For as incredible of a year as it was to be a gamer, this year felt oddly quiet on the movie front. A big part of that was no doubt due to studios finally recovering from COVID. The bigger story though was the Writers and Actors Strikes. Beyond any other story, or any single film, the rights of actors and writers were the story. The fight between the use of real people to make real stories versus the soulless facsimiles of AI was at the forefront of the fight. A fight that has been seemingly won by…well people. People who want and who love to tell stories. To tell stories about heroes and icons. Stories that help us connect with others and escape from our troubles. This was a year filled with nostalgia. Also, a year where Marvel’s seemingly invincible ten-year hold on blockbusters seemingly died away. With that said, here are the winners of Lords of Gamings 2023 Golden Lance Award for Movie of the Year.
Winner: The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Mr. Mario Mario is no stranger to being on the silver screen, having an early 90’s film that was an experience to put it lightly. But this go around, he’s sporting a more traditional look and has an all-star crew backing him up. The Super Mario Brothers Movie takes the core premise of the video game franchise and beautifully adapted it to theaters in 2023.
The narrative is a simple one, Mario must save his brother Luigi from Bowser with the help of a more active Princess Peach and a friendly Toad, but as the saying goes, it’s the journey, not the destination. And the journey is one filled to the brim with references, nods and homages to Mario and other Nintendo franchises wonderfully animated in insane levels of detail.
And more impressively, the film gives character to, well, characters that you don’t normally see in the games proper. Mario’s determination to save the day, Peach having a kingdom on her shoulders, Luigi being his usual fearful self and even Jack Black’s Bowser stealing the show whenever he’s on screen; the core cast does a fantastic job bringing these legendary characters to life.
Mario is Mr. Video Game. And this movie not only respects that. It celebrates that iconic moniker.
Runner Up: Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
For 5 years, I have been a Dungeon Master for two different DnD 5e campaigns. With Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, the filmmakers, the cast, the writers all understood what makes a great DnD experience. Doubtless, there were temptations to make an epic self-serious fantasy film. Doubly so in the age of House of the Dragon, Rings of Power and The Witcher. They resisted that temptation to make one of the most genuine and heartfelt films of the year. There is nothing particularly novel or world-shattering about the film. However, it has been a long time since I watched a movie that was more earnestly fun and uncynical as this. While Oppenheimer may be a tour de force of cinema, Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is the reason I love going to the movies. I can not wait to return to this world either with a new group of adventurers or the start of a new campaign with these.
Runner Up: Barbie
I think what makes Barbie the top movie of the year is the message of what adulthood truly is. What’s expected of us is to “put aside childish things” and live our lives to this unrealistic standard of seriousness. But what adulthood truly is, is the ability to find what adulthood and fulfillment mean to us. It’s to make room for the things that have always made us happy and incorporate them into days where responsibility and obligation are also important. I think that’s what resonated with audiences. Also the color pink is fun and I like seeing so many people embrace it. Continue to think pink.
It is time to party. Barbie turned out to be a surprise hit and the biggest movie of 2023. This movie transcended all ages and genders with a fun, thought-provoking journey with the queen of plastic herself. Subsequently, the film showcased the modern-day plight of women and empowered everyone to be better in our fight for equality and inclusivity. I hope all of my fellow Barbies keep the message of Barbie close whenever necessary. I know I will.