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10 Best Films of 2023

Sorry I'm late....

By Grace LynchPublished 2 months ago 19 min read
10 Best Films of 2023
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

In 2023 I saw a lot of films. Some excellent like this list below, and some not so great (looking at you M3gan). I sat with this list for a while to be honest, most people will have moved on from their top 10 of 2023 lists but I felt I needed to digest my list properly first before I could cement these films and their places.

10. Oppenheimer, directed by Christopher Nolan

Having Oppenheimer this low on the list might piss some people off but I'm nothing if not a risk-taker. To be completely honest I wasn't sure if I was going to include it in my top 10 at all. Nolan's biopic on Oppenheimer is a polarising film for me, as much as I love it there are aspects that I hate. Obviously Nolan has cemented himself as a force to be reckoned with in the world of cinema and as much as I consider The Dark Knight one of the greatest films of all time it's maybe time to admit that his films aren't for me - and there's nothing wrong with that. As a biopic Oppenheimer delivers on a lot of levels. The cinematography is outstanding, the switch between colour and black and white to indicate the time change is well done. The soundtrack really pulls the film together, bold and brilliant Ludwig Göransson is proving to be a fantastic composer. Robert Downey Jr turns in a performance I'm sure will win him the best supporting actor oscar and Cillian Murphy is mesmerising in the lead role. However the anger I feel at them wasting Florence Pugh on a poorly written role that anyone could have played still sits with me today. Emily Blunt, whilst giving a masterclass in the third act of the film might as well not even been in the first two thirds, another poor writing decision. Finally the pacing of this film was awful, at the end of the day it's hard to make a 3 hour long film of men talking with good pacing and Oppenheimer failed, hard. I digress, it is an achievment of a film and whilst I'm reluctant to have it on my list I have to give it some credit.

Stand out Performance: Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer

The whole film really hinges on his performance and honestly I've yet to see a bad performance from Murphy. He portrays a lot with just a look and that goes a long way in this film. If he doesn't win the Oscar for best lead actor I will be very surprised.

Stand out Quote:

"You don't get to commit sin and then ask us all to feel sorry for you when there are consequences."

This quote from Kitty Oppenheimer really sums up how we ought to feel about Oppenheimer. With Murphy's appealing portrayal it's easy to forget that this man created something that destroyed lives, and Kitty brings us back to reality with this quote.

Stand out moment: Kitty Oppenheimer absolutely refuses to shake the hand of Edward Teller

I know I complained about the writing of Emily Blunt's character in this film but the third act really allows her to shine. Whilst Oppenheimer shakes Teller's hand despite the man testifying against him in a security hearing. Kitty Openheimer doesn't give him the satisfaction, instead staring him down and that glare from Emily Blunt will stay with me for a while.

9. Bottoms directed by Emma Segilman

It has felt like an eternity since I've seen a good teen comedy film, and even longer since I've seen a good LGBT+ film. Enter: Bottoms. This is the most ridiculously stupid film I've ever watched and I loved every second of it. There wasn't a joke that didn't land and there wasn't an actor who didn't give their all, literally every character in this film was hilarous. When teen movies focus on women it tends to surround men and the cattiness of friendships so for Bottoms to make it's two protagonists openly gay was such a power move. I also loved the portrayal of the football players in what would traditionally be the cheerleader role, they were overly emotional and very easily offended. All of this leads to such a refreshing take on a teen movie. Maybe this film didn't have the best soundtrack, or the most amazing cinematography but it was so fun to watch and it has the most unhinged ending to a film I watched this year so that has to count for something. It really felt like Segilman and Racheal Sennott (who also starred in this film) took the rude sexual components of Superbad, combined it with the over the top parody elements of Not Another Teen Movie with just a sprinkling of the refreshing nature of Booksmart and I am here for it.

Stand out performance: Ruby Cruz as Hazel

I've only seen Ruby Cruz as Kit in Willow so I was really surprised to see her in a teen comedy film but she stole the show for me. The second she literally slid on screen she just made Hazel so loveable that you couldn't help but fall in love with her character who really just wanted to be a part of something.

Stand out quote:

"Annie, you may be a black Republican, but you're the smartest out of all of us."

This quote speaks for itself, I don't think I need to say anything further.

Stand out moment: The closing battle on the football field

This film literally ends with the female fight club battling the football team from another school. At one point a man falls on a sword. It makes absolutley no sense and I loved it.

8. Saltburn directed by Emerald Fennell

So I want to pre-face this section by saying I tried to avoid Saltburn side of Tiktok but like everyone else I failed miserably. After seeing some of the Tiktoks I was scared to watch this film and don't get me wrong there are some disturbing moments but I was expecting way worse. Let's start with something I'm sure we can all agree on, Rosamund Pike was the highlight of this film and we should really just put her in every film ever made. Saltburn is an absolutely unhinged satire of wealth with some of the most breathtaking shots in any film in 2023. I did find the ending to be a little predictable but nonetheless satisfying. Watching Barry Keoghan's character expertly manipulate every person in the family by studying their weaknesses and then exploiting those weaknesses to worm his way into their lifestyle was really well done. I didn't hate Jacob Elordi, which was unexpected as I haven't really liked him in much. My favourite thing about Saltburn has to be the Britpop soundtrack they went for that really made it a product of the early 2000's.

Stand out performance: Rosamund Pike

I've never thought of Pike as a comedic actress, always associating her with Gone Girl, but her comedic timing in this film was sensational. Every joke she made was done with utter seriousness and sincerity, she was a joy to watch.

Stand out quote:

"I was a lesbian for a while, you know, but it was all a bit too wet in the end for me, men are so lovely and dry."

Not only is this the funniest line in the whole film but it just works to prove that this family are completely out of touch with reality.

Stand out moment: Oliver dancing naked through the house to 'Murder on the dancefloor'.

The song. The nakedness. The dancing. Sheer perfection.

7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem directed by Jeff Rowe

Honestly it's wild that one of the best films of the year is an animated film based on a popular kids franchise that was written by Seth Rogan. Considering how disappointing the live action Ninja Turtles films have been, I didn't go into this film with high hopes (however I was high AF). Mutant Mayhem is probably the most fun film of 2023 and it really appeals to a Tiktok audience with it's humour and references. However those references I suspect will be a product of their time and so maybe a few years in the future this film won't be as funny as it is now. Nonetheless the animation style feels very comic-booky much like Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse which is a style I really vibe with and it works for this film. The voice cast is stacked with names like Maya Rudolph, John Cena and even Jackie Chan, and they all do an excellent job. If you're looking for a really fun family friendly film, this is definatley option number one.

Stand out performance: Ayo Edebiri as April O'Neil

The second Ayo Edebiri film on this list, she's really having a career boost at the moment and she deserves it. Edebiri really gave us April O'Neil as we've never seen her before and really gives us a stellar peformance.

Stand out quote:

"Human's are the demon scum of the Earth"

Honestly it's just true.

Stand out moment: 'No Diggity' montage scene

The fight scene where the Turtles are taking down multiple enemies as the shot pans across with 'No Digity' playing in the background it just stunning to watch.

6. Asteroid City directed by Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson may be my favourite director at the moment, he's yet to make a film that I won't watch. Everything about him as a filmaker really makes him unique and in my opinion he's one of very few filmakers where you can watch the opening 5 minutes of his film and know exactly who made it. There's so much to love about Asteroid City from the wacky plot surrounding a town that's visited by an alien to the superb acting we get from the whole cast. What I love the most about this film is the inversion of play and film. Within this film there is a play, and everything we as an audience see in the town is the play. The cinematography of Asteroid City presents the play aspect of the film as a film, and the behind the scenes of the play as if the audience were watching a play. It's such a weird concept to wrap your head around but it's for me it really pays off. Asteroid City is such a cleverly done film in the sense of cinematography, as most Wes Anderson films are, that this film has really stuck with me. Obviously we see a lot of expected faces like Adrien Brody, Willem Defoe and Edward Norton who have all been in previous Anderson films. It was fun to see the likes of Maya Hawke, Hong Chau and Scarlett Johansson join an Anderson film.

Stand out performance: Jason Schwartzman as Augie

Schwartzman has made himself known as a funny man and Augie is a funny character but there's also a stoicism and vulnerabilty to Augie that a lot of actors would struggle to put across to an audience. Schwartzman does this perfectly and as good as Johansson and Tom Hanks also are in this film, his performance really stays with you.

Stand out quote:

"I don't play him as an alien, actually. I play him as a metaphor. That's my interpretation."

Honestly this whole film is so weird and yet Jeff Goldbloom as the alien is the weirdest part.

Stand out moment: The daughters staging some weird buriel for their mothers ashes

Throughout this film as Augie tries to grieve the loss of his wife with his son, his three daughters are doing some Macbeth level witchery in the background and it's the funniest part of the film.

5. Barbie directed by Greta Gertwig

Did Barbenheimer save cinema? No. Barbie did. Oppenheimer made $960 million at the box office. Barbie made $1.5 billion making it the highest grossing film of 2023 and the 14th highest grossing film of all time. I want you to think about that the next time anyone says that female audiences don't need to be catered for in film. This isn't to say that Barbie is just a film for women, I went to see it with both male and female friends and we all enjoyed it. However I do think that women understand Barbie much more than men do. My male cousin who had seen the film with me said that America Ferrera's speech in the film felt forced to him which I fully disagree with. I explained that everything she said is true and that it's something he will never have to deal with, it's okay that he doesn't get it but that doesn't make any less reality. Barbie truly is an exploration of what it is to be a woman, the limits of feminism and makes it very clear that we are no where near equality. The set design is fantastic, Gertwig does an amazing job of bring Barbieland to life. Ryan Gosling's Ken is one of the funniest performances of 2023, and I do believe he deserves the cscar nomination. Look is the Barbie film perfect? No. But it's imperfect in the way that we as women are also imperfect and that's okay.

Stand out performance: America Ferrera as Gloria

America Ferrera always brings a great peformance and I think she's very underrated as an acress. She more than deserves the Oscar nomination for her emotional portrayal of Gloria who's a little lost in her life as she gets older and her daughter is pulling away. She utters some of the best lines in this film and makes Gloria's anger and frustration very evident. I love her.

Stand out quote:

"Women hate women. And men hate women. It's the only thing we all agree on."

What a true statement. Men are attracted to women but often don't like women. Women see other women as competition in many ways. It's something we as a society need to work on.

Stand out moment: The montage of the cast and crew

As the spirit of Ruth Handler explains to Barbie that her story never had an ending and she can choose to be whatever she wants a montage of real moments from the cast and crew plays with Billie Eilish's 'What was I made for?' plays in the background. It an exhibition on what it is to be human and it's such a beautiful moment.

4. Poor Things directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

Have all of the previous sections of this article suggested to you that I'm a slut for cinematography? No surprises then that I couldn't miss out Poor Things for this list because this film was beyond stunning. I particularly liked the way the elaborate set pieces developed as Bella developed. In the beginning as Bella sets out to travel the set pieces are over the top and not what we would recognise as how the world looks but it shows us how Bella views the world. As she travels and gains more knowledge, the world begins to look more recognisable, more like how we would view it. I loved Mark Ruffalo as Duncan, and if Emma Stone hadn't been so spectacular he would have been my stand out performance. If Stone doesn't take home the Oscar for best lead actress I will be very surprised. Willem Defoe also turns in a great performace, as if we'd expect anything less from him. This film really encapsualtes elements of multiple generes including fairytale, romance and sci-fi, it's wacky and weird storyline is wildly entertaining. Lanthimos has truly outdone himself with this over the top masterpiece.

Stand out performance: Emma Stone as Bella Baxter

The performance speaks for itself really. Stone is magnetic in the role and is really proving to be a force in the industry.

Stand out quote:

"We must work. We must make money. But more than that Bella, we must experience everything. Not just the good, but degradation, horror, sadness. This makes us whole Bella, makes us people of substance. Not flighty, untouched children. Then we can know the world. And when we know the world, the world is ours."

This quote really stuck with me, especially because the character in the film saying it is a prostitute. I have often said that life experience is everything, I am not the same person now at 27 that I was at 19 and not everything I have experienced has been sunshine and rainbows but it has made me the person I am now.

Stand out moment: The dancing scene with Bella and Duncan

This scene was genuinely just really funny to watch.

3. Rye Lane directed by Raine Allen-Miller

Let me start this one by stating I'm not a rom-com girlie. The rom-coms I do like tend to be a little weird (50 First Dates) or very sad (looking at you The Big Sick), but Rye Lane has been on my mind since I first watched it almost a year ago. For me the hardest thing to get right about a rom-com is the casting of the main couple because they have to have realistic chemistry and that's where a lot of rom-coms lose me. In my opinion for a rom-com to work you have to have one half of the couple be a little uptight and serious (Dom) and the other has to be a silly goose (Yas) or else it just doesn't work. David Jossan and Vivian Oparah who play Dom and Yas in Rye Lane have the best chemistry I've seen in a rom-com in a long time. Rye Lane also really showcases South London, where the film is set, casting it in a new but still realistic light which I loved. This film feels like a modern take on classic British rom-coms like Love Actually and Notting Hill. This is certainly the best rom-com of 2023.

Stand out performance: Vivian Oparah as Yas

She's just so cheeky and fun in this role. I can't say I've ever seen her in anything before but I'll certainly be on the lookout now.

Stand out quote:

"Apparently there are two types of people in this world. The ones who wave at boats, and the ones who hate joy."

Serious one. Silly goose. I rest my case.

Stand out moment: Dom and Yas having to sing Karaoke to get the key for her ex-boyfriends flat.

It really is a turning point in the friendship where they teeter on the more than friends side and I love it.

2. Gozilla Minus One directed by Takashi Yamazaki

What an unexpected pleasure Gozilla Minus One was. I went into the cinema with zero expectations only to see the best Godzilla film ever put to screen. This is the first incredible blockbuster monster movie we've had in literal years. How long has it been since I've heard a score like that? Naoki Sato really took me back to the sounds of the original Godzilla movies and it worked so well with this film. Godzilla Minus One takes place during and after World War II and it feels like a direct response to everything we as a society have experience with Covid-19 recently. Choosing to set this film in the past rather than modern day was a stroke of genius, it really allowed Yamazaki to explore themes of anti-war, trauma and redemption. Not only is it the best monster film in a while it also gives us one of the most compelling love stories between Koichi and Noriko. Their complicated relationship with one another really drives the plot of this film and gives Koichi a reason to step up. I would be incredibly happy for this film to revel in its near perfection, but if the quality was this good I also wouldn't mind a sequel.

Stand out performance: Ryunosuke Kamiki as Koichi

Kamiki plays Koichi as a broken man so well. The emotion he puts into his performance is unmatched, if the Academy recognised more films like this he'd be a shoe in for best actor.

Stand out quote:

"Is your war finally over?"

This line is heartbreaking as she's not just refering to the battle Koichi fought with Godzilla but the battle he has been fighting with himself.

Stand out moment: The reunion between Koichi and Noriko

I'm not ashamed to admit I cried when they reunited. When Koichi drops to his knees in front of Noriko overcome with relief that she's there I cried like a baby.

1. Spiderman: Across The Spiderverse directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson

What can I say? I feel like pretty much everyone agreed that Spiderman: Across the Spiderverse is the number 1 film of 2023. The first film in the trilogy, Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, is such a strong film I wondered how they were going to match it in brilliance. I wasn't expecting them to surpass it. Going into this film I wasn't expecting such a focus on Gwen Stacey and her relationship with her dad but I'm so glad they did. In her universe people's emotions seem to affect the visuals we see on screen which made for some stunning imagery. Oscar Issac's Miguel is a 'ninja-vampire' spiderman and is the leader of The Society, who protect the multi-verse. Across the Spiderverse really managed to not only capture what made the first film so special but elevate it. They raised the stakes so much more in the plot, gave us everything we wanted from the soundtrack and really perfected the animation style. The ending of Across the Spiderverse has set us up perfectly for the final film of the trilogy which has also promised to be a strong film. If the final Spiderverse film is as good as it's predecessors, we might be looking at the greatest film trilogy of all time!

Stand out performance: Oscar Issac as Miguel

It's hard to make a voice role in a film like this stand out but Issac does it. He manages to really bring a strong and powerful presence to this character whilst also exploring his vulnerability.

Stand out quote:

"Everyone keeps telling me how my story is supposed to go. Nah. I'm gonna do my own thing."

This quote is just so Miles Morales and sums up perfectly what I think we can expect from the final film.

Stand out moment: Gwen speaking with her father after being gone for so long.

Gwen's father didn't take her vigilante reveal well so when they reunite on screen and he tells her he couldn't be her father and a police captain at the same time it's heartwrenching. You see a man struggling with his own morals and a girl who just wants to be accepted, as the colour drips down the screen.


About the Creator

Grace Lynch

A film and media student with a love of travel and all things Disney.

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