The 25 Best Movies of 2023, Ranked by Our Editors

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best movies of the year uni
Aurora Films/WARNER BROS./Searchlight Pictures

With Hollywood slowly bouncing back to its pre-pandemic norm and countless movies pushing boundaries with their daring, complex themes, it's easy to see why 2023 was such a great year for entertainment. Sure, the year had its low points, from box office disappointments (hi there, The Flash) to the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes—but they haven't completely overshadowed the year's biggest successes, like Barbenheimer and high-grossing adaptations like The Little Mermaid. Here at PureWow, we've spent many hours watching (and chatting about) these buzz-worthy titles, and not surprisingly, most of them made it onto our list of the best movies of the year.

Most of these movies are now available to stream or rent on Prime Video, which includes a 30-day free trial before signing up for $15 a month. You can also stream a few options on Netflix, Disney+, Paramount+ and more.

From Wes Anderson's thoughtful sci-fi romance, Asteroid City, to Todd Haynes's unforgettable May December, keep reading for a full ranking of our favorites from 2023.

25. No Hard Feelings

  • Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Barth Feldman, Laura Benanti, Natalie Morales
  • Rating: R
  • Box office: $89.5 million

Lawrence's comedic chops are on full display in this racy comedy, which follows a bartender who's tasked with seducing the socially awkward son of a wealthy couple. Operations Director of Branded Content, Rachel Gulmi says, "I had zero expectations going into this movie and I thought it was so funny. Jennifer Lawrence did such an amazing job, and even though the premise of it is a bit icky, they somehow managed to make it funny and kind of heartwarming."

24. The Super Mario Bros. Movie

  • Cast: Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black
  • Rating: PG
  • Box office: $1.3 billion

Mario and Luigi embark on a whirlwind adventure in this fun adaptation, and according to Karelle McKay, Assistant Editor of News and Entertainment at PureWow, it's guaranteed to bring out your inner child. She said, "I loved playing the video game as a kid, so getting a chance to watch the movie in theaters was such a nostalgic trip for me. The song 'Peaches,' sung by Jack Black, remained on repeat."

23. The Little Mermaid

  • Cast: Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina
  • Rating: PG
  • Box office: $569.6 million

Bailey doesn't disappoint in this stunning live-action adaptation of the Disney classic, complete with catchy tunes like “Kiss the Girl” and the Oscar-winning “Under the Sea.” From the dazzling visuals to the talented cast, we couldn't be happier that this reimagining is a part of our world. Philip Mutz, VP of News & Entertainment, said, "It did a great job of honoring the original while delivering solid performances from Bailey and McCarthy."

22. You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah

  • Cast: Idina Menzel, Jackie Sandler, Adam Sandler, Sadie Sandler, Sunny Sandler
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Box office: N/A

It's the movie that proved talent runs in the Sandler family, because his daughters were simply a delight to watch. In it, they also play siblings, and the plot revolves around two best friends who try to plan their bat mitzvahs and win the attention of a boy. Gulmi said, "It made me feel like I was that age again with all the drama and friendship circles and party invites. It was so cute and hit on all the right notes."

21. Elemental

  • Cast: Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Ronnie del Carmen
  • Rating: PG
  • Box office: $495.9 million

Who knew that a storyline about anthropomorphic elements falling in love would teach us valuable lessons about acceptance and community? In the film, a fire element named Ember is challenged to reconsider her beliefs after meeting and bonding with a water element named Wade. "It was visually so beautiful and enticing," says Gulmi, "But I loved the message behind it and it made me tear up." 

20. M3GAN

  • Cast: Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black
  • Rating: R
  • Box office: $181 million

We'd have never guessed that a movie about a possessive killer doll could, as Editor Joel Calfee put it, make us "tear up and cackle all in the same breath," but this sci-fi horror definitely succeeded. He wrote in his review, "I was totally unprepared for the emotional rollercoaster M3GAN took me on. Not only was this thriller full of jokes and full of scares, but it was surprisingly full of tenderness too (all the while avoiding cheesiness)."

19. Dumb Money

  • Cast: Nick Offerman, America Ferrera, Pete Davison, Anthony Ramos, Paul Dano
  • Rating: R
  • Box office: $20.2 million

Based on the book by Ben Mezrich, this dramatized comedy offers plenty of insight on the GameStop stock revolution, which occurred in 2021. "It's a familiar David vs. Goliath story," said Rachel Bowie, Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals. "But I was on the edge of my seat for the entire duration due to the incredible storytelling, surprising plot twists and stellar cast. Beyond that, there's something poetic about the film, which takes place during the COVID pandemic and showcases how desperate everyone was for community while isolating."

18. Fair Play 

  • Cast: Phoebe Dynevor, Alden Ehrenreich, Eddie Marsan
  • Rating: R
  • Box office: N/A

This compelling, saucy debut from Chloe Domont revolves around an engaged couple who are also coworkers at a cutthroat hedge fund, and there's no shortage of commentary about toxic relationships and work environments. Assistant Editor Destinee Scott said, "It was dark and sexy and then just straight-up crazy. My jaw dropped at the end of the movie, and it sparked so many conversations, not just about dating in the workplace, but period sex!"

17. Saltburn

  • Cast: Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant
  • Rating: R
  • Box office: $12.7 million

From Promising Young Woman director Emerald Fennell comes another captivating gem, which follows an Oxford University student who spends his summer at the lavish estate of his friend's eccentric family. Naturally, it turns out to be way more than he bargained for. Mutz said, "Saltburn was absolutely bonkers in the best way possible. The performances were next level, I laughed out loud a ton and Rosamund Pike really stole every scene she was in."

16. Bottoms

  • Cast: Rachel Sennott, Ayo Edebiri, Ruby Cruz, Havana Rose Liu, Kaia Gerber
  • Rating: R
  • Box office: $12.3 million

Think of it as a gender-swapped version of Fight Club, but with a refreshing twist. In this case, two unpopular high school girls launch a “fight club” so they can hook up with the cheerleaders they've been crushing on. Of course, hilarity ensues. Wellness Director Sarah Stiefvater said, "It's so funny and silly, but also crude and quite violent. Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott are national treasures."

15. Pamela, a Love Story

  • Cast: Pamela Anderson, Brandon Thomas Lee, Dylan Lee
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Box office: N/A

Ladies and gents, allow us to introduce the iconic Pam Anderson, who's been making headlines all year with her makeup-free appearances on red carpets and her tell-all documentary. In the movie, the model opens up about past romances, her career beginnings, the infamous sex tape scandal and more. Mutz said, "It showed a side of Anderson that we've never seen before. She opens up about topics she's kept private for years and finally responds to the Pam and Tommy series. It feels like the start of a comeback for her."

14. Asteroid City

  • Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Box office: $54 million

Our list wouldn't be complete without Wes Anderson's latest film, which masterfully blends science fiction with coming-of-age drama, comedy and romance. Set during the 1950s, it follows the wild events of a Junior Stargazer convention in a desert town. Associate SEO Editor Marissa Wu said, "With his signature flair and impeccable sets, the auteur deftly tackles the big questions about death, grief and the meaning of life. I've watched it eight times. It's poetic, on the nose, poignant. The irreverence makes these heavy things approachable and relatable and I've laughed out loud while crying inside."

13. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

  • Cast: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Box office: $208.2 million

Christmas came early for D&D fans when the movie dropped in March. But even if you don't know the first thing about playing the game, this adaptation, which follows a thief's quest to find a lost relic, will keep you glued to the screen from start to finish. Fashion Editor Abby Hepworth said, "They did a really good job making a movie that doesn't only appeal to people who play the game. It was just a fun, funny, lighthearted fantasy adventure and I liked all the characters. I'm really hoping for a sequel so I can continue to geek out."

12. Return to Seoul

  • Cast: Ji-Min Park, Oh Kwang-rok, Guka Han, Kim Sun-young
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Box office: $2.1 million

Considering how brilliantly she portrayed the main role, it's still hard to believe that this emotional drama marked Park's official film debut. She stars as Freddie, a French, 20-something woman who impulsively heads to South Korea to find her biological parents, although it's not the most pleasant reunion. While the entire cast delivers solid performances, it's Park who truly shines. She successfully captures the inner conflict and messy emotions that many deal with on the tough journey to self-discovery.

11. May December 

  • Cast: Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Charles Melton
  • Rating: R
  • Box office: N/A

Fair warning, this drama film will likely send you down a YouTube rabbit hole. Based on true events, it stars Portman as an actress who studies the life of a controversial woman who seduced her sixth-grade student. Assistant Editor Sydney Meister said, "It was Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore’s performances that had me wishing for more before the credits rolled. Not only are both characters layered with complexity and hidden motivations, but they also make you question where morality stops and human nature begins." 

10. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

  • Cast: Abby Ryder Fortson, Rachel McAdams, Elle Graham, Benny Safdie, Kathy Bates
  • Rating: PG
  • Box office: $21.5 million

Kelly Fremon Craig delivered a faithful adaptation of Judy Blume's beloved classic, which explores religion, friendship and puberty in a thoughtful and charming way. But even those who aren't familiar with the book will take a liking to this curious 11-year-old. Forston captures the innocence and carefree spirit of Margaret, who moves to a neighborhood while dealing with the ups and downs of adolescence. Meanwhile, Bates steals practically every scene with her funny one-liners.

9. Rye Lane

  • Cast: David Jonsson, Vivian Oparah, Charlie Knight
  • Rating: R
  • Box office: $1.5 million

Although we walked into this one expecting another run-of-the-mill rom-com, it turned out to be a smart, quirky and down-to-earth love story that puts a refreshing spin on the genre. Jonsson and Oparah star as two strangers who meet in South London after dealing with painful breakups, and guys, their chemistry is unmatched.

8. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

  • Cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Vélez
  • Rating: PG
  • Box office: $690.5 million

The first installment seriously blew us away, so the fact that Across the Universe still managed to raise the bar is quite impressive. This time, Miles, Gwen and the Spider-Society have to figure out how to deal with a dangerous new threat called the Spot. Great music, gorgeous animation, nuanced main characters and fast-paced action all make this sequel a must-watch.

7. Concrete Utopia

  • Cast: Lee Byung-hun, Park Seo-joon, Park Bo-young
  • Rating: NR
  • Box office: $28.9 million

It may not be as popular as other titles on this list, but it's by far one of the most compelling and thought-provoking movies of the year. Directed by Um Tae-hwa, Concrete Utopia follows a group of survivors who take shelter in an apartment complex after an earthquake occurs. Not only are the performances top-notch, but the movie expertly tackles morality and the complexity of human nature.

6. Poor Things

  • Cast: Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef
  • Rating: PG
  • Box office: $661,230

Stone delivers one of her strongest performances yet in this brilliantly bizarre black comedy, where she plays the newly resurrected Bella. After being brought back to life by her scientist guardian, she runs off with a lawyer and embarks on a rather unique journey of self-discovery. While it doesn't shy away from serious topics like the challenges of womanhood, it's imaginative and genuinely funny.

5. Barbie

  • Cast: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Box office: $1.4 billion

From catchy dance numbers to stellar performances, there are countless reasons this nostalgic masterpiece deserves to be ranked high on the list. Calfee said in his 5-star review, "Gerwig is known for writing emotionally wrenching stories that offer complex portraits of the women at their center...Barbie feels like a continuation of all her past work, as it explores friendships between women, the nuances of mother-daughter relationships and the challenges of navigating a patriarchal world."

4. The Holdovers

  • Cast: Paul Giamatti, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Dominic Sessa
  • Rating: R
  • Box office: $16.4 million

The Holdovers follows a miserable boarding school instructor who's forced to babysit a group of students on campus during Christmas break. Easily one of his best performances to date, Giamatti's comedic timing and sharp wit totally elevate this holiday flick. Not to mention the movie's heartfelt approach to themes like friendship, family and grief.

3. Killers of the Flower Moon

  • Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone
  • Rating: R
  • Box office: $155.5 million

DiCaprio and Gladstone are phenomenal in this gripping depiction of events surrounding the Osage Nation murders. But aside from the all-star cast, this sobering epic covers topics of prejudice, exploitation and tragedy with nuance, and it sparks important conversations about America's problematic history with Indigenous peoples.

2. Past Lives

  • Cast: Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, John Magaro
  • Rating: PG
  • Box office: $20.2 million

Whether you adore romantic films or avoid them like the plague, we implore you to check out Celine Song's unforgettable film debut, which tackles fate and identity. It revolves around two childhood friends who reconnect as adults after they've drifted apart, and according to Editor-in-Chief Jillian Quint, it's a must-watch. She said, "For anybody who spends any time thinking about what could have been vs. the ability to embrace what you have without regret, it's a must-watch. And Greta Lee's performance is outstanding."

1. Oppenheimer

  • Cast: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr.
  • Rating: R
  • Box office: $953.7 million

Few things are more fascinating than an in-depth look at the life of a brilliant, but flawed physicist who invented the deadliest weapon. And Murphy certainly lived up to the hype with his layered portrayal of Oppenheimer. Not surprisingly, the three-hour epic was met with praise by critics and fans for its stunning visuals, talented cast and timely themes. With eight Golden Globe nominations under its belt, we're pretty sure this three-hour epic will also score a few Oscar wins.

nakeisha campbell bio

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...