165 Best Movies & Shows Released in 2023 On Netflix (Page 4)

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

Bank of Dave is a simple but well-told film that feels utterly satisfying from start to end. Dave is the little guy who only wants to give back to his community, but stopping him from achieving his noble goals are the big guys in suits with vested interests and too narrow a focus to appreciate the good that Dave is after. The film is David versus Goliath, countryside versus cityside, socialist versus capitalist (or, if you like, ethical capitalism versus unethical capitalism). You know who will triumph in the end, but that doesn’t detract from the film’s overall enjoyability. The dialogue is smart and stirring, and you can’t help but root for the film’s small heroes to win big. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Adrian Lukis, Angus Wright, Cathy Tyson, Florence Hall, Harry Michell, Hopi Grace, Hugh Bonneville, Jo Hartley, Joe Elliott, Joel Fry, Naomi Battrick, Paul Kaye, Phil Collen, Phoebe Dynevor, Rick Allen, Rick Savage, Roger Morlidge, Rory Kinnear, Steve Edge

Director: Chris Foggin

Rating: PG-13

The Queenstown Kings is a sports film that has plot points we’re all familiar with – alcoholic father trying to seek forgiveness from his son, a tempting offer for fame and riches, the standard training montage and more. These plot points sometimes go into melodramatic territory, but the film’s relationships make these scenes feel sincere, especially with the family dynamic that drives the film. And as Buyile strives to better himself to become a good example to the team, and Fezile makes different choices from his father, The Queenstown Kings feels sincere as a reminder of the better side of South African men, one that can be uncovered if they, and their community, believe in a higher dream.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa, Likhona Mgali, Patrick Ndlovu, Sandile Mahlangu, Tessa Twala, Thoko Ntshinga, Unathi Platyi, Zolisa Xaluva

Director: Jahmil X.T. Qubeka

After Black Hawk Down (2001), the casual moviegoer would have thought that the rescue operation was only conducted by American soldiers. In reality, it was a multinational effort, and Malaysia’s side of the story has finally been depicted in MALBATT: Misi Bakara. Surprisingly, it doesn’t play out as a straightforward, action-packed rescue mission– writer-director Adrian Teh does deliver the action, but the film also contemplates about the team itself: how they made sense of their opposition towards a country they shared religions with, and how they experienced the ignorance from American soldiers that didn’t even know where Malaysia was. While some introductory sequences falter, and the film fumbles certain green screen moments, MALBATT: Misi Bakara brings both the spectacle and the drama that makes it stand out from other depictions of the rescue mission.

Genre: Action, History

Actor: Bront Palarae, Fauzi Nawawi, Gambit Saifullah, Hairul Azreen, Iedil Putra, Musa Aden, Shaheizy Sam, Syazwan Zulkifly, Tony Eusoff, Zahiril Adzim

Director: Adrian Teh

In Baby J, SNL-writer-turned-stand-up-star John Mulaney brutally embraces his messy past and turns it into relatable material and hilarious anecdotes. Confronting his controversial stint at rehab, his struggle with addiction, and his experiences with fatherhood and the resulting reinvention, Mulaney proves himself to be a compelling storyteller, a master at set-ups and pay-offs. He grabs your attention from start to end, with no time to let your mind wander. Before you know it, it’s been an hour of you watching and laughing at this tiny man commanding a sold-out hall. 

There are many Netflix comedy specials out there, but only a handful are as purely enthralling and unskippable as this.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: John Mulaney

Director: Alex Timbers

, 2023

Through this action-packed, absolutely crazy ride of a movie, writer-director Atlee and Bollywood legend Shah Rukh Khan team up in Jawan to question the country’s corruption in multiple fields, including, but not limited to the agricultural sector, the healthcare industry, and the electoral system. They do so through an amped-up, explosion-filled spectacle led by a high-tech Robin Hood and his merry women inmates, who use terrorism in order to pay out loans for poor farmers and other promises that politicians give to their voters. It’s also intertwined with a romance plot that sees the vigilante and the single-parent counterterrorist chief in an unknowing enemies-to-lovers, mistaken identity marriage. It’s a strange film that tries to tackle as many political messages as possible, but it’s also downright entertaining with every plot twist it takes.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller

Actor: Ashlesha Thakur, Atlee, Bharat Raj, Boxer Dheena, Deepika Padukone, Eijaz Khan, Girija Oak, Jaffer Sadiq, Mukesh Chhabra, Nayanthara, Priyamani, Ravindra Vijay, Ridhi Dogra, Sanjay Dutt, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, Sanya Malhotra, Shah Rukh Khan, Sunil Grover, Vijay Sethupathi, Yogi Babu

Director: Atlee

Rating: NR

Being made for free, fanfiction is free to play with controversial, less print-friendly concepts like gender-bending your favorite character. This freedom might go into strange territory, but most often than not, writers use fanfiction for escapism or for catharsis of their day-to-day lives. While the film doesn’t delve into fanfiction’s creative process, Polish drama Fanfic does recognize how the genre’s experimentation allows its writers to safely and freely explore different styles of expression, the same way teenage years hopefully do for its viewers. And as Tosiek goes through the trappings of coming-of-age self-discovery, it’s lovely and comforting and cathartic like the stories he writes.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Alin Szewczyk, Dobromir Dymecki, Helena Sujecka, Ignacy Liss, Jan Cięciara, Maja Szopa, Stanisław Cywka, Wiktoria Kruszczyńska

Director: Marta Karwowska

Rating: NC-17

Bad Lands isn’t exactly new. It has the romanticized con artist that manages to slip through the fingers of those more powerful than her, through quick wit and good sense. It has the successful con, and those that come out of the woodwork to take what they’ve stolen. The story isn’t even original, being based on Hiroyuki Kurokawa’s 2015 novel, Keiso. But it’s done well. It’s a well-executed character study focused on a grifter pushed into the business, and taking on a cold, ruthless mindset to survive. It juxtaposes her self-contained lifestyle with the skeevy, abusive tech billionaire ex and the police force he infiltrated. And it’s all the more powerful with Sakura Ando leading the story.

Genre: Action, Crime

Actor: Junichi Okada, Katsuhisa Namase, Ken Yamamura, Koki Maeda, Mitsuo Yoshihara, Noriko Eguchi, Ryosuke Yamada, Ryudo Uzaki, Sakura Andô, Yasumasa Oba, Yasushi Fuchikami

Director: Masato Harada

With its grounded approach, A Day and a Half feels real, even if the exact events are fictional. Inspired by a couple of lines from a 2008 news article, Fares Fares crafts an intimate family drama for his first directorial debut, built in the bones of a hostage thriller. As a thriller, Fares consistently maintains its suspense, camera eyeing the gun present in most of the film. However, as the cop Lucas tries to defuse the situation with hostage-taker Artan, and the situation escalates to the National Task Force, Artan and Louise confront their broken family, lines opened by improvised hostage negotiations. While Artan’s understandable reasons shouldn’t absolve him of his actions, A Day and a Half effectively builds tension, only relieved at its slightly unrealistic but cathartic ending.

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Alexej Manvelov, Alma Pöysti, Annica Liljeblad, Annika Hallin, Daniel Guldstrand, Fares Fares, Richard Forsgren, Stina Ekblad

Director: Fares Fares

In the world of excavation and wonderous breakthroughs, Unknown: The Lost Pyramid is a refreshing take on archaeology by showing the discoveries of Egyptian history from native Egyptian archaeologists. Following Dr. Hawass and his mentee, Dr. Waziri, as they race against the elements of the desert, the documentary uses their passion and egos to spearhead the narrative. Thus, every step closer feels both prideful and invasive with the constant reminder that they're excavating 2000+-year-old tombs. Comprehensive explanations and illustrative cinematography illuminate the meticulous labor that goes into Egyptology.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Zahi Hawass

Director: Max Salomon

The latest installment in Netflix'S “Unknown” docuseries, Unknown: Killer Robots puts the evolution of artificial intelligence under an ethical microscope. Although the title could be misleading, it does cover the possible dangerous applications of AI as it forces us to question the growing divide between human morality and machine efficiency. With advances in war and medicinal applications, the capabilities of AI to heal, save and destroy are terrifying and awe-inspiring in equal measure. Like the previous films in the series, it is hyper-concentrated to an almost-stifling degree, but it’s also powered by the passionate subjects on either side of these advancements. Forgoing sensationalism, this digestible documentary questions intention over the technology itself. 

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Director: Jesse Sweet

When the system messes with you personally, it’s such a powerful fantasy to be able to settle things with your own hands. To be strong enough to retaliate, and once things are settled, to be strong enough to be left alone, not to be messed with. The Black Book depicts this revenge fantasy, reminiscent of Liam Neeson’s Taken, albeit with corrupt police. The Nigerian action thriller isn’t afraid to go hard, with threats of splitting a person in half by a table saw, dramatic shoot-outs, and fight sequences. However, what makes the thriller work is that all these action sequences are intended to be the reckoning of corrupt institutions. There are some messy parts, certain shots that included some bad takes. Despite this, The Black Book still proves to be entertaining enough to forgive these mishaps.

Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Ade Laoye, Alex Usifo Omiagbo, Bimbo Akintola, Bimbo Manuel, Iretiola Doyle, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Sam Dede, Shaffy Bello

Director: Editi Effiong

Rating: R

While it starts off slow and rocky, River Wild sails smoothly as soon as it hits the waters. The rafting on the rapids, the wild chases, the suspenseful silences—all are effectively shot and believably terrifying, even if they border on predictability at times. Real-life couple Meester and Brody are vulnerable and intense, adding some depth to an otherwise basic story. Killam is compelling too, especially during the action sequences, but I might have seen him in one-too-many comedy sketches to trust his sincerity here. It’s not the best outdoor thriller by a long shot, especially if you compare it to the superior 1994 original film starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon, but it is entertaining in its own right. 

Genre: Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Adam Brody, Courtney Chen, Eve Connolly, Leighton Meester, Matt Devere, Nicholas Wittman, Olivia Swann, Taran Killam

Director: Ben Ketai

You could take away a lot of parts in Reptile, and it would still make sense. It’s the kind of film that leans on sound and style to justify overlong takes and teeth-grittingly predictable scenes. But all is forgiven when del Toro, who also co-writes and co-produces the film, appears on screen. He has a simmering, captivating presence that demands you keep your eyes on him even when little, if anything at all, happens. Silverstone, Eric Bogosian, and Ato Essandoh are likewise enthralling, but Justin Timberlake unfortunately does not hold the same staying power. The film is at its weakest when it tries to convince us that he plays a complex, layered man when, in fact, Timberlake relays nothing but surface-level thrills. But Reptile is at its strongest when it gives us del Toro in all his forceful glory. 

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Alicia Silverstone, Allison Smith, Amy Parrish, Ato Essandoh, Benicio Del Toro, Catherine Dyer, Dani Deetté, Deena Beasley, Domenick Lombardozzi, Elena Varela, Eric Bogosian, Frances Fisher, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Gregory Albrecht, James Devoti, Jesse C. Boyd, Justin Timberlake, Karl Glusman, Kurt Yue, Lee Perkins, Matilda Lutz, Matt Medrano, Matthew Cornwell, Michael Beasley, Michael Pitt, Mike Pniewski, Monique Yvette Grant, Owen Teague, Sky Ferreira, Thad Luckinbill, Tiffany Fallon, Victor Rasuk

Director: Grant Singer

Rating: R

At first, the Last Call for Istanbul feels like one of those serendipitous travel romances reminiscent of Before Sunrise. As Serin and Mehmet enjoy New York at night, it’s absolutely enchanting, especially with the unique, striking mirrored transitions that shift between the two as they get ready, but this nighttime stroll has already been walked on before, complete with droll dialogue and impulsive choices. However, the film makes a shift to its second half, and it suddenly reconfigures what we know about the two and their romance. While it does employ other familiar romance tropes, it’s still an intriguing shift that explores the concept of possibilities, and the cost in choosing one over the others.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Beren Saat, Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ, Michael Loayza, Senan Kara, Zihan Zhao

Director: Gönenç Uyanık

Rating: R

King of Clones tells the story of Hwang Woo-suk, a South Korean scientist once praised as a national hero for his pioneering work in cloning. However, Hwang's reputation was shattered in 2006 when it was revealed that he had falsified data in his research. The documentary follows Hwang's rise and fall, and it provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of scientific research and the ethical challenges that it raises. Through simplified explanations and testimonies from beneficiaries and journalists that exposed his fraudulent activities, the film remains accessible without losing its narrative. It also opens the conversation on the progress of cloning technology and the implications of not having ethics that can be agreed upon among the scientific community and the general public. 

Genre: Documentary

Actor: George W. Bush, Hwang Woo-suk, Jung Ho-seok, Kim Dae-jung, Kim Jong-il, Kim Tae-hyung, Park Ji-sung, Roh Moo-hyun, Son Heung-min

Director: Aditya Thayi

Rating: PG-13