The Online Film Critics Society awards for 2023 are in the books. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Oppenheimer, an epic biopic from a major director, dominated the results—although I admit I am surprised at how thoroughly it nuked the competition. Weird movies did earn a lot of nominations this year—Poor Things earned 11, Asteroid City 4, and The Boy and the Heron 1—but took home no prizes. (Poor Things getting totally blanked surprised me; hopefully, Oscar voters will be more generous.)

As always, despite the occasional levity in my tone, I take my voting responsibility seriously. I do not put forward weird films at the expense of worthier mainstream candidates just because it’s “my thing.” Here is the list of this year’s winners, along with my choices and a touch of personal commentary.


Oppenheimer posterWinner: Oppenheimer

Also nominated (listed ranked in order of votes): Killers of the Flower Moon, The Holdovers, Poor Things, Anatomy of a Fall, Barbie, Past Lives, May December, Asteroid City, The Zone of Interest

My vote: Poor Things

Comments: Overall, Poor Things was the best movie of the year; groundbreakingly original, yet with a traditionally structured, if outlandish, plot that makes it accessible to the average cinemagoer. Incredible dialogue, luscious sets, and an iconic performance from Emma Stone (with two awards-caliber supporting roles from and ) make it 2023’s outstanding achievement in cinema. I personally ranked Oppenheimer third on my ballot; well-made, but too conventional to earn a higher vote. I didn’t see ‘s late-arriving Zone of Interest, and judging from its tenth place finish, a lot of voters were in the same boat.


Winner: Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse

Also nominated (in alphabetical order): The Boy and the Heron, Nimona, Robot Dreams, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

My vote: Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse

Comments: It was a tight call (and a tight race) between the massive Spider-Man and ‘s latest fable. Miyazaki’s handmade charm was tempting, but ultimately the Hollywood production was just too overwhelming; it brought abstract and experimental animation—incorporating multiple sub-universes as drawn by Chagall or Da Vinci—to a mass audience, while creating a completely involving comic epic. This series is Miles ahead of Marvel’s live-action offerings.


Winner: , Oppenheimer

Also nominated (alphabetical order): Greta Gerwig, Barbie;
Yorgos Lanthimos, Poor Things; Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon; Celine Song, Past Lives

My vote:  (not nominated); Christopher Nolan (of nominees)

Comments: For me, Asteroid City was Anderson’s finest moment, and the film is stamped with his personality and auteurial authority in a way no other movie of 2023 could match. Of the remainders, it was a close call between Nolan and Lanthimos for me, a virtual coin-flip. Ultimately, I went with the idea that Nolan successfully juggled more balls—massive budget, massive cast, massive everything—than Lanthimos did in his relatively scaled-down affair.


Winner: , The Holdovers

Also nominated: Leonardo DiCaprio, Killers of the Flower Moon; Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer; Andrew Scott, All of Us Strangers; Jeffrey Wright, American Fiction

My vote:  Paul Giamatti

Comments: Arrogant in the classroom but drunk and flatulent in private, the lazy-eyed, sweaty and acerbic Giamatti was the best thing about the predictable The Holdovers. Full disclosure: I did not catch All of Us Strangers.


Winner: Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon

Also nominated: Sandra Hüller, Anatomy of a Fall; Greta Lee, Past Lives; Margot Robbie, Barbie; , Poor Things

My vote: Emma Stone

Comments: I won’t go so far as to say Stone was robbed—if she had not been in the race, I would have gone with Gladstone too. Gladstone’s performance was subtle, with cracks of tragedy showing through her stoic facade. Stone, with her fast-developing fetal brain, deadpan comic delivery, and balls to the wall sex scenes, was anything but. Gladstone was great, but no actor created a character from scratch better than Stone did in 2023.


Winner: , Oppenheimer

Also nominated: Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon; Ryan Gosling, Barbie; Charles Melton, May December; Mark Ruffalo, Poor Things

My vote: Robert Downey Jr.

Comments: When I saw that Downey in the credits of Oppenheimer, I had to turn to Google to find out who he played. That’s a testament to the makeup department, but also to Downey’s skill in erasing his essential Robert Downey Juniorness from his performance. Ruffalo’s Victorian rake or Gosling’s comic-relief Ken would have also been good choices in what may be the most competitive category.


Winner: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

Also nominated: Emily Blunt, Oppenheimer; Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple; Rachel McAdams, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret;
, May December

My vote: Julianne Moore

Comments: Moore played a truly surprising character in May December: an aging woman of uncertain mental fitness living in the shadow of a decades-old scandal. (, who wasn’t nominated in the crowded Best Actress field, may have been even better.) Randolph gave the sort of vulnerable performance that wins critics’ and audience’s hearts, but like everything else in The Holdovers, it was predictable. Full disclosure: I did not see The Color Purple.


Winner: The Holdovers

Also nominated: Anatomy of a Fall; Barbie; May December; Past Lives

My vote: May December

Comments: Structurally, May December is a mystery, only instead of suspects and motives, it uncovers emotional traumas and psychological dysfunction. Natalie Portman gives a wonderful monologue about the emotional impact of doing a sex scene as an actress, which informs her later actual sex scene—that’s good writing. If screenplays were only judged on dialogue, The Holdovers might be a reasonable choice (“What kind of a fascist hash foundry are you running here?”) But when you see a trailer and already know absolutely every single story beat of the feature film, the most charitable thing you can say is that it’s a tribute to the form. If we’re going to give a script the highest award possible, however, I believe originality is a must.


Winner: Oppenheimer

Also nominated: American Fiction, Killers of the Flower Moon Poor, Things, The Zone of Interest

My vote: Poor Things

Comments: The fantastical and surreal elements of the story make Poor Things more of a challenge to adapt than Oppenheimer. The script must create a new world must to capture the mood of Alasdair Gray’s novel. The steamroller that is Oppenheimer is hard to stop at this point, however.


Winner: Oppenheimer

Also nominated: Anatomy of a Fall, Barbie, Killers of the Flower Moon, Poor Things

My vote: Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1 (not nominated); Barbie (of nominees)

Comments: The “Best Editing” category is often the best place to recognize an action movie (I also would have voted for the un-nomimated John Wick 4), especially in a year with few true editing standouts. My fellow critics did not share this view in 2023. Barbie was at least snappily-paced and fast-moving. Oppenheimer dealt with a lot of jumps in time and space, but its overlong and the story gets a little confusing at times.


Winner: Oppenheimer

Also nominated: Asteroid City, Barbie, Killers of the Flower Moon, Poor Things

My vote: Infinity Pool (not nominated); Asteroid City (of nominees)

Comments: From my original Infinity Pool review: “Cinematographer Karim Hussain, who has shot every B. Cronenberg film so far, uses disorienting techniques—vertical 360 pans, extreme closeups of lips and eyelashes, a strange shot where Thomas Kretschmann‘s silhouette turns into a pinheaded alien—to remind us that we’re in an exotic land defying norms and expectations. These stylistic excesses are capped by two epilepsy-warning, -styled psychedelic montages…” I also nominated Once Within a Time. Oppenheimer‘s cinematography was fine, but it would have been my last pick among the nominees, as well as ranking behind a couple of non-nominees.


Winner: Oppenheimer

Also nominated: Killers of the Flower Moon, Poor Things, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, The Zone of Interest

My vote: Poor Things

Comments: Another case where the conventional triumphs over the outré. Ludwig Göransson’s score for Openheimer was competent, traditional film music. Jerskin Fendrix, a relative unknown who had not previously scored a film or been noted for instrumental music, created perfectly disorienting avant-garde snippets for Poor Things which complimented Bella Baxter’s disorientation and the moral ambiguity of the film’s world. Since I didn’t see The Zone of Interest, I didn’t listen to the soundtrack, but it’s by Mica Levi (Under the Skin), so I expect it to be excellent.


Winner: Barbie

Also nominated: Asteroid City; Killers of the Flower Moon; Oppenheimer; Poor Things

My vote: Asteroid City

Comments: A strong category. The dazzling pinks of Barbie‘s Barbieland were a treat. Asteroid City‘s theatrical retro-futuristic desert set wins it for me, though. Poor Things would also be an excellent choice. The other two films do a good job recreating their periods, but lack imagination. Perhaps we all wanted to throw some bones Barbie‘s way after Oppenheimer‘s dominance of the major categories.


Weird BarbieWinner: Barbie

Also nominated: Asteroid City, Killers of the Flower Moon, Oppenheimer, Poor Things

My vote: Barbie

Comments: Here’s a spot where I believe Barbie fully earns its award—thanks to Weird Barbie.


Winner: Oppenheimer

Also nominated: The Creator, Godzilla Minus One, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Poor Things

My vote: Once Within a Time (not nominated); Poor Things (of nominees)

Comments: I forgive my colleagues for not seeing Once Within a Time. But the visual effects were unforgettable. The film stock is finely aged and grainy, like it was shot on stock recovered from an old high school AV club locker, and the techniques include use of miniature models to create a world where UFOs buzz dreamscapes while astronauts dance around giant hourglasses in the desert. Oppenheimer had one magnificent effects sequence (and a coda) in a three hour movie; to me, it does not seem to be a serious contender in this category. Full disclosure: I did not see The Creator.


Winner: Celine Song, Past Lives

Also nominated: Raven Jackson, All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt; Cord Jefferson, American Fiction; Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou – Talk to Me; A.V. Rockwell, A Thousand and One

My vote: Cord Jefferson, American Fiction

Comments: Always a tough category, requiring extra research to determine who’s even eligible. I understand why my colleagues would vote for Song’s Lives; it’s weighty, dramatic, and mature. Jefferson’s racial satire American Fiction is a lot more fun, however. Full disclosure: I did not see All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt.


Winner: Anatomy of a Fall

Also nominated: Fallen Leaves, Godzilla Minus One, Perfect Days, The Zone of Interest

My vote: The Boy and the Heron (not nominated); Godzilla Minus One (of nominees)

Comments: Because of the existence of Spider-Man, The Boy and the Heron got jedged out of my top slot for Best Animated Feature. Still, I appreciated Heron more than any of the live action foreign language features I saw in 2023; best is best, animated or not. My runner-up, the wicked French thriller The Origin of Evil, was not nominated. I would have cast my vote for Anatomy of a Fall, but technically, it was not eligible despite being nominated (per OFCS rules, “not in the English language” means at least 75% in a foreign language, and almost half of Fall was in English.) Full disclosure: I did not see Fallen Leaves, Perfect Days, or The Zone of Interest.


Winner: 20 Days in Mariupol (note: this film is available with no charge or advertisements on YouTube)

Also nominated: American Symphony, Beyond Utopia, Kokomo City, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie

My vote: 20 Days in Mariupol

Comments: There were a raft of strong contenders (including many worthy efforts, as happens every year in this most crowded of categories, that were passed over), but I’m confident that this boots-on-the-ground, history-as-it-happens account of the siege of Mariupol from a civilian perspective is worthy of the year’s highest honor. Full disclosure: I did not see American Symphony or Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie.

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