The Best, Worst, and Most Underrated Movies of 2023
Twenty-twenty-three was a great year for film, not only from the box office perspective but because there were some very entertaining films.
Yes, we had a slew of sequels, but there were also some very strong movies. With that in mind, welcome to our list of Best Films for 2023.
Best Horror Movie
Talk to Me
Danny and Michael Philippou transitioned from popular YouTubers to feature filmmakers by creating a film that is not only original but plays great homage to the genre. It was fun, it was scary, and it was very well made.
When the Saw franchise first appeared on the scene, the overall core of the film was brilliant; a dying man growing tired of seeing people take aspects of their life for granted made them appreciate what they had in a twisted way. As the series evolved, it turned into a gorefest. Saw X did not travel down that path. It was a return to form and a great movie. Ten films in, and you could argue that Saw X is one of the best entries in the series.
Best Concert Movie
Stop Making Sense Restoration – The Talking Heads
While I thoroughly enjoyed Taylor Swift’s Eras concert film, I agree with the consensus that Stop Making Sense is the greatest concert film ever made. The film was re-released this year, and the brilliance of the film is in its simplicity—no costly theatrics needed—just the genius of an extremely talented group, The Talking Heads.
Event of the Year
Movies are released weekly, but on July 20, when Barbie and Oppenheimer were released, it became the most popular unofficial double feature in recent memory. Representing the first and third highest globally grossing films of the year, this event brought people to the theatre.
Most Bizarre in a Bad Way
In this movie, the characters have their fingernails yanked out to prove their love for someone. Sorry, what?
Most Bizarre in a Good Way
Yorgos Lanthimos has directed a quirky and unique film. There is nothing cookie-cutter about it, but he may have directed some of the best performances that we have seen from Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo.
Best Film from a Sophomore Director
Several years ago, Emerald Fennell wrote and directed Promising Young Woman. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and was nominated for four others.
This year, her second film, Saltburn, proves the brilliance of Promising Young Woman wasn’t a fluke. Fennell directed Barry Keoghan in one of his best performances and solidified that she is a filmmaker to keep an eye on.
As the year went on, Superhero Movie Fatigue became a thing.
Superhero Movie That Did Not Provide Fatigue
Guardians of the Galaxy 3
Rocket’s origin story is a fantastic end to the story of the Guardians. Director James Gunn dropped the mic and walked away from Marvel to DC Comics, but not before delivering a fantastic final film.
Superhero Movies That Did Provide Fatigue
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Aquaman: the Lost Kingdom
Shazam: Fury of the Gods
5 Underrated Movies
These are five movies released this year that were very good but don’t seem to be on many people’s radar.
The financial director of a super PAC uncovers a major conspiracy. The film is a well-done political thriller.
This courtroom drama features strong performances from Academy Award winners Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones. Coupled with a compelling story, it is a very good movie. This is a return to form for Jamie Foxx that shows his range and just how good courtroom dramas can be.
Flora and Son
In a subtle love letter to Ireland, Eve Hewson and Oren Kinlan star in a film about a mother trying to connect with her son.
A Good Person
Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman deliver strong performances in a film about dealing with grief and trying to move on.
The Persian Version
We meet a large Iranian family that is male-dominated, but it’s the two women in the family who steal the show. The mother-daughter dynamic is explored deeply in this film, and the strong performances make it a must-see.
The Worst Movies of the Year
These are the five movies to avoid at all costs.
5. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
It is not necessarily a terrible movie but a huge disappointment. You have Harrison Ford back and completely waste him? Fail!
4. Vacation Friends 2
The first Vacation Friends movie was hilarious. This wasn’t. I am all for sequels, but can we at least put some thought into them?
3. Fast X
A fantastic cast of Academy Award winners, exciting chases and CGI moments, but it is all buried under the ego of Vin Diesel. Like a guest who doesn’t know when it’s time to leave, how many more of these movies do we have to look forward to? Excuse me while I reach for my Tylenol.
2. The Ritual Killer
If you take Morgan Freeman and Cole Hauser (AKA Rip from Yellowstone), you should get a decent movie, right? Wrong. This film is atrocious. The plot seems decent — on the trail of a killer — but it takes so many bizarre turns that you are left wishing you had the 92 minutes of your life back.
The Worst Movie of 2023
When this film was initially released, it wasn’t playing in Canada, and I was a tad disappointed. Careful of what you wish for. When it was finally released, we were treated to a film that was beyond nonsensical. It starts off ok, with a criminal who hypnotizes people into committing crimes, but as the film progresses and the twists keep coming, you realise even the writer doesn’t know what is happening.
There are bad movies that find a cult audience and then are just bad movies no one should ever see. Hypnotic is the latter.
And now, the 10 Best Movies of 2023
10. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Kelly Fremon Craig needs to be acclaimed for taking the beloved book by Judy Blume and turning it into a fantastic film. Not surprising since her movie, The Edge of Seventeen, demonstrated that she knew a thing or two about directing coming-of-age films. There were a lot of expectations for this film, and she exceeded them.
9. Night of the 12th
This intense thriller focuses on the death of a young woman and the police force tasked with trying to solve the crime. The attention to detail and strong performances really make this film stand out.
8. Killers of the Flower Moon
Yes, it’s well over three hours long, but it is worth the watch. One of the best working directors is Martin Scorsese; add to that Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio, but it is Lily Gladstone’s performance that will stay with you.
7. Godzilla Minus One
Best. Godzilla. Movie. Ever. It doesn’t focus on carnage and rampage but instead on the characters affected by the monster. The audience is invested in this film. It isn’t some big-budget, over-the-top film; it’s a film with depth and soul.
6. American Fiction
The 2023 Toronto International Film Festival’s Peoples Choice Award winner went to first-time filmmaker Cord Jefferson for this film. Jefferson took the well-known actor Jeffrey Wright and directed him in the best performance of his career.
5. The Holdovers
Director Alexander Payne needs to be commended for the incredible work of Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Dominic Sessa in this film. The movie, which can give you Scent of a Woman vibes, is very sweet.
4. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
So. Much. Movie. Several films deal with the multiverse and time travel, but none are as good as this. Animated films aren’t supposed to be this outstanding, are they?
Only two directors use actual IMAX technology, and Christopher Nolan is one of them. Yes, he took a dialogue-driven film and gave it the IMAX treatment, but he also created an incredible film that is as much of an ode to filmmaking as any movie you will see.
2. Past Lives
The story of two childhood friends from South Korea who are separated from each other and reunited decades later is the love story of the year.
The Best Movie of 2023
The Zone of Interest
On Thursday, September 7th, 2023, at approximately 1:30 p.m., I left the Toronto International Film Festival theatre and knew I had found my favourite film of the year.
All the superlatives are warranted here: It’s a modern-day masterpiece, brilliant, horrifying. The story of the commandant of Auschwitz who lives right next door to the facility and his daily life with his family.
There are no scenes of violence or torture, but due to the incredible sound design, it is implied. The score is hauntingly incredible. The cinematography is amazing, and the acting by Christian Friedel and Sandra Huller is captivating.
This subject has been done before, but making it your own is something director Jonathan Glazer did here. Glazer doesn’t try to humanize the characters or conjure sympathy; instead, he shows the audience how pure evil can exist while those closest to it are completely oblivious. He questions whether things have changed over the years.
The Zone of Interest is not only the best movie of 2023 but also the most important.