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Picture of 2023 movie posters

I watch more old films and rewatches than new releases in any given year. This isn’t due to any aversion to modern cinema, I just can’t get to the cinema as much as I would like and also the fact I am a mood watcher and will choose based on how I am feeling on a particular night. And this year has definitely necessitated more comfort watches than usual. So these are the 10 favourite films f2023 I watched this year (bear in mind there are a ton I still haven't seen like Barbie / MI:7 / Saltburn / Poor Things etc).

  1. Talk To Me.

Having seen this in the cinema and again recently, this Aussie horror by the Philippou Brothers has only grown in estimation. It has fully fleshed and believable characters with misguided motivations that keep the horror escalating until the dark denouement.


There have been a lot of so-called ‘grief horror films’ in the last few years (looking at you A24) but very few of them worked for me as they were so cold and inhuman - grief isn’t just a cold numbing emotion though, it can also burn and make us feel more than we thought possible. Talk To Me feels real in that Mia (Sophie Wild in one of the best performances of the year) is working through the loss of her mother which informs her decisions. She is a three-dimensional character, racked with grief but trying to get on with her life and go to parties and seek out new experiences. And the desire to fit in / peer pressure in the circle of teens feels achingly realistic.


While I’m not clamouring for a sequel (as this movie is pretty much perfect as is), I can’t wait to see what the Philippous turn their hands to next.


2. Killers of the Flower Moon.

Marty did it again. A 3.5 hour movie that never dragged for a second (for me). A grim but engrossing slice of tragic history with great performances from Dicaprio, De Niro and especially Lily Gladstone. For some reason, I was expecting a zippy montage-heavy crime fest (like Goodfellas or Casino), but this late period Scorcese prefers an elegiac pacing and tone, zooming his lens in on the micro, examining the faces and cold eyes of the perpetrators of the crimes committed against the Osage people.


3. Oppenheimer.

Having been cool on Nolan’s last few films I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this epic, despite being dog-tired and watching it on a sub-par cinema screen. Nolan crafts his biopic into an engrossing apocalyptic thriller, even throwing in some twists along the way.

4. Beau Is Afraid.

While the first act of Beau is undoubtedly the best part of Ari Aster’s third film, I happily followed him and Joaquin Phoenix on the deliriously dark path that followed, through the woods and into the caves. Even a blatantly obvious metaphor-as-monster towards the end couldn’t take away from my enjoyment of this twisted psycho-comedy.


5. The Killer.

I had no idea what to expect from David Fincher’s return to thriller filmmaking, having not read the comic on which it was based. And I was delighted to find a surprisingly funny hitman thriller with Michael Fassbender killing it (pun intended) as the lone killer with a poe-faced code that gets hilariously tested time and time again.


6. When Evil Lurks.

This was possibly the most hyped horror film of 2023, with plaudits flooding out of Fantastic Fest when the film premiered. Luckily, Shudder had already picked the film up so we didn’t have to wait long to judge the film for ourselves. And I was relieved to find that the film had been slightly misrepresented as an extreme horror film ala The Sadness. And while When Evil Lurks does have its share of shocking moments, they are woven into an enthralling story and mythology involving the existence and rather haphazard containment of them by the Police and residents of a rural Argentinian area. The world-building here is impressive, as is the increasing escalation of ‘bad shit’.


7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

My kids and I thoroughly enjoyed this funny and emotional conclusion to the Guardians trilogy (even though they said it was the saddest film they’d ever seen). The only Marvel film I have been remotely interested in since Avengers Endgame, James Gunn sticks the landing and then some.

8. Ennio.

Despite being a talking head doco (which I usually can’t stand) this is a beautiful tribute to one of the greatest composers to ever wave the white baton. Featuring lengthy and honest interviews with the man himself before he passed away in 2020 at the age of 91, his whole life and career is examined. What hit me though, was the utter lack of respect he got from his peers when he moved into film scoring, despite composing some of the greatest scores of all time and also creating experimental music with various outfits. It lends a slightly sad undercurrent to all his achievements, but the music speaks for itself, with over 400 scores and 100 classical works to his name.


9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

My son and I loved this in the theatre. A ton of heart & laughs. A banging ‘90s hip hop soundtrack that introduced my son to A Tribe Called Quest. A very cool, scruffy animation style that I even preferred to the Spiderverse’s more slick style. Plus it has Kaiju cosmic horror Ice Cube for the win!


10. The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster.

This was a nice late surprise when I finally got around to pressing play on this Shudder exclusive. A heartfelt reimagining of the Frankenstein myth, set in an inner city Black community rife with gun violence, this film had strong Candyman vibes and needs to be seen by more people as I haven't seen many talking about this one.

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