Fetch’s Favourite Movies & TV Shows of 2023 (So Far)

Andrew Buckle,

Can you believe it? We’re halfway through 2023, and if you’re a lover of movies and TV, this year has not disappointed. Check out what the Fetch editors’ have enjoyed from January to June.

Movies

Triangle of Sadness

Andrew

Triangle of Sadness

If you’re familiar with the films of Ruben Östlund (Force Majeure and The Square) then you might be able to guess what you’re in for with Triangle of Sadness. But, even then, this film offers an experience as unique and surprising as you’ll find. Triangle of Sadness won the coveted Palme d’Or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival and also received three Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

In this satirical study of the obscenely rich and privileged – within the gargantuan microcosm of a superyacht – the stage is set for absolute chaos to ensue. The film is split into three acts, and all are fascinating, but the middle act contains one of the funniest extended sequences I have ever encountered. A maelstrom of eye-popping imagery, incredible events, and a showcase for the masterful direction and commitment to performance. The film of the year so far…and will be tough to beat.

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

John Wick: Chapter 4

John Wick is back (again) and the now-iconic action franchise has, incredibly, raised the bar again. John Wick: Chapter 4 is pure art – I’d say my second favourite in the franchise after Chapter 2 – a beautiful-looking film with epic action sequences akin to ballet a much as warfare. Keanu Reeves reprises his role as the legendary hitman and the new cast members, including Donnie Yen, Bill Sarsgard, Rina Sawayama and, of course, Scott Adkins, all make their mark. Chapter 4 boasts multiple set pieces – the museum halls of the Osaka Continental, the waterfall-adorned nightclub and the Arc De Triomphe roundabout, notably – that could rank amongst the finest ever choreographed and filmed.

Simply jaw-dropping, kinetic action filmmaking helmed by franchise visionary, Chad Stahelski.

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

Air

The latest partnership between Ben Affleck, who directs and stars, and Matt Damon is a biographical drama about the origins of the Air Jordan shoe line. Damon stars as Sonny Vaccaro, a talent scout who risks his reputation and career on campaigning for the then-undrafted rookie Michael Jordan to be the new athlete spokesperson for the Nike brand.

Air comes in a notch below close kin High Flying Bird and Moneyball, talky sport-adjacent dramas that critique unique industry-altering moments, but this is an enjoyable and unexpectedly uplifting story. Setting aside the fact that Air is a giant Nike ad, and has a rather heavy-handed soundtrack, this is a slick and well-crafted film with an excellent screenplay that fuels a surprisingly snappy pace. There are standout performances from Bateman, Damon (is this the most he has cared about a film since The Martian?), Viola Davis (who portrays Deloris Jordan) and Chris Tucker in particular.

In a bold move to sideline the athlete at the centre of this story, Air is an underdog story that doubles down on the unlikely heroes of this world, a group of marketing visionaries who backed their instincts and found themselves a part of their own NBA Finals. Except in this case they couldn’t simply run it back next year, they were risking everything they had on an unproven kid named Michael Jordan.

Stream on Prime Video.

The Banshees of Inisherin

Adam

The Banshees of Inisherin

I was pretty disappointed (but hardly surprised) that The Banshees of Inisherin went home empty handed at the Oscars. For me, it was easily the best new film I’ve seen in the past year. Martin McDonagh’s unique storytelling vision has become a trait throughout his filmography, with In Bruges and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri now confirming him as an unquestionable auteur to watch.

Colin Farrell gives a career best performance that really should have awarded him the Best Actor prize. This was not a flashy, over the top showcase, but a layered, painfully reserved and nuanced lesson in acting. The fact that he wasn’t flamboyant was probably the reason the Academy overlooked him, but for people who know better, his conveying of a hurt, puzzled, angry and sad simpleton propelled Farrell, in my eyes, into top-tier status alongside the likes of Brando. To manipulate an audience well enough to have them running the gamut of emotions of wanting to hug and console him one minute, then slap and shake him out of his stupor the next, is no easy feat.

The Banshees of Inisherin is the far and away leader of the cinematic pack this year.

Buy now in the Movie Store or Stream on Disney+.

Barbarian

You may have missed it earlier in the year when it landed on Disney+ and elsewhere with a fairly quiet whimper, but Barbarian just so happens to be the most entertaining horror movie in a long time.

Inventive and chilling in equal measure, it’s also a biting social satire on narcissism, toxic masculinity and perhaps most notably, the dangers of booking an Airbnb. Full of twists and unexpected turns, Barbarian is the sheer definition of a movie best enjoyed without knowing anything about it beforehand. If you’re anything like me, it’ll be one of the best times you’ll have in front of the screen all year.

Buy now in the Movie Store or Stream on Disney+.

Triangle of Sadness

There’s just so much going on in Ruben Östlund’s wickedly outrageous Palme d’Or winner that I don’t really know where to start. How about this? Triangle of Sadness is like nothing you’ve ever seen before, and impossible to forget.

This is sheer chaos filmmaking of the highest order, with as many jaw dropping moments and left-turn plot swings as you can fit in a movie. Nobody could predict where it was headed, and yet, what should have been a convoluted mess, is instead the most wild cinematic ride you may ever take. It’s also just plain funny, in that way where you are so unsure of how to react to what you just saw, that you just have to giggle at the insanity.

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves

Drew

Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves

Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves presents the perfect Friday night fun viewing experience, bringing together action and humour, and all set in a richly imagined fantasy world.

Honour Among Thieves brings a captivating ensemble cast, which also includes Michelle Rodriguez and Hugh Grant (who is truly the stand out), stunning visuals and breathtaking action sequences. It will appeal to not only avid fans of the beloved tabletop roleplaying game but also anyone looking for some escapist fantasy adventure.

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

The Banshees of Inisherin

The Banshees of Inisherin excels at walking the line between comedy and tragedy. Martin McDonagh’s award-winning film creates a story that will have you weeping and laughing all in one viewing.

Fans of In Bruges will already understand the history of the chemistry between Farrell and Gleeson and can expect similarly affecting performances in The Banshees of Inisherin. Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan, both Oscar-nominated for their performances, are also outstanding in their supporting roles.

Stream on Disney+

Scream VI

As a long time Scream fan I must admit this one has a little bias behind it. 

Scream VI revitalises the beloved franchise, striking a perfect balance between suspense, humour, and scares while fielding a talented ensemble cast including Jenna Ortega, Melissa Barrera and Courtney Cox.

The latest instalment breaths new life into the series with a well-constructed story that knows how to keep an audience on the edge of their seats. Scream VI sticks to its slasher roots while still managing to surprise fans with twist after twist, never letting a viewer trust any of the characters. If you’re a fan of the slasher genre and the previous films in this franchise then Scream VI is a must-watch.

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.


Collective honourable mentions: Tár (Movie Store), Linoleum (Movie Store), The Menu (Movie Store & Disney+), Aftersun (Movie Store), Infinity Pool and The Whale (Movie Store)


TV Shows

Beef

Andrew

Beef

Beef, the black comedy-drama that has become one of Netflix’s most unexpected hits this year, stars Steven Yuen and Ali Wong as two strangers whose lives become entwined following a road rage incident.

Adam discusses this further in his article about micro episodes but Beef is a show that feels much richer than its 30-min runtime. Every decision made in this series feels both unexpected and the logical choice. The brewing intensity gave me a feeling of anxiety not unlike that of the Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems, which is a rare experience. This is particularly prominent in Steven Yuen’s arc, who is continually on the brink of ruin and desperately trying to scheme his way out of a bind.

The altercation between Danny and Amy serves as a ripple effect, another layer of stress and obsession that doesn’t upend a pair of content and satisfied existences but further fuels what feels like an inevitable downward spiral. This is, at times, an uncomfortably obscure show that works largely because the emotional states of these characters feel grounded and realistic in this day and age, and it serves up a guilty level of amusement as we watch Danny and Amy’s lives rocked by the often-self-inflicted chaos.

Stream on Netflix.

The Last of Us

Form creator Craig Mazin (Chernobyl), the adaptation of the landmark Naughty Dog produced video game, The Last of Us, is an impressively conceived post-apocalyptic drama-thriller.

As atmospheric and gripping as this series is, and as accurately as the world has been adapted, I’d just as soon pick up and play through the game again (it takes bout 15 hours to complete) as revisit this. The game, and the sequel, is that amazing. It might be fruitless to compare the two, but one’s experience with the show will vary depending on a viewer’s familiarity with the game. The good news is that the show does stand on its own.

What I especially loved about it was that it ran with environmental details from the game – for example photos and letters discovered by Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and Joel (Pedro Pascal) as they explore abandoned houses – to create those unseen stories of other survivors that sit outside of the main one. The standout third episode, starring Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett, is one example of pushing this potential to the full.

Purchase episodes or the season in the TV Store.

Jury Duty

Jury Duty is the latest addition to the relatively new genre of Reality Television Hoax, and comes from co-creators Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg (who have collaborated on the film Good Boys, while Stupnitsky also recently directed No Hard Feelings). If you’re a fan of mockumentary-style shows such as American Vandal or Players, or the film Bad Trip, you’re almost certainly going to enjoy Jury Duty. The series exaggerates the details of the inner workings of an American jury trial, from the perspective of juror Ronald Gladden. The catch, he doesn’t realize that this is a fake trial and that everyone, except him, is an actor.

Without delving into spoilers, the hilarious casting of James Marsden (as himself) was the masterstroke here. He was typically at the center of the most outrageous sequences and funniest lines; as meme-able a performance as I can recall seeing in some time. All of the actors should be commended for their commitment to their roles and comic delivery, remaining in character no matter what curveball was thrown their way.

The ‘casting’ of Ronald was also a slam dunk. While the series could have dipped into exploitative territory, especially if the casting wasn’t right, Ronald’s outgoing nature and easygoing demeanour made him easy to root for. He had a righteous approach to always progressing the relationships with the other jurors and, as elected jury foreman, simply getting the job done.

Stream on Prime Video.

New and returning shows that I am sad to have missed in the first half of the year, and will have to catch up with at a later time, include: Blue Lights, Silo, Shrinking, The Diplomat, Perry Mason S2, I Think you Should Leave S3, Atlanta S4 and Barry S4.

Succession

Adam

Succession Season 4

Not much more can be said about the final season of Succession that you haven’t already heard elsewhere. Suffice to say, I can hand-on-heart express that for me, Season 4 was the most enjoyable yet. The cast were brilliant as always, with Kieran Culkin taking out a very unexpected top prize for me in the ensemble. His snide schtick was well established by now, but this season really gave him room to spread his wings. Something I don’t think any of us saw coming.

A shout out must also go to the casting of Alexander Skarsgard in a role that at first felt somewhat cliched and forgettable – the uber-rich playboy whose morals were slipping with ever dollar he made – but by series end, he was riveting to watch. Sad, funny, pathetic and as horrible as everyone else in this delicious lineup.

I’ve still yet to fill the hole left from Succession ending, and I doubt another show will come close for some time.

Purchase episodes or the season in the TV Store.

The Last of Us

Immersive. That’s what I felt throughout every episode of this blockbuster HBO series. Perhaps as immersive as I imagine the game, of which it is based, may have been (I’ve never played, though would now love to)

Pedro Pascal was already a fave in my household with his ‘behind the mask’ swagger in The Mandalorian, but The Last of Us gave us the another side to this actor who is clearly making the hero character his own.

You simply can’t bring up this series without mentioning that incredible 3rd episode. Was it the best episode of television ever? Some people think so, and I’m not going to argue against it. It was a symphony of intensely brilliant acting, water-tight scripting, and top-notch directing. Just amazing.

Purchase episodes or the season in the TV Store.

Beef

I’d admittedly put Beef a distant third behind the above two selections this year, but that doesn’t diminish how fun and well executed this series was, with its two stars (Ali Wong and Steven Yuen) especially being reason enough to watch.

I had some issues elsewhere, I think it fell apart a little in the later eps, and I’m just not convinced by David Choe’s acting…but really, nobody’s losing sleep over my humble opinion here. All in all, Beef delivered enough originality and sharpness to keep me coming back for more, which was problematic if I’m honest, as I stayed up way too late binge watching the entire season in a day or two. Worth it.

Stream on Netflix.

The Last of Us

Drew

The Last of Us

The Last of Us took the world by storm, and swiftly became one of the most talked about shows so far this year. As a fan of the incredible video game, I tuned into this series somewhat skeptically. But, I was absolutely hooked from the first episode.

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, who star as Joel and Ellie respectively, somehow manage to both do their characters of the game justice, while also making the roles their own. There are also deep emotional sub stories that shift the the original story of the game in new directions, and any fan of the show will know that I am referring to that wonderful third episode. Due to all of this, I’m sure The Last of Us will sit amongst many others’ top choices of the year as well.

Purchase episodes or the season in the TV Store.

Shrinking

Shrinking follows a grieving therapist, played by Jason Segel, as he tries to cope with the recent loss of his wife. The show does a great job of exploring the difficulties and emotions faced throughout the grieving process, but under a humorous lens. Accompanying Segel in the cast is the legendary Harrison Ford, who truly steals the show.

Created by the same people as Ted Lasso this series shares many of the traits that made that show so popular, such as the humour and strong character development. Where Ted Lasso is all about finding the positivity in any situation, Shrinking doesn’t shy away from the struggle that grief presents and is more than happy to show that sometimes just surviving is enough.

Stream on Apple TV+.

Succession Season 4

It is not surprising that one of the most talked-about shows, season after season, would sit in my top choices this year so far. Succession brings a well-crafted script, unique style and strong character development, making it a consistent stand out. With this year marking the final season, it has truly delivered again on each of these points.

It is in Succession’s characters that this show works its magic. It makes you like them, feel bad for them, and despise them all in one episode. It pulls off this tenuous balance with every character week after week. With higher stakes in the final season Succession really stood out, working towards an emotionally satisfying conclusion to a consistently good show. 

Purchase episodes or the season in the TV Store.


Collective honourable mentions: Love & Death (TV Store), Interview With the Vampire (TV Store & ABC iView), Silo (Apple TV+), The Consultant (Prime Video), Cunk on Earth (Netflix) and Based on a True Story (Binge).


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