165 Best Movies & Shows Released in 2023 On Netflix (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.
There’s a sense of disconnectedness in RedLife, as the film isn’t centered on one storyline, but rather two storylines that at first don’t seem connected. Ter, a young snatcher, marries a sex worker named Mild, while Som is a student who aspires to escape her prostitute mom’s poverty, especially after she falls for the more affluent Peach. At first, the film depicts their lives in stunningly framed, slice-of-life moments that captures a different side of Bangkok, one that’s tough to depict, but one people know about. But they do intersect, later on in the movie, in a series of events that leads them trapped in tragedy, despite all they did to escape it. The unexpected twist makes their lives surprisingly poignant, though RedLife’s journey might take too long to get there.

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Actor: D Gerrard, Karnpicha Pongpanit, Sumitra Duangkaew, Supitcha Sangkhachinda, Thiti Mahayotaruk

Director: Ekalak Klunson

Nuovo Olimpo is stunning, atmospheric, and the very concept of the film – where lost love intersects with Italian cinema – is an interesting one. Starting the film’s relationship at a specific movie theater feels reminiscent of Cinema Paradiso, especially as Enea’s path mirrors Salvatore becoming a famous director. However, the film doesn’t really dive deep into this concept, nor does it add much to say with its gay romance. There’s something here about the relationship between the creator and the viewer that is undeniably interlinked, and there’s a hope that they can meet in the middle. But when the film doesn’t care about the couple’s individual paths, there are times it feels like it’s just going through the motions.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Aglaia Mora, Andrea Di Luigi, Aurora Giovinazzo, Damiano Gavino, Giancarlo Commare, Greta Scarano, Loredana Cannata, Luisa Ranieri

Director: Ferzan Özpetek

Rating: R

Love Again is cute. It’s cheesy and predictable, but it’s cute. Chopra makes for a fine leading lady who is able to switch between sorrow and sappy in a heartbeat. Heughan, though painfully generic, isn’t all that bad either; his hopelessly awkward attempts at getting Mira’s attention provides much of the film’s needed laughs. But outside of the bare minimum, Love Again doesn’t give us anything of value. The jokes are few and far between and the chemistry, if you can believe it, is even thinner. And for two people who are supposedly writers (Mira is children book’s author and Rob is a music journalist), none of their writings, much less their texts to one another, are particularly good. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Amanda Blake, Arinzé Kene, Celia Imrie, Céline Dion, Harry Attwell, Lydia West, Nick Jonas, Omid Djalili, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Russell Tovey, Sam Heughan, Sofia Barclay, Steve Oram

Director: Jim Strouse

Rating: PG-13

Ijogbon is a straightforward thriller centered on a pouch of uncut diamonds, which bring chaos to the four teenagers that find it. With the film’s young cast, the ensemble, understandably, makes poor decisions when given a stack of cash. The way they and their families handle difficulties, like deciding who to get the gun, or deciding what to do when they find random dead bodies, actually feel humorous – there’s something to be said about how, given the right circumstances, both kids and adults make the same mistakes. Thematically, there’s also something here about how natural resources in Nigeria are made for high end technology they can’t afford. However, the film doesn’t really delve into its themes, or play up the comedic potential it has shown, deciding instead to play out the same way similar stories do.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Bimbo Manuel, Fawaz Aina, Ruby Akubueze, Sam Dede, Yemi Solade

Director: Kunle Afolayan

Between the film’s non-existent marketing and Hollywood's ongoing writers' strike, I knew not to expect much from Heart of Stone, Netflix’s latest direct-to-streaming outing. And sure enough, the spy thriller proved to be a mediocre watch. The plot is facile and generic, another one of those attempts at justifying AI and government data breaches. The acting is subpar, which is expected from the ever-stoic Gal Gadot. About the only good thing you can say about it is that it has entertaining action sequences. Gadot is precise and terrifying, a stunt wonder made for the genre. Now if only the acting matched the action, then maybe the film wouldn’t feel as plain and wooden. 

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Alia Bhatt, Archie Madekwe, BD Wong, Enzo Cilenti, Gal Gadot, Glenn Close, Jamie Dornan, Jing Lusi, Jon Kortajarena, Jónas Alfreð Birkisson, Luca Fiamenghi, Mark Ivanir, Matthias Schweighöfer, Neran Persaud, Paul Ready, Roy Sampson, Sophie Okonedo, Thomas Arnold

Director: Tom Harper

Rating: PG-13

Crypto Boy may seem, at first, to primarily warn against the allure of cryptocurrency, but at heart, it’s a family drama centered around an ambitious man and his immigrant Egyptian father. The Dutch Netflix film is actually a whole family affair, with writer-director Shady El-Hamus casting his brother Shahine and their father Sabri Saad in a real and relatable struggle between generations. That being said, the film is definitely less interested in the actual cryptocurrency scam presented. It takes such a predictable route that the protagonist comes off as foolish, rather than understandably ambitious. With his parallel to the villain, the film seems like it wants its viewers to empathize with the rich Mark Zuckerberg-wannabe, rather than cathartically put him through the consequences. This makes the film feel as disappointing as the crypto promises, as viewers are lured into the film for this, but come out with another thing entirely.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Aus Greidanus, Hannah van Lunteren, Jonas Smulders, Kendrick Etmon, Leny Breederveld, Loes Schnepper, Manoushka Zeegelaar-Breeveld, Minne Koole, Raymond Thiry, Shahine El-Hamus, Tobias Kersloot

Director: Shady El-Hamus

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

As a supernatural horror, The Pope’s Exorcist doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It employs more or less the usual elements you’d expect from the genre, and to be fair, it does occasionally fright you with its bloody jumpscares and demonic screeches. But as a drama, the film is surprisingly watchable thanks to a committed and compelling performance from Crowe. The movie works best when it removes itself from its horror trappings and follows Crowe’s Gabriele as he moves through the ins and outs of the Vatican. When he challenges the church’s authority, when he defends his practice, when he inserts jokes in serious conversations because “the devil hates jokes,” these are when The Pope’s Exorcist shines and entertains. They’re also proof the film shouldn’t take itself too seriously when its star is having this much fun. 

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Actor: Alessandro Gruttadauria, Alex Essoe, Andrea Dugoni, Bianca Bardoe, Carrie Munro, Cornell John, Daniel Zovatto, Derek Carroll, Ed White, Edward Harper-Jones, Ella Cannon, Franco Nero, Gennaro Diana, Jordi Collet, Laurel Marsden, Matthew Sim, Pablo Raybould, Paloma Bloyd, Peter DeSouza-Feighoney, Ralph Ineson, Russell Crowe, Ryan O'Grady, Santi Bayón, Tom Bonington, Victor Solé

Director: Julius Avery

Rating: R

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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

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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

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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

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