Poor Things

The 10 Best Movies of 2023

Wow. For the first time in what feels like years, I had trouble reducing my list of favorite movies down to ten. Typically, I actually struggle to come up with a Top 10 I’m proud of–the top five or six are easy, but the rest are questionable. Not this year.

From mainstream hits to under-the-radar comedies, 2023 was packed with awesome stuff–most notably in the final few months of the years. Many great movies didn’t quite make the cut (you can see the full list of all movies I reviewed this year, in rough order of awesomeness), but here are the ten best movies of 2023:

10. Barbie

The most impressive thing about Barbie is how director Greta Gerwig managed to make a smart, funny, and semi-edgy comedy from what could have easily been a lame cash grab concept. Margot Robbie is perfectly cast and Ryan Gosling delivers one of the year’s best performances; there’s really not much to not like here. 

9. The Creator

A timely release given the surge of AI this year, The Creator is an $80 million sci-fi action epic that, visually, looks better than any $200 million movie. But it isn’t just the visuals that set it apart: director Gareth Edwards (Star Wars: Rogue One) paints an incredible detailed world that will leaving you wanting more, and immediately. With some great action and excitement, this is one of the most criminally overlooked films of the year.

8. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Comic book movies are dead, they say. There’s no originality left in the genre, they say. Statistically, that may be right, but this animated Spider-Man sequel is proof that with a confident story to tell, superheroes can still pack a punch. Across the Spider-Verse is almost an exercise in excess, but it’s just so damn creative, clever, and fun, how can you complain?

7. Talk to Me

Here’s the weird thing: I don’t think all of Talk to Me works. But the stuff that works… works really, really well. Featuring some of the most intense and shocking moments of the year–that mid-story sequence alone is jaw-dropping–this is the must-see horror movie of the year, and well deserving of placement on this list. (sitting just outside this list is Evil Dead Rise, another great option)

6. John Wick: Chapter 4

What’s a Keanu Reeves movie doing on this list, you ask? It’s not everyday you get to witness an action movie that boasts three or four of the best action sequences of the decade, and where you can literally hear people gasping in the crowd as director Chad Stahelski puts everything he has on screen. That’s why John Wick: Chapter 4 is on this list.

5. Saltburn

Dark, disturbed, and jaw-droppingly good, Saltburn, from Emerald Fennell, is a drama-turned-thriller that works on every level. Some have criticized it because its message isn’t as progressive or uplifting as her previous work (Promising Young Woman), but taken on its own, Saltburn is a ruthless thriller full of memorable characters and playfully wicked performances.

4. American Fiction

Equally moving and ridiculously funny, American Fiction is a highly entertaining piece of work. It’s a great achievement for first-time director Cord Jefferson. Jeffrey Wright, Sterling K. Brown, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Erika Alexander are all fantastic, but it’s Jefferson’s immersive screenplay, which mixes strong emotion with biting humor, that makes it all work.

3. The Holdovers

The slightest of films–the movie is about a teenager who finds himself stuck at an all-boys school over Christmas break under the thumb of a curmudgeonly teacher (Paul Giamatti)–The Holdovers is nonetheless a highly enjoyable, quietly hilarious comedy-drama from Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants).

2. Origin

From Ava DuVernay (Selma) comes this gorgeous and intoxicating film about systemic racism. Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning book, the movie explores the connection between Jim Crow laws and Nazi Germany, among other things. Phenomenally acted and a showcase for DuVernay’s talent, Origin is a powerful, can’t-miss experience.

1. Poor Things

One of the boldest movies of the year is also the best movie of the year. Emma Stone delivers a career-best performance, as does Mark Ruffalo, in this weird, twisted, dark, steampunk exploration of female independence and sexuality. Strangely, this is also, arguably, director Yorgos Lanthimos’ (The Lobster) most accessible film to date. While not for everyone, branch out and give it a try–you very well may find yourself surprised, and engrossed.

View all 2023 movies ranked from best to worst (roughly).

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Top 10 Movie Lists

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