' ' Cinema Romantico: Top 10 Movies of 2023

Monday, January 22, 2024

Top 10 Movies of 2023

My favorite moment at the recent Emmy Awards was not anything that happened during the Emmy Awards themselves. No, it happened seconds before the Emmy Awards began, in the traditional last-ditch red-carpet interview, in this case with Natasha Lyonne, nominated for Comedy Series Lead Actress for “Poker Face.” The interviewer asked for Lyonne’s favorite television shows to which Lyonne, at the ceremony to honor achievement in television, remember, said she didn’t really watch much TV, preferring old Hollywood movies. Then she looked right into the camera, and as if suddenly being clued into her wavelength, the cameraperson zoomed in on Lyonne, right into her close-up, who then said, simply, “Cinema.” I feel like I often want to cosmically high-five Natasha Lyonne, so let’s say, in that moment I wanted to cosmically double high-five her.


For several months I had planned, I really had, to include the “Fishes” episode of the comedy-drama Hulu television series “The Bear” in my Top 10 movies of the year. Not just to stir the pot but because it was really that high in quality, and because in running six minutes over an hour, coming across self-contained, and playing like the unofficial sequel to “The House of Yes” (1997) it felt akin to a movie. In recent years, it would have made the cut. In this one, it didn’t. I had to sacrifice the bit. 

The last proper year-end Top 10 on Cinema Romantico was 2019, before the world partially ended. I concocted a year-end Top 10 in 2020, but that was a list tailored emphatically to 2020, untraditional, anything goes; more than half the ten weren’t even from 2020. The last two years, in 2021 and 2022, by the close of December, I felt mentally bankrupt, unable, or maybe just unwilling, to go through the exercise of the Top 10, although that also partially stemmed from feeling like I just hadn’t seen enough movies, and that not enough movies were worthy of a year-end list. In 2023, though, I did, both see enough movies and think enough worthy of a list, meaning one was in order. 

True, the industry is still in a state of flux, and still in the middle of shaping itself, I think, into something we will not be sure of until it’s already here, and the effects of the necessary SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes are still waiting to be felt where release dates are concerned. But if nothing else, where the movies themselves, and only the movies themselves, were concerned, 2023 was alright. (Click on the title to read the full review.)

Top 10 Movies of 2023

10. The Adults, Dustin Guy Defa

All the world’s a stage, with an indie bent.

9. Killers of the Flower Moon, Martin Scorsese

America as a mafia state. 

8. Showing Up, Kelly Reichardt

An indelible, and thorny, ode to the struggle of making art.

7. Barbie, Greta Gerwig

Would that all blockbusters were this creative, and this joyful, and this alive. 

6. Asteroid City, Wes Anderson

Artifice and emotion, indivisible. 

5. Ferrari, Michael Mann

“The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” for the Antonioni crowd, or something.

4. Priscilla, Sofia Coppola

A 60s love song gone wrong. 

3. Reality, Tina Satter

It not only bends reality, ahem, back in on itself by literally transcribing it (the movie is culled entirely from the interrogation transcript of Reality Winner), it is a formal triumph, visually invigorating despite the limited location, and with two turns by Sydney Sweeney and Josh Hamilton that deserve to be mentioned among the best of the year.

2. Full Time, √Čric Gravel 

In which the ingredients of everyday life are all you need for a, quote-unquote, pulse-pounding thriller.

1. Fallen Leaves, Aki Kaurism√§ki 

Transcribing the human condition to screen. Perhaps it’s dangerous, or just foolish, to deem any work of art as perfect, so I dunno, let’s just say this one never seems to step wrong.

1 comment:

Derek Armstrong said...

Nice work Nick! I will owe Priscilla another viewing. I saw it third in a triple feature last Thursday along with two other movies that only just finally opened on that day. The first, All of Us Strangers, ended up being my #3 of the year. The last, Priscilla, suffered probably from my exhaustion and an undeniable failure to meet my expectations, but I hope to watch every Coppola movie twice (except maybe On the Rocks) so I will give this one another shot sometime.

Asteroid City is the only top ten we share, but I thought very highly of some of your other choices. How great was that effect in Reality where the characters would glitch out when some of the audio was redacted? We will have to agree to disagree on Showing Up but I fully understand that other people think it's good.

Glad you have returned to this tradition!