Barbie breaks box office records. Oppenheimer earns the critics’ hearts and an indie film about Winnie the Pooh provokes their hatred
Greta Gerwig’s live-action comedy released during the summer of 2023 broke several records. The story follows Barbie, played by Margot Robbie, who lives in the pink and matriarchal Barbie World. She soon discovers that she isn’t as perfect as she thought, so she goes on to discover the real and flawed world of humans. Her boyfriend Ken, played by Ryan Gosling, tags along.
Worldwide, the film surpassed $1.4 billion in ticket sales. On its release weekend, it grossed more than $155 million: the biggest debut weekend since Avengers: Endgame ($147 million). It also became the highest-grossing film directed by a woman.
In the boxofficemojo.com ranking, only $100,000 separate them. But the main characters traded pink dresses and luscious blond hair for blue overalls and matching caps. Two brothers, Mario and Luigi, played by Chris Pratt and Charlie Day, have recently opened a plumbing business in Brooklyn. But while they were working underground to fix a water main, both are transported into a magical world. Mario ends up in Mushroom Kingdom, ruled by Princess Peach, while Luigi arrives in the Dark Lands, ruled by the evil Koopa king Bowser. Mario embarks on an epic quest to save his brother.
Since the commercial and critical failure of the 1993 adaptation, Nintendo has been reluctant to license its intellectual property for movies. This time, they were right to do so. The Super Mario Bros. Movie became the first film since Avatar: The Way of Water to top the box office for four consecutive weekends, and the first animated film to pass $1 billion at the global box office since Frozen II. It’s also the highest-grossing video game adaptation of all time.
The third film on the podium is nothing about toys and games—on the contrary. During the Second World War, Lieutenant-General Leslie Groves Jr. appointed physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer to work on the ultra-secret Manhattan Project. Their work came to fruition on 16 July 1945, when they witnessed the world’s first nuclear explosion, the first use of an atomic bomb, changing the course of history forever. The film tells the story of the scientist, portrayed by Cillian Murphy.
Christopher Nolan’s newest historical drama amassed more than $952 million. However, it never got on top of the podium, making it the highest-grossing film to never reach number 1 at the box office.
The most loved
Oppenheimer did reach the first position in critic’s hearts. It’s number 1 On Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of best films of the year, as well as on IMDb. New York Times critic Manohla Dargis notes that there is “virtuosity in every frame”. On rottentomatoes.com, the film managed to get the excellent score of 93%, making it number 54 on their “best of” ranking.
However, on the same site, one feature managed to get a perfect score. The First Slam Dunk is a 2022 (but released outside of Asia mid-2023) Japanese animated sports film based on Inoue’s Slam Dunk manga series. Its animation has been described by critics and viewers as exhilarating and gorgeous. In Japan, it even won the Academy Prize for Animation of the Year.
Ryota Miyagi is seventeen years old and plays with the Shohoku High School basketball team along with Sakuragi, Rukawa, Akagi, and Mitsui as they take the stage at the Inter-High School National Championship. Now, they are on the brink of challenging the reigning champions, Sannoh Kogyo High School. Will Ryota achieve his dream—and the one of his late older brother— of becoming a basketball star?
the most hated
What about the bad and the ugly? For Owen Gleibermann, a journalist at Variety, there is no doubt. The worst film of the year is Ghosted, starring Ana de Armas and Chris Evans. Evans is Cole Turner, a farmer in the Washington area. He falls in love with the mysterious Sadie, played by de Armas. After a day together, he doesn’t hear from her, but he discovers that Sadie is in London. While he decides to surprise her by going to find her, Cole is kidnapped and discovers that his beloved is a CIA agent. The pair then embark together on an international adventure. Gleibermann described it as “an exhausting piece of fake fun on steroid overkill.”
According to his colleague Peter Debruge, as well as Rolling Stone Magazine and IMDb, the title of Dud of the Year belongs to the independent horror movie Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey. While Christopher Robin was in college, Pooh and Piglet became feral and bloodthirsty murderers. They terrorize a group of young university women, as well as Christopher Robin, when he returns to the Hundred Acre Wood. “Are we supposed to see the killers as A.A. Milne’s imaginary friends gone rogue, or bad actors in off-brand rubber masks?”, writes Debruge.
2024 will be filled with highly anticipated releases. Additions to well-known franchises —Mean Girls, Madame Web—, as well as long-awaited sequels— Dune: Part 2, Inside Out 2, Joker: Folie à deux.
Other upcoming films include Argyle, Matthew Vaughn’s new spy adventure (February 2024), Challengers, Luca Guadagnino’s Tennis Drama starring Zendaya (April 2024) and Back to Black, Amy Winehouse’s Biopic (May 2024).
CREDITS: Text by Malena Cortizo A.