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Top 5 hidden gems of the 2023 film landscape

David Condrey
Brian Keim recounts five hidden gems that audiences may have missed in theaters during 2023.

Three years after a global pandemic shut down movie theaters and film production worldwide, it is safe to say that cinema is back in full swing. With beloved blockbusters such as the groundbreaking “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” and the five-hour epic that is “Barbenheimer,” film enjoyers from all over have stories to enjoy.

However, for every billion-dollar success, there are countless movies that go under the radar of general audiences. While many great films of the year amassed financial profits, many went unnoticed, making scant earnings at the box office, if they were given a chance in theaters at all. With that said, what follows is a list of five movies that were particularly robbed of their time in the spotlight.

  1. “They Cloned Tyrone,” directed by Juel Taylor

This film brings a fresh, grounded take to an outlandish concept, following three unlikely companions who uncover a supernatural conspiracy hidden deep beneath their neighborhood. It is filled with outstanding performances by familiar actors such as John Boyega, Jamie Foxx and Teyonah Parris, as well as a lively supporting cast of lesser-known actors. The story goes into plenty of twists and turns that make for a gripping experience while providing a unique science-fiction twist to age-old racial conflicts. Whether it be for a movie night with friends or a solo viewing in search of deep analysis, “They Cloned Tyrone” does not disappoint.

  1. “Inside,” directed by Vasilis Katsoupis

Not to be confused with the existential horror/comedy special “Bo Burnham: Inside,” this “Inside” tells the story of a thief’s struggle for survival and sanity as he gets locked inside an apartment suite he tried to rob. It gives audiences an intense experience of insanity, enhanced by the stellar performance of Willem Dafoe. Fans of Dafoe’s work will be familiar with the actor’s unparalleled ability to portray madness and “Inside” does not disappoint, as he works in this film with almost no other actors. With a very small number of exceptions, most of the scenes feature Dafoe’s character Nemo on his own, suffering in a deceptively torturous penthouse.

  1. “Nimona,” directed by Troy Quane and Nick Bruno

“Nimona” is unfortunately the only animated film to make this list, but if only one is able to make it, it very well should be this one. After being framed for a crime against the kingdom, Ballister Boldheart teams up with the chaotic shapeshifter Nimona to prove his innocence to the people, and the love of his life, Ambrosius. With a mixture of sharp writing, inventive action sequences and powerful social commentary all tied together with gorgeous and lively animation, it is an unforgettably enjoyable time. Its nomination for the Best Animated Feature Oscar was a welcome nod, even if it doesn’t stand a chance against both a Miyazaki movie and “Spider-Verse.”

  1. “Bottoms,” directed by Emma Seligman

“Bottoms” is a modern queer take on teen comedies of old such as “Superbad” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” In an attempt to get with their cheerleader crushes, outcast lesbians PJ and Josie start an all-women’s fight club at their high school and end up digging themselves into a giant hole with all the lies they tell to boost their reputations. Though the story treads into some derivative territory toward the end, it’s the film’s absurdity and wit that make it a soon-to-be classic.

  1. “The Holdovers,” directed by Alexander Payne

Despite “The Holdovers” being certifiably a Christmas movie, it deserves the attention of viewers everywhere regardless of the time of year. The story seems simple on the surface: a teenage boy who never cared for school is forced to spend his holiday break with his grumpy old professor and stoic lunch lady. However, as the characters themselves discover, a lot can be hidden below the surface. As the film goes on, the audience as well as the characters learn so much more about the so-called “holdovers” who were given no choice but to spend their winter at this boarding school.

The characters may seem unlikeable and obnoxious at first, but their depth is slowly revealed as they are forced to get to know each other better. What results is a deeply emotionally powerful film that reveals a person truly can not be understood based solely off of their daily behaviors. A movie as powerful and as rich as “The Holdovers” deserved a better chance from executives and more recognition from audiences at the time of its release.  Thankfully, this one inparticular is getting a lot of the credit it deserves, with wins from major award ceremonies such as the Golden Globes and even a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Though these films were largely overlooked, they fortunately still have a chance to grow. Viewers everywhere can still watch these movies, and any others that went unnoticed by the general public, and appreciate them. Box office success and media buzz are temporary, but the quality of art is something that can withstand the test of time.

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About the Contributor
Brian Keim
Brian Keim, Campus Editor
Brian Keim is the Campus Editor for The Carroll News, hailing from Medina, Ohio. He is a sophomore at John Carroll University, majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing and minoring in communications with a concentration in digital media.
Often referred to as a “person” who “exists,” Brian is also involved in the JCU Improv Troupe and Blue Streaks on the Run. In his free time he allegedly considers film-watching and book-reading to be two activities that are enjoyable as well as life-changing, if you know where to look.
To request biased film opinions, haphazard Academy Award predictions, or otherwise contact Brian Keim, he can be reached at [email protected]

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