2023 Year Enders, Features, Film

YEAR ENDER: Kyle Amato’s Top Ten Films of 2023

Tired artists, European narcissists, and ninja turtles.


Kyle Amato is the calendar editor for Boston Hassle. He has been a staff writer since 2016.

Before I go into film criticism hibernation and remerge just in time for Madame Web, I figured I could share my top ten films of 2023, a truly spectacular year for cinema. My full film watching breakdown is on my Medium page, full of too many horrors to take up Hassle bandwidth. Here’s to the new year!

10. Afire dir. Christian Petzold

Just a classic bad vacation picture, more German than you could comprehend. Who can’t sympathize with a writer being a huge asshole to his friends and refusing to take his shirt off at the beach? The film swings back and forth between humor and pathos faster than the fire spreading through the forest. I plan to dive further into Petzold’s filmography this year.

9. The Holdovers dir. Alexander Payne

We used to get dozens of these kinds of movies every year: a movie about human beings in minor key, a great script, great actors, great everything. Does not reinvent the wheel; brings forth an older model. This can be the standard again! Plus, Giamatti’s weird eye switches every scene and it gets funnier every time.

8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem dir. Jeff Rowe

This one took me entirely by surprise, as someone who has always regarded the Ninja Turtles as “ridiculous” and “far beyond their expiration date.” Two key factors set Mutant Mayhem apart for me: the animation has actual art direction, making everyone look lumpy and ugly and cool, and the turtles are voiced by actual kids and not adults putting on airs. It’s just a blast, a new incarnation of these characters that could actually keep my interest.

7. Passages dir. Ira Sachs

Been singing the praises of this one all year – taut, mean, funny, sexy, everything a good movie should be. I can watch any good movie about a cruel homosexual and my first thought will be “Wow, a gay movie that’s not about coming out! Yay!”

6. La Chimera dir. Alice Rohrwacher

To quote myself: “This is a film about a ragtag gang of Italian graverobbers led by a moody Englishman who is kind of scamming a kooky old woman while he uses his innate gift to sense hidden tombs and pines for his lost love.” The facts of the matter have not changed. Begging Neon to give this the proper release it deserves in the spring – the people need to see Josh O’Connor in that linen suit!

5. Showing Up dir. Kelly Reichardt

What, you’re surprised I loved the movie about a tired artist who keeps having to deal with bullshit when she just wants to make art? While Michelle Williams does great work as always as an unkind but not cruel person, Hong Chau really goes off as her friend and landlord and more successful artist. Just a wonderful sendup of art culture, productivity, and family drama.  A24’s 4K release is also one of the best releases of the year.

4. Asteroid City dir. Wes Anderson

You can’t wake up if you don’t fall asleep! He’s talking to me, someone who left the first screening of this film somewhat perplexed then started crying instantaneously when seeing it a second time. Something about this one really tickled my brain, the levels of artifice collapsing and leaving up with broken, scared people going through it. Wes’ arch humor shines in the desert setting, every actor grateful to be there and making a meal of it. Just when I thought I was out, he pulls me back in!

3. Killers of the Flower Moon dir. Martin Scorsese

What else is there to say but that the greatest director of all time gifted us another American masterpiece about the country’s sick and bleeding soul? Lily Gladstone is mere months out from an Oscar win, deservedly so. Leo is just as spectacular, as is De Niro as “Satan.” It’s a horrifying story to witness, but somehow a 3.5 hour film about genocide never drags.When I started to drift off the tiniest bit, a house explodes. The man knows what he’s doing.

2. The Boy and the Heron dir. Hayao Miyazaki

I can’t babble on about this movie any more than I already have. It’s only grown in my estimation since I saw it at TIFF. Strange, abrasive, entrancing, The Boy and the Heron finds Miyazaki reaching another level entirely. While it’s not his masterpiece, there is just something about this movie that cannot be denied. Maybe it’s just the nasty heron man.

1. May December dir. Todd Haynes

The funniest and most nauseating film of the year. Perfect script, perfect performances, unbelievable jokes. Haynes turns his lens on straight people once more to examine their total insanity. He is a master. It’s such a relief to see Julianne Moore in a real movie again. Every moment counts. I will watch this movie forever. Just one stupid actress coming into a deranged family’s life, upending everything without even realizing she’s doing it. Plus, it’s a 2015 period piece, an era we’re going to be examining for years to come.

Watch this space for the rest of the Hassle staff’s year-end countdowns!

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