“The movies are like a machine that generates empathy. If it’s a great movie it lets you understand a little bit more about what it’s like to be a different gender, a different race, a different age, a different economic class, a different nationality, a different profession, different hopes, aspirations, dreams, and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us. And that to me is the most noble thing that good movies can do, and it’s a reason to encourage them, and to support them, and to go to them.”

Those are the words of the late film critic Roger Ebert. I’ve spent a lot of the last year thinking about him and his late partner Gene Siskel. When I went to the movies in 2023, that quote was never far from my mind.

If movies are machines that build empathy, then perhaps critics are like the guys who do state inspections on your car. It’s not their job to fix the vehicles; it’s their job to look at them, closely and carefully, and to identify the parts that work and the parts that don’t. And a year-end top ten list is sort of like their report to their superiors at the end of a shift: Here are the machines that worked the best, that ran the smoothest, that wasted the least amount of fuel. that generated the most power.

Last year at this time, I decided that the unwritten rule that says critics must pick only ten best films in a given year was arbitrary and dumb. Instead, I made a list of my 20 favorite movies. I saw even more great titles in 2023 than in 2022, so I see no reason to go back to only ten picks this year. If you want to skip right to number ten and proceed to the top of the list from there, so be it. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice though — you’ll miss out on ten more terrific empathy machines that are worth your time, effort, and money. I even included ten more films as honorable mentions at the bottom. Movies: They’re good!

The Best Movies of 2023

ScreenCrush’s editor and critic picks the best films of the year.

Gallery Credit: Matt Singer

Ten More Honorable Mentions (In Alphabetical Order): Air, Anatomy of a Fall, Creed III, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3Flora and Son, No Hard Feelings, Rye Lane, Showing Up, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, You Hurt My Feelings.

READ MORE: 2023 Movies That Got a 0 On Rotten Tomatoes

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Gallery Credit: Matt Singer

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