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FILM FOCUS ONLINE BEST OF 2023

The year is coming to an end and it has been a fantastic year of movies. With so many movies to look at, all the writers at Film Focus Online have come together with our top 40 movies of the year (UK release dates).


40. CREED III

Synopsis: Adonis has been thriving in both his career and family life, but when a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy resurfaces, the face-off is more than just a fight.

"Full of emotion that is felt in every punch and every swing, the predictability takes a side step, making Creed III a truly enjoyable watch." - Elliot Lines

39. THE CREATOR

Synopsis: Against the backdrop of a war between humans and robots with artificial intelligence, a former soldier finds the secret weapon, a robot in the form of a young child.

Top 40 The Creator
"The scope, world building and visual palette are absolutely fantastic." - Jack Ransom


38. THEY CLONED TYRONE

Synopsis: A series of eerie events thrusts an unlikely trio onto the trail of a nefarious government conspiracy in this pulpy mystery caper.

"They Cloned Tyrone may just be one of the best things to drop on Netflix this year." - Elliot Lines


37. EVIL DEAD RISE

Synopsis: A twisted tale of two estranged sisters whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.

"A hefty dose of fresh blood in the tank here to make for a riotous experience." - Jack Ransom


36. THEATRE CAMP

Synopsis: The eccentric staff of a rundown theater camp in upstate New York must band together with the beloved founder's bro-y son to keep the camp afloat.



35. ASTEROID CITY

Synopsis: Following a writer on his world famous fictional play about a grieving father who travels with his tech-obsessed family to small rural Asteroid City to compete in a junior stargazing event, only to have his world view disrupted forever.

Top 40 Asteroid City
"Wes Anderson proves that he still has a lot more to say, as Asteroid City becomes one of his strongest in recent years." - Becca Johnson


34. DUSTY AND STONES

Synopsis: Two struggling country music singers from the tiny African Kingdom of Swaziland journey to Texas determined to win big at a local battle of the bands and turn their careers around.



33. THE PROMISE LAND

Synopsis: The story of Ludvig Kahlen who pursued his lifelong dream: To make the heath bring him wealth and honor.



32. RYE LANE

Synopsis: Two youngsters reeling from bad breakups who connect over an eventful day in South-London.

"Rye Lane is full of quippy British goodness, the emotional core is never sacrificed purely for comic moments though, which just adds to its strength." - Alex Gilston


31. JOY RIDE

Synopsis: Follows four Asian American friends as they bond and discover the truth of what it means to know and love who you are, while they travel through China in search of one of their birth mothers.

Top 40 Joy Ride
"Joy Ride is laugh-out-loud funny, unapologetically crude, and emotionally rich." - Alex Gilston


30. THE BOY AND THE HERON

Synopsis: A young boy named Mahito yearning for his mother ventures into a world shared by the living and the dead. There, death comes to an end, and life finds a new beginning. A semi-autobiographical fantasy from the mind of Hayao Miyazaki.



29. DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS: HONOUR AMONG THIEVES

Synopsis: A charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers embark on an epic quest to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people.

"Honour Among Thieves gives die hard fans of the game and general audiences alike the feature celebration the monolith deserves." - Alex Gilston


28. NOWHERE

Synopsis: A young pregnant woman named Mia escapes from a country at war by hiding in a maritime container aboard a cargo ship. After a violent storm, Mia gives birth to her child while lost at sea, where she must fight to survive.



27. ALL OF US STRANGERS

Synopsis: A screenwriter drawn back to his childhood home enters into a fledgling relationship with a mysterious neighbor as he then discovers his parents appear to be living just as they were on the day they died, 30 years before.

Top 40 All of us strangers
"All of Us Strangers will slowly creep up on you. Like its subject matter, there is no timeline on when it might happen for you." - Alex Gilston


26. TÁR

Synopsis: Set in the international world of Western classical music, the film centers on Lydia Tár, widely considered one of the greatest living composer-conductors and the very first female director of a major German orchestra.

"A slow-burn behemoth of a feature that unravels meticulously over the course of its 158 minute runtime." - Jack Ransom


25. THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN

Synopsis: Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them.



24. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE DEAD RECKONING: PART ONE

Synopsis: Ethan Hunt and his IMF team must track down a dangerous weapon before it falls into the wrong hands.

"A stellar seventh outing for the franchise that once again proves that Cruise is the best at what he does." - Jack Ransom


23. ELEMENTAL

Synopsis: Follows Ember and Wade, in a city where fire-, water-, earth- and air-residents live together.

Top 40 Elemental
"An irresistible concoction of filmmaking up there with some of Pixar’s best." - Alex Gilston


22. THE ZONE OF INTEREST

Synopsis: The commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, and his wife Hedwig, strive to build a dream life for their family in a house and garden next to the camp.



21. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOLUME 3

Synopsis: Still reeling from the loss of Gamora, Peter Quill rallies his team to defend the universe and one of their own - a mission that could mean the end of the Guardians if not successful.

"Truly a riotous send off and one the Guardians of the Galaxy truly deserve." - Alex Gilston


20. SCRAPPER

Synopsis: Georgie, a dreamy 12-year-old girl, lives happily alone in her London flat, filling it with magic. Suddenly, her estranged father turns up and forces her to confront reality.



19. THE ROYAL HOTEL

Synopsis: Backpackers Hanna and Liv take a job in a remote Australian pub for some extra cash and are confronted with a bunch of unruly locals and a situation that grows rapidly out of their control.

Top 40 The Royal Hotel
"A very solid, tense and gritty thriller that manages to strike a chord with its prominent messages and themes." - Jack Ransom


18. THE HOLDOVERS

Synopsis: A cranky history teacher at a remote prep school is forced to remain on campus over the holidays with a troubled student who has no place to go.

"The Holdovers channels all of this and more, wrapped up and tied with a tender ribbon." - Alex Gilston


17. MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON

Synopsis: A cash-strapped documentary maker decides to make his newest documentary about a mollusk shell he finds living in his Airbnb with his friends.




16. A THOUSAND AND ONE

Synopsis: After unapologetic and fiercely loyal Inez kidnaps her son Terry from the foster care system, mother and son set out to reclaim their sense of home, identity, and stability, in a rapidly changing New York City.

"Beautifully written and impeccably acted. A.V. Rockwell proves that she is one to watch going forward." - Alex Gilston


15. MAESTRO

Synopsis: This love story chronicles the lifelong relationship of conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein and actress Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein.

Top 40 Maestro
"Maestro is a beautiful, and truthful biopic about Leonard Bernstein, who takes center stage in Bradley Cooper’s sophomore directorial effort." - Alex Gilston


14. THE EIGHT MOUNTAINS

Synopsis: An epic journey of friendship and self-discovery set in the breathtaking Italian Alps, The Eight Mountains follows over four decades the profound, complex relationship between Pietro and Bruno.



13. JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4

Synopsis: John Wick uncovers a path to defeating The High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into foes.

"One of the ‘biggest’, most relentless and stylish action films ever put to screen." - Jack Ransom


12. THE FABELMANS

Synopsis: Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, young Sammy Fabelman aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.

Top 40 The Fabelmans
"The Fabelmans is smooth moving and flawlessly paced, feeling emotional and important in every frame." - Becca Johnson


11. BABYLON

Synopsis: A tale of outsized ambition and outrageous excess, it traces the rise and fall of multiple characters during an era of unbridled decadence and depravity in early Hollywood.




10. AIR

Synopsis: Follows the history of sports marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro, and how he led Nike in its pursuit of the greatest athlete in the history of basketball, Michael Jordan.

Top 40 Air
"With its impressive performances, a sprinkling of comedy and emphasis on Michael Jordan's greatness, Air is a crowd-pleasing sports drama slam-dunk." - Elliot Lines


9. BOTTOMS

Synopsis: Two unpopular queer high-school students start a fight club to have sex before graduation.

Top 40 Bottoms
"Bottoms is an absolute blast from start to finish." - Jack Ransom


8. ANATOMY OF A FALL

Synopsis: A woman is suspected of her husband's murder, and their blind son faces a moral dilemma as the main witness.

Top 40 Anatomy of a Fall
"Anatomy of a Fall depicts a marriage on trial, not a murder, with breathless results." - M.N.Miller


7. THE KILLER

Synopsis: After a fateful near-miss, an assassin battles his employers and himself, on an international manhunt he insists isn't personal.

Top 40 The Killer
"God it is great to see Fincher returning to what he universally does best with The Killer." - Jack Ransom


6. SALTBURN

Synopsis: A student at Oxford University finds himself drawn into the world of a charming and aristocratic classmate, who invites him to his eccentric family's sprawling estate for a summer never to be forgotten.

Top 40 Saltburn
"Saltburn transcends its predecessor in every way, it’s darker, funnier, and more self-aware." - Alex Gilston


5. PAST LIVES

Synopsis: Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are wrested apart after Nora's family emigrates from South Korea. Twenty years later, they are reunited for one fateful week as they confront notions of love and destiny.

Top 40 Past Lives
"Past Lives is an emotionally stirring, engaging portrayal of love, life and time, that will no doubt resonate with every viewer on some level." - Jack Ransom


4. BARBIE

Synopsis: Barbie suffers a crisis that leads her to question her world and her existence.

Top 40 Barbie
"Barbie is hilarious and audacious, but it also wears its heart on its sleeve. Believe the hype because it lives up to it, and more." - Alex Gilston


3. KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

Synopsis: When oil is discovered in 1920s Oklahoma under Osage Nation land, the Osage people are murdered one by one - until the FBI steps in to unravel the mystery.

Top 40 Killers of the Flower Moon
"A striking, monolithic, slow burning epic that showcases staggeringly good performances from DiCaprio, De Niro and Lily Gladstone." - Jack Ransom


2. SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE

Synopsis: Miles Morales catapults across the multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence. When the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles must redefine what it means to be a hero.

Top 40 Spider-man Across the spider-verse
"A gargantuan collaborative effort that has spawned one of the greatest superhero films of this generation." - Alex Gilston


1. OPPENHEIMER

Synopsis: The story of American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in the development of the atomic bomb.

Top 40 Oppenheimer
"Christopher Nolan proves here he is a master of his craft, providing an captivating and emotional epic." - Elliot Lines

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