30 Best 2023 Movies on Netflix Canada

30 Best 2023 Movies on Netflix Canada

June 7, 2024

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If the double-feature success of Barbenheimer proves anything, it’s that 2023 just might usher in another golden age of cinema. It’s no longer just superhero or comic book films that are dominating screens, it’s a wealth of different stories. There are family tales and individual journeys, personal triumphs and communal struggles. The magic of movies is that they can be about anything, and so they’ve never been more diverse than they are today.

They’ve also never been more accessible, seeing as many of the critically acclaimed and widely enjoyed films of the year can just as well be found on streaming platforms than in theaters. That, of course, includes the all-mighty Netflix which, despite growing competition, remains to be the top streaming service in Canada. In this article, we’ve gathered the best 2023 movies you can stream right now on Netflix Canada. We’ll update this list as we go along the year, so be sure to check in regularly.

21. Bheed (2023)

7.7

Country

India

Director

Anubhav Sinha

Actors

Aditya Srivastava, Ashutosh Rana, Bhumi Pednekar, Dia Mirza

Moods

Challenging, Dark, Depressing

COVID-19 raised concerns about sanitation and cleanliness, but in a society that just banned discrimination against “impure” castes seventy years ago, these concerns feel reminiscent of previous caste prejudice. Writer-director Anubhav Sinha presents this social inequity through Bheed, a black-and-white drama set in a fictional checkpoint as the lockdown restricted travel between different Indian states. As the people in the checkpoint wait for the updated government regulations, tensions rise between the officers and the travelers, as the stuck migrants worry about hunger, thirst, and infection. While it’s definitely a heavy film to watch, this film doesn’t exploit the pandemic as fodder for drama. Instead, Bheed realistically portrays how a crisis like COVID-19 exacerbates existing social inequity.

22. Forgotten Love (2023)

7.7

Country

Poland

Director

Michał Gazda

Actors

Adam Nawojczyk, Agata Łabno, Alicja Jachiewicz, Anna Szymańczyk

Moods

Character-driven, Emotional, Heart-warming

After two adaptations, with the 1982 version considered a Christmastime classic for Polish families, Forgotten Love can seem like a redundant take on the iconic Polish novel. With twenty more minutes, it seems like the new Netflix adaptation could only improve its take through better production design, and sure, it certainly delivers that pre-war aesthetic through period-accurate costumes, props, and sets. However, Forgotten Love takes a more streamlined approach to the novel’s plot, through changing certain character choices. Without spoiling too much, some choices paint certain characters in a better light, while other changes prove to add an entertaining twist, such as the humorous way the villagers defend Kosiba. Znachor takes the 1937 story into the present, bringing a new generation through the emotional journey of the cherished Polish tale.

23. Blanquita (2023)

7.7

Country

Chile, France, Luxembourg

Director

Fernando Guzzoni

Actors

Alejandro Goic, Alex Quevedo, Amparo Noguera, Claudio Troncoso

Moods

Challenging, Discussion-sparking, Intense

Inspired by the Spiniak case, Blanquita reimagines the infamous scandal through mirrored interrogations and disorienting viewpoints. Blanquita rewrites the original witness, whose fictional variant, in turn, rewrites the abuse faced by victims as her own. She is transformed from a clueless liar, into someone still a liar, but one that did so when every other possible witness has been discarded for being unreliable, for being too traumatized to go through the judicial process unflinchingly. The film takes on a provocative subject matter, at a time when real life sexual abuse allegations are treated with the same scrutiny Blanca faces. However, Blanquita does so in a way that gives its complexities the weight it deserves. It’s a fascinating thriller, a quandary that tests the idea of ends justifying the means… But it’s one that’s disturbing, given the consequences to each crime.

24. Master Gardener (2023)

7.7

Country

Australia, United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

Paul Schrader

Actors

Amy Le, Eduardo Losan, Esai Morales, Ja'Quan Monroe-Henderson

Moods

Character-driven, Dark, Discussion-sparking

As the third instalment in Paul Schrader’s “man in a room” trilogy after First Reformed (2017) and The Card Counter (2021), Master Gardner rounds up the issues at stake in a most profound way. For anyone who’s seen a film either scripted by Schrader (such as Taxi Driver) or directed by him, there will be no surprises here: lost men, despairing men, men who are desperate to believe in something. But the salvation of love lurks around the corner and the new film makes no exception. An unconventional couple, Joel Edgerton and Quintessa Swindell (as Maya) make up the beating heart of this suspenseful drama with an emotional push and pull delivered in small doses. What could have been a kitschy, insensitive work blossoms into a treatise on how gentle the harshness of life can be. 

25. Yellow Door: ’90s Lo-fi Film Club (2023)

7.7

Country

South Korea

Director

Lee Hyuk-rae

Actors

Ahn Nae-sang, Bong Joon-ho, Choi Jong-tae, Ju Sung-chul

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Heart-warming

Given a budget from Netflix to make a documentary on Korean film, some would have chosen instead to make one for big Korean filmmaking personalities like Academy Award winner Bong Joon-ho, who is featured here. However, director Lee Hyuk-rae instead creates Yellow Door, a love letter to the ‘90s film club that inspired a generation. The warm way each member tries to remember the club made decades ago, and the handy, almost cheeky, animations makes it feel like we’re there in the club with them, just listening to friends reminisce about the way they obsessed about film, even if it wasn’t the major they were studying in. It’s so nostalgic and sentimental, and in shifting its focus, it celebrates the lovely experience of finding a community of like-minded people that’s just obsessed with film as you are.

26. ONEFOUR: Against All Odds (2023)

7.7

Country

Australia

Director

Gabriel Gasparinatos

Actors

Celly, J Emz, Lekks, Spenny

Moods

Intense, Thought-provoking

Documentaries about musicians — or anyone famous, for that matter — are often mythologizing puff pieces, essentially feature-length airings of PR material. But Against All Odds has more to it than flattery. It chronicles the rise of Australia’s first drill rappers, five young men of Samoan origin who soared to fame from their disadvantaged Sydney neighborhood after going viral and catching the eye of artists like the UK’s Skepta and Australia’s own The Kid Laroi. 

ONEFOUR’s rise from “the trenches” is compelling in itself — far more so than some of the dull origin stories that often pad out this kind of movie — but the documentary is given even more weight by its examination of the forces that sought to put out their fire: New South Wales police. ONEFOUR’s lyrics, which often reference violence, put them in the crossfires of a police tactical unit determined to, in one officer’s words, “make [ONEFOUR’s] life miserable until [they] stop what [they’re] doing.” Amazingly, the on-camera police interviews feature even more brazen admissions of the ways they “lawfully harass” ONEFOUR, a fact that makes this documentary an eye-opening portrait of both aggressive (and allegedly racist) policing and the resilience of the group in the face of it.

27. Nyad (2023)

7.7

Country

Switzerland, United States of America

Director

Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Female director

Actors

Anna Harriette Pittman, Anne Marie Kempf, Annette Bening, Belle Darling

Moods

A-list actors, Character-driven, Dramatic

After winning Oscars for their documentary work, filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin make their narrative feature debut with Nyad. The move to narrative fiction isn’t a monumental jump for the director duo, whose cinematic documentaries (among them Free Solo and The Rescue) play like nerve-shredding action thrillers and intense human dramas. Nor does Nyad’s subject — another extreme feat of human daring and endurance — make this feel a million miles away from their most famous works.

The most obvious departures from the directors’ documentary strengths — Nyad’s flashbacks and hallucination scenes, for example — do sometimes highlight their newness to narrative filmmaking, however. These scenes feel shallow and therefore disconnected from the movie’s otherwise deeper treatment of its subject, just as the performances dip into outsized cliches at times. Mostly, though, Nyad manages to float above the trap of trying too hard to be an inspirational sports drama thanks to its confrontation of Diana’s prickly personality. This flips the film’s perspective onto that of Diana’s team (including her coach and former girlfriend, played by Jodie Foster), who ultimately suffer the consequences of her stubbornness. That refusal to submit to hagiographic impulses gives the film a documentary-like edge of truth, making the rousing moments here feel genuinely earned.

28. Sly (2023)

7.6

Country

United States of America

Director

Thom Zimny

Actors

Al Pacino, Anthony Hopkins, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brian Dennehy

Moods

A-list actors, Easy, Inspiring

The mythology surrounding Sylvester Stallone: the action hero is so big and successful that many people, including myself, often forget about Sylvester Stallone: the prolific writer. He failed to bag roles as a young actor in the 1970s, so he whipped out a script (in a span of three days!) that became the iconic film Rocky. Later on, after witnessing the power of elderly entertainers, Stallone rewrote a screenplay that would become the ongoing franchise The Expendables. He’s a hunk in many people’s eyes, nothing more and nothing less, but Sly successfully steers you away from that one-dimensional reputation and reintroduces you to the dramatist and artist Stallone has been all along. The film begins as an immigrant story (Stallone hails from Italy), then turns into a rags-to-riches story (he grew up in a tough New York neighborhood without formal education) before finally transforming into an honest and earnest meditation on superstardom and artistry. Going in, I was wary that this would be just another puff piece on a Hollywood has-been. And while it does have its fair share of schmaltz, I now believe it’s a well-deserved and long overdue ode to Stallone’s unwavering commitment to the power of movies. 

29. May December (2023)

7.6

Country

United States of America

Director

Todd Haynes

Actors

Allie McCulloch, Andrea Frankle, Charles Green, Charles Melton

Moods

A-list actors, Emotional, Romantic

The colloquial phrase “May-December” refers to romantic partners with a large age gap, but leave it to Todd Haynes to craft a poetic and unsettling world out of this (slightly troubling) banality of life. His new film is loosely based on the real case of Mary Kay Letourneau, who in 1997 was convicted as a sex offender after being caught having a relationship with a minor, a student of hers, 12 years old (22 years her junior). May December begins twenty years after the tabloid scandal surrounding the marriage of Joe and Gracie has died down. Elizabeth, an actress, is conducting research in preparation to play Gracie in a film production, but she doesn’t know what to expect. Alongside her, we are welcomed into the family home, meet their teenage children, sit through their family dinners, marvelling at the levity and nonchalant atmosphere in the air. Something is missing, or at least that’s what Elizabeth suspects. A psychological drama-thriller-black comedy, May December is impossible to pin down. A profound film on human confusion, identities, and past traumas, it unites two of the best Hollywood stars, Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman, in a delightfully eerie play of doubling and revelations.

30. Hi Nanna (2023)

7.6

Country

India

Director

Shouryuv

Actors

Angad Bedi, Baby Kiara Khanna, Jayaram, Mrunal Thakur

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Character-driven, Emotional

When your dad is single, and he isn’t in a relationship with someone else, naturally, a kid would wonder about their real biological mother. Hi Nanna is a take on this familiar tale, though Shouryuv’s directorial debut makes it feel brand new by telling the love story in a way a father would tell his daughter– mindful of the audience, so slightly embellished, but no less sweet. By doing so, it makes the viewers yearn for the lost love before raising our hopes and revealing the possibility of getting it back, especially with the natural chemistry of Nani and the striking Mrunal Thakur.

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