2023 is almost over, and it’s finally time to reveal Film Feeder’s picks of the year – but wait a minute, you’re probably thinking: where is the Worst list?!

While it’s true that, for the last ten years, I have listed the year’s worst along with its best, I have decided that this year, and for all the years going forward, I will not be counting down 2023’s stinkers.

Why, you may ask? Well, there are many reasons, one of which being that, quite honestly, I haven’t enjoyed doing those lists for the last few years. Sure, it’s fun to rip into some absolutely dreadful movies, not to mention the fact that such lists often tend to get more clicks and views than the Best lists, but regardless of a movie’s quality, they are still movies that a lot of people put a considerable amount of effort into, whether it’s bringing a memorable performance in front of the camera or all the filmmaking wizardry going on behind the scenes. I feel that lately I have been neglecting to offer constructive criticism, and have just given in to my inner troll by just ripping them a new one without much thought or consideration for the humans who put them all together.

This year, in particular, has also been quite hard on a lot of us, what with economic woes keeping us down, war raging on both in Europe and the Middle East, and ever-growing cracks that have shown the stark divide in our supposedly modern society. 2023 has especially been tough on the film industry, with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes shutting down Hollywood due to the incapability of studio bosses to give hard-working creatives exactly what they deserve, from stronger residuals in the streaming era to protections against AI.

On top of that, the summer blockbuster season has seen a number of high-profile studio flicks, many of which carrying price tags of well over $200 million, significantly underperform with both critics and audiences. The financial disappointment of films like The Marvels, Fast X, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, The Flash and others has reignited the conversation about the need for such pricey blockbusters in an over-saturated marketplace, while the controversy surrounding Warner Bros and their continued shelving of completed or near-completed films for tax write-offs has made people weary of even working for the studios, since there’s no longer a guarantee that their films will even be released.

It’s a troubling time for the industry, and the rest of the world… so what good would it really do, at the end of an already taxing year, to point and laugh at the fifteen films that I subjectively felt to have been utter disgraces to cinema? That, on top of my own personal guilt, has led me to nix Film Feeder’s Worst of the Year list once and for all.

Instead, my focus will be on celebrating, rather than shaming, the most outstanding movies to have been released this year. I want to end 2023 with a positive reminder of the films from the last 365 days that have warmed my heart, entertained my loins, and most importantly whetted my appetite for film as much as I’ve always wanted it to.

My hope is that by going through this list, you will either want to rewatch some of them, or be inspired to check them out yourself; either way, the goal is to celebrate how, despite the otherwise rough year most of us have had, the movies we’ve seen and shared have made it a little less rough.

Since there are quite a lot of films to mention, the Best of the Year list has now doubled, with 30 films instead of 15, and as such they’ll be released in batches of 10 as opposed to 5 like in recent years.

As ever, films are only eligible if they were given an original UK release between January 1st and December 31st 2023, meaning that it has to have been out in the UK between those dates without being released elsewhere in the world beforehand (including cinema, streaming and on-demand releases) in order to qualify.

Unfortunately, this immediately counts out a lot of last year’s awards contenders like The Fabelmans, Tár and Women Talking (which were released in the United States or other territories the year prior), as well as some films that may have been seen this year but aren’t officially released in the UK until next year, such as American Fiction or Poor Things (this also includes any and all films seen at festivals which do not yet have an official release date).

I know that I’ve wasted enough time on this rather long but necessary introduction, so I won’t drag it out any further – let’s get on with the show… (use the hyperlinks below to go to whichever number on the list)

30 | 29 | 28 | 27 | 26 | 25 | 24 | 23 | 22 | 21 

 

 

 

30 – Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (dir. Christopher McQuarrie)

While it had the misfortune of opening right before the Barbenheimer phenomenon – and yes, you can expect both films to appear later on this list – which led to its somewhat underwhelming box office performance, the seventh entry in Tom Cruise’s biggest franchise was filled with enough action and excitement to still be worthy of your attention.

As Cruise’s Ethan Hunt travelled the globe in a fight against a rogue AI – quite timely, given its dominance in the news this year – he and director Christopher McQuarrie entertained with some of the series’ most jaw-dropping stunts that defied death in the most astonishing way. It was not just a treat for long-time fans and general audiences, but also a dramatically engaging one with Hunt and his team tested in more personal ways than ever, setting the stakes ever higher for a compelling second part, due out in 2025.

Until then, this is a mission you’d be glad to accept…

Click here to find where you can watch Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One!

 

29 – Beau is Afraid (dir. Ari Aster)

Hereditary and Midsommar auteur Ari Aster’s third film was a daring, unpredictable, and utterly nightmarish anxiety attack of a movie, one that few other filmmakers would have had the guts to even think up, let alone actually make.

Joaquin Phoenix gave a comically tightly-wound performance as Beau, whose surreal odyssey into a heightened world of crime-infested neighbourhoods, woodland theatre performers, overbearing mothers and even giant penis monsters was at once confounding, and at times a bit indulgent, but also fascinatingly unique. It didn’t win over everyone, but that’s not why it existed: it was to put the viewer in a dream world where everything that could go wrong most definitely would, and Aster’s stylish direction ensured that no matter how weird the journey got, we were always by Beau’s unnerved side.

Also, it’s worth seeing just for the year’s most darkly funny sex scene…

Click here to find where you can watch Beau is Afraid!

 

28 – BlackBerry (dir. Matt Johnson)

2023 saw a lot of what fellow critic Wendy Ide ingeniously dubbed “buy-opics”, as in films about the origin or just simply about products, which included everything from Beanie Babies to the video game Tetris, but this engaging corporate thriller about the rise and fall of the world’s first smartphone was one of the most surprising.

An independent Canadian film by director and co-writer Matt Johnson (who also co-stars in the film as Research in Motion co-founder Doug Fregin), this film told the ruthless and unexpectedly funny story of how the tech company revolutionised the telecommunications industry, only to then be outdone by Steve Jobs and a then-new invention known as the iPhone. Sharp writing and pitch-perfect performances, especially Glenn Howerton as volatile investor Jim Balsillie, emphasised the pathos quite efficiently as it told the unnerving true story of the BlackBerry in riveting and entertaining fashion.

It’s the first of 2023’s buy-opics to show up on this list, and it sure won’t be the last…

Click here to find where you can watch BlackBerry!

 

27 – Evil Dead Rise (dir. Lee Cronin)

After laying dormant for ten years following an attempted reboot, the Evil Dead franchise was brought back from the underworld for a fun new entry that proved to be just as gory and unforgiving, if not more so, than the other films in the series.

Actors like Alyssa Sutherland and Lily Sullivan gave instantly iconic performances as a family tormented and possessed by demonic forces in their rundown apartment building, in director Lee Cronin’s energetic and gloriously violent revamp, which not only shook up the series’ traditional cabin-in-the-woods setting but also showed that nobody – and I mean nobody, not even young children – is safe from the sadistic touch of those dreaded Deadites. It was everything fans could have wanted out of the series, from campy line deliveries to over-the-top gore, and then some.

Plus, its opening title card seems to have received its own cult following, and for good reason…

 

26 – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (dir. James Gunn)

Marvel Studios saw its weakest year yet, with movies like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and The Marvels scoring some of the studio’s lowest points at the box office as well as with critics and audiences, but one of the MCU’s few true highlights of 2023 was this heartfelt and meaningful farewell to everyone’s favourite intergalactic a-holes.

James Gunn returned to the director’s chair (after being temporarily fired) before switching over to head DC’s new cinematic universe, and made sure to end the Guardians’ journey with their most personal mission yet, which involved maniacal scientists, strange planets populated by animal-human hybrids, and a rather horrifying backstory for the group’s most complex character Rocket Raccoon. It was delightfully odd, insanely funny, and boasted a damn fine soundtrack to boot – in other words, it was everything you’d expect from a Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

And with Marvel only planning to release Deadpool 3 next year, expect this to be the last truly great MCU movie until the merc with a mouth makes his R-rated return…

Click here to find where you can watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3!

 

25 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (dir. Jeff Rowe)

Following several failed attempts to bring them to the world of live-action, this exceptionally stylish new take on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles proved that the heroes in a half-shell really do work best in animated form.

Though the animation clearly evoked the Spider-Verse movies, it made this style its own with a much rougher hand-drawn edge that brought Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangeo and Donatello into a much grungier but still fascinatingly ugly world. The film also had a strong heart with an endearing set of characters, including a wide variety of mutants who each had their own fun personalities, and of course the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themselves who, for the first time on the big screen, actually felt like teenagers, ones with energetic chemistry that felt utterly believable for people of that age group.

It sure as hell blew most other TMNT movies out of the water, especially those Michael Bay-produced ones…

Click here to find where you can watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem!

 

24 – Maestro (dir. Bradley Cooper)

All eyes were on Bradley Cooper to follow up his directorial debut A Star is Born with a movie that further displayed his skills behind the camera, and while his Leonard Bernstein biopic wasn’t quite up to that film’s level, it’s an impressive sophomore effort that still deserves strong mention.

In addition to delivering a career-best performance as Bernstein himself, alongside an equally captivating Carey Mulligan as his wife Felicia Montealegre, Cooper certified his visionary filmmaker status with an impeccable, beautifully shot style that combined classical Hollywood techniques with a naturalist flavour. The results were mystifying, not to mention terribly romantic with Cooper and Mulligan sharing impeccable chemistry, all with Bernstein’s music placed all over the soundtrack to make the emotions swell that much harder.

You’d have to have a heart made of stone to not be moved by its sheer power, least of all during its centrepiece sequence in a church where Cooper conducts his little heart out – and perhaps his way to a long-overdue Oscar…

Click here to find where you can watch Maestro!

 

23 – Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Among Thieves (dirs. John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein)

Adapting the popular tabletop RPG game proved to be no curse for directors and writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who brought an energetic spirit to their lively and hugely entertaining fantasy-adventure.

With memorable turns by Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant and Bridgeton breakout Regé-Jean Page, this mythical take on the Guardians of the Galaxy formula was filled with plenty of Easter eggs for game fans that never got in the way of the fast-paced action or the straightforward storytelling, and lots of laughs that have gained their own cult following (Jarnathan needs his own spin-off, goddammit!). It was fun, charming, well-made (with a neat blend of CG and practical effects), and one of the year’s earliest highlights.

Needless to say, it also far outpaces the Dungeons and Dragons movie from twenty-three years prior – but you knew that before going into this one…

Click here to find where you can watch Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Among Thieves!

 

22 – Bottoms (dir. Emma Seligman)

A queer-friendly and surprisingly violent female-led high school comedy from the director of Shiva Baby was hardly on anyone’s 2023 bingo card, but thank goodness that it was because this was an absolute riot of a movie.

Seligman and co-writer Rachel Sennott (who also co-stared in the film alongside Ayo Edebiri, who herself has had a pretty great year with turns in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem and Theater Camp alongside her continued TV role in The Bear) had so much fun creating a heightened world of psychotic behaviour that’s not only unpunished but surprisingly encouraged, with its central fight club delivering empowerment as well as a whole lot of bruises in equal measure. It had some of the biggest laughs in a comedy all year, all of which were told through a series of hilariously committed performances that nailed the irreverent tone that Seligman is aiming for.

Not only that, but its short running time ensured that it never outstayed its welcome, even though it ended on one of the most insane fight scenes of the year…

Click here to find where you can watch Bottoms!

 

21 – Talk to Me (dirs. Danny Philippou and Michael Philippou)

Australian horror had a new addition to its ranks this year with the feature filmmaking debuts of YouTube stars Danny and Michael Philippou (better known as RackaRacka), which turned out to be a damn fine chiller for strong-stomached audiences.

With its simple, Flatliners-inspired plot of supernatural communication that inevitably goes one step too far – making this the far superior Flatliners remake than the actual one from 2017 – the filmmakers employed a series of sly camera and editing techniques, as well as some shockingly gory practical effects, to convey the absolute horrors that lay beyond our mortal realm. Not only that, but a fantastic central performance by Sophie Wilde (as a grieving teen who becomes obsessed with the embalmed hand that makes for one hell of a TikTok) lent a real sense of weight to the situation, as you could see her growing more and more deranged as things kept going from bad to worse.

In an otherwise sub-par year for horror, Talk to Me was a doubtless highlight that took on the world, and – judging by the announcement of a sequel, sneakily titled Talk 2 Me – won…

Click here to find where you can watch Talk to Me!

That’s all for Part 1 of our countdown of 2023’s best films – come back soon to see what made the next wave!

Want to see our past menus?

Want to find a specific film?

Search for it in the box below:

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024, dir. George Miller)

A young Furiosa attempts to make her way home in a post-apocalyptic wasteland…

The Garfield Movie (2024, dir. Mark Dindal)

The lazy cat Garfield comes face-to-face with his long-lost father…

The Strangers: Chapter 1 (2024, dir. Renny Harlin)

A couple find themselves tormented by masked intruders…

IF (2024, dir. John Krasinski)

A young girl develops the ability to see people’s imaginary friends…

Hoard (2024, dir. Luna Carmoon)

A troubled teen begins a dysfunctional relationship with an older man…

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024, dir. Wes Ball)

Many years after the reign of Caesar, an ape-ruled kingdom comes under threat…

The Fall Guy (2024, dir. David Leitch)

A Hollywood stuntman winds up on an epic misadventure during his latest gig…

Tarot (2024, dirs. Spenser Cohen and Anna Halberg)

A group of teenagers find themselves haunted after messing with spiritual tarot cards…

The Idea of You (2024, dir. Michael Showalter)

A 40-year-old single mother begins a relationship with a much younger pop star…

Love Lies Bleeding (2024, dir. Rose Glass)

A gym manager falls in love with an ambitious bodybuilder…

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