July 2023 Movie Break Down: ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’

With the 2023 summer movie season kicking into high gear, the month of July is poised to pick up the slack from a rather lackluster June at the box office. After underperforming blockbusters like The Flash and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny last month, July kicked off with the long-awaited release of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part 1. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie in his third outing in the franchise, Dead Reckoning boasts what may be the most ambitious stunt in movie history. If you want to see Tom Cruise ride a motorcycle off a cliff, dismount, and parachute into a valley, then this is the movie for you. After opening up to $80 million at the domestic box office in its 5-day opening weekend, the seventh installment in the Mission: Impossible series currently holds a 96 percent critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 340 verified reviews. 

On July 21, the double bill of the year arrives in theaters as Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer releases the on the same day as Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. The tonal contrasts between this pair of films has sparked the internet phenomenon known as “Barbenheimer,” as cinephiles and pop culture enthusiasts continue to debate the best fashion in which to watch these movies opening weekend. 

Most experts agree that the 3-hour long epic Oppenheimer is best suited for an early afternoon matinee screening – preferably in IMAX, so as to fully appreciate Hoyte van Hoytema’s revolutionary cinematography. Starring an ensemble cast including Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., and Florence Pugh, Oppenheimer is Christopher Nolan’s first film with Universal Pictures after parting ways with Warner Brothers in 2020.  After Oppenheimer and a relaxing supper, you will be ready to take in the zany existentialism of Barbie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. Early reactions praise their performances and the intricately designed technical craftsmanship of the film. Barbie is Greta Gerwig’s third outing as a director, following Lady Bird (2017) and Little Women (2019), both of which were nominated for Best Picture at their respective Academy Awards.

Featured Image Credit: Warner Brothers and Universal