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Netflix original movies to pick and skip during your binging sprees in 2023

Photo Illustration by Lily Speredelozzi | Assistant Photo Editor
Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston reprise their roles as Nick and Audrey Spitz, putting their investigative skills to the test to find their friend after he is kidnapped from his own wedding.

Netflix announced the release of a whopping 49 original movies for 2023 last week, packed to the brim with star-studded casts, elaborate action and even a few rom-coms thrown into the ring.

Netflix original movies from last year, like the exploitative Marilyn Monroe biopic “Blonde” and the unmemorable action-thriller “The Gray Man” have received mixed reviews from audiences, while hits like the gripping mystery “Glass Onion” and the beautifully crafted adaptation “Pinocchio” have earned high acclaim. But with a new year comes many new options to review, so here are my predictions for the films you should add to your watch list for your next movie night and others you can scroll past.

Must-watch picks

“You People” – Premieres Jan. 27
Starring Jonah Hill in his romantic comedy debut and powerhouse comedians like Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Eddie Murphy, this movie traverses deep topics, including interracial and interfaith relationships but still packs a humorous punch for its viewers. Co-created by Kenya Barris – who is known as the brains behind the hit sitcom “Black-ish” – and Jonah Hill, the film follows the whirlwind romance between Ezra (Hill) and Amira (Lauren London) that hits a bump in the road once their meddlesome parents are introduced to one another. Hill and London’s chemistry leaps off of the screen, but will their love for one another prevail? We’ll have to wait and see.

“Murder Mystery 2” – Premieres March 31
For viewers who were captivated by “Knives Out” and “Glass Onion,” I present to you a franchise that has a comparable level of plot twists but more hijinks. Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston reprise their roles as Nick and Audrey Spitz, putting their investigative skills to the test to find their friend from the original movie, the royal Maharaja (Adeel Akhtar), after he is kidnapped from his own wedding. The first installment of the “Murder Mystery” franchise poked fun at the crime thriller genre as the Spitzs started off as amateur sleuths, incompetently running around Europe desperate to prove they have not committed a murder. If you have not watched the first movie, be sure to check it out before its sequel premieres.

“A Tourist’s Guide to Love” – Premieres April 27
After experiencing a traumatic breakup, travel executive Amanda (Rachel Leigh Cook) decides to go undercover on a group tour to understand the tourist industry in Vietnam. Romance reenters Amanda’s orbit after she is introduced to her tour guide, Sinh (Scott Ly), a Vietnamese expat. I anticipate this film will be an incredible travel rom-com because the screenwriter, Eirene Tran Donohue, based it off of her own breakup experience and subsequent travels around Vietnam. The journey permanently altered Donohue’s outlook on life, encouraging her to live more adventurously.

“They Cloned Tyrone” – Premieres July 21
Netflix has been tight-lipped about the details of this sci-fi comedy, but from the trailer, I’ve been able to glean that stars John Boyega, Jamie Foxx and Teyonah Parris team up to thwart a government conspiracy. From the short teaser, I can tell this film weaves humor into a true thriller as two-thirds of the trio break into song before infiltrating a top-secret lab. The trailer sets a creepy, captivating tone for the film, and I look forward to seeing what this movie has in store.

“Lift” – Premieres Aug. 25
After being disappointed by the gimmicky nature of Netflix’s last foray into the heist genre with “Kaleidoscope,” I’m cautiously optimistic that this movie will be worth watching. Kevin Hart stars in this ensemble cast alongside Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jacob Batalon and the rest of their expert heist team as they work together to stop a terrorist attack while aboard a plane. I suspect this film will have more layers than a cut-and-dry action movie because it was co-written by Emerald Fennell, the head writer of the Emmy-nominated second season of thriller “Killing Eve” and the creator of award-winning revenge screenplay “Promising Young Woman.”

Skip-worthy flicks

“Your Place or Mine” – Premieres Feb. 10
In this romantic comedy, long-time friends Debbie (Reese Witherspoon) and Peter (Ashton Kutcher) trade lives for a week to give Debbie a break from the pressures of being a single-mother. I love both of these performers, and I’m a big fan of the slow burn, friends-to-lovers romance like “Love, Rosie,” “The Holiday” and “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.” But the setup of this film does not allow for a true romance to come alive. Based on the trailer, the two share very little screen time together, beyond a few phone calls, making it difficult to root for Debbie and Peter as a couple. If you’re looking for a romantic comedy to add to a Valentine’s Day movie marathon, I do not think this one deserves to make the cut.

“Heart of Stone” – Premieres Aug. 11
This action film follows Rachel Stone (Gal Gadot), an intelligence operative in charge of protecting an agency asset. The trailer for this movie failed to distinguish itself from the hundreds of action films released over the past few years, flashing through a few high-speed chases and shootouts. Although I was excited to see a female-led adventure film, I suspect Stone’s character development will take a backseat to empty action set pieces, like fiery explosions and cars flipping over in slow motion.

“Pain Hustlers” – Premieres Oct. 27
As true-crime TV shows like Netflix’s own miniseries “Inventing Anna” catapulted to the top of its most-watched list and Hulu’s “The Dropout” earned six Emmy nominations, 2022 was declared the year of the scam artist. Unlike these masterpieces, this film is a fictional story of a woman who is roped into a racketeering scheme at a pharmaceutical start-up, starring Emily Blunt and Chris Evans. I think the reason people enjoy content about scammers, whether it be a documentary about the Fyre Festival or a dramatic retelling of the college admission scandal, is because real people were deceived. Without those stakes, I suspect this film will fail to gain traction because viewers will not be concerned by the futile consequences of the scam.

“Choose Love” – Coming in late 2023
As the title implies, the focus of this romantic comedy is choice as Cami Conway (Laura Marano) drowns in a sea of romantic options and needs immediate aid. Should she marry her long-term boyfriend or run away with a British rock star? Viewers can select storylines that lead to alternate endings for Cami as part of an interactive TV experience. But this format seems like it will come across as gimmicky with an overly simple setup of the plot. The love triangle is endemic to romantic comedies – like “This Means War,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary” or “The Half of It” – but without any extra point of contention to freshen the tired convention. With so many discontinuous options, it is likely any major character development will get lost along the way as viewers diverge in their numerous choices.

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About the Contributor
Jenna Baer, Contributing Culture Editor
Jenna, a senior majoring in creative writing, is the the 2023-24 contributing culture editor. She previously worked as a staff writer and cartoonist. She is a Houston, Texas girl through and through.
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