2023 was a year full of firsts for cinema, with a wide variety of movies released in theaters. Among the best movies of 2023 most appreciated by critics and the public, mediocre works produced by the main studios that have a monopoly on film distribution worldwide stand out.
History repeats itself, year after year, thanks to an audience now almost completely captured over the decades by US majors or mainstream productions.
Independent movies they explored new genres in a much more convincing way, experimented with new narrative techniques and addressed important themes with sensitivity and depth, thanks to their freedom and productive ease, alien to the political and commercial system of official financiers.
Films often made in the state of art until out of pure necessity on the part of the directors and authors. Intimate interior research, exploration of social themes with highly individual and personal points of view, where the themes that propaganda tries to carry forward through politics, cinema, fashions and all the other tools at its disposal seem to dissolve completely, giving way to much more serious issues, experienced by the population of ordinary mortals, in everyday life.
One of the most noticeable trends of 2023 has been the growing importance of independent cinema. Many of the best movies of 2023 were in fact produced by small production companies with limited budgets. This has allowed directors and screenwriters greater creative freedom, resulting in original and surprising works.
Another important trend was the attention to social and political issues. Many movies of the year tackled sensitive issues such as racism, discrimination, war and the climate crisis. These movies have helped stimulate public debate and raise awareness of important contemporary issues.
Film budgets in 2023 remained high, with many titles topping $100 million. Among the most expensive films, “Oppenheimer” ($100 million), “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” ($90 million) and “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning – Part One” ($290 million) stand out. dollars).
However, it is certainly low-budget films that represent the most significant works of 2023. Of the approximately 5,000 films made, more than 80% are independent films and of these a good part are films with a very low budget or no budget at all. This testifies once again to the incredible vitality of independent cinema in all countries of the world.
Unfortunately, the public, still hypnotized by the great marketing and the amazing packaging of the mainstream cinema of the dominant cinematographic system, flocks in droves above all to see mediocre and super spectacular movies, which evidently please and excite many people for their spectacular packaging, the stars, the standardized story.
The test film financed by the system of public funds in Europe and created by the political-cultural caste in power are really struggling to bring home decent revenues, and the auteur cinema he continues to languish like a terminally ill patient in a coma. Among these movies, however, there are some of the most interesting works of the year.
Many and more numerous are the surprises in the field of truly independent cinema, which, without any form of advertising and distribution in multiplexes, still remains a phenomenon unknown to the mass public.
Indie cinema, thanks to its direct contact with reality, is the cinema that best sculpts the contemporaneity we are experiencing, especially through works that stylistically come close to documentary film, and which stand out for their intellectual honesty, free from the constraints of propaganda on which mainstream movies are totally dependent.
As usual, the biggest global cinema grosses of the year are a gallery of horrors that will give goosebumps to any true cinephile. The usual franchises, a film about a plastic doll that looks like an advertisement and sows the themes of global propaganda on women.
And biopic cold and without empathy, who would like to impress the audience with visual and audio excesses that lead nowhere, and describes a monster as a tormented scientist. And then the usual entertainment for kids, filled with thought forms and messages of dubious ethical quality, clearly created to cultivate and shape the new generations.
Barbie it became the 53rd film globally to surpass $1 billion in grosses. It surpassed Jia Ling’s Hi, Mom (2021) to become the highest-grossing film directed by a female director.
It recorded the largest domestic opening weekend for a film that is not a sequel, remake or superhero franchise, totaling $162 million. It also achieved the biggest opening weekend for a film directed by a woman, surpassing the record set by Captain Marvel (2019).
It had the highest opening weekend for a Margot Robbie film and a Ryan Gosling film, simultaneously surpassing Suicide Squad (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017), subsequently becoming both actors’ highest-grossing films.
It became the fastest Warner Bros. film to reach the billion-dollar mark, doing so within 17 days of release, surpassing the previous record of 19 days held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011).
Its second weekend domestic earnings of $92 million (a 43% decrease) were the largest second weekend ever for a Warner Bros. film and the seventh largest ever. It became the highest-grossing Warner Bros. film in the United States and Canada, surpassing The Dark Knight (2008).
The Super Mario Bros. film became the first based on a video game, the 11th animated film and the 52nd film overall to surpass $1 billion in grosses worldwide. It surpassed 2019’s Frozen II as the animated film with the highest-grossing opening in the world, grossing $375.6 million. It achieved the world’s highest-grossing opening for a video game adaptation, surpassing 2019’s Detective Pikachu.
The film had the second highest-grossing opening weekend in the United States and Canada for an animated film after Incredibles 2 (2018), earning $146 million in a 3-day period and $204 million in a 5 days.
It set the record for the highest grossing first five opening days (for films opening on Wednesdays) in North America, surpassing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009).
In Japan, its opening weekend gross of $14.3 million became the highest for a Hollywood animated film, as well as the highest for a Universal film, surpassing Jurassic World Dominion (2022).
In Mexico, it became the highest-grossing film of all time with $82.4 million, surpassing Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) which had grossed $81.16 million. It became the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film of all time, surpassing Minions (2015).
Oppenheimer became the highest-grossing World War II film of all time, surpassing Dunkirk (2017), also directed by Christopher Nolan. It became the highest-grossing biopic of all time, surpassing Bohemian Rhapsody (2018).
It is the fourth-highest gross ever for an IMAX release, amassing $184 million (20% of the film’s overall worldwide gross) through IMAX theaters alone, including $17 million from 30 70mm IMAX screens overall the world.
It became Nolan’s highest-grossing film in over 50 foreign markets, including Germany, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.
The United States continued to dominate global film production in 2023. But what a novelty. Meanwhile, other cinemas in the world are becoming increasingly poorer and without means of production.
The List of the Best Movies of 2023
Fortunately, 2023 was also a year full of innovations and experiments for cinema. The best movies of 2023 explored new genres, experimented with new narrative techniques, and tackled important themes with sensitivity and depth.
“Io capitano” is a 2023 Italian drama film directed by Matteo Garrone. It tells the story of two young men, Seydou and Moussa, who leave Dakar, Senegal, to reach Europe.
The film was presented in competition at the 80th Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Silver Lion for Best Direction and the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Actor for Seydou Sarr.
The story begins in Dakar, where Seydou and Moussa, two young cousins, dream of reaching Europe to have a better life. The two boys join a group of migrants and set off on their journey, which proves to be an odyssey.
The journey is long and dangerous. The boys must cross the desert, where they face heat, hunger, and thirst. Then they must reach Libya, where detention centers are places of torture and violence. Finally, they must cross the sea, where the risk of drowning is always present.
Seydou and Moussa manage to overcome all these difficulties and finally reach Italy. However, their journey is not over yet. The two boys still have to find a way to survive in a foreign country, where they are often discriminated against and mistreated.
“Io capitano” is a powerful and moving film that tells a true and dramatic story. The film is also an important indictment of the conditions in which migrants live who are trying to reach Europe.
The film was well-received by critics, who praised Garrone’s direction, the actors’ performances, and the touching story.
The film was also a box office success, grossing over 10 million euros in Italy.
Babylon is a 2022 film written and directed by Damien Chazelle. It’s a epic film, set in Hollywood in the 1920s. The film follows the stories of several ambitious dreamers trying to make it in the world of cinema.
The film stars Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li and Jean Smart. Pitt plays Jack Horner, an ambitious director who is trying to make a movie bigger than himself. Robbie plays Norma Desmond, a fading movie star who is determined to make a comeback. Calva plays Antonio Vega, a Mexican actor who is trying to make a name for himself in Hollywood. Adepo plays Fletcher Richards, an African-American actor who is struggling to make his way in a white-dominated industry. Li plays Lili Hou, a Chinese screenwriter who is trying to make her way in an industry that is still largely dominated by men. Smart plays Elinor Koplin, a film producer who is determined to make business.
The film was received positively by critics, with many critics praising the actors’ performances and Chazelle’s direction. However, it was a box office flop, grossing only $63 million against a production budget of $78-80 million.
Decision to Leave
Decision to Leave (Korean: 헤어질 결심) is a 2022 South Korean neo-noir mystery thriller film directed by Park Chan-wook. The film stars Park Hae-il and Tang Wei, and follows a detective who falls in love with a mysterious widow who is the prime suspect in her husband’s murder.
The film was released in South Korea on June 29, 2022. It has been praised by critics for its direction, performances, and screenplay. The film has been nominated for multiple awards, including Best Picture and Best Director at the 58th Baeksang Arts Awards, and Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards.
The film begins with a murder. A man is found dead in a remote mountain area, and the only person who seems to know anything about it is his wife, Seo-rae (Tang Wei). Detective Hae-joon (Park Hae-il) is assigned to the case, and he is immediately captivated by Seo-rae’s beauty and intelligence. As he investigates the case, Hae-joon begins to question whether Seo-rae is really the innocent victim that she seems to be.
The Banshees of Inisherin
The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) is a critically acclaimed dark comedy-drama film written and directed by Martin McDonagh. It stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two old friends who are trapped on a remote island together and find their relationship tested by a long-held grudge. The film premiered at the 79th Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize and the Silver Lion for Best Direction. It was also nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor for Farrell.
The film is set on Inisherin, a small island off the coast of Ireland. Farrell plays Pádraic, a farmer who is known for his gossiping and his constant need for attention. Gleeson plays Colm, a former musician who has become increasingly isolated and withdrawn. The two men have been friends for many years, but their relationship is strained by Pádraic’s constant need for validation and Colm’s growing resentment.
One day, Pádraic accuses Colm of sleeping with his wife. Colm denies the accusation, but Pádraic is not convinced. The two men argue, and Pádraic threatens to tell everyone on the island about the supposed affair. Colm, desperate to protect his reputation, makes a shocking ultimatum: if Pádraic does not stop talking about the affair, Colm will cut off one of his own fingers.
Tár is a 2022 psychological drama film written and directed by Todd Field. The film stars Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár, a renowned conductor who is accused of sexual misconduct. The film has received positive reviews from critics, with praise for the performances of Blanchett and her co-stars, Noémie Merlant and Nina Hoss.
The film is set in the classical music world and follows the story of Lydia Tár, a woman who has been at the height of her career as a conductor. However, her reputation is suddenly ruined when a former student accuses her of sexual misconduct. Lydia denies the allegations, but she is suspended from her job and her life is turned upside down.
The film explores themes of power, privilege, and justice. Lydia is a powerful and influential woman, and her accusation is an act of subversion that threatens her status. The film also examines the way that allegations of sexual misconduct can have a devastating impact on the lives of those accused, even if they are ultimately cleared.
Killers of the Flower Moon
Killers of the Flower Moon is a 2022 American crime drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Eric Roth. Based on the 2017 non-fiction book of the same name by David Grann, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons, John Lithgow, Brendan Fraser, Tantoo Cardinal, Cara Jade Myers, JaNae Collins, and Jillian Dion.
The film is set in 1920s Oklahoma and follows the story of the Osage Nation, the wealthiest Native American tribe in the United States, as they are targeted by a series of unsolved murders. The FBI sends agent Tom White (DiCaprio) to investigate the killings, and he uncovers a conspiracy involving the wealthy white people who want to take advantage of the tribe’s oil riches.
Killers of the Flower Moon is a visually stunning and suspenseful film that explores the dark side of the American Dream. The film was praised for its performances, direction, and screenplay.
Triangle of Sadness
Triangle of Sadness is a 2022 Swedish social satire comedy film directed by Ruben Östlund. It was written by Östlund, who also co-wrote it with screenwriters Erik Hemmendorff, Patrik Sandberg, and Janus Metz Pedersen.
The film follows the story of a group of models and a journalist who are invited on a luxury cruise to the South Pacific. However, when a storm hits the ship, the group is stranded on a deserted island, where their social hierarchies and class divisions quickly crumble.
The film is a scathing satire of the fashion industry, which is seen as being obsessed with superficiality, vanity, and materialism. The models are portrayed as being vapid and shallow, and their relationships with each other are based on competition and jealousy.
The film also explores the power of social hierarchies, and how they can quickly collapse in times of crisis. When the group is stranded on the island, their social status is meaningless, and they are forced to rely on each other for survival.
Falling Leaves (2023) is a Finnish-German romantic-drama film written and directed by Aki Kaurismäki. It was released in Finland on 15 September 2023. The film won the Jury Prize at the 76th Cannes Film Festival.
The film follows the story of two lonely souls, Alma and Lauri, who meet by chance in a karaoke bar in Helsinki. Alma is a young woman who has lost her job and her boyfriend, and is looking for a new beginning. Lauri is an elderly man who has lost his wife and feels lonely and abandoned.
The two find themselves spending time together, and fall in love. However, their love is challenged by a number of factors, including Lauri’s alcoholism, Alma’s lack of stability, and the general tendency of life to put obstacles in the way of those who seek their happiness.
The film is set in a melancholic and nostalgic atmosphere, typical of Aki Kaurismäki films. The black-and-white cinematography captures the beauty and fragility of nature in autumn. The soundtrack, composed by Kaurismäki himself, is a mix of classical and folk music that creates a suggestive and moving atmosphere.
The Sands (Los Arenas) is a science fiction film, directed by Noah Paganotto in Argentina in 2023. In an unidentified location on planet Earth, in an unknown era, Zoilo shares his existence with his family in a desolate land, surrounded by ruins. They live without roots, without maternal figures, aware that pregnancy for women results in death.
Their only collective routine is to keep the fire burning. Zoilo, however, goes beyond this logic, observing with curiosity details that others ignore and do not appreciate. His personal search for answers accentuates the differences with his family members, gradually revealing a world devoid of interior depth.
This avant-garde film burns slowly in the first part, only to reveal in the second the deep conflicts of a family trapped in archaic beliefs. It is a dystopian and visionary work, characterized by extraordinary photography and images of extraordinary power that allow us to grasp the depth of the plot and its poetic potential. The faces of the actors, especially that of the young protagonist, are impeccable.
“The Sands” metaphorically represents our world: an alienated society, where what keeps us alive is demonized and made guilty of death. Unlike the fast pace of typical mainstream films, “Los Arenas” is a meditative journey into the depths of images. The film was shot in natural environments in the city of Necochea, Buenos Aires province, Argentina.
The War of Tiburtino III
The War of Tiburtino III is a 2023 Italian science fiction comedy film directed by Luna Gualano. The film tells the story of Pinna, a drug dealer from the outskirts of Rome, who, along with his friends and Lavina Conte, a famous fashion blogger, must save the world from an alien invasion.
The story begins in Tiburtino III, a working-class neighborhood in Rome. One day, a small meteorite falls from the sky and is picked up by Leonardo De Sanctis, Pinna’s father. In the days that follow, almost all the residents of the neighborhood begin to behave strangely, raising real barricades around their territory. Pinna decides to investigate the phenomenon along with his friends and Lavina Conte, who is trapped in the neighborhood against her will.
Pinna’s investigations will lead him to discover that the meteorite is actually an alien weapon that has the power to control people’s minds. The aliens, starting from Tiburtino III, are intent on conquering the world. It is up to Pinna and his unlikely group to save it.
The film is a funny and original comedy that addresses important themes such as alienation, integration, and the fight for freedom. The film is shot in a grotesque and surreal atmosphere, which creates a sense of alienation and unease. The performances of the actors are convincing, especially that of Antonio Bannò, who plays Pinna.
Coup de Chance
Coup de Chance is a 2023 French comedy-thriller film directed by Woody Allen. It is Allen’s 50th film, and it is his first film shot in French.
The film follows the story of Fanny (Valérie Lemercier), a married woman with Jean (Melvil Poupaud), a successful lawyer. Fanny is dissatisfied with her marriage and feels trapped in her life. One day, she meets by chance Alain (Niels Schneider), a former schoolmate who has become a struggling writer. The two reconnect and Fanny begins to develop feelings for Alain.
Coup de Chance is a classic Woody Allen film. It is full of humor, self-deprecating humor, and reflections on life, love, and fate. The film was critically acclaimed and performed well at the box office.
The film is first and foremost a love story, exploring the strength and fragility of human feelings. Fanny and Alain are two people who feel trapped in their lives and who are looking for happiness. Their love is a precious gift, but it is also fragile and threatened by a number of factors.
Empire of Light
Empire of Light is a 2022 British romance drama film directed by Sam Mendes and written by Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns. The film stars Olivia Colman, Michael Ward, Toby Jones, Colin Firth, and Tanya Moodie.
Set in an English coastal town in the early 1980s, Empire of Light tells the story of two people who find solace and connection in a small, struggling cinema. Hillary (Olivia Colman), the cinema’s manager, is struggling with her mental health and battling the decline of the cinema industry. Stephen (Michael Ward), a new employee, is a young man hoping to escape his provincial town and find a better life.
Empire of Light explores themes of love, loss, hope, and the power of cinema. The film is set in a time of economic hardship and social upheaval, and it reflects the challenges faced by the characters as they navigate their personal lives and the larger world around them.
Empire of Light has been praised for its cinematography, performances, and its understated and melancholic tone. The film has been compared to other films by Mendes, such as American Beauty and Revolutionary Road, for its focus on the complexities of human relationships.
A van driven by a paraplegic individual, transporting numerous dogs, is stopped after an accident, and the man is detained by the authorities. Evelyn, a psychologist, is tasked with questioning him about the events, and the man, named Doug, begins to narrate his story.
Doug is born into a dysfunctional family, experiencing violence from his father and fanatical religious brother along with his mother. He finds solace only in the numerous family dogs used in fights, with whom he shares an extraordinary bond. When Doug’s father discovers that he feeds the animals instead of starving them as ordered, and Doug admits to loving the dogs more than his family, the parent punishes him by locking him in the dog cage in the yard, where he lives in miserable conditions for an indefinite period.
A tale of dignity, friendship, and poignant sweetness unfolds as a pulp-flavored drama, complete with gunfire, aesthetically drawing inspiration from the pages of a graphic novel. “Dogman,” presented in competition at Venice in 2023, is an original, organic creation, inspired only in part by a newspaper article recounting the story of a child locked in a cage at the age of five.
The Book of Solution
The French comedy-drama film “The Book of Solutions” (French: Le Livre des solutions) is the brainchild of director Michel Gondry, known for his whimsical and imaginative approach to filmmaking. Released in 2023, the film delves into the creative struggles and personal demons of Marc, a director grappling with artistic block and self-doubt.
Marc’s journey takes him to the tranquil village of Cévennes, where his kind aunt Denise offers him a refuge to work on his stalled film project. Surrounded by the serenity of nature and the supportive presence of his aunt and a loyal crew member, Marc slowly sheds his inhibitions and rediscovers his creative spark.
The film’s title, “The Book of Solutions,” aptly reflects Marc’s quest for guidance and self-improvement. As he navigates his personal and professional challenges, he begins compiling a notebook filled with ideas, observations, and potential solutions to life’s complexities.
Amidst the lighthearted humor and eccentricities that Gondry is known for, “The Book of Solutions” explores deeper themes of personal growth, the healing power of nature, and the importance of finding solace in the midst of creative turmoil. Marc’s journey serves as a reminder that even within the darkest moments, there lies the potential for unexpected epiphanies and the rediscovery of one’s creative voice.
“The Palace” is a 2023 French comedy-drama film directed by Roman Polanski and set in the Palace Hotel of Gstaad, Switzerland, where wealthy guests gather to celebrate the new Millennium on New Year’s Eve 1999.
The film follows the hotel staff as they prepare for the arrival of the guests and deal with the eccentric demands of the wealthy clientele. As the night progresses, the staff becomes increasingly overwhelmed and chaotic, and the hotel descends into a state of absurdity and debauchery.
“The Palace” is a darkly comic satire of the excesses of the wealthy and the hypocrisy of the upper class. It is also a meditation on the nature of time and the passage of history. The film’s title refers to the hotel itself, which is a symbol of permanence and stability in a world that is constantly changing.
The film features a cast of well-known actors, including Oliver Masucci, Fanny Ardant, John Cleese, Mickey Rourke, and Marianne Faithfull. Polanski’s direction is masterful, and the film is visually stunning.