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Seasoned Ticket, The Scarecrow Wire

The Seasoned Ticket #251: Best of 2023

Posted January 5th 2024

Robert Horton is a Scarecrow board member and a longtime film critic. This series of "critic's notes" is chance to highlight worthy films playing locally and connect them to the riches of Scarecrow's collection.

It was a terrific year in film. Are there issues in Hollywood, too many mergers, problems with streaming? Yes, sure, but if you look at what's on the screen, if somehow your interest in the movies is not journalistic but in the realm of joy and aesthetic excitement and innovative storytelling (or anti-storytelling), then this was an excellent year.

As I said last year at this time, most of the significant movies I watched in 2023 came to me in the final six weeks of the year, because I don't review as much as I used to, and because distributors are still cramming the good ones into the end of the calendar. So once again, my rankings are likely to shift, and this list will be grouped into tiers, rather than offered as a definitive order suitable for a time capsule.

Top Tier:

Fallen Leaves (Aki Kaurismäki)

Showing Up (Kelly Reichardt)

Pacifiction (Albert Serra)

All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson)

All of Us Strangers (Andrew Haigh)

Second Tier:

Anatomy of a Fall (Justine Trier)

Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese)

A Thousand and One (A.V. Rockwell)

Tori and Lokita (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)

The Zone of Interest (Jonathan Glazer)

Out of the 10, but Extremely Close Tier:

Walk Up (Hong Sang-soo)

Maestro (Bradley Cooper)

Asteroid City (Wes Anderson)

The Holdovers (Alexander Payne)

R.M.N. (Cristian Mungiu)

Reality (Tina Satter)

Deserving Mention Tier:

You Hurt My Feelings (Nicole Holofcener)

Perfect Days (Wim Wenders)

Skinamarink (Kyle Edward Ball)

M3gan (Gerard Johnstone)

Afire (Christian Petzold)

American Fiction (Cord Jefferson)

Past Lives (Celine Song)

The Killer (David Fincher)

Talk to Me (Danny and Michael Philippou)

Scintillating Big Swings (and maybe another viewing would get me over initial hesitations) Tier

Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos)

The Delinquents (Rodrigo Moreno)

Passages (Ira Sachs)

Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan)

Saltburn (Emerald Fennell)