Oppie & Miles & Nora & Arthur – Alex’s Top 10 Favorite Films of 2023
by Alex Billington
January 5, 2024
“The world is altering. Reforming. This is your second.” Another yr, one other Top 10. After watching greater than 400 movies all through 2023 (at all times logging all the things on my Letterboxd for anybody curious) it is time to share my closing collection of My Top 10 Favorite Films of 2023. I attempt to watch as a lot as I can and provides myself time to meet up with any further movies on the finish of the yr, however my favorites can come from anytime in 2023. I fell arduous for all the foremost ones – Oppenheimer, Spider-Verse, Past Lives, Poor Things, and American Fiction. Before anybody asks in regards to the ones lacking: I’m not that huge on Killers of the Flower Moon (it is good not nice), I fairly like Anatomy of a Fall nevertheless it did not make the lower, Godland and The Eight Mountains are on final yr’s Top 10, Saltburn is unhealthy (yeah it is meh), and Godzilla: Minus One is nice additionally did not make the lower. I caught to my intestine and selected these 10 that made me passionate for cinema over again.
For the earlier yr’s Top 10 of 2022 record, topped by EEAAO in fact, click on right here (additionally 2021 + 2020). You can take a look at my collection of Favorite Movie Posters from 2023 with a have a look at among the finest cinema artwork.
Just a few notes: this can be a record of my favourite movies, not the perfect movies of the yr, these are those that I like for my very own causes and I’ll attempt to clarify why with each. As at all times, I want I had a lot extra to time to observe/rewatch movies, and see each final movie that performed in 2023, however that is unimaginable so that is simply what I made a decision to run with. Also – my movie choice relies on the date once I initially noticed the movie at a public occasion, together with movie festivals (Venice, Sundance) or public releases restricted or in any other case. This just isn’t primarily based on solely movies launched in 2023, however the ones I skilled in 2023, and is an efficient illustration of the perfect cinema has given us, in my view. I’m at all times a bit nervous to finalize my record, however these are all movies I love.
#1. La Chimera directed by Alice Rohrwacher
Arthur and his band of Tombaroli. I watched this movie thrice at three festivals in 2023. It’s that good. There are two songs carried out within the movie by an Italian folks singer and when the primary one kicks in (the track in regards to the “Tombaroli”), I get chills each time. I adore this movie. It’s magical, mystical, and particular in about 100 methods. I’ve by no means seen something prefer it, and I do not assume anybody else may even try to duplicate Alice Rohrwacher’s filmmaking. Truly one-of-a-kind. La Chimera is a mesmerizing, alluring journey by way of the afterlife – exploring the concept of souls and humanity traversing throughout time from era to era. I’m in awe of the efficiency by Josh O’Connor as Arthur, certainly one of my all-time favourite performances. There’s an aching longing that he embodies so completely, whereas sustaining his sense of appreciation for all times as he rolls across the Italian hillsides with the Tombaroli. The shot-on-film cinematography by the French DP maestro Hélène Louvart can be heavenly. I can watch this movie over & over & over and by no means tire of it.
#2. Oppenheimer directed by Christopher Nolan
“Are you saying that there is a likelihood that after we push that button… we destroy the world?” Yes, certainly there’s. This would possibly simply be Christopher Nolan’s Magnum Opus. It’s an unimaginable film. I wasn’t certain if he would pull this off, it is such a precarious and harmful story to inform, but he aced it. A monumental work of cinema and storytelling. The second I knew it could be on my Top 10 truly hit me throughout my second viewing. I went to see it in IMAX (after the preliminary press screening in an everyday cinema) and so they cranked the quantity and when that “Can You Hear the Music” observe kicks in and it cuts to the shot of the clouds over the German metropolis whereas Oppie’s dwelling in Europe, I used to be utterly taken away. My entire physique was shook to its core by Ludwig Göransson’s one-of-the-best-of-all-time scores (sure, severely) completely complementing this intricate story of an advanced mental and his harmful creation. And that is only one half. Cillian Murphy’s efficiency is flawless, the set design and manufacturing design is extraordinary, the enhancing are breathtaking. This is the sort of cinematic expertise I stay for, and as soon as once more, Nolan has made my Top 10.
#3. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse directed by Joaquim Dos Santos & Kemp Powers & Justin Ok. Thompson
It doesn’t trouble me in any respect that that is solely “half of the story,” it is a phenomenal murals and completes a robust arc with Gwen anyway. The first Into the Spider-Verse was on my Top 10 of 2018, and I’m completely happy that the sequel is pretty much as good as, if not higher, than that masterpiece. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the they-actually-went-and-did-it sequel that lives as much as the center & soul of the unique, and once more breaks the limitations of visible storytelling by pushing all the things additional than it has earlier than. I wrote a glowing overview when it first got here out: “It’s the epitome of cinema as a visible medium, an eye-popping mix of comedian ebook fundamentals, animation (all kinds / strategies / codecs), and fashionable storytelling ideas. As at all times with cinema, story is essential – and the filmmakers know this and care deeply. They’ve additionally outdone themselves in creating probably the most mesmerizing and psychedelic artistic endeavors in cinema.” I like how the colours and the stylistic selections in each scene characterize the feelings of the characters and what they’re feeling as they undergo a second of their story. I can not wait to search out out what occurs subsequent in Beyond the Spider-Verse.
#4. Past Lives directed by Celine Song
What a movie. What an exquisite movie. What extra can I add to the discourse that hasn’t already been stated by everybody else who adores this touching movie from author / director Celine Song. I’m nonetheless so astonished that that is her characteristic debut, nevertheless it additionally goes to indicate she actually has a watch for cinematic storytelling. There are a number of photographs that I can always remember simply because the cinematography is so beautiful to take a look at, so softly and warmly capturing the second with a large amount of intimacy centered on Nora. It’s her story in any case. I needed to watch this movie twice earlier than actually settling into my appreciation of it, and accepting it as such a shifting murals that does work as effectively on repeat viewings. I bought hit arduous by feelings each instances when it will get to that finish scene, the place Nora walks Hae Sung out to his Uber on the finish of his journey to NYC. That’s the facility of nice cinema. Absolutely an iconic efficiency from Greta Lee taking over Nora, however I additionally must reward each John Magaro and Teo Yoo in holding their very own with grace as her two nice loves. Such charmers.
#5. Poor Things directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Bella Baxter! Woman of the yr! Heartbreaker! Love-maker! Pastéis enjoyer! Ha ha. This movie SLAYS. The press screening on the Venice Film Festival was one of many yr’s finest experiences since you might nearly contact the excitement wafting within the air with everybody loving it extra & extra because it performed. Which just isn’t a typical prevalence in a room stuffed with snobby critics, to be frank. I additionally watched this movie two instances at two completely different festivals to substantiate it holds up and it does. And the viewers liked it the second time as effectively. One of the perfect performances ever from Emma Stone, although I at all times assume she’s distinctive. At first she does not appear that refined… till you watch her progressively mature and start to “develop up” over the course of the movie, turning into extra empowered and insightful as she surfs the waves of patriarchy. The unusual rating by Jerskin Fendrix is so inexplicably odd but properly provides to the weirdness of the entire movie, and it is arduous to overlook after listening to it. A complete knock out, sex-positive, feminist, fearless, freaky creation from the thoughts of Yorgos Lanthimos. I nonetheless assume the opening half-hour are tough, however aside from that, this can be a genius movie.
#6. Perfect Days directed by Wim Wenders
A-ha! This is one other of my private favorites from Cannes again in May (my full overview) that I have not been in a position to get off of my thoughts all yr. The peace and calm of this movie is deeply inspirational and so shifting for me. I’m profoundly drawn to the Buddhist philosophy discovered inside, the way in which it exhibits us how Hirayama has left his lifetime of luxurious and wealth to stay a easy life, doing the job that nobody desires to do but nonetheless discovering happiness in each second. I like that he takes images of bushes. I like his little condo that he cleans up day by day. I like how humble and heartfelt he at all times is coping with any scenario. Koji Yakusho actually does deserve all of the awards and accolades for his efficiency as Hirayama on this, it is essentially the most soulful and rejuvenating efficiency in any movie of 2023. The soundtrack is nice, all of his favourite oldies that make his days brighter. Another movie I’ve been recommending and inspiring anybody watch every time they’ll.
#7. American Fiction directed by Cord Jefferson
Have amusing with Monk as he units out to show his level about how dumb everybody is correct now. This movie! Such a pleasure to observe, among the finest laughs of the yr. Such a sensible script that slices by way of the bullshit to indicate everybody how a lot the dialog round media proper now’s complete nonsense. Yes in fact the meta commentary is clear, particularly contemplating that is Cord Jefferson’s characteristic directorial debut, and we’ve to surprise if he is eager about what everyone seems to be saying about this movie within the context of what the movie is actually about. Jeffrey Wright is at all times nice in any position, regardless of how huge or small (love him in Wes Anderson’s movies), however he is particularly outstanding on this movie. Not solely does he must ace the Stagg R. Leigh persona on high of his common efficiency, he additionally wants to carry all of the emotional weight of somebody going by way of this and coping with the loss in his household. I additionally actually do appreciation the extra emotional, grounded aspect of the story about his household and budding romance, it provides depth to the movie & Monk’s story.
#8. The Holdovers directed by Alexander Payne
A brand new Christmas basic. Yep, it is already a basic. I watched this movie once more throughout Christmas simply to see if it holds as much as that acclaim, and it actually does. There’s simply one thing so cinematically heat and healthful and endearing about it, though it is set throughout a chilly winter. The performances, the classic 70s vibe, the snowy setting, the soundtrack and track selections, the story about these three lonely folks going by way of the vacations making an attempt to make sense of their lives. How a lot of a distinction good associates and good cheer and good moments could make. A shining instance of learn how to make an awesome movie the place all the things works collectively. Paul Giamatti is hilariously unforgettable because the stodgy Paul Hunham, Dominic Sessa is spectacular and endearing in his first ever huge display screen position as Angus Tully, although my favourite efficiency remains to be Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Mary Lamb. Her “mhmms” will stay on in my thoughts endlessly. I’ve been recommending this movie to everybody this winter. 🎶 “Crying by no means did no person no good, no how… That’s why I do not cry…” 🎶
#9. The Taste of Things / The Pot au Feu directed by Anh Hung Tran
I’m nonetheless undecided if this new English title holds up. The Taste of Things is all too bland for such a sublime movie. I desire it as The Pot au Feu, which is what it initially screened below at Cannes this yr (although I additionally do not take care of the longer French title La Passion de Dodin Bouffant). Nonetheless, this magnificent movie is without doubt one of the finest meals movies ever made. Perfect from begin to end, with among the best cinematography all yr. Gorgeous photographs galore, all the things’s framed so completely. I truly assume it is higher than a lot of the different meals movies that different critics reference once they examine this one. Juliette Binoche performs Eugénie with simply the correct quantity of confidence and class, an unforgettable character and incomparably nice chef. Benoît Magimel as the Dodin Bouffant additionally brings his appeal to the desk to match her, as their chemistry is vitally necessary in making the center of this movie beat so vividly and so passionately. I could not need to attempt each dish she makes, however that does not make me like this any much less. That pear shot is an all-timer.
#10. The Monk and the Gun directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji
Another fantastic shock from the second half of the yr. Bhutanese director Pawo Choyning Dorji returns along with his second characteristic movie after Lunana: A Yak within the Classroom, and its even higher with a stronger message. Aside from how terrific it’s to see extra tales from the tiny mountain nation of Bhutan informed authentically from the Bhutanese aspect (which is what makes this one notably distinctive), this movie turns into one thing extra significant as soon as it will get to the core of what it is making an attempt to convey with this story of “the monk and the gun.” The performances are all distinctive, particularly by Tandin Wangchuk as Tashi and Deki Lhamo as Tshomo. As the movie performs out (why does he want this gun?) and the story unfolds, I began to really feel increasingly more invigorated by what I used to be watching, the place it was going, what it was making an attempt to say. They do not know what you to know that this movie makes enjoyable of American beliefs, nevertheless it does so in such a healthful and uplifting method it is arduous to not be utterly charmed by this movie. Absolutely price a watch.
BONUS! Mars Express directed by Jérémie Périn
Another animated film that deserves to be talked about alongside all the opposite films on this Top 10. Yes, in fact I have already got Across the Spider-Verse on right here, however animation is superior (and it is for anybody of any age to take pleasure in) and so is that this film. I have not stopped eager about this since first catching it on the 2023 Cannes Film Festival again in May. It has stayed on my thoughts all this time and stands out. Mars Express is a spectacular, thrilling, visually participating fashionable animated sci-fi film. It’s a futuristic noir detective story about robots and AI and know-how, borrowing lots from the classics Ghost within the Shell & Blade Runner, however nonetheless delivering one thing solely distinctive in its personal methods. Not sufficient folks have been in a position to see it but, following its premieres in Cannes & Annecy final summer time, however I believe the excitement will develop with extra time. The characters are memorable, the entire expertise is riveting and even higher watched on the massive display screen if in any respect doable. This is the superb sci-fi cinema I sit up for encountering and it’s price discovering.
More 2023 Faves: Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron, Sam Freeman & Ng Choon Ping’s Femme, Richard Linklater’s Hitman (tore down the home in Venice), Chloe Domont’s Fair Play, Laura McGann’s The Deepest Breath, Roger Ross Williams’ Cassandro, Molly Gordon & Nick Lieberman’s Theater Camp, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie (yep!), Jeff Rowe’s Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, and Charlotte Regan’s Scrapper.
I might focus on all of my favorites endlessly, so if you happen to ever need to chat about cinema, simply ask me one thing about any of them. You can at all times discover all of my scores and extra ideas on each movie I watched in 2023 on my Letterboxd profile. There are at all times a number of different movies I didn’t get the possibility to observe final yr as a result of time constraints, however I nonetheless attempt to catch as many movies as doable that my colleagues have been speaking about. I’m at all times watching new work all year long, looking for out essentially the most exhilarating cinema – movies that depart me in awe. If you might have questions or ideas about my Top 10 picks (or the rest), please get in contact: @firstshowing or @alexb.bsky.social. Now let’s dive proper into 2024 with hope for what lies forward.