Saturday, January 6, 2024

Top 10 Favorite New Discoveries We Reviewed in 2023

According to: Selina

[Note: These are the best films that we reviewed on Trust the Dice in 2023 that were released in previous years.]
2023 was a bit of an odd year for movies. Although we got some extremely memorable flicks, like Barbie and Oppenheimer, we missed out on a lot of other titles. Some got delayed while others were released during a time when we refused to talk about them. As a result, the majority of what we watched and loved was from previous years. We had an issue whittling it down to only 10, but this is what we came up with.
10 – Honor Society (2022) 

Reviewed on: June 19
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Rated: TV-MA
Length: 1h 38min
Selina’s Rating: 4.5
Cat’s Rating: 3.5
IMDb Blurb: Honor's sole focus is getting into Harvard. Willing to do whatever it takes, Honor concocts a plan to take down her top three competitors, until things take a turn when she unexpectedly falls for her biggest competition.
Honor Society looked so much like a basic teen rom-com at first, that my hopes were just about non-existent. I knew I liked a couple of the actors, but I had my doubts that there’d be anything else going for it.
And then that big twist hit and, goodness, did that change things.
No one could have predicted that late-in-the-film flip. It came out of seemingly left field and made me audibly gasp. It also made Honor Society extremely rewatchable. I’ve since gone back to it a few times to check for all the little bits of foreshadowing I missed.
9 – Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) 
Reviewed on: June 23
Genre: Action, Comedy, Horror
Rated: R
Length: 1h 39min
Selina’s Rating: 4
Cat’s Rating: 5
IMDb Blurb: Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock move to the American heartland as they face off against evolved zombies, fellow survivors, and the growing pains of the snarky makeshift family.
Trust the Dice is a zombie-loving blog. Cat and I are both big fans of the undead horror creatures. We’re also fans of horror with comedy. I don’t remember what took us so long to get to Zombieland: Double Tap, but it was always destined to get a decent score from us.
Zombieland: Double Tap was fun to watch. It wasn’t as good as the first one, but that’s hardly unusual for a sequel.
8 – Smile (2022) 

Reviewed on: January 11
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 55min
Selina’s Rating: 3.5
Cat’s Rating: 5
IMDb Blurb: After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, a psychiatrist becomes increasingly convinced she is being threatened by an uncanny entity.
January is a film desert. Everyone’s broke from Christmas, no one’s spending money on the theater, and all the production companies just mass-release the worst – or riskiest – of their new projects. That’s why we tend to rely on releases from previous years in that first month. Smile was one of the first flicks we watched in 2023.
I’ll admit, I didn’t absolutely love it at first. I gave it a 3.5, which is not bad, but I couldn’t understand Cat’s perfect 5. Until I sat with it for a little while.
Smile grew on me. There are some scenes that were so creepy that they stayed with me, clear in my memory, for an entire year. The ending also had time to sink in a bit and, as a result, I’d say that I’d amend my score to a 4.5.  
7 – Glass Onion (2022)

Reviewed on: January 18
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
Rated: PG-13
Length: 2h 19min
Selina’s Rating: 5
Cat’s Rating: 4
IMDb Blurb: Tech billionaire Miles Bron invites his friends for a getaway on his private Greek island. When someone turns up dead, Detective Benoit Blanc is put on the case.
Knives Out (2019) was an insane film. I watched it, and forced others to watch it, about a hundred times since it’s release. Needless to say, I was ready for the sequel.
Glass Onion turned out to be exactly what I wanted it to be. A whole new Benoit Blanc mystery with hijinks and intrigue enough for all. The cast was outstanding, and the setting was just as unique as the Blanc character. Glass Onion has its critics, but we’re not among them.
6 – Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) 
Reviewed on: June 2
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
Rated: PG-13
Length: 2h 4min
Selina’s Rating: 5
Cat’s Rating: 5
Growing up in the 80s there was no escape from the Ghostbusters (1984). No one saw it as a bad thing, either. It was a hell of a movie, with a fun follow up. It was enough fun for people to continue falling in love with the original right up until now. Even the original attempt at a remake didn’t kill the Ghostbusters for people.
Now, Ghostbusters: Afterlife wasn’t a reboot/remake of any kind, it was a sequel. It followed someone related to one of the original Ghostbusters and it kept the feel of the original 80s flick. We even got to see the original actors.
Although we understand that some of our love for Ghostbusters: Afterlife might be member-berry related, it’s still a flick that stuck with us.
5 – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) 

Reviewed on: February 10
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Rated: PG-13
Length: 2h 41min
Selina’s Rating: 4
Cat’s Rating: 4
IMDb Blurb: The people of Wakanda fight to protect their home from intervening world powers as they mourn the death of King T'Challa.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was a great film. The only reason it’s so low on our list is because of how heartbreaking it is. It was a cinematic funeral for the beloved Chadwick Boseman and it felt like it.
I rewatch the original Black Panther (2018) occasionally, I don’t see myself doing the same with Wakanda Forever. Simply because of that heart-wrenching feeling I get when I do. It’s a movie we’d recommend any Marvel fan watch once.
4 – The Menu (2022) 
Reviewed on: January 9
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 47min
Selina’s Rating: 4.5
Cat’s Rating: 4.5
IMDb Blurb: A young couple travels to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.
Did anyone really see The Menu coming? The trailers were intriguing, but there was no way anyone predicted the depth of what it could be in the full run-time. It was thrilling, brilliantly written, and acted to absolute perfection.
The moral behind it all just elevated it.
I love it even more the longer I sit with it.
3 – Bullet Train (2022)

Reviewed on: January 25
Genre: Action, Comedy, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 2h 7min
Selina’s Rating: 5
Cat’s Rating: 5
IMDb Blurb: Five assassins aboard a swiftly-moving bullet train find out that their missions have something in common.
Although the lack of good new movies is what drives us to watch releases from previous years, it’s also when we like to catch up on the movies from the year before, or that were released in the December that just passed. It’s why so many of our favorite new discoveries are from 2022.
We were extremely interested in Bullet Train when it came out, but we had no idea it was going to be such a gold mine for banter. It’s one of my favorite banter films of all time now. Is it a no-brain popcorn flick? Yeah, with great fight choreography and a script that’ll hold your attention for the entire 2 hour run time.
2 – Clerks III (2022) 

Reviewed on: May 12
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: R
Length: 1h 40min
Selina’s Rating: 5
Cat’s Rating: 5
IMDb Blurb: Dante, Elias, and Jay and Silent Bob are enlisted by Randal after a heart attack to make a movie about the convenience store that started it all.
I cannot say enough about Clerks III.
I’m a Kevin Smith fan-girl and I’ve been following him for a long time. Clerks (1994) was the first movie I watched by him and seeing where it’s gone since then has been incredible. Even ignoring the spin-offs.
The complete Clerks trilogy is like a timeline of who Smith is as a creator. You can see his growth as a writer/director throughout all three of them. The first Clerks was him just showing a bit of his life and trying to add anything to make it interesting. The second film was right around when he was starting to admit he was done with Hollywood. He was disillusioned and just pushing to every limit that comedy would allow. It leaned hard into the ridiculous.
Clerks III was done by an older, settled, post-heart attack, Kevin Smith. He told his story in a more honest way. There was a more down-to-earth, if very meta, plot. And the ending was just that. It was the completion of a trilogy told through decades of rising through ambition, disillusionment, and – finally – comfort. The difference between 1994 Smith and 2022 Smith is insane, and beautiful.
From start to finish, behind the scenes, Clerks is a story of growth we can all identify with.
1 – The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) 

Reviewed on: April 10
Genre: Action, Crime, Comedy
Rated: R
Length: 1h 47min
Selina’s Rating: 5
Cat’s Rating: 4.5
IMDb Blurb: Moviestar Nick Cage is channeling his iconic characters as he's caught between a superfan and a CIA agent.
With how long it took to get The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent made, it’s insane that it was as good as it was.
The script appeared on the 2019 Black List, which is a list of adored scripts that have no source of production. It was delayed a few times, rumored long before it was finally picked up and, when it was, it was rumored that Nicolas Cage would NEVER play himself in a film.
When it finally came out, we were all salivating to see it.
It was the best movie we saw in 2023, I think. There’s room for argument, movies are ultimately subjective, but in my opinion I had no more filmy fun than I did while watching The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.  

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