155 Best Movies & Shows Released in 2023 On Netflix UK (Page 7)

Staff & contributors
Find the best movies and show to watch from the year 2023. These handpicked recommendations are highly-rated by viewers and critics.

Ordinary people don’t choose to join a war, but oftentimes, they are dragged into it, forced to fight, and become victims of it because of people in power. Adrishya Jalakangal takes this idea in a dystopic future, where war has turned India into a police state, and mixes in a watchman who’s able to talk with the dead. While the message is necessary and the idea is novel, the execution feels uneven, as the anti-war and magic realist elements feel like elements from what should be two separate movies. Alongside the sluggish pace and the dialogue that’s a tad too on the nose, it’s hard to get through Adrishya Jalakangal when it can’t decide what it wants to focus on.

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Actor: Indrans, Krishnan Balakrishnan, Nimisha Sajayan, Tovino Thomas

Director: Bijukumar Damodaran

Ambitious and sincere, Where the Tracks End is a sweet coming of age centered on a tender community and mutual aid in the face of worker exploitation. Alternating between the young son of a traveling worker adjusting to a new town and an inspector tasked with informing small schools of an initiative that will force their doors closed, the film loses the chance to be impactful with either. This love letter to teaching and the importance of education is admirable as it holds together the community element of the script. Although the impact goes off-track due to its lack of commitment to one solid narrative, the heart behind it (and the children's innocent will to live a better life) shines through every so often.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family

Actor: Adriana Barraza, Blanca Guerra, Clementina Guadarrama, Fátima Molina, Gabriela Cartol, Guillermo Villegas, Jero Medina, Leonardo Alonso, Tete Espinoza

Director: Ernesto Contreras

For a film with virtually no plot, there’s a lot of fuss going on in Oregon. The characters are constantly yelling and complaining, but the noise—like the plot, the set, and everything else about the film—is empty. The beauty of a Turkish summer is reduced to indoor sets, where much of the film takes place, and there here’s barely any movement, leaving us stuck with dialogue and half-baked backstories that don’t seem to serve any real purpose other than to fill in the film’s overlong runtime. The problems are superficial and solved almost immediately, purely by talking it seems, and there’s no attempt to connect the many disparate stories it shows. A farce like this could’ve worked if it got sillier and more ridiculous by the minute, but Oregon just goes in repetitive, unfunny circles. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Ali İpin, Alper Saldıran, Aslı İnandık, Burcu Biricik, Ferit Aktuğ, Nazlı Bulum, Nejat İşler, Nevra Serezli, Özgür Emre Yıldırım, Serkan Çayoğlu, Zihni Göktay

Director: Kerem Ayan

With their personal life offered for consumption, carefully curated for viewers and sponsors, the social media influencer has become a fascinating character to study, especially with the job becoming Gen Z’s top career aspiration. As If It’s True examines this character through Gemma Stone, using the fake relationship trope to examine the lengths to which she would cling to her clout. John Roger’s debut feature blurs the line between real and the fake, not just for Gemma and James but also for the viewers, and it brings up much to say about how this aspiration can ruin people. However, the lines are blurred too much, as the ideas don’t mesh cohesively as it could. As If It’s True is an interesting character study, but the film hasn’t allowed itself to see the human side of the people highly incentivized to be fake for views.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Adrianna So, Ashley Ortega, Jan Silverio, Khalil Ramos, Marnie Lapus

Director: John Rogers

Like its governor having many wives, The Last Wife has too many elements left unsatisfied. To its credit, it has lovely scenery, costumes, and set design that matches the era. With Linh forced into a marriage to pay off her father’s debts, reuniting with a childhood love, the film also had the erotic potential of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, with a thrilling second act twist that occurs when they get discovered. However, the film gets dragged down by the slow pace and random comedic scenes that don’t add to the thematic stakes, sometimes even distracting the viewer from the dismal conditions the titular wife is forced into.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: De Ly Luu, Kaity Nguyễn, Ngọc Diệp, Quốc Huy, Thuan Nguyen

Director: Victor Vũ

Just like with its predecessor, it can be surprising how sober Street Flow 2 is. You expect stories about street gang life to be of a certain tone, but these films are more interested in the emotional and philosophical struggle to respond to violence and poverty in a just and proper way. This sequel continues this conversation from a more stable (but therefore less interesting) position: youngest sibling Noumouké is no longer torn between the influence of his older brothers, as all three try to move forward as a united front. But without a more distinct dilemma driving the action forward, the film ends up spinning its wheels—and rushes to an incomplete ending  that doesn't say enough about survival, lawfulness, or the African immigrant experience in France.

Genre: Crime, Drama

Actor: Alessandra Sublet, Alix Mathurin, Bakary Diombera, Cherine Ghemri, Foued Nabba, Georgina Elizabeth Okon, Jammeh Diangana, Kadi Diarra, Kery James, Krystel Roche, Mahamadou Coulibaly, Sana Sri

Director: Alix Mathurin, Kery James, Leïla Sy

Rating: R

Pain Hustlers is based on a 2018 New York Times article of the same name exposing a drug company that marketed a fentanyl-based drug. Zanna, the on-screen pharmaceutical start-up, is modelled after Insys: the actual company who pushed a fentanyl-based spray for pain management with the help of sales reps who particularly appeal to a certain male gaze. A DIY scheme of bribing doctors through "speaker programs"—or recurring, debaucherous parties—gets Zanna off the ground, catapulting stripper-turned-manager Liza Drake (Emily Blunt) to a much-yearned financial stability. Together with the coked-up COO (magnificently played by Chris Evans), Liza puts her street smart potential to work; she goes all in, until it all crashes and burns. It's cynical how predictable the plot of such a film can be, mainly because the only character development we see is in Liza's sudden moral spark at the sight of drug abuses and overdoses. Pain Hustlers tries really hard to build a hero, tear her down, and then rehabilitate her status, but to what end? The film ends up using the fentanyl crisis as a narrative drive, a highly dubious move when you're supposed to be spreading awareness. 

 

Genre: Crime, Drama

Actor: Adrian Eppley, Alex Klein, Amit Shah, Andy Garcia, Aubrey Dollar, Avis-Marie Barnes, Becca Breitfeller, Brian d'Arcy James, Britt Rentschler, Catherine O'Hara, Chloe Coleman, Chris Evans, Emily Blunt, Erin Ownbey, Greyson Chadwick, Jay Duplass, Josh Ventura, Mandi Christine Kerr, Mary Ann Hagan, Michael Kosta, Michael Lowry, Nicholas Christopher McNeil, Omer Mughal, Pat Dortch, Quinn Bozza, Rowan Joseph, Samantha Kacho, Selena Anduze, Sharon Conley, Tris Marie, Valerie LeBlanc, Willie Raysor

Director: David Yates

Rating: R

Third dates usually feel more casual than that depicted in Longest Third Date, but with 2020 shifting everyone’s plans, it’s not surprising it shifted romantic relationships too. The documentary doesn’t feel like a factual and organized documentary, cobbled up together from the couple’s vlog and filmed interviews once they got back to the States, but it’s definitely a unique story, one that’s only been saved because of Matt’s influencer aspirations. It’s certainly watchable, with a spry 75-minute runtime, and with understandable conflicts, like flight cancellations and tipped over cars. The film does feel like it glosses things over, and Khani seems to be the private type of person, uncomfortable with the camera, but Longest Third Date, even with all its reality TV style, also feels somewhat like a cultural artifact. It’s not deep, but it does feel like opening a time capsule.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Khani Le, Matt Robertson

Director: Brent Hodge

Rating: R

Sometimes, to get to know one’s self, one has to get out of their usual life. This is what makes the idea of travel so alluring, and Dhak Dhak is one such movie that portrays that idea, with some twists. Instead of a car, four women ride with motorcycles, and instead of flat plains, the leads go through one of the highest mountain passes in the world. That being said, we don’t really get to know the women beyond the common issues that women in India go through. The cast tries to make the best of it, and Sanjana Sanghi, Dia Mirza, Fatima Sana Shaikh, and Ratna Pathak Shah portray their characters excellently, but instead of learning who they are, we mostly receive more product placement instead. It’s still a pleasant ride, though Dhak Dhak takes predictable and well-trodden routes in their approach.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Dia Mirza, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Kallirroi Tziafeta, Nishank Verma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Sanjana Sanghi

Director: Tarun Dudeja

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With every new Aardman production, their stop motion animation technique becomes more and more seamless, looking practically indistinguishable from the work being put out by other animation studios that use CG. However, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget also threatens to flatten into the same kind of entertainment churned out by other studios at a faster rate. There isn't as much personality to either the story or the art direction—which gave the first Chicken Run film such a sense of urgency—and any ideas about how one's radical beliefs are tested with age never really get off the ground. And yet, what Aardman is able to do with actual tactile models will never not be impressive, these rebellious chickens standing as a tribute to handcrafted storytelling that will never be replaced.

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family

Actor: Bella Ramsey, Daniel Mays, David Bradley, Harry McEntire, Imelda Staunton, Jane Horrocks, Josie Sedgwick-Davies, Julia Sawalha, Kate Harbour, Lynn Ferguson, Miranda Richardson, Nick Mohammed, Peter Serafinowicz, Romesh Ranganathan, Sam Fell, Sam Wilkinson, Shobu Kapoor, Tamaryn Payne, Thandiwe Newton, Tim Bentinck, William Vanderpuye, Zachary Levi

Director: Sam Fell

Rating: PG

A remake of the 2018 South Korean film of the same name, Keys to the Heart never really seems like it comes together as a thematic whole. In its bid to be a modest slice of life—as a story that just happens to feature boxing and classical music amid family conflict—its separate parts wind up feeling underdeveloped. So despite admirable work from its cast and big emotional moments that are treated with a surprising level of sensitivity, there's always a sense that the film is constantly trying to be a soap opera instead of simply being a messier, more organic thing.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Althea Pinzon, Apollo Abraham, Bart Guingona, Dolly de Leon, Elijah Canlas, Katya Santos, Lao Rodriguez, Michelle Dee, Rafael Francisco, Tirso Cruz III, Zanjoe Marudo

Director: Kerwin Go

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Unknown's next documentary installment takes us to the stars following the construction and deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope. The documentary centers on the behind-the-scenes of launching the telescope, which eradicated all possible errors as it was the most expensive operation to enter space without human intervention. Explanations are palatable, and the highlights of their successes and failures are enough for casual viewers. Packed with emotion from NASA's scientists and engineers (and global spectators during Covid), the investment in this project and journey carry the film even though the concepts are too large to condense. 

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Joe Biden

Director: Shai Gal

Rating: G

Lighthearted, inspirational, and warm, True Spirit is the real life story of how the young Jessica Watson circumnavigated the world. Through YouTube-esque vlogs and scribbled out title cards, the film follows the real-life journey, alternating between the sailor with the situation back home, as her mentor and family keep track of her current progress. Inspired by the book, the film fairly sticks to the facts written in her travelogue, but True Spirit mostly plays out the same way a Disney Channel Original Movie would, with its young protagonist setting out for a whimsical adventure, just for the sake of it. It makes for a beautiful film with stunning views and heartwarming messages about perseverance, but it’s more an easy cruise than a daring adventure, as it plays out without any courage in its approach.

Genre: Adventure, Drama, History

Actor: Alice Tate, Alyla Browne, Anna Paquin, Bridget Webb, Cliff Curtis, James McGrady, Jessica Watson, Joey Vieira, Josephine Flynn, Josh Lawson, Ling Cooper Tang, Molly Belle Wright, Nikhil Singh, Shanyn Asmar, Stacy Clausen, Teagan Croft, Todd Lasance, Vivien Turner

Director: Sarah Spillane

Rating: PG

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For the entirety of Where Was I, Trevor Noah is comfortably in his pocket—speaking to an audience that's clearly familiar with his style and his views (if the respectful silences and occasional cheering are any indication) and branching off into sharing more serious facts between the jokes. And Noah's style is clearly refined, as he speaks clearly and sticks to a coherent structure at all times. But at a certain point his level of comfort here also leads to punchlines that are too easy or unsurprising, with too much focus placed on the kinds of voices and accents he can put on rather than the content of what he's saying. Noah remains a strong entertainer, but when you know how scathing he can get, this feels more like a warmup round.

Genre: Comedy, Documentary

Actor: Trevor Noah

Director: David Paul Meyer

Rating: PG-13

Just in time for Halloween, Netflix has shelled out for a new, high production value doc about demonic possession. It has all the right ingredients: a true story (that of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, also known as the "Devil Made Me Do It" case of 1981), some convincing re-enactments, the air of exclusivity (use of real archives), but it still feels like a let-down to the true horror buffs who'd tune in expecting something fresh. After all, Netflix has been in the game for a while and it's not a good look to settle for something as mediocre. For The Devil on Trial, it seems like the execs have just upped the budget on a regular cable-TV-haunted-house after hours special and then patted themselves on the back. Even the interviews featured are full of cliches, which strips down the horrifying potential of authenticity.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Arne Cheyenne Johnson, Tony Spera

Director: Chris Holt

Rating: R

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