Best Films of 2023
The Fopp Report
the votes are in, the numbers have been crunched and the films have been obsessed over. here, in no particular order, is our comprehensive list of the best physical media releases of 2023. the physical booklet of our top albums & films of the year is available in store for free!
what did we get wrong? what did we miss? what is your favourite film from 2023? let us know in the comments, or tweet us @foppofficial.
Aftersun – Fopp Film of the Year
Director: Charlotte Wells
It was up against some serious competition but Charlotte Wells’ extraordinary debut edged it to top spot and has been crowned our film of the year. Flashing back to the 1990s, we join eleven-year-old Sophie (Frankie Corio) who is about to embark on a holiday in Turkey with her father Calum (Paul Mescal), who is separated, albeit amicably, from her mother. Armed with a mini-DV camcorder, they record their experiences together, from hours in the arcades, meeting fellow teenagers and sharing their experiences, to the quieter moments where they share their different lives. Aftersun is a quiet, contemplative, funny, and utterly moving tale of parenthood, adolescence, and friendship with some cracking 90s tunes for good measure.
Director: jerzy skolimowski
Films often make us wish we could be transported to places and worlds beyond our own, to experience adventures we might never otherwise get the chance to. You might not think the tale of a donkey’s journey across Europe would evoke such incredible feelings and emotions. You’d be wrong, for EO, from filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski, is genuinely one of a kind, destined to be a modern classic forever more. EO experiences the best and worst of people while being transported from a Polish circus to a stable, working in a fur factory to watching a football match. It’s a truly extraordinary film full of wonder, hope, laughter, and truthfulness, and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
The Banshees of Inisherin
Director: Martin McDonagh
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
A delicious slice of tragic black comedy written and directed by Martin McDonagh reuniting the formidable odd-couple of Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell from his 2008 debut In Bruges. Set in the early 1920s on the fictional Irish island of Inisherin, depressed by the ongoing march of time Colm (Gleeson) abruptly decides to distance himself from his former best friend Pádraic (Farrell).Things accelerate when Colm threatens to begin cutting off one of his own fingers every time Pádraic speaks to him. The supporting characters add another level of tangled complexity and despite the overall solemnity it’s peppered with many quotable laugh out loud moments. Nominated for almost every award possible – 9 Oscars – it went on the win 4 BAFTAs.
Director: Wes Anderson
Studio: Universal Pictures
There’s always a buzz when Wes Anderson returns to the big screen and his latest endeavour, Asteroid City, is his best-reviewed film since The Grand Budapest Hotel – with good cause. Told over three narrative timelines, it follows the making of a film called Asteroid City, a small desert retreat sees students, actors, and families descend upon it for a science fair only to witness an alien landing during one of their presentations. Filled with the usual whimsy, strangeness, and unique sensibilities that only Anderson can provide, it features an astounding cast including Scarlett Johansson, Jason Schwartzman, Tom Hanks, Bryan Cranston, Tilda Swinton, Margot Robbie, Steve Carell, Willem Dafoe and countless more.
Director: Damien Chazelle
Studio: Universal Pictures
Damien Chazelle’s latest epic drama is a cinematic masterpiece that brings to life the captivating era of 1920s Los Angeles, as the film industry underwent a seismic transformation from silent films to talkies. With a stellar ensemble cast that includes the likes of Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, Chazelle skillfully navigates the intricate narratives of various individuals, chronicling their meteoric rises and heartbreaking falls in the City of Angels. The film’s breathtaking cinematography and lavish, intricately choreographed set pieces transport the audience back in time to an age of unrivaled glamour and decadence. The glitzy, larger-than-life visuals capture the essence of Old Hollywood, and Chazelle’s direction infuses the narrative with energy and excitement. The film’s pace is turbo-charged, ensuring that it maintains a firm grip on the audience’s attention from start to finish. It’s an attention-grabbing ode to a bygone era.
The Eight Mountains
Director: Charlotte Vandermeersch · Felix van Groeningen
The Eight Mountains rewards viewers with a contemplative and emotionally resonant experience. Its exploration of human relationships and the beauty of the natural world provides a thought-provoking piece of cinema, showcasing the talents of directors Felix Van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch. The narrative touches on themes of friendship, family, and the pursuit of personal fulfilment. It highlights the choices and sacrifices people make in life and the consequences of those decisions. The film’s conclusion, though sombre, imparts a poignant message about the impermanence of life and the value of enduring connections.
Director: Marie Kreutzer
After she charmed the film world with her astounding performance opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in Paul Thomas Anderson’s sensational Phantom Thread in 2017, Vicky Krieps has become a hot property worldwide. Diving into worlds created by M. Night Shyamalan, Mia Hansen-Løve, Martin Bourboulon, and more, her star has continued to ascend, helped along the way with another stunning turn in Marie Kreutzer’s fictional historical drama which sees Krieps play Empress Elisabeth of Austria as she struggles with her place in the world and becomes ever more rebellious against the monarchy and its system. Flawlessly directed by Kreutzer, it’s a stylish, vibrant film which takes aim at period dramas, the state, body image, and more, all with an exuberant, pristine panache.
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s direction and storytelling expertise shine with his innate ability to tackle intricate moral dilemmas and human relationships. In BROKER, complex themes of loneliness and found families present a heartwarming perspective on the choices individuals make when faced with challenging circumstances, with Song Kang-ho (Parasite) delivering a moving performance that earned him the Best Actor Award at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.
Bones and all
Director: Luca Guadagnino
From the acclaimed best-selling novel by author Camille DeAngelis and brought to the screen by director Luca Guadagnino and his long-time screenwriter David Kajganich. Bones & All; All may first appear to be a coming-of-age story about first love, but it proves to be far from the case. Maren (Taylor Russell), embarks on a long, arduous journey to learn more about her unusual heritage until she meets a drifter named Lee (Timothée Chalamet) who may be linked to her history in more ways than one. At turns soaring and romantic, as well as dangerous and scary, it’s certainly a one-of-a-kind film experience with two outstanding central performances.
Director: Mark Jenkin
Writer/director Mark Jenkin continues his quiet rise to prominence with another brilliant and brave new tale that must be seen to be believed. Produced during the pandemic with minimal crew and shot on 16mm cameras, Jenkin’s follow-up to his BAFTA-winning, cult hit Bait, sends us on another trip across the Cornish coast in the 1970s for a trippy, unreal, intoxicating tale. Wildlife researcher (Mary Woodvine) tracks the growth of different kinds of flowers on an isolated island off the main coastland. Soon, she starts to see her mundane work and daily ritual become something nightmarish and otherworldly where reality, dreams, nightmares and time blur into a mesmeric, scary, metaphysical trip that perfectly captures the eerie, bizarre, and mysterious surroundings in which it takes place.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Studio: eOne Entertainment
Steven Spielberg returns with his most personal film to date, loosely based on his upbringing. The Fabelmans tells the fictional tale of Sonny (Gabriel LaBelle), a teenager who becomes infatuated with the power of filmmaking in the early 1950s and finds his connection with the art form helps him both navigate his growing pains and the dysfunctions and eccentricities of his family – mother Mitzi (Michelle Williams), father Burt (Paul Dano), uncle Bennie (Seth Rogen), grand uncle Boris (Judd Hirsch) and his younger sisters. At turns a film about coming-of-age, family, fatherhood, chasing dreams, and the power of the movies, The Fabelmans showcases once again Spielberg’s place as one of cinema’s legendary storytellers.
Evil Dead Rise
Director: Lee Cronin
“Groovy!” – the immortal words of Ash (Bruce Campbell) after his encounters with the Book of the Dead and the satanic, bloody, ghastly creatures it brought forth. And now, the original producers and acclaimed Irish director Lee Cronin (The Hole In The Ground) have combined forces to bring a new dimension to the terrifying series. The reunion of two estranged sisters Beth (Lily Sullivan) and Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) is cut short when Ellie’s kids find something hellish lurking beneath their condemned building. Curious, they inadvertently unleash an unbearable evil on their family. As gory, hilarious and biting as its predecessor while still wholly original and powerful in its own right, Cronin’s brilliant entry will have you in its evil grasp from minute one.
Director: Ti West
Studio: Universal Pictures
The terrifying origins of a slasher icon. An eerie farm setting enhances the tension and isolation as you discover the twisted intentions of a born killer. Accompanied by all the classic conventions of everyone’s favourite spine-tingling genre, this film shines through as a carefully crafted catalyst for an unhinged girl discovering the lengths of her psychotic mind. Perfect for lovers of a thrilling and suspenseful slasher film, this serves as a rich and disturbing prequel to one of horror’s most thriving franchises.
Decision To Leave
Director: Park Chan-Wook
Director Park Chan-wook is easily one of the most exciting and formidable filmmakers plying their trade over the last thirty years, so expectation was high for his latest effort. Thankfully Decision To Leave, which competed for last year’s Palme d’Or at Cannes, is another stunning effort that’s as bold, and beautiful as anything he has done before. An erotic, twisty tale that’s as thrilling as it is moving, Decision To Leave follows a married detective (Park Hae-il) investigating a man’s mysterious death that his wife (Tang Wei) may be responsible for. During his inquiries, the detective begins to fall for her, and begins to find himself becoming more and more entangled.
Director: Celine Song
One of the most extraordinary films of the year – and certainly the most touching and romantic – is Celine Song’s quiet, heart-breaking yet magnificent story of long-time friends and lost love. Nora (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) have been friends since childhood but their lives disconnect when Nora’s family emigrate to Toronto from South Korea. Losing touch for decades, they become intertwined once more in their 30s and contemplate their past, present, and future as well as their destiny together. Sumptuously shot and fuelled by Christopher Bear and Daniel Rossen’s sensational score, Song’s beautiful semi autobiographical film is truly one of decades’ best so far.
Triangle of Sadness
Director: ruben östlund
Studio: Lionsgate UK
Ruben Ostlund has become one of Sweden’s most impressive filmmakers, with dark, black comedies such as Force Majeure and The Square, becoming major international successes. He was awarded his second Palme d’Or win for directing this his latest which marks his first full English language film. Exploring wealth, class, stature, social media, 21st century politics and much more, Triangle sees influencers Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean) invited to spend time on a luxury cruise ship (captained by Woody Harrelson) where they soon find themselves out of their depth amongst their elite and wealthy fellow passengers, producing a scalding, scathing, electric black comedy that’s as hilarious as it cautionary.
Director: Hlynur Pálmason
Studio: Curzon Film
Hlynur Pálmason’s intoxicating Godland, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and has been earning accolades ever since, is certainly one of Denmark’s best recent exports. Once you see the opening shot, you’ll surely echo this sentiment. Set in the 19th century, the film follows a Danish Lutheran priest as he is sent to Iceland to oversee the construction of a new parish church. As he journeys across various inhospitable terrains, his faith, and very humanity, is tested. At once thought-provoking, humorous and moving, Godland truly is an epic experience, bolstered by spectacular filmmaking, that will take your breath away.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Studio: Universal Pictures
Experience the breathtaking global phenomenon that captivated audiences around the world. Written for the screen and directed by Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer thrusts audiences into the mind of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy), whose landmark work on the Manhattan Project created the first atomic bomb. An unprecedented cinematic event, Oppenheimer features an all-star cast that includes Emily Blunt, Oscar winner, Matt Damon, Oscar nominee, Robert Downey Jr., Oscar nominee, Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, and Oscar winners Casey Affleck, Rami Malek and Kenneth Branagh.
Dragonball Super: Super Hero
Director: Tetsuro Kodama
Based on the renowned Manga series, prepare to see all your favourite characters go Super-Saiyan in 4K. Experience the non-stop action the franchise is famous for, now in a longer format! Passionately voice acted in both dubbed and subtitled, and enhanced by crisp and vibrant anime visuals. Each battle feels like its own epic event giving you a front row seat to the action! For lovers of Dragon Ball Super to newcomers looking for a taste of the rich anime culture, this film can thrill anyone.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse
Director: Joaquim Dos Santos · Kemp Powers · Justin K. Thompson
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Ent.
This highly anticipated sequel to Sony’s award-winning Spider-Verse adventure does not disappoint! A unique art style and stunning soundtrack makes this film a joy for the senses. Miles Morales battles against the conflicting struggles in his alternate life as Spider-Man while juggling a crumbling family life littered with lies and mistrust. The plethora of new Spider-people on top of returning characters make this sequel a delight for both cameo-loving hardcore fans as well as the casual family viewer, with a motif of humour and action balanced flawlessly throughout. Swing in and absorb the excitement of new villains, Spider-people and multiversal magic in this action-packed Spider-Man adventure.
Director: Greta Gerwig
Studio: Warner Bros. Home Ent.
Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Barbie has catapulted itself into Warner Bros. Pictures highest-grossing film, bringing the world’s most famous doll to life in a remarkable way. The film presents Barbie as a multifaceted character – vibrant, energetic, and utterly engrossing, while also serving as a biting and satirical social commentary that’s sharp and thought-provoking. Gerwig’s direction ensures that Barbie is not just engaging but also hilariously entertaining. Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling deliver stellar performances, with Gosling’s portrayal of “Ken” being particularly outstanding. His “Ken-ergy” is infectious and steals the spotlight, making it one of the most memorable performances of the year. It’s a film that not only dazzles the senses but also keeps the audience captivated with its witty and intelligent storytelling. Come for the visual splendor, and stay for the clever social commentary that adds depth to this modern take on an iconic character.
John Wick 4
Director: Chad Stahelski
Studio: Lionsgate UK
In the much-anticipated fourth installment of the relentless thriller series, the legendary John Wick finds himself in the throes of the aftermath of his ex-communicado status. For fervent fans of the unapologetic brutality that has defined this franchise, John Wick 4 is set to deliver in spades.
John, a force to be reckoned with, must claw his way to survival, enlisting the aid of his few remaining allies as the enigmatic and ruthless organization known as The Table ruthlessly decimates those closest to him. The film masterfully interweaves high-octane action sequences with sharp, well-crafted dialogue, striking a perfect balance that caters to lovers of hardcore action and unrelenting violence. Viewers are in for a gripping and adrenaline-pumping experience, hanging on the precipice of John Wick’s fate. John Wick 4 promises to be a visceral and heart-pounding ride through a world of chaos and vengeance, leaving audiences strapped in and braced for a thrill like no other.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3
Director: James Gunn
Studio: Marvel Films
The end of Marvel’s cosmic comedy trilogy gives the Guardians one final adventure – to save Rocket. Yet another stellar soundtrack accompanies almost 3 hours of action, laughs and emotion that make this more than just a film about superheroes in space. Director James Gunn, masterfully mixes tear-jerking drama with comic relief to craft an emotional rollercoaster that transports you into the reality of the galaxies most disfunctional heroes. This unmissable masterpiece is a perfect end to a group of rag-tag guardians that anyone will find irresistibly loveable.
Crimes of the Future
Director: David Cronenberg
Studio: Second Sight
While the “auteur” theory in filmmaking isn’t perhaps as prevalent as it was back in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s, there’s a case to be made that one director who still falls into that category is David Cronenberg. Truly, there isn’t anyone in cinema making films and telling stories quite like the Canadian-born director, and his latest endeavour, which had a brand-new 4K special edition from Second Sight Films this year, is as abstract, perplexing but brilliant as anything he has concocted is his five decades of work. As ever, he delves into themes of technology, biology, humanity, disease, the future, and evolution – as well as celebrity power and persuasion – to create an intoxicating, visually spellbinding treat about two performance artists (Viggo Mortensen and Lea Seydoux) who take human surgery to new levels of pleasure and pain. Kristen Stewart co-stars.
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Studio: Criterion Collection
A classic tale is reborn through the inspired imagination of cinematic dream-weaver Guillermo del Toro, directing alongside Mark Gustafson. Realised through boundary-pushing, breathtakingly intricate stop-motion animation, this dark rendering of the fable of the puppet boy and his maker—which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature—daringly transfers the story to Fascist Italy, where the irrepressible Pinocchio gradually learns what it means to be human through his experiences of war, death, and sacrifice. Featuring the voices of Ewan McGregor, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, and Christoph Waltz, this Pinocchio imbues the oft-told tale with a bold new resonance about living with courage and compassion.