2023 has been a great year for films, as it’s seen an influx of all kinds of movies, ranging from superhero flicks to biopics. A year full of diversity, the films released in 2023 explored different themes of technology, family dynamics, and the occasional coming-of-age story.
With almost half the year behind us, the past six months have been rich in content and high on entertainment, as the films have not only engaged fans but have also managed to impress critics. So without further ado, here are some of the highest-rated movies of the year so far, ranked by Rotten Tomatoes.
10 A Thousand and One – 96%
A glaring testament to Teyana Taylor’s talent, A Thousand and One is A.V Rockwell’s love letter to all the mothers and sons that grew up in difficult surroundings and hustled their way to happiness. Set against the backdrop of Harlem in the ’90s, the film takes place over 10 years and charts the relationship of a free-spirited woman, Inez (Teyana Taylor), and her son Terry.
A Thousand and One is rich with moments of small triumphs and spells of heartache, as it brings to life the love a mother has for her son and the lengths she’d go to prove it.
9 Suzume – 96%
Suzume is an anime film that’s full of emotions, ranging from laughter to tears, and suitable for viewers across all age groups. Directed by acclaimed Japanese animator Makoto Shinkai, Suzume follows a young girl of the same name who undertakes a perilous journey to save her country from impending doom.
8 Past Lives – 97%
Celine Song’s gorgeous debut film is emotionally charged with a deep sense of longing tethered to the fairytale world of adolescent romance. Since its premiere at Sundance in January, Past Lives has accrued much-deserved hype as one of the first, emotionally mature films of the year that melancholically oscillates between romantic and Platonic.
Song’s narrative gravitas is realized by deeply moving performances by Greta Lee and South Korean sensation Teo Yoo.
7 Return to Seoul – 97%
Return to Seoul intricately presents the emotional acuity and emotional turbulence a young, adopted Frenchwoman goes through, as she returns to the country of her birth in an attempt to discover her true identity. Davy Chou’s film is led by an electrifying Park Ji-Min, as she embodies the spiky and eccentric character of Freddie, rejecting Korean customs and freewheeling her way across love and life.
6 Full Time – 98%
Being a mother is a full-time job, add to that the burden of financially providing for the family, and the resulting entity is more superhero than human. Eric Gravel’s film plays out as a thriller, as it puts Julie (Laure Calamy), a mother of a few children, on a treadmill of constant chores and responsibilities as she races against time to make ends meet and provide for her children.
Full Timeshines a light on Julie’s manic situation as it looks at it from the lens of a thriller, rather than a drama, pairing the visuals with lush fast-paced soundtracks and jarring cinematography.
5 Joyland – 98%
Film Constellation / Sundance Institute
Joyland is one of the most important films to have come out of a somewhat creatively barren Pakistan in recent times. The film delicately explores the social and sexual identities of a widower and his children, as it beautifully paints a picture of a life that’s lived for opinion rather than conscience.
Joyland had its world premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, becoming the first Pakistani film to ever do so, winning the festival’s Jury Prize and with the Queer Palm (price for best LGBTQ-themed film)
4 Rye Lane – 98%
This lighthearted British rom-com joins two 20-somethings as they take a walk through the Rye Lane Market, helping each other deal with their breakups while also bonding emotionally. Raine Allen-Miller’s directorial debut is a tad bit predictable but makes up for it with its endearing intention, while being genuinely fuzzy and heartwarming.
3 Blackberry – 98%
A MoneyBro movie for the ages, Blackberry charts the rise and fall of the giant mobile company of the same name. Inspired by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff’s book, the film is shot and presented as a clumsy and raggedy mockumentary, with some loud and over-the-top performances to go with it.
Everything about the film is contagious, from its characters down to the setting and dialogue, transporting the viewer right in the middle of Blackberry’s hype and heyday.
2 Huesera: The Bone Woman – 99%
Huesera: The Bone Woman provides an interesting take on modern-day motherhood, as it gives a horror-loaded spin to it. Rich with elements of occult practices and black magic, this modern-day nightmare is by no means an easy watch, as it combines the traditional elements of horror while specifically deconstructing the trials and tribulations of pregnancy and presenting them together in a tale full of terror.
There God? It’s Me, Margaret. – 99%
Adapted from Judy Blume’s teen novel of the same name, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is directed by screenwriter/director Kelly Fremon Craig’s and revolves around an 11-year-old Margaret, who experiences an existential crisis when she moves to a new town and ponders over the meaningful question of life.
Supported by her loving mother, Barbara and her grandmother Sylvia, Margaret’s coming-of-age journey is more spiritual than biological, examining the sacrifices, trauma, and emotional burden of being a woman in modern times. Despite not being an actual adaptation of its source material, Craig heavily borrows from Judy Blume’s book and then adds her own spin to it.