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I Saw 320 Movies in ’23: Here are the Best and the Worst

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By Roger Costa

As the industry faced a harsh financial time in the post-pandemic era, the year of ’23 will be remembered as the year of women empowerment in cinema, and the year people went back to the movies thanks to the likes of worldwide blockbusters such as Gerwig’s “Barbie” and Nolan’s “Oppenheimer”. So, at least for a while people stopped worrying about the world’s crisis and started talking about these films everywhere, recalling a golden past when movies really mattered and were part of everyone’s lives. Can we remember the effects and influential power of popular rolercoasters such as “Home Alone”, “Pretty Woman”, “The Sixth Sense”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Titanic” and “Schindler’s List” to name a few?

I was so happy to see the crowds back to the theaters, people cheering about it, dressing up like characters (the pink cultural phenomenon was impressive!), partying like Hollywood stars. Yes, cinema is alive and still kicking, despite the strikes, the conflicts and the financial difficulties for indie, foreigns and even studio films that faced many losses (see the Marvel movies for instance). Movies mattered again, and astonishing works were brought to us this year. Amazing, memorable performances, promissing breakthroughs, pop cultural revolutions, the rise of talented new filmmakers and the awareness to the artists, professionals and movie lovers all around this planet. Can we imagine life without films, without dreams, fantasy, without these amazing journeys we are immersed on, these cultural, historical and ethnical encounters we experience through the screen? It would be unbearable to live here without cinema. So, after watching 320 new movies in ’23 here is my final take:

*TOP 10:

1- OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN

Delicate, deeply moving and humane, Rebecca Zlotowski’s canvas on relationships grabs you by the heart and simply puts you right there as a witness of a complicated midlife romantic affair. Virginie Efira and Roschdy Zem are superb as the pair trying to make a future for themselves while interacting with other parts: a very present former wife, and a child in need of understanding. With its beautiful, powerful observation on how we treat, care and deal with each other, seen through different generational angles, this sincere drama about seeking love, family bond and protection is the most endearing and impactful humanitarian film of the year.

2- AMERICAN FICTION

The most accomplished American film of the year is actually a debut. Cord Jefferson announces himself as a major cinematic force with this irresistible, nail-biting and sharp satire on modern behavior, habits and cultural preferences. Looking at how we consume entertainment and the new rules of intelligence, through the story of a failed novelist who finds a shot at fame with a book he loathes, it is as timely as tomorrow’s news.

3- TORI AND LOKITA

The Dardenne Brothers crafted another naturalistic masterpiece focused on the struggles of the working class or the minority. This time around, they follow the adventures of two African siblings trying to survive in Belgium as refugees. They get involved with the criminal underworld all while dodging their coyote, the local authorities and their own past. As usual, the Dardennes deliver an unforgettable and heartbreaking look at survival with a sense of spiritual hope all over it.

4- RMN

Romanian auteur Cristian Mungiu’s xenophobia thriller finds a father seeking redemption at the center of a scandal involving immigrants workers and the locals who reject their presence as a threat to their economy and traditions. Intense, provocative and masterly conducted, it is cinema at its best.

5- POOR THINGS

Greek master Yorgos Lanthimos returns with this bizarre, gothic feminist saga bringing a towering performance by Emma Stone. Funny, absorbing and hallucinating this Venice’s Golden Lion Winner is an amusing, inventive and perfectly crafted masterpiece.

6- ANATOMY OF A FALL + THE ZONE OF INTEREST

Actress Sandra Huller gave us double cinematic pleasure commanding two of the greatest films of the year. The first is a mystery crime drama, the second a harrowing look at Nazism. She deserves double Oscar nominations as well.

7- PACIFICTION

A delirious, trippy, sensual and fascinating avant-garde inspired drama directed by Albert Serra.

8- FALLEN LEAVES

Aki Kaurismaki’s deadpan socioeconomic romantic comedy tackles working place abuse, abandonment, addiction, loneliness and the will power to suceed with contagious humor and satirical perfection.

9- THE EIGHT MOUNTAINS

A decades-span look at a complicated friendship bertween two different boys, one from the city, the other from the mountains. Astonishingly shot and sensitive, it is a mesmerizing work about loyalty and sacrifice.

10- KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

Martin Scorsese strikes again with a crime tale depicting the Osage Nation murders, starring Lily Gladstone, De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio. A top-notch work from one of cinema’s most accomplished masters.

*ANOTHER SET OF MEMORABLE +10:

  • 11- SCARLET + PRISCILLA
  • 12- SCRAPPER + MONSTER + ARE YOU THERE GOD?
  • 13- THE TEACHER’S LOUNGE
  • 14- MASTER GARDENER
  • 15- BARBIE + OPPENHEIMER
  • 16- THE TASTE OF THINGS
  • 17- RETURN OT SEOUL
  • 18- THE HOLDOVERS
  • 19- PASSAGES
  • 20- A THOUSAND AND ONE

 *ALSO VERY GOOD AND SHOULD BE REMEBERED:

BLACKBERRY, AIR, MAESTRO, BOTTOMS, ASTEROID CITY, BEASTS, THUNDER, THE STARTLING GIRL,

THE GRAVITY, THE KILLER, FULL TIME, DREAM SCENARIO, SHOWING UP,

WALK UP, YOU HURT MY FEELINGS, RADICAL, THE BOY AND THE HERON, SUPER MARIO BROS.

*GUILTY PLEASURES:

PIAFFE, ARISTOTLE AND DANTE, CAT PERSON, DRY GROUND GREAKING, THE COW WHO SANG A SONG INTO THE FUTURE,

WILL ‘O WISP, PLAN 75, HILMA, FLORA AND SON, VERA.

*BEST REVIVALS:

THE LEOPARD, NOTHING SACRED, CONTEMPT,

BLACK GOD WHITE EVIL, BRAM STOCKER’S DRACULA, CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON.

*BEST BRAZILIAN FILM:

TOLL (PEDAGIO)

*BEST ACTOR:

  • Franz Rogowski (“Disco Boy”, “Passages”)
  • Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”)
  • Milo Machado Graner (“Anatomy of a Fall”)

*BEST ACTRESS

  • Virginie Efira (“Revoir Paris”, “Madeleine Collins”, “Other People’s Children”, “All to Play For”)
  • Sandra Huller (“Anatomy of a Fall”, “The Zone of Interest”)
  • Danielle Brooks (“The Color Purple”)

 AND THE WORST FILMS ARE:

ANYONE BUT YOU, POLITE SOCIETY, ALL OF US STRANGERS, THANKSGIVING, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT,

LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND, EL CONDE, DICKS THE MUSICAL, SHARPER, PADRE PIO, THE MARVELS,

FOE, THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER, SHORTCOMINGS, THE POD GENERATION, FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S, THE MACHINE,

THE IRON CLAW, THE ROYAL HOTEL, SANCTUARY, 65, HYPNOTIC, HAUNTED MANSION.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


Social Press . 27/12/2023

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