Good 2023 Movies That Weren’t the Best, Ranked

Good 2023 Movies That Weren’t the Best, Ranked


Every year, we rank our favorite movies of 2023, the masterpieces and unique oddities that stunned us. We rank our favorite comedies, horror films, animated movies, international films, dramas, and so on. Inevitably, though, there is a selection of movies that gets left out despite being genuinely good enough to recommend with vigor. These are the good — and some even great — movies that would’ve possibly made the cut in a different year, but just couldn’t beat the competition this time. Here are 20 movies, from really good to downright great, that didn’t make our Best Movies of 2023.


20 Blue Beetle

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A superhero story from DC, Blue Beetle tells the tale of a recent college graduate, Jaime Reyes (Xolo Mariduena) who returns to his hometown only to be left with no purpose. While looking for one, he accidentally stumbles upon an ancient scarab that harbors alien biotechnology, and it picks Jaime as its host. Jaime slowly learns what the Scarab is capable of after being bestowed with a new power, but there are many who seek this ancient relic and will stop at nothing to obtain it.

A Bit of Originality in the DCU

Although Blue Beetle is introduced in some measure as an origin story for the Mexican superhero, it is much more than that. The directors have crafted it with great care and love, and it is evident throughout the film in the form of Jaime Reyes’ character as well as many other societal issues. Furthermore, DC’s attempt to bring some novelty pays off brilliantly, although the story feels generic for the modern audience. Stream on Max or rent or buy on digital platforms.

19 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle: Mutant Mayhem

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem expands this beloved franchise as it takes place after years of the turtles being concealed from the human world. They’ve finally achieved their freedom from their father. In the hopes of winning the hearts of New Yorkers and becoming recognized as normal teenagers, the Turtles undertake heroic acts like saving innocents. However, when the evil Superfly unleashes an army of mutants on New York City, the Turtles must find a way to stop their invasion to become the heroes they have always wanted to be.

Incredible Animation Makes These Turtles Stand Out

It’s a film that many fans of the franchise were not expecting, but it certainly flipped their expectations. The film has about everything one might desire from an animated movie, minus some originality and some cringe comedy moments. Its visuals bear a resemblance to Spiderverse films, but in a way that makes everything pop and provides a different perspective on the turtles, showing them in a way we’ve never seen them before. Stream on Paramount+ and rent or buy on digital platforms.

18 Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King

Black Clover is among the best anime series of recent years, but even with 170 episodes, it never received the movie treatment it deserved. Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King sought to remedy this. The story follows Asta, a boy who is born without magic in a world where it is seen as a sign of strength, and despite not possessing the very thing he needs to fulfill his dream of becoming the Wizard King, he strives earnestly. However, four banished Wizard Kings suddenly return to the Clover Kingdom to destroy it, and it is now up to Asta and his fellow mages to do everything they can to stop them.

A Stand-Alone Anime Not to Forget

The film has truly outdone itself with its magnificent animation and the story that pushed the shonen genre to new heights. Since it is not a canon story, you do not need to watch the entire anime, although it is recommended to familiarize yourself with the characters. Unfortunately, 2023 had some incredible animated films (The Boy and the Heron, Nimona, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget, Leo, Aurora’s Sunrise, etc.), and Black Clover can’t just compete. Still, it shouldn’t be forgotten as a result. Stream on Netflix.

Related: Best Action Movies of All Time, Ranked

17 The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid is controversial. While some consider it to be an abject disgrace, others believe it is the best Disney live-action ever made. We think it’s a pretty good remake of the original movie, certainly not offensive but nothing amazing either. The story follows a mermaid princess named Ariel, who is obsessed with the surface and humans. After a fated encounter with a prince, she makes a deal with the sea witch to turn her into a human, but there are always consequences, and if the prince doesn’t kiss her in three days, she must return to the water to become the witch’s slave forever.

Halle Bailey Is a Genuine Star

Beautiful visuals bring the beloved story to life in stunning fashion, with the voice acting providing a superb update from those audiences may have been accustomed to in the cartoon version. Despite all the criticism, undue pressure, and downright nastiness star Halle Bailey had to deal with, she performed wonderfully as Ariel and silenced critics in the best of ways with her performance. Stream on Disney+ and rent or buy on digital platforms.

16 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

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With recent MCU movies working solely to set up the story for the future, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 stands on its own. In the film, Peter Quill has drenched himself in grief over Gamora’s tragic demise, but time waits for none as an intergalactic maniac threatens the fate of the universe with his sinister plans, forcing the group to save it one last time.

An Emotional Farewell to the Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy has long been one of the most beloved sub-franchises in the Marvel Cinematic Universes, thanks to its trademark and eccentric humor that sets it apart from other MCU projects. The final chapter of the Guardians, however, served more as a fitting conclusion to the epic saga, bidding farewell to the fans with a heartfelt premise and near flawless execution of its themes that gave characters like Rocket more depth as his backstory is explored. Stream on Disney+ and rent or buy on digital platforms.

15 Cocaine Bear

Cocaine Bear

Keri Russell and Ray Liotta Will Fight a Drug-Fueled Grizzly in Elizabeth Banks’ upcoming thriller Cocaine Bear.

Release Date
February 24, 2023

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Very loosely “inspired by true events,” Cocaine Bear delivers exactly what the title promises. It is a creature feature with an all-star cast. Director Elizabeth Banks’ background in comedy fits the tone and style. Telling the story about a bear that stumbles across a cocaine drop and gets high off it, the film departs from reality by making this bear go on a drug-fueled rampage, leaving a trail of brutally mauled bodies in its wake.

A Ridiculous Fun-Fest

Cocaine Bear is over the top and violent but rarely at the expense of making the audience laugh in horror. While it has a B-movie premise and embraces the schlock element, it also delivers the best version of that concept while never taking itself too seriously. With some great gore and Cocaine Bear‘s decked-out ensemble cast, it’s a fun movie and very entertaining. Stream on Prime Video and rent or buy on digital platforms..

14 The Super Mario Bros. Movie

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The Super Mario Bros. Movie is nearly the biggest film of 2023, just barely beaten by Barbie, and third place is pretty far away. It’s a genuine surprise considering the miserable efforts to bring the Super Mario Bros. to cinematic life before, and the usual box office returns for video game adaptations. Something about this one really took off, though. Maybe it’s the brightly colored, simple adventure story, very much in keeping with the spirit of the video games, or maybe it’s the great voice cast, despite the controversy of Chris Pratt’s casting.

A Great Voice Cast

The A-list voice cast all fit their roles perfectly and bring new dimensions to these icons. Aside from Pratt, there’s Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, and Fred Armisen, who all have a lot of fun and thankfully don’t try to be too method. While The Super Mario Bros. Movie certainly could benefit from a stronger script, the film nonetheless delivers on giving the audience a fun time at the movies. Stream on Netflix and rent or buy on digital platforms.

13 M3GAN

M3gan

M3GAN

Release Date
January 6, 2023

Director
Gerard Johnstone

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
1hr 42min

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This ultra cool horror flick took its subgenre to new heights with some great modern twists. M3GAN ​​​​​​featured a brilliant engineer who designs an interactive and very lifelike doll to comfort her grieving niece. Initially, the highly intuitive doll which runs on some very complex AI exceeds expectations. However, it’s soon clear that once she imprints on her primary function, she will stop at nothing to achieve her goals. Given the advanced nature of her programming, sentience isn’t far away and that’s when the real trouble begins.

Great Marketing and a Quality Product

Famed producer Jason Blum kicked off 2023 with a bang by dropping M3GAN. Even before its release, this movie about a killer doll had gained a massive boost in popularity thanks to memes and viral TikToks. January is typically seen as a slow month for films where studios release some of their weakest films, but M3GAN delivered a quality horror film that also knew how to embrace and engage its target audiences. With a sequel already confirmed, M3GAN is now a hot horror property with a franchise in the making. Stream on Prime Video and rent or buy on digital platforms. Check out our interview with Jason Blum (and James Wan) for another 2023 horror film, Insidious: The Red Door, below:

12 Missing

Missing

Missing (2023)

Release Date
January 20, 2023

Director
Nicholas D. Johnson , Will Merrick

Rating
PG-13

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Missing is a standalone sequel to the surprise 2018 hit Searching and also, through clever easter eggs, is connected to 2020’s Run. Missing follows a young girl trying to find her missing mother, and uses the same screenlife filmmaking techniques of Searching. Storm Reid anchors the film, and with supporting roles from Nia Long, Amy Landecker, Ken Leung, and Tim Griffin, this is a techno-thriller worth checking out.

A Strong Screenlife Sequel

Fantastic performances all around and a clever premise make this a sequel that doesn’t disappoint. With an amazing use of the screenlife technique of only using screen imagery (computer screens, video calls, messages, etc.) to tell a story, the film also wonderfully emotes the main character’s troubles as she desperately searches for her mother. Over all, it’s a solid film and one is highly recommended for audiences looking for something a little different. Stream on Netflix and rent or buy on digital platforms.

11 Infinity Pool

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Infinity Pool sees James Foster (Alexander Skarsgard), a struggling writer, travel to an isolated resort in a fictional Third World country with his wife, Em (Cleopatra Coleman). While they envision a beautiful vacation with pristine beaches and exceptional service from the resort’s staff, the couple ventures outside the resort grounds after being guided by a seductive woman named Gabi (Mia Goth), only to discover that their vacation has turned into a nightmare following an unexpected incident.

A Surreal Nightmare

Written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, is a deeply unsettling film that depicts horror in a surreal and hallucinogenic (and highly Freudian) fashion. While the entire concept is bonkers and creates a distinct kind of eerie feeling, Cronenberg’s twisted and imaginative effort is a frightening addition to the horror mystery genre. Stream on Hulu and rent or buy on digital platforms.

10 Evil Dead Rise

Evil Dead Rise

Evil Dead Rise

Release Date
April 21, 2023

Cast
Alyssa Sutherland , Lily Sullivan , Morgan Davies , Nell Fisher

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Evil Dead Rise is the latest entry in the Evil Dead franchise, one that can be seen as either a reboot, a sequel, or part of a larger franchise. It’s the first to take the films out of the woods and into a fresh setting as the titular force infects a mother in a city apartment building. What follows is a horrifying battle as she tries murder and maim her own children while they desperately try to figure out how to stop her.

A Truly Theatrical Horror Film

What was originally intended for a streaming release, Evil Dead Rise was given a theatrical release and delivers what audiences want from this franchise. Thank goodness it went to theaters, because this is the kind of broad and well-made horror film that’s great to watch with other people. It is gory, gross, over the top, and the right mix between scary and absurd. An unforgettable performance from Alyssa Sutherland also cements her as a new fan-favorite scream queen in an instant. Stream on Max and rent or buy on digital platforms.

9 Chevalier

Chevalier

Chevalier

Release Date
April 5, 2023

Director
Stephen Williams

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
1hr 48min

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The powerful biopic Chevalier follows the rise of French-Caribbean violinist and composer Chevalier de Saint-Georges as he faces romance, racism, and the beginnings of the French Revolution. Telling his tale with poignancy and all the intricacies of his life laid bare in a haunting way, the film stands out among others of its kind.

A Great Cast Spotlights a Forgotten Figure

Kelvin Harrison Jr. stars in the lead role, with great supporting turns by Samara Weaving and Lucy Boynton. Chevalier is a moving story about a man whose brilliance was almost lost to history, but through the film, now lives forever as a wonderful testament to an extraordinary life and talent. Stream on Hulu and rent or buy on digital platforms. You can check out our interview with Samara Weaving below:

8 Suzume

Suzume No Tojimari

Suzume no Tojimari

Release Date
April 14, 2023

Cast
Nanoka Hara , Hokuto Matsumura , Eri Fukatsu

Runtime
2hr 2min

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Suzume premiered in Japan in November 2022 but has had a major rollout in the rest of the world through 2023. Suzume focuses on 17-year-old high school students, Suzume Iwato and Souta Munakata, who team up to prevent a series of disasters across Japan. With soaring music and deep themes of trauma and grief, the film is a surprisingly mature coming-of-age story.

Another Makoto Shinkai Anime Hit

Suzume is from director Makoto Shinkai, whose two previous films, Your Name and Weathering With You, were box office smash hits and received rave reviews. Suzume certainly carries on that spirit and is another hit, with Shinkai’s characteristically stunning and clear animation. Stream on Crunchyroll and through Prime Video.

7 SISU

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Written and directed by Rare Exports‘ Jalmari Helander, the Finnish war thriller SISU is an action-packed bloodfest with a great sense of humor. It’s unrealistic in so many ways, but that doesn’t stop this film from being fun and entertaining. SISU follows a soldier at the tail end of World War II who discovers gold and must fend off greedy Nazis who come after him.

A Bloody Burst of Rambo-Style Action from Finland

With a mix of Rambo and Finnish mythology, SISU a great gateway film for anyone just getting into international cinema. As Jericho Tadeo wrote in our review, “It takes itself seriously enough to string together a blood-drenched action thrill ride that is immediately engrossing, but doesn’t necessarily burden itself too much with matters of realism […] SISU is ultimately a finely-crafted film that harkens to action movies of the past, while simultaneously bringing a modern touch to our world history.” Stream on Starz and rent or buy on digital platforms.

6 Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

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Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is the type of big-budget fantasy adventure that Hollywood doesn’t make that much anymore. It perfectly balances a fantastical world, humorous moments of adventure that feel straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean or The Mummy, and a fantastic cast of characters brought to life by great actors. Chris Pine is immensely charming, but the supporting cast of Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, and Hugh Grant make the movie so much stronger.

A Box Office Bomb That Deserved Better

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves brings the spirit of the board game to life while also being a fun standalone fantasy adventure for newcomers and a high mark in blockbuster IP adaptations. Critically acclaimed, the film was a surprise box office failure and will hopefully have a renewed second life on home media. Stream on MGM+ and through Prime Video and Paramount+, and rent or buy on digital platforms.

5 Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

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Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is one of the sweetest, most authentic movies of 2023. Kelly Fremon Craig follows up her incredible directorial debut, The Edge of Seventeen, with an adaptation of the popular 1970 novel by Judy Bloom. Bloom famously rejected a film adaptation of her classic novel for years, and it is clear why now was the time for the movie to be made. Not only is Craig the perfect director to adapt this story, but star Abby Ryder Fortson feels born to play this role, and it is impossible to imagine anyone else in this part.

Abby Ryder Fortson Is an Actor to Watch

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is filled with incredible performances from Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, and Benny Safdie, but Fortson carries the whole movie and the secret to the film’s success. While it is early in the year, it is hard to argue against Fortson being one of the best performances of the year and worthy of an Oscar nomination. Stream on Starz and through premium Hulu and Slin subscriptions, and rent or buy on digital platforms. You can check out our interview with her and Rachel McAdams below:

4 Air

Air (2023)

Air (2023)

Release Date
April 5, 2023

Rating
R

Runtime
1hr 52min

Read Our Review

On paper, how interesting can Air be? A movie about signing Michael Jordan’s iconic sneaker line should not make for an interesting film, but director Ben Affleck and a group of talented actors make it one of the most entertaining movies of 2023. Even when the audience knows how the story ends, Air has them gripping the edge of their seats at every setback, wondering how they will pull off the impossible.

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Together Again

Reuniting Affleck and Damon on-screen together and behind the scenes is movie magic, and it shows what made them stars in the first place. They have had great careers apart, but together they are a force to be reckoned with. Air is funny, inspiring, and entertaining. It is a crowd-pleaser in every sense of the word. Stream on Prime Video.

3 The Beanie Bubble

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The Beanie Bubble was arguably the second-best ‘product based’ film that came out in 2023 — there were a surprising amount, including Flamin’ Hot, Tetris, Air, and the best, Blackberry. This Apple TV+ film views the Beanie Baby craze through the prism of three women who affected and were affected by the toys’ creator, Ty Warner (played by Zach Galifianakis). The supporting cast (Elizabeth Banks, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Sarah Snook) is wonderful and collectively tell the story of the ’90s and the dawn of the new millennium.

Colorful and Politically Intelligent Direction

The editing in The Beanie Bubble is extremely clever, connecting the different storylines seamlessly as it jumps between different years and relationships. The music and colorful direction come from Damian Kulash, which makes sense — as a member of OK Go, Kulash is used to vibrantly polychromatic music videos. Kristin Gore, daughter of Vice President Al Gore, injects the film with deep commentary about the hidden politics of economics. Stream on Apple TV+. You can see our interview with Gore and Kulash below:

2 Final Cut

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Final Cut is a deliriously fun remake of the iconic modern Japanese horror comedy, One Cut Above the Dead, and cleverly assimilates its plot into a more Francophone version. Directed by the delightful Michel Hazanavicius (who won the Best Picture Oscar for The Artist), the film is a three-act story about the production of a low-budget zombie project that is broadcast live and filmed in one take. The movie chronicles the director’s hilarious attempts to keep the film and his family together as things go very much off the rails.

A Gory, Funny, and Moving Tribute to Cinema

The film fakes out the audience for roughly 30 minutes, playing as if it is the film-within-a-film, before shifting to provide more context. Ultimately, Final Cut has the kind of “let’s put on a show” energy that is relentless and triumphant despite countless setbacks. The climax is a surprisingly touching collective effort that serves as a bloody, funny tribute to artists and filmmakers everywhere. Stream on Prime Video through Kino Film Collection and rent or buy on digital platforms.

Related: Michel Hazanavicius Gets Personal with Gross-Out Horror Comedy Final Cut

1 Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Miles Morales returns as Spider-Man and travels across the Multiverse to join forces with Gwen Stacy and a new team to face off with their most powerful villain yet.

Release Date
June 2, 2023

Rating
PG

Read Our Review

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse outperformed its predecessor in commercial and critical junctures, becoming one of the most successful films this year. With its gorgeous visuals and mind-blowing attention to detail, the movie has set another milestone for animation and arguably for Spider-Man stories as well. This is undoubtedly the best superhero film of the year.

Making Miles Morales and the Multiverse Great Again

The film’s strongest point has to be the emotional depth and how it puts Miles and his family center stage, which unsurprisingly resonated with the fans. Following Miles Morales’ growth in Into the Spider-Verse, this time, he is catapulted across the multiverse once more, where he meets a team of Spider-People and battles an imminent power that threatens the end of the universe. It’s a stand-up-and-cheer mainstream triumph. Stream on Netflix and rent or buy on digital platforms.



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