The Student News Site of Foothill Technology High School

The Foothill Dragon Press

The Student News Site of Foothill Technology High School

The Foothill Dragon Press

The Student News Site of Foothill Technology High School

The Foothill Dragon Press

Follow Us On Instagram!

    Best of 2023: Movies

    Chloe Zarrinkelk
    2023 was a compelling year when it came to movies. Hollywood was booming, with “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” taking over the summer and “Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse” setting the bar high for animation in the early half of the year. Ranging from comedy to horror, theaters to streaming, movies were at an all time high in 2023.

    “The Little Mermaid”

    Released in theaters on May 26, 2023, the Disney live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” contains whimsical depictions of sea life, lovely vocals and vibrant colors; bringing magic to the screen. Originally released in 1989 as a cartoon, “The Little Mermaid” centered around one of King Triton’s (Javier Bardem) daughters, a mermaid named Ariel (Halle Bailey), the audience follows her trials and tribulations as she tries to get a life above the sea. With her sidekicks — Flounder (Jacob Tremblay) and Scuttle (Awkwafina) — she inevitably finds herself in dangerous and forbidden waters with Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) the sea witch and Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King), a human. 

    The story originates from Danish author Hans Christian Anderson and has followed a plethora of changes throughout the Disney movie adaptations. Besides the most noticeable change in the new remake being the switch from animation to live action, as well as an increased run time, other significant ones regarding the music and characters happened as well. The songs “Daughter of Tritons” and “Les Poissons” were left out and three new ones were added, including “Wild Uncharted Waters,” “For the First Time” and “Scuttlebutt.” When it comes to the characters, Prince Eric got further character development, and the new cast brought more representation to the audience. Although critics rated the movie 67 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, audience ratings reached 94 percent and in the global box office, the movie made a whopping $569.6 million.

    “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

    Miles Morales returns as the protagonist in “Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse” (ATSV), a much-awaited sequel to the extremely popular “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Expanding onto the first movies’ web of alternate “spider-people,” were many comic and fan favorites like Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac) and Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya), along with a massive society of various (and some obscure, random or ridiculous) Spider-Men. When Miles learns that a phenomenon known as the canon — a series of events that applies to all spider-people — is fated to have his father, a soon-to-be police captain, die at his inauguration. Spider-Man 2099 tells Miles that the canon is absolute, but he refuses to let his father die and begins his journey back to save him.  Unfortunately for Miles, the spider society is fighting against him by order of 2099, who insists that his existence against the canon is tearing the fabric of reality apart. Paired with spectacular, stylized animation straight out of a comic book, ATSV was a perfect continuation of” Into the Spider-Vers”e and left fans on a cliff-hanger, eager for the final movie of the trilogy, slated to release 2024-25: “Beyond the Spider-Verse.” 

    “Asteroid City”

    Asteroid City,” directed by Wes Anderson, made its theater debut in June of 2023, amassing attention on social media as it featured a star-studded cast including Scarlett Johansson, Maya Hawke, Margot Robbie and Tom Hanks. Like most all of Anderson’s other films, “Asteroid City” takes place in the most mundane of places: a junior stargazer convention in a small desert town circa 1955 attracting both teenage geniuses and an elementary class. As a play within a movie within a play, the movie is occasionally confusing, but overall showcases Anderson’s artistic genius and ability to create a movie bigger than the story it’s telling. 

    Separated by film cards with “acts” and “scenes,” playing into the theatrical components, the film opens in the “movie” portion of the story. With its district symmetry and vibrant color palette, the viewer is immediately immersed into the somewhat silly and slightly off-putting world of these junior star cadets. As geniuses by their own rights, the five teenagers each come with unique baggage or problems that contribute to the film’s overarching message surrounding grief and loneliness. While the cadets are originally in the middle of nowhere for a stargazing event, major twists and turns occur as lifelong bonds are made between both the students and their parents.

    Occurring simultaneously is the play that the film itself is based upon with characters that mirror those in the “movie.” The film is meta in its own right, but the constant intertwining of the mirrored stories allows the deeper ideas of dealing with grief to sink into the audience’s mind. 


    Although a movie based on a line of dolls for children may not sound like the best idea for a movie, “Barbie” far exceeds expectations and delivers an excellent and intriguing experience. In “Barbie,” there are two worlds, the real world and “Barbie Land.” The film follows a stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) who has been going through emotional change. To fix this, she travels to the real world with Ken (Ryan Gosling) where she quickly realizes it is not the paradise she so imagined. “Barbie” has some fantastic performances from both Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling who both deliver on the wacky roles they’re given. The set design for Barbie Land was also incredibly impressive as all of the Barbie Dream Houses were hand painted and most of them were done through practical effects. “Barbie” overall is a well-paced movie that knows when to be funny and when to cut the humor for an emotional moment. 


    The greatest feat in the cinematic world of 2023 belongs to “Oppenheimer,” especially due to its clever media portrayal in conjunction with “Barbenheimer —the cultural phenomenon that marketed two inversely different films, “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” together. Despite the hype, the movie is far from overrated as every moment of the film is essential and contemplative. Outshining the box office yet again, “Oppenheimer’s” unique performance is broken down in what may be Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus.

    The boldness of this film stems from Nolan’s mastery of symbolism within a very exact biographical thriller. Each main character embodies an idea or belief centered around the political climate of the globe during and after World War II. Whilst one person represents a larger message, they also outline Oppenheimer’s newest inner struggle — and therefore the central idea of each “mini-film.” It’s a brilliant method of storytelling because nothing has changed on the screen, yet what has lies in their meaning. At the end of the film, each character feels completely different than they did in a previous act because they now exist under circumstances and topics that are very unlike.

    Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment of Nolan’s film is his ability to keep movie enjoyers engaged for the entirety of his three-hour film.  How is it that Nolan piques the interest of his audience? By ingeniously stringing them along with a series of questions and answers. Despite hardly any physical motion being present on screen, there’s endless momentum in the heart of the story because of this subtle game of quid pro quo. Nolan’s pacing is simple and effective, but it would be worth nothing if not perfectly executed by his entourage of actors. The movie is filled with many A-list celebrities: Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr., Emily Blunt, Matt Damon and Florence Pugh to name a few. The list goes on and only heightens the film’s appeal. They seamlessly grow along with the film’s central ideas, allowing Nolan’s writing to shine. It’s no wonder that “Oppenheimer” is one of the greatest films of the year. On top of the story and invigorating performance, what places the cherry on top is the dedication of everyone involved with the film. Christopher Nolan’s staple for using practical effects led him to recreate the famous nuclear bomb explosion without computer-generated imagery (CGI). A masterpiece in its own right, “Oppenheimer” certainly blew away audiences of 2023. 

    “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes”

    The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” released on Nov. 17, 2023, is the prequel to the beloved 2010s series: “The Hunger Games.” Originally released as a three-book series, “The Hunger Games” are young adult fiction novels taking place in a dystopian society. As an adaptation of the novel written by Suzanne Collins, many avid “Hunger Games” fanatics had high expectations for this release. The movie follows the story of Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), long before becoming a corrupt president of Panem, in his quest to be the best mentor in the 10th annual Hunger Games. After meeting his tribute, Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), the film follows their journey as they experience the horrors of the annual Hunger Games and the events that followed. In the games, 24 tributes from 12 districts fight to the death to be the last one standing, while a plethora of obstacles including rat poison and deadly snakes make things all the more treacherous. Coriolanus’ cunning matched with Lucy Gray’s showmanship offered up a dynamic duo with a perfect blend of chemistry, tension and skepticism, keeping the watcher edge of their seat the entire time. Overall, this movie quickly became well-liked and popular, rightfully so, as it was one of the most entertaining and well-executed movies of the year. 

    What do you think?
    Leave a Comment
    More to Discover
    About the Contributors
    Camilla Lewis
    Camilla Lewis, Assignment Editor
    Avid ocean, orange juice and “Napoleon Dynamite” lover.
    Layla Solomon
    Layla Solomon, Writer
    Women love me, fish fear me.
    Amber Duhs
    Amber Duhs, Writer
    Second-year writer, chai latte lover and autumn enthusiast.
    Kelly Quinn
    Kelly Quinn, Writer
    Hello. My name is Kelly and I enjoy writing about movies and video games. Oh, and I have beaten Elden Ring five times.
    Paula Gonzalez
    Paula Gonzalez, Writer
    "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." - George W. Bush
    Julia Brossia
    Julia Brossia, Writer
    Second-year writer, Swiftie and opossum lover.
    Chloe Zarrinkelk
    Chloe Zarrinkelk, Multimedia Editor
    Probably sleeping.

    Comments (0)

    Comments on articles are screened and those determined by editors to be crude, overly mean-spirited or that serve primarily as personal attacks will not be approved. The Editorial Review Board, made up of 11 student editors and a faculty adviser, make decisions on content.
    All The Foothill Dragon Press Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *