Andy’s Top Ten Movies of 2023!

Andy’s Top Ten Movies of 2023!

Thanks to Mr. Dan Scully for hosting my top ten list this year. It was a great year for movies…just like every other year! Here is a snapshot of my favorites.

10. Dreamin’ Wild (Dir. Bill Pohlad) 

Bill Pohlad (Love & Mercy) returns with another terrific biopic of musical wunderkind as underdog. This time with the true story of Donnie & Joe Emerson (played by Casey Affleck and Walton Goggins, terrific as usual), who as teens in the late 70’s, made an expensive album that no one heard. Flash forward more than 30 years later, and it’s been dug out of obscurity and reissued to rave reviews (PS- Deservedly so, I listen to it all the time). What happens when you get a second chance at a dream you’ve long given up on? This came out in the middle of the SAG strike and made about five dollars at the box office. It deserved better, but I suppose that’s appropriate for a movie about two guys with a lot of talent and a lot of bad luck.

9. Emily (Dir. Frances O’Connor)

I am something of a cretin when it comes to literature written before, I don’t know, 1995? So while I was far from the target audience for this biopic of Emily Brontë, I was taken by it all the same…and hey, to my credit, I’ve seen the MOVIE adaptation of Wuthering Heights! Nevertheless, the theme of the inner life of a black sheep artist is timeless. I loved seeing how her art came from her, and how she was a product of her environment. Surrounded by grief, resentment, thwarted passion, and the deeply haunting nature of the English Moors, she took all of that and made it come alive in her art.

8. Barbie (Dir. Greta Gerwig)

How did they pull this off? Well, for one, Greta Gerwig is clearly a genius. One of the most impressive cinematic needle-threading jobs of all time. The jokes are non-stop and most of them land. Ryan Gosling turns in the best performance in a career full of good ones- if there’s no Oscar nom for him, we riot.

7. Passages (Dir. Ira Sachs) 

Clocking in at a little over 90 minutes, Passages is a masterpiece of storytelling and editing. Your mileage may vary when it comes to spending 90 minutes watching an entitled jerk wreak havoc on his intimate relationships, but Franz Rogowski makes it pop. It is also so fun to see Ben Whishaw inhabit a commanding role, where he’s not a quirky gadget boy or the voice of everyone’s favorite talking bear.

6. A Thousand And One (Dir. A.V. Rockwell) 

A.V. Rockwell’s astonishing debut sets up and knocks down the myth of American upward mobility. Set against the backdrop of 90’s New York City, when Mayor Giuliani was “cleaning up the streets,” Teyana Taylor plays an expert hustler as single mom, doing her best to make ends meet. She lives in a city where the poverty threshold falls far, far below a living wage- and she will do anything for her family, as anyone would. This was one of Obama’s favorite movies of the year, and with good reason. Bring the tissues.

5. Killers Of The Flower Moon (Dir. Martin Scorsese)

When I saw this in theatres, it took a while for me to plug into it. Then I realized the trick that was being played on me, and my own dumb faith in guys who look like me. I was waiting for the plans to get hatched, but they had been hatched long ago. It’s called white supremacy! This deadly, heinous, American conspiracy to rob the Osage of their wealth had already formed before the runtime started. DiCaprio turns in the most daring performance of his career as the unsightly moron who, wittingly or not, the whole operation rides on.

4. The Zone Of Interest (Dir. Jonathan Glazer)

They say to not look away in the face of evil, how important it is to bear witness. Unfortunately, the human capacity for processing mass suffering and horror is limited. We eventually learn to look away, even if we are staring straight at it. It’s how we have adapted, it’s how we can move on. What makes Jonathan Glazer’s return to cinema so audacious is the way he colors in all the negative space-the places where we have learned to notice instead. We don’t really see the horror but in the corners of the frames- and unless you’ve also brought earplugs, you hear it. Oh, you hear it. The image that will stick with me most is of a plume of train smoke rising above a tree line. You don’t really see the train but you don’t need to. Perhaps it is true that it is not what you see, but what you are forced to imagine, that is scariest of all.

3. Showing Up (Dir. Kelly Reichardt)

Forgive me, but I didn’t know that Kelly Reichardt could do comedy. Showing Up is an irreverent, understated hoot. In part, because it feels so relatable. The demanding cat, the peer resentment, the bickering family, the surprises and interruptions. It is something of a cliché in a movie about an artist to show the big artistic breakthrough, but Reichardt would never do that. In art, as in life, it is the slight adjustments we make when things don’t go according to plan that really move things along.

2. Oppenheimer (Dir. Christopher Nolan)

In a career of huge movies, Oppenheimer feels like the biggest movie that Christopher Nolan has ever made- and it’s not just the box office success. Somehow he made a three hour movie of mostly guys in rooms talking feel incredibly epic. Moving at a clip, there is so much to take in that the first watch was a bit dizzying. But a rewatch allowed me to go along for the ride, and I could feel the full weight of the most momentous history unfolding. The Trinity test sequence is one of the most dazzling sequences I’ve ever seen in a movie theatre.

1. May/December (Dir. Todd Haynes) 

The Mary Kay Letorneau case was a classic bit of 90’s tabloid fodder. But maybe we reduced it to that level, as we so often do, because that’s where we could sit with the incredible discomfort of it all. In Todd Haynes’ analogous take on the story, set much later in the present day, he gives us two movies for the price of one. There’s the pulpy, Bergman-esque, narcissistic psychodrama unfolding between Gracie and Elizabeth (Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman). Then there’s the one that focuses on Joe (Charles Melton) and his children, two of whom are set to graduate high school. It’s appropriately wrenching and sincere, a portrait of a child stuck in the body of a man, doing his best to care for his children and hold a grip on his fraying, doomed marriage. When his son tells him not to worry about him, and Joe responds with “That’s all I do”- you feel the weight of the burden he carries, the one that gets passed down to the kids, and the one that Gracie dodges every chance she gets. 

and ten more…

Anatomy Of A Fall

Beau Is Afraid 


Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. Three

How To Blow Up A Pipeline

The Iron Claw

John Wick: Chapter Four



The Teacher’s Lounge