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Beyond & Beneath the Best Films of 2023

Hide the ideas, but so that people find them. The most important will be the most hidden. – Robert Bresson

German actor Franz Rogowski delivered the best performance of 2023 as an egotistical, controlling film director who loses control of his own life in Ira Sachs’ Passages. Yet, there were many other remarkable performances in 2023, which I notated in Traveling Boy Selects Top Films From 2023 and Beyond the Films of 2023.

But, let’s keep the accolades going, which should begin with Greta Lee’s soul searching South Korean-American wife in Past Lives, and continue with Cillian Murphy in the tile role in Oppenheimer as the conflicted, haunted and womanizing J. Robert Oppenheimer, and his friendly colleague, but really an adversary, the self-aggrandizing Lewis Strauss, played by Robert Downey Jr.; and the less than conflicted Robert De Niro’s William King Hale, the real killer in the Killers of the Flowers Moon, Julianne Moore’s despised and wounded mother in May December, Tilda Swinton’s nervous contract killer who sits across the table from another contract killer, Michael Fassbinder, whose taken his own oath to kill her in David Finchers’ otherwise disappointing, The Killer.  

And, there were many other stunning performances of 2023 which still color my thoughts today: Swann Arlaud’s calm and charismatic French defense attorney in Anatomy of a Fall; the physical and emotional transcendence of Park Ji-Min’s Freddie in Return to Seoul; The Holdovers redemptive ensemble with Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Dominic Sessa, Naheem Garcia and a photograph of a fallen American soldier who was unable to get a student loan; the entire cast of Oppenheimer, with special attention to Tom Conti’s brief, but powerful performance as Albert Einstein, Josh Hartnett ‘s supportive nuclear physicist, Alden Ehrenreich’s expositionary fictitious aide and Matt Damon’s no nonsense head of the Manhattan Project, Leslie Groves — a 1914 alumnus of Seattle’s Queen Anne High School; yours truly, a QA graduate of ’71.

It was difficult not to be affected by the scream of Adam (Andrew Scott) at his own reflection in a train window in Andrew Haig’s All of Us Strangers; another best-of-its-kind performance from Jeffrey Wright in American Fiction, Michelle Williams’ fourth collaboration with director, Kelly Reichardt, as a troubled, yet self-driven sculptor in Showing Up, German-born South Korean actor, Teo Yoo’s heart-wrenching acceptance and farewell in Past Lives; the often overlooked Annette Bening, as a world-class athlete in Nyad; and Osage Nation Tribal Members as actors, who gave us history and meaning in the Killers of the Flower Moon.

Snoop, the service dog in “Anatomy of a Fall.”

Plus, the many dogs who played key roles throughout the films of 2023 – in particular Dilla, the Höss family dog in The Zone of Interest and Messi, as Snoop, the service dog, in Anatomy of a Fall, perhaps the real performance of the year.

No doubt I missed many key performances; so, T-Boy readers, feel free to send in your favorite list of 2023 performances and films, to **@tr**********.com

Visit Beyond the Films of 2023.

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