Mucking with Movies: 2023 in review | – The Aspen Times

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Usually, I would begin the column with the bullocks, but I think it makes sense to give out my year-end lists at the top. For my best and worst rankings, I stuck strictly to my original critic scores so as not to turn this into a feeding frenzy of subjectivity.
2023’s Best Movies of the Year
5. “Spiderman: Across The Spriderverse” Directed by Joaquin Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin Thompson, starring Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, and Brian Tyree Henry. It would have scored higher if it wasn’t forced to set up three more of these things. Score 8.8/10.
4. “Thanksgiving” Directed by Eli Roth, starring Nell Verlaque, Gabriel Davenport, and Patrick Dempsey. I said in my original review that “Thanksgiving” is the best horror movie of the 2000s century besides “Barbarian,” and I still stand by that now. Roth took what was once a joke trailer in between the “Grindhouse” double-feature from Robert Rodriguez’ and Quentin Tarantino’s “Planet Terror” and “Deathproof,” respectively, and turned it into a sickening masterpiece. Score 9.0/10
3. “Barbie” Directed by Greta Gerwig, starring Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, and America Ferrera. Of my Top 5 list, this is the film I am most likely to rewatch soonest. Hilarious, heart-wrenching, and an integral piece to his year’s cinematic slate. Score 9.2/10.
2. “Killers of the Flower Moon” Directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert Deniro, Leonardo Dicaprio, and Lily Gladstone. Scorsese’s best film since “Taxi Driver,” the direction can overcome middling performances from Dicaprio and Deniro. Score 9.2/10.
1. “Oppenheimer” Directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., and Florence Pugh. A tightly wound monster, it is not only the best movie of the year but has the single best scene of the year when we are forced to reconcile with people’s penchant for destruction as that bomb blows in the desert. Score 9.3/10.
2023’s Worst Movies of the Year
5. “Maestro” Directed by Bradley Cooper, starring Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan, and Maya Hawk. The worst type of movie. One made trying to impress the wrong type of people with their “interesting” opinions on these “delicious” stories that “need to be told.” For people who are fighting for dominion over a conversation at a fundraiser dinner in New York attended by eight congressmen, three environmentalists who own private jets, four critics, and six Fortune 500 CEOs who alternate between being a neocon or a neoliberal depending on the room, one financially successful artist and their bored aspiring artistic child, and two level 500 professors. These opinions hold zero critical thinking; they could be found in any trendy magazine. Your friends will turn it off after ten minutes because it’s boring. Score 4.5/10.
4. “Gran Turismo” Directed by Neill Blomkamp, starring Archie Madekwe, Orlando Bloom, and David Harbour. Can I get one good video game movie? Just one. “Super Mario Brothers Movie” counts as half a one. At least we got “The Last of Us” and the upcoming “Fallout” on TV. Score 4.2/10.
3. “Expend4bles” Directed by Scott Waugh, starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, and Megan Fox. Not the worst film, but it certainly was the worst directing job of the year. Still can’t get past the 4 in the title standing falsely as an A. Score 4.1/10.
2. “Priscilla” Directed by Sophia Coppola, starring Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Eelordi. My lungs are too filled with black tar to enable an inhale big enough, so that I can boo this movie with the correct amount of vigor I hold for it. Score 3.9/10
1. “A Haunting in Venice” Directed by Kenneth Branagh, starring Kenneth Branagh and Tina Fey. As tacky as your Instagram pictures taken inside a Venice canal gondola. Score 3.8/10
Personal Favorites In No Particular Order and That Do Not Appear On The Best of List:
“What Happens Later” Directed by Meg Ryan, starring Meg Ryan and David Duchovny. Ryan somehow managed to direct a feature film that stays interesting despite using only two on-screen characters held inside a single location. Wish I could hug this flick. Score 7.5/10.
“Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Park One” Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, starring Tom Cruise. Only because I reviewed it with the kids I coach. Critic Score 6.7/10, tween Score 9.3/10.
“Blackberry” Directed by Matt Johnston, starring Glenn Howerton and Jay Baruchel. Fun Fact: I got this job by cold-emailing a review of this film to the Aspen Times. I’m still pretty proud of it and would like to publish it one day, “Blackberry” missed out on my Top 5 list by .1. Tough – the scores giveth, the scores taketh away. Score 8.7/10
“Dumb Money” Directed by Craig Gillespie, starring Paul Dano, Gabe Plotkin, Sebastian Stan, Nick Offerman. I would enjoy the cold pleasure of squeezing Ken Griffin’s, Baiju Bhatt’s, and Vlad Tenev’s skulls until I feel brain slime slipping through the cracks of my fingers. Gabe Plotkin gets a pass for actually taking the hit. Score 8.8/10.
“The Iron Claw” Directed by Sean Durbin, starring Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Harrison Dickinson, and Stanley Simmons. Pro wrestling is treated seriously. Hooray! Plus Efron should enjoy a Matthew Mchannahey-like renaissance of his own. Score 8.6/10.
I started writing this column in the late spring, taking it upon myself on a whim. I wanted to do it because I love movies and only do fulfilling work. It’s been seven months, and in that time, “Mucking With Movies” went from twice a month to weekly and five hundred words to about however amount of words I feel like writing. That’s pretty cool.
Moreover, I stepped into a leadership position for the first time in my other professional life, took my first trip off the continent, quit smoking pot, quit smoking cigarettes, cried a bunch over things both big and small, worked doggedly to try to get my family to forgive me for neglecting them, dropped an eighty footer on my sticks, made out as much as I could, and fell in love with art in a whole new way.
Frankly, the movies aren’t as important as what they bring to us.
For me, it was my editor who has become a confidant, my theater trip is now part of my routine, I interviewed Chavo Guerrero (who I’ve watched wrestle on Smackdown since I was a kid), and occasionally a friend I haven’t spoken to in a minute will text me to tell me they love my writing. That’s the good stuff – the art is for the birds.
But it’s the money I’m here for, that’s what’s most important.
Jack Simon is a mogul coach and writer/director who enjoys eating food he can’t afford, traveling to places out of his budget, and creating art about skiing, eating, and traveling while broke. Check out his website to see his Jack’s Jitney travelogue series. You can email him at for inquiries of any type.

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