The Best Movies Of 2023, Ranked

From action, comedy, animation and beyond, here are the year's 15 best movies ranked.


We don’t mean it lightly when we say that 2023 was a great year for movies. Despite the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes delaying several of this year’s most anticipated films, including Dune: Part 2, audiences still had a banquet full of incredible cinema slices whether indie or blockbuster. If anything, the strike honed down on the importance of the writers, crew, and actors who make all these magical masterpieces happen—and 2023 deserves a huge round of applause for giving a stage to some of the industry’s brightest (and newest) talent. 

While some films on this list were helmed by talent tycoons like Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan, others celebrate the beginnings of new directors like Emma Seligman and Celine Song. While some took us on a multiverse adventure or to Barbie Land and back, others kept us within the quiet four corners of a broken home or even invited us back to high school for an evening. All these films pose some of the most interesting stories we’ve seen in a while, and celebrate cinema’s ability to stun, shock, and provoke whether through animation, comedy, action, and beyond. 

Before we begin, however, honorable mentions are due for films that also made a stellar impact this year, including Elemental, Talk to Me, The Creator, Poor Things, Wonka, and All of Us Strangers

Here are 2023’s 15 best films ranked from the incredible to the extraordinary. 

15. Blue Beetle

Director: Angel Manuel Soto 
Starring: Xolo Maridueña, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez, Bruna Marquezine
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Where to Watch: Max

Blue Beetle earned its spot on this list simply because of what it represents. I don’t expect it to appear in other Best Movies of 2023 lists—and so far, it hasn’t. Although it’s one of the best DC movies in recent memory, Blue Beetle leans so heavily on its Latinidad that it perhaps alienated the general public and most critics when it was released. But that’s expected. Many of the jokes and references are incredibly culturally specific: A Luis Miguel song, a cameo by Carlos Ponce, and plenty of El Chapulín Colorado mentions may fall flat for any non-Latino. But that’s OK—Latinos made the film for Latinos, and that’s what makes it great.

Xolo Maridueña stars as Blue Beetle/Jaime Reyes, a recent college graduate who is desperately trying to help his struggling family when an alien relic gets fused into his spine and changes everything. Maridueña possesses the kind of charm and endearing innocence required to tell a superhero’s origin story, and I look forward to seeing him grow in this role as Blue Beetle and beyond. His family’s struggle is undoubtedly familiar to first-generation Americans, and it felt validating to see it portrayed onscreen so well. That sort of specificity allows the story to be universal and relatable to any young person trying to build a better future for themselves and their loved ones. 

Director Angel Manuel Soto created a well-balanced blend with this film. There’s plenty of humor in BB that doesn’t feel cheap or immature (unlike recent superhero films), primarily thanks to George Lopez, who shines as Uncle Rudy. The film is tender and heartwarming at times without being too saccharine or melodramatic. To counteract that, it also contains all the action, villains, conflict, and explosions the superhero genre calls for. In the end, it leaves you with a powerful, feel-good message: The love we feel for our family doesn’t make us weak; it makes us heroic. —Karla Rodriguez

14. Priscilla

Director: Sofia Coppola 
Starring: Cailee Spaeny, Jacob Elordi
Distributor: A24 
Where to Watch: Prime Video

Priscilla initially felt like an odd project for Sofia Coppola. The stalwart writer/director is no stranger to the adaptation or biopic, but her choice to focus a story on the titular Priscilla Presley came across like it’d cover old ground or that she wouldn’t find anything new to say. Instead, Priscilla is the classic case of talent using a familiar-style project to mine a similar space to greater effect. Sure, the film shares plenty of overlap with Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, or Somewhere, but using the lore of a classic American love story like Elvis and Priscilla’s allowed Coppola to find new, more effective depths to the kind of stories she’s told. It’s like watching an already legendary basketball player suddenly discover new ways to change up their game. Bolstered by magnetic performances from Jacob Elordi and Cailee Spaeny, it’s absolutely thrilling to watch a talent so in their bag in the way Coppola is here. —William Goodman

13. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Director: Jeff Rowe
Starring: Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu, Brady Noon, Ayo Edebiri, Maya Rudolph, John Cena, Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Jackie Chan, Ice Cube
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Where to Watch: Paramount Plus 

The name of the movie is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, but the "teenage" part should be bolded and in caps. There has never been a TMNT retelling that's made such an effort to capture the awkwardness, slang, and overall vibe of being young. Case in point: This is the first time that all four turtles have been voiced by actual teens, and the filmmakers had them all record their lines in the same booth so they could bounce and improvise off each other—"Yo ock, lemme get a bacon, egg, and cheese!"

The animation in this movie is beautiful, and the plot is a bit of wish fulfillment for longtime fans of the franchise. For decades, the turtles have just wanted to fit in and be accepted by the humans above ground, but aside from April O'Neil and Casey Jones, they've rarely been able to keep and maintain human relationships. But this movie redirects the established canon in an entirely different direction, and it makes us hopeful for wherever the creators decide to take this iteration next. Seeing these established characters in entirely new scenarios will be a breath of fresh air. —Kevin Wong

12. The Boy and the Heron

Director: Hayao Miyazaki 
Starring: Soma Santoki, Masaki Suda, Aimyon, Yoshino Kimura
Distributor: Studio Ghibli/Toho
Where to Watch: The Boy and the Heron is playing in theaters

I don’t want to imagine a world where Hayao Miyazaki stops making films. Across his record-defining career, the 82-year-old director has whisked us into a kaleidoscope of worlds from celestial forests to underwater castles, and with his latest film, Miyazaki invents yet another world for audiences to fall in love with and reaffirms his title as the greatest living animator and storyteller of our time. 

The Boy and the Heron, titled in Japanese as How Do You Live, follows Mahito (Santoki), a young boy who’s grappling with his mother’s death and struggling to find his footing in a new town. But everything changes upon the arrival of a talking heron who guides Mahito into another world, where his mother (and magic) run free. Enchanting, enthralling, and emotional as ever, The Boy and the Heron is Miyazaki at his best, seamlessly using its larger-than-life world as a launchpad for lessons on empathy, grief, and acceptance. In what was supposed to be his last film, Miyazaki signs off with what’s perhaps the most poignant and enduring reflection of his career—the power of finding the will to live one’s own life as it is, pain and all. —Yasmeen Hamadeh

11. Bottoms

Director: Emma Seligman
Starring: Rachel Sennott, Ayo Edebiri, Ruby Cruz, Havana Rose Liu, Kaia Gerber, Nicholas Galitzine, Marshawn Lynch
Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Where to Watch: Prime Video  

Emma Seligman is a two for two. Following her incredible, yet criminally underrated directorial debut, Shiva Baby, Seligman returned this year with Bottoms. Helmed by the incomparable Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri, Bottoms satirizes the teen comedy and brings forth a story that’s wilder than fiction—two lesbians in high school decide to start a female fight club to get laid. It’s bonkers. It’s bold. And it’s brilliant. While the humor in Bottoms admittedly isn’t for everyone, the film refreshingly brings queer comedy to a forefront often eclipsed by raunchier, male-led endeavors. 

Bottoms was made by newly cemented Gen Z icons for a Gen Z audience, and anyone who marginally exists online would appreciate all it has to offer. Through powerhouse, laugh-out-loud performances from its entire ensemble, Bottoms reigns as one of the best films of the year for actually bringing something new to the table and greenlighting a tide shift in stories Hollywood should start investing in. No director besides Seligman could achieve Bottoms’ tonal balance of raunchy and relatable, and the film has rightfully earned a spot in queer cinema’s all-star hall. —Yasmeen Hamadeh

10. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

Director: Kelly Fremon Craig 
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Benny Safdie, Kathy Bates, Abby Ryder Fortson, Elle Graham
Distributor: Lionsgate
Where to Watch: Hulu

Coming-of-age movies are universal but rarely as well rendered as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Adapted from the Judy Blume novel of the same name and directed by The Edge of Seventeen’s Kelly Fremon Craig, Margaret manages to nail the book's warm and frank tone while also improving upon it for the better. These kinds of films often sideline the mother for the teen's sake, but Margaret provides a platform for one of the year’s most remarkable performances from Rachel McAdams. As Barbara, she turns in a career-best (and Oscar-win-worthy!) performance as a mom who is just as lost, confused, and searching for herself as the film’s titular teen. McAdams is the perfect avatar to convey Margaret’s warmth and radiance—elements that help the film grow in my estimation and admiration with each subsequent viewing. —William Goodman

9. Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One

Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Where to Watch: Apple TV+ 

Out of all the films this year to function as the first of a two-part movie, Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One is the most satisfying story of the bunch. Joining Tom Cruise for a record third Mission outing, writer/director Christopher McQuarrie continues to keep the franchise fresh and bold with each new installment. And for this go-round, it means making the movie feel like a Buster Keaton film crossed with an episode of Looney Tunes. The showstopper chase sequence through Rome feels like a chance between Tweety Bird and Sylvester, down to the canary yellow Fiat and the monster black tactical vehicle. The much-publicized jump remains breathtaking, even with all the behind-the-scenes footage, and cements Cruise as this generation’s greatest stuntman. While the narrative isn’t quite as tight as previous installments (although we reserve the right to change that upon the release of Part Two), few things are finer than watching Cruise go full tilt to entertain us as he does here. Add that in with the new additions to the cast, including Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, and Shea Whigham, who are perfect flourishes to one of the finest ensembles around, and you’ve got one deeply entertaining blockbuster film anchored by one of cinema’s greatest. —William Goodman

8. John Wick: Chapter 4

Director: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Laurence Fishburne
Distributor: Lionsgate
Where to Watch: Starz  

The highlights in John Wick: Chapter 4 are numerous, but the nunchaku sequence might just stand out the most. We're used to seeing a fairly sanitized depiction of the nunchaku. Michelangelo the Ninja Turtle uses them more for show than style, and Bruce Lee's mastery was hamstrung by '70s fight choreography. But watch John Wick wailing on a guy with nunchaku, and hear the sickening crack of wood against flesh and bone. Damn. That man is dead. No bullets necessary.

John Wick spends the entirety of Chapter 4 killing everyone in sight—so he can hopefully fulfill an obscure contractual loophole that will allow him to never kill anyone again. It's not the best premise for a movie, but the John Wick franchise has never been one for narrative depth. Like many classic Hong Kong action films, the plot and script in John Wick: Chapter 4 are secondary to the extended, balletic action sequences that are some of the most brutal, yet oddly beautiful depictions of violence onscreen. This is where the film’s real triumph—the non-verbal, physical storytelling—takes place. —Kevin Wong

7. Barbie

Director: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Will Ferrell, Issa Rae
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures 
Where to Watch: Prime Video 

There’s no denying that 2023 was the year of Barbie. From the supersized marketing you couldn’t escape to the ceaseless swarm of tweets, Barbie was everywhere and was—whether you personally enjoyed it or not—the most anticipated and biggest movie to come out this year. While many are now taking Barbie’s massive success as an opportunity to question whether or not it was “overhyped,” a conversation curse any widely loved thing is subjected to, Greta Gerwig’s junior effort was objectively a great film

From its Oscar-worthy set design to its electric ensemble, Barbie was just as fun as we’d all hoped it would be, packing on the antics (and musical numbers) to make a euphoric masterpiece of a movie. It was hilarious. It was heartfelt. And it was perfectly poignant and pink, taking a jab at an ugly truth and disguising it with just enough plastic to still piss off men everywhere. Despite Hollywood eyeing a potential sequel, Barbie was a great standalone film and marked a new milestone in Gerwig’s career. Expect to see a lot of studios try to emulate Barbie (and its marketing) in the near future, but nothing will ever come close to the dreamhouse itself...or Ken’s mojo dojo casa house. —Yasmeen Hamadeh

6. Godzilla Minus One

Director: Takashi Yamazaki
Starring: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Minami Hamabe, Yuki Yamada, Munetaka Aoki
Distributor: Toho
Where to Watch: Godzilla Minus One is playing in theaters

Godzilla’s 70th birthday begins in 2024, but the King of the Monsters started the celebration early with Godzilla Minus One. Written and directed by Takashi Yamazaki, Minus One returns to the lizard’s genesis, setting the movie in the wake of Japan’s defeat in World War II. When would-be kamikaze pilot Kōichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) pulls the cord on his planned death run and lands on a small island, he comes across a fledgling version of the famed monster. His inability to act steadily becomes a national nightmare when Godzilla re-emerges years later, supercharged by the United States’ nuclear testing in the Pacific, with his sights set on Japan. What unfolds conveys the sheer terror of what it’s like to reckon with an outright monstrous version of Godzilla and to try to find hope as a society stares down the end of the world. Minus One is epic, accomplished, thrilling, scary, and entertaining all at once, proving Godzilla is still as mighty and relevant now as he was in 1954. —William Goodman

5. May December

Director: Todd Haynes
Starring: Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman, Charles Melton
Distributor: Netflix
Where to Watch: Netflix 

It’s no secret that Netflix has been trying to anchor itself as a worthy competitor for award season. From Roma to All Quiet on the Western Front, the streaming service has attempted to procure at least one original movie out of its yearly hundreds as Oscar contenders, but its most daring recent effort comes through Todd Haynes’ May December. Loosely inspired by the real-life case of Mary Kay Letourneau, the film follows Elizabeth Berry (Portman), an actress who ventures to Georgia to research a controversial figure she’s going to play in a film. While May December takes an obvious jab at the ethical blindspots of true crime, the film triumphs in its navigation of abuse and the powerhouse performances from its enigmatic ensemble, which easily stands as some of this year’s best. 

Moore and Melton shine as a husband and wife with a tragic affair that has no moral gray areas despite the efforts of Portman’s character to find one. It’s that exact tension that weaves May December’s rhythm to slowly ebb and flow between unimaginable trauma and an audience ready to sink its teeth into exploiting it. The film’s screenplay, written by Samy Burch, is as sharp as it is chilling, outsmarting almost every horror film released this year in its recognition that there’s often nothing more malicious than people themselves. Moore particularly shines in her role as a manicured predator, capable of masking her true horridness with a swab of blush and a calculated retort piercing enough to keep her prey exactly where she wants them to be. Although May December was one of 2023’s later offerings, its drama-soaked deftness has quickly catapulted it into one of this year’s best. —Yasmeen Hamadeh

4. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Director: Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin K. Thompson, Kemp Powers
Starring: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Vélez
Distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing
Where to Watch: Netflix  

The Spider-Verse movies have accomplished something incredible, turning Miles Morales—a character who's just a little under a decade old—into a mainstream superhero with as much name recognition and relevance as Peter Parker to a new generation of superhero fans. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, released in 2018, started that ball rolling. And now its sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, has deepened this portrayal. Miles is no longer a student of other, older Spideys that came prior to him. He's his own character, and he challenges the very meaning of what it is to be Spider-Man, fighting against an entire multiverse of webbed heroes that stand in his way. 

Incredible, inventive animation. Deep, meaningful characterization. Add a narrative twist in the last five minutes that will make a chill run down your spine, and you have an animated film that stands as one of the year's best. If there's any problem with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, it's that it ends on a cliffhanger. And now, we have to wait until June 2025 for Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse to finish the tale. —Kevin Wong

3. Oppenheimer

Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh
Distributor: Universal Pictures 
Where to Watch: Prime Video

Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer is a special kind of fission. Equal parts biopic, courtroom thriller, heist film, and character study, each disparate element of Oppenheimer is a strong-enough component to potentially overpower the other. And yet, they all collide together to explosive effect, resulting in what might very well be Nolan’s best film to date. Featuring a murderers' row of talent (including an Oscar-worthy performance from Cillian Murphy), the film is a technical achievement in every sense of the word, functioning as a perfect reminder of the costs of surmounting the impossible. Its haunting conclusion will deservedly linger for a long, long time. —William Goodman

2. Killers of the Flower Moon

Director: Martin Scorsese 
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons
Distributor: Paramount Pictures/Apple Original Films
Where to Watch: Apple TV+ 

Some artists enter their twilight years and start to slow down—but not Martin Scorsese. The 81-year-old filmmaker seems hellbent on entering the late stage of his career with one barn burner after another, including this year’s Killers of the Flower Moon. Based on the reported novel by David Grann about the 1920s Osage murders, Scorsese’s adaptation recontextualizes the book to become less of a whodunnit and instead focuses on its personalized stakes. Scorsese reveals the murderer early on as a way to dig deeper into the complex relationship between Mollie (Gladstone) and Ernest Burkhart (DiCaprio). Both performers turn in their career-best work, particularly Gladstone, whose eyes alone convey an oceanic depth of sadness as she watches her loved ones fall away from her one by one. Killers is a tragedy in every sense of the word, one that forces you to sit and reckon with the monstrous acts committed against the true people of our land. The ghost of it lingers and shows that one of cinema’s finest artists still has something to say. —William Goodman

1. Past Lives

Director: Celine Song
Starring: Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, John Magaro
Distributor: A24
Where to Watch: YouTube  

Most romantic films have romantic relationships at their cores; two people fall in love, run into complications, and must openly communicate to reconcile. But Past Lives, written and directed by first-time director Celine Song, is a romantic relationship that never was. Its two main characters were close friends in childhood, but when one of them moved from Korea to America, they grew apart. The rest of the movie is a cycle of regret and longing, as both characters intermittently reconnect, take stock of how their lives turned out, and ask themselves, "What if?"

There's a maturity and discipline to this movie's handling of its subject matter. Time and again, there are opportunities for the movie to descend into farce or typical, neat resolutions. And time and again, the movie elects to take the more subtle, less-traveled path. There's no definitive statement at the end—no blowoff confrontation where everything that needs to be said is said. Instead, there's just longing. Aching longing, and a physical tension that's palpable but never gets acted upon. It's romantic, in the most withholding, torturous sense of the word. —Kevin Wong

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