2023 has been an interesting year for film. Several of the old masters (Scorsese, Mann, Miyazaki, Schrader, Yimou) released new films, most to great acclaim. There were also quite a few very strong debut features. The superhero genre, so culturally dominant for a decade-plus, took a big downward turn this year both critically and at the box office. In the end, as in most years, there have been a wealth of fascinating and wonderful films. Some were big phenomena, and others required a little digging by curious moviegoers. Below is the list of my favorite films of 2023 alongside DeFacto film critic Noah Damron’s. For other DeFacto views on the year in film, both chief critic Robert Butler and reviewer/genre film specialist Bart Woinski have prepared lists which are available here:

Robert Butler’s The Best Films of 2023https://defactofilmreviews.com/the-best-films-of-2023-robert-butler/

Bart Woinski’s The Best Horror Films of 2023https://defactofilmreviews.com/the-best-horror-films-of-2023/

Michael Powell’s Picks 

1. Monster (d. Hirokazu Kore-eda)

Returning to Japan after making his last two films in France and South Korea, director Hirokazu Kore-eda has created another modern masterwork which is my favorite film of the year. The film tells the story of two boys coming to terms with their feelings for each other. Yori Hoshikawa (Hinata Hiiragi) is comfortable with himself, but dealing with a father who can’t accept him. Minato Mugino (Soya Kurakawa) has a loving mother, but is struggling to accept himself. Yuji Sakamoto’s brilliant screenplay continues to shift viewpoints between the characters, raising questions in one perspective that are answered in another. The performances are all outstanding. Putting a film with this much emotional realism on the backs of younger actors is a tough thing, but Kore-eda gets the best from his leads as he’s done before in films like Nobody KnowsI Wish, and Shoplifters. It’s a beautiful film, and among Kore-eda’s best, which is saying something in a career this uniformly strong.

(In Theaters)

2. The Holdovers (d. Alexander Payne)

After a misstep with 2017’s Downsizing, Alexander Payne returns to form with this wonderful dramedy. Set at Christmas in 1970, Payne and writer David Hemingson capture the style and the melancholic tone of some of the best of 70s cinema. Hemingson’s script is funny and emotionally moving. It sands down the sharpest edges of Payne’s usual bite, and the film is stronger for the warmth it brings. The film also features several of the best performances of the year. Paul Giamatti is outstanding as Paul Hunham, a classics teacher who has made his job his whole world. Da’Vine Joy Randolph is also strong as Mary, a grieving mother dealing with her first Christmas without her son, who died in Vietnam. And Dominic Sessa shines in his film debut as Angus, a troubled kid left at school over the holidays.

(Blu-ray and Streaming on Peacock)

3. Past Lives (d. Celine Song)

Celine Song’s debut feature as writer-director is a powerful meditation on love, life, and the choices that we make. Nora (Greta Lee) leaves Korea and a burgeoning young romance with Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) when her family emigrates to Canada. Years later, they reconnect online when she is living in New York. The spark is there, but the timing never works out. Nora marries Arthur (John Magaro) and Hae Sung has relationships of his own. But when Hae Sung comes to visit, all three of them have to deal with questions of jealousy, insecurity, and what might have been. Song’s script is so good, exploring real emotion without ever becoming cliche or melodramatic. And the performances are uniformly excellent, with Greta Lee as the standout.

(Blu-ray and VOD)

4. The Boy and the Heron (d. Hayao Miyazaki)

Legendary animation director Hayao Miyazaki had announced his retirement in 2013 after releasing the excellent The Wind Rises, but decided that he had at least one more film that he needed to make. The strange and beautiful The Boy and the Heron is that film, and it is an incredible work of art. Miyazaki has created a very personal film here, continuing themes of nature and family present in much of his work as well as setting it in the World War II era of his own childhood. The story is fantastical and imaginative, and the animation is gorgeous. I hope that Miyazaki continues to work, but if this turns out to be his last film, it is a perfect encapsulating statement to go out on.

(In Theaters)

5. All of Us Strangers (d. Andrew Haigh)

In writer-director Andrew Haigh’s film, Adam (Andrew Scott) is a writer who seems to spend most of his time alone. When a neighbor, Harry (Paul Mescal), strongly flirts with him, Adam turns him down. Then something strange happens. Upon returning to his childhood home, Adam meets his parents (Claire Foy and Jamie Bell), who had died together in a car accident when Adam was twelve. They look just as they did all those years ago, but they instantly recognize their now adult son. He is able to talk to them about his life and to come out to them. Adam also begins a relationship with Harry. On a purely plot level, I’m not sure the film quite all adds up in the end. But on an emotional level, this is hands-down one of the most powerful films of the year. Haigh’s film is a beautiful look at loss, grief, fear, and coming to terms with loving yourself and others. Andrew Scott gives an incredible performance – open, vulnerable, and just outstanding.

(In Theaters)

6. Rye Lane (d. Raine Allen-Miller)

I feel like the romantic comedy has been in a real slump lately. But this year, Raine Allen-Miller’s debut feature is something special, bringing a classical romcom structure but with a modern sheen. Set in London, it has a real sense of place, and Allen-Miller’s shot choices and use of color really make the film pop, feeling like something fresh and new. It features a smart, funny screenplay from writers Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia. The lead performances from Vivian Oparah and David Jonsson are sweet, funny, and charismatic. This should be a star-making film for both of them. The film also features the best cameo of the year, a nod to another British romantic comedy which is one of the classics of the genre.

(Streaming on Hulu)

7. They Cloned Tyrone (d. Juel Taylor)

Netflix put They Cloned Tyrone out on Barbenheimer weekend and it unfortunately got overshadowed by those films. It’s definitely worth catching up with if you missed it when it came out, because it’s clever, sharp, and really well acted. This is Juel Taylor’s feature film directorial debut, and he co-wrote the script with Tony Rettenmaier. A sci-fi comedy with deep satirical elements in the vein of Bamboozled and Black DynamiteThey Cloned Tyrone is a funny film with something to say. It also features several great performances. John Boyega is solid in the lead role as Fontaine. And the supporting work really shines. Teyonah Parris is incredibly charming, and Jamie Foxx gives what might be my favorite supporting performance of the year here (what a year for Foxx with this and his excellent lead role in The Burial).

(Streaming on Netflix)

8. The Quiet Girl (d. Colm Bairéad)

Cait (Catherine Clinch) is a young girl living in Ireland in the early 1980s. Her family is very poor, and despite her parent’s marital troubles (her father cheats pretty openly), they keep having more children. It is decided that the shy and fearful Cait will be sent to live with relatives in the country for the summer to help relieve the financial burden. Eibhlin (Carrie Crowley) is instantly taken with the girl, but her husband Sean (Andrew Bennett) is initially distant, though he eventually warms to her. In this loving home with a sense of purpose, Cait thrives, but summer only lasts so long. This is Bairéad’s feature film debut as writer-director, and it’s a beautiful piece of work. It’s a slow, quiet film with a powerful emotional core.

(DVD and Streaming on Hulu)

9. Godzilla Minus One (d. Takashi Yamazaki)

As a Godzilla fan, I feel like this is the movie I’ve been waiting my whole life for. Going back to the roots of the original film, Godzilla Minus One makes the monster genuinely scary. Godzilla’s destruction of Ginza is horrifying. But this is balanced with a story that has depth and real feeling. Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) returns from World War II a failed kamikaze pilot suffering from PTSD. In the ruins of a fire-bombed Tokyo, he connects with Noriko (Minami Hamabe), a woman who has taken in a war orphan and who has started stealing to survive. This impromptu family is supported by a neighbor (Sakura Ando) and by Shikishima’s co-workers. It’s something of a cliche at this point, but it’s amazing to have a Godzilla movie where the human characters feel this realized and important. Godzilla Minus One is a perfect mix of post-war melodrama and monster movie.

(In Theaters)

10. Blue Jean (d. Georgia Oakley)

Another strong debut feature this year was writer-director Georgia Oakley’s story of a young woman coming to terms with her sexuality in the shadow of Britain’s anti-gay legislation, Section 28. Oakley is not necessarily telling a groundbreaking story in Blue Jean, though it remains a relevant one. However, two things help the film rise above. The first is the deeply felt humanity in Oakley’s writing. The second is the performance of Rosy McEwen. McEwen makes Jean feel like a real person, with fears, with passions and love, with bad choices, and remorse.

(DVD and Streaming on Hulu)

Runners Up

Anatomy of a Fall (d. Justine Triet)

Following her husband’s death from falling out of a window, Sandra Voyter (Sandra Huller) is put on trial due to the mysterious circumstances of the fall. Combined with this is the fact that the closest witness to the death was the couple’s son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner), who is blind. Much of the film is set in a courtroom, but rather than feeling dull because of it, Triet and co-writer Arthur Harari have created a blistering and powerful look at jealousy, resentment, regret, and love. Huller is outstanding in the film, playing an unreliable main character who is consistently interesting.

(In Theaters and VOD)

Evil Dead Rise (d. Lee Cronin)

I haven’t loved a horror movie as much as I love this one in several years. And unlike the trauma-driven films that have taken up so much of the genre these days, Evil Dead Rise is a pure blood and scares experience. Writer-director Lee Cronin’s film is intense, relentless, and takes the franchise to new places while staying true to the spirit of the series. Lily Sullivan is a capable successor to hero/victim Ash (Bruce Campbell) from the original films and Alyssa Sutherland is a revelation as Ellie, the loving mother turned monstrous deadite. Mommy’s with the maggots now, indeed.

(4K Blu-ray and Streaming on MAX)

May December (d. Todd Haynes)

In May December, Todd Haynes takes Samy Burch’s wonderful script and makes a fascinating dark (so very dark) comedy out of horrifying circumstances. In an early scene, Gracie (Julianne Moore) stands at the refrigerator and with her wonderful lisp states “I don’t think we have enough hot dogs”. This is accompanied by a dramatic push-in and music that could have come from a Lifetime movie. It’s surprising and funny, and in this way, Haynes sets the tone of his film. Gracie and her family are being visited by Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), an actress who is preparing to play Gracie in a movie. Gracie and her family are of interest because Gracie seduced a young teenager, Joe (played as an adult by Charles Melton). She got pregnant by the boy, went to prison, and left her existing family to marry Joe when she was released. All three main performers bring their all to this, and all three are excellent. Haynes’s masterful control of the tone makes the dark moments hit all the harder, and it’s a fascinating look at performance and self-deception.

(Streaming on Netflix)

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (d. Christopher McQuarrie)

There is no current action franchise as fun and as exciting as Mission: Impossible. While some earlier entries are very good, the series hit new heights when Christopher McQuarrie took over as writer-director with the fifth film, Rogue NationDead Reckoning is full of incredible stunts and action set pieces, culminating in that amazing motorcycle jump and train escape. Cruise is very charming as Ethan Hunt, and Hayley Atwell makes a fun addition to the team, joining series stalwarts Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, and Vanessa Kirby. It is hard to imagine how McQuarrie and Cruise will top themselves for Part Two, but I can’t wait to see it.

(4K Blu-ray and Streaming on Paramount Plus)

Oppenheimer (d. Christopher Nolan)

I’m not typically much of a fan of biopics, and I’m not particularly a devotee of Christopher Nolan, so it surprised me that I liked Oppenheimer as much as I did. Nolan’s structural decisions played a big part in this, with perspective/timelines shifting between Oppenheimer’s (Cillian Murphy) point of view being filmed in color and that of Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr.) being filmed in black and white. This was a dark period of American history, with a monstrous result, and Nolan does a very good job showing how the egos of the brilliant people involved blinded them to what the government wanted from them. Murphy and Downey Jr. are excellent in the film, as are Matt Damon, David Krumholtz, Tom Conti, and a host of others in small but significant roles.

(4K Blu-ray and VOD)

Honorable Mentions (In Alphabetical Order)

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (d. Kelly Fremon Craig)

The Burial (d. Margaret Betts)

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (d. John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein)

Frybread Face & Me (d. Billy Luther)

Godland (d. Hlynur Palmason)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (d. James Gunn)

The Lesson (d. Alice Troughton)

Moon Garden (d. Ryan Stevens Harris)

Poor Things (d. Yorgos Lanthimos)

A Thousand and One (d. A.V. Rockwell)


Noah Damron’s Picks

1. Past Lives (d. Celine Song)

A wistful, bittersweet drama of lost love, writer/director Celine Song’s Past Lives is a beautiful tale seared in seismic emotion. Song’s masterpiece provokes endless thought about how our lives are dictated by the choices we make and how the unforeseen forces of destiny and circumstance can pull us apart. Greta Lee and Teo Yoo are simply magnificent as a pair of would-be lovers who are pulled apart as children, only to reconnect 12 years later over the internet, only to be pulled away yet again. Fast forward to modern day, Yoo’s Hae Sung, having just broken up with his girlfriend, visits NYC where he finally meets up with Lee’s Nora, who is now happily married to John Magaro’s Arthur. Both Lee and Yoo have to convey desire and regret, often with no dialogue, leading to two of the most lived-in, naturalistic performances of the year. John Magaro, playing Lee’s third-wheeling husband, balances his role deftly, understanding and accepting his role, never coming across like a forced cliche. Song’s compositions convey such truths with each character, it feels like the work of a seasoned director and not at all a feature debut. Celine Song has beautifully crafted a film that will be talked about and acclaimed for generations.

(Blu-Ray and VOD)

2. Oppenheimer (d. Christopher Nolan)

Oppenheimer is another major piece of cinema from Christopher Nolan. Nolan’s protagonists are all men haunted by their own destructive obsession, but Nolan places that idea at the very forefront of Oppenheimer. I gave the film a 3.5/4 rating in my initial review and I don’t think I was quite able to grasp the elasticity of star Cillian Murphy’s performance. In the six months since its release, time has shown, however, just how rewarding Nolan’s epic is, with new takeaways coming to light each and every repeat viewing. J. Robert Oppenheimer was a man of many contradictions; so is Nolan’s film. It’s an intimate character study through the gargantuan lens of 70mm IMAX. A three-hour epic about the father of the atomic bomb with the tension and perspective of a hitchcockian thriller. A densely layered and methodically conceived film of morality and ego. It’s a stirring cinematic event that has, rightfully, shaken the hearts and minds of audiences around the world.

(4K Blu-Ray and VOD)

3. John Wick: Chapter 4 (d. Chad Stahelski)

The closing chapter of the John Wick saga is an extravagant piece of action cinema that manages to consistently one-up itself. Directed by franchise vet Chad Stahelski and lensed by digital photography god Dan Laustsen, the tale of Keanu Reeves’ baba yaga is the best of the franchise and is filled with sequences that will make you lose track of how many times you’ll think “how did they do that?”. Donnie Yen delivers one of his finest performances, both striking in the film’s many set pieces, but giving a soulful turn as a hitman forced to collect a debt on Wick, one of his oldest friends. The final act, especially, serves as a guffaw-inducing stunt spectacular that has to be in the conversation for the most intricately crafted hour of action spectacle in the last 50 years. From an absolute stunner of an extended overhead crane shot — echoing De Palma, Gaspar Noe, and even video games like “Hotline Miami” — that features an incendiary shotgun, to the most deadly usage of nunchucks since the days of Bruce Lee, and a pivotal set piece on seemingly the world’s most extended stairwell, these are moments for the history books.

(4K Blu-Ray and VOD)

4. The Holdovers (d. Alexander Payne)

Alexander Payne’s latest dramedy is a lovely story of human connection in the most unlikely of places, and with the most unlikely of people. The Holdovers earns its big laughs and sizable tears. Paul Giamatti’s crotchety teacher Paul Hunham is the role that just might finally nab the longtime character actor his first overdue Oscar. It’s arguably his finest work to date, a role that, like the film, is equally biting and melancholic. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, so wonderful in Dolemite is My Name and a bright spot in the HBO flop The Idol, is a revelation as a private school’s head chef, dealing with her first Christmas alone since her only son perished in Vietnam. Newcomer Dominic Sessa is the find of the year, playing an angsty teen left alone for the holidays by his newly remarried mother who would rather spend the season with her new husband than with her son. In the hands of another filmmaker, The Holdovers would be full of melodramatic cliches and sappy tear-jerking, but in the hands of Payne, it’s sure to be a timeless classic.

(Blu-Ray and Streaming on Peacock)

5. Poor Things (d. Yorgos Lanthimos)

What could be initially described as Edward Scissorhands meets Belle De Jour, is a label-defining odyssey of self-discovery in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things. A twist on the classic Frankenstein story, Emma Stone stars as Bella Baxter, a creation at the hands of mad scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe), who breaks away from her sheltered upbringing, and forges a path of self-discovery. Emma Stone’s Bella Baxter is one of the year’s most unlikely heroines; one who fully transforms into her own shameless and selfless being. Stone, somehow topping herself in a career-high performance of genuine wonder and technically precise physicality, is a sight to behold. It’s such a treat to witness a film of such enormous ambition and actually meet every one of those ambitions with confidence and gusto. In Lanthimos’ perverse, yet emotionally delicate eyes, this painstakingly luscious and wholly original vision is the result of a filmmaker at the very height of his prowess.

(In Theaters)

6. Of An Age (d. Goran Stolevski)

Writer/director Goran Stolevski’s equally tender and devastating Of An Age cuts deep with precise emotional clarity. An achingly human coming-of-age story, Stolevski’s film focuses on the lingering effects of first love and how it works its way into the fabric of who we are. While it bears similarities to films like Moonlight, In the Mood for Love and even this year’s Past Lives, it remains a singularly realized emotional journey about the heartaches of our youth and knowing when a love, no matter how strong it still might be, cannot last.

(Blu-Ray and Streaming on Prime Video)

7. Asteroid City (d. Wes Anderson)

Wes Anderson’s most introspective film to date, Asteroid City has all the immaculately detailed and whimsical production of all Anderson films, but it never comes at the expense of its characters or story. Tackling the importance of storytelling, grief and the ever-prevalent fear of the unknown, Anderson’s latest is a deeply funny and sneakily poignant magical movie experience. Rounded by an enormous cast fronted by a terrific Jason Schwartzman and a beguiling Scarlett Johansson, Asteroid City‘s meta narrative may have been too oblique for some viewers, but it is deeply rewarding with repeat viewings.

(Blu-Ray and Streaming on Prime Video)

8. Killers of the Flower Moon (d. Martin Scorsese)

Another major, and rather majestic, piece of work from the master, Martin Scorsese. This term gets thrown around too often, but this really is a full-blown epic. A bleak true-crime story of the greediness and predatory nature behind early American Capitalism that finds time to delicately string together a tortured love story at its center. It continues to be astonishing just how much of a chameleon DiCaprio is able to become. A character, and a performance, that could become a joke in any other hands, is this fascinating wounded soul who has the ambition to (mostly) make up for his lack of smarts. Lily Gladstone, brings a pure, ethereal presence to the screen that is impossible to take your eyes off of. You can practically see the character’s soul behind her eyes and this is the scariest De Niro has been since at least Cape Fear. And while you can certainly feel the runtime, it’s in the sense that you’re experiencing grand narrative at play, one that allows time for you to wallow in the sense of time and place, which is impeccably recreated.

(VOD and Streaming on Apple TV+)

9. The Iron Claw (d. Sean Durkin)

Sean Durkin’s gut-wrenching portrayal of the tragic Von Erich family is one of the year’s biggest surprises. A strong look at the bond of brotherhood, The Iron Claw recreates the wrestling scene of the 1980’s with flair, but cuts deepest when it’s depicting a fractured family dynamic where the emphasis on the misguided idea of traditional masculinity takes place over basic humanity. Maura Tierney and Holt McCallany are shattering as the Von Erich parents whose casual cruelty of pitting their own sons against each other in hopes of a wrestling title belt seems more important to them than the well-being of their children. Zac Efron’s transformative and quietly devastating performance is the best of his career, one that would be showered in awards in any just world. Very few films will leave its mark on you like The Iron Claw.

(In Theaters)

10. A Thousand and One (d. A.V. Rockwell)

An assured feature debut from writer/director A.V. Rockwell, A Thousand and One is an intimate study of family set against the historic backdrop of Giuliani-era and Bloomberg-era NYC. Star Teyana Taylor is most known as a musical artist who’s never quite gotten the praise she deserves and despite a handful of roles in comedies such as Madea’s Big Happy Family and Coming 2 America, she’s never had a canvas to express her immense abilities. Her talents are fully realized in a stirring performance of raw emotion and pure, unmitigated screen power. Rockwell’s film, set against the controlled displacement of impoverished communities, showcases that family isn’t defined by bloodlines and that in this harsh reality we live in, we often only have each other to look out for.

(Blu-Ray and Streaming on Prime Video)




Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (d. Jeff Rowe)

Despite being released in the year that gave us The Boy and The Heron and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the dark horse for most innovative and emotionally exuberant animated film is this reboot of everyone’s favorite heroes-in-a-halfshell. The mix of different animation stylings is entirely distinct and inspired. Taking the grungy aesthetic of the original comic book series and blending it with the shadings of a drawing illustrated by an actual teenager, Mutant Mayhem is a stunning accomplishment. The CG animation blends 2D elements with psychedelic colors mixed with rough hues to create this intensely acid-tinged and wondrous visual experience. The oddball character designs are particularly inspired, with the other mutants looking like Phil Tippett-inspired claymation figures and the big, Godzilla-inspired climax taking some of these designs to the extreme. However, despite the impressive animation, what makes Mutant Mayhem such a satisfying adaptation is its clear and firmly-realized emotional core. Director Jeff Rowe (co-scribe of The Mitchells vs The Machines) and co-director Kyler Spears (the Disney Channel series Amphibia) harken back to the roots of the source material, honing in on the familial bond between the four main characters. Mutant Mayhem easily builds the most effective, and affecting, depiction of the family core between the Turtles and their adoptive father, Splinter.

(4K Blu-Ray and Streaming on Paramount Plus)

Talk To Me (d. Danny & Michael Philippou)

The breakout indie hit of the year, Talk To Me is an inventive and unsettling horror film that feels like a natural culmination of the likes of Flatliners, The Ring, It Follows and even De Palma’s Carrie. Helmed by Danny & Michael Philippou, the brother duo making up the youtube channel RackaRacka, responsible for such videos like “Ronald McDonald Chicken Store Massacre” and “Don’t Touch the Cookie Monster’s Cookies”, the duo direct their first feature film with a stunning amount of class and showmanship. There’s a restraint of what the filmmakers show you that is honestly rare to find in first-time feature directors. Talk To Me takes its time in settling you in to the mood and tempo before pulling out all the tricks to work its way under your skin and amplify some absolutely horrific terror.

(4K Blu-Ray and VOD)

All of Us Strangers (d. Andrew Haigh)

Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers is an emotionally potent and formally distinct look at self-acceptance. Fronted by a never-better Andrew Scott, this film asks the question, if you could go back and talk to your deceased loved ones, and get the opportunity to catch them up on your life and finally come forward with who you really are, what would that look like? Haigh’s somber and lovely film doesn’t try to answer all of the questions it raises, but it leaves you with a sense of emotional fulfillment underneath the puddle of tears from which it will surely leave you in. It may also feature the best cinematic use of a Frankie Goes To Hollywood track since Zoolander.

(In Theaters)

May December (d. Todd Haynes)

Todd Haynes continues to bend traditional taboo’s with his latest work of cinematic boldness. Tackling dark subject matter with a firm grasp of a tricky tone, May December is a multi-layered dramedy that precisely threads the needle between satire and melodrama. Featuring two powerhouse performances from Oscar-winners Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, the real takeaway is in the breakthrough turn by Riverdale star Charles Melton who steals the film from under them.

(Streaming on Netflix)

Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret. (d. Kelly Fremon Craig)

A delightful, funny and nuanced adaptation of Judy Blume’s classic coming-0f-age novel. Fronted by excellent performances from its young cast and cast of veterans — Rachel McAdams is just lovely here, it’s the rare film adaptation of a classic novel that does right by its source material. Seeing this with my mom who not only read the book religiously when she was young, but brought her old book with her to the theater, was an experience I’ll certainly cherish.

(Blu-Ray and VOD)

Skinamarink (d. Kyle Edward Ball)

The most non-traditional, borderline indescribable film of the year, Skinamarink is like watching a childhood nightmare in real time. Writer/director Kyle Edward Ball’s DIY approach to experimental horror isn’t a film for any moviegoer looking for easy jolts. It’s a unique mood piece that explores a childlike sense of isolated dread that concludes with a final shot so horrifying, it may just give you nightmares of your own.

(Blu-Ray and Streaming on Shudder)

Honorable Mentions (In Alphabetical Order)

Barbie (d. Greta Gerwig)

BlackBerry (d. Matt Johnson)

The Boy and the Heron (d. Hayao Miyazaki)

The Color Purple (d. Blitz Bazawule)

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (d. John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein)

Ferrari (d. Michael Mann)

Godzilla Minus One (d. Takashi Yamazaki)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (d. James Gunn)

How To Blow Up a Pipeline (d. Daniel Goldhaber)

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (d. Christopher McQuarrie)

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (d. Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin K. Thompson & Kemp Powers)