The 50 best films of 2023 – in reverse order: 20 to 11

We continue our countdown of our favourite movies released in Ireland this year

20. Barbie

Directed by Greta Gerwig. Well, you know what this is. Gerwig surprised everyone by turning her doll flick into an incisive, imaginative satire that conquered the world. A huge cast is marshalled with great discipline. Biggest film ever in Ireland.

19. The Five Devils

Directed by Léa Mysius. The adventure in time-travelling, olfactory-driven superpowers, LGBTQ romance and family melodrama you need in your life. With the reliably brilliant Adèle Exarchopoulos.

18. Rye Lane

Directed by Raine Allen-Miller. Hip, funny Brief Encounter in Peckham. Allen-Miller shows there’s life in the romcom with a film that innovates but still finds room for a traditional sobby ending.

17. Bottoms

Directed by Emma Seligman. Funniest film of the year? Seligman unleashes anarchy in a high-school comedy that attacks the genre from the most oblique of angles.

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16. The Damned Don’t Cry

Directed by Fyzal Boulifa. In Tangier, a teenage boy lives an uncertain existence with his hustler mother. A knot of sex work, colonialism and melodrama worthy of Douglas Sirk.

15. De Humani Corporis Fabrica

Directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel. Mind-bindingly intense experimental documentary that connects us with our corporality through footage of surgeries and autopsies in France.

14. Beau Is Afraid

Directed by Ari Aster. Can you say “divisive”? Aster’s follow-up to Midsommar takes Joaquin Phoenix on a surreal odyssey to the home of his terrifying mother. Alternately hilarious and disturbing, the picture stretches those cliched Marmite comparisons.

13. RMN

Directed by Cristian Mungiu. This urgent, fiercely intelligent migration drama follows Matthias, a Transylvanian migrant of Roma lineage, to his hometown for Christmas where three imported Sri Lankan workers have created a stir.

12. Fallen Leaves

Directed by Aki Kaurismäki. There is always a great sadness to Aki Kaurismäki’s intimate dramedies, but they also inhabit an idealised wonderland. A romance about lonely, apparently mismatched people.

11. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret

Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig. Trust the writer-director of Edge of Seventeen, the best teen movie of the past decade, to translate Judy Blume’s seminal novel into a funny, exhilarating coming-of-age gem.

The meaning of Barbenheimer

This century’s version of Blur versus Oasis happened largely by accident. It was April 2022 when Universal announced that Barbie, Greta Gerwig’s take on the fashion doll, would arrive, alongside Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, on July 21st the following year. Many thought one or the other would move. As months wore on, however, it became clear that the friendly rivalry was proving mutually beneficial. Social media was merrily promoting both as part of unavoidable memes. Barbie became the highest-grossing film of the year. Oppenheimer made just under $1 billion. Neither result would have been predicted before the happy link-up. So what? We already knew women were a key demographic. We already knew Christopher Nolan had a following. The lesson should be that Hollywood can still make money from original material. (It’s not as if Barbie isn’t its own thing.) The fear is, alas, that the studios will try to fake a similar rivalry for an upcoming summer weekend. It won’t work. Barbenheimer may be the most potent illustration yet of William Goldman’s thesis that “nobody knows anything”.

The 50 best films of 2023: 30 to 21

The 50 best films of 2023: 50 to 31