My Favorite Movies of 2023

Here’s my immediate feeling when looking at the list of movies I’ve seen from last year: The strikes in Hollywood probably let me see many more movies from smaller studios or from around the world, which I would either have missed or maybe heard about years after. Kind of a side benefit from all that.

Once again, I am late on this, but that’s just because I often don’t have access to so many movies before they have been shown to be worth releasing in smaller markets like Finland. So, if I made this list at the end of the year, it would be much more studio-dominated, which I want to avoid. I still have a bunch of unseen movies from last year, which I would have liked to have seen before writing this, but I can’t postpone this forever (I mean, I could, but I don’t want to).

Here’s a list of movies still on my watchlist from last year: Monster, Raging Grace, Birth/Rebirth, The Sudbury Devil, American Fiction, May December (which I will see later today), Bottoms, Flora and Son, Baghead, The Royal Hotel, RMN. This list is shorter than usual at this point in time, but will still probably grow. One problem is that the modern streaming service models will often hide these movies from me in one way or another. On the other hand, I also know that there will always be something to hunt, so that’s a benefit.

Two honorary mentions: Since I don’t include documentaries on my lists, I would like to mention two movies here: 20 Days in Mariupol and Scala!!! Or, the Incredibly Strange Rise and Fall of the World’s Wildest Cinema and How It Influenced a Mixed-up Generation of Weirdos and Misfits. Two very different movies. One is about the darkest side of human nature, while the other is about the joy of being able to yourself in a safe environment (most of the people interviewed didn’t even mention any specific movies). Both definitely worth a watch, but all kinds of trigger warnings apply to both, although much more to the former, which is available for free on YouTube for some markets (at least the US). There’s one quote in it that will stay with me for a while to an extent which will affect my thinking on certain matters (paraphrasing): In war, the good people become better and the bad people become worse.

But on to the list. In no particular order:

Polite Society

Ria must save her older sister, Lena, from marriage. So, this is just a movie that’s stupid in all the right ways. It carries the DNA of those great British feelgood movies, but also just gets fully out of hand with weird genre swaps straight from Bollywood. I probably love this movie way more than I should, but at the same time, this is the beauty of movies: You can find fun and interesting things in pretty much anything. The great thing to me, is that this has a very strong and unabashed cultural bias.

Zone of Interest

A quite simple, but effective movie. There’s no real plot here, mostly just characterization. And the haunting ambiant noise of the concentration camp we never see inside of. The key is the banality of the whole thing. The family is so used to a genocide happening just beyond the wall, that it doesn’t affect their lives anymore.


I do have a feeling I wouldn’t put this on the list, if I was for some reason making the best movies of 2023 list in, say, 2033, but that doesn’t matter right now. It’s an interesting look into the life and mind of a man, who did something unthinkable, but could not remove himself from it, like so many other people do. As a sidenote, I do also like how science is portrayd here. No-one is doing it alone. It’s a cooperative effort, where countless people have their own small contributions to the whole.

Killers of the Flower Moon

I have never been the biggest fan of Scorsese and I have never really liked Di Caprio, but this is great movie. It just feels like he finally was able to move, at least to an extent, outside of the “movies for white men about white men” mentality. He has such a long filmogrpahy, that he has probably been able to do this before, but I can’t immediately think of anything (except maybe Hugo).

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

First, I really dislike the idea of narrative movies just stopping in the middle of the story. The movie still works, but I’m afraid lesser directors will start to do the same thing, when studios realize this is a way to get people to come to cinema and then hook them into coming again.

Like so many others, apparently, I’m more into Gwen than Miles as a character, and of course there is a great supporting cast, with Hobie being the highlight. We’ll see if the story actually pays off, but I’m quite confident that it will.

Poor Things

Lanthimos gets a higher budget (still at the low end of mid-budget, but 35 million is much higher than the 15 million for The Favourite). Much of this is about the intricacies of Stone’s performance at different stages of mental development. The world is also great. It’s kind of ours, but not really even close.

Gojira -1.0

There’s been 38 Godzilla movies in 70 years (five American ones and 33 Japanese ones) and they can still make something great. Godzilla looks great despite the small budget, but you don’t really even care about that, because the way the movie deals with the trauma of the war hits hard in the feels. The franchise (at least the Japanese version) has always been dealing with the consequences of WWII for the Japanese society, but this one just feels like it manages to do that so much better than the previous incarnations (although admittedly I’ve only seen 7 of the other Japanese movies).

Kuolleet lehdet aka Fallen Leaves

Wow, I get to add a Finnish movie once again. Kaurismäki has a long history of movies that are mostly kind of boring and never really achieve what he is trying to achieve. You get what he is going for, but never really quite gets there. This just feels like after 40 years he finally got the formula right.

Das Lehrerzimmer aka Teachers’ Lounge

The movie is about a substitute teacher, who wants to protect her students from the bureaucracy of the school. All the while, someone is stealing from teh teachers’ lounge and she also decides to try to figure out who, but that doesn’t go as well as expected. This does go off the rails in one point in a way that I don’t really appreciate, but in general, as a teacher, even though I work on a different level, we are still dealing with issues like this. Not quite this bad, but still, I do feel empathy for the teacher due to my own profession. Not to say that the movie isn’t good. It’s actually great in the way it discusses the difficult situation schools are in, especially now, when students feel empowered, but use it in a wrong way, and parents are pressuring the schools more and more. Never mind the financial pressures from the government, which often lead to worse outcomes for everyone involved.


This is an interesting take on a genre. The whole movie is roughly as long as the interrogation in it. It follows the interrogation very precisely as well. There’s even points where something was censored from the officially released version of the recording, because it contained military secrets. Feels a lot like a play and since I had forgotten everything about this case, I didn’t actually know where this was going for the longest time (which is in itself a rarity in my movie going experience).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.