10 best films watched in 2023

Depending on the source of such lists, people usually separate them by the premiere in a country or a thing like that. It gets a little problematic for me because of: one – I watch a lot of films at festivals, and two – I don’t exactly write for one nationality. So picking a world premiere or US premiere per film isn’t exactly okay because a lot of European films would get lost. Picking Polish one might be the case but then I’d have to adjust my lists to the right date… And I feel kind of lazy about it.

So my idea is this: these are the films I watched this year. The rule is – all of them are new. They world premiered between last year and next year (2022-2024). For the full list, I invite you to my Letterboxd.

Poor Things

This is the top of the top for me. I loved all the creativity in this film, all the oddness of it, not only in the story but also in the visuals. The sets and cinematography are extraordinary and Emma Stone deserves all the awards.

For more check here.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Vol 3

a couple of aliens walking, including a raccoon, a tree-person, a couple of humanoids, fire behid them

The love for MCU died a little in me after Endgame. I know I’m not the only one. This year’s films were tragic but Guardians is quality as the separate being. James Gunn is still one of my favourite creatives alive. The latest volume still hits all the right buttons when I think about it. It made me look at the characters from a whole new perspective and I enjoyed the development not only of Rocket but also Nebula or Drax. Nobody was left behind.

covered face and in costume person (spider-man) falling into a orange hole, illustration

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse

So I wasn’t exactly that big of a fan of the first part. I understand the hype but I couldn’t exactly follow. This one though showed me a proper multiverse. Although I do resent the cliffhanger at the end, I understand its existence. But the whole thing is a fresh and fun story that lies on top of great visuals and direction.

The Holdovers

an elderly man showing a small pine tree

This film popped out so many times recently due to its Christmas story. Made to resemble a 70s film (even the studio logos!), it is a perfect nostalgia treat. It is a simple little thing yet with such a huge heart, you cannot pass by it indifferently. I hope it becomes an actual classic and everybody watches it in the winter holidays. I don’t have anything to say. It’s all been said. Just sit back and enjoy. I almost didn’t see that at American Film Festival so don’t make my mistake.

illustration - a brown haired boy behind golden bars, a green fields behind him

The Boy and the Heron

Miyazaki’s cat persona and another of his “last films”. I was ultra scared if it clicked for me. After all, most directors get annoying when they’re recognizable and nobody holds them accountable. But that’s not the case for Miyazaki. His work is always perfect and nothing can change that.

The Boy and the Heron joined my favourites of Studio Ghibli (and I’ve watched almost all of them). I’m always impressed by how different the story develops in Ghibli, how the characters are never pure or evil and the plot follows a different outline.

Miyazaki seems to deal with his legacy and choosing an heir. But he’s doing his thinking in the most Miyazaki way. His guide is a selfish heron, his world is full of doors with a different story behind each of them and his throne isn’t as desirable as you might think. Oh, and you get another kind of cute Ghibli herd (and it looks like Adipose).

I am so going to see it with English dubbing. I think English Ghibli dubs are extraordinary and The Boy and the Heron seems just the same.

Barbie

five people, two men look at each other vengefully, the woman in the middle stops them, unrealistic blue sky in the background

Ever since it got to digital and streaming, it feels like fewer people enjoy it and I can’t see why. If there is a person not enjoying the genderization and separation between them – it is me. Moreover, I resented dolls my whole life. And I am all in for Barbie.

Mainly it is due to the pack involved in the film. I reckon the choices in directing, writing, acting or cinematography couldn’t get better. Margot is an invested producer and I admire her creative choices. She’ll make a proper career behind the camera, too.

Barbie can’t address all the world’s discrimination. Just as the real world taught us – it’s a process. A doll is only a doll, although people want to put all their problems on its existence. For me, it was entertaining, moving and heartwarming and it’s way more than I’d ever expect from a Barbie.

painted frame - a young woman in red and elderly man looking at one another

The Peasants

Loving Vincent was an intriguing piece of cinema. The Peasants raised the bar higher. Having four volumes of Nobel-worthy prose, they made a solid adaptation story-wise and painted lovely colours all over it. I was truly impressed by how perfect Chełmoński’s style was for this story. I loved the focus on Polish heritage – with the projects of the costumes, sets and music. Despising the countryside’s cruelty, they put as much beauty into this melancholic story.

Slow

man and woman sitting on the windowsill

This film doesn’t get enough recognition. Lithuanian Oscar candidate that I’m disappointed didn’t get into the shortlist (even with such strong competition this year). I haven’t seen anything talking about asexuality and Slow talks about it beautifully. Fascinating relationship and its complicated physicality. And to push the enrichment even more, Slow also takes on a subject of sign language and hearing issues.

two people - man and woman - standing in front of film posters

Fallen Leaves

A romantic comedy I’d never known I needed. It’s Finnish, awkward and beautiful.

For more check here.

Past Lives

man and woman sitting in front of a carousel

I enjoyed this a lot but I think the current hype is too much. It is a moving story of trying to connect to what was not to be. And wondering how it’d be if we chose differently. My favourite part was the ending that broke with what the films usually sell. It felt real and right. This kind of sold the film to me and put it on this list although it wasn’t an obvious choice.


Honorable Mentions

  • The Quiet Girl
  • Mars Express
  • Tetris
  • John Wick 4

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