Proceeding on the assumption that you can’t go wrong by praising a gentle, understated emotional film by a female South Korean director-writer (i.e., the general rule being to always tip toward (a) non-white ethnicity or (b) anything gay or trans), a plurality of critics have chosen Celine Song‘s Past Lives as the best film of 2023, according to a 6.23 poll from World of Reel‘s Jordan Ruimy.

In HE’s best of ’23 roster, Past Lives is ranked tenth. It’s a fine, sensitive, Brief Encounter-type love story but calm down. It’s all about subtext, impossible distances, zero physical contact, impossible social constraints and quietly pleading, gently leaking expressions. And forget John Magaro as a Best Supporting Actor contender.

The other faves in Ruimy’s poll (and in this order): Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Air, John Wick: Chapter 4 (WHAT??), Asteroid City (whores), Blackberry (approved), R.M.N. (approved), Showing Up, Beau is Afraid (approved), Pacification (who?), You Hurt My Feelings (not bad), Tori & Lokita (decent film but critics are always obliged to bow down to the Dardennes), De Humani Corporis Fabrica, How to Blow Up A Pipeline, The Eight Mountains, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, Dungeons and Dragons, Me3gan, Infinity Pool.

HE’s top 2023 films (posted on 6.22.23):

1. Tran Anh Hung’s The Pot au Feu
2. Guy Ritchie‘s The Covenant
3. Christian Mungiu‘s R.M.N.
4. Eric Gravel‘s Full Time
5. Jonathan Glazer‘s The Zone of Interest
6. Martin Scorsese‘s Killers of the Flower Moon
7. Matt Johnson‘s Blackberry
8. Ari Aster‘s Beau Is Afraid
9. Ben Affleck‘s Air
10. Celine Song‘s Past Lives
11. Jean-Stephen Sauvaire’s Black Flies.
12. Steven Soderbergh‘s Magic Mike’s Last Dance