It’s been a year. It’s certainly been a year. A year full of a lot of moving, funny, heartbreaking, and incredible movies. There were a whole lot of them that I loved in 2023, and picking only ten was difficult.
Not being able to include films like Past Lives, May December, Flora and Son, You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on this list was hard. There were also some that I’ve missed (but will be eagerly checking out as soon as possible), like Ferrari, Passages, All of Us Strangers, American Fiction, and The Zone of Interest.
It comes with the territory, and I still managed to pick out my 10 favorite movies that came out in 2023. Here’s a look at the list:
I mean, you can admire the craft behind Oppenheimer — Christopher Nolan’s directing, Cillian Murphy’s performance, the whole Trinity Test sequence. But I’m also just blown away about how a three-hour biopic that ends on a very, very dour note managed to connect with so many audience members. In my mind, that’s a great sign for the future of cinema. Audiences want smart, good, thought-provoking movies. And Nolan gave us that.
9. The Iron Claw
When the first trailer for The Iron Claw came out, I saw a lot of people talking about how the real-life story (which I knew nothing about at the time) was very tragic and this was going to be a feel-bad movie. Went in prepared for that. Still, somehow, found myself absolutely destroyed by everything that happened from the halfway point on. Zac Efron is giving his best performance to date here, but the rest of the supporting cast (Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, etc.) is also so, so good.
8. Sitting in Bars with Cake
Three weeks ago, I had never heard of Sitting in Bars with Cake. Somehow, never crossed my radar. Someone way smarter than me recommended it, I checked it out, and, yeah, very glad I did because it somehow manages to be both incredibly charming and funny while also being heartbreaking and sad all at the same time. That’s a hard balance to pull off. This movie does it excellently.
7. Anatomy of a Fall
I went into Anatomy of a Fall not knowing anything about it. Didn’t even realize it had won the Palme d’Or at Cannes until the opening credits started. I was almost immediately floored by this story, these characters, and the insanity of the whole procedure. Did she do it? Is she innocent? I don’t know. But I do know that Sandra Hüller is outstanding in this movie.
6. Poor Things
I’ll fully admit that Yorgos Lanthimos’ filmography doesn’t always do it for me. I know I’m in the minority when I say that The Favourite wasn’t, well, my favorite. Poor Things, however, did it for me, and then some. Emma Stone is going for it in this movie and every single decision she makes is a sight to be seen. Also, when was the last time Mark Ruffalo has been this funny? And the ending?? So much to love in here.
If I have one very small, very tiny critique of Barbie, it’s that I wish the whole thing had been a musical, just because the “I’m Just Ken” sequence is an all-timer that I’ve been rewatching again and again and again since I first saw the movie. Greta Gerwig. Margot Robbie. Ryan Gosling. Everyone is at the top of their game, here. I love all the zany places it goes, the themes it hits, and the America Ferrera speech. A Barbie movie really has no right to be THIS good. But here we are.
Truly a “you’re either going to love it or you’re going to hate it” kind of movie, Skinamarink is maybe the most scared I’ve ever been in a movie theater, like, ever. Ever ever. Suddenly nothing feels safe and you’re left feeling like a little kid trapped in an ambiguous nightmare you can’t escape from. The style certainly won’t be for everyone, but I could not take my eyes off the screen for the entire duration of this movie.
3. How to Blow Up a Pipeline
A movie that truly makes you want to get up and do something to stop the world from imploding on itself, How to Blow Up a Pipeline features a remarkable cast of characters and a level of intensity unlike anything else I saw in a film in 2023. I love how it takes its time explaining each character’s backstory and how things really ramp up in the third act. Really can’t help but feel this one is going to get more and more relevant as the years continue to pass.
2. Asteroid City
Wes Anderson just gets me. I love the way he approaches his movies, and how they all use similar styles but are also constantly evolving and hitting on something different each time. I was very into Asteroid City for the first half of the movie. The second half, then, almost transforms into something else entirely, and I loved it even more. Without spoiling a certain cameo you may or may not be aware of, the scene where Jason Schwartzman steps outside for a smoke break is a moment that I’ll carry around with me forever.
1. Killers of the Flower Moon
I read the “Killers of the Flower Moon” novel about a month before the movie hit theaters. Make no mistake, I have the utmost confidence in Martin Scorsese, but I also found myself wondering how it would be humanly possible to adapt this novel into a movie that accurately and respectfully tells the story. I’m not Osage, I can’t speak to how well the movie does or doesn’t tell the true tragedy that happened, but I do know that I was glued to the screen for the entire runtime of Killers of the Flower Moon and what Scorsese — along with Lily Gladstone and all the other cast and crew involved — was able to accomplish. A true epic unlike anything else being made in Hollywood right now with an ending that made me feel all of the emotions. All of them.