1. The Banshees of Inisherin: Martin McDonagh’s film is a sharp, funny and utterly devastating work about the end of a friendship on a small Irish island. Colin Farrell uses his wonderful brows (and acting chops) to ensure ultimate heartbreak as his world and sense of self crumbles and rots. But it’s the ensemble, including Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan and on down, who imbue this deceptively simple set-up with gravity and depth.
2. Aftersun: Rarely does such a delicately crafted tale pack such a wallop. Charlotte Wells’ breathtaking feature debut, starring newcomer Frankie Corio and Paul Mescal as an 11-year-old girl and her father on vacation in Turkey, is such a keenly observed accumulation of detail and feeling that you hardly notice the undertow of heartache that will, in the end, absolutely floor you.
3. Decision to Leave: The Korean master Park Chan-wook marries a police procedural and romance, and the twisty noirish results are at turns delightful and devastating.
4. Lingui, the Sacred Bonds: Chadian filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s film is one of the year’s most tender mother-daughter portraits. Rihane Khali Alio and Achouackh Abakar Souleymane star in this extraordinarily vivid tale, set in the outskirts of present-day N’Djamena, of abortion, motherhood and female solidarity.
5. The Fabelmans: Steven Spielberg’s natural mode as a filmmaker might not be introspective. He’s not historically been one to phone home. And while that awkwardness can sometimes be felt in his movie memoir, there are many scenes here unlike anything he’s ever shot before, and among his very best.
6. Kimi: Sorry “Top Gun: Maverick,” you were very entertaining too, but Steven Soderbergh’s “Kimi” was my favorite popcorn experience of the year — a taut, paranoid thriller with a modern, Alexa/Siri-inspired spin on the overheard crime scenario of “Blow Up,” with a sharp performance from Zoe Kravitz, who can even make an agoraphobic shut in extremely cool.
7. Tár: Todd Field’s brilliant, restless “Tár” reminded me how much I love movies (and tricked me into believing that I was some kind of scholar of classical music for a few hours). Cate Blanchett is transcendent in bringing this flawed genius to life, challenging the audience to consider big questions about power, status and art. It is demanding but immensely rewarding cinema that is not easily defined, which is perhaps why audiences aren’t taking a chance on it in theaters (which is a mistake).
8. Murina: There is rot beneath the punishingly beautiful, sun-soaked Adriatic setting of Croatian filmmaker Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic’s sublimely menacing debut feature about a 17-year-old girl who is starting to question the ingrained misogyny around her. The family dynamics are as rocky and dangerous as the picturesque backdrop.
9. Corsage: Beauty, waistlines, aging, celebrity, duty and desire haunt Empress Elisabeth of Austria in Marie Kreutzer’s intricate and interpretive portrait of dynamic mind and soul that’s been stifled by her position and myriad traumas. Vicky Krieps is perfect as the deliriously subversive “Sissi.”
10. White Noise: The supermarket dance to LCD Soundsystem’s “New Body Rhumba” might not come until the very end of Noah Baumbach’s Don DeLillo adaptation but there is a dazzling rhythm to the entire epic, from the controlled chaos of the overlapping dialogue to the hectic choreography of a family making breakfast. But maybe the most surprising thing is that behind all the wit, the style, the commentary on American society and the banal and the profound in the everyday, there is a real emotional weight too.