Skip to main content
screen time
Open this photo in gallery:

Spider-Man, voiced by Shameik Moore, in a scene from Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation's Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.Sony Pictures Animation/The Associated Press

The summer movie season has so far proven to be a decidedly mixed bag. The highs have been weighed down by the crash of The Flash. And then there’s the rather dead-looking month of August coming up. Which means that now is the perfect opportunity to catch up on all the excellent 2023 films that you might’ve missed.

1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

It is ridiculous how imaginative, gorgeous and thrilling this animated Spidey sequel is compared with any other so-called “children’s” film to come out over the past year. Easily the best Spider-Man movie ever made – making it one of the best superhero movies ever made, too – Christopher Lord and Phil Miller’s epic-sized beast of a thing fulfills the implicit promise of every Marvel adventure times 10. This is gigantic and boundary-pushing cinema, with awards-worthy vocal performances from Oscar Isaac, Brian Tyree Henry and Hailee Steinfeld. I simply cannot wait to watch it again and again – which, thanks to my three kids, I will no doubt have the opportunity to do. (In theatres)

2. BlackBerry

Open this photo in gallery:Rich Sommer as “Paul” and SungWon Cho
as “Ritchie” in Matt Johnson’s
BlackBerry. Courtesy of IFC Films / Elevation Pictures

Rich Sommer as Paul and SungWon Cho as Ritchie in Matt Johnson’s BlackBerry.CHRISTOPHER KATSAROV LUNA/Courtesy of IFC Films / Elevation Pictures

I’ll stop talking about Matt Johnson’s movie only when everyone else has seen it. So, once again for those in the back: BlackBerry, an intensely entertaining epic-in-miniature that confirms Johnson as Canada’s most talented mischief-maker. Shot as if captured by hidden cameras, this tale of the country’s most infamous case of corporate greed has an air of DIY guerrilla, you-are-here naturalism. You’re pulled in, tossed around, given a shake – just as Research In Motion co-chiefs Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel) and Jim Balsillie (Glenn Howerton) reconfigured their own world to upend the way we all communicate. Johnson’s film radiates live-wire energy. Waterloo vampires forever, baby. (On-demand, including Apple TV, Google Play, Cineplex Store)

3. How to Blow Up a Pipeline

Open this photo in gallery:

Ariela Barer in a scene from How to Blow Up a Pipeline.The Associated Press

Director Daniel Goldhaber’s eco-thriller will make an awful lot of people awfully angry, and mostly for the right reasons. This is the kind of nervy, button-pushing cinema that is as much a fast and tight genre exercise as it is a gleeful provocation. Very loosely adapting Swedish academic Andreas Malm’s 2021 non-fiction book of the same name, How to Blow Up a Pipeline follows a group of wannabe saboteurs, each of whom have their own reasons for resorting to such a last-resort measure. The result is as much a heist movie as it is a manifesto. (On-demand, including Apple TV, Google Play, Cineplex Store)

4. Return to Seoul

Open this photo in gallery:RETURN TO SEOUL (2021). After an impulsive travel decision to visit friends, Freddie, 25, returns to South Korea for the first time, where she was born before being adopted and raised in France. Freddie suddenly finds herself embarking on (an unexpected) journey in a country she knows so little about, taking her life in new and unexpected directions. Jimin Park as Freddie in RETURN TO SEOUL. Photo credit: Thomas Favel. © Aurora Films. Courtesy of Pictures Classics.

After an impulsive travel decision to visit friends, Freddie, 25, returns to South Korea in Return To Seoul.Thomas Favel/Aurora Films. Courtesy of Pictures Classics / Mongrel Media

Davy Chou’s third feature film follows Freddie (Ji-Min Park), a twentysomething woman of remarkable confidence, and arrogance, who travels to South Korea in search of her birth parents. Impatient and reckless, Freddie is a disrupting force to anyone she encounters. She ignores social cues, questions authority at every turn and seems to live her life as if it should have ended long ago. By centring his film around such an unpredictable and at times intensely unlikeable character, Chou bucks any expectations that arrive with films about people rediscovering their roots. Return to Seoul is not a dour, sombre thing – it is intense, electric and confrontational. It also makes a great double feature with this week’s new theatrical comedy Joy Ride, another film about a woman’s search for her birth mother that goes in a very different direction. (On-demand, including Apple TV, Google Play, Cineplex Store)

5. Asteroid City

Open this photo in gallery:

Scarlett Johansson in Asteroid City.

Ostensibly a story about a group of families (including Jason Schwartzman and Scarlett Johansson) who gather for a Junior Stargazer convention in the 1950s municipality of the title, Asteroid City opens with a hall-of-mirrors framing device: The comedy we’re about to watch is actually a televised production of a play written by the famed Conrad Earp (Edward Norton), whose life and development process becomes another layer of the narrative. This means that characters are doubled, sometimes tripled, and occasionally cross divisions of mediums and realities. Think of it as the Wes Anderson equivalent of the Marvel multiverse, except entertaining and inventive. (In theatres)

6. I Like Movies

Open this photo in gallery:Isaiah Lehtinen (Lawrence) in I LIKE MOVIES. Socially inept 17-year-old cinephile, Lawrence Kweller (Isaiah Lehtinen) gets a job at a video store, where he forms a complicated friendship with his older female manager. Photo courtesy of VHS Forever Inc.

Isaiah Lehtinen as Lawrence in I Like Movies.Courtesy of VHS Forever Inc. / Mongrel

Canadian director Chandler Levack’s feature debut is as tender as it is bruising. Following narcissistic teenage video clerk Lawrence (Isaiah Lehtinen), who wants more than anything to get out of his self-imposed suburban malaise, the film works hard for your laughs and love, all while making it look deceptively easy. With star-making performances from Lehtinen (channelling the child that Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman never had), Romina D’Ugo (as Lawrence’s jaded boss) and Krista Bridges (as Lawrence’s exhausted single mother), I Like Movies is hilarious, heartbreaking and genuine. (On-demand, including Apple TV, Google Play, Cineplex Store)

7. Past Lives

Open this photo in gallery:

Greta Lee, left, and Teo Yoo in a scene from Past Lives.Jon Pack/Twenty Years Rights/A24 Films/The Associated Press

Loosely based on her own experiences, Korean-Canadian filmmaker Celine Song’s film begins in Seoul, where a 12-year-old girl named Nora (Seung Ah Moon) is preparing to move with her family to Canada. But she is not only leaving her home but her best friend, Hae Sung (Seung Min Yim). Jumping decades, the film finds find Nora struggling as a playwright in New York (and now played by Greta Lee). Hae Sung (Teo Yoo), meanwhile, is thinking of the one who got away. Thanks to the internet, they reconnect online. Except now, Nora is married. The quiet beauty of Song’s film is that she doesn’t pretend to have any answers to the messiness of life and love. Our paths are chaotic, and destiny is ultimately unknowable. (In theatres)

8. Beau Is Afraid

Open this photo in gallery:

Director Ari Aster’s horror-comedy Beau Is Afraid.Photo Credit: Takashi Seida/Handout

Beau Is Afraid is not a movie for everyone – actually, it is a movie for very, very, very few. But if you just happen to be part of that teeny-tiny target audience, then take a bold leap and explore director Ari Aster’s horror-comedy. If you so dare, plunge yourself into this waking nightmare about an emotionally stunted man (played by Joaquin Phoenix) who makes an epic trek across a surreal U.S. to attend the funeral of his domineering mother (Patti LuPone). Imagine the decades-spanning ambition of Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York, with the sour grit of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. (On-demand, including Apple TV, Google Play, Cineplex Store)

9. Rye Lane

Open this photo in gallery:RYE LANE (2023). David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah in RYE LANE. Yas (Vivian Oparah) and Dom (David Jonsson), two twenty-somethings both reeling from bad break-ups, connect over the course of an eventful day in South London - helping each other deal with their nightmare exes, and potentially restoring their faith in romance. Photo by Chris Harris. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah in Rye Lane.Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures / 20th Century Studios

The feature debut of Raine Allen-Miller, the highly stylized, zippy and bright Sundance hit follows one momentous day in the lives of a sad-sack mamma’s boy named Dom (David Jonsson) and the free-spirited Yas (Vivian Oparah) as they seek to mend their broken hearts. The easy comparison would be Before Sunset meets Lovers Rock, but Rye Lane is a cut above a mere cinematic mixtape. With charming performances, sparkling dialogue and the vibrant vision of a filmmaker with epic ambitions, Rye Lane is a sun-splashed delight. And take note, aspiring rom-com directors: You can do the entirety of a boy-meets/loses/wins back-girl arc in less than 83 minutes. (Streaming on Disney+ with Star)

10. Palm Trees and Power Lines

Open this photo in gallery:

Jamie Dack’s Palm Trees and Power Lines refuses to offer tidy answers.Courtesy of Sundance Institute

A confident and nervy story about a lonely teenage girl (Lily McInerny) who encounters a smooth-talking predator (Jonathan Tucker) twice her age, Jamie Dack’s film refuses to offer tidy answers, pushing what might be a moralistic story into uncomfortable places that feel genuine and boundary-challenging. All this, plus a standout supporting performance from Gretchen Mol as a mother who should, but refuses to, know better. (On-demand, including Apple TV, Google Play, Cineplex Store)

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

Check Following for new articles

Interact with The Globe