The 20 Best Movies of 2023

20 Best Movies of 2023
20 Best Movies of 2023
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What are the best movies of 2023? The answer is subjective, clearly; however, 2023 has been one of the greatest years for film in recent memory. Narrowing the list to just twenty titles proved to be a daunting and difficult task. Yet, after countless internal debates and reshuffling of the ranking, I now have my definitive list of the twenty greatest movies of the year. Be sure to check out the honorable mentions for other great recommendations.

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The 20 Best Movies of 2023

Oh, boy… Let’s do this.

20. Asteroid City

Scarlett Johansson in a still from Asteroid City
Scarlett Johansson in a still from Asteroid City

Also Read: Asteroid City Review: Wes Anderson Makes a Masterfully Meta Sci-Fi Comedy

Wes Anderson has as distinct of a style as any filmmaker working today. It’s nostalgic and, above all, quirky. Asteroid City — with one of the greatest ensemble casts of the year — certainly delivers on that signature style with a classical sci-fi spin. It’s hilarious, magical, memorable and everything we’ve come to expect from Anderson.

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19. Wonka

Timothée Chalamet
Timothée Chalamet was convinced about Wonka after seeing the opening number

Also Read: Wonka Review: A Whimsical World of Pure Imagination

As I said in my review, Wonka was a movie that I felt was unnecessary and — quite frankly — unwanted. Sometimes, it’s good to be wrong. Timothée Chalamet charms his way through a delightfully-delicious prequel story. Wonka is unflinchingly charismatic and one of the most feel-good films of the year.

18. The Zone of Interest

The Zone of Interest
The Zone of Interest

Also Read: The Zone of Interest BFI London Review

Undoubtedly the most difficult watch on the list is The Zone of Interest. It’s a film that is hard to recommend, yet is an important and impactful viewing experience. The film follows the everyday lives of a Nazi family living next to a concentration camp. The mundane calmness is starkly contrasted by the atrocities occurring within ear shot. It’s unsettling to say the least.

17. May December

May December
Natalie Portman (left) and Julianne Moore (right) in May December

Also Read: May December Review – Three Powerhouse Performances

Todd Haynes turns up the campiness in this darkly-comic, and tragically-deep exploration of an inappropriate relationship between a minor and an adult that ends with a marriage and a family. When a television-movie detailing the controversial affair is in the works, an actress comes to stay with the couple in order to better understand them.

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16. Dream Scenario

Nicolas Cage in Dream Scenario
Nicolas Cage in Dream Scenario

Also Read: Dream Scenario TIFF Review

Is Nicolas Cage the man of your dreams? Well, in Dream Scenario he’s the man of everybody’s dreams. Paul Matthews is a boring, forgettable professor who suddenly finds himself thrust into the spotlight after millions of strangers begin to have dreams of him. The reason for the dreams is a mystery, but the effect they have on Paul’s life will be unforgettable.

15. Evil Dead Rise

Lily Sullivan in Evil Dead Rise
Lily Sullivan in Evil Dead Rise

Also Read: Evil Dead Rise SXSW Review

“Groovy.” The evolution of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series continues with this wickedly-grotesque new entry that takes the horror out of the woods, and into a run-down apartment complex. There’s (almost) everything you’d want from an Evil Dead movie. Blood, Deadites and chainsaws. Scream on, horror-hounds.

14. American Fiction

American Fiction
American Fiction

Also Read: American Fiction TIFF Review

Jeffrey Wright is a superb actor who shines in every role he plays; however, those roles are — more often than not — relegated to supporting characters. With American Fiction he’s given the opportunity to lead a film with material worthy of his skill. It’s witty, self-aware and laugh-out-loud funny.

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13. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Also Read: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review – The Best TMNT Yet

It may not sound like much of an achievement when looking at its competition, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is, without a doubt, the greatest film about crime-fighting turtles we’ve ever gotten. With spectacular visuals, great comedic-timing and a creative team that understands the comic-heroes, this is a treat for the whole family.

12. Saltburn

Barry Keoghan in Saltburn
Barry Keoghan in Saltburn

Also Read: Saltburn Review: Diabolically Entertaining

Barry Keoghan and Jacob Elordi star in this deliciously-diabolical film from Emerald Fennell, the woman behind 2020’s critically acclaimed Promising Young Woman. It’s a darkly-comedic examination of class, jealousy and obsession with several standout moments that you’ll be discussing for weeks after viewing.

11. Past Lives

Teo Yoo and Great Lee in "Past Lives"
Teo Yoo and Great Lee in “Past Lives”

Celine Song — in a stunning feature directorial-debut — beautifully examines the character of Nora Moon as she’s torn between her present and her past. After moving from South Korea to the United States at twelve-years-old, Nora grows up and gets married. But her childhood crush remains a question mark in the back of her mind. What would have happened if she’d never moved away?

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10. How To Blow Up a Pipeline

How To Blowup a Pipeline
How To Blowup a Pipeline

Adapted from the non-fiction book of the same name, How To Blow Up a Pipeline is an incredibly tense thriller following a diverse group of young-adults fed up with the oil industry and its negative impact on the earth. Feeling there is no option besides drastic, and violent measures, they set out to hit the oil companies where it matters.

9. Anatomy of a Fall

Anatomy of a Fall
Anatomy of a Fall

Murder, suicide or accident? That is the question at the center of this tense, character-driven courtroom-thriller from writer and director Justine Triet. Sandra Hüller delivers a powerhouse performance as the woman at the center of the growing mystery. Grieving widow, or scheming murderer?

8. Barbie

Margot Robbie in Barbie
Margot Robbie as Barbie in ‘Barbie.’

Also Read: Barbie Review – Life is Plastic, It’s FANTASTIC

Barbie is no stranger to movies. The popular doll has appeared in dozens of straight-to-video animated films; however, her first foray into live-action didn’t occur until this year. Margot Robbie brings the toy to life with a pitch-perfect portrayal. Greta Gerwig, the filmmaker behind Ladybird and Little Women, was a perfect-fit for the colorful comedy.

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7. Maestro

Bradley Cooper in Maestro
Bradley Cooper in Maestro

Also Read: Maestro Venice Film Festival Review

For his sophomore effort in the director’s chair, Bradley Cooper takes us back to the world of professional musicians, although this time with a drastically different tone and approach. Maestro tells the true story of Leonard Bernstein — a prolific composer and humanitarian — and his tumultuous relationship with his wife, actress Felicia Montealegre.

6. Priscilla

Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla and Jacob Elordi as Elvis in 'Priscilla.'
Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla and Jacob Elordi as Elvis in ‘Priscilla.’

Just one year after Baz Luhrmann brought us the Oscar nominated Elvis, Sophia Coppola examines the other-half of the iconic-couple with Priscilla. It’s a return to form for Coppola, delivering a deeply emotional, character driven portrait of the woman behind the crowned king of rock-and-roll.

5. Killers of the Flower Moon

killers of the flower moon-2
Killers of the Flower Moon

Also Read: Killers of the Flower Moon Review – A Masterful, Poignant Work of Art

Martin Scorsese is among the greatest living filmmakers, with masterpieces released in every decade since the early 70’s. Though he is widely remembered for his gritty, gangster films like Mean StreetsCasino and Goodfellas, the auteur has mastered nearly all genres. His most recent work is a soaring dramatic effort, filled with fantastic performances.

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4. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

A still of Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Also Read: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Review – The Best Film of the Year (So Far)

Despite being only the first-half of a two-part storyline, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse feels like a complete entry in the planned animated trilogy. While the third film was postponed, Across the Spider-Verse managed to be the rare sequel that surpassed the original in nearly every way: Beautiful animation, jaw-dropping action, a creative story, heart and humor all rolled into one.

3. The Killer

Michael Fassbender in The Killer
Michael Fassbender in The Killer

Also Read: The Killer Venice Film Festival Review

David Fincher delivers his most divisive film since Alien 3. Michael Fassbender stars as an unnamed assassin bent on revenge following a botched hit. Overflowing with dry humor and spectacular visuals, The Killer is a perfect departure from the generic and predictable nature of hitman movies.

2. Oppenheimer

Cillian Murphy
Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer

Also Read: Oppenheimer Review – Nolan’s Magnum Opus

Christopher Nolan uses his standard, larger-than-life approach and manipulation of time to explore the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man responsible for the deadliest weapon of mass destruction ever constructed. It’s a massive undertaking that succeeds due to the fantastic cast (primarily Cillian Murphy in the titular role), and the superb direction of Nolan himself.

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1. Poor Things

Poor Things starring Emma Stone
Emma Stone (left) and Mark Ruffalo (right) in Poor Things

Also Read: Poor Things Venice Film Festival Review

Yorgos Lanthimos — the man responsible for some of the oddest films of the last decade — delves head-first into strangeness again with Poor Things. Emma Stone is magnificent, playing the role of a Frankenstein’s Monster type character struggling to learn the ways of the world while experiencing a sexual-awakening.

Honorable Mentions

With a year as strong as this one, there were bound to be some amazing movies that didn’t make the cut. We got a fantastic sci-fi epic in The Creator, a hip A24 horror with Talk to Me, a slick holiday-actioner with Silent Night. There was a masterful animated-film from Hayao Miyazaki, The Boy and the Heron, a potential Christmas classic from Alexander Payne with The Holdovers and a holiday horror-comedy like no-other with Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving. The Color Purple received a musical-makeover, we were brought to tears with All of Us Strangers and left awe-struck by Godzilla Minus One.

Did your favorite movie of the year make the list?

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Written by Joshua Ryan

Articles Published: 242

Joshua Ryan is the Creative Coordinator and Head Film & TV Critic for FandomWire. He's a member of the Critics Choice Association and spokesperson for the Critics Association of Central Florida. Joshua is also one of the hosts of the podcast, The Movie Divide.