Jacob Agius

Writer, Webmaster at Senses of Cinema, committee member of the Melbourne Cinémathèque and the Czech & Slovak Film Festival of Australia

Each year it feels as though my relationship to film changes, and grows deeper and this year is no different. Below is a list of my favourite films released theatrically or at festivals in Australia in 2023, followed by a list of my favourite first time watches of the year.

Favorite new releases of 2023:

  1. How to Blow Up a Pipeline (Daniel Goldhaber, 2022)
  2. May December (Todd Haynes, 2023)
  3. Saltburn (Emerald Fennell, 2023)
  4. Late Night with the Devil (Cameron & Colin Cairnes, 2023)
  5. The People’s Joker (Vera Drew, 2022)
  6. Plastic (Daisuke Miyazaki, 2023)
  7. The Outwaters (Robbie Banfitch, 2022)
  8. The Fablemans (Steven Spielberg, 2022)
  9. Notes from Eremocene (Viera Čakányová, 2023)
  10. Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese, 2023)
  11. Talk To Me (Michael & Danny Philippou, 2022)
  12. Anatomy of a Fall (Justine Triet, 2023)
  13. Pearl (Ti West, 2022)
  14. The Old Oak (Ken Loach, 2023)
  15. Pretty Red Dress (Dionne Edwards, 2022)

Favourite first-time watches of 2023:

  1. Lovesick (Bill Mousoulis, 2003)
  2. Encounters of the Spooky Kind (Sammo Hung, 1980)
  3. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964)
  4. Summertime (David Lean, 1955)
  5. Night Moves (Arthur Penn, 1975)
  6. The Abyss (James Cameron, 1989)
  7. Legend (Ridley Scott, 1985)
  8. Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
  9. Saint Jack (Peter Bogdanovich, 1979)
  10. Heat (Michael Mann, 1995)
  11. Il Postino (The Postman, Michael Radford, 1994)
  12. Une femme douce (A Gentle Woman, Robert Bresson, 1969)
  13. Triangle of Sadness (Ruben Östlund, 2022)
  14. The Scooby Doo Project (Casper Kelly, Steve Patrick & Larry Morris, 1999)
  15. Patrick (Richard Franklin, 1978)
  16. Bloodmoon (Alec Mills, 1990)
  17. Happy End (Oldrich Lipsky, 1967)
  18. Free Ride (Bill Delaney, 1977)
  19. The Scary of Sixty-First (Dasha Nekrasova, 2021)
  20. The Secret of Nimh (Don Bluth, 1982)

Antti Alanen

Film historian, critic, teacher

In viewing order. Seen in the cinema unless otherwise noted.

I. New

  • All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (Laura Poitras, 2022)
  • The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg, 2022)
  • Walad min al janna / Conspiracy in Cairo / Boy from Heaven (Tarik Saleh, 2022)
  • Armageddon Time (James Gray, 2022) Sodankylä
  • Tori et Lokita (Tori and Lokita, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, 2022) Sodankylä
  • Saint Omer (Alice Diop, 2022) Sodankylä
  • Kievski protses (The Kiev Trial, Sergei Loznitsa, 2022) Sodankylä
  • Monica in the South Seas (Sami van Ingen, Mika Taanila, 2023) Sodankylä
  • Universumin kaiut – Kaija Saariahon musiikki (Echoes of the Universe – The Music of Kaija Saariah, Riitta Rask, 2023) Sodankylä – audio only outside the sold out cinema screening
  • Kuolleet lehdet (Fallen Leaves, Aki Kaurismäki, 2023) Sodankylä
  • Barbie (Greta Gerwig, 2023) Barbenheimer day 21 July 2023
  • Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023) Barbenheimer day 21 July 2023 – film of the year
  • Anselm – Das Rauschen der Zeit (Anselm, Wim Wenders, 2023) Telluride
  • The Holdovers (Alexander Payne, 2023) Telluride
  • The Pigeon Tunnel (Errol Morris, 2023) Telluride
  • Perfect Days (Wim Wenders, 2023) Telluride
  • Past Lives (Celine Song, 2023) Love & Anarchy
  • 20 dniv u Mariupoli (20 Days in Mariupol, Mstyslav Chernov, 2023) Ukrainian Film Days
  • Banat Olfa / Les Filles d’Olfa / Four Daughters (Kaouther Ben Hania, 2023) Love & Anarchy Campaign
  • Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese, 2023)
  • Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2021) Yle Areena online
  • Kimitachi wa do ikiruka (The Boy and the Heron, Hayao Miyazaki, 2023)
  • Neljä pientä aikuista (Four Little Adults, Selma Vilhunen, 2023)

II. Student films: Aalto Elo Film School 2023

The Hotel Room suite of eight films: ASAP, Doggystyle, Wrist Shot, Hookup, Lollipop, The Piston, Satisfyer, and Glance (by Reeta Annala, Hannu-Pekka Peltomaa, Veera Lamminpää, Josefina Rautiainen, Gyöngyi Fazekas, 2023) total 68 min also edited to a short resume Huone 409 – siivottu sinua varten / 409 – Please Make Up My Room, but the full cycle is definitive for me

III.  Golden Oldies

  • Sois belle et tais-toi! (Be Pretty and Shut Up, Delphine Seyrig, 1981) 2023 re-release, seen at Luminor Hôtel de Ville Paris
  • Danza macabra (Danse macabre, Antonio Margheriti, 1963) 2022 Lyre restoration, Toute la mémoire du monde
  • Istoriya grazhdanskoi voiny (History of the Civil War, Dziga Vertov, 1921) 2021 restoration Nikolai Izvolov, Toute la mémoire du monde
  • Mary Sweeney Morning Discussion, 17 June 2023 Sodankylä, hosted by Otto Kylmälä
  • Twin Peaks S2.E7 Lonely Souls (David Lynch, 1990) in the presence of Mary Sweeney, Sodankylä
  • Yam daabo (The Choice, Idrissa Ouédraogo, 1986) 2022 restoration, Bologna
  • Ceddo (The Outsiders, Ousmane Sembène, 1977) 2023 restoration, Bologna
  • Amok (Fedor Ozep, 1934) 2023 restoration, Bologna
  • Al-makhdu’un (The Dupes,Tewfik Saleh, 1972) 2023 restoration, Bologna
  • Gharibeh va meh (The Stranger and the Fog, Bahram Beyzaie, 1974) 2023 restoration, Bologna
  • Cherike-ye Tara (The Ballad of Tara, Bahram Beyzaie, 1979) 2022 restoration, Bologna
  • Macario (Roberto Gavaldón, 1960) 2023 restoration, Bologna
  • The Straight Story (David Lynch 1999) 2023 restoration, Bologna
  • Man Ray: Return to Reason. The 2023 restoration of Le Retour à la raison (1923), Emak Bakia (1926), L’Étoile de la mer (1928) and Les Mystères du château de Dé (1929). Love & Anarchy screener
  • Laurel & Hardy Year One: The Newly Restored 1927 Silents (Flicker Alley 2023) blu-ray
  • Rêves de clowns (René Hervouin, Blanche Vigier de Maisonneuve, 1924) Pordenone
  • Pierre Loti (early cinema compilation 1897-1923 by Elif Rongen Kaynakçi, 2023) Pordenone
  • Merry-Go-Round (Rupert Julian, [Erich von Stroheim], 1923) 2023 restoration, Pordenone
  • Amazonas, Maior Rio do Mundo (Silvino Simões dos Santos Silva, 1918) 2023 identification, Pordenone
  • Pêcheur d’Islande (The Iceland Fisherman, Jacques de Baroncelli, 1924) Pordenone
  • Die Strasse (The Street, Karl Grune, 1923) 2023 restoration, Pordenone
  • Early British Films from the Filmoteca de Catalunya, 1897-1909 (2023 restoration) Pordenone
  • Hindle Wakes (Maurice Elvey, 1927) Pordenone 
  • Der Berg des Schicksals (The Peak of Fate, Arnold Fanck, 1924) 2022 restoration, Pordenone 


The film year 2023 was better than 2022. Big films got bigger, all other films suffered. Film industry and film culture are in an existential crisis. Although big films were successful, there are not enough of them. Most streaming services suffered also. There was a revival of home formats such as blu-ray, in reaction to the dearth of quality on streaming services. Film festivals thrived. After the pandemic, people enjoyed the common experience of cinema-going.

In May I established an office of my own and started my independent working life as a historian, critic and teacher, also continuing as a member of the board of the Finnish Film Foundation (major funder of Finnish film production, distribution and exhibition). I am now also a FIAF Supporter.

The world is burning because of climate change and the warmongers. Grave injustice is being committed to young generations. But I keep being an optimist on all counts. “Peace is a question of will. All conflicts can be settled, and there are no excuses for allowing them to become eternal.” Martti Ahtisaari (1937-2023), from his Nobel Lecture 2008.

Hussain Al-Dubaisi

Cinephile, Qatif, Saudi Arabia

Best films released in 2023:

  1. The Holdovers (Alexander Payne, 2023)
  2. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson, 2023)
  3. Air (Ben Affleck, 2023)
  4. Motståndaren (Opponent, Milad Alami, 2023)
  5. Wu ming (Hidden Blade, Er Cheng, 2023)
  6. Nimona (Nick Bruno, Troy Quane, 2023)
  7. They Cloned Tyrone (Juel Taylor, 2023)
  8. No Hard Feelings (Gene Stupnitsky, 2023)
  9. Beomjoidosi 3 (The Roundup: No Way Out, Lee Sang-yong, 2023)
  10. Killing Romance (Wonsuk Lee, 2023)

Best older films encountered for the first time in 2023:

  • The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh, 2022)
  • Fanny och Alexander (Fanny and Alexander, Ingmar Bergman, 1982)
  • Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki (When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, Mikio Naruse, 1960)
  • Fantasia (James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Ford Beebe Jr., Norman Ferguson, David Hand, Jim Handley, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield, Ben Sharpsteen, 1940)
  • Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
  • Sedmikrásky (Daisies, Vera Chytilová, 1966)
  • Voskhozhdenie (The Ascent, Larisa Shepitko, 1977)
  • Doraibu mai kâ (Drive My Car, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2021)
  • Scener ur ett äktenskap (Scenes from a Marriage, Ingmar Bergman, 1974)
  • La noire de… (Black Girl, Ousmane Sembene, 1966)

Francisco Algarín Navarro

Spanish film critic and programmer, co-founder of Lumière Magazines. Lived and Works in Seville.

Films encountered for the first time (or when seeing them again, as if it were the first time) in 2023:

  • “Der Klang, die Welt…” (2018), The Sparrow Dream (2022), Robert Beavers 
  • 4 Fingers, 5 Toes (2022), Falling Lessons (1992), Ginko Yellow (2022), Hula (2022), My Mink (Unowned Luxuries #2) (2019), Newt Leaders (2020), Verge – For My Sisters (2022), Amy Halpern 
  • 9/1/75 (James Benning, 1975)
  • 98.3 KHX: Bridge At Electrical Storm (Al Razutis, 1967-1973)
  • À la campagne (1992), Au Sud (1991), Une fois habitée (1992), Sandra Davis 
  • A Persian Rug (1969), Epilog/Siam (1968), Jabbok (1967), Love Objects (1971), Morpheus In Hell (1967), Oblivion (1969), Onderzoek (1972), Ophelia/The Cat Lady (1969), Phases of The Moon (1968), Space Time Studies (1977), Tom Chomont 
  • À projeter sur le ciel, la nuit (Maurice Lemaître, 1979) 
  • À propos des fleurs (About the Flowers, 1952), Germes de Lumière (1958), Charles Dekeukeleire
  • A Trojan House (1981), Deutschland Spiegel (1980), Salve (1981), OdilonOdilon (1984), Pauline (1985), Roseblood (1974), Shells and Rushes (1987), Sharon Couzin
  • A Woman’s Touch (1983), Divided Loyalties (1978), Honor and Obey (1981), Noblesse Oblige (1981), Rude Awakening (1976), Short Fuse (1992), The Cup and the Lip (1986), Tuxedo Theater (1969), Whiplash (1995/1997), Warren Sonbert  
  • A–dios (1989), Aida (1976), Aigokeros (1981), Amazona (1983), Come Out (1971), Homecoming (1978), La noche bengalí (1980), Mujeres (1979), Mundial (1978), Muñecos (1973), Para Virginia (1984), Patagonia (1972), Patagonia (1976), Pesca de la centolla (1976), Pink Freud (1973),  Potrero (1973), Retratos (1976), Señales de vida (1979), Taller (1974), Testamento y vida interior (1976), Ulises (1979), Narcisa Hirsch 
  • Afar, la dérive des continents (1975), Erta Ale (1973), Haroun Tazieff
  • Airs (1976), The Loom (1986), The Machine of Eden (1970), Vision of the Fire Tree (1990), Stan Brakhage 
  • Alabama Departure (Peter Bundy, 1978)
  • American International Pictures (1997), Copacabana Beach (1983), M.M. In Motion (1992), Public Domain (1996), U.S.S.A. (1985), Work and Progress (1999), Vivian Ostrovsky 
  • Anno 2000 (1969), Fumus art (1969), Idea assurda per un filmaker (1969), Gianfranco Brebbia
  • Apalachee (1974), Cantico (1982), Maypops (1971), James Herbert 
  • Argument (Anthony McCall, Andrew Tyndall, 1978)
  • Arquitectura 1: Pirámide (2002), Ver piedras/Signos de sol (1988), Juan Bufill
  • Ballade aux sources (Med Hondo, 1965)
  • Beating (1995), Midst (1996), Opus 40 (1979), Sunprints 1, 2, 3 (2022), Surfacing (2004), Time Being I-VI (2007-2014), Transitions (1982), Barbara Sternberg
  • Binghamton, My India (1970), Globe (1971), Lisa and Joey in Connecticut (1965), The Winter Footage (1984), Ken Jacobs
  • Blätter auf dem Glasdach (2022), Blütenbaum (2017), Einhornfisch (2009), Im Schnee (2001), Imkerschule (2017), Karussell (2022), Rue Labat in Trauer (2004), Schattenbild (2018), Schaukeln (2022), Schmetterlingspavillon (2006), Skulpturen im Nebel (2012), Weiße Blumen für P. (2016), Weiße Vorhänge (2018), Wildgänse (2016), Helga Fanderl 
  • Boulevard (1989), Breakout (1990), Lure (1986), Fred Worden 
  • By the Lake (1986), Mosori Monika (1970), Chick Strand
  • Carol (1970), Film with Three Dancers (1971), Ed Emshwiller 
  • Closer Outside (1981-1982), Tremors (1984), World in Focus (1976), Vincent Grenier 
  • Cobra Woman (Robert Siodmak, 1944) 
  • Conical Solid (1975), Four Projected Movements (1975), Line Describing a Cone (1973), Anthony McCall 
  • Cosas de mujeres (Women’s Things, Rosa Martha Fernández, 1975-1978)
  • Chasse à la panthère (Hunting the Panther, 1909), Coiffures et types d’Hollande (1910), Alfred Machin
  • De cierta manera (One Way or Another, Sara Gómez, 1974)
  • Der Himmel über Berlin (1998), Thanksgiving (1994), Windows (1996), Milena Gierke 
  • Declarative Mode (Paul Sharits, 1977)
  • Déjà s’envole la fleur maigre (From the Branches Drops the Withered Blossom, Paul Meyer, 1960)
  • Disappearances (James Edmonds, 2023) 
  • Divers-Épars (1987), Ligne d’eau (1989), Wanderer (1978), yann beauvais
  • Domicile (1977), Nimbus (1978), The Moieties (1978), Gary Doberman 
  • Double Strength (1978), Endangered (1988), Haircut (1978), Place Mattes (1987), Stone Circles (1983), Sync Touch (1981), Barbara Hammer
  • Eclipse of the Sun Virgin (1967), Hold Me While I’m Naked (1966), Wild Night in El Reno (1977), George Kuchar 
  • Elefanten (Karl Kels, 2000) 
  • Episodes From the Secret Life (1982), Rolling In My Ears (2002), The Secret Abyss (1979), Contemplating (1969), Barry Gerson
  • Eros Erosion (1990), Hilda Was a Goodlooker (1986), Poems and Constructions (2008), Anna Thew
  • Este Coche (1989), Moroccan Lights (1995), Henri Plaat
  • Everything Everywhere Again Alive (Keith Lock, 1975)
  • Exchanges (1979), Noyes (1976), Still Life (1975), Bette Gordon 
  • Fandenspiele 3 (Detel Aurand & Ute Aurand, 2013) 
  • Fire Child (Gordon Matta-Clark, 1971)
  • Flower Child (1967), Shades and Drumbeats (1964), The Match Girl (1966), Andrew Meyer
  • Fluid Fragments (Maximilien Luc Proctor, 2023)
  • Foolish Wives (Eric vom Stroheim, 1922) 
  • Gas Station (Robert Morris, 1969)
  • Ghosts (Jack Smith, ca. 1970)
  • Hand Grenade (Gill Eatherley, 1971)
  • Handwritten (1959), Henry James’ Memories of Old New York (1959), Charles Boultenhouse 
  • Hit Him on the Head with a Hard Heavy Hammer (Rebecca Jane Arthur, 2023)
  • Homecomings (Dirk de Bruyn, 1988) 
  • Horizontal Hold (David Wharry, 1977)
  • How To Draw A Cat (Pola Chapelle, 1973) 
  • III NBR (Benjamín Ellenberger, 2015)
  • Images By Images II & III (1955), Trial Ballons (1982), Robert Breer
  • Imaginary Light (Andrew Noren, 1994) 
  • Imperfect Three Image Films (1995), Zefiro Torna or Scenes from the Life of George Maciunas (1992), Jonas Mekas
  • Interior Garden II (1978), Introspection (1941), What Is A Man? (1958), Sara Kathryn Arledge
  • Irome (Hiroyuki Oki, 1992) 
  • J’accuse (Abel Gance, 1919)
  • Jofroi (Marcel Pagnol, 1933)
  • Komposition im Blau (Composition in Blue, Oskar Fischinger, 1935) 
  • Kuolleet lehdet (Fallen Leaves, Aki Kaurismäki, 2023) 
  • L’operatore perforato (1979), Secondo il mio occhio di vetro (1971), Paolo Gioli 
  • La Croissance des végétaux (The Growth of Plants, 1929), Spirochoeta pallida (de la syphilis) (1910), Jean Comandon 
  • La Fêlure du temps (Raymonde Carasco, 2023)
  • La Main du diable (Carnival of Sinners, Maurice Tourneur, 1943) 
  • La Zerda ou Les chants de l’oubli (The Zerda or the Songs of Oblivion, Assia Djebar, 1983)
  • Land of the Pharaohs (Howard Hawks, 1955) 
  • Landscape (Jules Engel, 1971-1978) 
  • Le Moindre geste (The Slightest Gesture, Fernand Deligny, Josée Manenti, Jean-Pierre Daniel, 1971)
  • Le pittoresche cascate d’Italia (Luca Comerio, 1912)
  • Le Tournoi dans la cité (The Tournament, Jean Renoir, 1928) 
  • Les Ponts d’Asnières (Jakobis, 1987)
  • Love Affair (Leo McCarey, 1939)
  • Man’s Castle (1933), Moonrise (1948), The Mortal Storm (1940), Frank Borzage
  • Matrix (1973), Metonic Cycles (1974), Waterwork (1973), James Cagle 
  • Midweekend (Caroline Avery, 1986)
  • Moirage (1967), Who Ho Ray No. 1 (1966-1972), Stan VanDerBreek
  • More Than Meets The Eye (1979), Noctiluca (Magellan’s Toys: #1) (1974), Pas De Trois (1975), Procession (1976), Yellow Springs (Magellan: Vanishing Point #1) (1972), Hollis Frampton 
  • Mutiny (1983), Surface Noise (2000), Abigail Child
  • NYC RGB (Viktoria Schmid, 2023)
  • Observando el cielo (Jeanne Liotta, 2007)
  • Ojitos mentirosos (Elena Duque, 2023)
  • Pachamama (Peter Nestler, 1997)
  • Palace of Pleasure (John Hofsess, 1968)
  • Palme d’or (Marcelle Thirache, 1993)
  • Permanent Wave (Anita Thacher, 1966)
  • Poem Posters (Charles Henri Ford, 1967)
  • Ritual in Transfigured Time (1948), The Private Life Of A Cat (1944), Maya Deren 
  • Sambizanga (Sarah Maldoror, 1972)
  • Seated Figures (Michael Snow, 1988) 
  • Showing Up (Kelly Reichardt, 2022)
  • Skye Boat for Biscuit (Beverly O’Neill, 1973)
  • Sonnenstrahl (Ray of Sunshine, Pál Fejös, 1933) 
  • Sous le soleil (Rose Lowder, 2011)
  • Spacecut (Werner Nekes, 1971)
  • Swain (1950), Gregory J. Markopoulos 
  • The Edge (Robert Kramer, 1968)
  • The Gondola Eye (Ian Hugo, 1964) 
  • The Pacific Ocean (Takahiko Iimura, 1971)
  • The Sky on Location (1982), Visible Cities (1991), Babette Mangolte
  • The Time Slit (Jun’ichi Okuyama, 1989) 
  • Trágame nube (el cuerpo establece el ritmo) (Esperanza Collado, 2023) 
  • Trumpet Garden (Barbara Klutinis, 1983) 
  • Untitled (Ernie Gehr, 1977)
  • Walk Up (Hong Sangsoo, 2022) 
  • Water Water (Nicky Hamlyn, 2003)

Julien Allen

Film writer for Reverse Shot, based in London, England. He made his film producing debut in 2023 with the Welsh language folk horror short The Wyrm of Bwlch Pen Barras (coming soon to Arrow Player)

Best films of 2023:

  1. Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese, 2023)
  2. The Sweet East (Sean Price Williams, 2023)
  3. Godzilla Minus One (Takashi Yamazaki, 2023)
  4. The Old Oak (Ken Loach, 2023)
  5. Infinity Pool (Brandon Cronenberg, 2023)
  6. Menus-Plaisirs Les Troisgros (Frederick Wiseman, 2023)
  7. Enys Men (Mark Jenkin, 2023)
  8. Sisu (Jalmari Helander, 2022)
  9. The Goldman Case (Cedric Khan, 2023)
  10. Kuolleet lehdet (Fallen Leaves, Aki Kaurismäki, 2023)

Killers of the Flower Moon

Michael J. Anderson

President & CEO, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, USA

2023 world premieres (in alphabetical order):

  •  Asteroid City (Wes Anderson, 2023)
  • Bên trong vo kén vàng (Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell, Pham Thien An, 2023)
  • Cerrar los ojos (Close Your Eyes, Victor Erice, 2023)
  • Eureka (Lisandro Alonso, 2023)
  • Here (Bas Devos, 2023)
  • Kuolleet lehdet (Fallen Leaves, Aki Kaurismäki, 2023)
  • Kuru Otlar Üstüne (About Dry Grasses, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2023)
  • May December (Todd Haynes, 2023)
  • Roter Himmel (Afire, Christian Petzold, 2023)
  • The Zone of Interest (Jonathan Glazer, 2023)

 Older films encountered for the first time in 2023 (in chronological order)

  •  Wild Girl (Raoul Walsh, 1932)
  • Swamp Water (Jean Renoir, 1941)
  • No Room for the Groom (Douglas Sirk, 1952)
  • Hôrô-ki (A Wanderer’s Notebook, Mikio Naruse, 1962)
  • Polustanok (Whistle Stop, Boris Barnet, 1963)
  • Blaise Pascal (Roberto Rossellini, 1972)
  • Shonben raidâ (P. P. Rider, Shinji Sômai, 1983)
  • Les favoris de la lune (Favourites of the Moon, Otar Iosseliani, 1984)
  • Szürkület (Twilight, György Fehér, 1990)
  • Le garçu (The Son Of…, Maurice Pialat, 1995)

 As many high-profile new releases as we saw this past year, I can’t help but think of 2023 as a bit of a disappointment. I didn’t see anything at the level of last year’s Pacifiction, 2021’s What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? or Hong Sangsoo’s best films of 2021-2022. Nor did this year equal the depth of the past two years. The only other title that I seriously considered for my list was Pema Tseden’s Xue bao (Snow Leopard), which does deserve a special mention here for the tragic death of its director. (Perhaps my future viewings of Hong’s second film of 2023, In Our Day, and/or Michael Mann’s Ferrari will at least add an additional runner up or two.) Personally, 2023 was better for older titles with first viewings of outstanding films by such all-time favorite directors as Renoir, Naruse, Barnet and most of all Rossellini–Blaise Pascal may have been the best new-to-me film I saw this past year, period. It was in this category too that I experienced my biggest surprise of 2023 in Fehér’s Twilight, a particular experience of discovery that I am sure I wasn’t alone in having among this year’s World Poll respondents. Finally, there were a trio of 2022 titles worth mentioning that might have cracked my top ten had I not limited myself to world premieres: Laura Citarella’s Trenque Lauquen, Kelly Reichardt’s Showing Up and David Easteal’s The Plains. The last was my favorite Australian film (not directed by Jane Campion) in quite some time–an opinion that I suspect, once again, I have in common with many other Senses of Cinema contributors.

Dan Auiler

Writer, Writer, Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic and Hitchcock’s Notebooks (Hitchcocksvertigo.substack.com)
  • Asteroid City (Wes Anderson, 2023)
  • Past Lives (Celine Song, 2023) 
  • Maestro (Bradley Cooper, 2023)
  • Barbie (Greta Gerwig, 2023)
  • Anatomy of a Fall (Justine Triet, 2023)
  • The Boy and the Heron (Hazao Miyazaki, 2023)
  • Godzilla Minus One (Takashi Yamazaki, 2023)
  • Fremont (Babak Jalali, 2023)
  • Kuolleet lehdet (Fallen Leaves, Aki Kaurismäki, 2023)
  • The Holdovers (Alexander Payne, 2023)

Swapnil Azad

Writer, Cinephile based in Calcutta, India.

New films: 

Top Three [ranked]

  1. Indubala Bhaater Hotel (The World of Indubala, Debaloy Bhattacharya, 2023) [Miniseries]
  2. Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese, 2023)
  3. Chalchitra Ekhon (Kaleidoscope Now, Anjan Dutt, 2023) + Something Like An Autobiography (Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, 2023) 

Significant Seven [in alphabetical order]

  • Jubilee (Vikramaditya Motwane, 2023) [Web Series] + P.I. Meena (Debaloy Bhattacharya, 2023) [Web Series]
  • Joram (Devashish Makhija, 2023) + Thuramukham (Harbour, Rajeev Ravi, 2023) + Toby (Basil Alchalakkal, 2023)
  • Mein Falke (My Falcon, Dominik Graf, 2023) + Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam (Like an Afternoon Dream, Lijo Jose Pellissery, 2022)
  • Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023) + Salaar: Part 1 — Ceasefire (Prashanth Neel, 2023)
  • Rapito (Kidnapped, Marco Bellocchio, 2023) + The Monk and the Gun (Pawo Choyning Dorji, 2023)
  • Roter Himmel (Afire, Christian Petzold, 2023)
  • Shesh Pata (The Last Page, Atanu Ghosh, 2023) + Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, 2019)

Honourable Mentions: Adrishya Jalakangal (Invisible Windows, Bijukumar Damodaran, 2023), Animal (Sandeep Reddy Vanga, 2023), I’m A Virgo (Boots Riley, 2023) [Web Series], Jailer (Nelson Dilipkumar, 2023), Jawan (Arun “Atlee” Kumar, 2023), Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire (Zack Snyder, 2023), Shikarpur (Nirjhar Mitra, 2023) [Web Series]

Older films

Top Three [ranked]

  1. Jukti Takko Aar Gappo (Reason, Debate and a Story, Ritwik Ghatak, 1974) + Komal Gandhar (E-Flat, 1961) + Subarnarekha (Golden Thread, Ritwik Ghatak, 1965)
  2. Naan Kadavul (I am God, Bala Pazhanisaamy, 2009)
  3. 96 (C. Prem Kumar, 2018)

Written and(/or) Directed by Debaloy Bhattacharya

Films from a modern Bengali master who’s the funniest trash, horniest erotica and the most moving melodramas of recent times.

  • Bidaay Byomkesh (Farewell Byomkesh, Debaloy Bhattacharya, 2018)
  • Bou Keno Psycho (Debaloy Bhattacharya, 2019) [Web Series]
  • Charitraheen 3 (Debaloy Bhattacharya, 2020) [Web Series]
  • Dupur Thakurpo (Debaloy Bhattacharya, 2017) [Web Series: Season 1]
  • Obhishopto Nighty (Birsa Dasgupta, 2014)
  • Roga Howar Sohoj Upay (The Easiest Way to Slim Down, Debaloy Bhattacharya, 2015)

A Dr. Biju Film

Films from a Malayalee master – rarely available and talked about.

  • Sound of Silence (Bijukumar Damodaran, 2017)
  • The Portraits (Bijukumar Damodaran, 2021)
  • Veyilmarangal (Trees Under The Sun, Bijukumar Damodaran, 2019)

Starring Mahesh Babu

Films featuring the widely beloved Telugu superstar.

  • Arjun (Gunasekhar, 2004)
  • Businessman (Puri Jagannadh, 2012)
  • Murari (Pasupuleti Krishna Vamsi, 2001)
  • Pokiri (Rogue, Puri Jagannadh, 2012)
  • Takkari Donga (The Sly Thief, Jayant Paranji, 2002)

Honourable Mentions: Ajji (Granny, Devashish Makhija, 2017), À Vendredi, Robinson (See You Friday, Robinson, Mitra Farahani, 2022),  Iruvar (The Duo, Mani Ratnam, 1997), Jenayat-e bi deghat (Careless Crime, Shahram Mokri. 2020), Madly Bangalee (Anjan Dutt, 2009), Satya (Ram Gopal Varma, 1998)

Jessica Balanzategui

Writer, Senior Lecturer in Media and Screen at RMIT University, Melbourne, and Chief Editor of Amsterdam UP’s Horror and Gothic Media Cultures series. Her latest books are Monstrous Beings and Media Cultures (with Craven, 2023) and Netflix, Dark Fantastic Genres and Intergenerational Viewing (with Baker and Sandars, 2023)

This list captures the 2023 film releases that left the most substantial and lasting impression on me – “favourites” and definitive “best of” lists don’t really gel with the way I engage with film. I don’t believe there is any way to objectively measure and rank a film’s quality and “greatness”, and attempts to do so have traditionally positioned women and POC filmmakers on the fringes and in the margins of film history.

However, I do really value how these sorts of listing exercises capture each year’s cinematic zeitgeist and temperature, and the Senses of Cinema World Poll has a strong tradition of curating the year’s cinematic output in ways that recognize its richness and diversity.

The films on this list all have a 2023 release date in Australia, where I am based, even though some were released earlier in other countries. I was lucky enough to experience most of them in cinemas. All activated my senses and emotions in ways that re-invigorated my love for cinema’s potential to open new pathways for understanding and relating to our world.

     1. Skinamarink (Kyle Edward Ball, 2022)

Skinamarink was the most impactful film I watched in 2023, yet outside of this, my list is in no particular order. However, Kyle Edward Ball’s lo-fi, experimental debut feature stands alone for me as the most powerful cinema release of 2023. This film stirred my emotions in ways no film has before – pulling at particular sensory and emotional strings that haven’t been plucked since my childhood – in so doing making me “feel” new potentials for cinema as an art-form. In short, while I opened this list with caveats about my resistance to favourite and best films lists, Skinamarink was my favourite film of the year.

Seeing this film in a packed cinema in Melbourne at the beginning of 2023 – my first adventure outside of my house after weeks of festive season isolation thanks to a severe bout of COVID-19 – was a sublime experience. It felt like my most intimate childhood anxieties and long-repressed memories were being projected on to the big screen and being shared with everyone else in the cinema. This feeling was both eerily violating and exhilarating. Before my Skinamarink outing, I had been trapped inside my house in a COVID haze for two weeks, staring at door frames, hallways, and windows for longer than I had since I was a bored or sick small child. This context further empowered the film’s agonizingly protracted long takes of domestic interiors – somehow, this film put me back inside a nightmare and trapped me there.

This nightmare was both my recent domestic confinement and isolation, and a more primal, long-forgotten looping nightmare from my childhood (which was filled with insomniac, middle-of-the-night wanderings). The analogue grain that pervades the film’s visual and sonic aesthetic architecture felt like a partition between my adult and long-lost childhood self – if I could perforate it, just for a moment, I would be back in my own childhood home, wandering around in the dark hallways like little Kevin, the film’s protagonist (whose perspective we share, but whose face we never see). This analogue grain confounds the viewer’s ability to see and hear what is going on throughout this deeply unsettling work of experimental slow cinema, forcing us to search the frame for signs of motion and strain our ears for sounds of life, just as vulnerable Kevin does throughout the film. The child’s experience of waking up in the middle of the night, confused and terrified in a once safe family home that suddenly feels “wrong”, also felt uncomfortably familiar. Throughout Skinamarink, doors and windows disappear, a barbie levitates from the ceiling, and a toy phone on wheels suddenly lunges out from the darkness, its loud ring no longer signifying playtime but becoming a sonic assault. All of this felt threatening and terrifying in its very cosy familiarity.

I am lucky enough to watch and think about horror movies for a living. No film has ever made me feel the way Skinamarink did.

Aftersun (Charlotte Wells, 2022)
Another stunningly impressive feature film, Aftersun’s portrait of a child (Frankie Corio) on the brink of entering her turbulent teenage years and a young father (Paul Mescal) who may be on the precipice of the end of his life achingly captured the criss-crossing, time travelling potentials of memory and childhood nostalgia. For me, Aftersun and Skinamarink operated like 2023’s brother and sister films.

Cuando acecha la maldad (When Evil Lurks, Demián Rugna, 2023)
Just when I thought I couldn’t bear to watch yet another zombie film, this innovative gut-punch of a horror-drama – an Argentinian-US co-production – comes along and rewrites these well-worn conventions through its clever combination of zombie and possession mythologies. Taking this Evil Dead-style play with horror subgenres in dark and deeply sincere new directions, this film entangles demonic possession with zombie decay and contagion with disgusting and enthralling results.

Late Night With the Devil (Cameron and Colin Cairns, 2023)
2023 was a bumper year for Australian horror, and this nostalgic, ‘70s talk-show-set demonic possession film was thrilling to experience in cinemas. The film playfully sucks you into the vortex of its ‘70s alternate dimension from its opening sequence and never lets you go. The film is so much fun and the horror bubbles up so gradually that you don’t feel the water boiling up around you until it’s too late, like the proverbial frog. David Dastmalchian delivers one of my favourite performances of the year: more Dastmalchian in horror movies in 2024 and beyond, please!

Dream Scenario (Kristoffer Borgli, 2023)
As has been previously documented in Senses of Cinema, I am a passionate appreciator of the man, the myth, the legend: Nicolas Cage. In this film, Cage plays a down-on-his-luck evolutionary biology professor, Paul Matthews, who goes viral after he suddenly starts appearing in people’s dreams, for reasons unbeknownst to him. The film is a poignant meta-reflection on the “Cage Rage” and “Crazy Cage” memes that have added a parodic extra dimension to the many layers that constitute Cage’s illustrious career. Cage has expressed his discomfort with his memetic second life, including how out of control it makes him feel. Dream Scenario makes us sit in the absurd horror of this experience, as Paul’s personal image fractures and spirals out of control once it is taken over by the sprawling, anonymous masses, and in the process starts to belong to the inner lives and dreams of unknown others. A clever companion piece to Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation (2002) – another darkly absurd, meta comedy featuring one of the all-time great Nicolas Cage performances – this film delivers one of Cage’s most poignant, layered, and darkly satirical performances. I remain haunted by the final scene.

Talk to Me (Danny and Michael Philippou, 2023)
Another absolute ripper of a feature film debut, this wildly successful Australian horror movie is, like Late Night With the Devil, both playful and horrifying. We watch with growing dread as a lively group of suburban teens take a supernatural game with a talismanic hand that connects them with the dead a few steps too far, as teens in horror movies are wont to do.  The film feels like being strapped into a rollicking haunted house ride that gets more intense than you bargained for and starts to judder off its tracks. While it is great fun, its layers of trauma and pain are also beautifully written, its emotional sincerity creeping up stealthily as the horror mounts. Star Sophie Wilde delivers one of the year’s most impressive performances.

Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)
While I occasionally get frustrated with Nolan’s pontificating about the death of cinema-going and the importance of the magic of the cinema, seeing this film in Imax was every bit the overwhelming, all-encompassing sensory and emotional experience Nolan promised. This is a majestic film that does need to scald the eyeballs and vibrate the eardrums with the power of its atomic blast to be adequately understood.

Of An Age (Goran Stolevski, 2023)
This was one of the few films on this list I didn’t see in the cinema – I first experienced this film on a plane – but the experience was no less tactile and moving. In seeming defiance of “Nolan’s law”, Stolevski’s nostalgic story of infatuation between two young men during a chance 24-hour encounter in suburban Melbourne in 1999 felt no less vivid and real on an airplane screen. In fact, the intimacy of this film places one in a cocoon with the two protagonists, a cocoon which, like two of my other favourite films of 2023 – Aftersun and Skinamarink – incites all the comfort and pain of nostalgia. Like these two films, Of An Age meditates on memory’s power to write and re-write ourselves. I am proud to say that yet another Australian film offers two of the best performances I saw all year, from Thom Green and Elias Anton as the young lovers.

Pearl (Ti West, 2022)
This film took way too long to reach Australian shores, but it was well worth the wait. The first film in West’s series, X, was sleazy ‘70s psychosexual slasher fun, while, Pearl, the prequel film – set on the same Texas farm, but this time in 1918 – is a thing of terrifying, ridiculously unhinged and dangerous beauty – just like its lead title character. Pearl is played brilliantly by Mia Goth, her sweet smiles gradually mutating into contorted grimaces as the film progresses, dismally failing to hide her monstrous unravelling. The final deranged grin Goth holds for three minutes as tears stream down her face and the credits roll was one of my favourite shots of 2023. She IS a star!

Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2023)
Like all of Lanthimos’s films, Poor Things is intriguingly and joltingly bizarre. But in spite of Lanthimos’s intentionally alienating style, Poor Things has a hot, vigorously beating heart, just like the re-imagined female Frankenstein’s monster at the centre of the film, the protagonist Bella Baxter, performed with strikingly blunt sincerity by Emma Stone. Bella’s journey of discovery showcases the power a woman can unlock when she refuses the constraints of social judgement and expectation – Stone has described the film as the story “of a woman who doesn’t have to deal with shame”. Rather than being bent out of shape by internalising patriarchal society’s constant shame-inflicting judgment, Bella curiously observes judgmental attempts to oppress her, yet forges ahead unbothered and as she pleases anyway. Through its dark satire, the film exposes the cavalcade of belittling shaming behaviours Bella bumps and jostles past for what they are: utter buffoonery and toxic insecurity. I left the cinema thoroughly energised by the empowering current surging through this subversively whimsical film.

Gojira Mainasu Wan (Godzilla Minus One, Takashi Yamazaki, 2023)
It may be the world’s longest continuously running film franchise, but Godzilla films continue to awe and amaze me – 2016 gave us another invigoratingly fresh take on the giant lizard from his home country, in the form of Shin Godzilla (Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi). Godzilla Minus One is an origin story of a different sort to what we have become used to in franchise cinema – this is a film deeply invested primarily in the cinematic, rather than the mythic and narrative, origins of the creature, echoing closely the aesthetics, themes, and key sequences of the original 1954 Japanese film (Ishirō Honda). In so doing, the film returns to and revises some of the original film’s questions around the socio-cultural politics of urban disaster. The film delivers a touching and thoughtful critique of the Japanese nationalism that so problematically contributed to the horrors of WWII, and re-imagines the post-war period as an opportunity to forge a more humanist approach to collective resistance through the battle to defeat Godzilla. It also has one of the most fascinating creature designs we’ve seen in a Godzilla film for long time.

Satan Wants You (Steve J. Adams and Sean Horlor, 2023)
I found this horrifying and at times hilarious exploration of the 1980s Satanic Panic gripping. The documentary focuses on the roots of the spiraling hysteria – the bestselling 1980 book Michelle Remembers – and unpacks the confusing and bizarre psychosexual dynamics behind its collaborative (and wildly creative) development between co-authors Michelle Smith and her psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder. This was another film I enjoyed with a rowdy audience (this one at this year’s MonsterFest), and together we audibly and physically reacted to the film’s sordid twists and turns, in another of my 2023 “magic of cinema” moments. The film is particularly powerful when it shifts the focus back on to yet another woman forgotten by history, Pazder’s first wife Marilyn, who was doggedly persistent in her quest to unravel the truth behind the strange relationship between Pazder and his new obsession, his patient Michelle: together they convinced the world that Michelle was afflicted with nightmarish repressed memories of ritual satanic abuse. Marilyn quietly emerges as the unsung hero of this disturbing tale, but her moments of belated triumph are accompanied by her frustrated bemusement that the world took so long to listen to her.

Huesera: The Bone Woman  (Michelle Garza Cervera, 2023)
This Mexican-Peruvian horror film joins such classics as Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968), The Omen (Richard Donner, 1976), Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977), and Jonathan Glazer’s criminally underrated Birth (2004) as one of the great pregnancy-fear and new parenthood horror films. Unlike these pregnancy horror classics, Huesera was made by a woman – it is Michelle Garza Cevera’s directorial debut, so is yet another of 2023’s inspiringly impressive debut features. As a result, the horror feels so starkly unflinching, real, and inescapably claustrophobic. We don’t watch something happening “to” Valeria (Natalia Solián) – we experience the creeping terror of natal confinement with her. Valeria’s delight in her pregnancy becomes the nightmare of her body and mind turning on her as it becomes something other than wholly own. The film does not let us turn our gaze turn away from the relentless entrapment of this quietly building horror.

Saltburn (Emerald Fennell, 2023)
One of the year’s most divisive films, Fennell’s follow up to her sharply subversive but tonally rickety feature debut – 2020’s Promising Young Woman – is a gloriously chaotic and untidy, lurid dark comedy-thriller. Barry Keoghan is brilliant as always as an oddball new Oxford University student, Oliver, who feels marginalized by the ultra-privileged popular kids, but is obsessed with the handsome king of these rich kids, Felix (Jacob Elordi). The film’s messy downward spiral into depravity as Oliver spends a summer vacation at Felix’s opulent historic mansion, Saltburn, updates and undresses archetypal Gothic romances about obsessive desire set against backdrops of creaking, sprawling mansions and rolling English countrysides. The echoes of The Shining (Kubrick, 1980) also push the film’s melodramatic register into uncannily absurd places, bringing to mind Jack Nicholson’s “Jack’s” maniacal but empty obsessions as he loses himself in the labyrinthine corridors of The Overlook hotel. The film’s twists and turns are often ludicrous, but I had a great time with this histrionic, homoerotic take on Wuthering Heights. However I’ve been disappointed by the vitriol the film and its director have received on social media. Cultural misogyny leaves a long shadow – Emily Brontë’s 1847 masterpiece was criticized for being disgusting, indecent, and immoral while she was alive, “a compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors.” Similarly, Fennell’s follow-up to her Oscar winning debut feature has been savagely criticized on social media for being: both too tame and too weird, incompetently made and written, unnecessarily gross, sexually depraved without substance, and, conversely, trying too hard to be “smart” without enough of the promised sexual depravity. I was more unsettled by this history-repeating online reaction than any of the bath plughole sucking or penis waggling in this sumptuously trashy film.

Talk to Me

Martyn Bamber

He has previously written for Senses of Cinema and is a contributor to the book: Are You in the House Alone? A TV Movie Compendium: 1964–1999.

10 favourite new release films from 2023 in the UK, listed in alphabetical order

  • Asteroid City (Wes Anderson, 2023)
  • Broker (Hirokazu Koreeda, 2022)
  • The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg, 2022)
  • Les cinq diables (The Five Devils, Léa Mysius, 2022)
  • M3gan (Gerard Johnstone, 2022)
  • Master Gardener (Paul Schrader, 2022)
  • Passages (Ira Sachs, 2023)
  • The Plains (David Easteal, 2022)
  • Fumer fait tousser (Smoking Causes Coughing, Quentin Dupieux, 2022)
  • TÁR (Todd Field, 2022)

Jennifer Lynde Barker

Professor of animation and film history. Director of the film studies program at Bellarmine University, Louisvillem, USA

Top 10 favorite films viewed in 2023 (new and old), organized alphabetically. Films primarily viewed at Midnight Sun Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Il Cinema Ritrovato, Japan Society NYC, and streaming. 


  • 27 (Flóra Anna Buda, 2023)
  • Art College 1994 (Liu Jian, 2023)
  • Eismayer (David Wagner, 2022)
  • Heojil Kyolshim (Decision to Leave, Park Chan-wook, 2022)
  • Kimitachi wa Dō Ikura ka (The Boy and the Heron, Hayao Miyazaki, 2023)
  • Kuolleet lehdet (Fallen Leaves, Aki Kaurismäki, 2023)
  • Luise (Matthias Luthardt, 2023)
  • Saules aveugles, femme endormie (Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Pierre Földes, 2022)
  • Sekai no Okiku (Okiku and the World, Junji Sakamoto, 2023)
  • Skazka (Fairytale, Alexander Sokurov, 2022)


  • Al-Makhdu’un (The Dupes, Tewfik Saleh, 1973)
  • Cat and Mouse (Jim Henson, 1960)
  • La Donna del Lago (The Possessed, Luigi Bazzoni and Franco Rossellini, 1965)
  • El Esqueleto de la Señora Morales (The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales, Rogelio González, 1960)
  • Habfürdő (Bubble Bath, György Kovásznai, 1979)
  • Irezumi (Yasuzö Masumura, 1966)
  • One Mile from Heaven (Allan Dwan, 1937)
  • One Way Passage (Tay Garnett, 1932)
  • Shirasagi (The Snowy Heron, Teinosuke Kinugasa, 1958)
  • Toothless (Andrea Guizar, 2021)

Mike Bartlett

Freelance film critic. His YouTube channel is @michaelbartlettfilm and
his website can be found at https://sites.google.com/view/mikes-movie-house/home

Ten best films, young and old, I saw this year for the first time at the cinema or through their rediscovery on DVD/Blu-Ray:

  • Alias Nick Beal (John Farrow, 1949)
  • Baxter, Vera Baxter (Marguerite Duras, 1977)
  • Beurokeo (Broker, Koreeda Hirokazu, 2022)
  • El Mar La Mar (Joshua Bonnetta/JP Sniadecki, 2017)
  • Herzog Blaubarts Burg (Bluebeard’s Castle, Michael Powell, 1963)
  • In The Earth (Ben Wheatley, 2021)
  • Mademoiselle (Tony Richardson, 1966)
  • The Rider (Chloe Zhao, 2017)
  • So-seol-ga-ui yeong-hwa (The Novelist’s Film, Hong Sang-Soo, 2022)/
  • Tab (Walk Up, Hong Sang-Soo, 2022)
  • Taifu kurabu (Typhoon Club, Shinji Somai, 1985)

I don’t care how old some of these films are; seeing them for the first time, they’re as fresh to me as any new release and so feel thoroughly contemporary.

As for this year’s roster of the ludicrous and the overrated, I give you three UK releases: 

  • Aftersun (Charlotte Wells, 2022)
  • Living (Oliver Hermanus, 2022)
  • Men (Alex Garland, 2022)

Nick Bartlett

Freelance writer for among others, Slash Film, Critical Popcorn, The Custard TV, and Filmhounds.

UK 2023 releases:

  1. Tár (Todd Field, 2022)  
  2. Women Talking (Sarah Polley, 2022)
  3. Infinity Pool (Brandon Cronenberg, 2023) 
  4. Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023) 
  5. Killers Of The Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese, 2023) 
  6. Anatomie D’une Chute (Anatomy Of A Fall, Justine Triet, 2023)  
  7. The Killer (David Fincher, 2023) 
  8. Kimitachi wa Dō Ikiru ka (The Boy And The Heron, Hayao Miyazaki, 2023) 
  9. Gojira Mainasu Wan (Godzilla Minus One, Takashi Yamazaki, 2023) 
  10. Past Lives (Celine Song, 2023)

There are a few notable omissions that would likely have made the list if I had been able to see them!

Honourable Mentions:

  1. Broker (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2022) 
  2. Master Gardener (Paul Schrader, 2022) 
  3. Cobweb (Samuel Bodin, 2023) 
  4. Rye Lane  (Raine Allen-Miller, 2023)
  5. Talk To Me (Daniel and Michael Philippou, 2022)
  6. Les Cinq Diables (The Five Devils, Léa Mysius, 2023)
  7. Beau Is Afraid (Ari Aster, 2023) 
  8. Puss In Boots: The Last Wish  (Joel Crawford, 2022)
  9. Pearl (Ti West, 2021) 
  10. Asteroid City (Wes Anderson, 2023)

Older films I saw for the first time:

  1. Pandora’s Box (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1929) 
  2. La Ceremonie (Claude Chabrol, 1995) 
  3. After Hours (Martin Scorsese, 1985) 
  4. One False Move (Carl Franklin, 1992) 
  5. Welcome To The Dollhouse (Todd Solondz, 1995) 
  6. AI: Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg, 2001) 
  7. Dolor y Gloria (Pain And Glory, Pedro Almodovar, 2019) 
  8. Boy (Taika Watiti, 2010) 
  9. Incendies (Denis Villeneuve, 2010)
  10. Ms.45 (Abel Ferrara, 1981)

Infinity Pool

Arta Barzanji

Iranian critic and filmmaker based in London
  1. Nu Aştepta Prea Mult de la Sfârşitul Lumii (Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World, Radu Jude, 2023)
  2. El auge del humano 3 (The Human Surge 3, Eduardo Williams, 2023)
  3. As Filhas do Fogo (The Daughters of Fire, Pedro Costa, 2023)
  4. Nuit Obscure – Au Revoir lci, N’importe Où (Obscure Night – Goodbye Here, Anywhere, Sylvain George, 2023)
  5. Ferrari (Michael Man, 2023)
  6. Rapito (Kidnapped, Marco Bellocchio, 2023)
  7. Kuolleet lehdet (Fallen Leaves, Aki Kaurismäki, 2023)
  8. Cerrar los ojos (Close Your Eyes, Víctor Erice, 2023)
  9. May December (Todd Haynes, 2023)
  10. Retratos Fantasmas (Pictures of Ghosts, Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2023)
  11. Heiyiren (Man in Black, Wang Bing, 2023)
  12. Roter Himmel (Afire, Christian Petzold, 2023)
  13. Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese, 2023)
  14. La passion de Dodin Bouffant (The Taste of Things, Tran Anh Hung, 2023)
  15. Tótem (Lila Avilés, 2023)
  16. Yannick (Quentin Dupieux, 2023)
  17. Chronique d’une liaison passagère (Diary of a Fleeting Affair, Emmanuel Mouret, 2022)
  18. All of Us Strangers (Andrew Haigh, 2023)
  19. Menus-Plaisirs Les Troisgros (Frederick Wiseman, 2023)
  20. Showing Up (Kelly Reichardt, 2022)

On my favourite film of the year:

An alarm clock rings. It’s 5:50 AM. We hear a woman groaning. It’s time to go to work again. Radu Jude’s latest film begins how most days in working people’s lives begin: getting up to be exploited by capitalists for yet another day. In this case, the character whose day of exploitation we’re following is Ilinca Manolache’s Angela Răducanu. In an intriguing conceit that poses questions about history, memory and the cinematic apparatus, Angela’s day at work is intercut with footage from her namesake in a Ceauşescu-era film about a female taxi driver titled Angela merge mai departe (1982). Trapped in the frame within her car for most of the film, we spend enough time with Manolache’s Angela during the 163-minute runtime to develop an affinity with her frustrations and an admiration for her unapologetic demeanour and humour. As a production assistant for a film company that dabbles in trashy genre movies and corporate videos, Angela is tasked with visiting and recording video interviews with several workers who sustained injuries due to overwork and hazardous working conditions. The irony is that Angela herself is forced to work as much as sixteen hours per day.

While it portrays a multitude of ironies, Nu aştepta doesn’t adopt the glib ironic attitude so heartily embraced by many successful ‘socially aware’ festival films. The absurd irony of Angela’s work is here treated as a particular reflection of the general contradictions inherent to capitalism. Jude avoids such self-righteous cynicism and self-satisfied ironic attitude by adopting a form of didacticism that is tactful yet confrontational, sensitive yet direct. As the likes of Godard and Straub/Huillet have shown us, sublimity does not preclude boldness. Jude seems to have learned the essence of sublime militant political filmmaking from the recently departed old masters (Godard’s death is, in fact, mentioned in the film) and synthesised it to what is entirely his own. With Nu aştepta, Radu Jude confirms his status as arguably today’s most essential political filmmaker.

Raphaël Bassan

French Film critic for Bref, le magazine du court métrage and Europe, revue littéraire, and cofounder in 1971 of the “Collectif Jeune Cinéma” (the first French experimental filmmakers’ distribution cooperative).

In no particular order.  My list reflects the films that I enjoyed the most, that moved me the most, and that I remember. To give context and relevance to my selection, I limited myself to films that had a full theatrical release, in France in 2023. Films that have only been screened at festivals or other limited releases are not included.

 In no particular order.

  • From Morocco, L’air de la mer rend libre (Nadir Moknèche, 2023 )
  • From France, Bâtiment 5 (Ladj Ly, 2023)
  • From France, Le théorème de Marguerite (Marguerite’s Theorem, Anna Novion, 2023)
  • From Spain, Ventajas de viajar en tren (Advantages of Travelling by Train, Aritz Moreno, 2019)
  • From India, Uski Rot (Mani Kaul, 1970; release in France, 2023)
  • From Great Britain, Eternal Daughter (Joanna Hogg, 2022)
  • From Italy, Rapitp (Kidnapped, Marco Bellocchio, 2023)
  • From Turkey, Kuru Otlar Üstüne (About Dry Grasses, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2023)
  • From the United States, Kokomo City (D. Smith, 2023 )
  • From Romania, Nu aștepta prea mult de la sfârșitul lumii (Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World, Radu Jude, 2023) 
  • From The Philippines, Kapag wala nang mga alon (When the Waves Are Gone, Lav Diaz, 2023)

Sean Bell

Pop Culture Blogger at Sex & the Eternal City

The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh, 2022)
Despite being laugh out loud funny, McDonagh’s study of stubborn provincialism and male pride, is one of the saddest comedies ever made, containing four exquisitely heart-breaking portraits in loneliness.

 Empire of Light (Sam Mendes, 2022)
Unfairly dismissed as failed Oscar-bait, Mendes, with exemplary contributions from cinematographer Roger Deakins and Atticus Ross & Trent Reznor’s score, recreates a movie palace in Margate in the early 80s which becomes a refuge from loneliness, mental illness and racial violence. In the lead role, Olivia Colman once again brings a flawed, difficult character to full empathetic life.

 Corsage (Marie Kreutzer, 2022)
A period film viewed through modern eyes and under an arched eyebrow. Deliberately anachronistic and even less tethered to historical fact than the romantic depictions of Empress Elisabeth (Sissi) from the 1950s, this is a fascinating corrective to an Instagram culture that demands that women in the public eye remain forever young and thin. The appearance of As Tears Go By on the soundtrack nods to a more recent member of (minor) Austrian royalty done in by celebrity, patriarchy and heroin, but much like Kreutzer’s vision of Sissi, still remains defiantly her own woman.

 All the Beauty & the Bloodshed (Laura Poitras, 2022)
Beautifully shot and compellingly structured, as all her documentaries are, Poitras has found a brilliant subject in Nan Goldin, a woman who is as fearless in life as she is in her art. The film not only focuses on her battle against the Sackler family (who laundered blood money profits earned cultivating opioid addiction through their patronage of the arts) but also the community she found amongst sex workers, LGBTQ performers and activists. It also recounts the tragic story of her sister who inspired her life of rebellion. Like Goldin herself, Poitras’s film is funny, truthful and unflinching.

 Anatomie d’une chute (Anatomy of a Fall, Justine Triet, 2023)
Can I be cheeky and call this the thinking person’s Basic Instinct? In both films a writer’s fiction and bisexuality are used against her, and in the case of Sandra Voyter (brilliantly played by Sandra Hüller) it seems that she is more on trial for her sexual agency and being more artistically successful than her husband than for causing his death. Triet’s film is not a titillating thriller however – it is not even a courtroom drama, though that is where most of it is set. Triet is more interested in thornier questions about the nature of guilt, ones that linger long after the Court delivers its verdict.

 Kaibutsu (Monster, Kore-eda Hirokazu, 2023)
Like Anatomy of a Fall, Monster deals with the elusiveness of truth or more precisely how “truth” can only be construed when various personal narratives, contexts and points of view are seen together – an feat only possible in art and Kore-eda’s ambitious objective here. A mother suspects her boy’s teacher is bullying him. The teacher suspects the boy is bullying another student. The boy, lonely and grieving, is in fact coming to terms with feelings he is afraid to share. Despite the undercurrent of sadness throughout the film (underlined by Sakamoto’s plaintive score – his last), the story moves towards an unexpectedly joyous denouement.

 Showing Up (Kelly Reichardt, 2022)
In the pantheon of great directors and their muses, Kelly Reichardt and Michelle Williams are right up there with Scorsese and De Niro. They may be working on vastly different scales but both directors share an auteurist search for truth and have found in their most frequent collaborators, actors unafraid to mine the unpalatable reality of their character’s lives. In other hands this sketch of a sad sack sculptor preparing for a show could be played either for broad comedy or arch satire, instead it quietly and humorously observes how real life gets in the way of making art.

 Past Lives (Celine Song, 2023)
My favourite film of 2023 starts out as a gentle romance of the unrequited variety but is actually a meditation on the grief we feel but seldom express for our younger selves – an emotion further compounded by the immigrant experience. Song’s assured debut never puts a foot wrong and packs an unexpectedly emotional punch.

 Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme, 1984, 2023 Restoration)
40 years ago did we truly appreciate how great this movie was? Seeing it again in 2023 on an immersive IMAX screen was truly a joy to behold. Demme has captured lightning in a bottle as Talking Heads’ playful energy lifts the set-list to something warmer and more exuberant than the brilliant albeit cerebral studio recordings it draws from. The film celebrates the power of the show’s deceptively simple stagecraft, making this a truly cinematic experience without ever distracting from the music.

 Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2023)
Poor Things is a hilarious romp that is bloody, bizarre and carnal and always a feast for the (fish) eyes. This riff on the themes of id and superego in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein gives the creature (in the form of a beguiling Emma Stone who, rather than spurn, men want to lock up for themselves) a healthy sex drive and sets her on her way to self-discovery. Stone’s Bella is a true heroine driven by curiosity for the world combined with a disarming lack of shame and the film wouldn’t work, wouldn’t touch as much as it entertains, if her performance was anything less than brilliant. Stone imbues Bella with a rich inner life that matches the virtuoso physical comedy that she brings to the role. She is supported by a superlative cast that includes surprising turns by Kathryn Hunter, Hanna Schygulla, Christopher Abbot, an affecting Willem Dafoe and a never better Mark Ruffalo as the cad and bounder who initiates Bella to the world but is destroyed when she outgrows him.

Malik Berkati

Berlin-based Swiss journalist, film critic and political scientist

This cinematic year has been turbulent and ambivalent: the strikes by writers and actors in Hollywood, unexpected films that boosted theater attendance, and blockbusters that had disappointing outcomes in terms of audience turnout. The quality of auteur films is on point, but it remains challenging to persuade audiences to see them on the big screen. And that’s a shame: a film in the cinema is an experience that absolutely needs to be encouraged. Film critics have an important role to play in this regard: perhaps distributors should be more concerned about them, considering them as partners, rather than trying to force them into communication. Highlighting influencers over journalists and pitting them against each other is also not a good idea. The industry as a whole has nothing to gain from it.

Kuolleet lehdet (Fallen Leaves, Aki Kaurismäki, 2023)
Aki Kaurismäki consistently adheres to brevity in his films, eschewing any narrative excess. With ‘Fallen Leaves,’ he brings his minimalist approach and sublime poetry narrating the lives of ordinary people to its pinnacle of elegance. Kaurismäki is the filmmaker of dignity; in adversity, his characters exude a certain composure, displaying a resilience that transcends their challenging life circumstances. This inherent dignity becomes the cornerstone of Kaurismäki’s unique brand of ‘feel-good cinema.’ We are not weighed down by the portrayal of frustrated life paths; rather, the whimsical crossroads he presents reveal the miraculous sparks of life. That’s why we feel at home in Kaurismäki’s films—he has crafted the Finnish version of the ‘feel-good movie.’ If these characters, broken by life, manage to find happiness, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t find it too!

Ayeh haye zamini (Terrestrial Verses, Ali Asgari and Alireza Khatami, 2023)
Some films on a (very) small budget initially depict a local reality that gradually, like a camera lens, widens and encompasses the broader perspective of the universal. Ali Asgari and Alireza Khatami’s Terrestrial Verses perfectly exemplifies this. The constant scrutiny endured by the protagonists of Terrestrial Verses tragically reflects the uprising of the Iranian youth following the murder of Mahsa Amini by the morality police on September 16, 2022, which has since turned into a low-intensity revolt.  The directors illustrate the subject with an apparatus as simple and radical as it is effective: in front of the camera, a protagonist falls prey to an interlocutor, hors champs, who holds the lever of discussion and the potential fate of the person being questioned. The initial situations are realistic and concrete; their development verges on the naturalistic absurd, provoking opportunistic, caustic, and poignant humor in the despair it conveys.

Stepne (Steppe, Maryna Vroda, 2023)
For her debut feature film, Maryna Vroda demonstrates remarkable directorial skill, marked by a courageous choice to prioritize contemplation over action. Set in Ukraine, Steppe transcends geographical boundaries to explore collective memories taking shape in individual recollections. With delicate strokes, the filmmaker approaches this theme, emphasizing that these amalgamations of memories do not necessarily yield a singular narrative but rather fracture along ideological lines. Anatoliy (Oleksandr Maksiakov), a man returning home to care for his dying mother, grapples with the loss of a loved one that prompts reflection on his material and immaterial heritage. As his mother speaks of a treasure before her death, the nature of this treasure remains ambiguous—is it a hidden possession or something precious nestled in the dialectical interplay of immanence and transcendence? Anatoliy’s contemplation extends to the choices he has made in his life. The film unfolds over the course of a few days with Anatoliy, creating a cinematic space that seamlessly blends fiction and documentary elements. Andrii Lysetskyi’s poetic cinematography enhances the feelings of isolation, abandonment, and melancholy, capturing the essence of Steppe’s evocative narrative.

Nu aștepta prea mult de la sfârșitul lumii (Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World, Radu Jude, 2023)
If there’s a filmmaker intent on deconstructing the world through cinema and cinema through their vision of the world’s trajectory, it’s the Romanian director Radu Jude. Each of his films carries a distinctive aesthetic, structure, and a fitting backdrop for the subject he wants to explore. Whether it’s the highly artificial and hypnotic approach of Tipografic majuscul (Uppercase Print), immersing the audience in Ceausescu’s putrid Romania, or the satirical cinema-verité with a touch of Greek tragedy in Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn). A dramatic comedy, Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World is not as absurd as its title might suggest. Comprising two uneven parts, the film delves into a myriad of topics converging towards a portrayal of a society suffocated by capitalist systems, institutionalized and moral corruption, political incompetence, worker exploitation, and working conditions that can lead to death.

Roter Himmel (Afire, Christian Petzold, 2023)
Pertzold’s cinema possesses an extraordinary ability to address serious subjects, interweaving dramatic threads with a lightness and vitality that doesn’t overwhelm the audience. Leon and Felix retreat to the latter’s house on the Baltic Sea to complete their respective projects. From the outset, things don’t go as planned: their car breaks down a few kilometers from the house, forcing them to trek through the woods. To make matters more intriguing, the beautiful and mysterious Nadja (Paula Beer), is already occupying the premises. All the ingredients for a horror film are present in these premises… However, Petzold transports us into another realm, that of his romantic trilogy that began in 2020 with Undine, Like a midsummer night’s dream, he films the evening twilight in the cold, bluish tones of a dream, with the horizon gradually reddening and becoming incandescent. The color transforms into warmth, the warmth of the impending catastrophe’s nightmare. The sounds of helicopters permeating the entire film, the escalating fires in the region—culminating in the final blaze that imposes a blanket of silence over the forest—undoubtedly allude to climate change, but it’s not the central theme. This backdrop of catastrophe drives the film, foreshadowing the existential drama of beings in search of love, artists in crisis, the altered or artificial perception of reality, and the understanding of the world and our place in it.

Fallen Leaves

Subhasish Bhowmick

Student in the Film and Media Studies Department at Jadavpur University, an independent film reviewer, and a short filmmaker from Kolkata, India.

2023 – A Year of Cinema’s Revival 

2023 has turned out to be an exemplary year in terms of cinematic experiences and  innovations! Where we get to see works of veterans; like Martin Scorsese, with his epilogous film, cctogenerian Ridley Scott, Wenders’ ‘Perfect’ filmmaking days, or Loach’s modern  social realism. It’s a year when oldies went toe-to-toe with their contemporaries. So for me, the highlight of ‘23 has to be the rejuvenation of ‘cinema’ altogether. For the past decade or  so I felt that cinema as a medium got stuck in its nobility. There were no significant  innovations in the language of cinema worldwide. Is it the scarcity of creativity? Or the problem of imagination-poor makers? Or is it the lack of serious understanding among the spectators? Well, here I would like to take the stance of a spectator, and it is obvious that we  get bombarded with images in this digital age; from social media handles to daily  advertisements, from memes to reels –besmirching the ‘aura’ of art day after day; I sometimes surmise that Walter Benjamin would have been a happy person in this post modern world. Resulting in the exaggeration of images, and at the same time, the dearth of  true aestheticism in cinema. Following the demise of Kiarostami and Godard, we lost not  only the real “auteurs” of cinema but with them, it seems that the era of innovativeness in the  images, and novelty of the medium had gone away. I don’t want to sound like a cynic but I  have arrived at a strange premonition that cinema had reached its endpoint, as Godard put “Fin de Cinema”. After watching some outstanding and outrageous works in the past couple  of years I got startled for good reasons and it helped do away with my pessimism. 

Starting with the current British filmmakers who are making some honest works, and in  doing so they are contributing to the language in cinema. So here the typical highlight must be the ‘New British Cinema’. Wells’ Aftersun, shows how only images and proper use of montage can take us on a journey of inner consciousness. We have seen many films on a  similar subject but her treatment was commendable. Jonathan Glazer has come up with one 

of the most provocative films of all time, The Zone of Interest. A film about Auschwitz and  its vicinities, where he chose to play with the senses of the spectators. His use of visual and aural elements unsettled us and the way he used White and Red screens amidst the movie, felt  like a siren that kept reminding us of the brutality that happened that time but left us to only imagine the horror. It is an outright political film and the best film of 2023 for me. Starting from the cinematography to the use of electronic music, the film takes the audience to the “zone of interest” that he intended to create. Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers must be  mentioned in the discussions about the important works of ‘23. As I was following British  cinema for a few days I watched Florian Zeller’s The Father, which impacted me the most in recent times. Another aspect I would like to mention is that the recent films from the UK have taken conscious inspiration from theater, and their use of internal space. 

Moving on to the veterans, Scorsese made a film where he tried to tell the story in the form of  a quasi-documentary way and built a historical document of brutality on native people by  white Americans. On the other hand, Ridley Scott made his anticipated historical epic Napoleon, portraying arguably the wittiest military general in history with the help of a  woman. Loach and Kaurismaki have come up with two social realism but amongst the  veterans, Wenders made a film out of space only, a subtle work of utmost artistry.  

Recently, I read Deleuze’s works on cinema and watched the early works of Hitchcock. I  went through Rohmer’s book on Hitchcock which gave me a different purview. Rohmer discussed the “formal postulate” of Hitchcock’s work in his seminal book “Hitchcock: The  First Forty-Four Films”(1979), where he analyzed the master’s work as a “cinema of  relations”; which means that in Hitchcock’s films, anyone already knows who’s committed the crime, but the British master filmed the absurd relations between the characters which  makes his films complex and intriguing.; for example the film Strangers on a Train; where  the tennis player didn’t murder his wife as proposed by the stranger Bruno, but still he 

commits the same crime by thinking that if he had the chance he would have strangled his  wife to death. Hitchcock as a colossal figure in cinema often is misinterpreted as a  commercial director, but definitely, his works must be seen critically.  

I want to conclude that the revival of British and French cinema is certainly a silver lining in  this crisis-ridden world. Still, we must remember 2023 as a year when cinema dilapidated its  institution with a symphony of films made by not only the greats but also the contemporaries  who are not scared of experiments. 

The Important and Political Films of 2023 

  • The Zone of Interest ( Jonathan Glazer, 2023)
  • El Conde ( The Witch, Pablo Larrain, 2023)
  • Anatomie d’une chute ( Anatomy of a Fall, Justine Triet, 2023)
  • Killers of the Flower Moon ( Martin Scorsese, 2023)
  • Perfect Days ( Wim Wenders, 2023)
  • How to Have Sex ( Molly Manning Walker, 2023)
  • Yannick ( Quentin Dipiuex, 2023)
  • Nu Aştepta Prea Mult de la Sfârşitul Lumii (Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World, Radu Jude, 2023)
  • The Old Oak ( Ken Loach, 2023)
  • Kuolleet lehdet (Fallen Leaves, Aki Kaurismäki, 2023)

Old films encountered in 2023

  • Bob Le Flambeur ( ean Pierre Melville, 1956) Aftersun (Charlotte Wells, 2022) 
  • The Father ( Florian Zeller, 2020)
  • Thelma & Louise ( Ridley Scott, 1991)
  • I Confess ( Alfred Hitchcock, 1953)
  • Marnie ( Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)
  • Saboteur ( Alfred Hitchcock, 1942)
  • Rope ( Alfred Hitchcock, 1951)
  • Strangers on a Train ( Alfred Hitchcock, 1951) 
  • Klute ( Alan J. Pakula, 1971)

Matteo Boscarol

Japan-based film writer and critic
  • لفيلم رقم واحد وعشرون (R 21 a.k.a Restoring Solidarity, Mohanad Yaqubi, 2022) 
  • 君たちはどう生きるか Kimitachi wa do ikiru ka (The Boy and the Heron, Hayao Miyazaki, 2023)
  • Звідки куди (In the Rearview, Maciek Hamela, 2023)
  • Losing Ground (Anonymous, 2023)
  • 過去負う者 The Burden of the Past (Atsushi Funahashi, 2023)
  • Incident (Bill Morrison, 2023)
  • Waorani Omede Beye Ante Nee Adani (Luisana Carcelén, 2023)
  • 怪物 Monster (Kore’eda Hirokazu, 2023)
  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin K. Thompson, Kemp Powers, 2023)
  • Gama (Oda Kaori, 2023)

Older films encountered for the first time in 2023

  • La cuccagna (Luciano Salce, 1962)
  • 喜劇 女は男のふるさとヨ (Follow the Girls, Morisaki Azuma, 1971)
  • 夢の島少女 (Dream Island Girl, Sasaki Shôichirô, 1974)
  • バイバイ・ラブ (Bye, Bye Love, Fujisawa Isao, 1974)
  • 越後奥三面 山に生かされた日々(Echigo Okumiomote: A Traditional Mountain Village, Himeda Tadayoshi, 1984)
  • なかのあなた いまのあなた (He Was Here, and You Are Here, Doi Haruka, 1985)
  • 勞動者戰歌(新光紡織關廠工人抗爭) (Labour’s Battle Song (Laid-off Shinkong Textile Workers’ Protest), Green Team, 1988)
  • 銀河の魚~URSA minor BLUE (Ursa Minor Blue, Tamura Shigeru, 1993)
  • Die Naturgeschichte der Zerstörung (The Natural History of Destruction, Sergei Loznitsa, 2022)
  • こちらあみ子 (Amiko, Morii Yusuke, 2022)

Online or hybrid festivals or other events

This year Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival organized a special retrospective on documentary filmmaker and theorist Noda Shinkichi. An incredible and enriching viewing experience at the frontier between political documentary and visual ethnography.

Dr Nandana Bose

Independent film scholar, BFI author and educator based in India.

New (in no particular order):

  • Aftersun (Charlotte Wells, 2022) – my favourite film of the year, streamed on MUBI India; a poignant, achingly haunting, formally unconventional film on the fuzzy intermingling of childhood memories, irreparable loss, remembrance and trauma from a remarkably confident debutante feature filmmaker. Featuring outstanding performances by Paul Mescal and first-timer Frankie Corio, it touched a raw nerve by triggering personal memories of childhood vacations taken with a distant, now-deceased father.
  • Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023) at a 2D IMAX theater 
  • Pathaan (Siddharth Anand, 2023) and Jawan/Soldier (Atlee, 2023) marked the much-awaited spectacular return of the Bollywood superstar blockbuster avatar of Shah Rukh Khan, breaking box-office records and drawing massive theatrical audiences
  • Suzume (Makoto Shinkai, 2022) seen at a cinema hall in Kolkata, thanks to the abiding popularity of anime among millennials and Gen Zs in India
  • All that Breathes (Shaunak Sen, 2022), the critically acclaimed Oscar-nominated documentary finally found a release on Amazon Prime Video
  • Triangle of Sadness (Ruben Östlund, 2022)
  • Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese, 2023) – even for a die-hard Marty fan such as myself, this one was a bit too self-indulgent and could have been edited to a shorter running time. However, amazing lead performances more than made up for its lack of brevity.
  • From a purely fun perspective: Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One (2023) at the BFI London IMAX theatre

At the Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) 2023 (in-person), my cinematic highlights were as follows:

  • Close (Lukas Dhont, 2022) 
  • One Fine Morning (Mia Hansen-Løve, 2022)
  • The Beasts (Rodrigo Sorogoyen, 2022)

Old (in no particular order):

  • Jewel Thief (Vijay Anand, 1967) and Johny Mera Naam/My Name is Johny (Vijay Anand, 1970) in theatres as part of the Dev Anand retrospective to commemorate his birth centenary, hosted by the wonderful Mumbai-based Film Heritage Foundation
  • Aki Kaurismäki Retrospective via MUBI India – the perfect cinematic balm during these troubled, divisive, dispiriting times! He gives hope where there should be none.

Collin Brinkmann

Cinephile & writer from Wisconsin, USA

New releases:

  1. mul-an-e-seo (in water, Hong Sang-soo, 2023)
  2. Master Gardener (Paul Schrader, 2022)
  3. Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)
  4. Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese, 2023)
  5. The Killer (David Fincher, 2023)
  6. The Lost King (Stephen Frears, 2022)
  7. Pacifiction (Albert Serra, 2022)
  8. Asteroid City (Wes Anderson, 2023)
  9. Beau Is Afraid (Ari Aster, 2023)
  10. Infinity Pool (Brandon Cronenberg, 2023)
  11. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (Wes Anderson, 2023)
  12.  L’envol (Scarlet, Pietro Marcello, 2022)
  13. Marlowe (Neil Jordan, 2022)
  14. Gran Turismo (Neill Blomkamp, 2023)
  15. Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire (Zack Snyder, 2023)
  16. BlackBerry (Matt Johnson, 2023)
  17. May December (Todd Haynes, 2023)
  18. Vanskabte land (Godland, Hlynur Pálmason, 2022)
  19. Roter Himmel (Afire, Christian Petzold, 2023)
  20. Padre Pio (Abel Ferrara, 2022)
  21. Priscilla (Sofia Coppola, 2023)
  22. The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (William Friedkin, 2023)
  23. Saint Omer (Alice Diop, 2022)
  24. The Holdovers (Alexander Payne, 2023)
  25. Ferrari (Michael Mann, 2023)

 Old films watched in 2023: 

  1. Maya (Mia Hansen-Løve, 2018)
  2. Tender Mercies (Bruce Beresford, 1983)
  3. The Hunted (William Friedkin, 2003)
  4. Shadowlands (Richard Attenborough, 1993)
  5. Chaplin (Richard Attenborough, 1992)
  6. Den goda viljan (The Best Intentions, Bille August, 1992)
  7. Breaker Morant (Bruce Beresford, 1980)
  8. Junior Bonner (Sam Peckinpah, 1972)
  9. Submergence (Wim Wenders, 2017)
  10. Chloe (Atom Egoyan, 2009)
  11. Edvard Munch (Peter Watkins, 1974)
  12. The Duellists (Ridley Scott, 1977)
  13. Lovely & Amazing (Nicole Holofcener, 2001)
  14. Australia (Baz Luhrmann, 2008)
  15. Urban Cowboy (James Bridges, 1980)
  16. The Unbelievable Truth (Hal Hartley, 1989)
  17. The Year of Living Dangerously (Peter Weir, 1982)
  18. Mao’s Last Dancer (Bruce Beresford, 2009)
  19. Another Year (Mike Leigh, 2010)
  20. Bulworth (Warren Beatty, 1998)
  21. Only the Brave (Joseph Kosinski, 2017)
  22. Jade (William Friedkin, 1995)
  23. Kicking and Screaming (Noah Baumbach, 1995)
  24. Strange Days (Kathryn Bigelow, 1995)
  25. The Company (Robert Altman, 2003)

Lisa K. Broad

Head of Film Programming, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, USA

Favorite 2023 Releases: 

  1. Trenque Lauquen (Laura Citarella 2022)
  2. The Zone of Interest (Jonathan Glazer, 2023)
  3. Kuolleet lehdet (Fallen Leaves, Aki Kaurismäki, 2023) 
  4. Here (Bas Devos, 2023)
  5. Roter Himmel (Afire, Christian Petzold, 2023)
  6. Bên trong vo kén vàng (Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell, Pham Thien An, 2023)
  7. Subete no yoru o omoidasu (Remembering Every Night, Yui Kiyohara, 2022) 
  8. May December (Todd Haynes, 2023)
  9. El auge del humano 3 (The Human Surge 3, Eduardo Williams, 2023) 
  10. La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher, 2023) 

 Favorite older films seen for the first time in 2023 (in chronological order):

  • Quatre nuits d’un rêveur (Four Nights of a Dreamer, Robert Bresson, 1971) 
  • Kong shan ling yu (Raining in the Mountain, King Hu, 1979) 
  • Shonben raidâ (P. P. Rider, Shinji Sômai, 1983)
  • Szürkület (Twilight, György Fehér, 1990)
  • Passion (Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2008)

Professor Samantha Broadhead

Head of Research at Leeds Art University. Interested in the fabric of film

There were many effective continuations of the horror franchises in 2023, Scream VI (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett), The Exorcist: Believer (David Gordon Green) and Insidious: The Red Door (Patrick Wilson) to name a few. This review mostly, but not totally,  focuses on the more experimental and idiosyncratic films released this year.  When thinking about the crises that are happening globally it is noticeable that many filmmakers have made films about people who want to escape the rat race, whether this is to the desert, a vacation destination, a deserted island or a holiday home. Other people have proved themselves to be boring,  duplicitous or self-interested. However, the oasis of solitude and peace proves to be an illusion; the horror and despair of everyday life follows the protagonists; nowhere is safe. Filmmaking is a courageous act where directors are making bold choices in how they tell these stories. It is interesting that my first and best film is a found-footage film and the second one really stretches the audience’s imaginative reading of the film. 

The Outwaters (Robbie Banfitch, 2023) is a deeply disturbing found-footage horror. It is supposedly documented on the phone of Robbie, a filmmaker,  as he and his friends venture into the Mojave Desert to shoot a music video. Reviewer comments suggest the initial pace is too slow, but I would disagree. The scenes from everyday life are very beautiful, and an effective contrast to the dark, visceral horror in which the disorientated characters [and audience] are plunged. The latter scenes are viewed via the circular light cast by the phone that leaves a terrifying darkness from which high-pitched screams emerge. The last shots are truly stomach-churning. 

Skinamarink (Kyle Edward Ball, 2023) is an uncompromising experimental horror that plays with the audience’s point of view. In a similar vein to Outwaters, it creates fear from what is unseen as much as from what is visible. It evokes childhood nightmares and anxieties through its aesthetics. The film’s surface crackles like an analogue television set; indeed Ball notes that “significant portions of the movie were literally just lit by the television”. The children’s speech in the film is so subdued that subtitles are needed. This creates a submergent experience for the viewer and allows their imagination and early memories to construct the terror. 

Enys Men (Mark Jenkin, 2023) employs a visual style that is reminiscent of 1970s’ 16mm home movies. The surface of the film appears grainy and flickering as it reveals a story of compulsive repetition that leads to madness.  A wildlife volunteer lives on a deserted British island where she systematically observes, measures and documents the plant life. At the same time an ominous presence haunts and challenges her isolated and methodical existence. 

Leave The World Behind  (Sam Esmail, 2023) (Michelle and Barack Obama are executive producers) is a Netflix film that explores the paranoia and mistrust that is pervasive in contemporary life not only between groups of people but also people and the state. A family’s vacation to a stunning rental home takes a menacing turn when cyber-attacks knock out their devices, and a father and daughter appear at their door looking for sanctuary.

Sick (John Hyams, 2023) is set during the 2020 year of the pandemic. It tells of two friends who isolate in a luxury, family lake-side house. This provides a backdrop for a slasher-style horror. The surprising ending subverts the audience’s sympathies and suggests that the killer was somewhat justified in seeking  retribution. 

Influencer (Kurtis David Harder, 2023) is a clever psychological horror. Madison, a successful social media influencer, appears to be living the dream but is actually struggling on a solo backpacking trip in Thailand. She is isolated and a ‘fish out of water’ until she meets CW, who travels with self-assurance and appears to be enjoying Madison’s company. However, things take a disturbing turn when the couple take an island boat trip together where one of them is exposed as a trickster. 

Cobweb (Samuel Bodin, 2023) tells a spine-chilling tale about an eight-year-old boy (Peter) who is tormented by a creepy, constant tap, tap emanating from behind his bedroom wall. Surprisingly, there is little comfort  to be gained from his parents who are dismissive and slightly sinister. To make matters worse Peter is subject to the bullies at school. Alone and afraid his only hope of being believed comes in the form of Miss Devine, the new teacher, who is friendly and keen to do the right thing.

Evil Dead Rise (Lee Cronin, 2023) reinvigorates the Evil Dead narrative without the main character Ash Williams previously played by Bruce Campbell. The terrifying ‘deadites’ have moved out of the forest to the city and now hunt two estranged sisters. The insatiable  flesh-possessing demons force them into a battle for their family’s survival .

The Nun 2 (Michael Chaves, 2023) was another outing of the character from the James Wan Insidious universe.  The Nun (Corin Hardy, 2018) received a mixed reception, but there were elements of it that were very frightening. The Nun 2 effectively evokes apprehension and dread. The nun’s silhouette inhabits the surfaces of the film as the director plays with pareidolia. Bonnie Aarons is very striking in the title role and some of the visual effects add to the sinister tone.  

Renfield (Chris McKay, 2023) is about Dracula’s loyal servant and his wish to leave the abusive relationship. Nicolas Cage’s role as the archetypal vampire is very entertaining and suits his preferred expressionist acting style. The comedic element is punctuated by some very graphic shots of blood and gore.

Liam Burke

Cinema & Screen Studies Discipline Leader, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

I didn’t get to see as many films as I would have liked in 2023, but of the new films I did watch here’s ten that I enjoyed (based on Australian release dates and listed alphabetically):

  • Babylon (Damien Chazelle, 2022)
  • Barbie (Greta Gerwig, 2023)
  • Bottoms (Emma Seligman, 2023)
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves (Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, 2023)
  • Elemental (Peter Sohn, 2023)
  • Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2023)
  • Saltburn (Emerald Fennell, 2023)
  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson, 2023)
  • Tár (Todd Field, 2022)
  • The Marvels (Nia DaCosta, 2023)

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