Raul de Leon’s Top 10 Films of 2023

10. The Iron Claw (Sean Durkin)

The Iron Claw steps outside the mat to show the famed Von Erichs were not just wrestling giants, but a close-knit and well-mannered family who tragically suffered far too much. After this, you’ll go home and give your brother a big hug.

9. Gods of Mexico (Helmut Dosantos)

Dosantos pays respect to the laborers of rural Mexico with a world-class cinematic photobook.

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

A raw 1990s New York City story of a young mother trying to raise her son out of the foster care system while struggling just to get by. Teyana Taylor gives one of the most authentic performances of the year.

7. Mami Wata (C.J. Obasi)

Director C.J. Obasi and cinematographer Lílis Soares, use stunning high-contrast photography to artfully illustrate the magic of indigenous West African culture and its wearing resistance to modernization.

6. Anatomy of a Fall (Justine Triet)

On par with some of the best courtroom dramas to date. My verdict: Sandra Hüller is the best actress on the planet.

5. Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese)

Scorsese honors the Osage Nation with this violent historical account of power and greed in 1920s Oklahoma. Leo and Bobby are great as always, but amazingly, Lily Gladstone outshines both of the legends.

4. Past Lives (Celine Song)

Like Jacques Demy, Song averts our Hollywood-trained expectations of a romance story and like Wong Kar-wai, delivers romantic dialogue with an air of class. Her tender love triangle is honest in its depiction – accompanied by true love, heartache, and uncertainty.

3. The Holdovers (Alexander Payne)

The look, sound, and pace are all perfectly fitted for its’ 1970s setting. Refreshingly, Payne takes his sweet time with a diverse ensemble of characters and their maturation in one another’s company.

2. Monster (Hirokazu Koreeda)

An emotionally moving masterwork on perception. Sakamoto’s ingenious screenplay blossoms like a flower – seemingly only a bud, it becomes increasingly layered, intricate, and meaningful.

1. Palm Trees and Power Lines (Jamie Dack)

Incessantly uncomfortable and ultimately down-right somber; as it should be. Asserting realism, Dack effectively puts forth a powerful warning and psychological lesson concerning sexual predators.

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