And The Beacon’s praise goes to…

Beacon staff nominate the films which they consider to be the best picture of the year.

By The Beacon | February 28, 2024 6:30pm
by Gavin Britton / The Beacon

The intimidation felt upon viewing the list of nominees for the Academy Awards is a universal feeling among cinephiles. Although it may appear insurmountable, The Beacon staff have rolled out the red carpet for a more manageable number of films to watch before the film industry’s biggest night. 

“Poor Things”

Nominated by Noah Carandanis, Living Section Editor

Yorgos Lanthimos’ newest film is shockingly explicit, stylistically bold and surprisingly heartwarming. It follows the frankensteined Bella Baxter (Emma Stone) on her journey of philosophical, intellectual and emotional growth as she travels the world and delves into new and exciting relationships. Scenes of incredible empathy and almost spiritual wisdom can suddenly hard cut to images that makes one wish to immediately pay a visit to the nearest confessional. With a tightly written, highly stylized script, the audience in the theater was laughing throughout the entirety of its runtime. I cannot talk about this film without mentioning the performances displayed by Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe. All three of these actors played their characters with precision and vigor. Stone in particular integrated herself completely into the idiosyncratic world which Lanthimos created — a far cry from the Los Angeles setting in “La La Land” that garnered her an Oscar for Best Actress. A final note is my recommendation to pay special attention to the soundtrack composed by Jerskin Fendrix as it animates the film’s idiosyncratic style and performances. I thoroughly enjoyed this film not only as a Greek, not only as a philosophy major, but entirely as a human being that is continually growing in a frankensteined world.

“May December”

Nominated by Camille Kuroiwa-Lewis, News Reporter

Regardless if you watch this movie in theaters or on your phone, “May December” is one of the most immersive films of the year. Literally everything about the movie sucks you in; the music, close-up shots and storyline are all perfect. What makes this movie most impressive is in how it refuses to give its audience an easy answer to its uncomfortable conflict regarding statutory “relationships.” Charles Melton also does clear for performance of the year, proving that small screen actors can break out of the CW and into Oscar-snub-worthy territory. 

“Asteroid City” 

Nominated by Kate Cuadrado, Editor-in-Chief

For starters, I didn’t want to like this movie. Despite being a huge Wes Anderson fan, when I saw the preview for this movie I thought it looked corny, over the top and almost a parody of Anderson’s more rambunctious style. 

Boy, was I wrong. 

This movie is excellent. It’s perfectly self-aware of its style as a classic Anderson film but at the same time introduces fresh and exciting storytelling while still feeling like an appropriate amount of “Wes Anderson-ness.” The story-within-a-story trope that Anderson almost always utilizes works perfectly with the movie’s over-stylized nature in an unexpected yet creative way. Astroid City is heartfelt, funny and a must-watch for Anderson lovers and newbies alike. 

“The Boys in The Boat”

Nominated by Natalie Gordon, Photographer 

Based on the book of the same name, “The Boys in The Boat” follows the University of Washington men’s rowing team that qualified and won gold at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Based on the true story, the movie focuses on Joe Rantz and the rest of the team as they shock the world by even competing to qualify, let alone to actually win gold. The movie makes clear the global economic and political tension of the time, as Joe Rantz is greatly affected by the Great Depression as well as showing the team's reactions to competing in Nazi Germany. Not only is this movie beautifully written, but each frame is a visual work of art. 

As someone who grew up as a UW fan, this movie highlights everything amazing about sports, teammates and hard work. It’s not something the average viewer might notice, but residents of the Seattle area will appreciate the not-so-subtle nods to where each of the rowers was from, and even hearing the callout of a donation from someone in Tacoma was a great addition to the movie. Of course, I was personally touched by the mention of good old Grit City. These mentions highlight the respect the producers have for the story itself and the real lives they’re capturing. 

“Anyone But You”

Nominated by Emma Swett, Sports Reporter

I simply have no shame in reporting on what this movie contributed to cinematography in 2023. Say what you want, but when you look up rom-com in a dictionary, the definition is this movie. A perfectly executed coalescence of comedy and romance, I was literally giggling, kicking my feet in the movie theater. Until another movie shows a greater on-screen chemistry than Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell or features a classic like “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield, then you’re not going to change my mind that “Anyone But You” was the best of 2023. 


Nominated by Julianna Pedone, Sports Section Editor

Came for Jacob Elordi, stayed for the plot twist. Set in 2006, two college students at the University of Oxford form an unlikely relationship as they navigate their vastly different, and intriguing, personal lives. As it always goes — one summer changes everything — and the lives of these once-distinguishable characters become imperceptibly intertwined forever. The critics are right — this movie does have some curiously executed scenes, but that is what makes it like nothing you have never seen before.


Nominated by Netty Jurriaans, Community Engagement Editor

I know what everyone is thinking: “Wonka”?? In my opinion this movie truly exceeded expectations, and here's why. 2023 was full of incredibly moving films — “Barbie,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Priscilla,” etc. While those films had an incredible impact on the world and had so much meaning, I think “Wonka” was almost meaningless, in a good way. Willy Wonka is a familiar name, and we all have some childhood connection with it. Sitting down in a theater and watching the magic of chocolate unfold almost takes you back to that youthful innocence. “Wonka” is a movie that fills you with nothing but joy — and while movies with deep political commentary and societal criticism are so necessary and impactful to humanity, we still need some balance, and “Wonka” provides just that. 

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

Nominated by Gavin Britton, Multimedia Editor

Even though this is an animated movie, it is definitely one of the best movies that I have ever seen. First of all, the visuals were amazing and so well done. I loved how each different Spider-Man character had their own style, and in some cases they were animated at different frame rates to signify which dimension they came from. Overall, the plot was also very enticing, and the film ends in a captivating cliffhanger, making me eager to watch the next film. If you haven’t seen this film because it is animated, keep in mind that even my 50+ year old parents had an open mind to watch the film. Plus, they even ended up enjoying it. 

“Society of the Snow”

Nominated by Tiffany Marquez-Escobar, News Reporter

Award-worthy movies aren’t always in the English language, and this is proof of that. 

Based on the true story of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, this film conveys a survival story without resorting to the exploitation of the real victims’ stories. Instead, it chooses to encapsulate the positive aspects of humanity when it comes to the shared struggle towards survival: friendship, unity and hope. 

Be sure to have a box of tissues on hand. You will definitely need it. 

“The Boy and The Heron”

Nominated by Allexis Buckner, Photographer 

Produced by Studio Ghibli and directed by Hayao Miyazaki,  this animated picture gave him his first Golden Globe nomination. Set in Japan during World War II, “The Boy and the Heron” centers around the story of 12-year old Mahito. Following the loss of his mother in a hospital fire, Mahito is sent to live with Natsuko, his new stepmother, in a rural mansion. In this unfamiliar setting, a mysterious gray heron guides him to a portal that transports him into a magical dimension. It had great success in the box office within the week of release, making $13 million in America and Canada.  

I personally loved all of the little easter eggs of the plot. I went and saw this with my siblings and parents the last day I was in town during winter break. Although my youngest sibling is four and she didn’t understand what was happening, the rest of us were either in tears or on edge. Overall, I 100% recommend you watch it. 

“Godzilla Minus One” 

Nominated by Jayme Mintz, Photographer 

This was a huge year for Godzilla fans (pun intended). On Dec. 1, Toho released their 30th Godzilla movie to American theaters. Originally, the movie was supposed to have a theatrical run of one week. “Godzilla Minus One” is so good that the run was extended into January. With a budget of $15 million, and the director taking on the roles of the effects coordinator and scriptwriter, this movie is the cinematic underdog story of the year. The movie follows an ex-kamikaze pilot, Shikishima Koichi, trying to navigate life in post-World War IIJapan. To complicate things, Godzilla shows up, rattling a nation just as it’s healing the scars of war. A motley crew bands together to stop Godzilla, and Shikishima must find the value in living. 

This movie is both a beautiful homage to the giant monster’s legacy and a fantastic, human story for first-timers to monster movies. It is a triumph for international movies and a crown jewel in the 70-year film franchise. 


Nominated by Michael Lang, Opinions Editor

This movie seems to tell two stories within one: the historical background that went into the development of U.S. nuclear warfare in World War II and the psychological and emotional side of J. Robert Oppenheimer throughout the tremendous pressure put on him to develop a weapon that would ultimately kill tens of thousands of people. While the movie is long, this dual-story aspect makes the film more digestible as it goes beyond just a historical movie. Overall, the work of director Christopher Nolan makes this movie intriguing and leaves the viewer in the shoes of Oppenheimer with his wavering stance on whether he should develop the bomb under political and social pressure.

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

Nominated by Ryan Reynolds, Photographer

I have never been a huge fan of animated movies outside of the Disney and Pixar classics, but this one completely blew me away. Instead of the attempted hyper-realism that most animated films in this category try to emulate today, this movie fully embraced the artistic potential of the genre to create a piece of cinematic art. 11/10 — I can’t wait for the next one. 

“Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes” 

Nominated by Janea Melido, News and Managing Editor

The prequel to our beloved “The Hunger Games” series that most notably changed the course of the dystopian genre. Following the growth of Coriolanus Snow prior to his presidency, “The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes” shows the evolution of the Hunger Games while tackling the issues of class division, exploitation within entertainment and power dynamics. 

“The Iron Claw” 

Nominated by Molly Bancroft, News and Sports Reporter

“The Iron Claw” tells the saddening, true story about the Von Erich family, who rose to fame in the late 70s and early 80s as a wrestling powerhouse. The movie isn’t just a sports retelling, but a heartbreaking story about the importance of family and complicated dynamics. This movie really stays with you after the credits, and I would warn any viewers to be prepared to cry. The physical transformation of each of the cast members and the performance by Zac Efron is truly what makes this movie memorable and my pick for the Oscar snub of the year. 

“American Fiction” 

Nominated by Antonio Acosta, News and Sports Reporter

Debut film from director Cord Jefferson starring Jeffrey Wright, “American Fiction” tells the story of disillusioned writer and professor Thelonious “Monk” Ellison.  “American Fiction” provides a scathing view on the way that Black media is consumed and pursued by the white public and critics. It questions the way that minority authors and other creatives are given the space to work in, asking us to think about not only the race of the author but what they are actually writing about. “American Fiction” challenges stereotypes found throughout pop culture while not falling into them itself, giving us the earnest story of a Black family struggling with their relationships. Altogether, “American Fiction” is a well-made package to show not only the faults of modern mass media but of our own families as well. 


Nominated by Riley Martinez, Copy Editor 

Can you hear the music? “Oppenheimer” has all the right ingredients: a nonlinear narrative, evocative cinematography, first-rate acting and a soundtrack that deserves its own recognition. Really, the music alone is worth the ticket price (and if you’ve pirated the movie, well, that’s just highway robbery). Besides, “Oppenheimer” tells a story both poignant and illuminating. It shows us where we used to be as a country — culturally and scientifically — and maybe even helps us understand where we are now. And while it can be a little hard to digest, Christopher Nolan gives you plenty of time — about three hours — to immerse yourself in an era brimming with provocation, anxiety and discovery. 

This list was compiled by The Beacon staff. We can be reached at