Movies & TV / Columns

Stew’s Top 50 Movies Of 2023 (#40 – 31)

January 30, 2024 | Posted by Rob Stewart
The Super Mario Bros. Movie - Mario, Peach, and Toach Image Credit: Nintendo and Universal Studios

It’s round two!

As I continue to countdown the Top 50 (out of 112) movies that came out in 2023–that is, every movie I would say I recommend fairly strongly–we are out of the 40’s and into the 30’s.

Let’s get right into it!

(Unless you want to relive where this list started with #50-41, then click HERE)

40. Missing

Missing is the quasi-sequel, half-follow-up to the earlier movie Searching… which starred John Cho as a desperate father trying to find his vanished daughter. I loved Searching… and thought it was among the best movies of the 2010’s. It’s shot entirely from the perspective of screens: phone screens, computer screens, security cameras, etc. There are no shots of people just in a room talking unless another screen somewhere with them is capturing that.

Missing takes the same gimmick and flips the script; this time we are following a daughter whose mother has gone missing after taking an international trip with a new boyfriend of hers. The young woman must use all of her wits and all of the technology at her disposal to figure out what happened to mom!

This one is super tense and gripping, though it gets a bit convoluted and overbooked when we start getting into the reveals, which makes a bit of sense when you realize its had to one-up Searching… which was already bonkers in its own third act. If thrillers are your thing, this is for you.

39. Super Mario Bros Movie

There’s no heart here, okay? A lot of kids movies have a strong soul that centers them, might make you tear up, and makes everything feel like the writers were passionate about what they were doing. Super Mario Bros, meanwhile, is Video Game References: The Movie. And you know what? That can work, too. It’s funny and it makes you remember what you loved as a kid (or love now as an adult!) about the Mario franchise.

Oh, and there’s Jack Black singing about Peach.

38. Shazam: Fury Of The Gods

This is too high, and you know what? I don’t even care. I didn’t hate this movie, and it’s my list. And compared to a lot of the comic book based cinema that did NOT make my top 50 this year (The Flash, Quantumania, Blue Beetle), it’s friggin’ Iron Man.

Helen Mirren is in this, and I love that she is taking on big budget roles that let her bring gravitas to the otherwise corny proceedings! Lucy Liu gets to be a strong villain. Jack Dylan Grazer and Zachary Levi continue to give great performances in a franchise that desperately needs them. Like, this is even more soulless than Super Mario Bros, but it’s at least just as much fun.

37. Brooklyn 45


All right, with Mario and Shazam behind us, I can quit feeling like a shill for mass produced existing IP flicks and move on to something a little more impressive. Like this Shudder original that deals with PTSD, the effects of war and following orders on soldiers, and xenophobia! All wrapped carefully around a neat little ghost story affecting several individuals following the end of World War II.

The trailer up there does a fantastic job of not giving much about Brooklyn 45 away, and I really appreciate it, so I won’t say too much about the storyline here. But it was a great indie horror, the kind of hidden gem that Shudder occasionally offers forth, that I definitely look forward to watching again sometime!

36. Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar


Haha, this movie isn’t that great. It’s basically a two-and-a-half hour sitcom episode of whacky misunderstandings and near-misses. It’s cheesy and silly and longer than it needs to be.

AND YET! I was so, so engaged in this movie, and when you get to main conflict in the second and third acts, it was so heartfelt and kind of tragic. So I don’t know… this is a movie in which I can totally see the flaws. But I was engrossed when I watched it anyway!

35. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Back to the big budget IP offerings for a moment. If you are looking for the classic TMNT story and characterization… this ain’t that. This is an even more wildly different take on the Turtle heroes that any we have seen before.

Still, that’s what different visions are for. We’ve had SO MANY iterations of these characters before; why not make room for this one, too?

The humor occasionally lands, but this flick isn’t as funny as I wanted it to be. But still… I bet it hits with kids more than it would with me. And that’s the point of it all, right? It’s a KIDS movie; not a forty-year olds movie. That said, I really dug the heart and the story behind it all. Really good stuff here.

34. Tetris


The story of Tetris as an espionage thriller. Why not?! Taryn Egerton is just great in pretty much everything he does, and this is no different. I love the slight fictionalizing (Hollywoodizing, if you will) of the already interesting story of how Tetris became available to the masses. It’s no worse than what happens in most “Based On A True Story” movies.

But if cinema can make the creation of Tetris exciting… what about the creation of a shoe?

33. Air

The true underdog story of how one massive billion dollar corporation who relies on slave and child labor became an even bigger success. (The movie actually briefly brings up the labor issues but then immediately drops them.)

That said, all of the performances are truly great. There is a real feeling of desperation across the faces and lines of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris Tucker, Jason Bateman. Viola Davis is equally powerful as she negotiates Michael’s contract. Everyone is great.

The needle drops here are almost laughably on the nose. But the music is great and really makes you take a second to think about how the song matters to the moment in which it appears. I just wish I could get over how we are supposed to be sympathetic to fucking NIKE, though.

32. Quiz Lady


I continue to absolutely love and adore Awkwafina, and no one will ever make me feel bad about that. She is adorable and a hilarious actress.

Here, she is playing a subdued, shy character; she is really going for the anti-Awkwafina. And it works! It’s something new! I was a big fan of seeing it.

31. Sisu


I mentioned in the first article of this series when I talked about the Netflix movie Ballerina about how action movies have taken such a huge cue from John Wick. Sisu is another John Wick clone, this time about an older Norwegian man fighting back against a patrol of Nazis.

But here’s the thing: since the dawn of cinema, we’ve waited for one moment, and that is when a movie showed an old man throw a landmine at a Nazi’s face.

We’ve arrived.


That’s it for part two of this extended list of the Best Of 2023.

Remember, if you want to see my video reviews of the WORST twenty movies of 2023, you can find those HERE.

Until next time… take care!