Amy Taubin's Best Films of 2023

Amy Taubin's Best of 2023
December 12th 2023

This is the best-of-the-year film list I wrote for Artforum and then withdrew in protest against the firing of the magazine’s great editor-in-chief David Velasco. I was not alone, as even a cursory look at the skeletal December issue reveals. I’ve written for and been a contributing editor to Artforum for over two decades, and I’m as proud of my association with the magazine as I was of writing for the Village Voice. I’ve worked with great editors at both publications, but David is unique in that he reshaped a magazine with a celebrated history in response to the radical transformation of art and artists in the 21st century. I remember going to meetings in the late 1960s of artists, many of them world famous, who wanted to respond to the crisis in the Civil Rights Movement and the war in Vietnam. And for the most part we were never able to figure out how aesthetics and politics could be combined. David saw that for artists in this moment, their work must speak truth to power, and therefore that aesthetics are inseparable from politics. He saw that addressing the value of individual lives and the life of the planet is what artists have always done, but that this work—this aesthetic—has never been more critical than it is right now.

Ken Jacobs Up The Illusion


For seven months the windows on the corner of 10th Street and Broadway were the site of 65 years of visionary moving image works by Ken Jacobs as they flickered on multiple screens. The seventy-odd pieces could also be streamed free of charge at the 80WSE gallery site. An ingenious presentation of formally and politically combative movies, an illuminated history of the underground.

Green Border (Agnieszka Holland)

2. GREEN BORDER (Agnieszka Holland)

Denounced by Poland’s highest officials who were losers in the election that took place just weeks after its Warsaw opening, Holland’s fact-following fiction depicts, with urgency and narrative filmmaking mastery, the racism which inspires the brutal, inhumane treatment of refugees at Poland’s border with Belarus.


3. OPPENHEIMER (Christopher Nolan)

Projected as if from the mind of the man who managed the making of the first atomic bomb, Nolan’s interpretation of the visionary quantum physicist mutates from exhilaration to despair.

Killers of the Flower Moon


The robbery and mass murder of the Osage people in the 1920s is told with wrenching, tragic detail, but anyone who thinks this is ancient history missed the resemblance of “King” Hale (a smarmy Robert De Niro) to the newly elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and dozens of other believers in white male privilege.

Hit Man

5. HIT MAN (Richard Linklater)

A screwball comedy and the tonal inverse of David Cronenberg’s terrifying A History of Violence, it provides excellent advice for anyone trying to teach 18-year-olds how not to get boxed in.

Thousand and One

6. A THOUSAND AND ONE (A.V. Rockwell)

Directed with enormous confidence, this vividly lensed, emotionally rich first feature depicts the imperiled relationship between a Black mother and the boy she is raising as her son against the epic, 16-year gentrification of Brooklyn during the Giuliani and Bloomberg eras.

Menus Plaisirs


Simmering beneath this engrossing four-hour documentary—how a lunch and a dinner served by a three-star Michelin restaurant gets from farms and vineyards to the kitchen and then the tables reserved by people who can afford such cuisine—is the conflict involved in passing the torch from the chef to his sons.

May December

8. MAY DECEMBER (Todd Haynes)

Cool, often cruel: the moving parts of a triangle created by two willfully oblivious women and one sweet, hunky guy fly apart, and there is hope.

La Chimera Best of 2023

9. LA CHIMERA (Alice Rohrwacher)

Beauty matters—Northern Italy photographed by Hélène Louvart—in this fable of a diviner who pillages ancient graves to find a passage to unite him with his dead lover.

Close Your Eyes Showing Up Best Of 2023

10. (tie) CLOSE YOUR EYES (Victor Erice) and SHOWING UP (Kelly Reichardt)

Tied for tenth place, an unlikely narrative coupling: a once celebrated Spanish filmmaker’s loss of belief in representation with a modest American sculptor preparing her first show. Both films conclude with an extended moment of transcendence in which the illumination of faces in one and of a tree-lined street in the other transform your experience of everything that came before.