2023 Year End Best Films List

2023 was an interesting yet ultimately disappointing year for film. There were great films throughout, but maybe unfairly pales in comparison to 2022 (RRR and Babylon in particular being all-timers for myself). The writers and actors went on strike, films seemingly guaranteed huge successes floundered at the boxes, and film as an art form is slowly being devalued by the general public. But on the bright side, a three-hour R-rated biopic mostly consisting of people sitting in rooms made almost a billion dollars, so maybe all is right in the world. Without further ado, here are my favorite 2023 film releases, out of the 74 that I have seen.


The best absurdist gay comedy this year, BOTTOMS is a hilariously off-kilter story of two lesbian friends starting a fight club at their school as a way to sleep with the popular girls. The comedy here can’t be pinned down, with Marshawn Lynch giving one of the funniest performances of the year, random side-tangents about one of the club members’stalker, and even background extras giving it their all.


Sometimes you just need a no-frills mass action masala to turn your brain off too, and this film is exactly that. It stars nepo-baby (well, grandpa) Nandamuri Balakrishna in the lead role as an ex-prisoner turned feminist dad as he protects his adopted daughter from a powerful business tycoon and his goons. This film has surprisingly good action throughout, and some truly hilarious (likely unintentionally so) moments, none more so when our main character barges into an all-girls school and gives a speech about… well you’ll just have to watch the film and see for yourself.


Did you ever have a BlackBerry? Do you ever wonder why they went away? Then I have the film for you, as this follows the rise and fall of the world’s first smartphone and the main three men behind it, two techies and one entrepreneur. Fans of THE SOCIAL NETWORK and this year’s AIR should check this out, as it has great performances and an intriguing and mostly true story.


Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s second-best film of this year follows Pathaan, an exiled Indian spy, as he fights to take down a villain who wants to destroy the country he once loved. This is clearly made by someone whose favorite Mission Impossible film is the second one, this has bombastic action set pieces throughout, without a lick of irony or winking at the camera. A meta cameo would usually interrupt a film like this, but its placement here just adds to its Bollywood charm.


Definitely the biggest surprise of the year for me, I wasn’t expecting much from this adaptation of the young adult prequel novel. I had only ever watched the first Hunger Games film when it came out. This is a deeply mature and well-crafted blockbuster that explores just about every facet of its dystopian world. The performances here are top-notch, the pacing is excellent for a nearly three-hour film, and the ending is damn near perfect.


I had to catch this one before the year ended, as I heard unanimous praise for it but never saw it included on any year-end lists. It definitely deserves its spot here, as it might be a bit overlong but that’s just because it’s so densely stuffed with ideas, gags, and meta-comedy that it’s really inevitable. This film would best be seen going into it blind, as it takes a few turns to properly know just what the hell it is you’re watching. Fans of the Japanese film ONE CUT OF THE DEAD and, believe it or not, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD should definitely check this one out.


Martin Scorsese has been on an absolutely killer streak of films for the past ten years, and KILLERS feels like a culmination of that entire period and really the history of the United States as a whole. Lily Gladstone is the standout here as a Native American woman slowly watching her people and culture die out right in front of her eyes. The film is lengthy but succinctly paced, every scene in its 200+ minute runtime is necessary. While maybe a bit exhausting when consumed in a theatrical setting, this is still a masterpiece from the maestro director.


Hayao Miyazaki’s latest masterpiece might not be the easily digestible crowd-pleaser we have seen from him before, but that is more than okay for what we have been shown here. This is more art-house than family-friendly, as even after a rewatch I’m struggling to comprehend the world he has created. Part SPIRITED AWAY and part THE WIND RISES, this crafts its place as one of the best films that Studio Ghibli has to offer.

7: LEO

No, not the Adam Sandler animated film (both released in the same month on Netflix), Lokesh Kanagaraj’s LEO stars Tamil superstar Vijay in his best role yet in this loose remake of David Cronenberg’s A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. Extremely well pacing is found throughout this nearly three-hour-long action epic, full of action set pieces that keep topping one another in innovation and brutality. That knife POV shot near the climax might just be the shot of the year. Technically the third film in a new cinematic universe, watching the first two films ( KAITHI and VIKRAM) is recommended but not necessary, as there are only a few little connections here and there in the film.


The most fun I’ve had in a theater this year, bar none (ok, other than the RRR re-release). This is the best Shah Rukh Khan film this year, and really of his career from what I have personally seen from him. Everything here works, from its action scenes to even its songs and comedy scenes. If you want an action epic with influences from graphic novels, John Woo, Robin Hood, and of course mass South Indian action films, look no further.


The sequel to the much-loved 2018 SPIDER-VERSE film, this ramps up the animated maximalism to new heights. No, it’s not “half a movie”, ACROSS THE SPIDERVERSE carries its own by being a blisteringly fun ride, with great action, surprisingly complex characters, and immensely gorgeous 3D/2D animation. Also, Spider-Punk is the character of the year.


Another big surprise for me, going into it I thought it would be fine but ultimately boring. That couldn’t be further from the case, as THE HOLDOVERS quickly cemented itself as a winter holiday classic. Set in the 1970s in a private New England prep school, it follows the stubborn and unpopular teacher Paul (played by Paul Giamatti) and his unlikely relationship with intelligent but trouble-making Angus, wonderfully played by newcomer Dominic Sessa. This is an ultimate comfort movie, as each character in the main trio, while flawed, you can’t help but love.


Easily the most underrated film of this year, this is the prequel to 2014’s JIGARTHANDA, although it is completely not necessary to watch that film first. I would even say it’s more important to watch FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE beforehand. That’s because this film is a love letter to cinema, centered around a Clint Eastwood-obsessed gangster, who wishes to become Tamil cinema’s first dark-skinned hero. He chooses our main character Kirubai, who unbeknownst to him has been forced to kill him by local police. I would sell this film by saying it’s like if Quentin Tarantino was Indian and made a gangster version of last year’s BABYLON. Each shot of this film is oozing with style and love for the cinematic art form. It might be a bit messy and overstuffed sometimes, but I could not recommend this film enough


The winner of July’s cultural phenomenon Barbenheimer, this film will surely win all of the major awards in the coming weeks. This might just be Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece, the script is impeccable and the acting is top-notch from the huge cast list. It really explores every facet of J.

Robert Oppenheimer, from his communist leaning of his past, the scientific breakthroughs necessary to create such a weapon, and the moral quandaries of doing so. This film is a fine meal, every viewing gives you something new to chew on. Seeing this in IMAX 70MM is a must (thank you Regal Mall of Georgia).


As I previously wrote, 2023 has been an underwhelming year for cinema. At least for me, a lot of films, even critically acclaimed films, I have either been unimpressed with or just bored by. However, one film stood out as not only the best movie of the year but quite possibly the only movie this year in which everything just works. From the first few minutes of this romantic comedy, its main character voiceover and the extravagant opening song sequence, I knew I was going to love it. I just about had a smile on my face throughout its three-hour runtime. Both leads are fantastically charismatic and charming and carry the film’s many song sequences, all of which are just great fun. The film is also genuinely funny, something rare for foreign language films that tend to get comedy lost in translation. Don’t let the runtime intimidate you, if you are feeling a bit burnt out by movies or life really, I implore you to check this one out, as it is the best movie of 2023.


Patti’s Picks:

Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World 2023 ‘Nu Aștepta Prea Mult de la Sfârșitul Lumii’ Directed by Radu Jude

Memory 2023 Directed by Michel Franco

How to Have Sex 2023 Directed by Molly Manning Walker

Bye Bye Tiberias 2023 ‘Bye Bye Tibériade’ Directed by Lina Soualem

The Rapture 2023 ‘Le Ravissement’ Directed by Iris Kaltenbäck

Perfect Days 2023 Directed by Wim Wenders

Yannick 2023 Directed by Quentin Dupieux

Past Lives 2023 Directed by Celine Song

Red Rooms 2023 ‘Les chambres rouges’ Directed by Pascal Plante

May December 2023 Directed by Todd Haynes

All of Us Strangers 2023 Directed by Andrew Haigh

The Stroll 2023 Directed by Zackary Drucker, Kristen Parker Lovell

Passages 2023 Directed by Ira Sachs

Afire 2023 ‘Roter Himmel’ Directed by Christian Petzold

Anatomy of a Fall 2023 ‘Anatomie d’une chute’ Directed by Justine Triet

Fallen Leaves 2023 ‘Kuolleet lehdet’ Directed by Aki Kaurismäki

Femme 2023 Directed by Sam H. Freeman, Ng Choon Ping

Tótem 2023 Directed by Lila Avilés

Rotting in the Sun 2023 Directed by Sebastián Silva

Close Your Eyes 2023 ‘Cerrar los ojos’ Directed by Víctor Erice

The Holdovers 2023 Directed by Alexander Payne

Elliott’s Picks:

  1. Across The Spiderverse
  2. Stop Making Sense (2023)
  3. The Holdovers
  4. Poor Things
  5. The Boy And The Heron
  6. Asteroid City
  7. Oppenheimer
  8. Barbie
  9. Jailer
  10. Dunki

Joey’s Pick:

The Boy And The Heron

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