Five-star film reviews: top ten movies of 2023

Only ten films got top marks from ScreenHub reviewers in 2023 – so what were they?

Five-star reviews are a rarity, which means you’re guaranteed something special with these ten films that got full marks from ScreenHub writers in 2023.

The Boy and the Heron

Still from The Boy and The Heron. Image: Studio Ghibli/ Sony Pictures Entertainment.

‘Mahito Maki awakens alone in his bedroom to the sound of banging on the window. Expecting peaceful bedrest after a self-inflicted wound, Mahito is expressly annoyed at the disturbance. But the large grey heron responsible for the banging will not be ignored: it’s time for Mahito to get up and face the fantastical journey that awaits.’

Read the full review

All of Us Strangers

All Of Us Strangers. Image: Film4.

‘I knew when I saw the call from my mum that it was far too late/early to be good news. Within two hours of being told my dad was in a coma, he was gone, many hours before I could board a flight home from Australia to Scotland. While I suspect he knew, we never actually had the conversation about my sexuality. And obviously we never will.

‘These thoughts swirled around my head as tears raced like rivulets in the rain again across my face while watching writer-director Andrew Haigh’s latest masterpiece, All of Us Strangers. Adapted by Haigh from Japanese author Taichi Yamada’s novel Strangers, it casts a never-better Andrew Scott as Adam, a lonely film writer holed up in a new London apartment tower that appears to be almost entirely empty.’

Read the full review

Poor Things

Poor Things. Image: Searchlight Pictures.

‘Greek New Wave director Yorgos Lanthimos’ surrealist spin on the 1992 Alasdair Gray novel Poor Things, adapted by regular Australian writing partner Tony Macnamara, embraces the book’s rewiring of sorts of Mary Shelley’s Prometheus-channelling urtext Frankenstein – more a reclamation of the ill-fated Bride let loose than the lonesome Monster who would be her husband.’

Read the full review

Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon. Image: Paramount Pictures/ Apple TV+.

‘Scorsese’s film adaptation is a sweeping epic, keeping a masterful balance between true crime intrigue and a sensitive, complex portrayal of Native American peoples. But it almost was something very different entirely, a film focusing on the formation of the FBI (what was then only known as the Bureau of Investigation) without much Native American representation. Thank goodness Scorsese met with the modern-day Osage tribe and reworked the script.’

Read the full review


Margot Robbie as Barbie. Image: Warner Bros Pictures.

‘In Greta Gerwig’s pink-stravagant fantasy comedy, all the Barbies and Kens living in Barbieland are content with repeating the same type of day over and over again. That’s because they believe their mere existence solved all the inequality issues in the real world. They’re diverse, they’re powerful, and they’re happy.’

Read the full review

Talk to Me

Sophie Wilde in Talk to Me. Image: A24.

‘The moment you glimpse a harried mum incongruously chopping veggies in the midst of a heaving, strobe-lit house party in the Adelaide suburbs during the frenetic, one-shot cold open of twin brothers Danny and Michael Philippou’s frighteningly good horror debut Talk to Me, something in your bones tells you the term ‘Chekhov’s gun’ ­– in which a firearm spotted will almost certainly be shot later – needs updating. The ching-ching of Emma Bortignon’s razor-sharp sound design slices and dices it and, suffice it to say, this Chekhov’s knife does not disappoint.’

Read the full review

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Image: Sony.

‘With a peerless animation style that only improves on Into the Spider-Verse, the first entry in the trilogy, and a frenetically paced story that will leave you gasping for air, Across the Spider-Verse, directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson, has quickly become the must-see film of the year.’

Read the full review

Huesera: The Bone Woman

Huesera. Image: Shudder.

‘Despite the crowded cast of well-rounded characters, the film finds time to focus on Valeria’s interiority—and also tell a ghost story. Valeria reluctantly forfeits her workshop to build a nursery, giving up pieces of her free-spirited youth to make way for motherhood. But as she tries to steal moments for herself, she begins to see apparitions of a faceless woman with broken joints creeping closer to her home. And as you might expect, nobody believes her.’

Read the full review

Of An Age

Of An Age. Image: Roadshow Entertainment.

Of An Age is not just uniquely Melburnian, but uniquely suburban in its depiction of 1990s public schools, local civic centres, ethnic households, and fluorescent-lit shopping centres – in a way that only someone who lived it could pull off. In this sense, Stolevski is as authentic as they come, writing from well within his wheelhouse as a Macedonian-Australian man whose own memories of growing up as a queer teen in the 90s inspired the screenplay.’

Read the full review


Mia Goth as Pearl. Image: A24/ Madman.

‘Mia Goth fully commits every drop of her blood, sweat, tears, AND snot to the role – and rewards our endurance through the gore with one of the most riveting performances of the year. The dance audition is a damn delight, as is Pearl’s unhinged monologue to her sister-in-law, Mitsy. It’s just a shame that Mitsy, played by newcomer Emma Jenkins-Purro, has what I like to call resting iPhone face. That girl desperately wants to Tweet, I know it.’

Read the full review

Paul Dalgarno is author of the novels A Country of Eternal Light (2023) and Poly (2020); the memoir And You May Find Yourself (2015); and the creative non-fiction book Prudish Nation (2023). He was formerly Deputy Editor of The Conversation and joined ScreenHub as Managing Editor in 2022. X: @pauldalgarno. Insta: @dalgarnowrites