Sight and Sound Best Films of the Year 2023

Sight and Sound, the BFI’s international film magazine, today announces the results of their Best Films of the Year poll 2023, with Martin Scorsese’s period crime opus KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON taking the number one spot. 

One of the great chroniclers of American life, and an undisputed giant of cinema, Scorsese charts the complex human relationships at the centre of a grand conspiracy against the Native American Osage Nation in his 26th feature. This riveting drama, which had its UK premiere at the 67th BFI London Film Festival in October, is one of the unmissable big-screen events of 2023 and marks Scorsese’s first number 1 placement on Sight and Sound’s end of year poll – which is voted for by around 100 of the world’s top film critics.

Martin Scorsese said: “I’ve been so heartened by the response to Killers of the Flower Moon. To have been able to make this picture, at this time in my life, and to see it so appreciated by so many, and by the Osage community in particular. . . for me, it’s grace.

“When I was told that it had topped the critics’ poll at Sight and Sound, I have to say that I was moved. The magazine has been so important to me, for such a long time.

“As far back as I can remember, I’ve seen the cinema ridiculed in so many different ways. Over the last few years, the ridicule has reached a new level. The cinema has been culturally devalued, from all sides and at a constant pace. Anyone who loves the cinema needs to stand up for it. What I don’t mean is the idea of movies as a kind of cultural messaging delivery service, which can actually play a part in the devaluation. What I do mean is the art of cinema. Period.

“I’ve been subscribing to Sight and Sound for 60 years. And when I look through the pages of the latest issue, it always lifts my spirits. Why? Because it’s made and maintained by people who care. People who love our art form. Please keep it that way.

“Thank you for your recognition of Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Scorsese’s previous appearances on Sight and Sound’s end of year poll since it began in 2005 are THE DEPARTED (2006) and THE IRISHMAN (2019), which both made number 3 on the list, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2014) which landed at 11, and SILENCE (2017) which reached 25. Meanwhile, last year’s once a decade Sight and Sound poll of the Greatest Films of All Time also featured the Scorsese classics TAXI DRIVER (1976) at 29, and GOODFELLAS (1990) at joint 63. Martin Scorsese received the BFI Fellowship in 1995.

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON actor Lily Gladstone commented: 

I’m so happy. Everybody poured so much into [the film]. It was such a labour of love for everyone. And when I was watching it, it really truly did feel like one of the most epic films I’ve ever seen. I think it achieved what I was hoping it would, in that it felt like one of the great films of the 30s, 40s, 50s. Back then native peoples were relegated to being the bloodthirsty savage – and now we have Molly. People just fell in love with Molly Burkhart. And that had the impact that we were hoping for.”

The full Top 10 in Sight and Sound’s Best Films of 2023 poll are:

1.           KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON (Martin Scorsese)

2.           THE ZONE OF INTEREST (Jonathan Glazer)

3.           PAST LIVES (Celine Song)

4.           POOR THINGS (Yorgos Lanthimos)

=5.         BARBIE (Greta Gerwig)

=5.         OPPENHEIMER (Christopher Nolan)

7.           PASSAGES (Ira Sachs)

8.           ANATOMY OF A FALL (Justine Triet)


10.         MAY DECEMBER (Todd Haynes)

Winner of both the Grand Prix and FIPRESCI prizes at the 76th Cannes Film Festival, Jonathan Glazer’s THE ZONE OF INTEREST comes in second place. Selected as the UK entry for Best International Feature at the upcoming 96th Academy Awards®, Glazer’s most ambitious film to date upends the tropes of a Holocaust drama to depict the pampered life of executioners inhabiting a bubble of bourgeois denial. PAST LIVES, the outstanding feature directorial debut of Celine Song, follows at number three. A beautiful, deeply romantic modern love story, Song’s profound drama embraces destiny, nostalgia and the immigrant experience. Yorgos Lanthimos’ POOR THINGS, a wild firecracker of a film, lands at number four on Sight and Sound’s list. Winner of the Golden Lion and UNIMED Award for Best Film at the Venice International Film Festival, POOR THINGS sees Lanthimos continue his collaboration with Emma Stone, who gives a performance that will help define her place as one of the most thrilling and daring actors of her generation.

Rounding out the top five in a suitably 2023 fashion is a tie between BARBIE (Greta Gerwig) and OPPENHEIMER (Christopher Nolan). Writer director Greta Gerwig brings the world-famous doll to life in BARBIE, a whip smart and riotously fun imagining starring comedic dynamos Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, while Christopher Nolan’s story about the father of the atomic bomb is arguably one of his most daring films yet. OPPENHEIMER has attracted over 50,000 new bookers to BFI IMAX since opening in July, grossing £2million on just one screen, with audiences travelling from across Europe, the USA and further afield to experience Nolan’s magnum opus in glorious 70MM IMAX, as it was meant to be seen. Nolan will receive a BFI Fellowship in February 2024.

Sight and Sound Editor-in-Chief Mike Williams commented: 

2023 has been huge for cinema. The writers’ and actors’ strikes shone a light on many issues the industry is facing, while the summer box office proved that audiences still have a huge appetite for the theatrical experience. It feels apt that in a year in which the very soul of cinema has been in the spotlight Martin Scorsese, one the greatest filmmakers of all time, should top our annual poll. Killers of the Flower Moon, a story of greed and murder that cuts to the heart of American identity, is a towering achievement deserving of its many plaudits, not least for the powerful central performance of Lily Gladstone. Scorsese has been eloquently advocating for the art and history of cinema for five decades, and in Killers of the Flower Moon he’s added another masterpiece to the canon.”

Sight and Sound’s winter 23/24 issue is available digitally on 11 December and on newsstands from 14 December. The Best Films of the Year poll is voted for by the magazine’s international pool of more than 100 critics, who each choose their top ten films of the year. The full results of the Top 50 are online now.

There are six UK certified films in Sight and Sound’s top 50 this year, with three making the Top 5 – THE ZONE OF INTEREST (Jonathan Glazer) in second place and POOR THINGS (Yorgos Lanthimos) in fourth, in addition to BARBIE(Greta Gerwig) which was made in the UK in joint fifth. Sight and Sound’s list also finds Andrew Haigh’s ALL OF US STRANGERS at 12, a searching portrait of relationships which is everything we have come to expect from the exceptional writer-director, Molly Manning Walker’s remarkably assured feature directorial debut HOW TO HAVE SEX at joint 17, and Raine Allen Miller’s irresistible love letter to South London, RYE LANE, at joint 38.

The top 50 films in the Best Films of the Year poll also includes seventeen films by female filmmakers – Celine Song (3: PAST LIVES), Greta Gerwig (=5: BARBIE), Justine Triet (8: ANATOMY OF A FALL), Alice Diop (=15: SAINT OMER), Molly Manning Walker (=17: HOW TO HAVE SEX), Catherine Breillat (=17: LAST SUMMER), Lila Avilés (=17: TÓTEM), Alice Rohrwacher (=20: LA CHIMERA), Angela Schanele (31: MUSIC), Mia Hansen-Løve (=34: ONE FINE MORNING), Raven Jackson (=38: ALL DIRT ROADS TASTE OF SALT), Savanah Leaf (=38: EARTH MAMA), Claire Simon (=38: OUR BODY), Sofia Coppola (=38: PRISCILLA), Tina Satter (=38: REALITY), Raine Allen Miller (=38: RYE LANE) and Laura Citarella (=38: TRENQUE LAUQUEN).

Meanwhile, the list celebrates a wealth of international talent with twenty-six films featured primarily not in the English language – 8: ANATOMY OF A FALL (Justine Triet), 9: DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM THE END OF THE WORLD (Radu Jude), 11: CLOSE YOUR EYES (Victor Erice), =15: FALLEN LEAVES (Aki Kaurismäki), =15: SAINT OMER (Alice Diop), =17: LAST SUMMER (Catherine Breillat), =17: TÓTEM (Lila Avilés), =20: AFIRE (Christian Petzold), =20: LA CHIMERA (Alice Rohrwacher), =20: EVIL DOES NOT EXIST (Ryûsuke Hamaguchi), =20: RETURN TO SEOUL (Davy Chou), =24: THE BOY AND THE HERON (Hayao Miyazaki), =24: INSIDE THE YELLOW COCOON SHELL (Pham Thien An), =26: THE BEAST (Bertrand Bonello), =26: THE DELINQUENTS (Rodrigo Moreno), =26: ROTTING IN THE SUN (Sebastián Silva), =31: MUSIC (Angela Schanelec), =34: THE HUMAN SURGE 3 (Eduardo Williams), =34: ONE FINE MORNING (Mia Hansen-Løve), =34: THE TASTE OF THINGS (Tran Anh Hung), =38: A PRINCE (Pierre Créton), =38: MENUS-PLAISIRS: LES TROISGROS (Frederick Wiseman), =38: OUR BODY (Claire Simon), =38: SAMSARA (Lois Patiño), =38: SUZUME (Makoto Shinkai) and =38: TRENQUE LAUQUEN (Laura Citarella).

Sight and Sound’s winter 23/24 issue is available digitally on 11 December and on newsstands from 14 December.