Hollywood Reporter critics pick the 10 best movies of 2023 so far

Hollywood Reporter critics pick the 10 best movies of 2023 so far


A transcendent chamber piece, Aleem Khan’s feature film directorial debut is enhanced by an outstanding lead performance by Joanna Scanlan as an Englishwoman who converted to Islam for marriage years ago – only to discover , when her husband dies, she was living a shocking double life. It’s a miraculous study in pain, jealousy, and ultimately compassion, all done with very little dialogue. — LESLIE FELPERIN


Kelly Fremon Craig’s adaptation of Judy Blume’s classic novel about a girl on the cusp of puberty is charming, moving, beautifully acted and performed. But the magic of her comes from its respectful reanimation of the source material: the film stays close to Margaret and her emotions, using them to honor an already solid narrative while also expanding our understanding of the world around her. —LOVIA GYARKYE

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Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor take us not only as deep into the world of invasive medical procedures in several Parisian hospitals, but as deep inside the human body as a feature length documentary has ever gone. For those who can bear it, this fascinating look at modern surgery is a memorable experience, making us wonder about our own humanity as we watch people reduced to mere flesh and blood. — JORDAN MINTZER


In the late 19th century, a young priest travels from Denmark to Iceland, where his mission is mocked by the nature and corruptibility of his belief in Hlynur Pálmason’s fascinating elemental epic. That description suggests a brooding portentousness, but there’s a wonderfully strange vein of sneaky humor that runs through the film, along with an unpredictability that keeps you hooked. It is a work of grim majesty that exerts a powerful grip. — DAVID ROONEY


Anchored by a superb Virginie Efira as a 40-year-old schoolteacher whose bond with her boyfriend’s young daughter awakens unexpected maternal longings, Rebecca Zlotowski’s latest film confirms her gift for injecting formulas with freshness and charm, intelligence and sensuality. It has all the outlines of the conventional Parisian comedy-drama, but gradually deepens into something much tougher and wiser. —JON FROSCH


In Jamie Dack’s subtle and painful debut about the relationship between a 17-year-old girl and a man twice her age, fleeting glances, shifts in body language and deliberate silences combine to form an unnerving examination of consent and predation. Protagonists Lily McInerny and Jonathan Tucker evoke the endearing awkwardness of any courtship without losing sight of the terrifying nature of it. — LG


It is difficult to convey the multi-layered beauty of playwright Celine Song’s exquisite debut film, beyond urging people to see it for themselves and experience its overwhelming spell. The wistful romantic drama features Greta Lee as a woman observed at three points in time, with Teo Yoo and John Magaro as the men whose fates are linked to her across two continents. It’s a film that prompts you to go back into your life, reflect on the fork in the road and consider how a different course might have altered your identity. — DR


Leading a mostly non-professional cast with take-no-prisoners intensity, Julie Ledru plays a biker reclaiming his place in the fraternity of outlaw motocross “rodeos.” The struggle and bustle of the Parisian suburbs has been depicted before, but never through the eyes of such an uncategorizable protagonist. Lola Quivoron’s hilarious genre mashup is a crime story, a character study and existential mystery, a celebration and lament both gritty and transcendent. —SHERI LINDEN


Portland’s Oregon College of Art and Craft creates a sublime setting for Kelly Reichardt’s thoughtful, touching, and unexpectedly funny character study of a woman (Michelle Williams) who makes art while navigating the maddening maelstrom of everyday problems outside her studio in the garage. The film proves once again that Reichardt’s work with Williams is among the most rewarding collaborations in contemporary American independent cinema. — DR


Even when it seems leaden with a backstory, this exciting second chapter of Spider-Verse series, in which Miles takes on challenges across the multiverse, vibrates with the same freewheeling energy as its predecessor. The result is a visual feast, with an impressive layering of styles and a hero at its heart who is truly worth rooting for. — LG

This story first appeared in the June 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to register now.