10 Best Movies Of 2023

Plenty of feature-length releases have come and gone since the year began, but only a lucky few have earned their place among the best movies of 2023. There may be six months still to go, but 2023 has proved – if further proof were needed – that the modern movie industry is not for the faint of heart. Theatrical releases that once looked destined to become surefire hits have sunk faster than your bank balance after pre-movie snack purchasing, while movies that had no right to succeed whatsoever have cruised to critical and commercial prosperity.

Between The Flash‘s multiverse misery and Super Mario tossing blue shells at box office records for fun, however, one constant has remained in this first half of 2023: a steady stream of quality movie releases. The best movies of 2023 cater for all tastes and trends, from kooky horror and divisive examinations of human nature to big-budget superhero sci-fi and lute-twiddling fantasy fun. The following list bears no correlation to box office success, nor reflects what we predict will be carrying home gold come awards season, but is simply Screen Rant’s best movies of 2023 based on our own personal favorites.

10 M3GAN

Andrew Dyce, Comics Lead Editor

It’s hard to overstate just how much of a revelation M3GAN proved to be, from a premise easily dismissed as familiar, if not worn out. Start off with an unsettling doll artificially brought to life. Build it into a terrifying premise combining multiple modern fears of loneliness, digital isolation, amoral AI, and of course, old-fashioned killer toys. But what nobody saw coming was its mastery of absurdist comedy on a level reached only by the likes of Netflix’s forever-viral I Think You Should Leave.

In every single scene, M3GAN delivers a showcase of what modern horror blockbusters aspire to. But at its very best, it shows just what transcendent experiences are possible when filmmakers and their audience are lock-step through the tension, gore, laughter, and satisfaction of a well-told story. A slasher film giving a bully or jock what’s coming to them is nothing new. With M3GAN, the trope is elevated to a master class in uniting an audience against even the film’s own leads, until the audience’s collective longing to see despicable people punished seems to will it into existence. That is, until all laughter and cheering are replaced by genuine tension, and unsettling gore… at precisely the moment the filmmakers wish it.

Director Gerard Johnstone, writers Akela Cooper and James Wan, and everyone else involved with M3GAN have already taken a victory lap, as the film dominated social media (while still being somehow underappreciated). As outrageous, hilarious, and deranged as it is masterful in horror cinema, M3GAN is, simply, a triumph.

9 Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Simon, Edgin, Doric, and Holga looking at Xenk in Dungeons & Dragons Honor Among Thieves

Tom Bacon, Lead Star Wars Editor

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves was one of the most unexpectedly delightful movies of 2023. It wasn’t exactly a box office hit – grossing only $208.2 million in the box office – but it had heart, and is sure to become a cult classic. The plot is a traditional fantasy one, a simple quest in which a group of scoundrels works to right wrongs – and discover the truth about their own nature to boot, becoming heroes. This quest takes an intrepid band of adventurers into countless classic D&D locations, meaning the story is absolutely packed with Easter eggs.

Chris Pine is the perfect choice as Edgin, presenting as a would-be hero who’s lost his idealism due to personal tragedy – but, of course, who gets it back. There’s an excellent dynamic between Pine and Michelle Rodriguez, who plays Edgin’s sidekick Holga, and the dynamic between the wizard Simon (Justice Smith) and the magical shapeshifter Doric (Sophia Lillis) is just as enjoyable. Hugh Grant absolutely revels as the conman Forge, and Daisy Head is spectacular as the Red Wizard Sofina. Everything comes together into an almost perfect fantasy adventure, making Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves a joy to watch.

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8 Creed III

Michel B. Jordan as Adonis in Creed 3

Christopher Fiduccia, Operations Specialist

Creed III brings Michael B. Jordan back to the ring as Adonis Creed, who must come out of retirement to battle a childhood friend-turned-enemy named Damian Anderson, played by Jonathan Majors. With the popularity of Sylvester Stallone and Rocky Balboa, many worried when it was announced that the Oscar-nominated star would not appear in Creed III, even in a cameo capacity. Thankfully, Adonis Creed was able to step out of Stallone’s shadow, proving that the franchise can continue after Rocky’s satisfying ending in Creed II.

As expected, Creed III manages to provide audiences with yet another action-packed sports drama. But the emotional performances from the cast, representation for the ASL community, and the approach to sensitive topics such as the criminal justice system and family trauma allow Creed III to become one of the best movies of 2023. In doing so, the Creed series achieves a feat that Rocky never managed by landing three critically-acclaimed hits in a row.

7 Scream VI

Tara looking at Chad in Scream 6

Kara Hedash, Jr. Lead Features Editor

It’s remarkable to see a franchise remain relevant for nearly three decades, but it’s even more impressive when that franchise is a slasher horror on its sixth installment. Not only did Scream 6 make its biggest splash at the box office in the series’ history, but the franchise seems more popular now than ever before. While Scream 5 ushered new life into the series, the 2023 entry justified the notion that new Scream movies can still honor its predecessors while also elevating its meta-awareness to discuss the landscape of horror, and Hollywood as a whole.

Scream 6 ditched the nostalgic setting of Woodsboro and elected for uncharted territory by giving Ghostface a new playground in the form of New York City. The kills were more inventive and the stakes grew higher. The absence of Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott would be a detriment to any movie in the Scream franchise, but the “Core Four,” specifically Melissa Barrera’s Sam Carpenter, gave new meaning to what it takes to be a survivor at the hands of Ghostface. Throw in complicated family dynamics and Scream 6 used her questionable mental state as a wildcard, setting up a Final Girl that would be far different than anything this franchise has seen before.

6 The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Mario and Luigi in The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Simon Gallagher, Managing Editor

When you look back, the furore surrounding Chris Pratt’s casting as Mario in The Super Mario Bros Movie based on his voice was all a bit silly. Mario’s voice matters as much as James Bond’s skin regime or Black Widow’s driving record: sure, someone might be interested, but in the grand scheme of things, it simply does not impact the quality of the movie. And even with the complaints in mind, Pratt’s vocal performance is good. It makes Mario feel less cartoonish, which, given this is a cartoon, is an impressive achievement.

The question that $1.5bn’s worth of people wanted The Super Mario Bros Movie to answer was whether it was good, and whether it represented a good investment of time and money for a family. That’s why the hand-wringing over the fact that it wasn’t The LEGO Movie never made any sense: not everything needs to be a grown-up experience with heavy themes that helps adults feel better about watching animation. Not everything has to be clevered up. Sometimes it’s enough to see a little plumber man rescue his brother and save a kingdom from a pantomime villain who really wants some interspecies romance.

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The Super Mario Bros Movie is excellent fun, drenched in Nintendo nostalgia in exactly the right way to piss off Twitter users who lose their heads typing things like “memberberries” unironically. It does absolutely everything you’d want from a Mario movie, and scores double points for being nothing like the Bob Hoskins led monstrosity from 1993. It’s also a reminder that making movies for kids is a smart financial decision, because in the immortal words of Ned Schneebly, the children really are the future.

5 Beau Is Afraid

Beau walks through the woods in Beau is Afraid

Alex Harrison, Senior Movie News Editor

After making a name for himself in horror with Hereditary and Midsommar, Ari Aster took a few steps in Charlie Kaufman’s direction with his third feature by finding the humor in one anxious man’s subjective experience. Anchored by a deeply human Joaquin Phoenix as the supporting cast plays tonal hacky sack around him, Beau Is Afraid takes its audience on a journey through surreal episodes and often conflicting feelings, leaving viewers with a lot to process. It’s a major artistic swing, and was, therefore, always likely to divide.

Indeed, Beau Is Afraid struggled during its time at the 2023 box office, but the way the movie rewards rewatches and interpretation practically makes it destined to build a following. Spending three hours strapped to Beau’s perspective as he traverses his nightmares made unsettlingly (and hilariously) real might not be everyone’s idea of a good time. Those willing to put themselves on this movie’s wavelength, however, will find it as detailed and affecting as any movie released in 2023.

4 Past Lives

greta lee in past lives

Graeme Guttmann, Senior TV News Editor

Past Lives is a quiet revelation. Written and directed by Celine Song in her feature debut, the film follows Greta Lee’s Nora, a Korean-Canadian-American immigrant who left her birth country and childhood sweetheart Hae Sung, played by Teo Yoo, when she was just 12. Past Lives follows Nora and Hae-Sung through the decades, tracking heartbreaks, marriages, and careers in mundane moments that somehow feel buoyed by fate. Lee’s startling performance, a masterclass in subtlety, anchors the film, as does a particularly heart-wrenching monologue about In-Yun that acts as Past Lives‘ centerpiece.

The end of Past Lives feels like a sigh of relief and the moment a sob escapes the chest at the same time. There is something about the unknown, about what could have been rather than what is, that will always be more appealing than the present. Nora is torn between the two and Song’s script beautifully connects this to Nora’s experience as an immigrant, a writer, a lover, and a friend.

3 Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3

Mantis Star Lord Groot Nebula and Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3

Evan Mullicane, Lead Anime Editor

With the toxic combination of behind-the-scenes drama and an underwhelming response to MCU Phase 4, there were more than enough reasons for viewers to temper their expectations for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Movie trilogies are also infamous for ending on weaker entries as filmmakers and studios struggle to tie-off an increasingly complex web of plot threads and character arcs. That Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 retains all the swagger and wit the series is famous for is a minor miracle. That the threequel also surpasses its beloved predecessors in many ways should have been impossible.

More so than either of the previous two films, this feels like an ensemble movie. Every character arc comes to such a fitting conclusion that it’s obvious writer and director James Gunn had these endings planned out from the start. Despite all the aliens and strange creatures the series is known for, the characters of Guardians of the Galaxy are achingly human. Far from the melodrama of Thor or the larger-than-life icons of Captain America and Iron Man, the Guardians are just trying to do right by their family and community.

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Marvel, and the cinematic landscape in general, has become increasingly dour. Reflecting the pandemic’s psychological effects almost completely by accident, too many big-budget movies have ended on either bittersweet or outright depressing notes of late. Heroes becoming villains, heroes sacrificing themselves, heroes having to accept loss. Many of these stories work on an individual level, but when taken as a whole, the trend has been exhausting. Perhaps it’s the weight of the moment, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3‘s happy ending is a shining piece of optimism that cements the franchise’s place in cinematic history.

2 John Wick: Chapter 4

Keanu Reeves in John Wick 4 with blood on his shirt

Craig Elvy, Jr. Lead Features Editor

Keanu Reeves’ John Wick franchise had already achieved that rare Hollywood feat of a movie trilogy that avoids succumbing to diminishing returns. By all reasonable logic, maintaining that streak into John Wick: Chapter 4 should have been a stretch too far. Just as Marquis Gramont himself found out, however, it is unwise to underestimate John Wick. Like previous sequels, John Wick: Chapter 4 naturally and effortlessly elevates what came before. From the world-building and character arcs to action and stunts, everything in John Wick 4 succeeds in feeling like an evolution, without ever falling victim to that all-too-common sequel trap of sacrificing substance for more style.

John Wick: Chapter 4 delivers as advertised and then some, but far more impressive is how Chad Stahelski and co. insist upon major creative risks that relentlessly push the John Wick envelope with no care for convention or resting on laurels. Few would have predicted – with any real confidence, at least – the gut-punch final stop of John’s journey, and that surprise perfectly demonstrates this franchise’s dedication to placing clever storytelling and meaningful character moments hand-in-hand with novelty kills and flying bullets. Obviously, there’s no shortage of those either.

The keenness of John Wick: Chapter 4‘s ending may have been dulled by conflicting comments concerning the future, but whatever comes next, this is a far better entry in an already-stellar series than any fourth movie should be. A stunning turn from Donnie Yen as Caine, a poignant final farewell to Lance Reddick, and action sequences that prove practical effects still haven’t lost their magic. John Wick: Chapter 4 may just be the best entry in the series so far. That alone propels Keanu Reeves’ mutt-loving mercenary toward the top end of 2023’s cinematic achievements.

1 Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse

Miles Morales Running From The Spider-Society In Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse

Leah Nucum, Lead Image Editor

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse continues the highly-anticipated adventure of Brooklyn-based teen superhero Miles Morales as Spider-Man, and his fan-favorite partner-in-crime, Gwen Stacy’s Spider-Woman. With the same iconic and unique comic book style and energy as the first entry, this animated sequel more than lives up to its groundbreaking predecessor. An ability to weave together visually-stunning action sequences and typical Spidey humor, yet also deliver the emotional heaviness of parental and self-expectations, showcases a much-needed versatility among the current wave of more formulaic superhero movies.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse appeases expectant audiences with the chaos of a never-ending multiverse containing Spider-variants familiar and new, and hidden cameos are in plentiful supply. However, the unexpected villain reveal during Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse‘s ending fuels even more excitement and anticipation for what comes next. The second installment of this web-slinging saga encapsulates exceptional storytelling, sumptuous visuals, and endless creativity, and easily earns its place among the best movies of 2023. Miles Morales’ animated adventures are rapidly becoming a superhero phenomenon not to be missed.

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