Drink in the Movies Top 5 Films of 2023 So Far

Our Drink in the Movies team have compiled a comprehensive mid-year piece that provides a shared look at each of our top 5 films of 2023 so far. You can see our selected titles below in the text list or by pressing the arrows on the Poster Carousel Images.


1 / 11

Alexander Reams: ‘Master Gardener’ (VOD)

“Master Gardener” is a film that feels like the completion of a trilogy, its previous entries being “First Reformed” and “The Card Counter.” Schrader conducts the film in an emotional manner, allowing Edgerton to shed the dirt-covered exterior he uses to hide his sins. Schrader crafts Edgerton’s former white supremacist as an antecedent to the kind and luminating Maya, his romantic interest and co-lead, elevated by the wonderful Quintessa Swindell. Schrader is an actor’s director and it’s easy to see why, Sigourney Weaver’s turn feels like it could only be created in a Paul Schrader film. The violence displayed is not the same ugliness that was under Schrader’s microscope in “The Card Counter,” here his knack for subtext ebbs and flows through the topic of race relations and reconciliation in a manner and reverence that one would be hard-pressed to find in a multiplex today. Schrader’s latest is a marvel to behold, and his tradition of emotionally fulfilling final scenes continues with one of his most impactful, as he allows the love that has blossomed to live in a frame that is so simple, yet so profound.

Anna Harrison: ‘I Like Movies’ (Limited Theatrical Release)

Christopher Cross: ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ (Theatrical Release)

Jeff Sparks: ‘Miley Cyrus Endless Summer Vacation Backyard Sessions’ (Disney+)

Livvy O’Brien: ‘The Little Mermaid (2023)’ (Theatrical Release)

Maria Athayde: ‘Joy Ride’ (Coming Soon to Theaters)

Michael Clawson: ‘Hannah Ha Ha’ (VOD)

Nick McCann: ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ (VOD)

Patrick Hao: ‘Blackberry’ (VOD)

Raúl Mendoza: ‘Asteroid City’ (Theatrical Release)

Taylor Baker: ‘Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One’ (Coming Soon to Theaters)


2 / 9

Alexander Reams: ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ (VOD)

Anna Harrison: ‘Sharper’ (Apple TV+)

Christopher Cross: ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ (VOD)

Jeff Sparks: ‘Sarah Silverman: Someone You Love’ (Max)

Livvy O’Brien: ‘No Hard Feelings’ (Theatrical Release)

Maria Athayde: ‘Blackberry’ (VOD)

Michael Clawson: ‘Asteroid City’ (Theatrical Release)

Nick McCann: ‘Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’ (VOD)

Patrick Hao: ‘Asteroid City’ (Theatrical Release)

Raúl Mendoza: ‘Chile ’76’ (Limited Theatrical Release)

Manuela Martelli’s “Chile 76” is a tense film that holds a tight grip on the audience once. The film deals with a middle-class housewife who must care for a resistance fighter that has been wounded by a gunshot. This forces her to make decisions between her family and country. The film is set around Chile’s military dictatorship under the brutal leadership of Augusto Pinochet in 1976. The film is Martelli’s feature film debut, she’s known to audiences primarily for being one of Chile’s most notable actresses. Martelli approaches the narrative with expertise and deliberate patience as she allows the audience to digest the complexities of the brutal military dictatorship that is now synonymous with the name Pinochet. The film brings up different themes that range from family, gender roles, political turmoil, and oppression. I still can’t get over how eloquently Martelli constructed her tense narrative through the color palette and patient but precise pacing. The film almost mimics the tension found within the works of Alfred Hitchcock. If this is how Martelli begins her career as a director, I am thrilled to experience the rest of the work she has yet to make.

Taylor Baker: ‘Magic Mike’s Last Dance’ (Max)


3 / 9

Alexander Reams: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ (Theatrical Release)

Anna Harrison: ‘Past Lives’ (Theatrical Release)

I won’t beat around the bush: “Past Lives” was disappointing. I had heard so much good about the film, had seen so many posts lauding it, that I was expecting nothing short of a masterpiece. What I got was quiet, intimate, and good but not, at least I believed at first, great.

Celine Song’s feature debut follows Nora (Greta Lee), who immigrated to Canada (and later the US) as a child from South Korea. Married to fellow writer Arthur (John Magaro, giving what will probably remain one of my favorite performances of the year), she has a good life, even if she hasn’t won a Tony yet, but when she strikes up an email exchange with former elementary school classmate Hae Sung (Teo Yoo), the seams in her identity begin to show. Despite a rocky midsection consisting mostly of Zoom calls, Song slowly lures you in through her compelling central trio, each straddling their own identity crises in the hustle and bustle of New York City, and though she could have easily fallen into cliché—something Arthur knowingly points out—Song avoids the laziness that would have appeared in a lesser movie. The more I have thought about the film, the more I have appreciated it and its exploration of the choices that make up the mosaic of our identity. Would we be different, if only one thing in our life changed? What would happen if we changed things now? Song gives us no answers, only knowing looks and conversations in broken English or Korean; by the time the credits rolled, I was crying, even though it felt like Song had barely lifted a finger. I had put too many expectations upon the film, which is purposely small, if you meet “Past Lives” on its own terms, you will be richly rewarded.

Christopher Cross: ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.’ (VOD)

Jeff Sparks: ‘Showing Up’ (VOD)

Livvy O’Brien: ‘Asteroid City’ (Theatrical Release)

Maria Athayde: ‘Past Lives’ (Theatrical Release)

Michael Clawson: ‘R.M.N.’ (VOD)

Nick McCann: ‘Air’ (VOD)

Patrick Hao: ‘Knock at the Cabin’ (VOD)

Raúl Mendoza: ‘Huesera: The Bone Woman’ (VOD, Shudder)

Taylor Baker: ‘R.M.N.’ (VOD)


4 / 7

Alexander Reams: ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ (Theatrical Release)

Anna Harrison: ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ (Theatrical Release)

Christopher Cross: ‘How to Blow Up a Pipeline’ (VOD)

Jeff Sparks: ‘Infinity Pool’ (VOD)

Livvy O’Brien: ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ (Theatrical Release)

Maria Athayde: ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ (Theatrical Release)

Visually stunning and frenetic, in the best possible sense, “Across the Spider-Verse” feels like a breath of new life in the comic genre. Admittedly for someone who has become increasingly blasé about the genre and multiverse-spanning sagas, I was surprised how well this movie delivered on each level. Shifting the narrative focus from Miles Morales to Gwen Stacey in the first beats of the movie set the narrative tempo of a journey that made excellent use of color, different animation styles, and music to immerse the audience into its story. In particular, I was blown away by how the different colors and textures in the animation transmit and convey so much emotion. From the small little details in the background to Metro Boomin’s beats, almost everything about this movie invites you to become a part of the story. A stunning feat of animation, and movie making more generally, I am eagerly awaiting the conclusion in “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse.”

Michael Clawson: ‘The Plains’ (VOD)

Nick McCann: ‘Suzume’ (Theatrical Release)

Patrick Hao: ‘You Hurt My Feelings’ (Theatrical Release)

Raúl Mendoza: ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ (Theatrical Release)

Taylor Baker: ‘Beau is Afraid’ (VOD)


5 / 11

Alexander Reams: ‘Asteroid City’ (Theatrical Release)

Anna Harrison: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ (Theatrical Release)

Christopher Cross: ‘I Like Movies’ (Limited Theatrical Release)

Jeff Sparks: ‘Beau is Afraid’ (VOD)

Like his previous two films, “Beau is Afraid” is a totally unique experience that could only come from the mind of Ari Aster. In it Joaquin Phoenix stars as a paranoid man who goes on a surrealist adventure through not just multiple locations but also through his mind and memories. Early on in his story the questionable nature of his reality is presented through a series of comedic sequences that Aster directs perfectly so they give us a laugh while not feeling out of place. Not long after being hit by a car, the driver (the underrated Amy Ryan) takes Beau into her care where the depths of his paranoia sink beyond the level where the viewer will know what is real and what is imagined. Aster chooses to keep us in Beau’s point-of-view through the entire three-hour runtime which makes for an experience truly like no other. And that is exactly what “Beau Is Afraid” is. An experience, and a unique one at that. All the best films are. This particular one has it all. Surrealism, absurd comedy, graphic nudity, shocking violence, metaphorical imagery, a great cast, and a runtime that makes you feel the journey. 

Aster gives us a lot to chew on here but even if he didn’t his distinctive filmmaking would have kept me locked into Beau’s eccentric odyssey nonetheless. As one crazy thing happens after another the film’s unpredictable twists and turns make it easily the best film of the year so far.

Livvy O’Brien: ‘Close’ (VOD)

Maria Athayde: ‘Theater Camp’ (Coming Soon to Theaters)

Michael Clawson: ‘Showing Up’ (VOD)

Nick McCann: ‘How to Blow Up a Pipeline’ (VOD)

Patrick Hao: ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.’ (VOD)

Raúl Mendoza: ‘The Eternal Memory’ (Coming Soon to Theaters))

Taylor Baker: ‘Afire’ (Coming Soon to Theaters)

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