Barack Obama’s Favorite Movies Of 2023 Include ‘Oppenheimer,’ ‘The Holdovers,’ ‘Past Lives,’ Plus Some Films He Produced

Even when he was president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, like those before him, finds time to kick back and watch some movies. He has pretty good taste, too. He’ll enjoy some blockbusters, like last year’s Top Gun: Maverick. But he’s mostly into the brainier fare, the kind of cinema that edifies as well as entertains. He even drops his own list of favorite movies every year. So what did the 44th president dig in 2023? Mostly what you’d expect, plus some movies that he helped usher into existence.

On Wednesday, Obama tweeted/Xed out his list of 13 cinematic faves. It began with a note about the two-pronged strikes that crippled the industry for about six months.

“Earlier this year, writers and actors went on strike to advocate for better working conditions and protections,” Obama wrote. “It led to important changes that will transform the industry for the better.”

Before he got to his Top 10, Obama singled out three films that were produced through Higher Ground, the production company he runs with his wife. Those three were Rustin, the biopic about gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (played by the great Colman Domingo), the Netflix thriller Leave the World Behind, and the Jon Batiste doc American Symphony.

Obama then moved on to his favorite 2023 films that didn’t have his mitts in it. What new fare did Barry like? He liked The Holdovers, Alexander Payne’s grouchy Christmas movie, which reunited him with Sideways’ Paul Giamatti. He liked BlackBerry and Air, comedic-ish docudramas about the creation of the proto-smartphone and the Air Jordan, respectively. Like many he loved Oppenheimer. Ditto the immigrant drama Past Lives and the satire American Fiction and the Palme d’or-winning courtroom saga/mystery Anatomy of a Fall.

Some slightly more obscure titles got an Obama boost, too. Monster, the latest from acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, about a mother who accuses a teacher of emotionally harming her son, was on there. Obama also singled out Polite Society, an action-comedy about a British-Pakistani teenager trying to pull off a wedding heist (!!). Lastly Obama gave love to A Thousand and One, a Sundance hit about a mother (Teyana Taylor) who decides to kidnap her son from foster care to raise him herself.

What are some biggies that didn’t make Obama’s cut? Perhaps the most glaring is Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, which sounds right up his alley. He’d probably like Todd Haynes’ May December and Aki Kaurismaki’s romance Fallen Leaves and the latest from Hayao Miyazaki, the bananas The Boy and the Heron. Perhaps he never got around to Godzilla Minus One, which has proven a surprise hit in North America, and deservedly so because it totally rules. And of course, who’d miss the absence of Oppenheimer‘s release date buddy.

Still, a solid list, which you can read in full below:

The Holdovers
American Fiction
Anatomy of a Fall
Past Lives
Polite Society
A Thousand and One