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411 Movies/TV Fact or Fiction: Was John Wick: Chapter 4 the Best Movie of 2023?

January 17, 2024 | Posted by Jake Chambers
Keanu Reeves John Wick: Chapter 4 Image Credit: Lionsgate

Welcome back to the 411mania Movies/TV Fact or Fiction. I’m your host Jake Chambers.

2023 is done and done, and so this week I wanted to look back at the year and hear debate some of the lingering big and small screen questions. Luckily, I’ve been able to gather two of the absolute legends of the 411 Movies/TV zone from the past couple decades to help me out: my Danny Peary of the B-movies, the gratuitious Bryan Krisopowitz, and someone always looking for a bloody good time, our resident master of horror, Joseph Lee.

Let’s throw these two into the pit and see who comes out alive!

Statement #1: John Wick: Chapter 4 was the best movie of 2023.

Joseph Lee: FICTION – For my money, Godzilla Minus One is the best movie of 2023. Not that John Wick 4 wasn’t good, but I watched Godzilla three times in the theater and I never do that. It certainly was refreshing to have a part four that’s just as good as the others, though. Especially in a year when big event movies and sequels did not perform well, you had movies like Wick, Scream VI and Saw X proving that if you just provide a good enough story, you’ll do good business. 

Bryan Kristopowitz: FICTION – While I loved John Wick: Chapter 4 I can’t say that it was the best movie of 2023. To me, it wasn’t even the best action movie of 2023 (The Equalizer 3, for me, was better). But I absolutely love that John Wick: Chapter 4 exists. It’s bloated and way too long and it probably should have been split into two movies, but I adore how director Chad Stahelski and company made an almost three hour non-stop action movie. Who else would even try to do that kind of thing? The various set pieces in that movie will no doubt live on YouTube until the end of time (or whenever it is that YouTube goes away). 

Statement #2: You want to see more “experimental” horror movies after the success of movies like Skinamarink and The Outwaters in 2023.

Joseph Lee: FACT – I loved Skinamarink and hated The Outwaters. Figure that out. Anyway, I’m all for people trying new things in horror. Whether you loved or hated those movies, you remember them. The experimental horror run will probably keep going, and it should. Filmmakers shouldn’t be restricted to what’s marketable or what’s popular. We have Hollywood for that. The beauty of independent horror in general is that you CAN do new and interesting things and not worry about box office. Skinamarink was divisive, but it found an audience. Not that the tried and true can’t work, but there has to be room for both. The best part is, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to watch it. It’s weird that has to be said, but it’s true. There’s a plethora of content out there and if something doesn’t appeal to you, just avoid it. Unless you’re a masochist like me that has to watch everything.

Bryan Kristopowitz: FACT – I didn’t see either Skinamarink or The Outwaters but at the same time I’m totally fine with people making experimental/”out there” horror movies. There’s nothing wrong with trying to do something “new” or something different. And since the horror genre is probably the most cost effective genre in all of cinema (you don’t really need lots of money to make a good horror movie), it’s not like you necessarily need to make lots of money with an experimental movie. It’s great if you do, but you probably won’t go fully broke trying and it fails to find an audience.  

Statement #3: Moving forward, the MCU needs to pivot away from the Kang character and the “multiverse” in general.

Joseph Lee: FICTION – It’s the trendy thing these days to rag on the MCU, and sure, it’s not as good as it had been, but that doesn’t mean they should just pivot. See my answer above about not watching something if it doesn’t appeal to you. There are still plenty of people who are into the MCU and want to see where it goes. And people who jumped off the bandwagon will likely come back at some point, if the brand gains momentum again. The multiverse is leading to Secret Wars, then they will move to something else. The MCU’s not dying, and it’s not all terrible now or whatever hyperbole you like to bring up while talking about it. I have a feeling Deadpool 3 will get people excited about it again, and we’ll see if they can maintain that momentum. 

As for Kang, it’s pretty easy to simply recast the role and continue. That’s why we have variants. 

Bryan Kristopowitz: FICTION – While I understand why some people may want the MCU to go in a different direction in light of the Jonathan Majors scandal and how the whole “multiverse” thing hasn’t really caught on like the Thanos storyline did, I think the MCU should stay the course and at least try to come to some sort of conclusion with Kang (he will have to be recast) and the multiverse before moving on to whatever the next big story is supposed to be. Maybe they end up doing fewer movies to finish off the multiverse, but they should find a way to finish it so there aren’t people out there complaining about how they never finished the whole multiverse thing. I mean, yes, people are going to complain about the MCU no matter what, but at least they won’t complain about not completing the multiverse thing.  

Statement #4: The Last of Us was the best TV show of 2023.

Joseph Lee: FACT – I don’t watch a lot of modern TV, and I made sure to watch all of this. The episode with Nick Offerman alone is probably enough to make this the best show of the year. They changed things from the game when they needed to and kept the emotional core the same. And the casting was pretty great. I can’t think of much else that I’ve seen that was better. 

Bryan Kristopowitz: FICTION – I tried watching The Last of Us but, for whatever reason, I just couldn’t get into it. In fact, no show, old or new, really hit me as “the best” in 2023. The only shows that I wanted to watch with any regularity in 2023 were The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Maybe I’ll give The Last of Us another chance in the future. We’ll see.  


Statement #5: The only thing left worth watching on network TV is live sports.

Bryan Kristopowitz: FICTION – I still try to watch a vast array of shows on network TV when they first air, like the Chicago shows and the Law and Order shows on NBC, Young Sheldon and S.W.A.T. on CBS, The Rookie on ABC, and The Simpsons and Family Guy on Fox. I can watch most of these shows whenever I want on the various streaming options I have access to, but that isn’t the same thing. I know that’s not the “modern” way to look at network TV or TV in general, but it’s what I still strive to do. And when it comes to live sports the only one I watch is auto racing (NASCAR and Indycar), and they’re generally split between network TV and cable, at least for now (the NASCAR Cup Series is going to do a stretch of its 2025 season on Amazon so I guess I’ll have to get access to that in 2025).  

Joseph Lee: FICTION –  I don’t watch sports. Or network TV. Or really any TV. You’re asking the wrong guy this one. 

Statement #6: The producers of the Scream franchise need to do whatever it takes to get Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega back.

Bryan Kristopowitz: FICTION – Normally I would say yes to this kind of thing, as Barrera and Ortega are popular fixtures of the franchise and franchise producers do stupid thing sometimes, but with the way Barrera was let go and the ensuing backlash I’m not sure there is much of an appetite for another Scream movie anytime soon. And I’m not sure Barrera would even want to come back anyway. So the Scream franchise as we understand it may be dead. If and when it does come back it may have to start with a completely clean slate from the ground up. New producers, new actors, new characters, etc.  

Joseph Lee: FICTION – It’s a lost cause at this point. The next Scream movie has been tainted and Barrera has already made it clear she won’t come back. Ortega doesn’t need Scream anymore. Spyglass should probably cut their losses and sell the rights, because anything they try is likely to be a disaster. The story resolved itself pretty well in VI, I’m not gonna be mad if we don’t get anymore. 

Statement #7: You find it annoying that streaming TV series can have any random number of episodes per season and new seasons can sometimes take years to come out without any explanation.

Bryan Kristopowitz: FACT – I want to say FACT to half of this. I don’t mind the “random number of episodes” thing because, ultimately, a streaming show that’s essentially one big story should only have the number of episodes it needs to tell its story. If there’s only enough story for six episodes your season doesn’t need to be ten. The whole “new seasons taking years to come out with no explanation” is not cool at all. Even with streaming shows the expectation is still very much like “traditional” TV: if the show is renewed the next season should come out the following year. And if there needs to be some sort of delay because of needing a certain actor or the special effects are complicated or whatever there’s nothing wrong with the streamer or the producers or whomever coming out and saying why the show is delayed. You shouldn’t annoy your audience by delaying easy to divulge information. They all have access to the internets.

Joseph Lee: FICTION – There are so many entertainment options these days that I don’t even think about it. Chucky was 4 episodes in 2023 and will be another 4 in 2024. I’m fine with that. Peacemaker hasn’t even started production on a new season. I’m fine with that too. Because I have such a backlog of shows and movies I can watch in the meantime that I’m not hurting for things to do. The real benefit of streaming has always been catalogs, not the new stuff.

Statement #8: We won’t see any theatrical events in 2024 like we did in 2023 with Barbenheimer or the Taylor Swift concert film.

Bryan Kristopowitz: FACT – I’m sure there’s a team of soulless marketing executives trying to conjure up another “event” like Barbenheimer and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an attempt to do something in the summer (maybe there will be an attempt to do something with the Garfield movie and the next Mad Max movie or Planet of the Apes movie since they all open on the same weekend), but it won’t work, not in the same way. Barbenheimer was practically organic with the way it spread on the internets, and I don’t see lightning striking twice in the same way, at least not this year. And I don’t see anything like the Taylor Swift concert movie on the upcoming release slate, so there likely won’t be anything to rival that in 2024 in the same way, either.  

Joseph Lee: FICTION – I don’t think we can really predict this. You never know what will capture the public interest. No one really thought Barbenheimer was going to be as big as it was. If anything, Barbie was the guaranteed box office winner there and Oppenheimer overperformed. Taylor Swift did her thing but Beyonce couldn’t capture that same magic. It’s a crapshoot. You can only guess what will catch on and what won’t. 

Big thanks to Joseph and Bryan for joining me this week!

Be sure to check out all of Bryan’s columns and reviews – of particular note is his ongoing Top 10 Movies of 2023 series:

And Joseph works mostly on the news side these days, but we are patiently awaiting his annual Top 10 Horror Movies of 2023 column – but until then here’s his list from last year:

See you next time!