, the movie would’ve been a 0/5. Worst movie of the year so far, looking ahead I don’t expect this to change.


#14: The Super Mario Bros. Movie

The Super Mario Bros. Movie – Universal Pictures

The animation was super crisp and the visual spectacle kept it interesting but otherwise it was surprisingly boring. Though in their defense it’s not like there’s anything to go off of plot-wise from the source material. But overall, compared to some of the more unique animated films of late this movie falls perfectly into the generic assembly line mold instead, which is fine for what it is. It definitely hits the mark for its young target audience especially with its comedic nature being exclusively lowbrow/slapstick and nothing more. 


#13: Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Shazam! Fury of the Gods – Warner Bros.

Not unwatchable like Ant-Man 3 but is still shallow in most aspects of the film. It had threads of a decent movie if it focused more on the aspect of family and Billy holding onto his past trauma of being abandoned and not wanting to lose his new family. The film would’ve been stronger thematically but instead, it was only lightly touched upon amidst the mid-tier generic forgettable villains with the thinnest motivations possible. So overall though there were pieces of a better movie in there, they were barely touched upon by being overshadowed by poor cgi, generic villains, and a thin plot behind them.


#12: Demon Slayer-To the Swordsmith Village

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – To the Swordsmith Village – Aniplex

The animation was great as always but as a film, this was very poorly made. Unlike Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, a proper film and a perfect one at that, this was just a collection of the last 2 episodes of the previous season combined with an extended first episode of the newest season. Though wholly unoriginal content-wise, what made it feel especially lacking and cheap was the odd decision of keeping the intro and outro of each episode and for the audience, it got tiring by the end of the second episode. Not well put together, almost cash-grabby style release with zero effort. Aside from that the actual content itself was fine with a good lead into the new season.


#11: Beau is Afraid

Beau Is Afraid – A24

Started off extremely strong, perfectly showcasing Beau’s fear and anxiety in his neighborhood with all the different occurrences. Though it started to decline from the start of the second act slowly, it was still pretty interesting and engaging. But what almost killed the whole movie for me was the horrendously bad twist in the attic toward the end. Absolute uncanny garbage, after so much build-up the entire film surrounding the reveal. I understand the “why” of it, but the way it was done and executed was laughably bad, most of the points I knockdown in the film were because of this, and because they were building up to that moment the whole film and it ended up being dumb beyond words. This movie’s strongest act was the first in the neighborhood, it slowly declined from there but wasn’t bad by any means, until the jaw-droppingly stupid attic twist. This movie would’ve been in the top 5 of this list if not for that.


#10: The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid – Walt Disney Studios

The Little Mermaid was a solid reimagining of the classic animated film. It stayed true to the source without taking too many liberties and any adjustments made to both Ariel and Eric from a story perspective worked. Though it didn’t blow me away, as pretty much none of these live-action Dinsey remakes have, it felt fresh enough to keep me engaged. Aside from some questionable new songs, the acting and singing performances on all the classic songs were all well done, with Halle Bailey as the clear standout


#9: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny – Walt Disney Studios

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny was fine. Not sure why it’s rated so low everywhere. It’s just a fun adventure film with typical Indiana Jones style-big action set pieces and nostalgic callbacks throughout. Sure it’s not some deconstruction of the character like Logan was, but that is not what Indiana Jones is meant to be. If you’re coming in expecting some deep character study then you’re looking in the wrong place. Indiana Jones was always about the adventure and this felt in line with that. But I’ve never been an avid fan of the franchise either and so had no expectations or thoughts on  how I’d want the final film of this franchise to go


#8: Elemental

Elemental – Walt Disney Studios

Elemental was a solid outing from Pixar, with interesting immigrant and race allegories. Though it didn’t reinvent the wheel and mostly followed the typical Disney-Pixar formula it didn’t feel like a bore, such as something like Lightyear. The animation was crisp and colorful and the performances were all done well. There were no major faults in the movie but unfortunately in a world where there are more unique animated properties such as Across the Spider-Verse or Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio, or ones that are thematically richer such as Soul; run-of-the-mill, typical animated movies such as this don’t really stand out and will eventually get lost in the shuffle of its many similarly styled, both visually and thematically, predecessors. Not bad by any means but nothing too unique either.


#7: The Flash

The Flash – Warner Bros.

My initial thought regarding The Flash was that it was just alright. Though It was riddled with rubbery CGI, it had all the pieces to be great but the execution was off. The best scenes were the sincere and serious ones but they were few and far between. Way more comedic than it should’ve been given the source material. It felt MCU-esque in a lot of its comedic tones. But after a rewatch, I actually enjoyed the movie more the second time. It has its faults, but even still, it’s a fun movie. The emotional scenes were really great thanks to Ezra’s performance. CGI also seemed slightly improved from the earlier screening but that might have been due to differences in the format of the screening, not the actual film. Not perfect by any means but it was an enjoyable movie.


#6: Knock at the Cabin

Knock at the Cabin – Universal Pictures

A solid film from the imaginative mind of M. Night Shyamalan. Not one of his best but it was definitely an interesting film with an engaging story. Dave Bautista’s strong performance was the film’s highlight surrounded by a nice mystery narrative of what’s the truth and what is delusion. Wasn’t too big of a fan of the twist or perhaps lack thereof depending on the way you see it. Overall it was a good film that’ll keep you engaged in the mystery throughout.


#5: Air

Air – Amazon Studios/Warner Bros.

Pretty great movie overall. They did a terrific job showing how the revolutionary deal between Nike and MJ came to be, not only changing the landscape of basketball shoes but essentially creating an entire sneaker culture that would be formed around them and sneakers, in general, going forward. The entire cast was great but Matt Damon did an especially convincing job in his performance showing both the desperation and faith he had that this up-and-comer Michael Jordan would be something special, and as we know from history, it paid off like no one could’ve predicted.


#4: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 – Walt Disney Studios

Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 3 is not only the best of the trilogy, but it’s also better than 90% of the Phase 4 MCU content we had gotten across film and streaming, definitely starting off Phase 5 strong. The film stayed true to its emotional core with sincerity and heart and though there were moments of typical MCU style levity, it wasn’t used to undercut the emotion with any poorly placed gags and quips as we’ve seen in typical MCU productions. It was a refreshing change from the norm while also capturing what makes a good MCU movie by not falling into the typical pitfalls we’ve come to expect from this universe.


#3: Suzume

Suzume – Toho Co., Ltd.

The latest film from the legendary Makoto Shinkai. Touted the absolutely stunning animation we’ve come to expect from Shinkai but at an even higher level. The score was especially amazing throughout and the story was strong. It started slightly slow for me with most of the slice-of-life but once it kicked off it kicked off strong and didn’t look back. Great film from start to finish and it got even more amazing as the film went on.


#2: John Wick: Chapter 4

John Wick: Chapter 4 – Lionsgate Films

Terrific film, boasting amazing cinematography as always and some of the best action sequences across all films. The entire cast did an excellent job and the film kept you hooked throughout. This fourth John Wick film did an especially great job of creating a strong narrative around the action, with the “race against the clock” type of situation. It made the action feel much more fun by creating a sense of urgency not only for the characters but for the audience as well. A near-perfect film, it could’ve been shortened slightly as some of the car action scenes towards the end felt a little out of place and unnecessary but the scenes following after were a ton of fun so I don’t knock it down too much for that.


#1: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – Sony Pictures Entertainment

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse is literally amazing on every single level. The animation is unmatched both stylistically and quality-wise, the story was terrific, and the performances were compelling and sincere. They fired on all cylinders, without a fault to be found, continuing to push the envelope for how stunning, creatively diverse, and transcendent animation can be when there’s so much passion and heart poured into it. AI can never create something like this, this is a direct result of the human element. They really did it again and created another Masterpiece to follow up the first film. Best movie of the year so far, perfect in every way.