Now that we're well into the final half of the year, it's time for our customary half-year look-back at movies released on streaming and in cinemas this year.

Far and away, the takeaway in 2023 so far is how much cinema has been bounced back since the reopening of cinemas following the pandemic, and how streaming movies have well and truly fallen out of favour with the various platforms. A lot of this is, arguably, down to the fact that many directors and producers are now opting for even a small, indie run at cinemas rather than going straight to streaming and their work getting lost in the content churn.

More than that, it seems the worm is finally turning to original movies and ideas. 'Barbie' is on course to become the biggest box office sensation of the year, and 'Oppenheimer' is practically assured of at least one Oscar in the next few months. Even looking towards the end of the year, the biggest movies on the horizon are 'Killers of the Flower Moon' and Ridley Scott's long-awaited 'Napoleon' biopic.

Until then, here are the 10 best movies of the year so far.

10. 'Beau Is Afraid'

Ari Aster's follow-up to 'Midsommar' was always, always going to be something special. Yet, 'Beau Is Afraid' is so singularly weird and horrifying that it's impossible to recommend it. The ending is one of the most profoundly damning and bitter ends you're likely to see in years, all of the performances are beyond insane, and there's a giant dick mutant in it. Oh, and there's a Mariah Carey song in there too. 'Beau Is Afraid' is exactly the kind of wild, weird, experimental moviemaking that you'll never be able to fully describe without sounding like you're having a brain aneurysm mid-sentence. There's also a better-than-average chance you'll only end up watching it once, too.

9. 'Evil Dead Rise'

Lee Cronin burst onto the scene in 2019 with 'The Hole In The Ground', a dark and cerebral horror built with subtlety and shades of Irish folk horror. 'Evil Dead Rise', on the other hand, was 90 minutes of blood-soaked mayhem on a scale that hasn't been seen since Panos Cosmatos' equally blood-soaked extravaganza, 'Mandy'. While some purists argued that it was too close to Sam Raimi's original, none can deny just how pure and sharpened it was. Compared to Fede Alvarez's dull rehash, 'Evil Dead Rise' had much more style and skill going for it and marks out Cronin as a director to watch with international audiences.

8. 'Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves'

As high-fantasy efforts go this year, 'Dungeons & Dragons' was a delightfully entertaining romp. Held together by Chris Pine at his loquacious best and a screenplay that nailed the improvisational undertones of the source material, 'Dungeons & Dragons' is a reminder that not everything with swords and sorcery has to be po-faced to the point of miserable. It also doesn't need to take the piss out of itself in order to appeal to unfamiliar audiences either. You often find yourself watching this with a big stupid grin on your face, and that's kind of the point. It's meant to be fun, because it is fun.

7. 'LOLA'

Found footage, as a genre of movies, are often associated with cheaply-made filler, full of hackneyed ideas and dull retreads. 'LOLA', a quirky sci-fi thriller with a cracking central concept, utterly disproves this axiom. What you've got is one of the best time-travel stories in years, two leads in Emma Appleton and Stefanie Martini more than capable of shouldering it, and a director in Andrew Legge who's not afraid to take some risks. The results are daring, original, and considering how economical the budget was, quite astounding. That it came and went from cinemas is a shame, as it deserves to be seen as a midnight movie with no foreknowledge and just letting the story play out in its weird and wonderful way.

6. 'Mission: Impossible: Dead Reckoning - Part One'

It's something of a shame that the Cruiser's efforts have been overshadowed by the twin colossus of Barbenheimer, but nevertheless, 'Mission: Impossible: Dead Reckoning - Part One' is up there as the best action movie you're going to see this year. Leave aside the motorbike stunt with the parachute finish, there are so many confoundingly intricate stunts in this and a real feel for the crunch and the texture of action that you don't see all that often anymore. Given the Cruiser's advancing years and the likelihood that all action will eventually be replaced by AI doubles, 'Dead Reckoning' feels like it's the end of an era - not just for Ethan Hunt, but also for this kind of big-budget, in-camera, action cinema with a world-beating star.

5. 'Tár'

Arriving in Irish cinemas in January of this year but in the mix for the Oscars last year, 'Tár' was far and away the female performance that would have likely won if Michelle Yeoh hadn't knocked it out with 'Everything Everywhere All At Once'. Blanchett's monstrosity of a character dominates this psychological horror from start to finish, holding the audience by the neck with an icy grip. You are repulsed by her actions, yet you're in awe with how they're done. Todd Field's unblinking characterisation and direction, together with his darkly funny script all adds up to something close to black magic on screen.

4. 'The Fabelmans'

Yes, you could easily argue that 'The Fabelmans' is self-indulgent and deliberately sentimental. Yet, for a director with such a storied career and responsible for some of the most momentous achievements in cinematic history with wide appeal, are they not allowed to tell a personal story? Are they not to be afforded that latitude, when plenty of others have done the same thing? For anyone who's lived through a family breakup and saw it happen up close and during a formative time, 'The Fabelmans' is achingly real. You can see not only the beginnings of an artist, but also the processing of grief and anguish into those beginnings, and where they ended up in their work. 'The Fabelmans' is Spielberg at his most raw and honest, and for a director with the kind of achievements he has on his shelf, it's remarkable to see him still in love with the work and still eager to say something.

3. 'Rye Lane'

As an experience in a cinema, 'Rye Lane' has the kind of colour and vibrancy that utterly jumps out of the screen and has you smiling all the way home. That it came and went from cinemas, largely unseen, is a damn travesty because so many missed out on the best rom-com of the year. Raine Allen Miller's bold visual style, full of cheeky asides to other rom-coms, belies a true romance with something else entirely besides its charismatic leads - the city of London, specifically the towns of Brixton and Peckham. Miller frames her landscape with such a generous and affectionate eye that you can't help but feel as though you're transported there immediately.

2. 'Barbie'

You might think our two final choices are recency bias, but the fact is that both of them represent a real moment in cinema. When you have Francis Ford Coppola describing them both as "a victory for cinema" and possibly even heralding a golden age of the medium, it's not something you can easily ignore or discount. Both of them represent a sea change in cinema that has been long overdue.

With the abject failures of both 'The Flash', 'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania', and 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3' effectively being a coded middle finger to Disney, the long-foretold exhaustion of the superhero is upon us. The hope now is that studios finally realise that making the same movie over and over again isn't going to work anymore. There needs to be a human, an artist, working somewhere on the factory line - and here, it's Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach.

The willingness to turn 'Barbie' into something artful and meaningful, with a real belief in the power of feminity inside of a plastic toy, is something that's going to be talked about for years to come. Margot Robbie walks right up to meet the character and assumes it entirely, to the point where you understand that no one else could have possibly played this. Literally, no one else. The same goes for Ryan Gosling too, who is more than likely going to be in the Oscars race come next year alongside Robbie and the Gerwigs-Baumbachs.

1. 'Oppenheimer'

With a runtime of three hours, 'Oppenheimer' is far from the entertaining effervescence that 'Barbie' is. There is a real weight of history, of the confluence of events leading to it, and someone standing right in the middle of it moving it towards something. Cillian Murphy is currently the frontrunner for Best Actor in the Oscars next year. Christopher Nolan is likely to face Greta Gerwig for Best Director and Best Screenplay. Robert Downey Jr. feels like the safest and most convincing choice for Best Supporting Actor since JK Simmons landed 'Whiplash'.

Leave aside the hollowness of awards, 'Oppenheimer' sits comfortably alongside epics like 'Amadeus', 'Malcolm X', and 'Lawrence of Arabia'. There's an immensity to it, which Nolan is no stranger to when you look at 'Interstellar' or 'Inception', but also a richness in the dialogue. The framing device for the whole thing is a courtroom, with Murphy's Oppenheimer and Downey's Strauss both caught in the crosshairs of their actions. From there, it spirals up and out into the Red Scare, World War II, the dawn of the atomic age, and beyond to the horrifying consequences of having created the means of humanity's own destruction.

If cinema is going to have the golden age that Francis Ford Coppola talked about, it's going to need big moments like 'Barbie' and 'Oppenheimer'. They're more than just a marketing campaign. They're made by artists with depth and creativity at their fingertips, and acted by talents that are giving their best here and now, not marking time until their spin-off movie deal kicks in. The benefit to the audience is that nothing is asked of us. You don't need to have seen four other movies to know what's happening. All you need is a working heart and an open mind to receive them.