10 Best Films 2023: Mark Carnochan

2. Anatomy of a Fall

“Did he fall or was he pushed?” This is not only the basis for this wonderful film from Justine Triet, but also the question on everyone’s lips as they left the theater. Anatomy of a Fall is a terrific courtroom drama, the type of picture we rarely get these days. 

A simple tale, the film follows Sandra Hüller as Sandra Voyter, a writer trying to prove her innocence in her husband’s death. As simple as it seems, things become increasingly complex as more evidence is found, testimonies are given, and both the court and each of us sway back and forth between who and what they believe.

Triet hasn’t just penned a marvellous screenplay alongside Arthur Harari, but she directs the picture well too, making use of some truly brilliant camera techniques to portray the jury’s own oscillating verdict as well as the shaky nerves of those speaking in court. Furthermore, it is in what Triet decides to show and in what she does not show that affects our own judgement in the matter, creating reasonable doubt in the defence, the offence, and even some of the evidence.

It’s a titillating drama, one which is brought to life by the performances of everyone involved but particularly Hüller, Swann Arlaud and Milo Machado Graner, all of whom provide some of this year’s best portrayals.

Anatomy of a Fall is one of the best dramas in a very long time, one which is sure to provide hours of discussion from all who see it. 

1. Past Lives

Past Lives Review

Just as 2022’s number one spot was deservedly earned by first-time director Charlotte Wells and her drama Aftersun, this year’s top place also goes to a female directorial debut, Past Lives. The fact that this is Celine Song’s first time behind the camera proves that we may have another spectacular filmmaker on our hands.

Past Lives finds itself spread across three decades, and presents the ways in which Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) and Nora (Greta Lee) have come and gone from each other’s lives (almost like Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy condensed into one movie). Much of the film focuses on what Nora calls “in-yeon“, the idea that if two strangers walk by each other in the street and their clothes accidentally brush, there have been eight-thousand layers of in-yeon between them. 

With Past Lives, Song perfectly captures love and relationships in the 21st century, creating one of the greatest love stories ever put to screen in the process. By structuring the film into three separate sections in which Nora and Hae Sung keep entering and exiting each other’s lives over three decades, Song cements the idea of in-yeon between them. Moreso, the two leads have a wonderful chemistry, and their beautiful performances make us believe that they are simply destined to be with each other. If you were told they had been together in each of their past eight thousand lives, you’d believe it. 

That is the beauty of Past Lives. The feeling that these two people are simply destined to be together. Yet, obstacles keep getting in their way. So, for the entirety of its one hour and forty-five minutes runtime, we are left begging for it to happen, emotionally swelling up as the film goes on, waiting for a release that may never come. Song packs those near two hours with a lifetime of love and pain, feelings which ache deep within our bones. We feel it for the entire runtime and these feelings remain with us long after we have finished watching.

Past Lives is truly beautiful.

Recommended for you: 10 Best Films 2023: Sam Sewell-Peterson

On the cusp of the decade’s fifth year, it will be interesting to discover new cinema and potentially sensational filmmakers. For 2023, film will be remembered for a rich selection of unique projects from all over the world.

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