It's time to bid adieu to 2023 – and that means it's also time to reflect on the year's line-up of great (and not-so-great) movies.
With that in mind, we've compiled a definitive guide of the best films of the past 12 months, with critically acclaimed and money-spinning new movies aplenty to watch on the world's best streaming services (you can also read our best shows of 2023 article if you're after something more long-form).
Below, you'll find sections for each streaming giant and the films that deserve your attention before 2024 arrives. For those of you worrying that we've only covered films that launched exclusively on streaming platforms, fret not. There's a section at the end for theatrical-only releases that are worth watching, and, where applicable, we reveal where you can stream them, too.
So, without further ado, here's TechRadar's 38 best films of the year. Happy holidays!
Best Apple TV Plus movies of 2023
Flora & Son
Recently, Apple has made a habit of releasing fantastic, award-winning movies in the latter part of the year – 2022's Best Picture Oscar winner CODA, for instance – and Flora and Son could be the latest flick to join such esteemed company.
The intimate Irish musical comedy-drama is a stunning piece of cinema that'll make you laugh, cry, and feel joy all at once. With powerhouse performances from leading duo Eve Hewson and Jack Reynor and an emotive and relatable story, expect Flora and Son to make a play for some of 2024's top film prizes.
Killers of the Flower Moon
Okay, it's technically a joint Apple-Paramount Pictures enterprise and isn't actually on Apple TV Plus yet, but Killers of the Flower Moon will arrive on the streamer sometime next year, so it deserves its place here.
Regardless of whether it should be part of this category or the theatrical releases later, Killers of the Flower Moon would've made it onto our end-of-year list anyway. Martin Scorsese's latest crime epic, a western set in 1920s Oklahoma, shines a light on US corporate greed, deeply embedded racism born out of jealousy and spite, and the callous treatment of the Osage Nation. A brutal, dramatic, and heart-breaking movie, buoyed by Lily Gladstone's stunning performance in particular, is arguably Scorsese's best work in years.
Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie
Few docufilms earned a place in our 2023 best movies guide, but given the poignant atmosphere Still generates, we had to include it.
Focusing on iconic actor Michael J. Fox and his ongoing battle with Parkinson's disease Still is a powerful piece of media that paints the legendary Back to the Future star as more than the hero he's portrayed as. It's an unforgettable documentary that illuminates the joy of life as much as the somberness of the illness Fox combats every day. An inspirational 90-minute film that – yes, it's an oversight on our part – we'll be adding to our best Apple TV Plus movies list shortly.
After *ahem* putting the building blocks in place for this flick in mid-2020, Apple's Tetris – a biographical thriller that told the tale of the massively popular video game's creation and the Cold War-era copyright battle that ensued – made its TV Plus debut earlier this year.
And it racked up quite the *double ahem* score upon release. The Taron Egerton-starring film currently holds 82% critical and 87% audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes, which proves even video game-based biopics are seemingly immune from the game-movie curse that plagued the entertainment industry for decades. A fun film that did the business after having things *triple ahem* stacked against it.
Honorable mentions: Sharper, Stephen Curry: Underrated, The Velveteen Rabbit
Best Disney Plus movies of 2023
After being dubbed by some critics as the worst Pixar movie ever made, it might surprise you to see Elemental on this list. So, why is it? Well, because it's actually a good movie that, upon its streaming release, broke Disney Plus' most-watched movie record.
It's not a top-tier Pixar film – read our Pixar movies ranked article to see where we placed it – nor is it one of the 36 best Disney Plus movies we've seen, but Elemental has a lot going for it. In typical Pixar fashion, it delivers an emotion-filled narrative, is wildly creative, and some of the visuals are drop-dead gorgeous. Just one look at the kinetic nature of flame-based character Ember and the fluidity of water-based individual Wade should be enough to prove Pixar is still one of the best in the business when it comes to beautifully animated movies. One of just two Disney-developed films to come out of 2023 with its head held high.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
The only one of three Marvel movies in 2023 that was a) critically and commercially successful and b) fantastic yet poignant, Guardians of the Galaxy 3 was a perfect trilogy capper for the MCU's beloved ragtag of spacefaring misfits.
A Marvel Phase 5 film that wasn't afraid to push the boundaries of what's possible for a PG-13 flick – those Rocket flashbacks were really tough to watch – Guardians 3 was also as funny, heartfelt, action-packed, and bizarrely imaginative as we'd hoped. It did a wonderful job of simultaneously acting as a springboard for more Guardians of the Galaxy adventures to come and a worthy send-off for some of its cast and director James Gunn (Gunn's now leading development on Warner Bros' rebooted DC Cinematic Universe (DCU)). If there's a more consistently terrific MCU film trilogy than the Guardians one, we've yet to see it.
Honorary mentions: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, The Little Mermaid, World's Best
Best Hulu movies of 2023
No One Will Save You
Per Rotten Tomatoes, general viewers weren't totally enamored with this unusual take on the archetypal alien invasion story. But we think No One Will Save You was visually and narratively unique enough – its somewhat anti-climactic ending will throw you for a loop, to be fair – to merit greater recognition from its worldwide audience (it's available on Disney Plus internationally).
Led by an impressive performance from Kaitlyn Dever – the talented star does all the heavy lifting in this Hulu flick – No One Will Save You is a fraught sci-fi thriller that packs as much of an emotional punch as it does from action and tension-filled perspectives. With a 93-minute runtime, it doesn't outstay its welcome, either.
Despite the fact it stars two heavyweights in Sandra Oh and Awkwafina, we'll admit we weren't enthused by Quiz Lady's trailer.
Oh, how wrong we were to judge it on its two-minute teaser. Quiz Lady is a delightful comedy equipped with multiple laugh-out-loud scenes and a surprisingly touching plot that allows its stars to showcase their impressive acting range. It won't be for everyone but, if we learned anything from dismissing Quiz Lady before it was even out, it's that you should watch it before you form an opinion. One to add to our best Hulu movies guide? You betcha.
What can we say about Rye Lane that hasn't already been said? Considering the superlatives that have been thrown its way since its May 2023 debut, not much else.
A quintessentially British film, Rye Lane is a hilarious yet achingly human story about two 20-somethings who find solace in each other after both experiencing break-ups and partake in a couple of (read: many) capers along the way. Sure, it might sound clichéd and schlocky, but Rye Lane is a beautiful flick that champions Black excellence, twists the rom-com formula on its head, and comes packaged with an infectious vibe that'll make you look at life differently once the credits have rolled. One of 2023's biggest surprises.
Honorable mentions: Boston Strangler, Clock, Flamin' Hot
Best Max movies of 2023
We umm'ed and aah-ed about including the highest-grossing movie of the year (and one of the best Max movies) on this list. But, in the end, we felt it had enough to guarantee itself a spot.
We jest, of course, there was no way Barbie wasn't going to make an appearance here. Not only did it financially outshine every other film with its eye-watering $1.5 billion global haul, but it's also an amusing, vibrant, and highly entertaining movie that's as thematically rich and emotionally engaging as it is enjoyable. Ryan Gosling stole the show as Ken, Margot Robbie proved (if it was ever in doubt) she's a top acting talent, the set design was stunning, the soundtrack infectious (if 'I'm Just Ken' doesn't win 2024's Best Song Oscar, we riot)... everything about Barbie was nigh-on perfect. Life in plastic truly is fantastic. And, with Max's subscriber woes continuing, Barbie's streaming debut couldn't have come soon enough.
Like Marvel, the soon-to-be-deceased DC Extended Universe (DCEU) ensured Warner Bros' superhero franchise had a 2023 to forget. Indeed, with films including Shazam!: Fury of the Gods and The Flash bombing at the box office (at the time of writing, the jury is still out on Aquaman 2), the DCEU's rebirth under Gunn and Peter Safran is a necessity.
But there was one – again, Aquaman's sequel notwithstanding – DC film deserving praise. Who would've thought Blue Beetle, the least high-profile DCEU flick of the year, would be its savior? Indeed, with positive critic and audience ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, viewers clearly enjoyed what it had to offer. Sure, its origins-centric plot was a rehash of what we've seen countless times before in the superhero genre, but there was plenty to like about Blue Beetle, which is out now on Max. Namely, the genre's long-overdue authentic Latin American representation, plus its pleasing blend of creative action, belly-laughing humor, and heightened drama. We'll take more of Jaime Reyes' adventures in the DCU, Messrs Gunn and Safran.
Considering it was developed by Amazon Studios subsidiary MGM, Creed III could've found a spot in our Prime Video section. With Warner Bros distributing it internationally, though, we felt it best to place it here.
The third entry in the Rocky franchise's spin-off is a testosterone-fuelled sports drama that might be the best film in the Creed series so far. In our Creed III review, we said it "punches above its weight without its star attraction" (that being Rocky icon Sylvester Stallone) and "delivers a one-two punch of style and substance to largely break free of the Rocky series' commanding presence". Its biggest issue? Its association with troubled actor Jonathan Majors – antagonist Damian Anderson – whose career appears to be over after he was found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Majors was fired by Marvel as Kang the Conqueror in the wake of his conviction, too.
Honorable mentions: Evil Dead Rise, Saltburn, Wonka
Best Netflix movies of 2023
The heart-pounding follow-up to 2020's Extraction (shocking, we know), this Chris Hemsworth vehicle ensured the streaming giant's burgeoning action-movie franchise is going from strength to strength. Whether it's Extraction 2's bruising one-shot sequence that took four months to shoot, the unrelenting pace of its physically demanding story, or the fact that the combined efforts of both Extraction films helped the movie series make Netflix history, Extraction 2 showed its predecessor wasn't a mere flash in the pain for the world's leading streaming platform. With another sequel and potential Extraction TV spin-off also in development, there'll be more Tyler Rake in our lives pretty soon.
The second feature film directed by Bradley Cooper, Maestro looks like it'll be Netflix's big hope on the 2024 awards circuit.
And with good reason. It's been praised by anyone who's watched it, the biographical drama – which depicts acclaimed US composer Leonard Bernstein's (Cooper) relationship with his wife Felicia Montealegre (the incomparably brilliant Carey Mulligan) – earning rave reviews from all corners of the industry. Like cinematic poetry in motion, one of 2023's new Netflix movies is a deeply intimate story that fizzles and cracks equally with musical pomp and bravado. Stick it on your watchlist.
Nimona arrived to little fanfare when it made its Netflix debut in mid-2023, but the cyberpunk-cum-fantasy movie didn't take long to steal our hearts with its empathetic plot, crude humor (as crude as it can be for a family-friendly film), gorgeous visuals, and believably rich characters.
Its PG rating allowed it to tackle some pretty dark topics – parts of its final act are a heart-breaking visual representation of depression and societal isolation – that might make it unsuitable for the youngest viewers. But Nimona's ability to find the right balance between its weighty subject matter, frolicking and slapstick action, suspenseful and tender drama, and stirring queer representation make it a cut above many other animated films. Easily one of the best Netflix movies of the year.
They Cloned Tyrone
If you haven't watched They Cloned Tyrone yet, a) what are you doing? and b) go, rectify that immediately. No, we're not messing around here. It might have gone under the radar – it arrived on Netflix on the same day (July 21) that cultural phenomenon Oppenheimer opened – but the John Boyega-starring sci-fi comedy-mystery film is an absolute treat.
Honestly, our words don't do justice to one of the most mind-bending, underrated 70s-era Blaxploitation flicks we've seen in a long, long time. Not convinced? Go and read our exclusive They Cloned Tyrone interview with Boyega to learn more. Then, go and stream it. Then go and read our They Cloned Tyrone ending explained article to find out more about what the heck happened in its final moments from Boyega himself. Not only is it one of the best films on Netflix in 2023, but one of the year's best movies, period.
Honorable mentions: Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget, El Conde, Kill Boksoon, Leo, Leave the World Behind, Love at First Sight, NYAD, You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah
Best Paramount Plus movies of 2023
Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
You wait years for a good Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) movie, and then very few people go and see it.
Those of you who watched Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves in theaters and/or on Paramount Plus will know how good it is. The on-screen chemistry between its main cast members – including Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, and Hugh Grant – is second to none, while its DnD references are plentiful, its action and humor highly entertaining, and its story wholesome. An underappreciated big-screen offering that requires a bigger audience.
Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning – Part One
Like They Cloned Tyrone, Mission Impossible 7 wasn't as successful as it should've been because, just one week later, the cinematic juggernaut known as Barbenheimer made its presence known.
That doesn't mean Tom Cruise's penultimate outing as everyone's favorite CGI fugitive, Ethan Hunt, isn't worth your time, though. In our Mission Impossible 7 review, we called it the "electrifying summer movie that cinemas need right now" as theaters worldwide struggled to sell tickets. Of course, Barbenheimer changed that, but Cruise and co. still put out an action-heavy, globetrotting, and high-stakes adventure that'll set your pulse racing when you watch it on Paramount's streaming service. And you will watch it because you'll want to be caught up on its story before the eighth Mission Impossible flick brings the curtain down on Hunt's near-30-year journey in 2025.
With its predecessor giving the cult horror movie series' a new lease of life in 2022, Scream VI continued the franchise's upward trajectory with a blood-curdling new entry in early 2023.
With the series' razor-sharp meta storytelling as frightening as ever and a new setting and characters ripe for another murder spree from everyone's favorite slasher villain Ghost Face, Scream VI doled out another narratively clever but no less gruesome (and funny!) installment for the long-running horror franchise. One of the best Paramount Plus movies to stream today – and, with Scream VII in development (though without Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega), you might need to watch it to stay up-to-date on its multi-film story arc.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
With 2019's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse changing the animated genre game, Paramount decided its latest attempt at creating a marvelous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film needed a (pizza) slice of the new-age animation pie.
The result is a visually arresting coming-of-age tale that puts the 'teenage' aspect of heroes in a half shell's latest cinematic outing front and center. Emboldened by its own wholly original animated flair, a sincere story about adoptive family, creative action, and punchy jokes, Mutant Mayhem is a thunderously enjoyable return for Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo. Order yourself an authentic Italian-style pepperoni pizza and guzzle it down while you stream this charming flick.
Honorable mentions: 80 For Brady, Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie
Best Peacock movies of 2023
Five Nights at Freddy's
Another film that was trounced by critics upon release, the long-gestating Five Nights at Freddy's movie makes it onto our list based on its audience reception and unexpectedly great box office performance.
Indeed, despite launching simultaneously in theaters and on the NBCUniversal-owned Peacock platform, the horror movie, based on Scott Cawthon's massively successful indie game series namesake, grossed almost $300 million globally. That made it Blumhouse Production's most profitable flick ever and will likely ensure numerous sequels are greenlit. A campy, 80s-style slasher that'll make you think twice about messing around any Chuck E. Cheese-like animatronics, it's an easy enough watch to maintain your attention.
Five Nights at Freddy's film adaptation wasn't the only delightfully cheesy horror movie of 2023. Buoyed by that iconic dance number that appeared in its first trailer – a cringe-laden boogie that went viral on social media sensation TikTok – M3GAN proved to be another unexpected smash hit for Universal Pictures and Blumhouse.
It didn't do much differently from countless other fright-inducing flicks centered around artificial intelligence (AI), but M3GAN's appeal lies in its unapologetic silliness (see the aforementioned dance as proof of that), plus its ability to marry surprisingly comedic moments and gruesome chills to thrill and entertain. One of the best horror movies of 2023.
We've mentioned Barbenheimer a couple of times above, and this is the second, far more serious half of 2023's most significant cinematic event. At three hours long, Christopher Nolan's latest film epic Oppenheimer will test your runtime patience. The biographical thriller's subject matter – an embellished retelling of the atomic bomb's creation – also makes for a difficult watch.
But, spurred on by Nolan's masterful cinematography and penchant for physical effects, coupled with Oppenheimer's absolutely stacked A-list cast – all of whom are at the top of their game (special mention to Cillian Murphy for his breath-taking and potentially award-winning turn as the titular theoretical physicist) – it's an absolute masterpiece. A film that deserves multiple viewings to be appreciated and one that'll likely shake up the order of our Christopher Nolan movies ranked piece.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie
The final film of 2023 that divided critics and casual film fans into two distinct camps (the former disliking it, the latter loving it), The Super Mario Bros. Movie deserves its place here for being the second highest-grossing film of the year alone.
In our view, though, it's also a very enjoyable family-friendly flick. Universal and Illumination's animated take on the legendary Nintendo mascot's beloved game series – and the various characters, worlds, and franchises Mario has spawned since – is a phenomenal love letter to the character's illustrious history. There are Easter eggs aplenty, fun-filled set pieces, an all-star voice cast (let's not talk about Chris Pratt's divisive Mario voice, though), and an original song from Jack Black that's sure to give Barbie's 'I'm Just Ken' a run for its money at next year's award ceremonies. A dazzling Super Star of a video game movie that's sure to get a sequel or five, based on The Super Mario Bros. Movie's post-credit scenes.
Honorable mentions: Cocaine Bear, Eileen, Trolls Band Together
Best Prime Video movies of 2023
Like Tetris, a movie chronicling the creation of the first pair of Nike Air Jordan basketball sneakers doesn't sound all that appealing. And yet Air is an engrossing slam dunk of a biographical sports drama you won't want to miss.
Thanks to Alex Convery's crackling script, Ben Affleck's artistic direction, and the lively performances of its A-list cast, Air scored surprisingly high among us, our fellow critics, and general audiences. Indeed, it left every ounce of creativity on the court to give us one of the best Prime Video movies of 2023. You'll need to pull a trick shot on us to even attempt to convince us to change our minds.
A Million Miles Away
Another drama-filled biopic now, albeit one that shoots for the stars in different ways to Air. This Michael Peña-starring film about José M. Hernández's dream to become a real-life astronaut is intoxicatingly inspirational and confirms that, if you have a burning lifelong ambition to do something, you'll find a way to achieve your goal.
A beautifully shot movie with excellent performances from its predominantly Latino cast – the film's true-to-life Mexican representation is a joy to behold – A Million Miles Away will have you weeping tears of joy by the time its credits roll. A truly heart-warming Prime Video flick.
Jamie Foxx has had an eventful year (to put it mildly) off-camera, but he's still starred in two of the best movies of the year – Netflix's They Cloned Tyrone and this Amazon Original that reaffirms our love for a classic David versus Goliath story.
Based on true events, The Burial is a crowd-pleasing and intelligent courtroom drama that places two juggernaut actors – Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones – at the heart of its narrative and allows them to showcase their substantial acting chops. You'll laugh and occasionally get choked up, which are always signs of a good movie. Case closed.
Red, White, and Royal Blue
Red, White & Royal Blue wasn't on our bingo card to be one of Prime's best films of 2023. Based on its trailer, it looked like a pretty formulaic rom-com – but, once again, its positive reception upon release proved us wrong.
An amusing and adorable movie, the fictional tale of a US president's son and a member of the British Royal family starting a secret gay romance is a triumph, and we don't just mean from a genuine LGBT-plus representation viewpoint. You might wonder what all the fuss is about after 15 or 20 minutes but, by the time its final scene rolls around, you'll have spent much of its runtime smiling, chuckling, and feeling full of heart. A sweet and sexy flick unafraid to be as real as possible.
Back to the Future meets your favorite 70s or 80s slasher in Totally Killer, a rollicking sci-fi horror mashup that has tons of fun with its twist on the timeless, well, time-travel story.
It's a tad tropey in places, especially with its plot beats that appear like they've been pulled verbatim from classic hor