Monday, January 22, 2024

jeffery berg's top 10 films of 2023!

This is one of the busiest end-of-the years I can remember for prominent late releases, but many of my favorite films came out early on, and have subsequently (and sadly) been somewhat overlooked. A strong film year overall. 



Kelly Reichart is a wonderful director who has been working a long time with modest budgets and stories that take on greater meaning. This one may be my favorite. A haunting, complicated, yet surprisingly (in these times) optimistic look at family, the creation and endurance of art (and the time it takes!) and friendship.  




The ambition of this on-location NYC-set film of a mother and son by debut director A.V. Rockwell is impressive, spanning decades of the 90s into Bloomberg's early 2000s. Teyana Taylor is full-stop fantastic.

Other great NYC films this year besides this one and Robot Dreams include You Hurt My Feelings and the underrated Mutt.




Brooding and elegantly-filmed and edited (by Jennifer Lame) epic, with two particularly breathtaking sequences. A Christopher Nolan agnostic, I went in skeptical, and came out changed.




Another towering historical epic that's simultaneously entertaining, remarkably well-crafted, and terrifying. Listening to different interviews about the care and attention to detail on Martin Scorsese's movie has been enlightening. Also, Lily Gladstone is an amazing human being.




Sofia Coppola's deceptively modest, immersive portrait of Priscilla Presley during the courtship and marriage with Elvis. Beautiful music choices and exquisite, tactile aesthetics.




Has there ever been a protagonist so destructive and frustrating? Probably. But Franz Rogowski's brilliant performance is so compelling and unique that he (and the characters around him, destroyed in his wake) becomes all you can think of watching this film. But the costuming, by Khadija Zeggaï, are also well-done, and enviable (for Ben Whishaw!) and aptly appalling (for Rogowski).




Like his prickly characters, Alexander Payne can come off as kind of a pain in interviews, but it's hard to ignore his skill of creating rambling movies that probe the mishaps and follies of human existence with such grace, humor and specificity. Giamatti is a multi-dimensional curmudgeon. Discovery Dominic Sessa feels like a throwback to the story's time period. Laid-back yet steely, Da'Vine Joy Randolph seems to effortlessly create a much richer character than what was probably on the page of an otherwise brilliant script.




Beautifully realized story of a young woman's decisions (and lack thereof, in a brutal American ecosystem). Different friendships between women are tested in ways not often seen in movies. Although acclaimed and released by A24, this ended up being one of the unsung films of the year.




Barbed, complicated tale of parasitic relationships. Absurdly strong, memorable performances across the board, including the surprisingly heartfelt, winning turn from Charles Melton. 




A very complex ghost story that surveys mortality, desire, pop culture, and the trappingsof the past. Sometimes a movie feels cosmic, otherworldly. An indelible experience for me at NYFF.


  The best of the rest... other notable films of 2023 (in approximate order of preference):

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret., Chile '76, R.M.N, Robot Dreams, Occupied City

20 Days in Mariupol, Four Daughters, Orlando, My Political Biography, Omen (Augure), Past Lives, The Zone of Interest

Monica, Mutt, Tori and Lokita, Godland

Green Border, The Killer, Anatomy of a Fall, Saltburn, Maestro, The Taste of Things

Fallen Leaves, The Blue Caftan, La Chimera, Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, You Hurt My Feelings, Air, M3GAN

The Disappearance of Shere Hite, Theater Camp, Rotting in the Sun, Afire, Joyland, Talk to Me

Eileen, The Royal Hotel, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, The Color Purple, Bruiser

La Civil, Barbie, Dream Scenario, Perfect Days, The Blackening, Totem, Kokomo City, Society of the Snow

A look back at 2022!

-Jeffery Berg

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