My Ten Favorite Films of 2023 | Awards Insights
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My Ten Favorite Films of 2023

My Ten Favorite Films of 2023

As we bid farewell to another year, it’s time to reflect on the cinematic gems that have graced the silver screen in 2023. This year, the world of film experienced what has probably been its best year since the COVID-19 pandemic, with directors pushing boundaries and crafting narratives that left an indelible mark on the collective consciousness. In this article, I list my top 10 favorite films of the year, each a testament to the creativity and innovation that defined 2023. 

Before delving into the main list, let’s acknowledge my five honorable mentions: The Holdovers, Bottoms, Nimona, Pacifiction, and BlackBerry. These films, while not making it to the top 10, epitomize the wealth and variety of great content this year gave us. In any other year, they might have easily secured a spot on my top 10 list. This year has undeniably been a cinematic feast, and the following films encapsulate the essence of why 2023 stands as a hallmark year for film enthusiasts

Disclaimer: I have yet to see Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest, Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers, Wim Wenders’ Perfect Days, Hirokazu Koreeda’s Monster, or Cord Jefferson’s American Fiction, all of which are some of this year’s most acclaimed films



‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ (Paramount)

With neon-drenched interiors, hyper-stylized gun fu action, and an ever-watchable Keanu Reeves, this final installment of the John Wick franchise has everything fans loved about the first three. So why does this one top them all? Well it turns everything up to 11, the neon is more neon, the stakes are higher than ever, and the set pieces are some of the most visually striking in recent action cinema. With references to everything from Lawrence of Arabia to Guardians of the Galaxy, director Chad Stahelski throws everything at the wall and so much of it sticks, making for the best film of this past decade’s “Keanussaince”. The ensemble cast featuring Bill Skarsgard, Donnie Yen, pop star Rina Sawayama, and the fan favorite Lance Reddick in one of his final performances all turn in great work that help give the film dramatic and emotional heft.

Where to Watch: Starz



‘The Boy and the Heron’ (Studio Ghibli)

Possibly the greatest director the world of animation has ever seen, Hayao Miyazaki is an indisputable giant of cinema. And with The Boy and the Heron, Miyazaki has finally made his swan song. The film is a fitting end to his illustrious career, functioning as a metaphor for him grappling with finally leaving the wondrous fantastical worlds of Studio Ghibli behind once and for all. Miyazaki works at a slower pace than usual here, taking care to immerse us in the small oddities of the world he creates. It’s also one of the anime legend’s more ambiguous films, leaving many things unsaid and up to interpretation. Like always with Miyazaki, the film is a visual treat and a wonder to see on the big screen.

Where to Watch: In Theaters



‘Oppenheimer’ (Universal)

When people look back to the state of film in 2023, they’ll inevitably acknowledge the phenomenon that Barbenheimer was. One of the greatest opening weekends in film history and a bonafide pop culture event, Barbenheimer has truly brought theaters back after the COVID-19 pandemic. Oppenheimer’s box office success is, on the surface, mind-boggling. A 3-hour long rated-R biopic about a nuclear physicist, half of which is in black and white, made just under a billion dollars at the worldwide box office? And, somehow, Oppenheimer lives up to the hype. Over 180 minutes, Christopher Nolan’s relentless pace never lets up, forcing its audience into the world of political machinations, path-breaking science, and tremendous guilt that J. Robert Oppenheimer was embroiled in. 

My Review

Where to Watch: Rent or Buy



‘May December’ (Netflix)

With Far From Heaven and his work at large, Todd Haynes has made no secret of his fascination with the melodramas of Douglas Sirk. And with May December, Haynes brings a Sirkian examination of societal stigmas, family dynamics, and traditional filmmaking tropes to the modern world. When it comes to his recent narrative work, May December is a welcome return to form for Haynes. It’s a film that works as a study of performance itself, bolstered by reliable work from legends Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, and by a revelatory Charles Melton, who deservedly has won critics’ awards left and right for his role in the film. Along with filmmakers like Pedro Almodovar and Kenneth Lonergan, Todd Haynes is undoubtedly one of the best artists bringing melodrama into the 21st century.

Where to Watch: Netflix



‘Godzilla Minus One’ (Toho)

Who would have thought that this year’s Godzilla movie would be the most compellingly life-affirming movie of the year? From director and visual effects artist Takashi Yamazaki, ‘Godzilla Minus One’ transcends the typical monster blockbuster, delivering a poignant narrative that may have you shed a tear or two. Yamazaki masterfully combines awe-inspiring visual effects with a surprisingly tender exploration of the human spirit in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. The film strikes a delicate balance between thrilling monster mayhem and genuine emotional resonance, making it a standout entry in the Godzilla franchise. With emotionally-charged action and standout performances from the cast, ‘Godzilla Minus One’ proves that even in the darkest of times there are reasons to keep living.

Where to Watch: In Theaters



‘Past Lives’ (A24)

A deeply empathetic film that owes a lot to Wong Kar-Wai romances yet never feels too beholden to them, Celine Song’s debut feature is simply beautiful. Past Lives follows Nora and Hae Sung as fate forces them to cross paths time and time again. This is a film with no villains and Song’s refreshing love for her characters makes the film resonate all the more powerfully. And it’s a deceptive power. Past Lives is a simple film that doesn’t try to yell its emotions across. But through stunning cinematography, a trio of passionate performances, a touching score, and a devastating screenplay, Song’s film seeps inside of you and simmers within long after the credits roll.

My Review

Where to Watch: Rent or Buy



‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ (Sony)

‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ swings into the cinematic landscape with the same groundbreaking animation and narrative ingenuity that made its predecessor a superhero genre game-changer. Building on the success of ‘Into the Spider-Verse,’ this sequel takes the multiverse concept to new heights, delivering a visually stunning and emotionally resonant experience. The film effortlessly blends humor, heart, and high-stakes action as it navigates the complexities of multiple Spider-People and their interconnected destinies. The animation remains a jaw-dropping spectacle, with each frame a vibrant work of art that captures the essence of comic book storytelling. Beyond the stunning visuals, the narrative unfolds with unexpected depth, exploring themes of identity, responsibility, and the interconnectedness of different Spider-Beings. ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ not only lives up to its predecessor but propels the animated superhero genre into exhilarating new dimensions, setting a high standard for future comic book adaptations.

Where to Watch: Netflix



‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ (Apple TV+)

The winner of Best Film at the National Board of Review and at the New York Film Critics Circle, you don’t need me to tell you how spectacular Martin Scorsese’s latest is. Boasting phenomenal performances from Lily Gladstone, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Robert DeNiro, ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ is Scorsese’s best film since The Departed and quite possibly one of the most sensitively human films he’s made. All the auteur’s classic themes are present: greed, American capitalism, corruption, secrets and lies, but are laid bare with an unmistakably beating heart. It’s one of his most explicitly political works, calling out the way the sins of the American past are sanitized and treated as entertainment.

Where to Watch: In Theaters or Rent or Buy



‘Anatomy of a Fall’ (NEON)

Justine Triet’s Palme D’Or winner Anatomy of a Fall is not a movie that provides easy answers. It questions the nature of truth itself, taking a step beyond ambiguity to ask whether truth is something worth pursuing. Should we decide our own truth — and do we have any choice but to? Triet traverses these questions in a way that is unwaveringly engaging and effortlessly weaves philosophical ideas into the fabric of a courtroom nailbiter. Triet’s stellar screenwriting and lead actress Sandra Huller’s vulnerable work are truly at the heart of this film, contributing to what may be my favorite film of the year.

My Review

Where to Watch: In Theaters



‘Poor Things’ (Searchlight)

A film about a woman coming into her own, destroying the patriarchy every step of the way, with existential themes about what our purpose is? No I’m not talking about Barbie, I’m referring to what might be the Greek Weird Wave master Yorgos Lanthimos’s best film: Poor Things. Poor Things is simultaneously one of the funniest and most excitingly life-affirming movies of the year, combining pitch black comedy, marvelous steampunk visuals, and a career-best performance from Emma Stone in what may be this year’s finest acting work. Bella Baxter is a beautifully-realized character and we follow her through every step of her development as she learns the ways of the world and has life-changing experiences. Stone charts this development with subtle nuance, you’ll leave the film wanting to see more of her and Bella Baxter.

Where to Watch: In Theaters