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THE BEST NERDY MOVIES AND TV OF 2023

(Opinion)


10 - The Creator


From Director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Rogue One?) this sci-fi story shows a future war between humanity and AI. This film's visuals and style are remarkable, every scene infused with incredible touches of sci-fi details and impressive VFX. John David Washington gives a charged and powerful performance as the film's protagonist torn between the two sides of the war. Where this movie falls short is what it has to say about AI, which is very little, and nothing relevant to today’s discussions on the topic. While not as intellectually deep as it wants to be, it’s a good looking and fun ride.



9 - Gran Turismo


Nothing about this movie should have come together to be as fun as it is. The trailer for Neill Blomkamp’s story of a gamer who becomes an irl racer seemed like a joke or fever dream at first. But it’s filled with surprisingly good performances from David Harbour, Archie Madekwe, and Orlando Bloom who’s doing the best acting he’s done in a decade. Filled with exciting visuals, and great racing scenes, the only thing holding this movie back is its clumsy start. But the film only gets stronger as it progresses leading to an incredible 3rd act. Plus it’s been awhile since we’ve got a strong underdog sports movie so we were due.




8 - Strange New Worlds Season 2


It continues to be impressive how Strange New Worlds manages to capture the heart of what has made so much Star Trek great. It’s fun and episodic, and manages to be loyal to its roots but still willing to try new things and be emotional or zany. There’s still some hit and miss with it. Some episodes this season (like the Lower Decks crossover) are truly fresh and fun, while other episodes (and relationships) fall a little flat. But it’s still more hits than misses and if you’ve ever loved any Trek this show should get you.



7 - Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 3


While the recent years of the MCU may have been more misses than hits GotG vol. 3 comes back strong. While not as funny as the previous entries in the series, this one hits the heart like a cannonball. It focuses on and recontextualizes the series with Rocket Raccoon as the lead character, which fills it with emotion and incredible VFX that will make you believe a talking Raccoon is real. Plus it’s the rare MCU movie with a great villain performance from Chukwudi Iwuji as The High Evolutionary. I will put a content warning on this film, CW if you are sensitive to violence against animals this may be an upsetting watch.



6 - Picard Season 3


The first two seasons of Picard have had its ups and down but season 3 is (let’s be real) actually just another season of The Next Generation and it’s great. The return cast of TNG all come in and do an incredible job that feels like not a day was missed on set. With great villains and a seasonal plot that does a great job of anchoring everything together this is the best of Trek. It modernizes the characters of TNG without betraying them, feeling nostalgic without preying on that. If you’re not a fan of Star Trek TNG it’s difficult to say if this would connect, but if you’re a Star Trek fan in any way this is worth the watch.



5 - Dungeons and Dragons Honor Among Thieves


In an unexpected twist, a movie that didn’t have high expectations, turned out to be a surprising hit. Chris Pine is a charming delight (as he so often is) in this playful exploration of an adventuring party. The movie is willing to be silly with the format of D&D without being insulting or making a joke of its namesake. It has memorable laughs that stick with you like Jarnathan the Bird, or a Bard glitching or a heist with a portal. Any comedy adventure that sticks with you like this does, is worth the viewing.



4 - Barbie


In another unexpected twist, the film based on the Mattel doll, helmed by the stylish Greta Gerwig, managed to have more depth and substance than many expected. A deep and thoughtful look at society's expectations placed on gender, that manages to keep style and humor as prevalent as its message. Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling give incredibly funny performances while still carrying the weight and sadness of the subtext. This movie is able to explain the implication of male violence surrounded by a beautiful 80’s Miami technicolor while still landing a joke. It’s about the many roles women have to juggle while cinematically juggling every role.



3 - Godzilla Minus One



The most difficult thing about a Kaiju movie (in my opinion) is to make the human story interesting. So often the story of “where’s my family” is literally and metaphorically too small to care about when a nuclear laser breath blast just took out a city. Which is why Godzilla Minus One was so shocking and refreshing. The story of a WWII Japanese Kamikaze pilot, suffering from PTSD and societal shame of surviving the war is just as interesting and encapsulating as anything Godzilla does. Add to that Godzilla has never looked better and been more interesting. Somehow this movie strikes a balancing act between a serious post war film and a Godzilla movie, and manages to give us the best of both.



2 - The Last Of Us



This TV series based on the 2013 video game is a masterclass in how to adapt a pre-existing work. It takes the core heart of the video game series and expands upon the themes that work for television. With breathtaking performances from Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as well as stand out guest stars like Nick Offerman giving a tour de force performance in the season's stand out episode that had everyone talking. This show is a must watch both for fans of the game, or new fans coming in fresh.



1 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Mayhem



The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have had numerous iterations over the years and I could easily see someone skipping this movie, thinking there’s nothing new for this franchise to add. But Mutant Mayhem manages to feel like what TMNT has always meant to be, a natural step and also something completely fresh. The animation is stylish, the voice acting is incredible, the writing is smart and heartfelt without sacrificing humor. This version of the turtles moves them more towards the themes of X-Men, a group with a sense of family and wanting to belong, but holding a modern 2023 understanding of what that means.

 


 

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