The Seattle Film Critics Society Names “Past Lives” the Best Picture of 2023

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Seattle, WA The Seattle Film Critics Society (“SFCS”) announced the winners in 21 categories for the 2023 Seattle Film Critics Society Awards on Monday, January 8, 2024.

Past Lives was named the Best Picture of 2023. Written and directed by Celine Song, the captivating romance of rekindled connections across decades and continents, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2023 where it was picked up by A24. With intricate performances by Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, John Magaro, the film won the hearts of Seattle audiences when it opened the 49th Seattle International Film Festival in a gala presentation in May.

Killers of the Flower Moon, the haunting historical epic about vast injustice perpetrated against the Osage in the early 1900s, was honored with two awards: Martin Scorsese for Best Director and Lily Gladstone as Best Lead Actress. Gladstone’s recognition for her vibrant and commanding portrayal of Mollie Burkhart comes two weeks after SFCS honored her work with its inaugural John Hartl Pacific Northwest Spotlight Award.

Gladstone moved to Snohomish from the reservation of the Blackfeet Nation (Browning, Montana) with her family when she was in middle school and went on to attend Mountlake Terrace High School, where she began to explore acting in various local productions. Recognizing Gladstone’s exceptional body of work (Winter in the Blood, Certain Women, The Unknown Country, Killers of the Flower Moon, Reservation Dogs, Quantum Cowboys) and representation of the Pacific Northwest, SFCS presented the award and screened her latest acclaimed film Fancy Dance at SIFF Cinema Uptown in a ceremony on December 27. Gladstone was in attendance to receive the award and took part in a post-film Q&A with her co-star Isabel Deroy-Olson and the film’s co-writer Miciana Alise

For its second year honoring exceptional filmmaking from the region, SFCS honored Showing Up with its Pacific Northwest Award. Written and directed by Kelly Reichardt, the Portland-set drama is a closely-observed portrait of a working artist balancing pursuit of her craft with the complex day-to-day responsibilities of family, friendship, a wounded bird, and the desperate need to get a water heater fixed. In collaboration with SIFF, SFCS held public screenings for each of our PNW nominees – which also included Dreamin’ Wild, Even Hell Has Its Heroes, Fantasy A Gets A Mattress, and Richland – in December to audiences at the Egyptian Theater.

“This past year was a highly competitive one for feature films, and we chose to spread the wealth,” SFCS President Kathy Fennessy said. “We reserved the top spot, Best Picture, for Celine Song’s dazzling directorial debut, Past Lives, whereas Killers actress Lily Gladstone was the sole individual to win two awards, including the inaugural John Hartl Pacific Northwest Spotlight Award, which we were honored to present to her in-person on December 27.”

Alexander Payne’s nostalgic boarding school dramedy The Holdovers tied for the most awards: with accolades for Best Supporting Actress (Da’Vine Joy Randolph, as Mary Lamb, a chef who’s nursing her own tragedy while caring for others), Ensemble Cast (including a standout Paul Giamatti and breakout debut from Dominic Sessa), and Screenplay (by David Hemingson). Also receiving three awards was Takashi Yamazaki’s surprise late-season hit Godzilla Minus One, which claimed Villain of the Year while destroying fierce competition in the categories of Best International Film and Visual Effects.

Other acting honors went to Jeffrey Wright for Best Lead Actor for his portrayal of frustrated author Thelonious “Monk” Ellison in American Fiction, Cord Jefferson’s sharp satirical debut. Charles Melton was named Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Joe Yoo, a young father coming to terms with the long-repressed fallout of a sexual abuse tabloid scandal, in Todd Haynes’s May December. Additionally, Milo Machado Graner was awarded the Best Youth Performance for his role as a vision-impaired son thrust into the crux of a criminal trial in Justine Triet’s riveting Anatomy of a Fall

The summer’s unexpected box-office power couple, Barbie and Oppenheimer didn’t go home empty handed, with each film claiming two awards. Christopher Nolan’s nuclear-age biopic of the intersection of science and politics claimed awards for Best Editing and for Ludwig Göransson’s stirring Original Score. Greta Gerwig’s recontextualization of Mattel’s Barbie, which situated the doll in a hilarious and moving confrontation with the patriarchy, was honored with awards for Costume Design and Production Design. 

Poor Things, Yorgos Lanthimos’s inventive spin on the Frankenstein myth, was honored for Cinematography while John Wick: Chapter 4’s globe-trotting spectacle of ornate violence was awarded Best Action Choreography.  

20 Days in Mariupol, the harrowing account of the Associated Press’s essential and eye-opening coverage of the first days of the Ukraine War was named Best Documentary Film and kaleidoscopic sequel  Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was chosen as the year’s Best Animated Film. 

About SFCS: 

After forming in late 2016, the Seattle Film Critics Society officially became a non-profit organization in 2017, with a membership consisting of 40 film critics, representing print, broadcast, podcasting, and online film criticism. This year’s awards are the eighth to be held under the banner of the SFCS, honoring the best films and performances of the year.

Contacts: | @seattlecritics |

Complete List of SFCS Winners

Best PicturePast Lives – Celine Song
DirectorKillers of the Flower Moon – Martin Scorsese
Lead ActorJeffrey Wright – American Fiction
Lead ActressLily Gladstone – Killers of the Flower Moon
Supporting ActorCharles Melton – May December
Supporting ActressDa’Vine Joy Randolph – The Holdovers
Ensemble CastThe Holdovers – Susan Shopmaker
ScreenplayThe Holdovers – David Hemingson
Documentary Film20 Days in Mariupol – Mstyslav Chernov
International FilmGodzilla Minus One – Takashi Yamazaki
Animated FilmSpider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
CinematographyPoor Things – Robbie Ryan
Costume DesignBarbie – Jacqueline Durran
EditingOppenheimer – Jennifer Lame
Original ScoreOppenheimer – Ludwig Göransson
Production DesignBarbie – Sarah Greenwood (Production Designer) | Katie Spencer (Set Decorator)
Visual EffectsGodzilla Minus One – Takashi Yamazaki
Action ChoreographyJohn Wick: Chapter 4 – Scott Rogers, Stephen Dunlevy, Laurent Demianoff, Ralf Haeger, James M. Halty
Youth PerformanceMilo Machado Graner – Anatomy of a Fall
Villain of the YearGodzilla – Godzilla Minus One
Pacific NorthwestW FilmShowing Up – Kelly Reichardt