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The Best Movie Performances of 2023, Ranked


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by Xtreme HD IPTV

There were more great performances in 2023 than there were great movies. A large variety of actors, from the most famous to fresh newcomers, pulled out all the stops in creating characters who will remain in the cultural zeitgeist for years to come. From wacky comedic performances (Barbie, Bottoms, Outlaw Johnny Black) to emotionally vulnerable portrayals of real people (Priscilla, Rustin), the films of 2023 gave actors a wide range of opportunities.

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As the year comes to a close and awards season kicks into gear, we’re looking back on the 25 best performances of 2023. However, we’re taking a more liberal approach. Instead of only highlighting specific actors in specific films, we believe that the acting quality of some films is defined by more than one person, or that one person shined more in multiple movies than just one. It’s a different approach, but we think this will paint a clearer picture of what the acting world looked like in 2023. And just remember, you don’t have to agree.

25 Ryan Gosling in Barbie

RELATED: Read Our Review

He’s just Ken! It may be a role that’s designed to be intentionally stupid and almost literally plastic, but Ryan Gosling perfectly nails the mannerisms and physicality of the Ken character to the extent that he steals the show in Barbie. Gosling has always had a wonderful sense of humor despite being one of the most intense dramatic actors of his generation, and it’s clear that he’s having an absolute blast in Barbie, fully inhabiting the character’s innocence, confusion, and earnestness.

Ken Is an Incel

In Barbie, Ken learns about the so-called ‘patriarchy’ of the real world (which he hilariously misconstrues) and takes it back to Barbieland, transforming the matriarchy into his kingdom. Perpetually enamored with Barbie, Ken acts out his sexless frustration in a massive temper tantrum. He’s ostensibly the villain, but Barbie is such a kind film and Gosling is such a charming actor that it’s impossible to dislike the hunky, dumb Ken. By the end of the film, when Ken develops a sense of self-identity outside of Barbie, you get the feeling that the film has laid out the blueprint for curing incels like Ken everywhere. Stream on Max and rent or buy on any digital platform, and check out our analysis of Barbie below:

24 Emma Stone in Poor Things (and The Curse)

Poor Things

Poor Things

Release Date
December 8, 2023

Rating
R

Runtime
2hr 21min

Emma Stone unlocked something in herself in 2023 that she’d previously obfuscated with irony and charm; she’s always been immensely watchable and magnetic, but she became a risk-taking, vulnerable, and truly unique actor this year. To be honest, that’s mainly because of The Curse, in which she lets herself, perhaps for the first time, explore being an unlikable and disgusting human being. Of course, it’s a TV show, but it’s part and parcel with what Stone explores in her bold Poor Things performance.

Emma Stone Bares Skin and Soul

The Curse poster

The Curse

Release Date
November 10, 2023

Creator
Nathan Fielder, Benny Safdie

Rating
TV-MA

Seasons
1

The Curse, Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie’s immensely uncomfortable and avant-garde Showtime series, features Stone as a spoiled woman desperate to project a squeaky clean, likable, and ‘stunning and brave’ image to the world with a HGTV ‘eco-friendly’ home renovation show with her husband. Unfortunately, she is an awful hypocrite and a judgmental shrew. Nathan Fielder is incredible as her pathetic and mentally unstable husband who would probably rather kill himself than have someone speak down to his ‘angel.’ It’s one of the sickest relationships to ever be explored on television, and kudos to Stone for going to unsettling lengths.

While she certainly explores her sexuality and boundaries in The Curse, Stone goes much further in the fantasy sexcapade that is Poor Things, playing a baby in the body of a 30-something woman who is taken advantage of by lotharios and the world. The film explores the fine line between being sexually exploited and damaged versus being liberated and adventurous, and Stone certainly goes all the way in Lanthimos’ visually stunning and depressing film. She places complete trust in one of the best directors working today and does things most actors of her caliber never would, and it pays off in a complicated performance that’s unforgettable (for better or worse). Stream The Curse on Showtime and Paramount+. Poor Things is in theaters.

23 Abby Ryder Fortson in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

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Abby Ryder Fortson is just 15, but she has impressed audiences for a decade. Many people first saw her in the hit show Transparent, and she was also great as Sophie in the series Togetherness, but she reached a much larger audience as young Cassie Lang in Ant-Man and its sequel. She obviously has a huge career ahead of her, and may even get some award nominations for leading the new film, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Abby Ryder Fortson and Rachel McAdams Bring Judy Blume to Life

Fortson plays the titular Margaret in this wonderful adaptation of Judy Blume’s classic novel, directed by Kelly Fremon Craig (of the brilliant Edge of Seventeen). The young girl and her family move to the suburbs, and as she comes of age, she asks questions about religion, sexuality, and identity. The classic novel comes to life with her delightful performance, paired with a charming Rachel McAdams as her mother Barbara. Stream on Starz and rent or buy on digital platforms. You can watch our interview with Fortson and McAdams below:

22 Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr. in Oppenheimer

RELATED: Read Our Review

Cillian Murphy was an extremely underrated actor until Peaky Blinders and Christopher Nolan’s 2023 epic, Oppenheimer. As such, Murphy has had better performances than Oppenheimer (like The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Sunshine, Breakfast on Pluto), but he injects enough withdrawn, haunted intensity into this portrayal of J. Robert Oppenheimer to create yet another winning role. Though it’s an ensemble film over the course of many years, Murphy dominates the three-hour epic and paints a sad portrait of a genius who made all the wrong choices and regrets everything.

Robert Downey Jr. Is the Most Important Part of Oppenheimer

Robert Downey Jr. exits ‘film franchise mode’ to finally give a unique and powerful performance, the kind he arguably hasn’t given since Iron Man 3 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Downey Jr. plays Lewis Strauss, an egotistical government official who pushes back against Oppenheimer’s worries about the H-bomb and seeks to expose the scientist’s Communist past. Downey Jr. oscillates between haughty hubris and bitter resentment in the role, and becomes the most important player if you view Oppenheimer as a meditation on power and destruction. He destroys Oppenheimer, and is then destroyed by someone else seeking power; the cycle continues until we all destroy each other. Rent or buy on digital platforms like YouTube, Apple TV, and Prime Video.

21 Michael Jai White in Outlaw Johnny Black

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Michael Jai White‘s long-time passion project, Outlaw Johnny Black, finally came to theaters in 2023, and it was worth the wait. White proves that his writing, acting, and comedy chops in 2009’s excellent Black Dynamite was not a fluke, delivering one of the best comedies of the year with this wacky, funky Western film about a vengeful man posing as a preacher to find who killed his father.

Michael Jai White Is a Funny Fighter

The talented martial artist hops on a horse in this very different project for him, which combines Spaghetti Westerns with Blaxploitation cinema and Mel Brooks-style comedy to delirious degrees. Along with writing, acting, and producing again, White directs this time, and hopefully it’s not his last feature. The actor has been in dozens of films over the years and has obviously learned a lot; he throws heaps of style at the screen, keeping the film exciting and innovative throughout with his energetic direction. But it’s his delightfully funny, physically impressive, and endlessly memorable performance as Johnny Black that seals the deal. Rent or buy on digital platforms like YouTube, Prime Video, and Apple TV.

20 Richard E. Grant in The Lesson

The iconic British actor Richard E. Grant made a delicious detour through thriller territory in the witty little film, The Lesson. Grant is legendary for playing regal, cocky men, as in the English classics Withnail & I and How to Get Ahead in Advertising, and his incredible turn in Can You Ever Forgive Me? He spins that image to wicked effect in The Lesson as an arrogant, rich author who hires a tutor to train his son for Oxford. As they say, though, all is not as it seems.

Exposing the Ego and Smallness of a Big Man

Daryl McCormack (Peaky Blinders) is mischievous as the tutor who comes into the lives of Grant’s author and his wife (portrayed by the magnificent Julie Delpy, who goes toe to toe with everyone). He manages to get the author’s attention, so that the tutor goes under his tutelage. The result is a clever psychosexual game to uncover the truth, with Grant relishing the opportunity to deconstruct the kind of character he’s most famous for. The ego, hypocrisy, and cruelty are laid bare in a darkly comedic, nasty little performance that maintains Richard E. Grant’s greatness. Stream on Paramount+ and Showtime, and rent or buy on any digital platform. You can watch our interview with Grant below:

19 The Cast of Scrapper

Read Our Review

Two more young actors took our breaths away this year. Charlotte Regan’s Scrapper is a sweet and stylish dramedy about young Georgie, who never knew her father, and after her mother dies, she manages to fool the social services and her neighbors into thinking that she has an uncle who is taking care of her. In reality, she lives alone and hustles to make rent money with help from her loyal friend, Ali, played by a subtly brilliant young Alin Uzun. When Georgie’s father shows up and wants to be a part of her life, she struggles to adapt.

Lola Campbell and Harris Dickinson Have a Beautiful Dynamic

As Georgie and her father, Lola Campbell and Harris Dickinson build a believable and emotional rapport. They’re funny and charming together, but their characters also share similar vulnerabilities and defenses that make their conversations psychologically complicated. Watching the two develop over the course of the film was one of the year’s sweetest delights. Stream on Paramount+ and Showtime, and rent or buy on any digital platform. Check out the trailer below:

18 Ayo Edibiri in Bottoms, Theater Camp, and Everything Else

Ayo Edibiri popped up all over the place in 2023, and even though these projects were all filmed over the past couple of years, she seems like the hardest working actor of the year. Between voiceover work for wonderful animated series, some of the best live-action TV shows of the year, and charming comedies ranging from the kid-friendly to the deliriously profane, Edibiri was everywhere, bringing her distinct comedic touch and great voice to the year’s media.

Every Ayo Edibiri Project of 2023

The actor’s best work on the small screen this year was undoubtedly in The Bear as hard-working chef Sydney Adamu, and Edibiri shined alongside Rachel Sennott in the high school female fight club comedy, Bottoms. But Edibiri also starred in Theater Camp, History of the World: Part II, Mulligan, Abbott Elementary, The Sweet East, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Black Mirror, Clone High, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, Bigtop Burger, Big Mouth, and I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson.

Move over, James Brown, we have a new hardest working person in show business. Unfortunately, a lot of the roles are small, otherwise Edibiri would be at the top of this list. Nonetheless, what she achieved in 2023 is downright remarkable, and she is one of the most interesting actors to watch right now. As for her films, you can watch them on a variety of platforms.

17 Seann William Scott in The Wrath of Becky

Seann William Scott has always been a better actor than people gave him credit for. That’s probably because he became so associated with the Stifler character in American Pie that people overlooked his subtleties. His work in Goon remains one of the best performances in a comedy movie in recent memory, and his shift toward dramatic roles in Bloodline and Already Gone signaled something even more. After a few years’ break from films, his return with The Wrath of Becky only proves his acting chops.

Stifler the Neo-Nazi

Seann William Scott stars in the Becky sequel, which also puts a comedic actor in the menacing role of a villain like the first film (where Kevin James took the mantle). He plays a Neo-Nazi who is far from any caricature; it’s almost disturbing how complicated and interesting the performance is. The character is intelligent and thoughtful compared to the backwoods scumbags who gather under his governance to plan an assassination. He meets his match with Lulu Wilson’s psychotic teenage killer who’s out for revenge in this wicked, fun comedy thriller. Stream on Paramount+ and Showtime, and rent or buy on any digital platform.

Related: Exclusive: The Wrath of Becky Stars and Filmmakers on Their Gory Sequel

16 The Cast of You Hurt My Feelings

Read Our Review

The whole cast of You Hurt My Feelings is phenomenal, which is important because the film is dependent upon their interactions and how much we actually like them; with the wrong actors, this could’ve been an obnoxious film about first-world problems. Fortunately, Nicole Holofcener’s movie is a thoughtful, funny, and charming study of relationships with characters we’d love to spend even more time with.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies Question the Truth

Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins, and Arian Moayed, the film follows a writer who discovers that her husband has been lying about liking her new book. It’s a simple plot, but this secret realization escalates into a variety of passive-aggressive behavior and doubts, causing the writer’s sister and husband-in-law to start questioning the honesty in their own relationship.

All of these people are actually delightful, even when they’re unleashing their insecurities on each other; their intelligence and humor shines through their neuroses in a film that makes us ask, do we want honesty or just happy fiction? Rent or buy on digital platforms like YouTube, Vudu, and Apple TV. You can watch our interview with Louis-Dreyfus and Menzies above, and with Moayed and Watkins below:

15 Sterling K. Brown in Biosphere and American Fiction

American Fiction poster

American Fiction

Release Date
December 15, 2023

Rating
R for language throughout, some drug use, sexual references and brief violence

Sterling K. Brown has starred in a few extremely different films that all nonetheless have the great actor exploring the nature of masculinity and sexuality with an intelligent mix of comedy and drama. Brown did this last year with Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. as a pastor recovering from a gay sex scandal. This year, Brown starred opposite Mark Duplass in the inventive sci-fi comedy, Biosphere, and was part of the great ensemble cast in American Fiction.

Sterling K. Brown’s Hilarious but Introspective Performances

Biosphere is a two-man film that features Brown as a brilliant engineer and best friend of the President of the United States, played by Duplass. They are ostensibly the two last humans on Earth, or at least in America, after the President triggered a nuclear war, and the pair live in a fancy biodome. When the President begins rapidly evolving and his penis turns into a vagina, the friends awkwardly wonder if they should repopulate the planet.

In American Fiction, Brown plays the brother of Jeffrey Wright’s tortured author, and his performance is sexy, sad, and hilarious all at once. Brown plays a man who has lost his family after his wife walked in on him with another man; his mother rejects him, and he’s adrift in a life of hedonism. Like Wright’s character, tragedy forces him to come home. In this and in Biosphere, Brown is very funny but extremely soulful. You can see so many conflicted emotions in his red, watery eyes as he bares his soul and all the accompanying suffering, absurdity, and strength. Stream Biosphere on AMC+ and rent or buy on digital platforms. American Fiction is in theaters now. Check out our interview with Brown and Duplass for Biosphere below:

14 Cailee Spaeny in Priscilla

Priscilla

Priscilla

Release Date
November 3, 2023

Rating
R

Runtime
1hr 53min

Read Our Review

In one of the most acclaimed performances of the year, Cailee Spaeny plays Priscilla Presley in Sofia Coppola’s film of the same name. Priscilla follows the romance and courtship between Priscilla Beaulieu and Elvis Presley from the time they meet (when she’s 14, and he’s 24…) through their romance, marriage, and divorce. It’s a careful study of love — how desire transforms people, how time changes things, how work and the external world complicates life, and how people block each other out.

Cailee Spaeny Shows the Heart’s Many Shades

Spaeny gives an intimate and touching performance as a woman whose life is interrupted by love, the orbit of which she can’t escape and doesn’t want to. We see her mature through the trials and tribulations of fame and a whirlwind romance. She almost feels like a stand-in for Sofia Coppola, a director who likely sees herself in Priscilla’s story as a woman whose privileged life thwarts an organic childhood, and who fights for her own identity and artistry amid the fame around her. Rent or buy on digital platforms like YouTube, Apple TV, and Vudu.

13 Amanda Seyfried in Seven Veils

Amanda Seyfried in Seven Veils
Elevation Pictures

Read Our Review

Seven Veils finds the incredible Amanda Seyfried reuniting with the legendary director Atom Egoyan after their sensual thriller, Chloe. The result is her greatest film performance to date. Seyfried stars as a muse of a famous theater company director who dies and, in his will, instructs the company to hire her as the director of a new staging of the Strauss opera, Salome. In doing so, she’s forced to confront her traumatic past through the story of Salome. Egoyan gives Seyfried the juiciest role of her career.

An Incredibly Intelligent Woman

Seyfried’s character is one of the most self-aware and intellectually stimulating characters of the year. While she becomes obsessed with the production, she is always focused on the right thing, and her process of self-realization through staging the play is thrilling to watch. The large ensemble around her is delightful, as well, especially the excellent Rebecca Liddiard as a crew member in the production who is preyed upon by an actor. It’s Seyfried though, as a kind of avatar for directors everywhere, and especially Egoyan, who shines the brightest. If this character wrote a book, you’d want to read it. Seven Veils is coming to U.S. theaters in 2024.

12 Colman Domingo in Rustin and The Color Purple

Rustin

Rustin

Release Date
November 17, 2023

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
1hr 46min

Read Our Review

​​​​​Colman Domingo portrays two very different people in Rustin and The Color Purple, films that take very different approaches to exploring the Black experience. The Broadway star of The Scottsboro Boys is a true chameleon, able to portray the wealthy and suspicious Victor Strand in Fear the Walking Dead while writing the jukebox musical Summer: The Donna Summer Musical for Broadway and then winning an Emmy for his role as a desperate drug user in Euphoria.

Rustin Is a Reflection of Domingo in Many Ways

Like Domingo himself, his character Bayard Rustin in George C. Wolfe’s Rustin was a real-life Renaissance man who jumped between his activism for Black rights and for gay rights, his musical art as a tenor vocalist, and his long work in politics. Domingo’s portrayal of the man is kind, complicated, and stirring, a far cry from his work in the remake of The Color Purple, itself an adaptation of the Broadway musical. Playing Mister, Domingo is truly upsetting as Celie’s abusive, rapist husband. It’s a disturbing, menacing role that Domingo plays selflessly. The Color Purple is in theaters now. Stream Rustin on Netflix. You can see our interview with Domingo for Rustin below:

11 Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott in All of Us Strangers

All of Us Strangers

All of Us Strangers

Release Date
January 26, 2024

Director
Andrew Haigh

Rating
R

Runtime
1hr 45min

Read Our Review

All of Us Strangers is a dreamlike romantic film from acclaimed director Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years), who stitches together a surreal love story that feels like a dying man remembering his life. What grounds the film are the performances of Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott and their relationship together, as refracted as it across space and time. Scott melancholically dreamwalks through the film, imagining conversations with his dead parents (played by Jamie Bell and Claire Foy). The result is a hallucinatory romance unlike any other this year.

Two of the Hottest Actors Today

Mescal truly broke through with the starkly brilliant Aftersun last year, and is continuing his brilliant work in offbeat films this year, also starring in the equally sensual and dreamy Carmen and the arthouse sci-fi movie Foe, which was an unfortunate misfire. He’s arguably the hottest rising star at the moment, though his co-star Andrew Scott is right behind.

Labeled the “hot priest” after his big performance in season two of Fleabag, Scott also displayed his more villainous side in Sherlock opposite Benedict Cumberbatch. The actor seems perfect to play Tom Ripley in the upcoming TV series Ripley, and All of Us Strangers gave us the opportunity to see these two sexy up-and-coming titans come together for one beautiful dream. In theaters now.

Related: Why Paul Mescal Is Going to Be Huge Star

10 Sydney Sweeney in Reality

Reality

Reality

Release Date
May 29, 2023

Director
Tina Satter

Rating
TV-MA

Runtime
1hr 23min

Read Our Review

Sydney Sweeney capitalizes on her perpetually bored visage with Reality, her greatest performance to date. She’s used her beauty and indifference to wonderful effect in Euphoria and The White Lotus, to the extent that when she does show emotion, it’s all the more powerful. Those aspects of her acting are twisted into a wholly new shape in Tina Satter’s excellent HBO biographical drama about the whistleblower, Reality Winner. Taking its dialogue from the actual FBI recordings of her questioning, the film is a tense showpiece for Sweeney and her co-stars, Josh Hamilton and Marchánt Davis.

Buckling Under the Weight of Reality

It’s hypnotic to watch Sweeney here, as Reality’s facade slowly crumbles under the pressure of a prolonged, passive-aggressive interrogation. She puts on a pleasant but perturbed persona that gets tripped up as the character second-guesses herself and loses control of the narrative. It’s Sweeney’s film through and through, and she owns it. Stream on Max.

9 Glenn Howerton in BlackBerry

Blackberry

BlackBerry

Release Date
May 12, 2023

Director
Matt Johnson

Rating
R

Runtime
2hr

Read Our Review

Glenn Howerton completely transforms himself in BlackBerry, the best of many ‘product based’ films of the year (Air, Flamin’ Hot, Tetris). Howerton is famous for co-creating and co-starring in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as the handsome psychopath Dennis Reynolds, and has been hilarious in that long-running show. He portrays a very different kind of anti-social psycho in BlackBerry, Jim Balsillie, a bald, greedy, and angry man who chaired the Canadian tech company responsible for creating the titular phone.

Glenn Howerton Intimidates and Dominates

Paired alongside a nerdy and anxious Jay Baruchel (in possibly his best performance as well), Howerton is pure force in BlackBerry, infiltrating a world of geeks with his intimidating willpower. He yells, breaks things, grits his teeth, and seems to clench his very soul in this immensely physical performance. It’s actually when he’s silent, though, that he’s most effective; watching Howerton as he listens at the other end of the phone, a vein becoming visible, is haunting. You can practically see the wheels turning in the character’s bald head as he schemes and hustles through late capitalism. Stream on AMC+ and with AMC+ on Prime Video, and rent or buy on any digital platform.

8 Tia Nomore in Earth Mama

Newcomer Tia Nomore stuns in the powerful A24 drama, Earth Mama, as a young pregnant woman who has already had two children taken from her by the government. She begins debating whether she should become a surrogate mother or not while trying to stay out of legal trouble and prove that she should have custody of her kids again. It’s a quietly intense performance, with Nomore in every scene, taking audiences through the economic, psychological, and emotional difficulties of people trying to navigate poverty and bureaucracy.

Capturing Complexity Through Stillness

Tia Nomore and director Savanah Leaf work together to form a complete portrait of a woman. Leaf catches all the subtleties and vulnerabilities of Nomore’s performance through unrelenting filming days. As Nomore explained to us, “I knew that the cameras were rolling, but I couldn’t go anywhere. So I had to just feel, and I think a lot of those like close-up shots where you kind of see it in my eyes, too, I’m kind of looking for somebody to be like, ‘Cut!’ Being with others was easier. I think just being still and actually letting the feelings come out of me and knowing that somebody is recording, it was hard and uncomfortable. But I knew what it was for.” The result is a haunting and affecting performance that feels huge despite the small stillness. Stream on Paramount+ and Showtime and rent or buy on digital platforms.

7 Michelle Williams in Showing Up and Thomas Schubert in Afire

Read Our Review

Michelle Williams‘ character in Showing Up (another A24 release) is an extremely different kind of person for the incredible actor — and for any big actor, really. The character of Lizzy is an infinitely realistic, boring woman who has the same frustrations and resentments as most so-called ‘normal’ people do. She has the same elevated sense of her own intelligence and skill, the same hypocrisies and lack of self-awareness, and the same dull personality as most of us, but also displays the rare moments of humanity, honesty, and humor that we all do on occasion, too.

A sculptor in a new age kind of community around the Oregon College of Art and Craft, Lizzy has a harder time hiding her pettiness than most people, especially the supposedly easy-going hipsters of Portland. Showing Up is Kelly Reichardt’s gently funny satire of those Portland types and an unforgettable character study of a woman who would be very forgettable in real-life. The film somehow humanizes the kind of human we avoid or overlook. There was an extremely similar performance from 2023 which also captured a very specific kind of unlikable person — Thomas Schubert in Christian Petzold’s incredible film, Afire.

Studies of Unlikable Wannabe Artists Perfectly Reflect Us All

Read Our Review

In Afire, Schubert plays Leon, a disgruntled writer who broadcasts his annoyance to the world as loudly as possible. He intends to go on a quiet trip with his friend in order to focus on his writing, but discovers that the cottage is occupied by a carefree woman and her occasional lover. Surrounded by seemingly happy people, just like Lizzy in Showing Up, Leon finds problems in everything and inflates his own image of a suffering artist to a ridiculous degree. He declines trips to the beach, claiming that he has too much work to do, but when he’s all alone, he wanders around and sleeps. He’s a big, lumbering hypocrite.

However, both Williams and Schubert bring myriad subtle gestures and humor to their very unlikable characters. They don’t exactly make them likable (that would defeat the point), but they do make them relatable. We see ourselves, our own pettiness and phoniness, in their performances, and in a way, they allow us to forgive ourselves for being human. Stream Showing Up on Paramount+ and Showtime and rent or buy on digital platforms. Stream Afire on The Criterion Collection and rent or buy on digital platforms.

Related: Exclusive: Afire Director Christian Petzold on His New Forest Fire-Laced Drama

6 Willem Dafoe in Inside

Inside (2023)

Inside (2023)

Release Date
March 17, 2023

Director
Vasilis Katsoupis

Writers
Ben Hopkins

Read Our Review

It feels like Willem Dafoe and his work in Inside has been passed over this year, which is a shame. Of course, by now, it may seem like second-nature for Dafoe to play a character descending into madness, an easy performance he can do in his sleep, but the actor’s work in Inside is much more complicated than that. He plays an art thief who gets trapped in a swanky high-rise apartment after triggering the security system. With no way to escape or contact the outside world, and the residents seemingly on vacation, the thief has to find a way to survive for as long as possible.

A Mysterious Twist on Survival Thrillers

Most survival thrillers put characters in the mountains, deserts, or snow, forced to reckon with the cruel indifference of nature, but Inside flips the script by having a character survive an elitist, multi-million dollar New York apartment filled with fine art. It’s a harsh irony that forces viewers to question the actual value of art and wealth in relation to survival. Yes, Dafoe descends into a kind of madness, but he’s so intelligent, curious, and creative that he takes it far beyond mere insanity. Director Vasilis Katsoupis gives Dafoe free rein to try a variety of things, and the result is mesmerizing. Stream on Prime Video and rent or buy on any digital platform.

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