Following The Film Stage’s collective top 50 films of 2023, as part of our year-end coverage, our contributors are sharing their personal top 10 lists.

It’s been a great year to be a strange little guy. We’ve rolled on from Everything Everywhere All at Once sweeping the Oscars to the auspicious release of Yorgos Lanthimos’ sexy baby drama Poor Things. Our culture’s ever-increasing appetite for horror fueled hype for blockbusters about killer robot girls and homicidal animatronics. Genres were blended and transcended on and off the festival circuit, as major distributors embraced weirdness in films like Bottoms, May December, and the aforementioned Poor Things

This has also been a year of extremes. In January Skinamarink, a $15,000 indie horror, made $2.1 million at the box office. Every favorite for Best Picture is at least 100 minutes long. Barbenheimer… happened. New heights of camp were achieved on larger scales than ever before. Casting directors became incapable of hiring non-celebrities into their ensembles. Barry Keoghan performed analingus on a bathtub drain.

I wasn’t a fan of all of these epic highs and lows. As an Ari Aster admirer, I’ve decided to politely pretend that Beau Is Afraid doesn’t exist. May December feels like a joke that my fellow gays are playing on the unsuspecting straight world. Poor Things is ingenious, but not a personal favorite. Still, most of the titles in my personal Top 10 range from uncanny to nearly inscrutable. As the old meme goes, I’m not like other girls—I’m worse. 

There are a few critical darlings on here, but for the most part, this list is for whack jobs. If you like psychosexual obsession and unconscionable women, take notes. If you’re a normal person reading this list like one might watch a car crash, fair enough. Please know that Anatomy of a Fall is truly as good as they say.

Honorable Mentions: The Passenger, The Sweet East, The Zone of Interest, Palm Trees and Power Lines, Beyond Utopia, Birth/Rebirth, M3GAN.

10. Piaffe (Ann Oren)

If you, too, had never considered the erotic potential of fiddlehead ferns and horsetails, Ann Oren’s debut narrative feature is here to school you. Piaffe follows Eva, a young woman and zoetrope attendant played by the beguiling Simone Bucio. When Eva is thrust into the world of foley art, she becomes enamored with her first subject, a horse, and begins to grow a horsetail and engage in light BDSM with a local botanist. Look, I know everything I just wrote is basically nonsense. I know! But it’s good, inventive, interesting nonsense. This sensuous gem is a must-see for fans of Julia Ducournau or Peter Strickland, and I can’t wait to see what Oren creates next.

9. Enys Men (Mark Jenkin)

Two words: Cornish horror. Mark Jenkin’s Enys Men is easily the most opaque film on this list, but it’s so finely constructed that it hypnotizes rather than frustrates. As a woman observes a rare flower on a remote island and becomes haunted by ghosts of the land’s past, Jenkin finely layers 70s-appropriate celluloid and sound to confuse the viewer’s understanding of myth, truth, past, and present. With a delightfully stoic lead turn from Mary Woodvine and astonishing 16mm visuals, Enys Men is as haunting as it is impressive. And with Jenkin also acting as screenwriter, cinematographer, and composer, I haven’t been so impressed by a filmmaker’s singular vision and execution since Anna Biller’s The Love Witch.

8. Talk to Me (Danny and Michael Philippou)

When you’re balancing a day job and online-only Sundance coverage, it can be easy to just kind of let each film wash over you. That’s why I’m glad that Talk to Me, the first feature from brothers Danny and Michael Philippou, essentially reached out from my television, grabbed me by the collar of my shirt, and slammed my head against my coffee table. Imagine if Hereditary and It Follows had a fucked-up, Australian baby and you’ve got this movie: a tale of possession and self-destruction that centers on a grieving, clingy teenager played by the jaw-dropping Sophie Wilde. I wouldn’t change anything about this film. Thank god A24 gave it the box-office-breaking launch it deserved.

7. Saltburn (Emerald Fennell)

When Emerald Fennell released Promising Young Woman in 2020, I was a very vocal hater. So you might be as shocked as I am to see her histrionic, less-loved sophomore film on this list. What can I say? The only thing I love more than a director who is unafraid to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks is a director who proves me wrong. Saltburn is a sprawling tale of class, longing, and destruction that follows Oliver, a specky outcast played by Barry Keoghan, as he infiltrates the family of Felix, his homoerotic best frenemy played by Jacob Elordi. It’s messy in the best of ways—a horrifying, delicious little freak of a film that tips its hand far too early and shows off Barry Keoghan’s junk way too much. The ending is preposterous, the actors are all chewing the scenery, and the pathologization of homosexuality is… dubious. It’s terrible. It’s wonderful. I can’t wait to see it on the big screen again.

6. Infinity Pool (Brandon Cronenberg)

This second Sundance horror gut-punch comes from none other than Brandon Cronenberg, whose spy-fi thriller Possessor was my favorite film of 2020. Infinity Pool takes on some lower-hanging fruit—the rich—but it still definitely eats. Alexander Skarsgård leads as James, an emasculated novelist who becomes embroiled in a group of sociopaths after he learns to exploit the death-penalty-loving resort island on which he and his wife are vacationing. Leading the brigade of degenerates is Gabi, played by none other than Mia Goth. Creepy masks, close-ups on genitalia, and lots of stabbing ensue. Come for the class commentary that is leagues sharper than White Lotus, stay for the horrifying sci-fi twist.

5. Anatomy of a Fall (Justine Triet)

Sometimes, Palme d’Or winners are actually great! Anatomy of a Fall is a wonderful example. Justine Triet’s exhilarating account of a novelist accused of murdering her husband is engrossing and unassailable (despite some truly harrowing, dog-related anguish). This exacting feat of cinema is keenly plotted and executed, but I love it for its deference to nuance. The story, grounded in a laudable lead performance by Sandra Hüller, refuses easy answers. In a world overrun with articles titled “[Film Name] Ending, Explained,” Anatomy of a Fall encourages us to think for ourselves. It’s a simple, genius decision that makes this superb film feel even more accomplished.

4. Green Border (Agnieszka Holland)

You know a political film is good when it draws the ire of your corrupt government! I already waxed fanatic in my review of Green Border out of NYFF, but let me reiterate: This movie is amazing. Holland’s wartime epic focuses on the injustices enacted against Middle Eastern refugees at the Polish/Belarusian border. It is a challenging, provocative, incredibly rewarding watch with performances and cinematography that are easily among the best of the year. I try to be a woman of the people when I make these lists, but this is the one film on here that hasn’t had a non-festival U.S. release yet. If/when it comes to a theater near you, run, don’t walk.

3. Eileen (William Oldroyd)

Considering how many jokesters online talk about supporting women’s wrongs, Eileen should have made a billion dollars. Alas, not everyone can have impeccable taste. William Oldroyd’s character study grabs you from the first scene, making a meal of Otessa Moshfegh and Luke Goebel’s whip-smart script. Anne Hathaway may be the talk of awards season — and she’s wonderful here — but this movie is really all about Thomasin McKenzie, who can enact an entire emotional journey using just her eyelids. And don’t even get me started on the Marin Ireland monologue! If you like vaguely gay movies with dirtbag protagonists and Boston accents, look no further. Some lesbians watch Carol every Christmas. I will be watching Eileen.

2. Bottoms (Emma Seligma)

Years from now, when I think back on 2023, I will think about Bottoms, Emma Seligman’s second feature and my personal fever dream come true. This surreal teen comedy, which Seligman co-wrote with her Shiva Baby muse Rachel Sennott, is about unpopular lesbians (played by Sennott and the great Ayo Edebiri) who use the threat of male violence to get closer to hot girls. No part is too small, no line too guffaw-worthy in this ensemble film where the only thing that’s still sacred is good ol’ girl-on-girl action. It’s a very specific movie, and it feels made specifically for me. When it’s available on a major streamer, learning every line will be a privilege.

1. Sick of Myself (Kristoffer Borgli)

By now you hopefully understand that I like movies that are transgressive, gross, and feature morally bankrupt main characters—ideally, morally bankrupt women. If there is one 2023 release that fits that bill to a tee, it’s Sick of Myself, Kristoffer Borgli’s devilish and disgusting second feature. I’ve already written about it twice for TFS’s end-of-year coverage, so here’s the quick pitch: In this Norwegian satire, a narcissistic young woman goes to unthinkable lengths for attention after her boyfriend garners some professional success. Do you wish Ingrid Goes West had been more unhinged? Do you think Black Mirror should go back to its humble, pig-fucking roots? Are you the Sickos cartoon guy, personified? Then this film, my depraved little comrade, is for you.

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