The Best Films of 2023

by | Jan 24, 2024


The EiC of 615 Film looks back at the best cinema had to offer in the year 2023.

A couple of weeks ago, I was ready to publish this article for your consideration. But then I got hit with the flu, and that had me down for almost a week. It is no joke when I say this: this recent bout with this flu was the worst sickness I have endured in a decade. After I recovered, I tried to determine the best time to publish this article. And when I saw that the Oscar nominations were coming up, I figured, “Maybe publish the day after Oscar nominations, allow the dust to settle, and people will want something new to read about film.” While I’m glad I stuck to this plan, there was a bit more criticism than I expected about yesterday’s announcements. I finalized this list of the best movies of 2023 quite some time ago, but it turns out that six of the 11 best films listed here ultimately got nominated for Best Picture at the upcoming Oscars.

When beginning to compile this list, a recurring theme kept coming up: Many of these films were among the year’s best because of how impactful their endings were. I love movies. But I especially love movies with powerful endings that have me thinking about what I just saw long after the credits roll. History, love, living, honesty, and spreading your wings played vital roles in how these films ended. Some of these films left me speechless, others brought me to tears, a couple had me burst out laughing, and some left me thinking about the horrors our country helped craft.

2023 was a strong year for film, and like most other years, a number of strong releases got left off the list. We will see what 2024 provides, though it looks a little barren at this stage, thanks to the studios purposely dragging things out with the writers and actors’ strike. But I am hopeful 2024 will be a good year in film. As always, thank you for taking the time to read my stuff throughout the year. You have no idea how much I appreciate it.

Honorable Mention: Blackberry, May December, The Teachers’ Lounge, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse


10. Air

Ben Affleck returned to the director’s chair with a simple yet satisfying true store about Nike’s pursuit of Michael Jordan. Affleck the director was sorely missed while he spent a few years portraying Batman, and this slam dunk of a film is a prime example of why he is one of the best in Hollywood behind the camera.

Read our site’s review of Air here.


9. Bottoms

There was no funnier film in 2023 than Bottoms, a satirical high school comedy that fires on all cylinders thanks to Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott. Funny from beginning to end, Bottoms is the perfect example of why comedies deserve to be seen in movie theaters first.


8. Poor Things

Combining Yorgos Lanthimos’ best direction in a film with arguably Emma Stone’s best-ever performance makes for the year’s most fascinating film. Taking a riff on the Frankenstein story, this film is full of beautiful imagery, great dialogue, and funny moments that will not soon leave your brain – unless, of course, you’re dead soon after and then brought back to life with another brain

Read our site’s review of Poor Things here.


7. The Color Purple

Big, bold, hopeful, and soul-stirring, this iteration of the story turned into a musical, featured the year’s best ensemble. If this doesn’t shake you in the best way possible, I’m not sure what will.

Read our site’s review of The Color Purple here.


6. You Hurt My Feelings

Featuring a career-best performance from Julia Louis-Dreyfus, this relationship dramedy examining white lies is both insightful and pretty damn funny. While we always strive to seek the honest feedback we want, the film’s near-flawless balancing act of handling relationships as best as one can creates a wholesome viewing experience.

Read our site’s review of You Hurt My Feelings here.


5. The Holdovers

The way director Alexander Payne peels back the layers of these characters to show us an often-forgotten group of people with no one to celebrate the holidays creates a nourishing experience that makes this film an instant holiday classic that you will want to add to your annual seasonal watch list. Featuring awards-worthy performances from Paul Giamatti and Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers is a delightful film that is as warm as a fireplace and just as enjoyable during the winter months.


4. Barbie / Oppenheimer

This might feel like a cop out, putting Barbenheimer here rather than having each film listed separately. But the impact these two films made by releasing on the same day resulted in the best weekend movie theaters had since before the pandemic. It also helps that both films, while polar opposites, were equally outstanding. Barbie made us laugh with what they were able to get away with in the film while also having us tear up as it hurdled towards the ending. Oppenheimer on the other hand is an exceptional character study about one of history’s most important (and complicated) figures. The two titan directors behind these films, Christopher Nolan and Greta Gerwig, delivered memorable moviegoing experiences that many people are discussing still to this day.

Read our site’s review of Oppenheimer here.


3. Past Lives

“If you leave something behind you gain something, too.” Equal parts transcendent and crushing, Past Lives is a film many of us can relate to. While not exactly a love story, it is a simple story of closure with a sprinkle of “what if.” The final moments of this film arguably hit harder than any film released in 2023 – and for good reason.

Read our site’s review of Past Lives here.


2. The Boy and the Heron

“How do you live?” Not only is that the original title of director Hayao Miyazaki’s latest animated masterpiece, but it is also the message a mother leaves behind for the titular boy in this story. As we watch a boy venture into a dreamlike world akin to Alice in Wonderland, thanks to a heron, Miyazaki challenges viewers about the choices we make, the lies and deceit we may encounter, the ugliness and horror of the world we may walk around in, and the ray of hope at the end of the tunnel. All of this goes back to the question laid out in four words from a master filmmaker who has delivered yet another hand-drawn triumph that no one else is doing or telling in the same realm. It should also be noted that the score by Joe Hisaishi is the best you will hear from any film in 2023.


1. Killers of the Flower Moon

Martin Scorsese’s latest is the most essential viewing of 2023, as he stays faithful to the story from the book that provides the source material with a Biblical reference mixed in: “blood cries out from the ground.” This is a harrowing crime epic reminding us of one of our history’s darkest periods that is seemingly being forgotten with the passage of time. Leave it to Scorsese to shine the spotlight on this shameful era and show us why he is arguably the best living filmmaker of our time. While this captivating piece of filmmaking, which features awards-worthy performances and production design, is told from the perspective of a white filmmaker and thus may not give the whole perspective of what the people of the Osage Nation endured for years and still endure to this day, it is the most significant piece of pop culture in recent memory to address atrocities against American Indians.

Read our site’s review of Killers of the Flower Moon here.