The Eyes of MSMS

The Vision

The Eyes of MSMS

The Vision

The Eyes of MSMS

The Vision

Ross: ‘Spider-Man,’ Barbenheimer headline cool films released this scorching summer

Graphic by Atticus Ross
Promotional material for “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” “Past Lives,” “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” are shown above.

With the summer of 2023 coming to a close, film fanatics can be satisfied with the amount of critical and financial success many recent releases have garnered.

Ever since the film industry shut down in 2020, it had trouble regaining box office success. This past summer, however, felt strangely similar to a pre-COVID-19 world – a world where audiences rushed out of the hot weather and back into theaters. Historically, films have always prospered in theaters during the summertime, so it’s great multiple releases were able to this year. Here are some of the best:

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” started the summer off with a bang. This sequel to the wildly popular “Into the Spider-Verse” not only met audiences’ expectations, but also shattered them, with some saying it is one of the best comic book movies of all time. These outstanding reviews and a fanbase heavily anticipating the film led to it earning more than $100 million during its domestic opening, a weighty figure compared to the first’s mere $35 million. 

The imaginative story tells an expansive tale crossing multiple alternate universes and hundreds of spider men/women/pigs/vehicles. As ambitious as their stories are, the films are set apart by their innovative animation. A different animation style is used for each of the different universes, which shows off the direction’s meticulous attention to detail. The first Spider-Verse film broke barriers for animation because of how new and inventive its style was. It was also named Best Animated Feature at the 2019 Academy Awards, and experts predict the sequel to win this award, as well as being in contention for Best Picture and other high-end categories. “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is arguably a perfect film and undoubtedly one of the best this summer had to offer.

“Past Lives”

Most people may not have heard of this next pick, but Celine Song’s “Past Lives” is a touching story about destiny and the many “What if?” moments of the human experience. Two childhood friends are separated after one emigrates from South Korea, and many years later, they reconnect. As simple as it sounds, the film is a mature drama romance with philosophical themes under the surface. 

The film is Celine Song’s directorial debut and is based on her own experiences, giving it a personal, intimate tone. The subdued cinematography and acting are a masterful choice, as the screenplay drives the film and is where it will likely find the most success during awards season. If you weren’t already sold, the renowned independent film studio A24, which has created modern classics such as “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” “Hereditary,” “Minari” and more, produced this masterpiece. “Past Lives” is a beautiful story which encapsulates yearning and displays emotion rather than blatantly telling the viewer how to feel.


In contrast to “Past Lives,” almost everyone has heard of the next two films. After audiences noticed Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” film was set to be released on the same day as Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” biopic, a new cultural phenomenon was born: Barbenheimer. Fans virally toyed with the juxtapositional notion of a double feature between the two. First, a pink, glittery film about the classic doll, and next, a desaturated epic about the creator of the atomic bomb. Creators quickly made merchandise and social media latched onto the trend, making Barbenheimer an event needed to be seen. The Barbenheimer trend superseded silly jokes and graphic T-shirts, though – it made audiences more excited for its two incredible namesakes. 


In “Barbie,” Gerwig once again proved her ability to direct. It is fascinating to see the filmmaker evolve from her coming-of-age indie “Lady Bird” to her adaptation of the famous “Little Women” and her most recent bright pink blockbuster, “Barbie.” 

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, as Barbie and Ken, are perfect for their roles. Both characters undergo arcs which carry the film and should power these actors to leading and supporting awards nominations, respectively. Gerwig and writer Noah Baumbach show what’s behind the plastic lives of Barbies and Kens, leaving a timeless message for viewers about existentialism and gender inequality. The insane amount of marketing caused the movie’s global and domestic box office earnings to skyrocket, and the film is the highest-grossing film of 2023. Overall, the impact “Barbie” had on popular culture will cement this extravagant and ambitious film deep into Hollywood history.


Many would say Nolan is a master of his craft. “Oppenheimer” backs up this claim, as the lengthy biopic is another stunning achievement fitting in right with the rest of his iconic filmography. In “Oppenheimer,” Nolan created a near-perfect film, seamlessly blending a synergistic ensemble cast performance with tense pacing, an incredible score by Ludwig Göransson and a harrowing subject matter. Even with the three-hour runtime, Nolan doesn’t have time to fully flesh out all the characters in the huge ensemble, but he comes very close to it. This awe-inspiring film deserves all the awards and recognition it has and will receive from critics and audiences. 

As for the cast, Cillian Murphy finally landed the lead-male role he always deserved. Viewers can clearly see Murphy’s intense connection to playing the infamous J. Robert Oppenheimer on screen. For the role, he even lost weight to have a similar physicality to the historical figure. 

In the end, it was great to be back in theaters this summer and have these flicks succeed with their ambitious storytelling. Many other great films came out these past few months, but these four were some of the best and most entertaining distractions from the hot Mississippi summer.

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About the Contributor
Atticus Ross
Atticus Ross, Staff Writer
Atticus Ross is a senior from Starkville. He likes to listen to/watch entertainment. 

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  • M

    MeharAug 30, 2023 at 11:06 pm

    These movies truly captivated the minds of viewers alike. Metaphorically they show the ideals of modern society in a more exaggerated way. Life Changing Article!

  • E

    EanAug 30, 2023 at 10:44 pm

    The movies of the 2023 summer were amazing! Great article!