We take a look at the best movies and tv shows of 2023 in this mid-year wrap up, including hits, sleepers and everything in between.
2023 is already more than half over, and I’m sure you’re all asking yourselves the same question – where does the time go? Suffice it to say, the year has been solid in terms of content, but with the SAG-AFTRA-WGA strikes still in full force, it seems likely the dog days of summer will suck for new content. That’s why we here at JoBlo have whipped up a handy list of the best movies and TV that have come out so far this year, so if you missed anything, now is your chance to catch up!
For my money, now that Succession is finished, The Bear is the best show on TV. The story of a Chicago restaurant’s staff is one of the most intense shows on TV, especially if you’ve ever worked in a kitchen. Season one was superb, but the second season is even better, with the concept changing a bit as the staff is in the process of turning their former fast food joint into an A-list restaurant. One of the best things about the show is how the whole ensemble gets a chance to shine. The two leads are arguably Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri as Carmy and Sidney. Still, everyone comes into their own this season, especially Ebon Moss Bacharach (“cousin!”) as Ritchie, a family friend of Carmy’s, who’s always been presented as a bit of a f**k up but proves himself surprisingly up to the task of upping his game on one of the season’s best episodes, “Forks.” The Bear’s episode “Fishes” ranks as not only the best TV episode of the year but could stand as almost a feature in its own right, with fantastic showcase roles for Jamie Lee Curtis, Bob Odenkirk and a heartbreaking Jon Bernthal. This show is available on Hulu in the U.S. and Disney Plus internationally.
Ben Affleck’s movie about Nike signing Michael Jordan to his first sneaker deal was a surprise hit this Easter. I think people sparked the idea that this is an old-fashioned 80s or 90s-style movie that isn’t aiming to win a boatload of Oscars but simply wants to entertain. Affleck is a master at making these kinds of movies, and even if you think a film about Nike sounds boring, give it a shot. You won’t be sorry. Air is streaming on Prime worldwide.
While I still think this latest Creed suffers from the absence of Sylvester Stallone, it can’t be denied that Michael B. Jordan made a rousing entry into both the Creed and Rocky sagas with his crowd-pleasing third film. Jordan is a lot like Stallone in that both took complete ownership of their characters and opted to become their chief creative voice. The embattled Jonathan Majors steals the show as Adonis’s antagonist, and hopefully, the legal issues around him won’t prematurely end his career, as he’s a great actor. His Sundance film, Magazine Dreams, is outstanding, although it seems to be in limbo now. Who knows when (and if) audiences will see it? Creed III is streaming worldwide on Prime.
John Wick Chapter 4:
My only issue with this movie is that at 2hrs and 40 minutes, it’s a little too long compared to the lean and mean first couple of films. That said, no one can deny that it’s a perfectly made piece of action filmmaking that offers Keanu Reeves’ John Wick a fitting swan song if this is the end for him. For my money, the movie was stolen by Donnie Yen as the blind assassin Caine.
While some have noted that the end of the show seems premature, to me, HBO’s flagship show had a fitting end, especially as far as Logan Roy was concerned, with his fate inevitable and appropriately inglorious. That said, I don’t feel this is the last we’ll see of the Roy family. Like Game of Thrones, it feels like a very open-ended finale. I should also note that HBO’s Barry also received a highly acclaimed final season, but I’ve yet to catch up with it.
Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One:
This movie had the sad fate of opening just one week before the phenomenon that is Barbenheimer. Its failure at the box office is puzzling, with the film earning rave reviews and Cruise coming off the biggest hit of his career, Top Gun: Maverick. Whatever the case, it’s a must-see.
Some of the hot takes on this one are exhausting, with it feeling like large chunks of the audience missed how ironic Greta Gerwig’s movie is. Whatever the case, it’s a fun escape, with Margot Robbie perfectly cast in the title role. However, the film is mercilessly stolen by Ryan Gosling’s Ken (as well as Michael Cera’s Allan – who’s already becoming a fan favourite).
Sound of Freedom:
This is another movie whose hot takes are driving me up the wall. Everyone is so convinced this is a Quanon movie, and those accusations almost all come from people who haven’t actually watched it. I honestly didn’t think it was all that great of a film, but it’s certainly worth seeing. It’s just wild to me now that saying “child trafficking is evil” has suddenly become a political statement.
I’m so happy that Christopher Nolan’s ambitious three-hour biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer has become a hit. It proves that audiences are a lot more sophisticated than studios give them credit for. Unless Killers of the Flower Moon or maybe Napoleon bests it, I expect this one to reign supreme on top of everyone’s best movies of 2023 list.
While behind-the-scenes drama has derailed Yellowstone, its spin-off series, the prequel 1923, had become a significant success. It’s an action-packed, old-fashioned epic with a star-making lead role for Brandon Skelenar. It’s also one of Harrison Ford’s best roles in years (and makes up for the mediocre Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny).
While I don’t think this season of episodes are as good as the ones we’ve gotten in previous seasons, it does have at least one legit classic, “Joan is Awful,” which has become a rallying cry in the SAG-AFTRA strike as it warns of the dangers of AI being able to take your identity.
Honorable mention: Extraction 2. I’ve heard it’s terrific, but sadly, I just haven’t had the time to catch up with it yet. However, many folks, including our critic Alex Maidy, say it significantly improves the already fun original.
Did I miss anything? Let us know in the comments!