The Inverse Awards

The 25 Best Movies of 2023, Ranked

What a year for the pictures! Here are Inverse’s top films of the year.

fInverse; Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate Films, GKIDS, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
The Inverse Awards 2023

2023 will probably be remembered as the year that Barbenheimer reigned supreme. But the pop culture phenomenon borne of memes pitting Barbie and J. Robert Oppenheimer together was actually a great representation of what made this year such an exciting one for movies.

This was the year that a biopic about the creator of the atomic bomb was not just a critical success but a box office smash. This was the year Barbie had an existential crisis, Wes Anderson pondered our place in the universe, and John Wick fell down a lot of stairs. Auteurs like Yorgos Lanthimos, Hayao Miyazaki, and Martin Scorsese delivered some of the wildest and most visually stunning masterpieces of the year. Godzilla proved himself king of the kaiju once again.

Here are the 25 best movies of 2023, according to the Inverse Entertainment team.

Honorable mentions: Beau is Afraid, Creed III, El Conde, Ferrari, Master Gardener, Napoleon, Nimona, Polite Society, Shin Kamen Rider, Skinamarink, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

25. M3GAN

Universal Pictures

If I told you that the biggest horror movie of 2023 was about an evil AI robot, you’d probably assume it was rushed to production in response to the rise of ChatGPT. You’d be wrong. Released in January 2023, M3GAN was a viral hit before it even hit theaters thanks to a pitch-perfect trailer and a publicity tour that trotted out the movie’s dancing robot for the world to see. By the time M3GAN actually arrived, it was practically a guaranteed hit. Thankfully, it delivered, offering up a brilliant sci-fi thriller with a perfect blend of horror and comedy. You’ll scream, you’ll laugh, you’ll wish you were a better dancer, and finally, you’ll curse the gods for not already releasing M3GAN 2. Or is that M2GAN? — Jake Kleinman

24. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Paramount Pictures

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is the first entry in its storied franchise to actually consider the ages of its characters. Despite its action elements, the blockbuster is mostly a hangout comedy that spends the majority of its runtime just chilling with Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello as they get into trouble both under and above ground. It’s an appropriately endearing dramedy that trusts in the chemistry and enduring appeal of its four leads enough to not pile too much on top of them. Like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse before it, Mutant Mayhem finds a new way to visually bring the Turtles’ world to life on screen. Its cutting-edge animation style works in tandem with its low-key coming-of-age plot — resulting in a film that feels familiar and fresh in all the right ways. — Alex Welch

23. Saltburn

Amazon MGM Studios

Saltburn is a labyrinth of a movie, a modern-day fable that’s just as cynical as it is joyful and just as chaotic as it is repressed. Emerald Fennell embraces her oft-critiqued privileged upbringing with a push-pull conflict between an upper-class family and the lower-class kid they “adopt” for the summer, only to find that he’s not at all what he seems. There’s no one to root for, no hero, just two selfish desires clashing against each other with one ultimate winner. It’s no wonder it was one of the most divisive movies of the year, but one thing is undeniable: it’s hard to look away. Dais Johnston

22. When Evil Lurks


Demián Rugna’s latest effort is one of the year’s best and most underseen horror films. A gruesome thriller about the residents of a countryside town who find themselves overtaken by a spiritual plague after they fail spectacularly to address a local possession, When Evil Lurks starts at a measured pace before quickly driving headfirst into pure chaos. Before long, Rugna has trapped viewers in an increasingly out-of-control nightmare that feels all-consuming and inescapable. It’s a mad, Sam Raimi-esque exercise in grotesque, shocking horror, the likes of which still feel rare nowadays. It’s not an easy film to recommend, but in a surprisingly middling year for horror fans, When Evil Lurks feels like a truly vital and unforgettable addition to its genre. — Alex Welch

21. The Killer


The Killer is David Fincher’s barest and most autobiographical film to date. It’s also one of the funniest movies he’s ever made. A straightforward thriller about a for-hire hit man (played with chilling serenity by Michael Fassbender) forced to eliminate a series of targets after one job goes unexpectedly wrong, the film is an ode to the kind of obsessiveness that has long been associated with Fincher. It’s essentially a collection of hits carried out by Fassbender’s unnamed killer, which Fincher and writer Andrew Kevin Walker document in excruciating detail. Along the way, the duo packs in more darkly funny moments than you’ll likely expect, including an infiltration of an Equinox-like gym that needs to be seen to be believed, as well as one of the year’s best fight scenes. For its final joke, The Killer even posits that it’s ultimately impossible for anyone — even a seemingly invisible hit man or, say, a notoriously exacting filmmaker — to escape the clutches of 21st-century capitalism. Go figure. — Alex Welch

20. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Between Captain Marvel failing to find an audience and Secret Invasion making its audience wish it had failed too, it hasn’t exactly been a banner year for the old Marvel family. But there was a bright spot in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, James Gunn’s gonzo farewell to the franchise he put on the map.

Inventive, funny, and weighted by genuine emotional stakes, Vol. 3 is everything the MCU has otherwise forgotten how to be. It’s difficult to comprehend that all its bubble-gum pop cosmic imagery arrived just months after Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania broke the theatrical record for the most shades of puce displayed at once, but Vol. 3’s colorful, clever, and occasionally crass visuals feel like a comic book come to life, in the best sense of the expression. By embracing the madness of Marvel’s cosmic side, Gunn gave Vol. 3 a manic energy that reminded us what the franchise has otherwise forgotten: comic book movies should be fun. Gunn’s defection to DC is Marvel’s loss, but Vol. 3 is a parting gift for the MCU and a blueprint of how to recapture the magic. — Mark Hill

19. Barbie

Warner Bros.

Barbie was the antidote to the criticism that movies are too commodified: an adaptation of a literal plastic toy that also worked as both a breakdown on how to be a woman and an ode to big-budget studio films of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Greta Gerwig’s surprising direction was enough to secure this movie as a cultural touchpoint, but the genius marketing — and the circumstantial pairing with Oppenheimer — only doubled down on its inherent joy surrounding the movies, a medium that could turn a symbol of empty girlbossing, a totem of the “IP movie era” into an interestingly nuanced, almost existential, conversation on the roles we play in society. — Dais Johnston

18. Infinity Pool


If you could commit any crime without facing the repercussions, what would you do? It’s a concept as old as cinema itself (or at least as old as the original Purge movie), but Infinity Pool turns the idea on its head. From writer-director Brandon Cronenberg (yes, the son of the guy who made The Fly), Infinity Pool takes place in a fictional country with a strict death penalty. The catch? Rich tourists can pay to have a clone of themselves killed in their place. As soon as you can wrap your head around this premise, the movie pulls its characters into an endless loop of crime and death until they lose all sense of reality and themselves. Infinity Pool builds to an incredible climax that might make you question your own existence and will definitely leave you excited for whatever Brandon Cronenberg does next. — Jake Kleinman

17. How to Blow Up a Pipeline


How far would you go to stop an apocalypse? For the activists in How to Blow Up a Pipeline, no line is too righteous to cross. Each member of the ensemble has just cause to wage a war against the climate crisis stifling their will to live, even if some motives are less noble than others. But as they hatch a careful plan to destroy a pipeline being built in the wilds of West Texas, a rag-tag group of activists from across the country will band together either way.

At times, How to Blow Up a Pipeline follows the basic beats of a heist film. It’s not unlike Ocean’s Eleven if the eclectic group of hustlers dealt in environmental terrorism rather than casino robbery. Despite some occasional, offbeat humor, though, this is far from a comedy. Nor is it some speculative tale set in a far-flung, future America. The threat of climate change is real, it’s here, and it’s already destroying lives. How to Blow Up a Pipeline is a harrowing reminder of how close we are to oblivion, and how limited our options really are in the grand scheme. — Lyvie Scott

16. Talk to Me


Leave it to A24 to quietly release the best horror movie of the year all over again. Five years after Hereditary redefined the genre, Talk to Me is doing it once more. From an Australian duo best known for making YouTube videos where Harry Potter wizards fight Jedi with lightsabers, Talk to Me is a gripping story of one young woman’s grief over her dead mother, told through the lens of a demonic possession thriller. Stylish and terrifying, the film takes a well-worn horror trope and breathes new life into the idea with what can only be described as “Gen Z vibes.” Incredible practical effects and a brilliant twist ending make this not just one of the best horror movies of the year but a guaranteed all-time classic. — Jake Kleinman

15. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning

Paramount Pictures

President Biden claimed the latest Mission: Impossible flick made him seriously concerned about AI. Luckily, even though the broad strokes of this action spy flick seem cobbled together from other spy movies, there’s a true sense of freshness that could have only been made by a collection of humans. Although it may sound strange to call a film with a budget just shy of 300 million bucks “artful,” the grounded humanness of this spy fantasy is what makes it so compelling. All the places, all the stunts, and all the chases feel real. Action movies are hard to do when it’s all been done before. But the IMF gang makes it seem easy. — Ryan Britt

14. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Paramount Pictures

Had Inverse existed in 2000, we would have called Dungeons & Dragons one of the worst movies of the year, likely with the aid of a sparkling GIF of a gelatinous cube devouring inexplicable co-star Marlon Wayans. It’s remarkable, then, that Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is one of the best movies of 2023, largely because it learned every lesson about genre filmmaking and adapting popular source material that has since been taught. Don’t get bogged down in lore. Stay light, accessible, and free of cheap sequel teases. Use impressive practical effects rather than eye-watering CGI sludge. Write characters we can care about, no matter how ridiculous their world is. Keep the action coherent. Let actors act. Tell jokes, but don’t reduce everyone to cheap quips. Honor Among Thieves does all this and more, standing as a testament to both D&D’s meteoric cultural ascent and the need for some simple fun amid all the doom and gloom that’s become the calling card of modern fantasy. — Mark Hill

13. They Cloned Tyrone


In Juel Taylor’s stylish directorial debut, paranoia is the prelude to a revolution. As a hustler, a pimp, and a pro take it upon themselves to investigate the nondescript, around-the-way neighborhood of They Cloned Tyrone, they find themselves on a mission to disrupt the system that has their community in a vice grip. They Cloned Tyrone is not your traditional spooky story, though it serves as an homage to classics like Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew whenever the opportunity arises. It’s a melting pot of ‘70s-era schtick paired with all-in performances from John Boyega, Jamie Foxx, and Teyonah Parris that winds up being way more farcical and fun than its premise makes it out to be. The stakes are still high, but Taylor & Co. prioritize laughs as much as they do shock value. It makes They Cloned Tyrone one of the best sci-fi flicks of the year, and a fitting addition to the canon of Black-led, speculative fantasy. — Lyvie Scott

12. Suzume


Director Makoto Shinkai has long held a fascination with natural disasters. Well, fascination might not be the right word for it. Earthquakes, meteor strikes, and tsunamis have figured heavily into his films like Your Name and Weathering With You, forming the backdrop of his most exquisite cosmic romances. But Suzume is the first time Shinkai has pushed natural disasters front and center, with a fantastical battle against otherworldly worms that cause natural disasters forming the basis for the film’s most action-packed setpieces. Despite a premise that feels like it could threaten to turn disasters into sci-fi spectacle, Suzume is, at the end of the day, about the people those disasters affect. And the mundane, everyday beauty of Suzume is what lends the film its potency, far beyond its blockbuster-level spectacle. — Hoai-Tran Bui

11. All of Us Strangers

Searchlight Pictures

All of Us Strangers shouldn’t work — at least, not nearly as well as it does. Andrew Haigh’s latest film about a gay man who gets to reunite with the long-dead parents he never got to come out to could, in lesser hands, come across as little more than oversentimental schlock. Somehow, though, Haigh manages to perfectly thread the needle at all times throughout All of Us Strangers and delivers one of the most atmospheric, artfully constructed, and deeply felt films of the year. Anchored by Andrew Scott, Claire Foy, Jamie Bell, and Paul Mescal’s raw, expressive performances, it’s a drama that won’t just leave you on the brink of tears but will push you far past it. Of all of this year’s movies, no other is as likely to be accompanied by the sounds of your fellow moviegoers quietly sobbing in the theater. — Alex Welch

10. Asteroid City

Focus Features

When a goofy alien crashes a gathering of young astronomers at the fictional site of an ancient meteor impact, hilarity ensues. But like a few great Wes Anderson films that have come before, the narrative plays with the idea that meta-fiction can reveal more truths than any kind of naturalism. What makes it into the play version of Asteroid City, what happens off-screen, and what the narrator knows, all constitute a perfect trifecta of perception, reminding us that everything we do is a kind of story and that so much life is either the moment of waking or the moment we close our eyes. — Ryan Britt

9. John Wick: Chapter 4

Lionsgate Films

Each John Wick movie already feels like a miracle of action filmmaking, but John Wick: Chapter 4 took that miracle to divine new levels. The greatest bone-crunching ballet of action spectacle this side of Mad Max: Fury Road, John Wick: Chapter 4 is director Chad Stahelski’s magnum opus. A globe-trotting adventure that takes Keanu Reeves through the deserts of Morocco and the neon-lit streets of Osaka in a mission to free himself of the assassin underworld once and for all, it’s the climactic three-part showdown in Paris that elevates Chapter 4 beyond any other action movie in years — from Looney Tunes-style sequences where John dodges assassin-filled cars, to an apartment shootout that brings visceral video-game stylings to the franchise. And of course, we’ll never get tired of watching John Wick fall down stairs. — Hoai-Tran Bui

8. Anatomy of a Fall

Le Pacte

Anatomy of a Fall is, like its protagonist, a lot of things. Its premise, which centers around a woman whose only witness to her husband’s mysterious death is her blind son, could have been ripped straight from the pages of a paperback potboiler. At the same time, the film serves as a piercing study of how society not only blames a woman for her male partner’s issues but also punishes her for her intelligence. Behind the camera, writer-director Justine Triet makes nary a mistake throughout Anatomy of a Fall’s considerable 152-minute runtime, and Sandra Hüller defies every expectation as its lead. The actor gives a performance that is simultaneously lived-in and blank, strong-willed yet demure. It’s a wondrous thing to behold, and it’s the lynchpin that doesn’t just hold Anatomy of a Fall together but makes it impossible to jam the film into one easily identifiable category. Together, Triet and Hüller cast a spell that leaves you trapped in your seat — searching every one of its frames for new details that may reveal the full picture lingering seemingly just beneath its surface. — Alex Welch

7. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Sony Pictures

How do you follow up on one of the most revolutionary animated features in history? If you’re Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, you double down on the very material that made its predecessor such an outright phenomenon. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse completely changed the game where 3-D animation was concerned, injecting a gonzo mish-mash of styles into its rip-roaring odyssey through the multiverse. It also laid down a gauntlet of sorts for its sequel, one that Across works to honor at every turn. Hailee Steinfeld’s Gwen Stacy is elevated to co-lead alongside Shameik Moore’s Miles Morales, giving us two heroes to invest in instead of one. Across also dives headfirst into the mythos that makes these star-crossed Spider-People, and all of their peers across the multiverse, destined to defend the innocent. Paired with increasingly ambitious animation, the movie pulls off a dizzying balancing act. At times, it threatens to overload the senses, but I’d choose this maximalism over another empty IP grab any day. — Lyvie Scott

6. The Zone of Interest


What you don’t see is what makes The Zone of Interest the most chilling Holocaust movie in years. The Zone of Interest follows the family of Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel), the commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, whose idyllic house sits right beyond the camp walls. He and his wife go by their days ignoring the horrors that take place next door, while their children remain blissfully unaware — even when the river they’re playing in suddenly goes black with ashes, or the air around their house grows heavy with smoke. Jonathan Glazer’s haunting portrait of inaction and compliance is perhaps one of the most affecting movies ever, with terrors that are all too familiar playing out in the background. It demands our attention and dares us to turn away. — Hoai-Tran Bui

5. The Boy and the Heron


Hayao Miyazaki’s towering magnum opus and the dazzling culmination of his entire career, The Boy and the Heron is a difficult movie to describe. It’s intentionally confounding, narratively opaque, and more than a little grim. But this strange, cosmic epic about a young boy who travels through a waterlogged fantasy world to rescue his stepmother (with the help of some freaky little guys) is inarguably the anime auteur’s most personal achievement. With more than a few characters standing in for the director himself, Miyazaki peels the curtain back on the wild, labyrinthine space that is his own mind and offers a humbling takedown of his legacy: Maybe there’s no place anymore for eccentric old men who create beautiful, transfixing fantasy worlds. But despite the chaos and violence of the real world, the next generation is in good hands. — Hoai-Tran Bui

4. Godzilla Minus One


The Godzilla franchise is as much about the title monster as it is about the people he’s terrorizing. There’s always been an element of human drama in monster movies — they’re our window into the devastation that these beasts can wreak, after all — but nowhere is that more prominent than in Godzilla Minus One. Writer-director Takashi Yamazaki, with the help of legendary producers at Toho, circles back to Godzilla’s original role in the public zeitgeist: He’s not a misunderstood mega-beast in a rock-em sock-em monster flick, but the embodiment of post-war Japan’s nuclear traumas. Not since Ishirō Honda’s inaugural kaiju film has a Godzilla movie felt so soulful and so personal. The towering weight of the monster himself makes small, quiet moments between Japanese citizens feel all the more urgent and encourages us to appreciate the small thrills of found family and unlikely camaraderie. The lows in Minus One are fittingly devastating, but that makes the highs all the more exhilarating — and the rare Godzilla sighting consistently skin-tingling. — Lyvie Scott

3. Poor Things

Searchlight Pictures

A deliriously decadent, delightfully perverse odyssey about identity, sex, and humanity, Poor Things seems like it was made purely to shock. But the most shocking thing about Yorgos Lanthimos’ feminist reimagining of Frankenstein’s monster is how sweet it is. Emma Stone gives her wildest, most physically liberated performance ever as Bella Baxter, a woman brought to life by the mad scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter (an always fantastic Willem Dafoe). Curious about the world, and horny as hell, Bella escapes her sheltered existence under Godwin to travel across Europe with the hedonistic lawyer Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo, positively oozing slime). Through her sexual and intellectual journey of self-discovery, Bella experiences a sumptuous version of the 19th century, one that seems fashioned by a bizarro baroque architect who might’ve taken a lot of acid. As movies these days start to look and feel more and more alike, Poor Things is a welcome shock to the system. — Hoai-Tran Bui

2. Killers of the Flower Moon

Apple TV

It’s somewhat unlikely the 81-year-old Martin Scorsese makes movies for the approval of grown men who post on Twitter as @uncutsnyderluver, but if you made the error of glancing at the platform this year, you likely witnessed the interminable discourse being waged over the director’s fears the superhero monoculture is limiting our collective understanding of what film can achieve.

It's funny, then, to have gone to the theater and witnessed all 206 minutes of Killers of the Flower Moon absolutely zoom by, the discourse over whether such a length is appropriate being yet another cultural inanity best ignored in favor of just sitting down and watching a damn movie. And what a movie: tragic, infuriating, and darkly hilarious, Killers is an epic about some of America’s stupidest people seizing everything they want from those they deem unworthy. A painfully timely skewering of America’s original sin, Scorsese’s latest masterpiece is a reminder of why, despite all our modern distractions, the investment of your time and money will be repaid tenfold if you go to the theater and witness artists practicing their craft. — Mark Hill

1. Oppenheimer

Universal Pictures

With Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan joins the legions of directors who look back on their legacies through the lens of a camera. But through his thrilling, time-bending biopic about the man who invented the atomic bomb, Nolan looks back and only sees ruin. Oppenheimer is a monumental achievement from Nolan, who uses every cinematic tool in his arsenal to make the war epic following theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) as he and his team of expert scientists race to create the atomic bomb before the Nazis. With its tour-de-force performances and thrilling boardroom sequences that put most action movies to shame, Nolan gives a shot in the arm to the biopic while reckoning with one of humanity’s most horrifying achievements. It’s an awe-inspiring portrait of the systematic destruction of a man’s psyche and legacy, bolstered by a haunting, career-best performance from Murphy, and an equally condemnatory and clear-eyed directorial vision from Nolan. — Hoai-Tran Bui

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