The best movies of 2023 so far… and where to watch them

These are the movies we’ve gotten excited about this year – and where you can watch them.

Can’t decide what to watch? Well, look no further—there’s bound to be something on this list of our fave movies so far this year, whether you’re watching for the first time, or revisiting a recent highlight.

This post will be updated each month with new recommendations for viewing both in cinemas and at home. And, for the avoidance of any confusion, these are titles we covered in 2023 (including a couple of early Cannes reviews)—as opposed to what a formal release year might say. Look, we just want you to watch some good stuff, OK?

(You can also check out The best movies still to come in 2023, The best shows of 2023 so far and The best shows still to come in 2023.)

The Boy and the Heron

Revealing itself to be perhaps heavier on the fantasy than earlier anticipated, The Boy and the Heron feels like another magnificent entry in the Miyazaki filmography. Set during WWII, young boy Mahito moves to the countryside after his mother’s death, discovers an abandoned tower and enters a fantastical world populated with extraordinary creatures. Contrasting the film with other contemporary animation, Luke Buckmaster’s Flicks review observes: “Miyazaki slows things down and makes things sparkle in different ways, evoking the child in the adult and the adult in the child.”

Blue Jean

The intolerance of Thatcher-era Britain puts a schoolteacher’s career in jeopardy when one of Jean’s students turns up at the gay bar she frequents. Closeted and keeping her relationship with another woman a secret at her workplace, Jean’s livelihood is at stake if she’s outed, due to much-maligned 80s policy Section 28, outlawing the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools. The director and star are an ideal team, says Eliza Janssen’s review for Flicks: “[Georgia] Oakley’s intimate camera gradually cracking open [Rosy] McEwen’s detached, chilly elegance.”


Bradley Cooper’s nose might be a little… on the nose… but his second directorial feature still impressed at its Venice Film Festival world premiere, with bold choices in direction and cinematography. A biographical love story starring Cooper as music legend Leonard Bernstein, Maestro doesn’t sound like your typical biopic—indeed, Rory Doherty’s review for Flicks suggests it strains against the form in trying to paint a specific portrait of Bernstein: “Bernstein dedicated his life to music, and Maestro believes the Hollywood biopic, even when remoulded to accommodate Bernstein’s genius, pales in comparison to musical expression. If Maestro was always destined to have flaws, it’s rewarding to feel Cooper fighting against them.”

The Old Oak

From Poor Cow and Kes in the 1960s right through to his dual 21st century Palme d’Or winners The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) and I, Daniel Blake (2016), Ken Loach has been an enduring, challenging presence on the big screen. His formidable career comes to a close with this drama, centred on the last pub standing in a small, Northern England town—an area that has recently started hosting Syrian refugees. It’s not a masterpiece, observes Liam Maguren in his Flicks review: “Not that it has to be a perfect film to be the perfect sendoff for a filmmaker so admirably dedicated to illustrating injustices and the human condition.”

Silent Night

Action master John Woo is back, and his new revenge flick feels like a response to the new crop of big action directors out there (David Leitch etc) who are hugely indebted to the legendary director’s body of work. Woo makes the bold gambit to render Joel Kinnaman’s lead character mute with a bullet to the throat and the boldness doesn’t stop there—Silent Night is entirely dialogue-free (if you don’t count henchmen’s screams or the odd piece of background noise). It might not be top-tier Woo, according to Luke Buckmaster’s Flicks review, but is still “an engrossing, well executed work with a refreshing air of audacity”.


Oscar-winning filmmaker Emerald Fennell follows her debut Promising Young Woman with this suspense-driven British tale of privilege and desire. Oxford student Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) finds himself drawn into the world of the charming and aristocratic Felix (Euphoria‘s Jacob Elordi)—who invites Oliver to his eccentric family’s sprawling estate. The film “verges on horror, but the most sexy, dramatic, sometimes hilariously funny twist on the genre,” according to Cat Woods’ Flicks review.

When Evil Lurks

A case of demonic possession gets out of control in chilling and gory horror When Evil Lurks. There’s a lot of pleasure to being held in the grip of this masterful horror, says Steve Newall’s review: “After having two thrilling viewings of Demián Rugna’s chilling, gory and incredibly tense tale of demonic possession, the odds are stacked against a stronger horror presenting itself in 2023”.

The Killer

Michael Fassbender’s titular killer is an assassin in David Fincher’s latest thriller, one who goes after the enemies who make things personal after a job gone wrong. The pic grips despite its familiar beats, says Stephen A Russell’s review: “It’s Fincher’s gift that he manages to make The Killer feel as fresh as it does while wholesale photocopying the plot of countless stone-cold thrillers.”

Suitable Flesh

A once-respected psychiatrist (Heather Graham) watches her life plummet into a nightmare of hysteria and carnage in ’80s-influenced, erotic body-hopping horror Suitable Flesh. It’s an expert pastiche, says Matt Glasby’s review—one that’s “gory, horny and gleefully OTT”.

Killers of the Flower Moon

Martin Scorsese directs Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone and Robert De Niro in Killers of the Flower Moon, an account of the violence committed against the Native Americans of Osage Nation in the early decades of the 20th century. In the face of its mammoth storytelling burden, Killers of the Flower Moon chooses to be warm, affecting, humorous, but it is also vile, cruel, and upsetting, wrote Rory Doherty in his review.

Fair Play

A young couple’s secret workplace relationship is threatened when one is singled out for promotion in thriller Fair Play. Alongside the enjoyable melodrama, the film makes clear just how many double standards still persist when men are asked to make concessions that don’t flatter their egos, says Katie Parker’s review—and just how quickly their progressive politics evaporate when a woman steps outside of her assigned rank.


In Reptile, Benicio Del Toro plays a sleepy-eyed detective investigating a murder case full of twists and turns, with a cast including Justin Timberlake and Alicia Silverstone. It’s a mite formulaic but pretty bloody absorbing, says Luke Buckmaster’s review: “a very absorbing whodunnit procedural assembled with cooly unnerving aplomb, like a David Fincher thriller.”

Totally Killer

Sabrina‘s Kiernan Shipka stars as a teen who time travels to the ’80s—on a mission to stop a serial killer—in horror comedy Totally Killer. It’s a fantastic ride that delights in skewering the tropes of the horror genre in the name of a bloody good laugh, said David Michael Brown in his review.


Israel Adesanya is an out-of-this-world fighter who is as complex as he is powerful. Director Zöe McIntosh (Dark Tourist) delivers a portrait of the MMA champion here, in a sports documentary that feels like the most open-hearted and emotionally confronting one ever produced in New Zealand, according to Liam Maguren’s review.

No One Will Save You

Dropped without much fanfare on Disney+, well-executed sci-fi/horror No One Will Save You shows an alienated young woman facing off against classic, big-eyed grey aliens. Kaitlyn Dever (Justified, Booksmart) impresses as the lead of this virtually dialogue-free frightfest, full of suspenseful moments that, as Eliza Janssen writes in her review, might, against all odds, make you scared of the cute lil alien emoji: 👽.

Theater Camp

Want more Molly Gordon after her turn as Claire in season two of The Bear? Same! Gordon stars in this improvised comedy about a camp for theatre kids, co-directing alongside Nick Lieberman (from a script they wrote with co-stars Ben Platt and Noah Galvin). Patti Harrison, Amy Sedaris and Gordon’s The Bear co-star Ayo Edebiri also appear in this comedy that sounds a little like Waiting For Guffman, but as Amelia Berry’s review notes, feels a little closer to Guest and Levy’s folk music send-up A Mighty Wind—more authentic, more loving, and just absolutely the most lived-in piss-take you’ve ever seen.

Polite Society

A martial artist-in-training believes she must save her older sister from their impending marriage in this action-comedy—one that sees sisterly disagreements as action sequences powered by spin-kicks. Following in the vein of Edgar Wright’s zippy genre-mashing comedies, the film karate-chops through genre tropes to deliver something exhaustingly fun, observed Eliza Janssen in her review, with a heartfelt story of sisterhood as its foundation.

Past Lives

Two childhood friends, now living continents away, reconnect in Past Lives. In their quietly extraordinary debut feature, director Celine Song brings a tender, elegant economy to her storytelling that doesn’t quite prepare you for how much it’ll wipe you out at the closing stretch, says Aaron Yap’s review: “This one aches really good, folks. I can’t shake it.”

The Equalizer 3

Denzel Washington returns for a third time as Robert McCall aka The Equalizer in a new Italy-set outing. The sadism on display in this film is turned up to levels that won’t sit right with every viewer, says Daniel Rutledge’s review—but for fans of ambitious and gory violence, the whole-hearted leap this one takes toward exploitation cinema is super pleasing.

Sympathy for the Devil

A goateed Nic Cage with red hair, a gun, and a bunch of strange demands. What could go wrong? Cage’s latest thriller is a pared-back hostage drama set in Sin City—but don’t worry, Cage is still unhinged and off his trolley (we wouldn’t want it any other way). He keeps eerily calm, or at least eerily repressed, for a lot of it, concealing his psychotic insides and biding his time, says Luke Buckmaster’s review.


A rich submissive dude and a brilliant dominatrix (Christopher Abbott and Margaret Qualley) get caught in a game of cat-and-mouse in new erotic thriller Sanctuary. Their performances are strong and the film’s characters fascinating (even when the film’s visuals get in their way), according to Eliza Janssen’s review.


In this British drama set on a run-down housing estate, a neglected kid’s fantasy world of independence changes forever when her deadbeat dad (Triangle of Sadness star Harris Dickinson) resurfaces. Scrapper may have a familiar narrative, but it’s delivered with a delicate, oddball touch and its young lead sparkles magnificently, says Stephen A Russell’s review.

Asteroid City

Wes Anderson’s new feature is his first to be sci-fi-tinged. Stacked with both regular cast members and fresh faces, and set in a fictional American desert town circa 1955, Aesthetically, it might be the simplest Wes Anderson feature to date, writes Katie Smith-Wong, their review noting it has vibrancy, creativity and charm are in abundance but a narrative falling short of expectations.

Talk to Me

This horror sees teenagers taking turns to grasp an embalmed, inscribed hand at séances, holding it and saying “talk to me”—whereupon they’re possessed by a random spirit. Of course, that’s just the beginning… Danny and Michael Philippou’s debut is reminiscent of the promise we saw in the debuts of Sam Raimi and Ari Aster, says Eliza Janssen’s review. In a chat with Steve Newall, the Philippous talked more about horror, nangs… and maybe making the new Street Fighter pic.


Set during the closing days of WWII, a Finnish prospector discovers a shitload of gold in this action pic, but some greedy Nazis have to get in the way. The solution? Kill Nazis—lots of them—and do it grotesquely. In his review, Luke Buckmaster wishes the movie did less ‘telling’ and a bit more of its grisly, violent ‘showing’, but notes it’s still a total blast.

John Farnham: Finding the Voice

New doco traces the Aussie legend’s life and career, his journey to find an artistic voice and become one of Australia’s most beloved performers. We already knew that he is the voice, but now this enthralling new documentary helps us try and understand him, observed David Michael Brown’s review. For any Farnham fan, this is a must-see. For more on the film, read Steve Newall’s interview with director Poppy Stockell.


Greta Gerwig’s exceptionally colourful adaptation of Mattel’s iconic toy character smashed box office records after taking 64 years to find the perfect live-action Barbie and Ken, in the form of Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. The results are an intriguing duality, with plenty of material for future theses, according to Luke Buckmaster’s review.


Going head-to-head with Barbie, Cillian Murphy leads Christopher Nolan’s all-star biopic (also starring Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh etc etc) as the physicist who led a team of scientists to develop the atom bomb. A remarkably high-earning biopic, the film may have broken box office records of its own and garnered what’s currently a 94% Tomatometer rating, but Luke Buckmaster was less convinced in his review.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

The action’s impeccable in the seventh Mission: Impossible film and the star wattage turned to maximum, but what really impressed Luke Buckmaster was Ethan Hunt’s opponent in the film… In his feature for Flicks (which contains some spoilers not revealed ahead of release), Buckmaster says it might be the franchise’s “most intimidating—and darkly realistic—foe yet.”

Joy Ride

R-rated road trip comedy Joy Ride, the directorial debut of Crazy Rich Asians screenwriter Adele Lim, stars Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu, and Sabrina Wu in a gross-out, mayhem-filled, girl’s-own-adventure, made by women who get their characters and can lampoon them as much as love them. As Cat Woods’ review put it, the pic entirely lives up to the promise of its title.


A new documentary charts the rise of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley—aka 80s pop duo Wham!—and their strong friendship, as told by the men themselves. Bolstered with great archival content and a pleasant absence of talking heads, it’s a fun and unexpectedly heartwarming watch (in a welcomely economical 92 minutes) said Steve Newall in his review.

Anatomy of a Fall

This year’s Palme d’Or winner is this courtroom procedural by director Justine Triet (Sibyl)—likely coming soon to a film fest near you. According to Rory Doherty’s review from Cannes, Anatomy of a Fall may impress more than it wows, but there’s nothing wrong with celebrating sterling craft—particularly when it elevates the procedural genre.

How to Have Sex

Following three British teenage girls on a rites-of-passage holiday—drinking, clubbing and hooking up—How to Have Sex won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard competition at Cannes Film Festival 2023. The film stands on the shoulders of lead Mia McKenna-Bruce, says Rory Doherty’s review from Cannes, her observations on the liminal state between childhood and adulthood radiating with confidence.

You Hurt My Feelings

Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars in lightly comedic A24 drama You Hurt My Feelings, in which an overheard conversation upends a marriage. Her onscreen husband doesn’t say anything that wild, according to Cat Woods, whose review concludes this is why the film resonates so deeply and so broadly with audiences of various ages, cultures and genders.

Extraction 2

This sequel to Netflix’s 2020 action hit sees Chris Hemsworth back from the (near) dead as Tyler Rake, for more gung-ho action. As was the case in the first film, the best part of Extraction 2 is an extended ‘oner’ (a long, seemingly uninterrupted camera shot), says Daniel Rutledge’s review, calling the film a stripped-back, pure action experience.


In an award-winning performance at Cannes in 2022 (Broker took its time coming to cinemas here) Song Kang-ho (Parasite) stars in this latest film from Hirokazu Kore-eda (Palme d’Or winner for Shoplifters). In this film exploring the adoption baby boxes of Korea, the director remains consistent in his ability to find a found family in every situation, says Fatima Sheriff’s review.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

The spectacular Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse gets the first of two eagerly awaited sequels here, with the return of Miles Morales (and many, many other Spider-folk). Liam Maguren’s review praises the film as a gargantuan beast of a big-screen experience, although it’s one that revels in excess—to both its benefit and detriment.

The Blue Caftan

Drama The Blue Caftan follows what happens after the arrival of a young apprentice upsets the balance of a married Moroccan couple. Through its characters and the cast’s sensitive performances, the film explores different kinds of affection, says Katie Smith-Wong’s review.

Peter Pan & Wendy

Director David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon) is the latest filmmaker to reinvent the classic story of the boy who never grew up. It’s a gorgeous new adventure with stunning set pieces, says Luke Buckmaster’s review, a visually interesting film that explores its set pieces with love: of filmmaking; of visual storytelling; of the source material’s fantastic potential.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

James Gunn makes a welcome return to write and direct this third and final instalment of Marvel’s misfits-in-space saga. A darker chapter with a big heart to match, Liam Maguren’s review says those qualities are outsized only by the film’s muscular production, slightly overstuffed story—and a superbly coordinated and gargantuan climax.


Suzume, from Japanese animation auteur Makoto Shinkai, sees two people team up to close portals from another dimension that are releasing disasters all over Japan. It’s a beautiful, big-thinking animation filled with coloured and spectacle, says Luke Buckmaster’s review.

Evil Dead Rise

The Evil Dead horror franchise moves out of the forest and into a new (New Zealand, not that you’d know it) urban setting. Despite jettisoning Ash, there’s no shortage of genuinely stomach-turning gore says Eliza Janssen’s review, which describes Evil Dead Rise as a satisfying self-contained sequel, despite some underdeveloped ideas lurking in the background.

Beau is Afraid

Ari Aster follows up the horror of Hereditary and Midsommar with this even more perplexing pic, starring Joaqiun Phoenix in a deadpan dark comedy that makes viewers chuckle and foolishly ask, “jeez, how much worse can things get?” Frustrating and fascinating audiences in equal measure, Aster’s usual horrific elements are present at times, but seen through a more self-reflexive lens, writes Eliza Janssen in a spoiler-heavy feature picking apart the film’s themes.

John Wick: Chapter Four

Keanu Reeves and director Chad Stahelski return for this fourth entry in the John Wick saga, one that sees spectacular action staged in a number of stunning locations. It’s a nearly three-hour epic that sees Keanu Reeves joined by more great guest stars, while more so than ever, Reeves’ physical presence in the action scenes is emphasised, says Dominic Corry’s review—which also declares the film has at least three all-time banger set pieces.

Creed III

This latest instalment of the Rocky legacy sequel/spinoff franchise sees Michael B. Jordan step back into the ring (and behind the camera for the first time)—and yes, there’s a troubling real-life cloud now hanging over Jordan’s co-star Jonathan Majors. But as noted in David Michael Brown’s review, the threequel proves again what a charismatic performer Michael B. Jordan has become and what a talent he could be as a director.


Despite the longest wait for a cinema release in recent memory, Ti West’s X prequel Pearl (filmed alongside the preceding pic during its New Zealand shoot) lived up to the hype. Following a younger version of Mia Goth’s wizened, bitter murderess from X, the actor is a revelation in the role—unravelling as her hopes for stardom are thwarted. It’s a period piece well worth waiting for, says Eliza Janssen’s feature, from its frustrating path into cinemas to its final, genius shot.

Infinity Pool

Speaking of Mia Goth, they star alongside Alexander Skarsgård in this latest challenging pic by Brandon Cronenberg, one that shows what happens when the ultra-wealthy have even fewer consequences for committing crime than they do now. On a fictional island nation, the rich can purchase exact doubles of any person—a ticket out of execution should they get busted for anything… These challenging ideas are discussed further in Stephen A Russell’s interview with Cronenberg and a separate convo with Skarsgård and Goth.


Revealing the shared joy and private melancholy of a holiday a young woman took with her father 20 years earlier, award-winning drama Aftersun doubles as one of the year’s most accomplished directorial debuts. As noted in Rory Doherty’s review, the film has a heavy melancholic feeling to it, almost as if it’s pressing down on you throughout until it bursts in a spectacular, poetic way that signals a blistering new filmmaking talent in the form of Charlotte Wells.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey

As A.A. Milne’s Pooh entered the public domain, so ended any semblance of control over the character—for instance, the ability to stop someone reframing the beloved character as the cannibalistic serial killer seen here. The result is a taut new slasher film that, while it isn’t going to win any Oscars, serves an important purpose, says Luke Buckmaster’s review.

All That Breathes

Nominated for Best Documentary at this year’s Oscars, this environmental doco follows two brothers in New Delhi racing to save birds falling in large numbers from the polluted skies above New Delhi. According to Luke Buckmaster’s feature, the film applies a gorgeously cinematic lens to the observational documentary format, seeing ravaged beauty everywhere, from the birds themselves to slummy streets and smog-clogged skylines.


Cate Blanchett is an ego-consumed orchestral conductor and EGOT winner in Tár, a performance that netted the actor a brace of trophies to match their character. It’s the classical music/cancel culture/ghost story we didn’t know we needed, says Rory Doherty’s review, masterfully entrances you in every scene of its 2-hour 38-minute runtime.

Knock at the Cabin

M. Night Shyamalan’s new thriller sees a family’s idyllic getaway interrupted by a group of strangers with unclear, threatening intentions. Luke Buckmaster’s feature observes the movie poses a thoroughly 2023 question: what do we owe each other at the end of the world, when we can’t even agree on whether it’s happening or not?


Director Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, a box office misfire starring Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt, views Hollywood history through a scandalous lens. It’s a contradictory pic made up of highs and lows, according to Amelia Berry’s review, both gorgeously-shot melodrama and gross-out comedy that would put the Farrelly brothers to shame. Despite many faults, is the totally OTT movie entertaining? Yes, yes, absolutely yes.


Horror hit M3GAN, from the director of Housebound and the co-writer of Malignant, sees a grieving child, a robotics engineer, and an android companion with an increasingly mean streak come together to winning, crowdpleasing effect. It’s definitely not perfect but it is a smartly-made serving of campy fun that was a great way to cinematically kick off the year, says Daniel Rutledge’s review.


Two children wake up in the middle of the night, in this indie horror—finding that their father is missing, and all the windows and doors in their home have vanished. As an aesthetic experience rather than the sophisticated “prestige horror” we’ve come to expect lately, Skinamarink is utterly terrifying, says Eliza Janssen’s review.