Top 10 Films of 2023

When you stop looking at movies as simply an entertainment vehicle, you notice something more happening on screen. With each passing year, I notice that what impresses me cinematically grows smaller. The films I give positive ratings to are the ones that inspire me; they are challenging in some or various ways. My top 10 films-of-the-year list always includes work from filmmakers who push boundaries; some do it quietly, and some are very loud. A great film will stay with you long after the credits roll, and the characters revisit your thoughts, and you will wonder why they made such decisions. As adults, we reach a point where we stop growing and learning. Film is a valuable tool that brings other cultures, ideas, and ways of thinking to our fingertips, allowing us to keep expanding.

Sadly, this year’s number-one film wasn’t reviewed during its theatrical run. “Past Lives,” The directorial debut of Celine Song, plays like something from a filmmaker with years of experience. Its nuance is profound, and its emotional ingenuity is unrivaled this past year. It is a powerful story about the people who shape and influence our lives. It is told simply and beautifully with stirring performances from Greta Lee (“The Morning Show”) and Teo Yoo (“Decision to Leave”). It’s a rare film with no villain, no malice, just life’s brutal circumstances, and choices shape our present. Married, single, or somewhere in between, what’s so powerful about the film is its ability to move you no matter where you are on life’s journey. “Past Lives” debuted in the summer and is now available to watch at home.

This week, “Society of the Snow” is debuting on Netflix in the number two spot. You have likely seen the 1993 film “Alive,” also based on the 1972 Uruguayan plane crash. This new version comes from visionary filmmaker J.A. Bayona, who recreated the heart-pounding tsunami film “The Impossible” in 2012. Spain’s entry for the best international film at the Academy Awards, “Society of the Snow,” is a masterwork in survival cinema. The cinematography, special effects, sound, and performances make this edge-of-your-seat thriller a must-see. Bayona’s screenplay does something unique that I won’t spoil in terms of the characters the story focuses on and how he works around the cannibalistic element of the story.

Third from the top is another international film submission, this time from Denmark. “The Promised Land” starring Mads Mikkelsen, in another pitch-perfect performance, reteams with director Nikolaj Arcel (“A Royal Affair”). They showcase in brutal detail the quest of war veteran Captain Ludvig Kahlen to make something of the untamed heathlands. The true story plays out like an episode of “Game of Thrones,” where we see one of the year’s most well-written and hated villains on screen, played by Simon Bennebjerg.


“The Promised Land” is more than just a violent land dispute; it is about one man discovering what’s important in life. Rasmus Videbæk’s cinematography has few rivals; sweeping wide shots turn desolate land into something beautiful, while Dan Romer’s aching musical composition is the year’s best score. It lands in theaters on February 2nd for American audiences.

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret,” I reviewed in the spring—a real stand-out among all the sequels and bombastic stuff that plagued cinemas. The little film based on the best-selling book has landed supporting star Rachel McAdams a few critical wins this award season. While the film’s audacity about womanhood and menstruation will make some uncomfortable (on display during my screening), it’s also part of what makes this film unique. Abby Ryder Fortson is quite a discovery as Margaret, portraying such complex emotions in a demanding role for a young performer. Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret” is available to watch from home.

Still one of the most awarded and talked about films of the year, “Oppenheimer” marks the midway point on the list. On subsequent viewings, what impressed me most about Christopher Nolan’s latest film wasn’t the technical marvel in the music, performances, or how they created an atomic bomb explosion. The most impressive thing about this film is how Nolan can make a talking head movie that mostly takes place in various rooms, such a riveting, suspenseful, and explosive experience—juggling all the characters, primarily scientists, and how he edits Oppenheimer’s memory and thinking and fleshes out the character in such a way that never once feels like a biopic is an awe-inspiring achievement.

Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers,” starring an award-worthy Paul Giamatti, is next on the list. It is followed by Emma Stone’s wild performance in the boundary-pushing “Poor Things.” The year’s most successful box office story is “Barbie,” followed by the movie people can’t stop talking about, “Saltburn.” Finally, the forgotten but redefining video game movie “Tetris” rounds out the top ten.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top