2023 saw a blend of intense dramas, studio blockbusters, and quirky passion projects as it ushered in the first “normal” year following the pandemic. The movie industry plunged into a whole new direction of exploration with unchartered genres and plots. From the epic Barb-Oppenheimer release to new chapters for cult classics like Mission Impossible and John Wick, here are our 15 best movies of 2023:
Ira Sach is known for brilliant filmography and brutally honest storylines, and Passages is no exception. The movie is a masterpiece, unraveling the seismic ruins of a toxic love triangle. Anchored by dazzling performances from Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw, and Adèle Exarchopoulos, Passages is the perfect balance of heartbreak and seduction.
No spoilers, but remember, there are no winners in this Parisian adventure. Through its nuanced exploration of love, identity, and fidelity, the romantic drama will leave you wondering how far is “too” far.
14. Poor Things
Wild and exhilarating, Poor Things is a twisted, gothic take on Frankenstein. Director Yorgos Lanthimos is known for satire and crooked timepieces, and this is precisely what the movie delivers. Imagine extravagant Victorian manors and steampunk baroque as the story shifts from black-and-white gothic trappings and labs to vivid lunacy, as if straight out of a fairytale.
What stands out is Emma Stone’s steamy performance as a resurrected child trapped in a woman’s body, Bella Baxter. Poor Things is the ultimate, quirky coming-of-age comedy with hysterical gags, fish-eye scenes, and impeccable art direction.
13. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret is a timeless adaptation of the beloved Judy Blume bestseller. Instead of stitching together clichés, this wholesome, family-friendly drama takes us back to the polaroid-perfect 70’s. But don’t be fooled – this isn’t one for modern teenagers. Instead, the target audience seems to be Blume babies who can relate to struggling parents Barbara (Rachel McAdams) and Herb (Benny Safdie) as they uproot their lives and relocate to a new, alpha community.
Ultimately, it all comes down to the spiritual well-being of their daughter (Abby Ryder Forson) Margaret, as she begins to question her parent’s estranged relationships with her grandparents.
12. Dream Scenario
Nicolas Cage is everywhere and nowhere in this trippy Kristoffer Borgli twisted comedy. Cage stars as Paul Mathews, a simple East Coast college professor whose biggest ambition is to publish his research. Of course, he yearns for fame and recognition, but he never expects to begin haunting the dreams of everyone he knows!
The underlying irony is that Paul quickly realizes celebrities must surrender all control in exchange for instant fame. It sounds like today’s quick hit Reels and TikTok culture. It doesn’t all end well, as cancel culture takes over for Mathews. However, for Cage and his on-screen wife, Julianne Nicholson, this concept film is one for the books.
Who could have thought Mattel would be open to a self-parody? But Greta Gerwig made it happen with the generation-defining chick-flick comedy Barbie, and our list would be incomplete without mentioning it. After all, the movie did smash the box office with its kaleidoscope of colors and impeccable marketing, bringing hot pink back like it never went out of style.
The movie isn’t just a treat for hardcore Barbie fans – it serves up a star-studded cast including Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie, Will Ferrell, America Ferrera, Rhea Perlman, and even John Cena. Some might argue the movie has too many ideas, but it all bubbles down to “What does it mean to be human?” Life in plastic might be fantastic, but the real world is flawed with ambition. Keep your tissues at hand for some major tear-jerking moments!
The BlackBerry era began and ended sooner than anticipated, but it did set the foundation for today’s wonderous world of smartphones. As the name suggests, BlackBerry tells the story of the generation-defining phone and its founders, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie.
However, the movie is more than a tech documentary as director Matt Johnson layers the scruffy story of pals-turned-partners with his idiosyncratic charm and a hint of comedic drama. Consider it a mockumentary with game-changing performances by Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, and Matt Johnson. Blackberry shatters the glass ceiling of the tech dream by depicting its true volatility and nerd vs. system nature.
9. Anatomy of a Fall
Award-winning courtroom drama Anatomy of a Fall might leave you haunted with doubt. Directed by Justine Triet, the movie follows the harrowing trial of Sandra Voter (Sandra Hüller), who is accused of murdering her husband. In just over 2 hours, Triet makes you question all preconceived notions backed by the entire cast’s devastating, raw performances.
Anatomy of a Fall isn’t just another thriller – it’s a provocative study about fractured relationships and distorted emotions. The script is just as riveting as it delves into perception. How do people completely disregard context and evidence to create their version of the truth? Triet tastefully uses language, confined settings, and aggressive music to help audiences experience the film rather than merely just watch it.
8. John Wick: Chapter 4
There is no such thing as too much Keanu Reeves and his balletic lethality. It all began almost a decade ago when Russian gangsters targeted a newly widowed John Wick and killed his dog. Little did they know they got the wrong guy. Finally, out of retirement, the underworld’s boogeyman returns, and here we are at the fourth chapter of his story – and it’s nothing short of grand!
The film is a visual treat by Chad Stahelski with its melancholy edge, satisfying gore, and sensational stunt work. What’s more, is Bill Skarsgård as the wickedly evil “bad guy” Marquis Vincent de Garmont, whose opulence will have viewers in bits!
We’ve come a long way from the days of slasher dolls like Chucky and Annabelle to AI-powered robots that make you question what a tech-led future holds for us. Objectively, M3GAN is a horror movie with its climactic killing sprees and gorey action. However, dynamic duo screenwriter Akela Cooper and director Gerard Johnstone deliver absurdity at its best.
The plot follows nine-year-old orphan Cady (Violet McGraw) as she moves in with her estranged, career-focused aunt Gemma. Instead of giving Cady the attention she needs, Gemma invents an interactive doll called Model 3 Generative ANdroid (aka M3GAN). The movie might sound cliché, but it raises alarms about capitalism, surveillance, and raising a generation of tech-babies.
6. Magic Mike’s Last Dance
The Magic Mike’s Last Dance isn’t nearly as euphoric as its predecessors, but it’s a graceful way for the seductive dancer to bow out. As Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) pushes 40, he is at a crossroads where it’s time to leave his stripper past behind. That doesn’t mean he can’t break into his signature smoldering moves every once in a while. In this chapter, the reigns are passed on to Maxandra (Salma Hayek), a prototypical wealthy socialite looking for a choreographer – where fate kicks in.
Mike and Max’s unquestionable chemistry and let’s-put-on-a-show energy are the ultimate crowd-pleasers as this theatrical production puts on its final show.
5. Fallen Leaves
Cannes Film Festival winner Aki Kaurismaki captures this world’s queasy uncertainty with understated charm in this deadpan romance. Fallen Leaves follows two lonely people trying to make the best of post-Helsinki Finland. The movie tells the confining stories of Holappa (Jussi Vatanen), a metalworker who remains unemployed due to his perpetual drunkenness, and Ansa (Alma Poysti), a woman just trying to make the best of her dreadful job.
Packed with offbeat juxtapositions, eccentric details, and a surprise character that bridges the human expanse between solitude and loneliness, the movie is all about little revelations that make us who we are.
4. Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One
Who doesn’t love Tom Cruise’s thrilling stunts that send him flying off cliffs to catch a train? Mission Impossible is a franchise staple that keeps getting better with each chapter. In its seventh installment, fans can expect another dose of Cruise and McQuarrie’s ambitious action sequences and captivating cliffhangers.
Truth be told, the movie is pure entertainment and features a terrific cast, including new faces like Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, and Tarzan Davis. The cherry on top of the sundae is France Taggart’s gorgeous cinematography that ties the film’s diverse locales together.
3. Four Daughters
Documentary-cum-artifice, Four Daughters, tells the story of a Tunisian mother, Olfa Hamrouni, and her daughters as they escape a tornado of abuse. Oscar-nominated Ben Hania takes audiences back to the very real, tumultuous events of the Arab Spring. As Olfa gradually loses her family to the rebellion, with her two daughters radicalized by the Islamic State, she plummets into an intimate journey between light and dark.
The narrative-docu is more avant-garde than it lets on with a gamble on sisterhood, rebellion, and misogyny. Calling Four Daughters a work of art would be an understatement because it delves deep into things mainstream media hesitates to touch upon.
Even though it’s been almost 5 decades since his death, Elvis Presley and his beau, Priscilla, remain pop icons. Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla will impress you with its disturbing power discrepancies and objectifying realities of fame. Jacob Elordi’s Elvis and Cailee Spaeny’s Priscilla bring the teenage fantasy turned dark union to the big screen. It’s crucial to remember that when the couple met, Elvis was 10 years older than Priscilla, who was only 14!
Over 113 minutes, the movie will have you walking side-by-side with Priscilla as she lives through the lonely fallacy of her dream come true.
2023 was the year for biopics, and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer is a monstrous achievement. Entering the mind of J. Oppenheimer, the director unites quantum physics and psychosis to reveal “the hidden universe.” But Oppenheimer is much more than the standard great man story – it’s a monstrous achievement that turned a tragic story into a pop-culture phenomenon.
Oh, and how could we forget Cillian Murphy’s genius performance and Ludwig Goransson’s heart-throbbing score that make it a potent testament to their skills? If you haven’t seen the film yet, you are missing out on a masterpiece.
- Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant
- Killers of the Flower Moon
- The Creator
What are the top movies of 2023 in your opinion? Share with us your thoughts in the comments!