Movies & TV / Columns

Stew’s Top 50 Movies Of 2023 (#50 – 41)

January 29, 2024 | Posted by Rob Stewart
CREED III Image Credit: Eli Ade/MGM

I easily cracked my January goal of having seen 100 movies that came out in 2023, having made it to 112 by mid-December, at which point I decided to call the year and get into my Best Of lists.

I actually made it to the theater 40 times in total in 2023, for 38 individual movies, two of which I saw twice. The rest of the 112 I saw across various streaming services in the comfort of my home.

So yeah, I know a top 50–FIFTY!–is a lot, but that’s ultimately less than the top half of what I’ve seen. And it was mostly a darn good year. So when I was considering a Top 20 or 30, it just didn’t feel like I’d get to call out enough of the strong movies I saw this year. I want to shout out almost all of the movies I’d say are at least a relatively strong recommended watch from me.

So yeah, everything on this list, all fifty of them, are definite thumbs up from me. Even if the ones I start off with here have their flaws listed to show why they might be lower than others as we climb the rankings.

Anyway, buckle up… I’ve obviously got a lot of recommendations this year, starting with…

50. Talk To Me

In a relatively strong year for horror, I think a lot of fans would have Talk To Me a fair bit higher, but I thought it was kind of middle-of-the-pack. It just kind of bothered me how they hand-wave away any questions the viewer might have as “Because spirits, that’s why”. And maybe they planned for the film to do well enough that they could put together a sequel and explain more there.

That said, the last 5 minutes or so are absolutely spectacular. It made me wish the whole movie had been that good leading up to that point! But it was a fun enough up-and down journey to that glorious finale.

49. Space Oddity


Space Oddity is a surprising little indie flick directed by Kyra Sedgwick about a young man with some tragedy in his past who has dedicated his life to a shady company looking to colonize Mars before any of the big corporations can get there first.

Alexandra Shipp is a star here as she usually is. Leading man Kyle Allen is weaker, but serviceable. The story of grief and familial duty and self-delusion is very grounded and realistic, and while nothing here is brilliant, it’s all so damn human. If you get a chance, check this out.

48. Stan Lee


Let’s not lie: a lot of this is a fluff piece. It’s Disney telling us the story of Stan Lee in Stan’s own words.

And yet, I was surprised by how much they actually showed here. They play a radio show call-in from the late 1980’s where Stan and Jack Kirby had a bit of a verbal confrontation and where, frankly, Stan came off as the worse looking man of the two. They also touch briefly on Stan and his wife’s second child who died almost immediately after birth. So there’s definitely more here than just hearing Stan talk about how he single-handedly created Spider-Man because he saw a fly in his office one day for the umpteenth time. (though we definitely get that story again, too)

Add to that some creative storytelling where images and video clips are mixed in with figurines and models, and you’ve got a touching, interesting look at one of the undeniable true legends of pop culture.

47. Ballerina


This isn’t the last John Wick clone we will see on these lists! But yeah, John Wick has really shaped action movies for nearly the past decade. We’re seeing a lot of the one-person army going up against impossible odds and mowing down baddies.

Ballerina has some of the basic amazing Wick-influenced action set pieces, especially in the third act when the movie picks up dramatically and becomes one of the underrated action flicks of the year. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before if you’ve watched action in recent years, but done right, it’s still a blast.

46. Sick

We are so used to slasher movies in the modern era being parodies or cross-bred with comedy as they poke fun at all of the tropes. But Sick is one of the few new slashers that isn’t trying to be meta about the whole genre.

Which isn’t to say Sick doesn’t have a shtick. It’s set during the opening days of the COVID-19 pandemic, so there are a lot of topical moments of characters talking about masks and droplets and what-have-you. It’s weird because in 2023, the pandemic already feels like it was a lifetime ago. So watching something like Sick feels like an interesting relic of a bygone era that few of us would ever miss.

And it’s just a good slasher. So that’s good, too!

45. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves


Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a cute little nothing story that is strongly enhanced by great effects, a strict loyalty and dedication to the game the movie is based on, and completely enjoyable performances from the cast who are treating the subject matter like it’s some of the most fun they have ever had. There’s no depth to the tale or the action, but you also don’t really feel like there ever needed to be because everything else works.

Chris Pine continues to be one of Hollywood’s most underrated leading men, and Hugh Grant is scenery-chewing in the very best way as the antagonist of the show. I wish the plot had been less color-by-numbers so I could score it higher, but there’s nothing else here to really complain about.

44. The Creator

There’s a world where the plot to The Creator matches the intensive care that went into the effects and acting. And in that world, we are looking at a real Movie Of The Year contender.

Unfortunately, The Creator that we got is essentially a lower-end Avatar story (with Avatar itself already being derivative of so many other flicks) that doesn’t really have any nuance or depth. Robots are good, humans are bad, and one man is torn over the choice he has to make between them. But it’s never in doubt what he’ll do.

But damn… it looks so friggin’ good, and there is a heart to it.

43. Creed III


The final boxing match, the climax, of Creed 3 is the most imaginative and creatively shot of the entire Rocky franchise, and it really showcases Michael B Jordan’s talents as a director. The incredibly intense and personal rivalry between Creed and Dame is boiled down to just the two of them as the crowd and the outside noise melts away, leaving them fighting a midst the imagery of their pasts. It’s some solidly thought-out and next level stuff for a boxing movie.

I’d personally say Creed and Creed II were both better than the third of the trilogy despite that tactful final fight. But it’s still amazing how much this sub-franchise accomplished.

42. Thanksgiving


I was genuinely surprised at how well made this movie was, even if I maybe should not have been. I’m just historically not a big fan of Eli Roth given how much I hate the Hostel series. I’m not a guy for whom gross-out torture porn does much.

But for Thanksgiving — the second pure slasher on the list already, and I love that we are still making these!–Roth toned down his gore to basic horror levels and made it more campy and cartoony than realistic and torturey. And that allowed me to notice he is actually a heck of a filmmaker. His influences are clear across Thanksgiving, but they feel more like lessons he learned than rip-offs or even straight homages. He just knows horror.

41. Pathaan

I sought out a lot more Indian cinema this year in the wake of the excellence that was RRR, and Pathaan was a movie that quickly found itself on Netflix, so I gave it a go. It’s a movie that gets a little weaker the longer it goes, admittedly, as it starts off as a fun, sexy romp that seems to be parodying flicks like the Fast & Furious franchise, but by the third act, it starts feeling less like a send-up of those movies and more like, well, one of them.

I know Indian cinema tends to run long, but with all the late-act fake outs that Pathaan delivers, with each one feeling more convoluted than the last, this effort really could have stood to lose half an hour somewhere. But for the first two acts, this is a treat.


That’s just the top of the iceberg, as we have forty even better movies to come!

And if you are curious as to what the worst of the year was–don’t worry, there are just twenty on the last list I’d say were fully abhorrent to watch–you can find my video reviews coming HERE.

Until next time… take care!