Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Forbes India Rewind 2023: Best movies we watched this year

From 'Barbie' to 'Past Lives' to 'Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani', here are some of the favourite movies of the Forbes India team in 2023

Published: Dec 28, 2023 05:17:30 PM IST
Updated: Dec 28, 2023 05:23:22 PM IST

Forbes India Rewind 2023: Best movies we watched this yearClockwise: Barbie, Kaathal: The Core, Past Lives, Tetris, Flora and Son, Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, A Man Called Otto

MONICA BATHIJA'S PICK

Barbie

Forbes India Rewind 2023: Best movies we watched this year

Before the Barbie movie was released, The New York Times ran a long, interactive piece on the evolution of the Barbie Dreamhouse, a wonderful proclamation of women and house ownership (the earliest ones were without a kitchen; Barbie was educated and sporty, and Ken was nowhere on the house deed). But nothing quite prepares you for the sets, the scale, the feminism and the subversion that the movie delivers. Barbie's perfect world, her sojourn into the real world, doll outfits, song and dance, and patriarchy, the film covers it all. It is clever and funny, and Ryan Gosling is an absolute hoot. If it were still running in theatres, I would go watch it a fourth time.

Where to watch - Jio Cinema

PANKTI MEHTA KADAKIA'S PICKS

Tetris

Forbes India Rewind 2023: Best movies we watched this year

It's incredible how a few oddly shaped blocks falling across a screen have captivated generations—but the story behind the seemingly simple game of Tetris is even more riveting. The 2023 movie, named after the game, is based on the true tale of how the game made it out of Russia and became a global phenomenon during the Cold War. It centres on the character of Henk Rogers, played by Taron Egerton, who is on a mission to gain worldwide licensing rights to Tetris, a game he first played at Las Vegas's CES convention. The story features capitalism, ambition and a peek into the 1980s tech world set against a complex political crisis. The movie isn't quite as seamless as the game, but it reveals a fascinating world.

Where to watch - Apple TV+

SAMIDHA JAIN'S PICKS

CODA

Forbes India Rewind 2023: Best movies we watched this year

When I discovered CODA this year, it invited me to see the beauty of silence. I think the film made me feel a little uncomfortable and hence became a film that will stay with me long. The story of a young girl whose life is music, living and loving in a family of mutes—what can be more ironic!

What stood out for me in the film was the honest portrayal of a family and their struggles with their reality—a father who loves his little girl so much that he always wants to keep her around, who hides his love in the disguise of selfishness; a mother who wanted her daughter to be born mute in a family of mutes, just so that she can understand her reality of life better; and a brother who is as capable as they come, and is yet considered less than her sister because of his disability, who still is the only one who is the most selfless towards her sister.

The film made me think, smile, and appreciate the small things in life, and it made me feel love, anger, and pain. And the movie made me cry, and it was beautiful.

Where to watch - Apple TV+

Also read: From Pather Panchali to Sholay: Here are the 10 best Indian films of all time

A Man Called Otto

Forbes India Rewind 2023: Best movies we watched this year
If I were to describe A Man Called Otto in a couple of sentences, I'd say, ' Loneliness can be a bitter pill to swallow, but you've got to do it. Do it bitterly or find people who make you feel less of that.'

The portrayal of Otto by Tom Hanks was brilliant. You first laugh with him, then at him, before you shed a few tears about his feelings. Having seen my grandfather go through some of Otto's experiences of ageing hit home and made me miss him a little extra.

Overall, I felt that the film was an ode to love and companionship, which can be found at any age, among strangers, even on the most peculiar streets of the world where mind you, parking is for "cars with registered permits only."

Where to watch - Netflix

DIVYA SHEKHAR'S PICKS

Past Lives

Forbes India Rewind 2023: Best movies we watched this year
Arthur, a white American man, is in bed with his wife Nora, a Korean woman, when he says, "You dream in a language I can't understand. It's like there's this whole place inside you I can't go." Celine Song's Past Lives is full of such tender, beautiful moments. It's the story of Nora and her childhood friend Hae-Sung, whom she met in the US many years after she left him and Korea behind as a child.

We all have a 'what if?' relationship in our life, someone with whom we have a strong connection, but we never end up together with them. Past Lives, for me, was like closure. It attempts to answer the 'What if?' question you carry with you through life, saying that sometimes, while some stories stay unfinished, perhaps you are just where you are meant to be.

Where to watch - Lionsgate Play

Also read: From Jawan to Bigg Boss 17, most searched movies and shows in India in 2023 according to Google Trends

Kaathal: The Core

Forbes India Rewind 2023: Best movies we watched this year
This is yet another landmark film from Jeo Baby, the director of The Great Indian Kitchen. It revolves around Mathew, a retired bank manager who wants to contest the local elections, but his wife Omana (played by Jyothika) files for divorce on the grounds that Mathew is gay. How he comes to terms with this and his own sexuality forms the crux of this film. Kaathal: The Core is an essential story in our time, told with the thoughtfulness and empathy it deserves. At 72, superstar Mammootty plays Mathew with grace and sensitivity and is supported by Jyothika and a cast of superb character artists.

Where to watch - In a theatre. The film is yet to be released on streaming platforms.

Chithha

Forbes India Rewind 2023: Best movies we watched this year
I nominated Gautham Ramachandran's film Gargi on this list last year for its sensitive portrayal of an investigation around child rape. Chithha, directed by SU Arun Kumar, with Siddharth in the lead role, is equally sensitive in the telling of a story about child abuse through the relationship that a young girl shares with her uncle. It is a thriller about how this child, Sundari, goes missing, and the uncle's search unravels a series of instances of young girls getting kidnapped, assaulted and killed. While the film beautifully captures the helplessness and rage of the lead character, it also effectively presents the nuances of human touch and its intentions towards a young child.

Where to watch - Disney+ Hotstar

RUCHA SHARMA'S PICKS

Flora and Son

Forbes India Rewind 2023: Best movies we watched this year

There is something about the connection director John Carney shares with music. Adam Levine's song Lost Stars for Carney's 2013 film Begin Again introduced me to his work. Carney's musicals almost match the current vibe of the Indian film industry—songs are plot devices, but you can just stick to the album to escape from reality for a bit. With Flora and Son, Carney has explored this trend, literally. Flora is a single mother of a rebellious teen boy, Max. Flora picks up a guitar from a garbage truck to keep him out of trouble, hoping that learning to play it might change her son. But this guitar leads to different salvations for her and the son. The ease with which Carney unfolds and straightens the struggles of Flora and her son—encases their relationship and confidence in each other—feels like a hot cup of cocoa on a winter evening. The culmination of this journey in the song High Life by the band "Flora and the Son" is when you raise your hands in the air and sway left to right sitting in your bed because you have just watched a comforting movie.

Where to watch - Apple TV+

Also read: Forbes India Rewind 2023: Best OTT shows we watched this year

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani

Forbes India Rewind 2023: Best movies we watched this year

Whenever director Karan Johar tried to wrap up political and social issues in his stories, criticism about his handling of the matters intensified. But I believe with RRKPK, he has finally cracked the code for how to sugarcoat and sting simultaneously. The easy-peasy love story of a Delhi-based couple gets slightly twisted when they swap homes to understand and be convinced that this love story will become a relationship between two families if the duo ties the knot. There have been countless stories about family expectations and how lovers deal with them. But RRKPK's charm lies in the story that challenges stereotypes at every point. Alia Bhatt's heroine realises that she wants more than a fling—a task usually saved for the hero of the story—or Ranveer Singh's hero makes his future in-laws understand that their standards of how a person should be are hollow. There's a woman suppressing the ambitions and desires of other women; there is a December-December platonic relationship, and there are cheesy cliches. But all this is wrapped in designer clothes, big mansions, and Pritam's perfect background music. What's not to love?

Where to watch - Prime Video