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Diana's Best of 2023 Films

Both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes over disputes with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers may have slowed down the release of content in 2023, but it did not diminish the quality of the films and TV shows that were released. If anything, it gave me more time to watch the available movies. So (unintentionally), thank you WGA and SAG-AFTRA? Here’s hoping that these strikes and the investigative journalism of 2023 will lead to better pay and better working conditions, not only for writers and actors but for animators and beyond. 

Writing for Story Screen has always been a way for me to excitedly shake the person I am talking to (even virtually) after I watch something truly great and want them to watch it too. That being said, I had a harder time deciding how to rank my favorite films from 2023. Some of my listed films were technically released in 2022, but not widely or in the United States, others were just plain bangers, but I had a hard time conveying into words anything that I felt was unique from their mass-critical-acclaim. But when it comes down to it, these are the films I majorly enjoyed in 2023 and I hope you will too. (P.S. If you saw a great film or show in 2023 that is not on my list, please, tell me. I mean it. I want to hear all about it.)

TV Series Honorable Mentions:

There were so many good series to watch in 2023, including Season 2 of The Bear, and Netflix’s Beef. (Hats off to music supervisor Tiffany Anders for that insane trip down memory lane). Here are two of my favorite shows from 2023:

Reservation Dogs - Season 3 (final season)

While Season 2 of Rez Dogs might be one of the best seasons of television ever (shoutout to Lily Gladstone), the final season of creator Sterlin Harjo’s show begins to hint at how our four young Native protagonists will continue to move on with their lives off-screen. They will always be connected -  to their community, their past, and each other. It’s a show that I recommend hands-down to any viewer no matter their usual genre preferences. It has something for everyone and I can’t wait to see what its four main young actors go on to do next. 

Our Flag Means Death - Season 2 (final season)

While it was recently announced that Max has canceled OFMD, Season 2 had such a satisfying ending that I was okay with it. I loved Season 1, but in its second season, David Jenkins allowed his cast to get really weird and it only made me love every single character EVEN MORE.


On to my Favorite Films of 2023:

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie

Directed by Davis Guggenheim, (It Might Get Loud, An Inconvenient Truth) this documentary film does an amazing job of combining actual footage of Michael J. Fox with reenactment footage, showing someone who kind of resembles him from behind acts out parts of his life while Fox narrates it. It’s really impressive how well done it is. I think the film is captivating and ultimately very hopeful. It makes a point of making you feel compassion rather than pity for Fox in his current state of health. It also showcases how insane it was that Fox was hiding his Parkinson's symptoms for so long from the public, all while churning out so many roles to achieve his acting dreams.

Talk to Me

It doesn’t matter if they’re dead or alive, we’re all just reaching out for some connection. That was my main takeaway from Talk to Me. The movie takes the experience of connecting with the dead and equates it with recreational drug use, slowly making you think it’s OK to keep taking more until it’s too late. Sophie Wilde’s performance is amazing. I would love to see another film in this universe. They already have the sequel name perfected. 

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning (Formerly Part One)

I love the Mission: Impossible franchise. It’s my comfort food. Mission: Impossible - Fallout might be my all-time favorite in the Tom Cruise-led series, but 2023’s Dead Reckoning is still insanely epic in its scale, stunts, and Cruise’s ability to charm, soothe, and even, make us laugh when we least expect it from this genre. Hayley Atwell does a surprisingly good job of making us care about her despite being the newest addition to the group (and the fact that she’s no substitute for my sweet sweet Rebecca Ferguson). 


Christopher Abbott is one of those actors who is so very good at playing terrible people. I had no idea what this film was about before watching or how insanely good Margaret Qualley would be opposite Abbott. This film is a dance, a chess game, a battle of wits, call it whatever you like, but it is a match between its two leads, Hal and Rebecca, and I won’t say any more than that. It totally surprised me and I can’t recommend it enough. 

Of An Age

This film captures what it’s like to discover yourself and that first brush with love. I think it also conveys the friendships we have when we’re young that don’t necessarily make sense, but we cling to when we most need someone who accepts us. This film is sort of a best-case scenario of “It gets better.” Its two leads are each captivating in their own right. Thom Green’s Adam reminds Elias Anton’s Kol that there is a bigger better world out there than the small-minded small town they’re both from.

Rye Lane

I wrote about Rye Lane for Story Screen when it was first released and since then it has stayed in the back of my mind throughout 2023. It shares DNA with films like Before Sunrise while blending in more humor and showcasing distinct cultural neighborhoods in London. Its flawed characters are fun and funny and ultimately bring out the best in each other. 


I loved Cailee Spaeny in Devs. She can capture a youthful naivety that sells her performance as Priscilla in Sofia Coppola’s latest film. Jacob Elordi does a fantastic job as Elvis, portraying him as sort of a captivating Peter Pan manchild who teeters on the brink of violent anger at all times. Priscilla can feel like a horror movie while you wait for the other shoe to drop, but Coppola shoots it a lot like The Virgin Suicides. It looks amazing: its color palette, attention to detail, and its soundtrack. I enjoyed it even more upon second viewing, and I imagine that it will only gain my esteem as time goes by. 

Poor Things

Poor Things is bonkers in the best way possible. I love director Yorgos Lanthimos' last film, The Favourite, but it is deeply sad. I was pleased to find that even though Poor Things deals with big existential questions, it is hilarious and ultimately a story with a hopeful ending about falling in love with life itself. The movie also looks amazing - from its color palate to its costumes. In another star supporting role, Mark Ruffalo almost steals the show in one of my favorite performances of his ever, but this movie belongs to Emma Stone. She deserves all of the awards. 

Fallen Leaves

Even though not a lot happens, Fallen Leaves is such a great film. It is very funny, but its sequences without dialogue are just as engrossing and heartfelt as those with it. The story grapples with its main characters getting older and not wanting to be alone. Its central characters, Ansa and Holappa, played by Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen, are my favorite onscreen couple of 2023. 

Blue Jean

Blue Jean takes place in England during the 1980s when being openly gay meant potentially losing your job, but a lot of the fears that plague the film's main character, Jean, could easily apply today. Struggling with being out among your peers is a reality no matter what time. Period. The film shows Jean watching someone younger than her struggle with being queer and trying to decide whether she is obligated to be a good role model for them and how to do that while still dealing with her own issues. Rosy McEwen reminded me of Lily Rabe-meets-Jodie Comer in the best way possible. Chris Roe’s beautiful score compliments director Georgia Oakley’s ability to walk a tightrope between hope and heartbreak. It’s worth the watch. 


This movie was nothing like I expected. While its trailer gives a glimpse of someone hiding themselves from their family, that’s only the tip of the iceberg in this movie. The fact that its main character Haider (played by Ali Junejo) is so unclear about what he wants is what makes the film feel so honest. Its supporting character Mumtaz (played by the incredible Rasti Farooq), slowly steals the film and breaks your heart. I felt frustrated by the film's third act until its coda absolutely destroyed me.

Killers of the Flower Moon

Scorsese’s latest film is three hours and 26 minutes but I have a hard time deciding what I would try to cut out to make it a shorter watch. Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance is GOOOOOD but he is upstaged by the incredible Lily Gladstone. This is not a fun watch. It is horrible, based on even more horrible real-life events. But I am glad that by creating a film about these awful events more attention is being drawn to the Osage people. Marty may be getting older but he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Keep on, keeping on, Mr. Scorsese. 

TEN: Barbie

I forgot how funny Barbie is until I watched it recently for a second time. Greta Gerwig directed something truly amazing. The fact that she was not nominated for “Best Director” by the Academy Awards seems unbelievable. Barbie’s practical effects, production design, and costume design are all killer. The movie has a phenomenal cast. Margot Robbie’s performance is fantastic without being too over the top and America Ferrari is probably my favorite part of the film. Ryan Gosling almost steals the movie from Robbie, especially during his dreamy Gene Kelly-esque musical escapades. For a film based on Mattel IP, it is immensely poignant, hilarious, and heartwarming. If you haven’t yet, just watch it already.

NINE: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez make a great dynamic duo in this movie. Pine is charming and hilarious, making a great foil to Rodriguez’s stoic muscle. It also has one of the best-unexpected cameos I’ve seen in a film in years. This movie is extremely fun to watch and gave me serious 90s summer blockbuster vibes. I’ve already watched it a second time on a lazy Sunday afternoon and I enjoyed it just as much as my first viewing in the theater. In solidarity with my brotha Damian Masterson, I could easily watch another D&D film every few years. There’s so much potential here. I NEED MORE JARNATHAN! 

EIGHT: Emily

I was really blown away by Emily. Written and Directed by Frances O'Connor, the film is more of an artistic interpretation of the life of the Brontë sisters than a factual retelling. The film’s score by Abel Korzeniowski adds to the fantastical elements of the film and it’s beautifully shot by DP Nanu Segal. There are so many scenes that stayed with me long after watching the film. Emma Mackey’s performance builds on the same strengths displayed in Sex Education and adds so much more. I hope to see her in more leading roles after this movie. I loved watching every scene between her and her onscreen brother (played by Fionn Whitehead), even when I knew they might not be the best influences on each other, you could feel their love and their understanding of one another. And Oliver Jackson-Cohen finally gets to play someone who is not a complete psychopath, so there’s that. By not being a strict historical retelling of the life of the Brontës, O’Conner creates a film about the creative process itself, and how elements or events in your life can impact your imagination. She finds a way to imagine Emily Brontë’s life, showing who encouraged her to cultivate her gifts as a writer to go on to write Wuthering Heights. It’s also a reminder of how insanely young most people were when they died in the 1800s. The Brontë sisters in particular.

SEVEN: The Boy and the Heron

Hayao Miyazaki delivers. I wasn’t expecting this film to blow me away the way that it did. It’s far more grounded than most of Miyazaki’s usual fair, but once it starts getting weird, IT GETS WEIRD. It has one of the most beautiful film scores I have ever heard. I can’t believe composer Joe Hisaishi was not nominated for more awards. I watched the English-dubbed version and lemme tell you something: Robert Pattinson’s voice performance is insane and I AM HERE FOR IT. LONG LIVE WEIRD PATTINSON. 

SIX: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

I loved 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and was hyped for its 2023 sequel. While there have been several reports of unsustainable working conditions for the over a thousand animators working on Across the Spider-Verse, there’s no denying that their work is an immense achievement. It is: SO. MUCH. SPIDER-MAN. And I mean that in the best way possible. Daniel Pemberton is back with an even more amazing score that should have been nominated for an Academy Award. We meet some awesome new Spider-characters voiced by Daniel Kaluuya, Issa Rae, and Karan Soni, but it’s the existing relationships between Gwen Stacy and her dad, Miles and his parents, Rio and Jeff Morales, (as well as Gwen and Miles’ friendship) that makes the film so well worth the watch. I can’t wait for its final installment (hopefully in a few years, please, take your time). 

FIVE: Past Lives

What I love most about Celine Song’s film, Past Lives, is that it’s not a straightforward romance where you are rooting for one love interest over another. It’s more about grieving a version of your past self and thinking about what might have been if you had made different choices. Simultaneously, the film is also about accepting your present self based on the choices you have made. Both male protagonists have affected Nora’s life and shaped who she is now, but it is still heartbreaking for Nora to say goodbye to her past. 

FOUR: The Holdovers

Dang, I do love Sideways and a good ol’ cranky performance by Paul Giamatti, but I think I love The Holdovers even more. He is perfect for the role of a curmudgeon history teacher, Paul Hunham. Newcomer Dominic Sessa is a lovable pain in the ass, à la Jason Schwartzman in Rushmore, but I think it’s Da'Vine Joy Randolph who truly makes this the holy Trinity of found families around the holidays. I loved Randolph in Hulu’s High Fidelity, but that performance was often over the top (channeling her inner Jack Black). In The Holdovers, Randolph’s Mary is frequently understated but never minces words. I could easily re-watch this film around the holidays for years to come, but despite it taking place during Christmas, I think it’s a highly enjoyable film to watch at any point in the year. 

THREE: Anatomy of a Fall

It’s wild how engrossing Anatomy of a Fall is when so much of it takes place inside a courtroom (not normally my cup of tea). Sandra Hüller’s performance is captivating as her character Sandra’s life is picked apart by a full courtroom. Sandra’s lawyer, played by Swann Arlaud, has become an internet boyfriend sensation for having some of the best floppy hair since 90s Hugh Grant. The true stars of the film, however, are Sandra’s son, Daniel (Milo Machado Graner), and his dog, Snoop (with an amazing performance by Messi the Dog). Also, shout out to that instrumental cover of 50 Cent's "P.I.M.P.”, by Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band. It slaps. 

TWO: All of Us Strangers

Aftersun starring Paul Mescal was my number one favorite film of 2022. Andrew Scott’s “Hot Priest” from Season 2 of Fleabag may be one of my all-time favorite characters on television. Who knew these two actors would have such great chemistry? This is definitely Scott’s movie, and as Adam, he does an amazing job expressing so much with only a look. While I loved watching him opposite Mescal’s Harry, it was his scenes with his onscreen parents (played by Claire Foy and Jamie Bell) that stayed with me long after viewing this film. I felt conflicted about how director Andrew Haigh deals with the central relationship between Adam and Harry, but I loved every second that they got to spend together, as well as with his parents, and all of the healing that those exchanges, whether real or dreaming, produced for him. 

ONE: Oppenheimer

When I was in the theater for the first time watching Oppenheimer, there were a few moments during the film when I thought I might be having a panic attack. The film’s sound design works so intensely alongside Ludwig Göransson’s beautiful score (plus the volume at the theater was so incredibly loud) that I often felt extremely uncomfortable. I think that was deliberate. It took a second viewing at home for me to really appreciate how beautifully the score works with Christopher Nolan’s vision and Hoyte Van Hoytema’s cinematography. This film is gorgeous. It is also a ridiculous who’s who of Hollywood actors, showcasing some of the best cameos, character actors, and Nolan-verse regulars around (shout out to Josh Hartnett). If you haven’t seen the film yet - Robert Downey Jr. is in it wayyy more than I expected based on the movie’s trailer. The Downey Jr. hype is well-merited. Nolan's use of practical effects vs. CG is mind-blowing but also, unsurprising when you take into account his other films’ use of practical effects. This may be his best film. Ever. I can’t say this is my favorite role for Cillian Murphy (I will always be a 28 Days Later fan) but I am so happy Murphy is getting the praise he deserves. Emily Blunt plays the best angry drunk I’ve seen in a film in a long time but David Krumholtz might be my favorite performance in the film. Hand me that orange slice, bub. 


Diana DiMuro

Besides watching TV and movies, Diana likes plants, the great outdoors, drawing and reading comics, and just generally rocking out. She has a BA in English Literature and is an art school dropout. You can follow her on Instagram @dldimuro and Twitter @DianaDiMuro




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