The 25 best movies of 2023 – from ‘The Killer’ to ‘Oppenheimer’

2023 has been a phenomenal year for movies. From big studio blockbusters to extraordinary indie movies, this year has seen brave new voices taking center stage. If movies like Barbie and Oppenheimer encouraged movie-goers to go to cinema halls in large numbers, small-budget gems such as Past Lives, The Holdovers, and Talk to Me turned out to be some of the best-reviewed movies of 2023.

It’s not surprising that we got to see so many excellent movies this year. It’s so rare to see iconic filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, and Wes Anderson coming out with their movies in the same years. On the other hand, first-time directors like Celine Song and Chloe Domont took the world by storm with their unique storytelling style. With 2024 just a few days away, here’s my list of the best movies of 2023.

25) The Killer

There have been several films about an assassination attempt gone wrong and the hitman facing the repercussions. But when David Fincher is at the helm of such a film, it becomes much bigger than just an ordinary story. Fincher gives a unique spin to a simple revenge story and entertains viewers in the most amazing way possible. Apart from Fincher’s direction, Michael Fassbender’s compelling performance makes this movie a must-watch.

24) While We Watched

This brutal documentary focuses on showcasing the true nature of journalism and media. While We Watched is all about how media was once used to cover impactful stories that made a difference. The inspirational story of Ravish Kumar is all about how a person didn’t lose hope and raised awareness about how journalism is now being used to divide people. It is undoubtedly an important piece of cinema and a journey of how some people never compromise about bringing the truth to society. A truly riveting watch.

23) Fair Play

Chloe Domont’s debut film is one of those rare stories where the fragility of gender dynamics is explored without compromising on the aspect of storytelling. Additionally, it features a subtle narrative twist that takes the movie to a whole new trajectory. One of the finest aspects of the film is how ruthless it is and tackles the toxic power dynamics of an organization. The performances given by the film’s lead actors – Phoebe Dynevor and Alden Ehrenreich – gives an extra layer of uncertainty. A merciless psychological thriller that examines relationships in the workplace.

22) Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

It’s not easy to accept change and sometimes it can take a considerable amount of time while adjusting to it. This is what Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret  is all about. It is a charming coming-of-age film that touches your heart for its depiction of events. Apart from that, it also showcases the importance of friendships and how they can help a person cope with stressful situations. The film features superlative performances from Rachel McAdams and Abby Ryder Fortson. However, it is Kathy Bates who steals the spotlight with her exhilarating portrayal of the grandmother. This is one of the few gems that got lost in the middle of big banner blockbusters.

21) Talk to Me

A24 is known for coming out with stories that are out of the box and Talk to Me might be one of its very best. The movie is about a group of friends discovering how to call down spirits using a preserved hand. However, things get out of hand when terrifying supernatural forces are released into the human world and start hunting down people one by one. The movie is very unsettling but never loses its grip on viewers and shows the power of an original idea. Without any doubt, Talk to Me is one of the twisted and terrifying movies of 2023. It doesn’t compromise on horror and is incredibly effective.

20) Joram

2023 saw a lot of Indian movies breaking records at the box office, but none of them featured an impactful story, and that’s when Devashish Makhija took everyone by storm with Joram. The movie follows the journey of Dasru who is escaping an unbearable past. He continuously tries to pursue a safer life for him and his daughter. In this film, the distinction between the lawman and the lawbreaker gets hazy. Makhija has created an intense story where the destinies of characters are closely connected. Manoj Bajpayee gives an unnerving performance as Dasru and leaves the audience in awe. Overall, Joram is one of the most important movies of the year.

19) Maestro

There is no doubt that Bradley Cooper is an exceptional actor, but Maestro is mostly about how mature he has become as a filmmaker. The film follows the intriguing story of composer Leonard Bernstein and how he became one of the legendary conductors. Just like its subject, the movie unfurls in a very flamboyant way and like a musical composition. But the movie is not just about music; it is also a staggering look at an artist’s journey. Furthermore, the exceptional performance from Carey Mulligan gives this story a stunning touch. As the movie ends, it’s evident that Cooper has created a movie that will stay with viewers for a long time.

18) Barbie

Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster movie took the entire world by storm. Undoubtedly, there was a massive anticipation about Barbie, but no one thought it would be a cultural phenomenon. Upon its release, the film broke several records at the box office, but most importantly, it presented a story that resonated with the people. The struggles people, especially women, go through in their lives are portrayed superbly in this thought-provoking film. In addition to a great screenplay, brilliant performances by Margot RobbieRyan Gosling, and America Ferrera make the movie even better. Barbie is a joyful experience from start to finish. It has everything you would want from a mega blockbuster.

17) All of us Strangers

Paul Mescal in ALL OF US STRANGERS. Photo by Chris Harris. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

British filmmaker Andrew Haigh is known for presenting stories that are soul-stirring. But his latest movie, All of us Strangers, is a deeply personal exploration of grief and self-reflection. The story follows the journey of Adam (Andrew Scott) and Harry (Paul Mescal), who seem to be hiding their struggles and embark on a romantic journey. This film is deeply tragic and will affect viewers to the very core. Scott and Mescal are truly brilliant in this film and deliver performances that will make you cry for sure. As the film moves forward, it becomes more and more heart-wrenching. Do keep those tissues ready.

16) John Wick: Chapter 4

John Wick is one of those franchises that gets better with each passing installment. The first three movies were brilliant, but the fourth chapter took this action-packed universe to a whole new level. In an era where most movie fights rely on CGI or other technologies, John Wick stands out by taking the traditional approach to delivering exceptional action sequences to audiences. Chapter 4 is filled with such captivating scenes. On the other hand, Keanu Reeves continued to be one of the big reasons for the movie’s extraordinary success. John Wick: Chapter 4 is not just the best action movie of 2023 but also one of the best action movies in the last ten years.

15) Godzilla: Minus One

Over the years, we have seen a lot of movies made on the King of Kaiju. However, viewers still longed for a Godzilla movie that would sweep them off their feet. Finally, in 2023, fans got to see an extraordinary monster film in the form of Godzilla: Minus One. There are several reasons for its humongous success, and one of them is how it uses ‘kaiju’ for social commentary. It is one of the very few movies in the Godzilla franchise that gets the human drama angle right.

Meanwhile, the visual effects are spectacular and elevate the viewing experience. With a score of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, Godzilla: Minus One has become the highest-rated movie in the franchise. This deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible.

14) Fallen Leaves

Two lost souls meet in a local karaoke bar to start a unique relationship but things take a drastic turn when certain events plague their path to happiness. At the very first look, Fallen Leaves seems to be a tear-jerker. However, it’s precisely the opposite and presents a funny yet thought-provoking story. Alma Poysti has delivered a gem of a performance, and her character feels like a symbol of survival. Meanwhile, Jussi Vatanen is absolutely brilliant. Finland’s official entry to the Academy Awards is not just a mesmerizing film, it is also about finding peace in an unlikely setting.


13) Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse

There’s no doubt that Across the Spiderverse is a technical marvel and features breathtaking visuals. But most importantly, the film expertly blends those visuals with a deeply emotional story. Despite being stuffed with many characters, the makers stayed focused on delivering their intended message to the audience. There’s a reason why Spider-Man has always been such a hit with the movie-goers. The human element and the way it resonates with people is why this character has been such a phenomenal success. With this aspect, Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse not only becomes a trailblazing film, but also a significant emotional success.

12) Four Daughters

There are only a handful of documentary filmmakers who take a unique path to tell a story and Kaouther Ben Hania is one of them. As soon as Four Daughters begins, you get an idea of how the story will move forward. In the process, viewers get to learn about a family who lost almost everything because of radicalization. However, everything drastically changes in the final 25 minutes, leaving everyone shocked by what unfolds. It takes a lot of guts to make this kind of cinema. All in all, Four Daughters is a masterclass in documentary filmmaking and speaks about a system that is completely rotten.

11) American Fiction

There are stories that make you feel like something is not right with this society. Such stories are really important to tell and that’s what Cord Jefferson’s American Fiction does. Based on the 2001 novel Erasure, the movie chronicles the journey of a frustrated Black novelist who is trying to stay relevant with his writings. However, his publishers are unhappy with him because he is not giving them the “Black book” they want. So, he just gets on his computer and writes a story that destroys every Black narrative. The movie is very smart and beautifully written. On the other hand, Jeffrey Wright knocks it out of the park with his charismatic performance. This clever satire is intricate and complex and lives up to all the excitement.

10) The Boy and the Heron

Even though it took more than a decade for Hayao Miyazaki to come forward with his latest movie, the legendary filmmaker didn’t disappoint. His latest film, The Boy and the Heron, is different and a lot darker. That’s one of the reasons why it feels much more interesting than his earlier movies. The film’s strength lies in how the maker uses hand-drawn animations to pull viewers into the magical world of Miyazaki. Not a lot of films can use visuals to tell a story that is mysterious yet so endearing. Astonishingly beautiful and deeply resilient, this Hayao Miyazaki film is a beautiful coming-of-age story.

9) Perfect Days

Perfect Days is a simple story about a toilet cleaner named Hirayama (played by Koji Yakusho), who is content with his life and the work he does. He loves to listen to music and spend time with nature. As the story progresses, viewers learn more about Hirayama’s life and why he never likes to complicate things. Perfect Days is a story about finding positive aspects of life even when it lacks excitement. Additionally, one of the brightest aspects of the film is how subtle and delicate it is. Koji Yakusho’s heartfelt performance might very well be his finest. This film is an ode to life and one of the best movies of 2023.

8) Past Lives

For several reasons, Celine Song’s directorial debut Past Lives is one of the best films of 2023. From epic performances to masterful storytelling, this romantic drama takes you on a journey that gives an immersive experience. Greta Lee is captivating as Nora, and Teo Yoo is just as brilliant. Apart from the performances, the real soul of the movie is its writing and how Song manages to leave a lasting impression with a soul-stirring screenplay. Also, the script forces everyone to reflect on the choices they make in their lives. The film has received an overwhelming response from critics and audiences and is creating a lot of buzz in the ongoing awards season.

7) Monster

If Shoplifters introduced the world to Hirokazu Kore-eda’s directing prowess, then Monster makes you realize why he is one of the best filmmakers in the world right now. From the very first frame, viewers are drawn into Kore-eda’s fascinating world. However, it’s nearly impossible to understand in what direction this story will go and that’s also why Monster is such an intriguing title. The story follows different characters, and every single one of them has a story to tell. Even with so many plot points, the film never loses its grip and effortlessly shifts genres. The writing is impeccable and never lets go of its gentle approach. Heartbreaking, yet very caring.

6) The Zone of Interest

(L-R) Sandra Hüller in The Zone of Interest. Image is Courtesy of A24.
(L-R) Sandra Hüller in The Zone of Interest. Image is courtesy of A24.

Jonathan Glazer is known for making films about diverse issues, but none of his previous movies have been as disturbing as his latest film The Zone of Interest. It is one of the most unique takes on the Holocaust. The massacre has been depicted in numerous titles, but none of them have shown how a family ignores all of it, and lives and manages their household just right outside the walls of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Most of the movie is a spine-chilling reminder of what trauma feels like. The director never shows what’s happening inside the camp; viewers can hear all the gunshots and screams in the background. Glazer’s vision creates a movie about contrasts that might be uncomfortable to watch, yet undeniably, it’s one of the most significant cinematic experiences.

5) The Holdovers

2023 was filled with many serious stories, but Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers gave audiences something uplifting to appreciate. This movie is filled with nostalgia and features a story about how odd friendships can help you overcome grief. There is nothing flashy about this film, but it still manages to take you on a funny, emotional, and heartwarming ride. Apart from having such emotional moments, The Holdovers has some of the best insults in cinema history and would make everyone laugh-out-loud. Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Dominic Sessa are superb in their roles. The trio brought something really special to the screen and as soon as the end credits roll in, you realize that The Holdovers is an instant Christmas classic.

4) Anatomy of a Fall

Justine Triet’s award-winning courtroom drama Anatomy of a Fall starts as a simple murder case. As soon as the investigations begin, viewers realize that this story is much more complicated and combines a disintegrating marriage with elements of a legal thriller. It is one of the most talkative films of 2023 and needs a lot of attention. The French filmmaker showcases her unique style of filmmaking by letting all the characters shine. Her dynamic camerawork takes the viewing experience to a whole new level.

Sandra Hüller is brilliant as Sandra Voyter. It’s impossible to take your eyes off her, and it is undoubtedly one of the best performances of 2023. Extremely frightening yet absolutely gripping.

3) Poor Things 

Emma Stone in POOR THINGS. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved.
Emma Stone in POOR THINGS. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved.

Over the years, Yorgos Lanthimos has made some of the most unique films in the form of The Lobster and The Favourite. But none of his previous films have been as weird as Poor Things. The film is an uncanny take on Frankenstein and sees Emma Stone portraying the character of Bella Baxter. Her character has been brought back to life by a doctor named Godwin (Willem Dafoe), but all her previous memories are gone. Why? Because Bella is one of the doctor’s experiments, and Bella’s brain was swapped with an infant’s. Without any guesses, Bella’s story is about seeing the outside world in a different way. She doesn’t know anything about people and how cruel they can be. It is funny, thought-provoking, and weirdly entertaining. Truly, one of the best movies of 2023 and of the 21st century.

2) Killers of the Flower Moon

Martin Scorsese never shied away from making films that are impactful and showed the worst side of humanity. But none of them have been as brutal as his latest, Killers of the Flower Moon. The movie, based on the novel of the same name by David Grann, follows the story of gruesome murders that took place in 1920s Oklahoma. The people of Osage County were brutally killed by unknown ‘white’ assailants. The best aspect of the film is how Scorsese depicts the ruthlessness of these crimes and how white people didn’t really care about the massacre.

Lily Gladstone showcased her depth as an actress with an electrifying performance as Mollie Kyle. Meanwhile, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro are magnificent. Even though KOTFM was Scorsese’s first-ever Western drama, his signature style of showing how corruption impacts the society has been vividly represented.

1) Oppenheimer

From Memento to OppenheimerChristopher Nolan has come a long way as a filmmaker and usually comes forward with hard-to-conceptualize stories. Nolan has taken the world by storm with films such as InceptionInterstellar, and Dunkirk, but Oppenheimer is undoubtedly his greatest work. It chronicles the journey of an iconic American figure, J. Robert Oppenheimer, who is also known as the Father of the Atomic Bomb. The movie is all about how the US became the first country in the world to have an atomic bomb and how scientists sacrificed everything to create something that would change the entire world.

Yes, it features a lot of science. Fortunately, the screenplay and dialogues written by Nolan are easy to understand. Oppenheimer pushes the boundaries of storytelling and touches upon the moral complexities of scientific advancements. Cillian Murphy gives one of the best performances of his career, while Robert Downey Jr. delivers his best performance to date. Oppenheimer is a towering achievement in filmmaking and, truly, the best film of 2023.

Your thoughts on the best movies of 2023

Do you agree with this list? Are there any missing movies? How about movies that don’t belong? Join the conversation by leaving a comment or by messaging us on X @MoviesWeTexted.