Hollywood director Martin Scorsese said he was “moved” that Killers Of The Flower Moon has topped a poll naming the best films of 2023.

The epic Western crime saga, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone, placed number one on the BFI international film magazine Sight and Sound’s end of year poll – voted for by 100 of the world’s top film critics.

The film is based on the non-fiction book of the same name about the murders of the Osage Native American tribe after oil is found on their land, and had it’s UK premiere during the BFI London Film Festival in October.

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Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro attending the premiere for Killers Of The Flower Moon during the 76th Cannes Film Festival (Doug Peters/PA)

“I’ve been so heartened by the response to Killers Of The Flower Moon,” Scorsese said.

“To have been able to make this picture, at this time in my life, and to see it so appreciated by so many, and by the Osage community in particular. . . for me, it’s grace.

“When I was told that it had topped the critics’ poll at Sight and Sound, I have to say that I was moved. The magazine has been so important to me, for such a long time.”

Scorsese said for as long as he can remember the cinema has been ridiculed in many different ways, but over the last few years “the ridicule has reached a new level”.

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Robert De Niro is a regular star in Scorsese’s films (Doug Peters/PA)

The 81-year-old continued: “The cinema has been culturally devalued, from all sides and at a constant pace. Anyone who loves the cinema needs to stand up for it.

“What I don’t mean is the idea of movies as a kind of cultural messaging delivery service, which can actually play a part in the devaluation. What I do mean is the art of cinema. Period.

“I’ve been subscribing to Sight and Sound for 60 years. And when I look through the pages of the latest issue, it always lifts my spirits. Why? Because it’s made and maintained by people who care. People who love our art form. Please keep it that way.”

Scorsese, who received the BFI Fellowship in 1995, has previously placed third on the poll in 2006 and 2019 with his films The Departed and The Irishman respectively.

The 2023 list see’s Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone Of Interest – depicting the Holocaust – place second, after winning the Grand Prix and Fipresci prizes at the Cannes Film Festival.

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Ewa Puszczynska, Sandra Huller, Jonathan Glazer, Christian Friedel, and James Wilson attending the Zone Of Interest premiere during the 76th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France (Doug Peters/PA)

Meanwhile, third and fourth place went to Celine Song’s directorial debut Past Lives about the immigrant experience and Poor Things from Yorgos Lanthimos starring Emma Stone respectively.

Rounding up the top five saw a suitable tie between Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Oppenheimer from Christopher Nolan – both of which attracted audiences to the cinema over the summer.

Sight and Sound editor-in-chief Mike Williams said: “2023 has been huge for cinema. The writers’ and actors’ strikes shone a light on many issues the industry is facing, while the summer box office proved that audiences still have a huge appetite for the theatrical experience.

“It feels apt that in a year in which the very soul of cinema has been in the spotlight Martin Scorsese, one the greatest filmmakers of all time, should top our annual poll.

“Killers Of The Flower Moon, a story of greed and murder that cuts to the heart of American identity, is a towering achievement deserving of its many plaudits, not least for the powerful central performance of Lily Gladstone.

“Scorsese has been eloquently advocating for the art and history of cinema for five decades, and in Killers Of The Flower Moon he’s added another masterpiece to the canon.”

Sight and Sound’s winter 23/24 issue is available digitally on December 11 and on newsstands from December 14.