Top 10 Films of 2023

The year is coming to a close, and it’s time to look back at some of the finest films we’ve seen over the past twelve months.

Top 10 Films of 2023

 It’s been a great year for cinema—not only have several of the best working directors released movies this year, but there’s also been multiple outstanding debuts. We’ve been lucky in terms of both the quality and quantity of films in 2023, so reducing the year to a list of 10 is a nigh-impossible task—but we’ve done our best.

BlackBerry

Fans of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will already be well aware of Glenn Howerton’s uncanny ability to play short-tempered vociferous sociopaths (and make them funny), and that—along with Matt Johnson’s great script and direction—is what makes BlackBerry one of the year’s best. It’s also no coincidence that unlike AirTetrisFlamin’ Hot, and several of this year’s other releases, BlackBerry is not another capitalist success story that feels like an excessively long advertisement; it’s a well-written, well-acted comedy drama worthy of two hours of anyone’s time. 

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Among the rare sequels that improve upon their predecessor, Across the Spider-Verse takes the gorgeous, exuberant animation that made the first film so popular and uses it to tell a story that feels richer in characterisation and more epic in scope. It would have been easy for the recently popular multiverse shtick to feel tired or overused, but Across the Spider-Verse manages to make it feel fresh and fun, and it’s a story that complements the animation style perfectly. 

Rye Lane 

Raine Allen-Miller’s feature directorial debut is filled with the sort of charm and vibrance you’d expect from a seasoned filmmaker. The story focuses on two twenty-somethings who meet under unusual circumstances and immediately hit it off, and their infectious energy is matched only by the film itself through its sharp editing and quippy dialogue. This is easily one of the most feel-good films of the year and it’s pretty much impossible not to have a smile on your face the whole time.

Barbie

Greta Gerwig is one of the finest directors around at the minute, so for her fans it probably came as no surprise that a movie about a plastic doll was… actually very good? It might be another corporate film that functions as an advertisement, but it’s also a Greta Gerwig film, and that makes all the difference. It’s easily one of the funniest movies of the year, largely thanks to the magnificent cast—particularly Ryan Gosling, who steals pretty much every scene he’s in—and it manages to squeeze some great feminist themes and ideas into the 114-minute runtime.

Tár

One of the most interesting character studies of the last decade, Tár sees Cate Blanchett give the performance of a lifetime as the eponymous distinguished conductor whose livelihood becomes under serious threat when accusations are made against her. The film’s timely themes are explored with such masterful precision by Todd Field that it’s tough not to be impressed by the craftsmanship on display, regardless of how you feel about it as a whole. 

The Fabelmans

In a career that’s had some incredible highs and some rather unfortunate lows, Steven Spielberg has seen a huge return to form recently, and The Fabelmans continues that trendThis semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story focuses on aspiring filmmaker Sammy Fabelman as he navigates his tumultuous high-school years and the drama of his home life, and it features maybe the best ending of the year. As well as being a tender, nostalgic story about finding one’s purpose, it’s also a love letter to cinema—and who better to make a movie about movies than one of cinema’s greatest ever directors? 

Oppenheimer

Following the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon, Barbie and Oppenheimer were probably the two most highly anticipated films of the year—and how lucky are we that they didn’t disappoint? Oppenheimer, the biographical thriller about the eponymous theoretical physicist,is comfortably among Christopher Nolan’s finest work. His penchant for the grandiose really shines here, thanks to the story about the potential end of the world that also invites comparisons to mythology (the book the film is based on is titled American Prometheus) and a magnificent score to complement it. The kind of film you just have to see in the cinema. 

May December

Loosely based on the harrowing true story of Mary Kay Letourneau, May December follows the actress Elizabeth (Natalie Portman) as she prepares to play Gracie (Julianne Moore) in a film, a woman whose relationship with her husband Joe (Charles Melton) began when she was 36 and he was 13. It’s a deeply uncomfortable yet sometimes hilarious film that somehow still never feels tonally conflicting. It works in all the ways it shouldn’t, and Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, and Charles Melton all give astounding performances that are likely to earn them countless awards and accolades. This one will stick with you. 

Past Lives

Celine Song’s directorial debut is a moving portrait of lost love that explores the age-old question so many of us will ponder at some point in our lives: “what if?” Past Lives follows Nora (Greta Lee), who is separated from her childhood best friend Hae Sung (Teo Loo) when her family moves from South Korea to Canada. Nora builds a life for herself in North America, but when the pair are reunited years later, it makes for a heartbreaking and poignant story and a beautiful exploration of immigration, love, relationships, and In-Yun.

Killers of the Flower Moon

At this point, it feels like Martin Scorsese barely has to try. He has released films time and time again that would be the height of most filmmakers’ careers, and Killers of the Flower Moon is no exception. This impeccably crafted epic tells the story of 1920s Oklahoma and the systematic murder of the Osage people that took place there. Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone all deliver powerful performances, and the film’s 206-minute runtime will barely be felt thanks to the masterful writing and directing. One of Scorsese’s best.

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Author

Callum Holt

Callum Holt Kickstart

Callum is a film studies student with an enormous passion for cinema. When he isn't watching or writing about movies, he enjoys playing chess, catching up with the latest headlines, and reading.

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