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Here is my obligatory/traditional annual top 10 list of movies, ranked according to mainstream standards. In other words, weird movies are allowed on this list, but I attempt to rank the 2023 releases according to their general cinematic merit, intended for people who don’t specialize in the surrealer genres. If you want an advance peek at the weird list (coming tomorrow), check out our latest episode of Pod 366.
There are a fair number of films that might have made this list but for the fact that I didn’t have time to get to them in 2023. Notably, I wasn’t able to screen awards contenders All of Us Strangers, American Fiction, American Symphony, Anatomy of a Fall, Apolonia Apolonia, The Color Purple, Fallen Leaves, Ferrari, Four Daughters, Maestro, May December, The Mother of All Lies, Rustin, Saltburn, Society of the Snow, The Taste of Things, or The Zone of Interest before drafting this list. I expect to see most of these before awards voting season concludes, and some of them may end up deserving inclusion here.
Before the official top ten starts, here are 2023’s numerous honorable mentions, in alphabetical order: Beau is Afraid, Beyond Utopia, Blackberry, Blind Willow Sleeping Woman, Dream Scenario, Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, Give Me Pity!, John Wick 4, Killers of the Flower Moon, Lynch/Oz, Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1, Past Lives, Robot Dreams, Suzume, Talk to Me, Unicorn Wars, Unidentified Objects, and When Evil Lurks.
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And now, the official list:
10. Once Within a Time: Curtains open on a glowing, chanting golden tree woman, then children watch a couple with wicker cages around their heads wander through incidents of apocalypse, technology, and wonder. Simultaneously ancient and hyper-modern, Godfrey Reggio‘s visually-stunning surrealist experimental feature is as an apocalyptic dispatch from the far reaches of reality and a major cinematic event of 2023. With a new Philip Glass score, Iranian vocalist Sussan Deyhim as a tree-mother-goddess-spirit with a glowing heart, and a very special guest star as a pied piper who speaks in saxophone solos. Under an hour long, but because of its esoteric nature (Reggio dubs it a “bardic fairy tale”) its exposure was limited to museums and major art-house venues; hopefully it will find it’s way onto disc/streaming services soon.
9. The Origin of Evil [L’Origine du mal]: A sardine factory worker (a ruthless but needy Laure Calamy) reconnects with her rich, estranged father, who lives in an isolated mansion with four women, each of whom have their own secrets and schemes. A meticulously plotted French film where no one may be who they seem, slowly unraveling a great deal of nasty behavior amidst a sprinkling of satire and split screens. You’ll be wondering who’s plotting against whom— Continue reading TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2023: MAINSTREAM EDITION