Top 10 Films of 2023

What a year for film.

Paul Enicola
6 min readJan 1, 2024

From the ‘Barbenheimer’ phenomenon to international films making a big splash both commercially and critically, 2023 saw the movies indeed coming back.

In my usual cramming way, I’ve decided to dedicate the holidays to my year-end lists (films, albums, books, songs, etc.); which brings us to my top films of 2023.

With pleasantries out of the way, let me save some people the trouble:

  • No, Oppenheimer is not in my top 10.
  • Neither is Barbie, which didn’t even make my top 20.
  • For the first time, a Philippine film warranted serious consideration in my top 10, so this makes me glad.
  • For the entire list of my top 30 films, click here.

If you’re in the mood for some movie bingeing throughout the holidays, you can check the films below. Enjoy!

10. Fallen Leaves

Finding love in a seemingly hopeless place is one thing. Enjoying it and making it last are different monsters of their own. With “Fallen Leaves,” Aki Kaurismäki tells the story of two people hardened by their lots in life who try to strike up a romantic relationship.

The director makes sure that the protagonists, Ansa (Alma Pöysti) and Holappa (Jussi Vatanen), exemplify relatable, everyman qualities that make the audiences root for them to succeed, adversities and misunderstandings and all. Even Jim Jarmusch would’ve been proud of this.

9. The Boy and the Heron

As a challenging entry in the Studio Ghibli canon, it pays to realize that to dissect Miyazaki’s work with surgical precision is to miss the point entirely. There’s a beauty in the ambiguity of his narratives, a deliberate choice that invites interpretation and introspection. And “The Boy and the Heron” embodies that, delicately juxtaposing life and death to examine grief and loss. Albeit at times nostalgic to a fault, it’s arguably Miyazaki’s most autobiographical.

Much has been said about his future plans; but if this is indeed Miyazaki’s final film, then what a perfect way to go.

8. All of Us Strangers

As a meditation of grief, isolation, and yearning, “All of Us Strangers” broke my heart. Because, when stripped bare, this fantasy romantic drama film is an examination of love; more specifically, love that was neither expressed nor shared.

Andrew Scott turns in a career-best performance, transcending the conventions of films that tackle filial love and LGBTQ+ romance to connect with all audiences. And while the ending might be a little jarring depending on who you ask, it doesn’t take away the film’s powerful gut punch.

7. Poor Things

Arguably Yorgos Lanthimos’ most provocative film since “Dogtooth,” this film benefits from Emma Stone’s best — and most — acting of her career. The movie’s themes of one’s pursuit of enlightenment, sexuality, and freedom can be clouded by the fact that such naivete invited exploitation, and that’s a fair assessment.

Nevertheless, “Poor Things” succeeds due to its performances (alongside Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Ramy Youssef, and Willem Dafoe are terrific supports) and its utter absurdity; so much that these merits alone trump its other shortcomings.

6. Perfect Days

“Perfect Days” is Wim Wenders’ best film in ages, a confidently paced character study that requires little to no words at all. This film is a perfect corollary to Yui Kiyohara’s film, “Remembering Every Night,” Kiyohara’s own take on meditative isolation.

Kōji Yakusho’s tender performance rocked me to my very core. As Hirayama, he becomes a real person to me, someone I know from every day whom I’ve always wanted to meet and spend some time with. And for what it’s worth, that might be an even better compliment.

5. Anatomy of a Fall

Justine Triet and Sandra Hüller team up for this courtroom drama that, on paper, could have been just another generic film. However, the film’s opening hooks the audiences in, making for a gripping story that underscores the importance of truth and how, ultimately, it becomes subjective to those involved.

Hüller is heartbreaking as the accused Sandra, and by the end her performance, complemented by Triet’s direction, makes us root for the same truth that works best for us.

4. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

I’d been delaying watching this film because I wanted to love it (Judy Blume’s novel being one of my favorite books ever). And boy, am I glad that I did: “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” is more than worth my wait.

Kelly Fremon Craig’s follow-up to her critically acclaimed film “Age of Seventeen” is as perfect as any coming-of-age films go. This is an adaptation that understands — and respects — its source material. And with knockout performances from its cast, the film exudes affable charm and heart.

3. The Zone of Interest

Jonathan Glazer’s film eerily portrays the compartmentalization of the horrors of war showing the worst of humanity, to focus on the idyllic utopia where nothing bad ever happens. I’ve found the film a metaphor of what people as a collective are willing to do — including looking the other way to the point of desensitization — just to maintain their own little piece of heaven.

With Sandra Hüller turning in one of her two performances that rank among the year’s best, “The Zone of Interest” is a tough, yet very necessary, watch.

2. Past Lives

Navigating the complex nature of relationships with a ‘what if’ narrative is something a few romantic films have mastered. Fewer, still, manage to pull off stories where everyone in the story has everything to lose.

Celine Song’s “Past Lives” does that to perfection. Led by the performances of its leads (Greta Lee is magnificent, heartbreaking) and a screenplay so realistic and in equal measures idealistic and pragmatic; this is a tender, thoughtful examination of intricate and complicated human relationships, and the repercussions of our decisions.

1. Killers of the Flower Moon

At his best here, Martin Scorsese tells a tragedy of epic proportions. The killings motivated by greed and envy show the worst of humanity, which the film unflinchingly portrays. Top marks go to the cast and crew, led by regular Scorsese collaborators Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.

But whereas both men, as well as Scorsese, merit praise (and deservedly so); the film’s standouts, however, are two women: Thelma Schoonmaker, whose bravura editing makes the 3.5-hour runtime a breeze; and Lily Gladstone, whose tragic performance deserves Oscar glory.



Paul Enicola

Film (and sometimes music) critic. Writer by profession, musician by passion.