As the midpoint of 2023 passes and many films that were expected to be successful failed to meet their creators’ or audiences’ aspirations, some surprising cinematic gems have emerged, captivating viewers with their artistic excellence and unexpected emotional depth.
Here, we present the best drama films screened until the end of June 2023, which have garnered critical acclaim and earned top positions in specialized film review websites. These films may not have been on the most anticipated lists before the year’s start, but they have proven their worth through exceptional storytelling and powerful performances.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” secured the top spot among the best films of 2023, winning the hearts of 99% of critics and 95% of the audience.
The movie, a family drama directed and written by Kelly Freeman, is based on the classic novel by Judy Blume, published in 1970. Starring Rachel Mac Adams, Cathy Bates, and Abbie Ryder Fortson, it revolves around 11-year-old Margaret, whose family relocates from the hustle and bustle of New York City to the suburbs of New Jersey. She starts over at a new school, forming new friendships and experiencing teenage emotions for the first time while exploring her self-awareness and confronting the cruelty of those who harm others.
Critics have hailed the film as a guiding narrative that cleverly blends comedy with maturity, offering answers to the many questions teenagers face during the chaotic period of adolescence as they adapt to a life filled with mysteries, surprises, and constant changes.
Past Lives: the debut film of Korean director Celine Song presents a romance intertwined with regret and longing. The movie, which premiered at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals, garnered wide praise for combining various themes, including migration, love, and cultural differences, evoking memories of the Chinese film “In the Mood for Love.”
The film follows the story of two strangers who coincidentally meet at an art exhibition in South London, both having experienced traumatic breakups. While Ainze, now a New York-based playwright, has moved on, Song remains emotionally trapped in Korea. When they reconnect online, they realize that deep feelings still exist between them. Will they chase after these emotions and disrupt their current lives for an uncertain future?
Adding a vital touch of culture to drama-romance films, Rye Lane surprises audiences with intelligent dialogue and authenticity, providing an intimate look at love and relationships within the Black community. British director Ren Allen Miller showcases her talent in her feature-length debut.
For light romance movie fans, Rye Lane is a must-see.
The film portrays two strangers who meet at an art exhibition in South London. Both have recently gone through painful breakups. As they stroll through the streets, the soundtrack and unique songs perfectly capture the atmosphere of South London.
“A Thousand and One,” a crime film, won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. It features Ainze, a young mother just released from prison, who is determined to regain custody of her son from the adoption system.
Her journey takes her through New York’s harsh reality, where everyone, especially minorities, faces tough challenges. The film doesn’t lean towards melodrama but instead offers a political perspective while exploring themes of motherhood and the impact of heritage and colonization.
It’s worth noting that the plot is based on a real-life case in which Fabian Capo was convicted, and the writer and director of this film, Deob, attended the trial, bringing considerable weight to the courtroom scenes and highlighting important experiences, such as motherhood and the influence of heritage and colonialism.