My No Holds Barred List of the Best Movies I Saw for the First Time in 2023

Stoney Keeley ranks all 81 movies he saw for the first time in 2023.

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I’m no critic, but hot damn, do I love watching movies and talking about ’em on The Vick’s Flicks Podcast, Drinking With…, and The Movie Review Rewind Podcast. Whether I was doing my part to catch up on a movie so we could record a show about it or I was just chilling in my office late at night firing up something I’d never seen before, I ended up seeing 81 movies for the first time this year. What’s the point of having a website if I don’t rank every stinkin’ one of ’em? LFG.

The Best Movies I Saw for the First Time in 2023

Superlatives

  • Most overrated: Nope, May December, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3
  • Most underrated: Eileen, You Hurt My Feelings, Beau Is Afraid
  • Guilty pleasure: Transformers: Rise of the Beast, Quasi, Violent Night
  • Biggest surprise: The Way Back, Cocaine Bear, Dick Tracy, The Sea Beast
  • Biggest disappointment: Renfield, Gremlins, The Pale Blue Eye

These Were Actively Bad and I Never Want to See Them Again

81. Your Place or Mine
80. Candy Cane Lane
79. White Noise
78. Collateral Damage
77. Vengeance
76. The Flash
75. Blade: Trinity
74. White Men Can’t Jump (the old one not the remake, @ me)
73. Amsterdam
72. Downsizing

Disappointments

71. Gremlins
70. Renfield
69. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
68. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Okay, We’re Getting Some Surprises Sprinkled In Here

67. Dracula Untold
66. This Place Rules
65. Bros
64. Nope
63. The Good Nurse
62. You People
61. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
60. May December
59. 8-Mile

I Make No Apologies for Enjoying These

58. Transformers: Rise of the Beast
57. Citizen Kane
56. 28 Days Later
55. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
54. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
53. Queen of the Damned
52. Freaky
51. Gran Turismo

The Top 50

50. Babylon
49. The Sea Beast
48. Ticket to Paradise
47. The Bourne Identity
46. Quasi
45. Lawrence of Arabia
44. Dick Tracy
43. Isle of Dogs
42. Moana
41. The Pale Blue Eye
40. The Woman King
39. Priscilla
38. Violent Night
37. The Cable Guy
36. Legends of the Fall
35. Nosferatu
34. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3
33. The Cooler
32. Beau Is Afraid
31. The French Dispatch
30. Cocaine Bear
29. The Way Back
28. The Outfit
27. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
26. No Hard Feelings
25. Air
24. The Menu
23. Dream Scenario
22. The Iron Claw
21. Tar
20. You Hurt My Feelings
19. Saltburn
18. Dunkirk
17. La La Land
16. Eileen
15. Asteroid City
14. Eyes Wide Shut
13. The Grand Budapest Hotel
12. Moonrise Kingdom
11. Birdman

The Top 10

10. NebraskaNebraska hit me like a ton of bricks. There’s a timeline where my father lived to be Woody Grant and I’m David, just trying to keep up with him. I saw a ton of my own heart and soul in this film.

9. Past LivesBrandon’s review – We’ve all had those missed connections and Past Lives is relatable enough to stir up those old memories, leaving us reflective and emotional.

8. When Harry Met Sally – A cheeked up Billy Crystal delivering the performance of a lifetime opposite the timeless Meg Ryan…it’s funny and romantic…one of if not the greatest rom-com I’ve ever seen.

7. The Descendants – Can you guys tell I was on an Alexander Payne kick? George Clooney crushed a complicated role in a complicated story overflowing with a pensive sadness.

6. Barbiefull review – What can I say? When you can blur the lines between fun and important in such a colorful way, you’ve created something truly special.

5. A Few Good Men – That courtroom scene is some of the most intense acting I’ve ever seen. Jack Nicholson is a pro’s pro as usual, but this entire cast nails it.

4. Mystic River Drinking With… episode – You guys know I love my heartwarming uplifting stories! In all seriousness, I was stoked when the crew wanted to chronicle this movie for the Drinking With… archives. It’s one of the most well-acted and gut-wrenching movies I’ve ever seen.

3. The Holdovers full review – An instant holiday classic in my book. Alexander Payne and Paul Giamatti are at their best in this cozy, heartwarming story laden with crude humor and existential angst.

2. Gangs of New York Drinking With… episode – Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher is one of the defining roles of my lifetime.

1. OppenheimerBrandon’s review – I remember our guy McCash coming out of the theater and posting in our Slack group that this was one of the best cinematic experiences ever made, and that immediately concerned me. For one, our tastes our so different that I usually know I’ll like a movie if he hated it and I usually know that I’ll hate a movie if he loved it. So, I was super nervous. For another, I thought “there’s no way.” Then, I went to see Oppenheimer, and was blown away. Now, I’m sitting here saying this is one of the greatest movies ever made. Christopher Nolan has a knack for making well-known stories feel thrilling and exciting. Oppenheimer was no different.

Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD, #BeBetter, and ‘Minds right, asses tight.’ “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, Yankee Candle, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley.

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