Best Movies of 2023 | Image: Man of Many

15 Best Movies of 2023

Mark it in the history books, 2023 was truly a blockbuster year for cinema. Despite a year saturated with superhero sequels and familiar reboots, the best movies of 2023 surprised us with their innovative storytelling and heartfelt cinematic statements. From the poignant coming-of-age drama ‘Past Lives‘, exploring the complexities of identity and memory, to the exhilarating and surprisingly fresh take on a beloved video game in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, 2023 offered a smorgasbord of cinematic delights.

And who could forget the cultural phenomenon that was “Barbenheimer“? This audacious double feature, fusing the explosive action of Oppenheimer with the bubbly charm of Barbie, proved (once again) that cinema is all about great movies and having a good time. So, as 2023 draws to a close, we have curated our definitive list of the year’s best flicks. Whether you seek thrills, chills, laughter, or pure cinematic wonder, this guide is your go-to for the best and must-watch movies of 2023.

Best Movies of 2023 at a Glance

Oppenheimer

  • IMDb Rating: 8.4
  • Cast: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, Kenneth Branagh.
  • Running Time: 181 minutes
  • Fun Fact:Oppenheimer‘ is Christopher Nolan’s first film to include sex scenes. Despite directing 11 previous films, Nolan had never explored intimate moments on screen until now.

A no-brainer addition to any “best of” list, Oppenheimer is Christopher Nolan at his absolute peak. The historical drama, led by a stellar performance from Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, breaks away from the biopic formula creating a stark portrait of the father of the atomic bomb grappling with the fallout of his own genius. Rather than fixating solely on the bomb’s creation, the film explores the ethical aftermath and the human impact of scientific progress.

Cillian Murphy delivers a thoughtful performance as a man haunted by his own brilliance. The film’s black-and-white palette mirrors the moral murkiness, and Hans Zimmer’s score perfectly harmonizes with its weighty themes. The cinematography is also breathtaking, complemented by strong performances from the ensemble cast.

Nolan’s unflinching exploration of ethical dilemmas surrounding the Manhattan Project, as seen through Oppenheimer’s lens, provides a gripping portrait of the scientific pursuit under immense pressure. It also offers insights into the complex motivations of key figures like Edward Teller and Leslie Groves. Oppenheimer stands as not just the year’s best film but arguably Nolan’s magnum opus.

Barbie

  • IMDb Rating: 7.0
  • Cast: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Rhea Perlman, Will Ferrell, Simu Liu.
  • Running Time: 114 minutes
  • Fun Fact: While filming, Margot Robbie introduced a new rule, which required everyone to wear pink on Wednesdays and fined those who didn’t play along.

Greta Gerwig‘s Barbie swaps the plastic pink dreamhouse for a reality check that’s surprisingly refreshing. Beneath the candy-coated exterior, the movie is a smart and self-aware story, reminding us that there’s much more to life beyond perfect looks and dreamhouses. The film celebrates and challenges the “perfect plastic” ideal Barbie image, exposing the limitations it imposes and the societal pressures it fuels. But it does this all with a light touch, using humour and witty dialogue to make its point.

Margot Robbie‘s Barbie, in Gerwig’s hands, is a firebrand questioning the very plastic world that she inhabits. The film’s vibrant colours and playful sets create a visually appealing world that’s both familiar and fantastical. The supporting cast, including Ryan Gosling‘s perfectly clueless Ken, adds another layer of ironic commentary. ‘Barbie‘ proves to be a surprisingly nuanced and timely film, offering both entertainment and thought-provoking moments. So whether you’re in for a laugh or some reflection on your definition of “perfect,” Barbie is a movie worth the watch. 

Poor Things

  • IMDb Rating: 8.5
  • Cast: Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, Christopher Abbott, Jerrod Carmichael.
  • Running Time: 141 minutes
  • Fun Fact: Mark Ruffalo admitted that he usually dreads filming sex and nude scenes, but working with Emma Stone made it surprisingly fun. Ruffalo said that Stone’s jokes between takes made the experience surprisingly enjoyable.

Poor Things is a brilliant, if not wildly disturbing, Frankenstein tale for the modern age, offering a blend of humour, horror, and philosophical depth. Director Yorgos Lanthimos reimagines the classic story with a darkly comedic spin, stitching together gothic horror, black humour, and a touch of existential angst. The film explores complex themes, questioning identity, free will, and the very nature of humanity.

Make no mistake, this film will divide audiences. Some will be unable to grasp the concept and be disgusted by the sexual exploits that dictate much of the film’s awkward lining, but beneath the ugliness, Poor Things has something to offer.

Emma Stone’s portrayal of Bella, a woman resurrected with a patchwork brain, is nothing short of brilliant. Her nuanced performance navigates the clash between Bella’s innocence and newfound independence against the backdrop of societal expectations. Poor Things isn’t afraid to get messy – literally and figuratively. It’s a film that celebrates the grotesque and revels in its own absurdity.

Join Our Exclusive Community!
Keep up with the latest trends, best stories, and crucial updates from Man of Many direct to your inbox.

Anatomy of a Fall

  • IMDb Rating: 7.9
  • Cast: Sandra Hüller, Swann Arlaud, Milo Machado-Graner, Antoine Reinartz, Samuel Theis, Jehnny Beth, Saadia Bentaieb, Camille Rutherford, Anne Rotger, Sophie Fillières.
  • Running Time: 152 minutes
  • Fun Fact: The movie opens with the instrumental version of 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.,” featuring Snoop Dogg. And the first character to show up is a dog named ‘Snoop.’ Coincidence? We don’t think so.

At first glance, Anatomy of a Fall might look like a conventional courtroom drama. A spouse stands accused of murder, the evidence ambiguous, and the audience is left to grapple with the question of guilt. Hoqever, Justine Triet’s film goes beyond the expected, exploring a rich tapestry of human emotion subtly and uniquely. The heart of the film lies in Sandra Hüller’s masterful portrayal of Sandra Voyter, the accused author.

The film delves deep into her emotional landscape, exposing the resentments and vulnerabilities that simmer beneath the surface. The story is also a deliberate exploration of the emotional fissures within a marriage. The dialogue, split between English and French, adds an intriguing layer of cultural tension, reflecting the clash between Sandra’s immigrant identity and her adopted French home.

Anatomy of a Fall doesn’t offer easy answers, and that’s okay. It leaves you with questions, with the unsettling feeling that the truth might be the darkest thing of all.

Killers of Flower Moon

  • IMDb Rating: 7.9
  • Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone.
  • Running Time: 206 minutes
  • Fun Fact: At the end of a spanking scene, De Niro accidentally hits DiCaprio so hard that the paddle breaks with a crack. De Niro tries to discreetly hide it, but the next scene features the unbroken paddle.

Martin Scorsese‘s latest film, Killers of the Flower Moon, isn’t a simple historical drama. It’s a haunting and deeply affecting portrayal of greed, betrayal, and the fight for justice in 1920s Oklahoma. Adapted from David Grann’s novel, the film unfolds against the backdrop of Oklahoma’s oil boom, where newfound wealth fuels a chilling series of killings targeting the Osage Nation. Scorsese’s direction is characteristically assured with deliberate pacing and unwavering attention to detail, drawing viewers into the sun-drenched plains and oil-slicked towns with Rodrigo Prieto’s breathtaking cinematography.

Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio are their usual brilliant selves as Ernest Burkhart and his uncle, William Hale, two men at the heart of the tragedy. But it’s Lily Gladstone’s portrayal of Mollie Burkhart, the Osage woman grappling with family tragedy and a relentless quest for justice, that truly stands out.
The film doesn’t shy away from the brutal realities of the era, but it avoids gratuitous violence, opting for a grounded approach that emphasizes the emotional weight of the events.

Witnessing the unravelling of the Osage Nation exposes not just the barbarity of individual acts, but the systemic corruption that allowed them to fester. Killers of the Flower Moon may not offer the fast-paced thrills of some genre films but is a deeply rewarding experience for those looking for a thought-provoking historical drama that sheds light on a lesser-known chapter of American history. 

Past Lives

  • IMDb Rating: 8.0
  • Cast: Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, John Magaro.
  • Running Time: 106 minutes
  • Fun Fact: To intensify the impact of the characters’ long-awaited in-person reunion, writer-director Celine Song purposely kept Greta Lee and Teo Yoo apart as much as possible during filming.

Don’t mistake Celine Song’s debut feature for a simple love story. Past Lives, the Korean-language A24 drama, offers a deliberate and introspective exploration of long-lasting friendship and the complexities of the immigrant experience. Spanning 24 years and continents, the film follows Nora and Hae Sung, childhood friends separated by Nora’s family’s emigration. However, unlike most movies, it’s slow and quiet, taking time to show how their bond stays strong even when life pulls them apart.

But Past Lives is more than about love. It’s about what it means to belong, the immigrant journey, and to accept the consequences of our choices. It shows the bittersweet beauty of life, where every loss has a hidden gain and every choice shapes who we become. Celine Song’s meticulous direction emphasizes subtle emotional nuances. While the story itself is simple, the performances are anything but. Greta Lee and Teo Yoo portray Nora and Hae Sung with raw authenticity, drawing you into their lives and their characters’ emotional evolution over decades.

The Holdovers

  • IMDb Rating: 8.0
  • Cast: Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Dominic Sessa.
  • Running Time: 133 minutes
  • Fun Fact: The crew took advantage of Fairhaven High School’s break to film scenes. Luckily, a snowstorm hit the area, aligning perfectly with the snowy scenes in the film. The crew capitalised on the weather, so the snow you see on screen is real.

Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers serves up a Christmas miracle of a different kind. Set against the desolate backdrop of a snowbound boarding school, it’s a poignant character study of unexpected connections and finding joy in the face of loneliness. At its heart, The Holdovers is a masterclass in character-driven storytelling. Paul Giamatti delivers a nuanced performance as a jaded teacher, Hunham, unexpectedly stranded at his prestigious boarding school with a handful of students, each carrying their own invisible baggage.

The film’s strength lies in its quiet intimacy. Director Alexander Payne brilliantly navigates the dynamics between Giamatti’s Hunham and the supporting cast, including Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s warm cafeteria worker and Dominic Sessa’s troubled teen. Through shared meals, late-night conversations, and moments of vulnerability, their individual stories intertwine, revealing the universal longing for connection even amidst the chill of winter. While not overtly festive, The Holdovers captures the essence of the season – the quiet contemplation, the longing for connection, and the discovery of human kindness in unexpected places.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

  • IMDb Rating: 7.2
  • Cast: Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu, Brady Noon, Ayo Edebiri, Maya Rudolph, John Cena, Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Natasia Demetriou, Giancarlo Esposito, Jackie Chan, Ice Cube, Paul Rudd, Austin Post, Hannibal Buress
  • Running Time: 99 minutes
  • Fun Fact: Ice Cube took on the role of Superfly because he liked the name and was a fan of TMNT cartoons, which he watched with his son. Superfly even throws in a nod to Ice T’s “6 N the Morning” in the film.

Jeff Rowe’s Mutant Mayhem radically reinvents the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, breathing new life into the heroes in a half-shell as they confront familiar themes with a contemporary edge. The story follows a somewhat familiar ground – mutant teens seeking acceptance, battling a slimy villain, and learning the ropes of heroism. But it’s the execution that shines. The film blends humour, action, and surprisingly thematic depth, offering a satisfying experience for both longtime fans and curious newcomers.

The turtles are teenagers dealing with real-life feels like angst, friendship drama, and figuring out how to be heroes without totally wrecking the place. Seth Rogen’s screenplay is loaded with sharp dialogue, pop-culture references, and witty banter that will resonate with audiences across generations.

The animation draws inspiration from Sony’s Spider-Verse films but infuses it with a unique urban grit, creating a compelling and visually striking New York City and the overall world. For veteran fans, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is a love letter to the original TMNT. Classic characters and storylines are scattered throughout the narrative, delivering satisfying Easter eggs and nods to the past.

The Creator

  • IMDb Rating: 6.9
  • Cast: John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe, Sturgill Simpson, Allison Janney.
  • Running Time: 133 minutes
  • Fun Fact:The Creator‘ includes a sneaky nod to Star Trek’s ‘The Changeling’ (1967), featuring an A.I. named “Nomad” on a quest for “the creator.”

Gareth Edwards’ The Creator is a visually stunning sci-fi spectacle grappling with weighty themes of AI and the consequences of playing god with technology. Set in the year 2070, the film throws you headfirst into a war-torn future where humans and AI are locked in a brutal conflict. The visuals are truly jaw-dropping, with alien landscapes and mind-blowing special effects that bring Edwards’ vision to life.

John David Washington delivers a powerful performance as Joshua, an ex-soldier haunted by his past and tasked with hunting down the creator of the AI superweapon. The film is full of tense action sequences, but it also takes the time to explore the emotional toll of the war on both humans and machines, asking big questions about the nature of humanity, the ethics of artificial intelligence, and the dangers of unchecked technological advancement.

While the film itself did promise a lot and may have fallen short in terms of storyline, the execution is nigh-on perfect. Edwards has managed to create an intricate universe that explores humanity in a futuristic age on a shoestring budget, which is a remarkable feat in and of itself. Visually, The Creator was arguably the best film of the year and visual effects supervisors Jay Cooper and Andrew Roberts should be commended for their incredible on-set and post-production work.

Saltburn

  • IMDb Rating: 7.5
  • Cast: Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant, Alison Oliver, Archie Madekwe, Carey Mulligan.
  • Running Time: 131 minutes
  • Fun Fact: Barry Keoghan prepped by spending a weekend in Belfast with filmmaker Michael McNulty, fine-tuning his Liverpool accent and sharing 20 hours of pint-fuelled camaraderie.

Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn dives into the dark underbelly of British high society, exposing the ugliness and toxicity that festers beneath the surface of privilege. It’s a gripping story of ambition, manipulation, and the price of belonging. Barry Keoghan shines as Patrick, a working-class student navigating the treacherous waters of wealth and privilege. Invited to the grand estate of his wealthy classmate, Guy (Jacob Elordi), and his enigmatic mother, Katherine (Rosamund Pike), Patrick soon finds himself entangled in a web of secrets and lies.

The performances all around the board are top-notch, with Keoghan perfectly capturing the vulnerability and ambition of Patrick. The humour is sardonic, the violence sudden and shocking, and the characters as captivating as they are morally ambiguous. Fennell masterfully peels back the layers of this seemingly perfect family, revealing a twisted reality fuelled by envy, deceit, and a thirst for power.

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One

  • IMDb Rating: 7.8
  • Cast: Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Esai Morales, Pom Klementieff, Mariela Garriga, Henry Czernya
  • Running Time: 164 minutes
  • Fun Fact: Pom Klementieff’s striking white makeup featuring a black tear was all her idea.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, the seventh installment in the long-running action franchise, still delivers its signature high-octane thrills with undeniable bravado. Christopher McQuarrie, back in the director’s chair, has created an undeniably impressive action spectacle, with Tom Cruise reprising his role as Ethan Hunt. While the plot does (somewhat) impress, Cruise defying logic and gravity, still remains the franchise’s beating heart.

What sets Dead Reckoning Part One apart this time around is its exploration of Cruise’s character, adding a dose of personal stakes to the high-octane mission. All in all, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One remains a technical marvel and a testament to the franchise’s enduring visual flair. The film is a masterclass in action filmmaking, a gripping spy thriller, and a testament to Cruise’s lasting charisma.

Napoleon

  • IMDb Rating: 6.6
  • Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Vanessa Kirby, Tahar Rahim, Rupert Everett
  • Running Time: 157 minutes
  • Fun Fact: Filming wrapped in just 61 days, a remarkably speedy accomplishment for a production of this scale. Ridley Scott attributed the rapid pace to solid preparation “not having ridiculous numbers of retakes.”

Ridley Scott‘s Napoleon isn’t your usual historical epic. Instead of a straightforward story of conquests, the film delves into the psyche of a complex leader consumed by ambition and haunted by self-doubt. Scott explores the man’s inner demons, revealing the crippling self-doubt that gnawed at his genius. Joaquin Phoenix delivers a masterful performance as Napoleon, capturing both the brilliance and the vulnerability of the man who reshaped Europe.

Through fragmented flashbacks and dreamlike sequences, we see Napoleon’s paranoia, his dependence on Josephine’s love, and the ever-present fear of failure that shadowed his every victory. Vanessa Kirby shines as Josephine, the Empress, who serves as a counterpoint to Napoleon’s ambition. Napoleon is a complex and nuanced portrait of a man who reshaped the world, his achievements intertwined with his flaws, which is a surprisingly apt description of the film itself.

At times, Napoleon struggles to capture the essence of one of history’s most interesting characters, reducing the revered French military man to a bumbling fool. Scott’s direction feels at odds with his previous work, which attempts at humour not necessarily missing the mark, but feeling rather out of place set against such a serious backdrop. Historic inaccuracies aside, Napoleon does a valiant job at exploring Bonapart’s ambition and growth as a leader, and as a spectacle, the film delivers in rich abundance.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

  • IMDb Rating: 8.6
  • Cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Vélez, Jake Johnson, Jason Schwartzman, Issa Rae, Karan Soni, Shea Whigham, Greta Lee, Daniel Kaluuya, Mahershala Ali, Oscar Isaac
  • Running Time: 140 minutes
  • Fun Fact: Every one of the six universes gets its own distinct animated style.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is everything a Spider-Man movie should be and more, swinging into screens with a vibrant blend of animation, humour, and heart that will leave you breathless. The film is a dizzying dimension-hopping adventure that’s equal parts visually mind-blowing and surprisingly relatable. Miles Morales, the young Brooklynite who donned the Spider-Man mantle in the previous film, is thrust into a multiverse-spanning adventure. Navigating the different dimensions, he encounters a wide array of new Spider-People, each a reflection of the multiverse’s boundless possibilities.

The sequel delves deeper, exploring themes of responsibility, loss, and finding your place amidst infinite possibilities. The humour remains sharp, witty, and self-aware, but it’s balanced by genuine emotional weight. Miles’ struggles feel real, relatable, and universally human, even amidst the multiverse madness. The animation is nothing short of breathtaking, seamlessly blending traditional hand-drawn artistry with cutting-edge CGI.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a triumph of animation, storytelling, and character development. It’s a film that pushes boundaries, both visual and emotional, leaving audiences exhilarated and moved. If you’re looking for a superhero movie that offers more than just thrills, this is the one to swing into.

Asteroid City

  • IMDb Rating: 6.6
  • Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Liev Schreiber, Hope Davis, Stephen Park, Rupert Friend, Maya Hawke, Steve Carell, Matt Dillon, Hong Chau, Willem Dafoe, Margot Robbie, Tony Revolori Jake Ryan, Jeff Goldblum
  • Running Time: 105 minutes
  • Fun Fact: The film pays a playful homage to Roadrunner cartoons. Three girls at a diner encounter a roadrunner and one of the girls looks at it. The roadrunner says it’s classic ‘beep-beep’ before darting away.

Wes Anderson‘s latest brainchild, Asteroid City, is a retro 50s space camp romp with all the odd charm and unexpected twists you’d expect. Anderson’s signature aesthetic is in full bloom, painting a meticulously curated world bursting with pastel hues and symmetrical compositions. The sci-fi comedy boasts a star-studded cast, including Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, and Scarlett Johansson, all navigating the chaos of a Junior Stargazer convention gone hilariously sideways.

The narrative revolves around an encounter with an alien in a peculiar town called Asteroid City, which was named after an asteroid that had crashed there 5,000 years ago. It focuses on the chaos and humorous mishaps that occur when the extraterrestrial is returned to its mothership. But beneath the charming facade lies a poignant exploration of vulnerability and loss.

Anderson, with his knack for dissecting human emotions through the quirky lens, reminds us of the loneliness that can linger even amidst summer camp friendships and starry desert nights. It’s a bittersweet realization but one that adds depth and resonance to the film’s playful absurdity.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie

  • IMDb Rating: 7.0
  • Cast: Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, Fred Armisen
  • Running Time: 92 minutes
  • Fun Fact: A Mushroom Kingdom resident can be spotted buying a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) cartridge from an antique store. The store owner advises him to blow into it to make it work— a classic reference to how gamers would have to blow into the NES cartridges to get the dust out of them in order to make it work again.

2023 saw its fair share of cinematic heroes leap between buildings and punch spaceships. But none arrived quite like Mario, the lovable, overalls-clad plumber who stomped and slid his way onto the big screen in Illumination’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie. While the plot is sorta samey – Bowser kidnaps Peach, Mario and Luigi save the day – it does so with irresistible charm and surprisingly emotional depth.

The film also shines in its vibrant world-building, faithfully recreating iconic elements like bouncy Koopa Troopas and neon-lit New Donk City in Illumination’s signature style. Action sequences also pack a punch, especially the big showdowns that look reminiscent of the epic final levels in classic Mario games. But beyond the thrills, The Super Mario Bros. Movie manages to sneak in some genuine heart. 

The brotherly bond between Mario and Luigi is endearing, and Mario’s arc from bumbling plumber to confident hero is surprisingly touching. This unexpected emotional core elevates the film beyond mere nostalgia fodder, offering a surprisingly nuanced take on familiar characters.

How Man of Many Chose This List?

With an editorial team full of entertainment-lovers, we have curated this list based on our personal favourites. Our team has handpicked these movies after watching them first-hand. As expert journalists who guide people in the best that the world of movies and TV has to offer, we have provided our independent opinion in formulating Man of Many’s selections. You can read our reviews policy surrounding how we maintain our independence in our editorial lists.

Best Movies of 2023 FAQ

What were some of the other good movies which were released this year?

2023 was packed with standout films. Besides the ones mentioned on our list, some of the other best movies of 2023 include John Wick: Chapter 4, Beau Is Afraid, Maestro, The Killer and May December.

Which was the highest-grossing film of 2023?

The highest-grossing films of 2023 were led by ‘Barbie‘ with a staggering USD $1.44 billion, followed by ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie‘ at USD $1.36 billion, and ‘Oppenheimer’ at USD $954 million.

What are some of the most anticipated movies of 2024?

2024 is gearing up to be a mega year for film buffs. Some of the most anticipated releases of next year include Argylle, Dune: Part Two, Deadpool 3, Mickey 17, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga and Joker: Folie à Deux among plenty of others.


Featured Video from Man of Many

Shubhendu Vatsa
Contributor

Shubhendu Vatsa

Shubhendu Vatsa is an experienced reporter specialising in video game, eSports and technology coverage. A BTech IT graduate, Shubhendu has previously written for entertainment-based publications such as GiveMeSport, Touch, Tap, Play, Attack of the Fanboy, EssentiallySports, Twinfinite and The Load Out.