A List of Our Favorite 2023 Films 

In terms of the movie industry, this past year might have been one of the most fascinating ever. People finally felt comfortable going to movie theaters. Animators kept pushing the envelope to release incredible animated films. Barbenheimer was a cultural event. As well as the concert movie phenomenon around Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour.

To say the least, 2023 was an eventful year for movie lovers. Here’s our countdown of our favorite movies of the year. Unfortunately, an amateur blogger doesn’t have the backing or the time to see everything. However, this year had so many good movies, I had to make a Top 15. As a matter of fact, I’ll give 5 more movies as honorable mentions, so this is basically a Top 20 list. My top picks will be followed by the missing films I look forward to watching. 

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Honorable Mentions:

  1. Beau Is Afraid, Directed by Ali Aster
  2. The Iron Claw, Directed by Sean Durkin
  3. They Cloned Tyrone, Directed by Juel Taylor
  4. Passages, Directed by Ira Sachs
  5. Dream Scenario, Directed by Kristofer Borgli
Property of Lionsgate Films

15 Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

Starting the list with this film is a coming-of-age story about an 11-year-old girl moving to the suburbs after spending her childhood living in the city. This film touches on themes of religion and faith but in a preachy way, and more like an “I may grow up atheist” kind of way. This is a film in which anyone can feel related as we all have some of these feelings at 11 years old.

Ant-Man’s Abby Ryder Forston revealed some acting skills. And both Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates are remarkably great as mother and grandmother. It’s one of the good warm films of the year.

Property of The Match Factory

14 Afire

While I wasn’t a girl at 11 years old, nor were my grandparents forcing me to choose a religion, I could relate to some films like It’s Me, Margaret. Other films feel like they’re talking to me directly. That’s the case with Afire, a movie about a depressed insecure asshole trying to finish writing his book.

Not everything it’s about me feeling related to awkward, insecure assholes. German filmmaker Christian Petzold crafted a great movie about fire. Both literally a forest fire and a person burning bridges. Something is devastating and haunting about this drama, yet there’s a sense of hope and growth.

The Boy and The Heron
Property of GKIDS.

13 The Boy and the Heron

Something film lovers all over the world asked is whether or not The Boy and the Heron would be the best Miyazaki film. A perfect send-off or swan song, so to speak. It is hard to surpass masterpieces like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, but this is at least up to par with his best.

Most likely his last film. We are transported to the deepest depths of his imagination, represented with spectacular animation. Some things feel like variations of stuff from his previous films. However, this seems to be highly personal and philosophical. My curiosity has been piqued, and I’m ready to delve deeper into that world and discover more about the ideas Sir Miyazaki presented.

Property of A24

12 Priscilla

Sofia Coppola returned to biopics with this year’s Priscilla. A revealing take on Priscilla Presley’s relationship with “the king of rock n’ roll.” The film works like a companion to the 2006s Marie Antoinette as they’re similar in themes and narrative. Once again, Sofia adorns dark topics with rock n roll needle drops and beautiful cinematography.

Cailee Spaeny is endearing as the title character. But, leave it to Jacob Elordi to portray the defects and the negative side of Elvis Presley. Spaeny & Elordi’s resumes are enhanced by Sofia Coppola’s film.

Property of Toho

11 Godzilla: Minus One

Director Takashi Yamazaki is no stranger to adapting Japanese pop culture into film, with adaptations of Lupin, Dragon Quest, and Doraemon on his resume. Among the best movies of the year, Godzilla: Minus One is the best adaptation of his career.

Rather than simply remaking the 1945 masterpiece, it retells the original story set in post-World War II Japan. It focuses on the characters reconstructing the country and their lives, hence the name Minus One. Although everyone was excited about Toho returning to the beloved franchise with better visuals than ever. It wasn’t only the kaiju action that blew our minds. It also made us relate and sympathize with the character’s nuances.

Property of Warner Bros

10 Barbie

All of us were intrigued when Greta Gerwick and Noah Baumbach confirmed they would co-write a Barbie movie. Even more fascinating to know that Gerwick would direct it herself. What these two indie auteurs will do with a big-budget film about Mattel’s famous doll? Of course, it’s a character-driven subversive narrative about human emotions with a feminist overtone.

However, what nobody saw coming (at least before Oppenheimer was announced) was that it would become a pop culture phenomenon along with a completely different film. More on Oppenheimer later, but together they put butts on those theater seats cause they’re both extraordinary mainstream movies.

In Barbie’s case, Greta Gerwick did an astonishing musical that paid homage to MGM classic musicals like An American in Paris and foreign classics such as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography is magnificent, Ryan Gosling is as delightful as Gene Kelly, and Margot Robbie is as lovely as Catherine Deneuve. Resulting in a legitimate cinematic achievement.

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