The 50 best movies of 2023 in the US – The Guardian

There was an extraordinary epic, a mesmeric emotional drama with Andrew Scott and an astonishing performance by Emma Stone on our list of must-see films of the year
More on the best films of 2023
Read the UK cut of this list
The best culture of 2023
The animated sequel offers a dazzling and inventive adventure that provides an antidote to superhero fatigue. Read the full review
Wim Wenders delivers a striking look at the work of German artist Anselm Kiefer in a stunning and superbly controlled documentary. Read the full review
Judy Blume’s timeless novel gets a smart and sensitive adaptation with a standout performance from Rachel McAdams as a mother trying to deal with her daughter’s journey into adulthood. Read the full review
Jeffrey Wright gives a career-best performance as a writer struggling with the backwards demands of the publishing world in writer-director Cord Jefferson’s incisive debut. Read the full review
A group of activists plot to destroy an oil pipeline in Daniel Goldhaber’s explosively entertaining eco-thriller. Read the full review
Middle-class incomers to a remote village in Spain’s “wild west” expose fear, resentment and nationalism in Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s disturbing true-crime drama. Read the full review
The tenderness, wisdom and instinct to survive of two teenage Native Americans is beautifully observed in actor turned director Riley Keough’s debut feature. Read the full review
Documentary about the awe-inspiring vocation of the Korean avant garde disruptor, who foresaw the internet and meme culture’s importance in the 1970s. Read the full review
Paul B Preciado’s unusual and inventive documentary uses the work of Virginia Woolf to present the stories of 26 trans and non-binary people.
Semi-dramatised essay film by Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy explores complicated national loyalties alongside those of an extraordinary rebel. Read the full review
Raven Jackson’s lyrical and leisurely debut drama follows the loves and losses of a woman living in Mississippi. Read the full review
The dangerous act of freediving is explored in a visually immersive new film taking us down to the depths and examining what causes those involved to take such major risks. Read the full review
Real-life rider Julie Ledru plays a young tearaway on the outskirts of Bordeaux, drawn to take desperate risks with a criminal biker gang. Read the full review
A thrilling, eye-opening documentary follows the fight for freedom of the press within the Muscogee Nation, delivering insight and suspense.
Trần Anh Hùng’s delectable period drama follows the romance between a chef and her boss with indelible performances from Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel. Read the full review
A gay man cheats on his husband with a straight woman in Ira Sachs’s fiercely sexy and heartbreaking tale of young Parisians. Read the full review
Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke sizzle in Almodóvar’s queer cowboy yarn, a dusty lusty tale of long-lost lovers bound by a bloody fate. Read the full review
Ridley Scott dispenses with the symbolic weight attached to previous biopics in favour of a spectacle with a great star at its centre. Read the full review
Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies lead grownup marital-pain comedy whose bittersweet punchlines stress the bitter component. Read the full review
Charming prequel to Roald Dahl’s celebrated chocolate-focused kids story, with Timothée Chalamet immensely likable as the youthful version of the top-hatted sweetmaker. Read the full review
Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard give excellent performances in Michel Franco’s absorbing drama about two lonely people finding each other. Read the full review
Flawed but extraordinary, Christopher Nolan’s account of the physicist who led the Manhattan Project captures the most agonising of success stories. Read the full review
A nervy German thriller that follows an idealistic young teacher as she tries to get to the bottom of a theft at school. Read the full review
Terrific performances from Natey Jones, Alexandra Burke and Temilola Olatunbosun match this big-hearted music drama about masculinity. Read the full review
Tremendously shot and terrifically acted, this Neapolitan gangster drama from Mario Martone shatters the rose-tinted spectacles. Read the full review
Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman are potent in Todd Haynes’ drama, Portman as an actor spending time with Moore’s married sex offender as research for playing her in a film. Read the full review
Japanese director Kôji Fukada has crafted a richly painful and quietly comic human drama filled with tangled and tragic chaotic life twists. Read the full review
There are hints of early Jim Jarmusch in Babak Jalali’s dreamy fourth feature about a fortune cookie writer looking for love, with fine supporting turns from The Bear’s Jeremy Allen White and Gregg Turkington. Read the full review
Saim Sadiq’s film explores the unsettled social and sexual identities of a widower and his children with delicacy and tenderness. Read the full review
Benoît Magimel’s French high commissioner confronts the end of his personal Eden in Tahiti, in Albert Serra’s distinctive film. Read the full review
Giddy comedy about middle-aged house hunters who find more in a bargain buy than anyone but director Quentin Dupieux could have dreamed of. Read the full review
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s knotty, perspective-shifting tale of a mother, a teacher, a child and an incident that brings them together delivers a heartbreaking gut punch. Read the full review
School-run thriller turns into high-stakes motherhood drama, with Laure Calamy in an acutely relatable story that grips. Read the full review
Joanna Scanlan gives a tremendous performance as a Muslim convert, who agonisingly uncovers the secret life led by her late husband Ahmed, in a lacerating portrait of a life built on marital lies. Read the full review.
The seductively quirky sad-serious tone of Haruki Murakami is evident in this animated adaptation of his surreal tales, as a constellation of characters try to save Tokyo – including a lost cat and a giant talkative frog. Read the full review
A wealthy young woman, friendless and lost after studying abroad, sets about recovering an old friendship she thinks she once had. Read the full review
Carla Simón’s award-winning story of a peach farmer struggling to make ends meet asks many important questions about our relationship with the land and the human cost of progress. Read the full review
Bradley Cooper’s head-flingingly heartfelt Leonard Bernstein biopic offers an eerily exact impersonation of the composer, and gets to the heart of the sacrifices great artists feel they need to make. Read the full review
A meditation on our capacity for love shapes this sweeping story of two friends, torn apart by family and life’s journeys but bound by something deeper. Read the full review
Michelle Williams plays an artist struggling with personal issues as she prepares her show in Kelly Reichardt’s absorbing low-key drama. Read the full review
Sandra Hüller compels as an author accused of murder in Justine Triet’s Palme d’Or winning psychothriller, about a suspicious death whose only reliable witness happens to be blind. Read the full review
Hlynur Pálmason’s fictional account of a Danish pastor sent to Iceland in the 19th century is superb in its compositions and nuanced depictions of hostility. Read the full review
Swan song release from Japanese master animator Hayao Miyazaki, a bittersweet tale of a kid searching for the spirit of his dead mother, killed in a Tokyo bomb attack during the second world war. Read the full review
Emma Stone gives an astonishing performance in Yorgos Lanthimos’s offbeat adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s fantastical novel about science, sex and gender. Read the full review
Film-maker Mstyslav Chernov risked everything to document Russia’s attack from within the besieged Ukrainian city, recording unthinkable horrors in this vital account. Read the full review
Andrew Haigh’s mesmeric, emotionally devastating drama follows Andrew Scott’s lonely gay screenwriter as he encounters the ghosts of his long-dead parents. Read the full review
Alexander Payne’s dazzling return to form focuses on a trio of misfits (played by Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and newcomer Dominic Sessa) as they’re forced to spend Christmas together. Read the full review
Jonathan Glazer’s haunting take on Martin Amis’s novel sits us with a Nazi family living outside Auschwitz, an uncomfortably effective exercise in confronting the banality of evil. Read the full review
Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone star in Martin Scorsese’s macabre western about serial murders among the Osage tribe in 1920s Oklahoma, which reflects the erasure of Native Americans from the US. Read the full review
Celine Song’s feature debut, about two people whose lives intertwine again after years apart, is delicate and sophisticated, but also simple and direct. Read the full review


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