Top Films of 2023

As 2023 draws to a close we look back at the film releases. Daily Info's movie guru picks the films that made an impact, the ones you should catch from the past 12 months. And don't worry, Barbenheimer is definitely in the mix.

5 gems to catch-up with

There are always films that just miss out on a spot in the top 10 and this year is no exception. So here are five films worth seeking out on streaming this festive period.

How to Blow Up a Pipeline: a tense, thrilling watch that shapes climate action into a heist movie, How to Blow Up a Pipeline is one of the most compelling and necessary films of the year, with a terrific ensemble and a structure that effectively weaves flashbacks into the wider narrative. This is currently streaming on Netflix.

Women Talking: this year’s winner of the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, Sarah Polley’s Women Talking felt a bit lost in the award season shuffle. It’s the kind of weighty film that envelops its viewers, with a brilliant ensemble headed up by Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara and Claire Foy. Seek it out on Amazon Prime.

Nimona: it’s been another rich year for animation and Nimona stands near the front of the pack. Chronicling a wronged knight and the outcast who helps him seek justice, this is a sparky, punky gem with a big heart and all the feels. It can currently be found on Netflix.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem: another animated gem, Mutant Mayhem takes a familiar franchise and does the amazing thing of casting teenagers as teenage characters. With a beautifully ugly palette and a supporting cast of comedic royalty, this film is a delight that can be watched on Paramount Plus.

Talk to Me: it hasn’t been a particularly strong year for the horror genre. But one of the entries that stood out was Talk to Me, an Australian work from the Philippou Brothers. From a killer central concept (an embalmed hand that offers its users a means to contact the dead) through to an execution rich in melancholy, it’s the one horror worth seeking out. It's currently on Netflix.

Ten best films of the year

But what are the films of the year? The watches that defined the year and are likely to linger long after? Our movie guru breaks down his picks.

John Wick: Chapter 4
By the fourth entry in this unlikely action blockbuster franchise you know what to expect from John Wick; a faintly ridiculous plot that holds together some of the greatest sustained action in modern cinema, headed by a career best turn from Keanu Reeves. Its nonsense but such gloriously presented, commited nonsense, that we must stan John Wick: Chapter 4.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
Based on Judy Blume’s 70s tome, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is a beautiful, bittersweet coming-of-age tale. Touchingly weaving in themes of identity, the film benefits greatly from a stellar cast including Rachel McAdams, Benny Safdie, Kathy Bates and Abby Ryder Fortson.

Godzilla Minus One
Putting most Hollywood blockbusters to shame, Godzilla Minus One takes a 69 year old monster and makes them feel vital and real. Set in the immediate aftermath of World War Two, the giant lizard becomes a manifestation of the grief and loss felt by Japan. Mixing a compelling roster of characters with sensational set pieces that showcase a genuinely scary variant of Godzilla, Minus One is a moving, compelling, scary work and one of the year's best.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
The second Puss in Boots, the sixth in the extended Shrek universe, this film shouldn’t be as good as it is. But this sequel revitalises the series, with a fresh, electric animation style, a fabulous voice cast, and real weight and emotion to proceedings. There’s so much to this film that it’ll require multiple viewings to dig into and is a testament to the strength of modern animation.

There were a lot of corporate stories in the cinema this year and Air is not even the best example of this (more on that shortly). But Ben Affleck’s telling of the birth of Air Jordan is a compelling watch, capturing the 80s without overtly romanticising the era. Add into the mix a robust ensemble (Damon, Affleck, Bateman, Messina, Tucker and Davis are all on top form) plus a surprisingly tense narrative and you’ll be pumping your fist in the air when the third act reaches its climax.

The film you are least likely to have heard of on this list, River is Japanese cinema at its finest. Junta Yamaguchi follows up his exceptional time loop comedy Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, with another exceptional time loop comedy. Following a rural hotel trapped in a repeating two minute situation, this work is deeper, funnier and more hopeful, a giddy 90 minute delight that will leave viewers elated and their souls refreshed.

The biggest film of the year is also one of the best. Cinema can often feel like the act of capturing lightning in a bottle, and no where has this felt more apparent then with Barbie. A glorious capitalist satire and a heartfelt tribute to a huge brand, from the opening moments it's clear this is something special. This is a work propelled by career best performances from Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, heading one of the best ensembles of the year.

Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse
How do you make a sequel to one of the greatest animated films ever made? You up the stakes, expand the mythology and double down on what worked so well. If Across the Spider-verse doesn’t quite match Into the Spider-verse, it certainly gets close, surpassing in several moments and setting up (in a rather cruel cliff-hanger) a sequel that Daily Info is desperate for.

The brilliance of Matt Johnson’s film is it comes after the fall of its central subject. We all know that Blackberry failed as a brand but the journey is so compellingly rendered, offering snapshots of the company’s story. Add to this a pair of quite brilliant performances in Jay Baruchel and, perhaps my favourite turn of the year, Glenn Howerton, and this is the film you'll probably regret not seeing in cinemas most.

Film of the year: Oppenheimer
The second part of the cultural moment that was Barbenheimer, Oppenheimer is a masterpiece. A sprawling story of both the creation of atomic weapons and the man behind it, it’s a wrenchingly impactful watch with a proper gut punch of a finale. It also marries a director and star at the top of their prowess in the form of Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy. Brilliant, horrifying and necessary, cinema didn’t get any better in 2023.

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