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March 8, 2024


Presenting our 3rd annual Bitesize Awards!

You know the drill… Similar to the Bitesize Top Five, each writer ranked their Top 10 selections for each awards category. Those lists were then weighted on a reverse point system. After all the points were tallied up, we had our nominations. Finally, we voted on each award. So, here we go!



As we entered 2023, Jacob Elordi was simply the asshole from Euphoria to most people, myself included. However, as with many of Euphoria’s cast members this year, Elordi took the proverbial next step in his career, most famously by flavoring the bathwater in Saltburn, but also as a quietly nuanced Elvis Presley in Priscilla. He stole scenes from powerhouse and award-winning and -nominated actors, begged comparisons to Austin Butler’s Oscar-nominated portrayal of The King, clearly set his career path on a different trajectory, and made people remember his name. To me, that’s the definition of a breakthrough. - Quentin


Ayo Edebiri had one hell of a year in 2023! She took Hollywood by storm with not one, not two, but five standout movie performances, and she made an impression in every film she appeared in last year, regardless of the size of the role. She took her comedic chops to a new level by leading the raunchy queer teen comedy Bottoms, delivered a stellar voiceover performance as April O’Neil in the animated movie TMNT: Mutant Mayhem, and gave outstanding supporting performances in Theater Camp, The Sweet East, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. And even though she's mostly only receiving the accolades for her portrayal of Sydney in FX's The Bear, I have an inkling that since she is growing into one of Hollywood's biggest stars, the accolades will follow her into her film career. - Paige



I was mostly unfamiliar with Cailee Spaeny before I saw her lead performance in this year’s Priscilla. Although I wasn’t amongst our crew’s champions of the film itself, what is absolutely clear is that her performance, alongside another breakthrough artist in Jacob Elordi, is that Ms. Spaeny is set to blow up the film scene in the years to come. She is already set to star in one of my most anticipated films of the first half of 2024 in Civil War, and also is starring in Alien: Romulus, scheduled to be released later this year. I expect great things from her, and I am excited to cheer her on as I see her grow to her full potential as an actress. - Preston



Colman Domingo has been acting successfully for longer than any of the other nominees in this category have even been alive, brightening the countless films he’s appeared in, no matter how small the role. If there was ever anyone who deserved a bigger breakthrough at a better time, it’s Colman. Just look at this 2023: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken, Fear the Walking Dead, The Color Purple, Rustin, and 2023-film-festival-darling-but-yet-to-be released Sing Sing. Two serviceable voice roles, a long-running TV series, two Oscar-nominated movies (one of which he received), and quite possibly an Oscar-win next year. That is the exact definition of a break… through. - Amarú 


Aside from the amazing cinematography, I think one of the things that made The Holdovers feel so authentically of the 1970s is the genius casting, specifically Dominic Sessa. Sessa doesn’t rely on typical teenage tropes or angst, but makes the character his own. His performance is full of heart and mischief, displaying the confidence of a far more experienced actor as opposed to an actor in his first feature film, and he has fantastic chemistry with all of his co-stars, including two current Oscar nominees. Acting opposite Paul Giamatti in a screen debut is an incredible achievement, and I am excited to see where his career takes him. - Katie




From the outset, Biosphere was seemingly created to be a hidden gem. From its quiet drop at Toronto International Film Festival (seriously, there was almost zero information about it) to its quiet day-and-date release almost a year later, it’s one of those movies that succeeds precisely because no one knows what to expect going in. To be fair, I get it. Had this movie been heavily publicized, it wouldn’t work. Without revealing too much, just know that this movie is a hilariously poignant exploration of masculinity, friendship, survival, partnership, and identity, all of which is driven by powerhouse performances by Mark Duplass and (especially) Sterling K. Brown. - Quentin


It’s a crime that more people haven’t seen The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. I know people always say “they don’t make movies like this anymore,” but they REALLY do not make movies like this anymore. This tense courtroom drama is as classic Hollywood as it gets, and its brilliant execution is a testament to the talents of the late director, William Friedkin. He doesn’t rely on flashy cinematography, quick cuts, or an overpowering score because the expertly paced narrative and incredible performances are enough to keep your eyes firmly glued to the screen. If you haven’t seen Court-Martial yet, then you should definitely fix that. - Caleb


Way back in 2022, there was a little-known film at Toronto International Film Festival that started gaining traction and buzz amongst the attendees. So much so, that I actually adjusted my schedule so I could see it for myself. I’m so thrilled I did. How to Blow Up a Pipeline is a film best suited for the big screen, as the tension it exudes throughout permeates the theatre. There is a realism to both the direction and the performances that make it feel like you’re watching a documentary, and at times, as if you’re part of the grand plan itself. - Nick


Look, am I surprised that a Japanese drama where a pretty large chunk of the film is a man cleaning public bathrooms wasn't a box-office hit? Of course not. Will I still recommend it to everyone within earshot? Absolutely. Perfect Days is a film that's all about the beauty of life. How mundane our lives can be is what makes it beautiful and how we choose to find joy is unique to everyone; Perfect Days sheds light on that, accompanied by a silent yet brilliantly effective performance from Kōji Yakusho. I like to believe Perfect Days found its niche audience, but I hope one day, that audience grows. - Adriano


Polite Society is a one-two punch that deserves to have more people see it. Director Nida Manzoor manages to masterfully blend all sorts of genres, most notably comedy and martial arts, into a fresh and sharp coming-of-age story about two loving sisters with conflicting priorities, played by Priya Kansara and Ritu Arya. Their gleaming chemistry makes this spunky and charismatic film genuinely kick ass. If you’re looking for a playfully charming movie that is light-hearted, then Polite Society is the hidden gem for you to watch. - Paige




The bar was set so high with the soundtracks for the first two Guardians of the Galaxy movies that I feel like people maybe slept on the music in Vol. 3. Much like its predecessors, Vol. 3's soundtrack features banger after banger from the likes of Heart, Bruce Springsteen, Radiohead, The Beastie Boys, and Florence + the Machine, among others. Most importantly though, the songs’ placement in the film and the tone-setting these tunes achieve is true master-crafting by director James Gunn, especially the final musical moment of the film, which had me holding back tears. Gunn's departure may signal the end of this franchise, but at least we’ll always have three killer albums. - Nick


Ludwig Göransson has crept up to become one of my favourite modern-day composers, and while Oppenheimer may not be his best score in my opinion (I still listen to Black Panther's score at the gym), it might be his biggest accomplishment. Throughout Oppenheimer, Göransson's score blares in nearly every single moment, elevating what could've been dull political and scientific discussions to something more compelling. The number of earworms in this score are too many to count, and Göransson's blend of classical and contemporary music helps bring certain aspects of J. Robert Oppenheimer to life during the film. Even separated from the film, it's just an excellent score to listen to on its own, as well. - Adriano


By the time the guitar strums from A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?” hit halfway through Mutant Mayhem, I had already wanted to give a round of applause to the film’s music supervisor. M.O.P., 4 Non Blondes, De La Soul, Natasha Bedingfield, Gucci Mane,  M.O.P. again just for emphasis (“Ante Up” will never not be hype), Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and a pitch-perfect reference to Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap”? Just relive my childhood, why don’t you? Top that with Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” serenading you through an expertly animated action montage, and there’s rarely a minute in which you aren’t resisting the urge to get up out of your seat and groove. I didn’t even mention the perfect Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross futuristic, techno-hip-hop score. C'MON SON!!! - Amarú AIR

You might not immediately recognize the artists or the songs on the soundtrack of Air, but I promise you will do an 80s-style shoulder sway and finger snap with almost every song while thinking, “Oh, I remember this song!” Whether it be the chorus to Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian,” the opening guitar pop of Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun,” Cindy Lauper’s generational talent displayed in “Time After Time,” or REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” the Air soundtrack is simply the best soundtrack of the entire year. By the way, I highly recommend watching the original music videos to each song as you revisit them; you won’t be sorry. - Preston


One of the best features of Greta Gerwig's blockbuster Barbie is the soundtrack, which brilliantly captures the whimsical yet thought-provoking tone of the movie. It includes a variety of upbeat, glossy songs by notable artists such as Dua Lipa and HAIM, as well as the powerhouse rendition of "I'm Just Ken" by Ryan Gosling. It also features songs with far more somber themes, such as Billie Eilish's "What Was I Made For?" All in all, the mood that the songs create transports us from Barbie Land to the real world in a way that makes us want to cry and dance right out of our seats. Barbie's paradoxical yet realistic journey is brilliantly captured on the film's soundtrack. - Paige



I don’t care what generation you belong to, what culture you grew up in, or if you’re even a wrestling fan…it’s almost impossible to watch The Iron Claw and not feel something deep in your spirit. There’s tragedy, then there is tragedy. Then there is the real-life TRAGEDY of the Von Erichs. Director Sean Durkin expertly avoided making trauma-porn out of their harrowing tale, and how could he not when you have top-tier performances from Zac Efron, Holt McCallany, Harris Dickinson, and Jeremy Allen White. I may never watch this film again (it’s A LOT), but I damn sure will never forget it. - Amarú


Anatomy of a Fall is a riveting courtroom drama that is both subtle and brilliant all at once, featuring sharp dialogue and a thought-provoking story that will keep you guessing throughout. You may wonder, why so serious? Even though it is lengthy, this mystery is full of gripping performances and nuanced turns that, without co-writer and director Justine Triet's guidance, wouldn’t have worked as well as it did. She lets the film's real beauty come through, allowing the audience to determine what actually happened, leaving them to think about it long after it ends. - Paige


Director Christopher Nolan has stated that he thinks J. Robert Oppenheimer was “the most important person who ever lived,” and after seeing Oppenheimer, it’s pretty hard to disagree with him. This larger-than-life drama combines a staggering ensemble cast with an intricately structured, endlessly fascinating narrative. It adeptly explores not only the creation of the atomic bomb, but also the psychological fallout it had on the mind of its morally ambiguous inventor. The end result is one of the most successful dramatic films of our generation, and one that fully convinced us of its profound importance. - Caleb


Ever since I saw its world premiere at Sundance, I knew Past Lives was special. A film about the paths we didn't take and how we justify our actions in the pursuit of love and happiness while trying not to think about what could've been? It rarely gets more human than that. Between its gut-wrenching screenplay, paired with outstanding performances from Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, and John Magaro, Past Lives offers a beautiful experience that's as worthwhile as it is bittersweet. It still absolutely blows my mind that this is Celine Song's debut film. - Adriano 


Much like The Iron Claw, another film that just didn’t get its due last year is Priscilla. This is, for my money, the best film Sofia Coppola has directed. The story of a young woman’s growth from naive fan girl to realizing the darkest sides of her relationship with Elvis Presley, the object of her young fandom, brings up questions of love, grooming, and turmoil. Coppola approaches the film in a manner that makes you feel the way Cailey Spaeny’s Priscilla Presley feels. It’s an underappreciated aspect of the film,

but one that truly puts it over the top. - Nick




What else can I say about Poor Things that hasn’t already been said through the multitude of discussions, nominations, praise, and awards that it has justly deserved? As critics, we must wrestle with the notion of remaining vigilantly committed to our candid commentary while balancing what might be desired by our curious devotees. The balance of which can be rightly ignored in this particular case. Poor Things is a masterpiece that stretches our collective imagination, crosses genres, and breaks the limits of the plethora of content created before it. There is a legitimate case for it to win almost every category outside of “Best Animated,” so here is one more tip of the cap to its brilliance. - Preston


American Fiction is funny as fuck, Sterling K. Brown is hilarious as shit, Tracie Ellis Ross is laugh-out-loud funny, and Jeffrey Wright’s dry wit, expertly parried by Erika Alexander’s sarcasm, puts it all together. This hilarious ensemble encapsulates how black people, who live an utterly complicated life in this country, will always laugh. Laugh when we smile. Laugh when we cry. Laugh when we yell. Laugh when we roast the shit out of each other, especially family. How else would we survive the fucked up shit we deal with on the daily? - Amarú 


Much like with animated films, for Barbie to be a runaway success, it needed to find a way to appeal to more than just its target demographic. As a guy in his 30s, this movie was certainly not made for me, but I sure enjoyed it, anyway. The comedy is mainly driven by Ryan Gosling’s ridiculous performance as man-child Ken, but Margot Robbie, Michael Cera, and the rest of the ensemble cast bring the laughs as well. Whether it’s the jokes, musical numbers, or fish-out-of-water scenarios, the hilarious fun is there, and it’s a big reason that Barbie made more than a billion dollars. - Nick 


I have not witnessed anything elicit as much laughter from a cinema audience as Nicolas Cage’s perfectly timed fart in Dream Scenario. The film satirises cancel culture and the nature of social media fame by capitalising on Nicolas Cage’s memefied status, balancing real and surreal elements for a hilarious effect. Continuing a trend of impressive performances in indie genre films, Cage is perfect as a boring, awkward professor, displaying his impressive range and bringing a pitiful innocence that is essential to the character. Dream Scenario is often excruciatingly awkward and cringe-worthy, so it is obviously my favourite comedy of last year. - Katie


The Holdovers is such a cozy and feel-good film that it is destined to become a holiday classic. The characters' chemistry with one another throughout the movie is the reason why the plot genuinely feels like a homey hug. Honestly, I could spend hours watching Paul Giamatti’s and Dominic Sessa’s characters bicker back and forth with each other. Every scene is filled with either great comedic bits or heartwarming yet heartbreaking moments, and director Alexander Payne does a fantastic job of capturing the essence of a 1970s Massachusetts boarding school. Considering all of that, the humor and performances make me believe it could be my favorite Payne film to date. - Paige




The John Wick franchise is easily one of my favourite action franchises from the past decade. I loved the first three movies so, so much, yet I'm delighted to say that not only did John Wick: Chapter 4 exceed its predecessors, it exceeded them by a lot. In just about every single department, Chapter 4 is an astonishing big-screen experience. Watching John Wick hack and shoot through foes with ease in elongated sequences has never been more impressive to watch. Some of the techniques used for these sequences are things I can honestly describe as jaw-dropping. I truly can't see any reason why this isn't the new standard for action films going forward. - Adriano


I refuse to stop preaching about how Tom Cruise is one of our last true Hollywood stars, and this feels no less true with Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning. The film is brimming with jaw-dropping action sequences, suspense, adrenaline-fuelled car chases, and some of the most daredevil stunts courtesy of Mr. Cruise yet. Unlike many action films of late, Dead Reckoning looks convincingly real and refreshingly free of CGI, emphasising the impact of the fast-paced thrills, and it will have any viewer on the edge of their seat from the outset all the way through to the end. - Katie


At this point, I feel like I’m becoming “that guy” when it comes to Sisu, the dude who just won’t shut up about it. I’m genuinely not sure what else I can say to sing its praises. That said, if you missed my write up in our Hidden Gems article HERE, my ranking out of Toronto International Film Festival HERE, or my review HERE, I’ll tell you that Sisu is an action-packed hybrid of Captain America and Inglourious Basterds. It’s gory, exhilarating, funny, full of “oh shit!!” moments, and thoroughly satisfying, especially as it disposes of Nazi after Nazi. You want adrenaline in movie form? This is it. - Quentin EXTRACTION 2

Extraction 2 may not quite fill the shoes of its kick-ass predecessor, but what it lacks in storytelling, it more than makes up for with kinetic, action-packed mayhem. The cinematography is on point, and with Chris Hemsworth leading the way, the Extraction franchise comes the closest of its competitors to John Wick, the standard bearer for high-stakes, gun-wielding fight thrillers. If we are to further sub-categorize it to just straight-to-streaming releases, it can be firmly placed as one of the two best action films of the year! - Preston


There are action movies that have action for action’s sake. There are comic-book movies that rely on pure name recognition to carry it through their runtime. Then there is James Gunn delivering the most James Gunn-y, action-filled, comic-book threequel there is. Guardians Vol. 3 is the epitome of the sum of its amazing parts, and the action sequences flourish because of it. That hallway scene wouldn’t hit as hard if not for the character work, humor, and heart Gunn infused into everything leading up to it. It all influences the action, and the action feeds right back into the story in a seamless cycle of immaculately executed action epicness. - Amarú




A24’s horror flick Talk to Me was not only a surprise smash hit at the box office, but it proved to be the best horror flick of the year! With inventive imagery and shocking gore, directors Danny and Michael Philippou’s offering was able to elevate this year's crop of horror films and truly rattle you to the core with how unsettling and chilling it is. This gem is a stylish and disturbing tale of grief and loss that will keep you on edge of your seat from start to finish; it's that bloody good. - Paige


I’ve been a fan of Godzilla my entire life, and with Minus One, director Takashi Yamazaki finally delivered what I’ve been wanting for years: a horror movie. I’m cool with the big guy fighting some monkeys now and then, but the original 1954 film, Gojira, was intended to be a sobering reflection on the horrors of war. This film wisely revisits those roots, providing audiences with a monster movie that’s as terrifying as it is exciting. After years with the American, anti-hero take on the character, it’s refreshing to see Godzilla portrayed as a villain again. Minus One presents everyone’s favorite monster as an unrelenting force of nature, and it just feels right. - Caleb


Maybe it’s because it came out so early in the year, or maybe it’s because director M. Night Shyamalan has lost some goodwill because of the disappointment stemming from some of his more recent efforts; either way, Knock at the Cabin is a damn good movie that most people didn’t talk about. Shyamalan shows an expert ability to create tension throughout this relatively grounded story - by his standards, anyway - and unlike many of his other projects, Cabin doesn’t need to rely on a grand twist. Instead, it delves deep into the dark things that we, as humans, are willing to do for the betterment of others and the sacrifices needed to achieve that. - Nick 


Brian Duffield’ s sci-fi horror No One Will Save You is both an homage to classic horror and sci-fi cinema, as well as its own original success with unique elements. From the outset, the film establishes a palpable tension that refuses to let up, driven by a powerhouse performance from Kaitlyn Dever that is almost devoid of dialogue. She portrays panicked fear and genuine terror through her physicality and impossibly wide eyes. Plus, the lack of dialogue does not come across as a gimmick, but only intensifies Dever’s performance, the eerie sound design, and constant dread. The film stands out as a soon-to-be genre favourite. - Katie


As a person who has been less than enamored with recent horror-thriller offerings, especially theatrical releases, I tend to find joy in smaller, straight-to-streaming, indie releases. The Passenger is further proof that this is the pool to be wading in. Although simple in its setup, it thrives on fantastic performances from Johnny Berchtold and the perpetually underrated Kyle Gallner (seriously, Hollywood, wake up on this guy already), leaving just enough questions about motives and the characters’ character to keep the viewer thoroughly engaged. - Quentin




I remember when I first saw the promo picture for Oppenheimer, with every single known name in Hollywood presented like a supersized version of Hollywood Squares. I had two thoughts: damn, that is a very white cast (I mean, it is, right?); and damn, how is Christopher Nolan going to fit all those people in one film, even at three hours long? Well, he did that shit in spades. Whether on screen for three hours or three minutes, not a soul was wasted in their screen time, and every single instance of the Leo-pointing meme was rewarded with a familiar face giving more than just a reason to Leo-point. - Amarú


The best thing about the Poor Things ensemble is just how unique all the performances are. Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, and Mark Ruffalo embody roles unlike anything they’ve ever played before, and it’s a joy to watch these talented performers step outside of their comfort zones. Ruffalo is gloriously wacky, Dafoe gives his most sympathetic, complex performance yet, and Stone absolutely shines as Bella Baxter, flawlessly portraying a whole lifetime's worth of development in a single film. Name-wise, it may not be as stacked as some other 2023 films, but as far as sheer talent goes, Poor Things earns its nom with ease.  - Caleb


Everyone say it with me... "Hi, Barbie!" Barbie is a film that lives in its own universe, following its own rules and logic. With that, the actors must come equipped to adapt to the pink world they now live in, and thankfully, every single actor is in on the joke. Everyone brings a wacky sensibility to the film, which helps with the elevated reality presented. Much has been said about Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, and America Ferrera already, but there also are comedic highs from of some of the smaller roles, like Michael Cera, Issa Rae, and Kingsley Ben-Adir, and even some smaller dramatic moments are made better by actors like Ariana Greenblatt and Rhea Perlman. - Adriano


Every year there is a film that the Oscars wholeheartedly snub. This year, without a doubt, it’s The Iron Claw. Sitting high on my personal Top Five of the year, the big success of this film is its cast. Yes, it’s well documented that many believe Zac Efron deserved a Best Actor nomination for his performance as Kevin Von Erich, but the whole cast is terrific. Jeremy Allen White gives potentially the most authentic showing of the bunch as Kerry Von Erich, while Holt McCallany excels as the vicious Von Erich patriarch. Plus, Harris Dickinson, Stanley Simons, Lily James, and Maura Tierney? A true ensemble that comes together to make a beautiful film. - Nick


Killers of the Flower Moon wasn’t my favorite film of 2023, but the ensemble cast was easily one of my top three of the year. Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Brendan Fraser, Jesse Plemons, John Lithgow, and newcomer Lily Gladstone…each name stands alone, but in concert with each other they represent a sum that is infinitely better than its individual parts. That’s quite a sum! Each actor does what they do best, but together they bring the requisite gravitas to a slow-moving film whose story necessitates worldwide attention. There are few films of this year (or ever) that carry as much titanic cohesion. - Preston




At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is one of the most influential animated films since... well, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The way the film incorporates several dozen animation styles in just one still frame is a feat in itself, but Across the Spider-Verse is more than a technical marvel. It also has a smart, funny, emotionally gratifying, and relatable story that only complements the animation. I can't even possibly begin to imagine where this is all leading with Beyond the Spider-Verse, but I sure can't wait to witness it. - Adriano


I had very high hopes for Suzume, and I am pleased to say that it did not disappoint. From exciting, fantastical set pieces and gorgeous expanses of the sky to a simple, delicious-looking plate of noodles, the animation is simply stunning. Directly referencing the 2011 earthquake in Japan, the film combines fairy-tale storytelling with a sense of anxiety and dread to explore emotional themes of grief and trauma, but it’s complemented by the charming coming-of-age narrative and fun sense of mischievous energy. Suzume exemplifies the unique capabilities of animation when it comes to addressing difficult topics in a meaningful, healing way. - Katie


In a year with seemingly fewer animated films being released than usual, I am so glad that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem was one of them. It’s so successful at providing a fresh face to a story and characters that, at their core, are timeless, but have been the victim of so many

renditions that they needed a face-lift. Writer/producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg provide exactly that with a tubular soundtrack, excellent voice acting, and inspired animation. I grew up with the Ninja Turtles and spent many a day working on my sweet bo staff skills (because Donatello is the best). After watching this latest take on the quartet, I may just have to pick up the bo once more…sorry, honey. - Preston


In an otherwise uneven year for animation, it was refreshing to be graced with another ambitious Studio Ghibli epic. With The Boy and the Heron, director Hayao Miyazaki presents one of his most daringly original worlds yet, complete with compelling symbolism, disturbing imagery, and some very, very evil parakeets. While the purposefully perplexing narrative may leave a few viewers frustrated, there’s no denying that this story comes from a place of pure, unbridled creativity. The Boy and the Heron is a gorgeously animated 2D adventure, and I'm glad it's getting the respect it deserves. - Caleb


I consider Nimona to be 2023’s second best animated movie because of how heartfelt, hilarious, and heroically its themes shine. It’s a shame that this visual and storytelling spectacle wasn’t granted a big screen release. Riz Ahmed and Chloë Grace Moretz’s chemistry is palpable, the action is absolutely kinetic, and it’s one of the few Spider-Verse-influenced movies whose animation feels like it evolved Spider-Verse’s visual stylings instead of emulating them. I cannot express how much love pours out of every aspect of this film, and if you have access to a Netflix account somewhere, this should, without a doubt, be your next (re)watch. - Amarú




Poor Things is a strange yet magnificent tour de force, and that's all thanks to filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos' amazing style. It's wildly inventive and bizarrely over the top. It was a difficult assignment to attempt adapting Alasdair Gray's book, but what Yorgos managed to achieve is sincerely mesmerizing. Let’s face it…a director's job is to helm the ship of the entire production, and he did just that, from its powerhouse performances to the beautiful steampunk production design to the magnificent costumes. This film truly is the full package and one of the most stunning films of the year. Bravo, Yorgos. Bravo! - Paige


Filmmaker Alexander Payne isn’t usually my jam. I often feel like his films are unrepresentative of my life and the people I know, but even amongst the films I didn’t love, I could never deny his skill in capturing the intricate pain and hope within his characters. This is still the case in The Holdovers, which I loved, by the way. I could feel the cold of the Massachusetts air, I could smell the remnants of painted brick hallways within the halls of Barton Academy, and I could taste the food coming out of Mary’s kitchen, all due to Payne’s ability to capture the human experience…even if it isn’t always my human experience. - Amarú


Let’s be clear about what Christopher Nolan did with Oppenheimer: He transformed a highly scientific and historical subject into a hauntingly masterful biopic that has quark star-like gravitational pull. His success lies in the world he was able to reconstruct, where the focus on details allows the viewer to marvel at the terrible awesomeness that is being created while simultaneously shouldering the responsibility alongside the imperfect genius who created it. He is in a class of his own when it comes to having the ability to illuminate a broad audience about scientifically charged historical events, all while setting new marks for awe-inspiring cinematic wonder. - Preston


Being a great director is about getting the most out of your crew, and with The Iron Claw, director Sean Durkin effectively utilizes every shred of talent at his disposal. This rousing sports tragedy is an excellently put together piece of work, complete with a devastating narrative, outstanding visual storytelling, and some of the best performances of the entire year. Zac Efron delivers my favourite performance of 2023, and it couldn’t have been achieved without Durkin behind the camera. His ability to guide the talent towards greatness deserves to be celebrated. After The Iron Claw, there’s no denying that Sean Durkin is a director we should be keeping our eyes on. - Caleb


For as long as I can remember, Sofia Coppola has been one of my favourite filmmakers. And as much as I love Marie Antoinette, I believe she has reached a high point as a director with Priscilla. From the moment we first meet the 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu, Coppola had me in the palm of her hand, flawlessly and almost miraculously displaying the flame of first love with an eerie, fairytale-like essence. Where Coppola's filmmaking gets really impressive, though, is when she shows that flame goes out, and the film's tone becomes so different yet so captivating. If Priscilla is the new bar for an already outstanding filmmaker, I can't wait to see what she does next (as if that wasn’t already the case). - Adriano




The Holdovers has an undeniable secret weapon in Da'Vine Joy Randolph. While Paul Giamatti and Dominic Sessa are hilariously butting heads, Randolph's character, Mary Lamb, is experiencing the loneliness of the situation in her own way. Grieving the loss of her son and going through her first Christmas without him, Randolph plays the character's highs and lows with authority and authenticity, being a fierce voice of reason during one scene before breaking down in the next scene as she can't bear the pain any more. Randolph's a true force in The Holdovers, and I haven't gotten the performance out of my head since seeing it. - Adriano 


I was absolutely thrilled by Julianne Moore in Todd Hayne’s darkly comedic melodrama May December. Her layered, pitch-perfect performance portrays a woman who is deeply self-conscious, but also neurotic, conceited, quietly controlling, and underhandedly ruthless. She persistently forces the viewer to question her intentions, moral character, and whether there is more to her than initially meets the eye. Her performance is vital to the success of a film that boldly tackles difficult subject matters whilst implicating the viewer themselves in their participation in this uncomfortable story. - Katie 


Rachel McAdams is often forgotten about amongst the best actresses of this generation. That is until the next time you see her on screen, and in Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, her vulnerable and supportive performance is another example of seeing her and saying “oh shit, yea, she is damn good.” Oftentimes, in coming-of-age films, B-plots are either shortchanged or a waste of time, but the way in which McAdams is so authentically human as the connective tissue between the generations of the titular Margaret’s family is the reason this movie can show that coming of age doesn’t stop when you come of age. - Amarú


To be honest, Rosamund Pike's performance in Saltburn could be considered equally as iconic as her role in Gone Girl. As Lady Elspeth Catton, Pike demonstrates her versatility as an actress, showing that she is capable of playing characters that are more than just dark and twisted. She proves that she also is a master of razor-sharp humor. If any other actress had played this part, some of the lines Pike had to deliver might have been played off as silly jokes, but in her hands, they are daggers. She has established herself as one of the most gifted actresses in the business, and her ability to fully inhabit complicated, nuanced roles is on full display here. - Paige


Going into They Cloned Tyrone, I admit, Teyonah Parris was just a name on the poster. Honestly, it was a name I knew, but I didn’t know why I knew it. After watching the movie, it’s not a mistake I’ll make again. She absolutely owns the screen and steals every scene as Yo-Yo, including upstaging a best-in-years performance from Jamie Foxx. She is so unrecognizable and immersed in the character that, four months later, I didn’t even realize it was the same actress playing Monica Rambeau in The Marvels. Or that I had previously seen her in If Beale Street Could Talk. She’s fucking good, man. - Quentin




I’ll be honest, Mark Ruffalo is another one of those amazing actors ***cough Denzel cough*** that sometimes just does variations of Mark Ruffalo, and that is always more than enough to say he’s given a top tier performance in any given year. However, there is absolutely no trace of Ruffalo in his portrayal of Duncan Wedderburn. He’s outlandish, bombastic, dramatic, hilarious, and everything we have seen from Ruffalo, but to the most entertaining degree. He tapped into another level here to disappear into one of the most ridiculously devilish characters you’ll see in a comedy, and he’s a major reason that the comedy of Poor Things works. - Amarú


I may be unnecessarily incriminating myself by admitting that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Barbie. Similarly, I will needlessly profess my love of everything Ryan Gosling and how his performance in Barbie has cemented himself amongst the likes of Brad Pitt, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Matt Damon, and Leonardo DiCaprio as someone whose movies I will automatically commit to watching, no matter the personal cost. His talent knows no bounds, and a lot of what was trying to be communicated in this movie could only be done against the backdrop of what he brought to the table. - Preston


Although director Todd Haynes consistently gets excellent performances out of his actors, it was unexpected that Charles Melton's performance in May December, which also starred powerhouses Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, was the one that most caught the audience's attention. Melton's portrayal of someone who was groomed throughout his entire relationship is so sad that it allowed him to eclipse his two amazing co-stars. His performance is unforgettable, whether it's the moment with his son on the rooftop or when he breaks down in tears as he watches his kids graduate from high school, he’s just that good. - Paige


Going forward, Dominic Sessa might have set himself up for failure because he’s so, so great in The Holdovers, yet it’s his ONLY professional acting credit. It’s a high bar to set right out of the gate. I mean, his first time on screen is opposite Paul Giamatti (a strong contender to win Best Actor) and Da’Vine Joy Randolph (a lock to win Best Supporting Actress, if there ever was one), yet he manages to hold his own, delivering an angsty, angry teen performance that doesn’t stumble into cliché, unrelatability, or, for lack of a better word, CW-ness. The more you think about what Sessa does here, the more remarkable it is. - Quentin


I’m from Waterloo where the vampires hang out!” There was maybe no bigger surprise in 2023 than the performance of Glenn Howerton in BlackBerry. Known mainly for his comedic stylings in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Howerton delivers a powerful performance as Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie. He is just the right level of over-the-top to be believable as you watch him through the rise and fall of BlackBerry. What could have been a relatively forgettable film is elevated because of the way Howerton brings Balsillie to life. This should definitely be the first step of Howerton’s path towards more

serious roles. - Nick



In a moment of surreal madness, I saw the world premiere of Poor Things at Venice Film Festival. Even then, free from the shackles of influence, preconceived notions, and hype trains, I knew I had just witnessed one of the best performances of the year. Emma Stone, who has always been a very-good-but-not-quite-great actress to me (extra emphasis on the “to me” part), was a goddamn revelation. What she was able to do in portraying, essentially, the full evolution of woman…from put upon expectations to understanding self-worth to telling the patriarchy to go fuck itself with tact…is astonishing, hilarious, and profound. Give her all the trophies. - Quentin


Although Cailee Spaeny has had some roles early in her young career, Priscilla must be viewed as her top showing thus far. Not only does Spaeny seamlessly step into the shoes of Priscilla Presley, but she does so while acting opposite rising star Jacob Elordi’s dark and excellent take

on the King of Rock ’n Roll, Elvis Presley. Be it the innocent naivety of Priscilla’s youth as she adapts to an entirely new life, or the strength of becoming her own woman in eventually taking her life back, it all works thanks to Spaeny’s honest portrayal. At only 25 years old, her career will be filled with opportunities to come, and her performance in Priscilla will be a big reason why. - Nick 


Maestro may be Bradley Cooper’s magnum opus, but it can only be so because of the performance by Carey Mulligan. Mulligan’s subtle and nuanced portrayal of Leonard Berstein’s wife, Felicia Montealegre, quite simply outshines all other aspects of a film that has been highly praised, deservedly. Her ability to shine in a film with so much chaotic energy, with her believable and delicate balance of seeming impassivity and a truly magnanimous emotional tolerance, is one of the great acting accomplishments of the year. In my eyes, she only narrowly misses the top spot behind Emma Stone. - Preston


When watching Killers of the Flower Moon, it wasn't the heavyweight cast consisting of the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro that gripped me, but Lily Gladstone’s formidable performance and commanding presence. Gladstone’s performance is understated and quietly complex, but her subtle facial expressions and deeply expressive eyes communicate everything she wants us to know among an ensemble that is much more exaggerated in its characterisations. Lily Gladstone’s performance has stuck with me since I first saw the film, and I think it will for a long time. - Katie


It takes a certain kind of power to hold a film in the palm of your hand in a way that could break the film if done poorly, and Sandra Hüller walks that tightrope flawlessly in Anatomy of a Fall. Hüller plays Sandra Voyter, a writer on trial as she's accused of killing her husband. Neither the characters in the film nor the audience knows if she's guilty or not, and by looking at Hüller's actions, there’s absolutely no way of figuring it out. Her stoicism is not only perfect for the role, but it also makes way for some towering moments of pure excellence during the scenes when her character is at a breaking point. A truly ingenious performance. - Adriano




Zac Efron’s portrayal of Kevin Von Erich in The Iron Claw is truly a career-defining role, and hands down his best performance to date. Through the role, Efron proved that he’s not only a pretty boy but also has the emotional range and ability to tackle a dramatic role like this. With his stunning physical makeover, flawless interpretation of a real-life person, and aching performance, Efron proved he is someone who should be taken seriously in the industry. I’m baffled that he didn’t receive any awards love this season, but don’t worry, Zac…at least Bitesize recognized your talent this year! - Paige


C’mon, guys…who else was going to write about Nic Cage here? Say what you will about my potential (probable?) bias, but in Dream Scenario, Cage plays a role that he has been inadvertently groomed to play. The Memefication of Cage over the years offered a well of knowledge and introspective character development that few people could mine for the character of Paul Matthews. Cage, who could have easily avoided all the personal introspection, decides to lean into his life experiences, delivering a performance that is real, hilarious, awkward, haunting, unrecognizable, and most importantly, relatable. - Quentin


As a longtime admirer of Paul Giamatti, it’s nice to see The Holdovers finally granting him some much-needed appreciation. His performance as Paul Hunam is endlessly endearing, elevating the film every time he graces the screen. Giamatti is undeniably hilarious in the role, but it’s the pathos he brings to the character that really sold me on his performance. With his quick wit, his lazy eye, and a heart of gold, it’s damn near impossible not to fall for this lovably cantankerous professor. This is certainly a performance we won’t be forgetting anytime soon. - Caleb CILLIAN MURPHY - OPPENHEIMER

Cillian Murphy gives a career-defining performance in Oppenheimer, one of the biggest films of the year and 2023’s most Oscar-nominated film. Murphy captures the enigmatic figure of Oppenheimer, bringing a physicality to the role that effortlessly communicates what version of the infamous physicist he is embodying. Director Christopher Nolan is no stranger to utilising IMAX cameras, but this time uses them to achieve a far more intimate effect, spending a lot of time in close-up on Murphy’s face, whose haunting eyes and subtle facial expressions convey the internal emotional battle of a man responsible for some of history’s most unthinkable events. - Katie


As the resident The Walking Dead fan of our outlet, I have been following Colman Domingo’s work for quite some time, and the man seemingly gets better with every performance. Rustin is his first real shot at headlining a film, which he passes with flying colours. As Bayard Rustin, he is engaging during every minute of screen time as he preaches the message of positivity and perseverance in the face of the opposition. It is a layered performance that is both deeply heartfelt and powerful, all thanks to Colman. With another tremendous showing in Sing, Sing coming later this year, expect to hear his name next award season as well. - Nick




Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things is an extraordinary film that promises to stun every viewer. Taking place in an otherworldly, gothic, and surreal universe, Poor Things is like a raunchy, subversive adaptation of Frankenstein, centering on the formative experiences of a reborn woman named Bella Baxter, played by an enthralling and committed Emma Stone. It unflinchingly explores themes of patriarchal control, the suppression of female sexuality, and societal pressures on women, whilst being extremely funny. The in-movie universe is meticulously crafted and totally unique, captured beautifully by the distinctive cinematography, and undoubtedly worthy of a Best Picture Winner. - Katie


I saw nearly 40 films at Toronto International Film Festival in 2023, and none topped American Fiction. The story is clever, and the comedy is spot on, with the cast, headlined by the excellent Jeffrey Wright, using both of those aspects to the greatest of their abilities. A big part of the reason things work so well, however, is Cord Jefferson's effort behind the camera. Not only is American Fiction his feature directorial debut, but it’s also a film that has put him on the map. Oh, and as for that apparently contentious ending? chef’s kiss In my opinion, the best film of the year. - Nick 


The Holdovers may not have received the play time of its contemporary rivals, but no matter, because it’s still THE best picture of the year. The filmmaking and storytelling are so pure, and stripped of any flashy visual effects or CGI, the film is able to transport you directly into 133 minutes of complete connection. The details matter, and you can rest assured that every little detail is attended to, so you get to focus on the perfectly imperfect humanistic tale presented, one that beautifully mirrors us all so authentically. Wherever present, a categorical win is deserved for everything this film has given. - Preston


As a person who grew up watching professional wrestling, I was well aware of the Von Erich tragedies. Even with that knowledge, The Iron Claw managed to stir emotions in me that aren’t easy to tap into. It’s a weird combination of rousing sympathy, with the wrestling scenes hitting the optimistic nostalgic beats before the pending doom kicked me right in the dick with sadness. And I knew that kick was coming! This is a tremendously acted, expertly written film that makes you feel, and while “entertaining” seems the wrong word, it will stick with you long after the credits roll. What more do you need from a Best Picture nominee? - Quentin


Priscilla is one of the best movies I had the pleasure of watching last year. This tragic, coming-of-age romance is bolstered by an amazing score, dreamy cinematography, and two of the year’s strongest performances. Cailee Spaeny perfectly embodies Priscilla’s sincerity and perseverance, while Jacob Elordi delivers an unflinching portrayal of Elvis Presley, capturing not only the icon’s predation, but also his profound loneliness. All these incredible elements are combined perfectly by director Sofia Coppola to create one of the very best films of 2023. I know it didn’t get any love at the Oscars, so I’m extremely happy that it got a nom from us. Priscilla is worth the hype. - Caleb

Photo Credits: Photo 1 - Amazon MGM Studios; Photo 2 - IFC Films; Photo 3 - Walt Disney Studios; Photo 4, 7, 14 - A24; Photo 5, 10, 12, 13, 15 - Searchlight Pictures; Photo 6 - Lionsgate; Photo 8 - Universal Pictures; Photo 9 - Sony Pictures Releasing; Photo 11 - Focus Features

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