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The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

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The Daily Eastern News


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COLUMN: My top films of 2023

Ashanti Thomas
Staff profile for Drew Coffey.

Well, the year is almost over. So, what better way to end it than looking back at all the great films that came out?

Actually, for the sake of time as I fearfully approach finals week, let’s just do three.

These three films are the best, in my opinion, of what the year has to offer and films that I extremely enjoyed both in entertainment value and in creative storytelling, acting, and visual appeal. Here we go!

Number 3 goes to (drum roll) “Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1” directed by Christopher McQuarrie

Now, I know what you are thinking: Really? “A Mission Impossible” movie? Isn’t this like the seventh one?

While the series is on its seventh installment in the franchise of beloved action extravaganza, these films still know how to entertain. This is strongly led by Tom Cruise who at the seemingly limber age of 61 years still gives audiences great action set pieces.

This film features an intense car chase, a train car scene, and even Cruise himself jumping off a cliff riding a motorcycle. These scenes are extremely exciting and make the film an amazingly good time while watching.

The plot is also reflective of the times as the antagonist is a specimen of artificial intelligence that is trying to destroy the world through a nuclear weapon.

Ok, I know it sounds like the plot of the last three Mission Impossible films.

But the film knows what it is and does it well. It certainly is not my favorite in the franchise but provides a great time while also showing off amazing special effects and stunts, reinvigorating the series as a masterclass of cinematic entertainment.

My overall rating: 4.5/5

Now we move to number 2 which is (drum roll again): “Thanksgiving” directed by Eli Roth

To be honest, Eli Roth has had a pretty shaky career.

He has made films with some acclaim such as “Hostel” (2005) and “Cabin Fever” (2002) but nothing other than those has made overly positive waves in the industry. However, this slicing and dicing film is an absolute home run.

From the kills to the gore, this film aims to entertain and gross out the audience in every possible way. The prosthetic for the gory kills are very impressive and never leave out any detail.

The film also has a driving mystery throughout that leaves you wondering who truly is committing these murderous acts. “Thanksgiving” takes great inspiration from films like “Scream” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” in this regard.

But I have to be honest once again, the acting, primarily from the teenage cast, is pretty bad.

Most of the lines sound unnatural and cringy which is only alleviated once they start to get killed off by the masked killer.  

But, overall, that doesn’t stop my enjoyment of the entire film.

“Thanksgiving” is a fun, creative, and fresh slasher movie that breathes some long-awaited life into the horror genre, and hopefully more films like this will be released in the future.

My overall rating: 4.5/5

And now the moment we’ve all been waiting. My top movie of the year.

If you’ve made it this far, you probably can guess which one it is. So, with a tired and probably exhausted drum roll, my favorite film of the year would be (dramatic literary pause) Oppenheimer directed by Christopher Nolan.

While this might be too predictable of a choice, I feel like it is the best of the year by a mile.

With a story that is worth telling and a morally tortured character at the helm, the film’s purpose hits especially hard.

The casting of Cillian Murphy as Robert Oppenheimer is an amazingly inspired choice as his eyes tell the conflicted attitude toward his decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.

The other actors like Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, and especially Robert Downey Jr. do an impressive job with their characters. They feel like real and natural people thanks to the clever writing from Nolan.

To be fair, I think the writing at times leaves the audience in the dust in terms of the scientific aspects of the story. However, this is a factor in Nolan’s filmography that has been established long before “Inception.”

With sequences like the nail-biting bomb testing scene, general audiences can still be completely consumed by what’s on screen.

But, most importantly, I think the film reaches its cinematic apex after the bomb is dropped and Oppenheimer is immediately regretful about the lives lost in the heinous act.

We see in Murphy’s acting how this will haunt him for the rest of his life and his involvement in the future of nuclear weapons will cement the possibility of all-out nuclear war in the future, and destroying the world as a result. 

Overall, the emotional story and star-studded cast that accompany it present a deeply thought-provoking film that places itself among Nolan’s best. And with that, the best film of the year.

My overall rating 5/5

Drew Coffey can [email protected] or 217-581-2812.

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About the Contributors
Drew Coffey
Drew Coffey, Reporter, Columnist
Drew is a senior television and video production major. He previously served as a reporter for The News.
Ashanti Thomas
Ashanti Thomas, Photographer
Ashanti Thomas is a senior digital media major. She previously served as photo editor and assistant photo editor at The News.

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