The Best Movies by Genre 2023
From Comedy to Tearjerker and everything in between
End of the year means one thing for film lovers… lists about the top films of the year.
I am a sucker for a good list. Anytime I see one, I just have to click on it. I find it so fascinating that one person could hate a movie and another could have it in their best of the year list. That rush of excitement and outrage while reading through lists is unmatched.
While there is nothing I love more than making a year-end list myself (see 2022 top 10 films of the year), this year I wanted to do something a bit different.
2023 was such a remarkable movie year. Probably the best since 2019.
Instead of just talking about my top films of the year (don’t worry, that is coming in a few days), I wanted to take a moment to highlight more than the 10 films that will make my top 10 list. There are so many genres that produce great films outside of the prestige dramas that often get dubbed as, “best”. Sometimes you want a movie that makes you laugh or cry or ponder life itself.
So today we have the Best Movies by Genre 2023. The goal here will be to highlight movies that won’t make my top 10 list (although for some categories it is impossible and there will be an overlap).
Beginning of next week we will have the Top 50 films of 2023 (with a deep dive of the top 10).
End of next week we will have the 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2024.
Before reading about the best films by genre of 2023, why not subscribe? It is free! Might as well give it a try
Best Action Movie of 2023- Ferrari
It seems like Ferrari got lost in the shuffle of all of the films being released around the holidays. It is a real shame because the racing sequences that Michael Mann pulls off are absolutely breathtaking. The sweeping vistas. The close ups. The engine blaring. The quick cuts. Enough to give chills to someone that doesn’t even enjoy cars. This one won’t be the same at home. See it while you can in a theater.
Best Animated Film of 2023 - Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse
Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse showed the world very clearly that there isn’t a problem with comic book movies, just the way that they are told. I sung its praises during my Top 10 Films from the first half of 2023 post if you want to read more about what makes the film so special.
Best Coming of Age Film of 2023 - Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
There probably isn’t a more sweet and tender film released throughout 2023 than “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret”. Rachel McAdams gives the most underappreciated performance of the year and the whole film just feels like a warm hug. I enjoyed the film so much that I dedicated an entire post to it earlier this year.
Best Satire of 2023 - American Fiction
Satire films have been hard to make over the past 5 years. We live in a world that is so crazy that is almost impossible to make meaningful satire that doesn’t just parody real life. There is an old quote that says, “Satire isn’t going to bring down the government or change the world, but it can start a conversation.” That is exactly what Cord Jefferson’s sharp, witty and heartfelt directorial debut does. Laugh out loud funny yet heartfelt all at the same time. It is a shame that it has not been more widely distributed up to this point. Once the film hits Amazon Prime later this year, I have a feeling it will be a big hit.
Best Comedy of 2023 - Bottoms
Bottoms has officially claimed the title of “Gen Z movie of the year” and I am here for it. To me, the second viewing of a comedy film is the true gauge on how funny it is. Do you laugh more or less on the second watch? If you laugh less, it falls in the bucket of most comedies (a few laughs the first time but then forgettable) but if you laugh more the second time, you have a rare thing. Bottoms is one of the few comedies that gets even more hilarious after each watch. I chuckled a few times when I saw it in theaters, but when I saw it a second time at home I was cackling uncontrollably. The film is ridiculous in all the best ways and Emma Seligman separates herself as one of the best Gen Z filmmakers out there.
Best Documentary of 2023 - BS High
Sometimes documentaries write themselves. Like many, I followed the Bishop Sycamore saga pretty closely when it all went down in 2021, but had no idea the depths of just how twisted the whole thing was. Roy Johnson (the founder of coach of Bishop Sycamore) sits down to be interviewed for the doc & almost immediately you see just how crazy this guy is. Normally for a documentary about a psychopath you get their friends & family talking all about them, but very rarely do you get to see just how crazy someone is put on display. BS High is more than that though, it is a portrait of the players & lives ruined by Roy’s shenanigans.
Best Black Comedy of 2023 - Dream Scenario
Seeing “Dream Scenario” in a theater was some of the most fun I had watching a movie this year. It is just one of those movies that is absurd yet grounded in a way that hits way too close to home. Cage is spectacular. The way the film turns is top notch. I will do everything in my power to make sure that this doesn’t get lost in time.
Best Wall Street Movie of 2023 - Fair Play
Speaking of movies that hopefully don’t get lost to time, Fair Play premiered way back in January of 2023 at the Sundance Film Festival. I immediately thought it would be a hit. Then Netflix bought it. Then after being released the chatter about the film died a few days later. It’s a shame because there wasn’t another 2023 film that made my skin crawl and heart race quite like Fair Play. I love any film set in the world of high finance, but more importantly I love a star driven thriller with an up an coming director. For more thoughts on Fair Play, see my coverage of the film earlier this year.
Best War Film of 2023 - Napoleon
Apparently I was in the minority, but I loved Napoleon. It was a great evening at the movies filled with lots of laughs, amazing battle sequences, and poking fun at everyone’s favorite tiny general. I also had plenty to say about the film in my review.
Best Biopic of 2023 - Maestro
I’ve heard the criticisms of Maestro and I honestly don’t disagree with some of them. However, there is no denying how utterly beautiful the whole thing is. It’s enough to move you to tears. Every second is a feast for the eyes. The cinematography is enough to give you chills, the direction will leave a permanent smile on your face, and the way Bernstein’s music is weaved into the score is breathtaking. It’s far from perfect, but I am so glad that it exists as a stunning portrait.
Best Concert Film of 2023 - Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour
This is the one category that I really have no business awarding since I only saw one concert film this year and have a deep affinity for Taylor Swift. That being said, it still caught me off guard how much fun watching this in a theater was. Bizarre is the only way to describe it. Read my full account here.
Best International Film - Anatomy of a Fall
Anatomy of a Fall is a perfect example of just how good of a movie year 2023. In most years, this would be a consensus top 5 movie of the year. Heck, in some years it would easily be the best film of the year. This court room drama is one of the most thought provoking and nuanced films of the 2020s and includes one of my favorite scenes of the year. Hope this one gets the recognition it deserves come Oscar season.
Best Court Room Drama of 2023 - The Burial
The obvious choice here is Anatomy of a Fall, but since that has already been accounted for in this exercise, The Burial is easily the best thing left on the board. The Burial is very much an old school throwback to the legal thriller, but the best part of the film is Jamie Foxx. He gets so much to do on screen and maxes out every second next to Tommy Lee Jones. The story itself shouldn’t be entertaining or work on paper, but the performances make this one worth your time.
Best Fantasy of 2023 - Barbie
When I included Barbie in my list of “Most Anticipated Movies of 2023”, I never would of imagined that it would become what it did. Who would have thought it would be the pop culture sensation of the year? Nothing more needs to be said about the film, but if you missed my review earlier this year, you can catch up on it here.
Best Romcom of 2023- No Hard Feelings
2023 felt like a renaissance for Rom Coms. While there were a few really solid ones throughout the year (Love and First Sight, Rye Lane, Anyone But You), No Hard Feelings stands head and shoulders above the rest. Reminiscent of a time when comedies ruled the cinema, No Hard Feelings is hilarious, sincere, an easy watch, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. This is the kind of comedy we often complain that the studious don’t make anymore. While yes, the film is raunchy, it actually lands the plane in a very sincere way that not a lot of comedies in this same category do.
Best Movie Musical of 2023- Wonka
While it was a pretty bleak year for movie musicals, Wonka was the one saving grace. Director Paul King brought the same childlike wonder from the Paddington films to one of the more complicated IPs of the past 100 years. The whole thing is endlessly fun and will introduce a whole new generation to the not only Willy Wonka, but studio musicals.
Best Sci-fi Film of 2023 - The Artifice Girl
There are many titles that you could give “The Artifice Girl”. For the sake of this exercise I settled on Best Sci-fi film, but “Best underseen film of the 2023” or “Best low budget film of 2023” would have worked as well. Frequent readers will already be familiar with the film, but for those who aren’t, here are my thoughts about it earlier this year.
Best Horror Film of 2023 - Infinity Pool
There are extremely dark and twisted films, then there is Infinity Pool, which sits in a category all of its own. There are few words that describe just how sordid and depraved the whole thing is, but you just can’t look away, even if you know you should. Mia Goth and Alexander Skarsgard deliver next level performances and push one another to new heights throughout.
Best tearjerker of 2023- The Iron Claw
The Iron Claw is the clear cut winner here. While many films made me cry throughout the year, none made me weep like a small child quite like this one did. One of the most raw and powerful movies of the decade. This won’t be the last time you will see me talking about The Iron Claw. I will say more during my year end list, but for now all I want to say is that you need to see this movie. I don’t care if wrestling is your favorite thing in the world or you know nothing about it (like me), this one deserves your attention. See it with family. See it in a theater. You won’t regret it.
That is all for now! I will be back next week with the Top 50 films of 2023 (with a deep dive of the top 10) and then the 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2024.
Until then, watch some good films!
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