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Top 10 Movies of the Summer

Jaela Stakers’s opinion on the best movies that came out this summer.

2023 has been an amazing year for movies with more hits to come. This summer we had anticipated successes like Barbie, Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse, and Oppenheimer and then we had films that snuck up on us like Past Lives, TMNT: Mutant Mayhem, and Nimona, which will all be discussed below. There was a lot of film history made this summer with Barbie making over $1 billion in just 17 days making Greta Gerwig the first women to have directed a $1 billion film. And Christopher Nolan re-creating the look of an atomic bomb without the use of CGI for his film Oppenheimer. Even Across the Spider-Verse broke records with its breathtaking animation. This is my opinion of the top ten movies of the summer with my rankings.

10.  Joy Ride – 4/5

The main character, Audrey, played by Ashley Park, goes on a business trip to Asia with her friends, Lolo, Kat, and Deadeye, played by Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, and Sabrina Wu, which turns into a search for her birth mother and a search for identity. Directed by Adele Lim, this raunchy comedy includes friendship, belonging, lots of laughter, and tears. It is often hard to create a well made comedy because the jokes take away from the story of the film, but this comedy did a perfect job at balancing jokes with meaning. One of the greatest things about movies is that they can make you feel, and in my opinion, laughter is the greatest feeling you can come by. I loved this film because it brought me so much laughter. The chemistry the cast shares is felt through the screen which makes it feel like you are with them. It is very silly and unrealistic at times but is overall a good movie. I recommend watching it with your friends if you’re ever looking for a new fun comedy to watch, but not with your parents as it is very raunchy.

9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem – 4/5

There have been so many different adaptations of the TMNT franchise, but this film, directed by Jeff Rowe, definitely makes it to the top of the list. The film follows the usual TMNT story with the four brothers Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raphael, voiced by Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu, and Brady Noon, as they gain curiosity about the streets of New York. Their curiosity gets the best of them and they find themselves in a war against other mutants. The thing that makes this adaptation so different from the others is that the turtles finally act like the teenagers they are supposed to be and the animation strays from the typical style. The animation style is so disgusting and grubby looking and weirdly enough the mutant turtles were the most normal looking thing in the film. It looks like it was drawn by teenagers, which makes it all the more fun. The jokes are very very funny, but most likely won’t make sense in the future as they are very current to our time. There are so many big names in this film and it is overall such a fun watch. And the score is amazing too.

8. Asteroid City – 4/5

Wes Anderson is known for his visually pleasing films, and Asteroid City may be his most “Wes Anderson“ film yet. Asteroid City is a play within a play (which can get a little confusing) set in a small town in the American desert in 1955. A “Space Cadet convention” is being held which entails students and parents from across the country coming together for a scholarly competition. Each character is quirky with their own unique story behind them with notable names like Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks and so many more. The group witness some world changing and mind-blowing events and are kept in quarantine for far longer than they planned. You get to see these strangers interact with each other and watch as relationships gain. Topics of loss and loneliness show up throughout the film but are blended with comedy and romance. Wes Anderson’s aesthetic in Asteroid City makes it feel like an escape from reality with its pastel color palette and 50’s setting. You definitely have to be a certain audience to enjoy this film and not everyone will get it (including me at times) but I didn’t want it to end.

7. Mission: Impossible- Dead Reckoning Part One – 4.5/5

Dead Reckoning Part One is the sixth film in the Mission:Impossible franchise. It’s not as incredible as Fallout, but amazing nonetheless. This is Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) most important mission yet. His mission is to track down a frightening new weapon that threatens all of humanity if placed in the wrong hands. There is a very serious undertone within the film and not many jokes in the dialogue so director Christopher McQuarrie finds his laughable moments elsewhere, in the action scenes. Little movements and facial expressions during action scenes can be the funniest part of a film, and this one had a lot of those moments. The stunts in this film are also insane, and as many know, Tom Cruise tries to do all his own stunts. Some of those stunts include riding a motorcycle off of a cliff and fighting on top of a moving train. Ving Rhames as Luther, Simon Pegg as Benji, and Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa all give amazing performances that make you feel included in the film. It was emotional and had me on the edge of my seat. I can’t wait for part two, the final M:I film, and finally get closure.

6. Nimona – 4.5/5

Based off of the 2015 hit graphic novel written by ND Stevenson, Nimona did not disappoint fans of the book. Directed by Troy Quane and Nick Bruno, the movie follows two main characters, Nimona and Ballister Boldheart, voiced by Chloe Grace Moretz and Riz Ahmed. Boldheart is a night who is framed for a crime he didn’t commit and goes into hiding where he is found by Nimona. Nimona is a shape-shifting teenager who I fell in love with the first scene she showed up in. Her quick wit and fearless attitude make her such a strong character. Together they try to clear Boldhearts name and take down the crown for their lies. This animated film takes you through a journey of life and death with themes of betrayal and belonging while having a great balance of humor. The internet says it is made for kids, but is very sophisticated and can be enjoyed by any age group. I am not sure how true the film stays to the book as I have not read it, but i have only heard good things. There is so much heart put into this film and the animation is very unique and extremely satisfying to watch. The ending is sure to make you cry.

5. Bottoms – 5/5

Directed by Emme Seligman, Bottoms follows PJ (Rachel Senott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri) who are two lesbian best friends just trying to get their cheerleader crushes Brittany (Kaia Gerber) and Isabel (Havana Rose Liu) to like them back. This is harder than it seems though as they are two of the most awkward, unhinged, and “untalented” people in the school. They decide to start a fight club to get the cheerleaders attention but find themselves way over their heads. This coming-of-age film is chaotic and bloody and at times doesn’t make any sense which makes it all the more fun. It is the funniest film of the year with amazing writing, acting, characters, soundtrack, and more. The opening scene itself has some of the funniest dialogue I have ever heard in a film and it somehow just got better from there. Everything is exaggerated and over the top and there are jokes within everything, not just the dialogue. There is so much chemistry shared within the cast and you can tell they are having fun, which makes it more enjoyable to watch. Bottoms gives representation to people who are often forgotten about in films, awkward lesbians and is a must watch for the girls and the gays.

4. Oppenheimer – 5/5

You may have heard the name Robert J. Oppenheimer in history class and never really thought much of him or his story, but Christopher Nolan is here to make you listen. Oppenheimer goes through the history of the first atomic bomb and the lethal legal aftermath with a three hour runtime. It seems boring, but this film is anything but that. Cillian Murphy does an extraordinary job playing the role of Oppenheimer, a tormented, haunted, mad genius. Emily Blunt, Robert Downery Jr, and Florence Pugh all put their heart and souls into their supporting roles. There are so many notable parts in the film but the most notable is the long awaited Trinity test scene. Watching that scene in the theater felt like an out of body experience. The silence that filled the room as I was waiting for the gruesome sound of the bomb to catch up with the visuals of the bomb left me in awe-struck. It was truly cinematic history. The original score, cinematography, acting, and writing in this film is something that will be talked about for decades. If you do decide to watch this movie you should be in the correct setting with an open mind as it is not a light film.

3. Past Lives – 5/5

Celine Song’s directorial debut, Past Lives, goes through 24 years of Nora, played by Greta Lee, and Hae Sung, played by Teo Yoo, life. They were sure they were going to get married when they were younger, but they were young and naive. Nora’s family immigrated to Canada and then Nora immigrated to America, leaving Hae Sung behind. They don’t reconnect again until 12 years later through the internet and can barely go one day without talking to each other, all of their history still there. But with being so far apart in the world, calling becomes harder and harder and Nora decides they should take a break. That break ends up lasting another 12 years when Hae Sung takes a trip to New York, but Nora is married. Past Lives is extremely peaceful with stunning cinematography and thoughtful tone. It is a huge “what if” situation that will leave you devastated but also extremely heart-warmed at the same time. It truly makes you rethink every decision you made and all the different paths you could have gone on but ultimately everything is up to fate. The morals of love and trust are questioned and it feels so real which makes you feel so connected to it.

2. Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse – 5/5

The long anticipated second film of the spider-verse franchise was well worth the wait. Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) reconnects with Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) and encounters the Spider Society. There are so many things that this film did that makes it near perfect. With breathtaking animation, storytelling, writing and characters, Across the Spider-Verse left me speechless. It breaks all the barriers of animation and is probably the best animated film I have ever seen. So much thought is put into every single frame and every frame is purposeful and visually pleasing. You can feel the emotion put into this film as you are watching it which makes it so heartfelt and beautiful. Not only is it touching and heartbreaking and will have you in tears, it is also extremely funny and upbeat with so many classic Spider-Man jokes. Each character has their own individual backstory filled with so much personality to make them so lovable. And the soundtrack is the cherry on top. It fully encapsulates you into the film. There is so much to say about this film and not enough words. Part two can’t come out any sooner. 

1. Barbie – 5/5

Barbie is the movie of the summer and maybe even the year. Directed by my favorite director, Greta Gerwig, this film was everything I thought and more. The film follows Barbie, played by Margot Robbie as she leaves the colorful and perfect Barbie World to discover herself in the real world. Ken, played by Ryan Gosling, follows Barbie on her adventure. Barbie tackles the patriarchy and the gendered expectations placed on women. The difference in Barbie’s reaction to the real world and Ken’s reaction shows how different the world treats us based on our gender. Barbie was harassed as soon as she entered the real world and felt uneasy and unsafe the whole time. This represents how fast the switch up from girlhood to womanhood happens. You can go from feeling carefree and happy one day to feeling self-conscious and embarrassed the next. Ken on the other hand felt a sense of pride and empowerment. Barbie handles these serious and important topics with so much laughter, joy, and silliness. It was so enjoyable being able to watch this in the theaters with my friends. From the dialogue to the acting, every aspect of this film was a 10/10. I resonated so much with it and felt so seen as a girl and as a woman.


Which movie was your favorite?


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About the Contributor
Jaela Staker
Jaela Staker, Writer
Jaela Staker is a senior at MHS. She is the vice president of Key Club. This is her first year being involved in newspaper and writing for the Auroran Today. When she is not writing for the newspaper she enjoys watching movies, going to concerts, hanging out with her friends and family, and reading.
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  • M

    Mrs. KeitelOct 16, 2023 at 8:59 am

    Thanks for the movie reviews, Jaela! Very well-written. I’ve only seen one of the movies on your list, but after reading your article, I will definitely make a point of seeing some of the others. Thank you!

  • A

    Alexis TaylorOct 6, 2023 at 11:39 pm

    Really good story Jaela! I liked your descriptions and it encouraged me to watch some of these movies!

  • A

    Anthony ashOct 5, 2023 at 1:28 pm

    Jaela I was on the fence about what to vote for, but your review on Spider-Man opened my eyes and really made me see the right answer. Very Well done jaela:)