The 10 best movies of 2023 so far

In the film industry, there is a phrase used to characterize films that are released in the first few months of the year. It is known as “dumpuary.” While saving their blockbusters for the summer and prestige dramas for the fall, studios will dump movies that might bomb in January and February. “Dumpuary” might be a thing of the past with the rise of streaming and a recent history of early month hits (Bad Boys for Life, Uncharted, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania).

2023 has produced a number of critical and commercial successes across various genres in barely over two months. So far, viewers have favored a frightening doll with a violent side (M3GAN), an action movie from the 1990s (Plane), a potent courtroom drama (Saint Omer), and a bear high on cocaine (Cocaine Bear). The following list is the best movies of 2023 up to this point.

10. Cocaine Bear

Keri Russell hides behind a tree as a bear tries to climb it in a scene from Cocaine Bear.

The plot of Cocaine Bear can be understood without much thought. In this bizarre, high-concept film, a bear eats cocaine and loses control. But what’s this? It’s entertaining and funny! A drug delivery goes awry, resulting in a package of cocaine falling out of a plane and landing in a Georgia forest. Cocaine is consumed by a 500-pound black bear, turning it into an out-of-control beast.

Teenagers, residents of the town, criminals, and vacationers congregate in the forest. These people discover the hard way what a cocaine-high bear goes through. As you might have guessed, the bear goes on a murderous rampage. Cocaine Even though Bear isn’t flawless, it’s still an entertaining experience that should be watched alongside a big group of people.

Cocaine Bear is now in theaters.

9. Plane

Two men point and hold guns in Plane.

The actor Gerard Butler has been credited with preserving the essence of 90s action movies in recent years. He has starred in various movies in the past decade, including Greenland, Den of Thieves, Hunter Killer, Last Seen Alive, and the Has Fallen franchise, that could have easily been released in the 1990s. His latest addition to the action genre is Plane. In the movie, Butler plays Brodie Torrance, a commercial pilot who has to make an emergency landing in the Philippines due to a severe storm. Unfortunately, the region is controlled by hostile forces who take most of the passengers captive. Brodie teams up with Louis Gaspare, a homicide suspect accompanied by the FBI on the flight, to rescue the passengers. If you are a fan of Butler’s previous action movies, then you will definitely enjoy Plane.

It is now available on digital platforms and on demand.

8. Missing

A girl talks on a mobile phone in Missing.

Creating a compelling narrative using only screens is a difficult task, and it has been attempted for almost two decades with screenlife films. As technology continues to advance, the quality of screenlife movies also improves. One of the most successful screenlife movies, 2018’s Searching, which is a thriller about a father’s quest to find his missing daughter, proved that visual storytelling could be done effectively on a low budget. It grossed $75 million on a budget of less than $1 million.

In 2023, Missing, the follow-up to Searching, was released as a standalone movie. It stars Storm Reid (The Last of Us) as June Allen, a teenager who goes on a mission to locate her mother who disappeared in Colombia while vacationing with her new boyfriend. At first, June suspects that the boyfriend (Indsutry’s Ken Leung) has kidnapped her mother. However, June later discovers that her mother has been keeping secrets from her. The film is an exciting thriller that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats until the end.

Missing will be available to watch on digital and on-demand platforms.

7. Knock at the Cabin

Abby Quinn, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Dave Bautista, and Ruprt Grint stand grimly inside a cabin, staring at the camera.

M. Night Shyamalan (Old) has a knack for creating event films, regardless of whether you are a fan of his work or not. His latest offering, Knock at the Cabin, follows his tried-and-true formula of supernatural plots and surprise endings. Based on the 2018 novel by Paul G. Tremblay, the movie revolves around a home invasion with apocalyptic consequences.

Dave Bautista, Abby Quinn, Rupert Grint, and Nikki Amuka-Bird play four strangers who hold a family hostage in their cabin, with Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge as the parents and Kristen Cui as their young daughter. The captors demand a human sacrifice to stave off the apocalypse. While it may not be Shyamalan’s best work, Knock at the Cabin deserves a spot on the list of the top movies of 2023.

You can now watch the movie digitally and on demand.

6. M3GAN

Allison Williams stands in between Violet McGraw and M3GAN.
Geoffrey Short/Universal Pictures

The film industry has shown us that it’s always a bad idea to take home a creepy doll because it will ruin your life. Cady, played by Violet McGraw from The Haunting of Hill House, is orphaned after her parents’ death and is placed in the care of her aunt, Gemma (Allison Williams from Girls), who is a robotic developer. With no prior experience in raising a child, Gemma introduces Cady to her latest creation, M3GAN, an android designed to protect and become a child’s best friend.

Cady and M3GAN instantly hit it off, but as expected, M3GAN’s overprotectiveness towards Cady leads to violent and terrifying outcomes for anyone who crosses her path. M3GAN doesn’t take itself too seriously and knows exactly what type of film it wants to be, a sci-fi horror movie that’s both scary and campy while providing some humor.

M3GAN is a fun and enjoyable horror movie that you can watch on Peacock.

5. Creed III

Michael B. Jordan sits on a stool in a boxing ring in Creed III.

Michael B. Jordan, in his directorial debut, helms Creed III, the latest film in the franchise. Donnie, played by Jordan, has retired from fighting and now works as a promoter. His life is perfect with his girlfriend Bianca Taylor and their daughter.

However, things take a turn when his childhood friend Damian Anderson, who went to prison for Donnie, re-enters his life seeking everything that Donnie has achieved. The movie builds up to a thrilling climax between the two friends. Although Jordan is great as Donnie, Jonathan Majors, who plays Damian, adds a new dynamic to the franchise. Creed III is a must-watch film and Jordan should continue making Creed movies if he wants to.

4. Sick

Two girls wear masks while in a car in Sick.

Kevin Williamson, the screenwriter of the 1996 hit slasher movie Scream, returns to the horror genre with Sick, a movie that serves as a spiritual sequel to Scream, set at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The story follows two college students, played by Gideon Adlon and Bethlehem Million, who decide to quarantine in a lakeside cabin as the world shuts down.

However, their peaceful retreat is disrupted when a masked killer begins to stalk and attack them. With clever writing and a quick pace, Sick is one of the better pandemic-themed movies and is now available to stream on Peacock.

3. Infinity Pool

Gabi looks at James in a pool in Infinity Pool.

Infinity Pool, directed by Brandon Cronenberg and starring Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth, is a film that can be disturbing and visceral at times. However, the committed performances of Skarsgård and Goth make it a worthwhile addition to any movie list.

The movie follows the story of James Foster, a writer on vacation with his wealthy wife in a seaside town who ends up killing a local man and experiencing the country’s unique legal system. This system allows the wealthy to clone themselves and watch their duplicates be killed in their place.

The film is unconventional and not for everyone, but those looking for something wild and unpredictable should give it a chance. You can watch Infinity Pool digitally and on demand.

2. Skinamarink

Kyle Edward Ball’s first feature film is an experimental horror that presents a nightmare scenario involving two siblings. The story takes place in the mid-’90s and centers around six-year-old Kaylee and her four-year-old brother Kevin, who wake up in the middle of the night to discover that their father is missing.

The situation becomes more horrifying as they realize that all the windows and doors in the house have vanished inexplicably. As they search for their father in the dark, they hear eerie voices calling out to them from all directions. Skinamarink is a film that will terrify even the most passionate horror fans, as it portrays a childhood nightmare that can be relatable to any viewer.

The movie is available on the streaming platform Shudder.

1. Saint Omer

A woman sits in a courtroom in Saint Omer.

Alice Diop, a pregnant documentarian, went to the trial of Fabienne Kabou, a woman accused of killing her daughter in 2016. Kabou had left her daughter to drown and was found to be paranoid by psychiatrists. Despite this, she was deemed fit to stand trial. Diop was inspired by these events and made her feature debut, Saint Omer.

The film follows novelist Rama, who is attending the trial of Laurence Coly, a Senegalese immigrant accused of killing her infant child on the beach Berck. Rama plans to use the trial as inspiration for her modern retelling of Medea. As the case progresses, Rama reflects on her life and is moved by Coly’s difficult upbringing. Saint Omer is a compelling courtroom drama that confronts viewers with difficult questions and explores themes of sympathy and humanity.

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