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Our Favourite Films of 2023

As we begin an exciting new year, members of the Storyhouse Cinema team were each asked to share their four favourite films of 2023, culminating in a list of 20 films!

From stirring dramas to spectacular sci-fi adventures and big-screen epics, our list only scratches the surface of an incredible year in film, with many more excellent cinema treats out there there to discover, here’s what our team had to say about their favourites…

Rye Lane, dir. Raine Allen Miller.

Jodie, former Storyhouse Cinema Assistant/Young Programmer:

  1. Rye Lane: Truly the best rom-com I’ve seen in years! So joyful, fun and colourful. I know this will be a film I return to many times!
  2. Fremont: Fremont was such a sweet surprise! This is an incredibly charming, funny and romantic film about lost souls, loneliness, and love. A very simple film with an enormous heart—my favourite film of the year by far!!
  3. Oppenheimer: I don’t think you could make a top 4 films of 2023 without mentioning the summer of ‘Barbenheimer’. It was so exciting to see so many people coming to the cinema and talking about films, but for me, Oppenheimer came out on top. Watching this on the big screen has to be one of my favourite cinema experiences ever—harrowing and breathtaking—and I honestly wish it could have been longer!
  4. Asteroid City: This was probably the film that I was most looking forward to, and it managed to exceed my expectations! One of Wes’ most moving films, dealing with love, grief, loss, and aliens from outer space! (I liked it so much that I saw it three times at our cinema.).
Fremont, dir. Babak Jalali.

Nicky Beaumont, Storyhouse Film & Digital Programme Manager:

  1. Rye Lane: This film really made me smile; it is pure joy and also, for me, very nostalgic, as I lived on Peckham Rye and it all felt very familiar.
  2. Barbie: It is just about the cleverest film ever. I cried all the way through the first viewing and laughed all the way through the second—not many films can do that.
  3. Reality: The Reality Winner whistle-blower story, told entirely through FBI interview transcripts, had me utterly gripped.
  4. Fremont / Fallen Leaves: I’m cheating here and having two, but they are basically very similar low-key off-beat romances with a distinctive Jim Jarmuschian American-Indie vibe, despite one of them being Finnish.
Barbie, dir. Greta Gerwig.

Bradley, Storyhouse Cinema Assistant:

  1. Barbie: Film of the Year! Big, bold, and pink! with performances that perfectly matched the fun nature of the film. But it’s not all glitter balls and roller skates. Barbie packs a surprising emotional punch, and it deals with issues of equality and identity without you even knowing!
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: A perfect, heart-wrenching end to the trilogy. Another killer soundtrack and the most feared Marvel villain, James Gunn, dropped a gem with his last Marvel film.
  3. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse: Stunningly beautiful! They somehow came up with a whole new take on the played-out origin stories. It can only be criticised in that it didn’t feel finished as a story—because it isn’t! But I can’t wait for Part 2!
  4. Theatre Camp: Comedic, nostalgic, and vibrant. This mockumentary delivers brilliantly unique characters that cover the whole spectrum of different types of theatre enthusiasts. If I wasn’t smiling, I was laughing.
Killers of the Flower Moon, dir. Martin Scorsese.

Luigi, Storyhouse Cinema Assistant:

  1. Killers of the Flower Moon: If this is Mr. Scorsese’s last film, then he went out in style. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and thought it was pure cinema. Fantastic performances all around; Lily Gladstone was just stunning.
  2. Passages: An independent film starring Franz Rogowski and Ben Wishaw that challenges the gay stereotype and delves into moral dilemmas between couples and love triangles. I thoroughly enjoyed this raunchy film (on Mubi!).
  3. Maestro: I’m obsessed with Bradley Cooper; this was his project, and you can tell how much work and effort was put into it. It’s a film where you need to know about the person the film is portraying.
  4. Oppenheimer: It may be an obvious one; however, for me, it might be the best film of the last 15 years. It was fantastic, and I cannot wait to watch it again.
Are You There God? It's Me Margaret., dir. Kelly Fremon Craig.

Elisa, Storyhouse Cinema Manager:

  1. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.: It was inspiring to see grandmothers, mothers and daughters gathering at the cinema to experience this film adaptation of Judy Bloom’s book. I watched it with my 13-year-old daughter, and we both adored it (for the first time, she was delighted with my film choice!). It brought us joy, laughter and prompted spiritual thoughts, while also moving me to tears!
  2. Past Lives: Celine Song’s remarkable debut film is for me, with its contemplative slowness, all about identity, culture, quest for authenticity and belonging, and then, of course, love. It is simply a beautifully crafted piece, with stunning photography, captivating visuals, and an original soundtrack. Watching this film was an emotional experience for me, once again culminating in tears at the end of the screening (leaving my daughter looking rather puzzled this time!).
  3. Oppenheimer: What is there to say about Oppie? I have no words really. It is like the deafening silence just before the explosion—a moment pregnant with an intensity that words struggle to capture.
  4. Rye Lane: This is a brilliant modern film that intricately weaves tragedy and comedy, utilising wide-angle shots to augment reality and emotions. It evoked in me an epic tragedy that adheres to the three Aristotelian unities, especially in its initial half. I felt joy and happiness watching Rye Lane—perhaps because I am still one of those who waves at boats… and beyond!
Past Lives, dir. Celine Song.

Jordan, Storyhouse Cinema Assistant & Freelance Film Critic:

  1. The Boy and the Heron: When Hayao Miyazaki announced he was coming out of retirement (again!) back in 2017 for one last film, it was pretty clear the result would have to be something spectacular to cement the legacy of one of cinema’s great masters. The surprise then is just how simultaneously poignant and playful The Boy and the Heron is. Part Miyazaki’s greatest hits package, part experimental late career odyssey into a world of dream-logic, militaristic parakeets, and squishy soul-sprites, Miyazaki’s latest may, MAY just be his greatest.
  2. Past Lives: Celine Song’s debut feature is an emotionally flooring, sensorily stunning meditation on the spaces—geographical, physical, emotional, and spiritual—that separate us and the unknowable forces of love and fate that draw us to each other all the same. It’s a film about trying to live in the time that you’re in, with the people you love and a life you have built, whilst knowing you’ll always wonder what may have been and what was lost for what was gained. Song’s sonorous debut is a picture that glides, lingers, says enough and never too much, and manages—in its specificity to its own story—to create a profoundly personal experience for the viewer. Tissues are a must for this one.
  3. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse: How do you follow up on one of the biggest and boldest animated blockbusters ever made? With the biggest and boldest animated blockbuster ever made of course. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse – the thwiptastic second instalment in Sony Pictures Animation’s multiversal Spidey trilogy, is the Sistine Chapel of animation, and we’re pretty sure the Sistine Chapel does NOT have a goose record scratch. Therefore, by default, Across The Spider-Verse is in fact better than the Sistine Chapel. That’s just maths. THWIP THWIP!
  4. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.: Watching Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. was one of those transcendental cinema experiences that I just know I’ll always look back on with huge affection. Kelly Fremon Craig’s adaptation of the classic Judy Blume novel (somehow never previously brought to the big screen!) is a delicately crafted, beautifully detailed, spectacularly well-acted coming-of-age film very much cut from the same cloth as Stand By Me, Craig’s own The Edge of Seventeen, and Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. Richly textured and brought vividly to life by a formidable ensemble (Rachel McAdams! Benny Safdie! Kathy Bates! Newcomer Abby Ryder Fortson!), it’s a proper warm hug of a movie—a touching paean to the waning days of girlhood and dawning womanhood—that everybody should see.

Read the full list on Letterboxd!

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