Throughout 2023, blockbuster titles like Barbie and Oppenheimer took the cinematic world by absolute storm. For better or worse, Marvel and DC continued pumping out projects, and big sequels to major franchises were released every month. But amid the popular releases of 2023, even more movies flew underneath the public radar. This list aims to shine light on some of the best movies you may have missed throughout an overall impressive year.
Several of these were made by well-known directors, and even more titles feature star-studded casts. While a few films featured herein may appear familiar, it’s likely you missed these films during their theatrical runs — if they even had one, that is. All that said, these are 10 hidden gems from 2023, ranked.
10 A Good Person
A Good Person
- Release Date
- March 24, 2023
- 2hr 9min
With Zach Braff as the writer-director, A Good Person is among the most underrated movies of the year, and that’s in spite of a star-studded cast: Florence Pugh plays Allison, while Morgan Freeman co-stars as Daniel. There’s also Zoe Lister-Jones, Molly Shannon, and a brief appearance from Alex Wolff. They all perform brilliantly in this poignant story of addiction, heartbreak, and forgiveness.
Analyzing Grief and Forgiveness
After crashing her car with a pair of passengers in tow, Allison wakes up in a hospital bed to learn that neither of her future in-laws made it out alive. The recovery process precipitates an addiction to pain pills — from there, Alison joins an AA group, and forms an unlikely relationship with members of the family which she inadvertently tore apart. It’s a touching tale, with Pugh’s stand-out performance bringing Braff’s unique vision to life. Stream on MGM+ and Prime Video, and rent or buy on digital platforms.
9 Love at First Sight
Love At First Sight
- Release Date
- September 15, 2023
- Vanessa Caswill
- 1hr 30min
Among the most underrated romance movies of 2023 is Love at First Sight, directed by Vanessa Caswell. Its script was adapted by Katie Lovejoy from Jennifer E. Smith’s novel The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. And while none of those names are likely to ring a bell, the work they put into this charming romantic comedy deserves more love from film fans everywhere.
Odds Are, You’ll Like This Film
Starring Haley Lu Richardson as Hadley and Ben Hardy as Oliver, the plot kicks off once the two meet at an airport and begin a romantic relationship. It’s a simple plot, but Love at First Sight is also rendered sweet by dint of clever dialogue and inventive voice-over that provides audiences with the statistical probability of the titular phenomenon. Stream on Netflix.
8 The Delinquents
A heist movie with comedic undertones, The Delinquents was directed by Rodrigo Moreno from his own original script. It tells the story of Morán, who schemes to rob the bank in which he works. Elaborate plot points play out from there, with Morán’s friend Román assisting in the heist and thus creating an intriguing dynamic.
The Talented Cast and Crew
Though not many names will sound familiar, the characters are perfectly cast — Daniel Eliás plays Morán, while Esteban Bigliardi shows up as Román. And as valiant as their efforts were, the name most prominently worth noting would be the aforementioned auteur, Rodrigo Moreno. He crafted a compelling heist comedy with The Delinquents, which was shortlisted at the Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film. And justifiably so. Stream on Mubi and through Prime Video, or rent or buy on digital platforms.
A French action-comedy, Wingwomen features three talented actresses in the lead roles: Mélanie Laurent, Adèle Exarchopoulos, and Manon Bresch. They play a trio of thieves who are looking to escape their life of crime by executing one final heist and separating themselves from their boss: The Godmother, played by Isballe Adjani. It’s quite a star-studded cast, with the brilliance behind the scenes of Wingwomen rivaling the value of their performances.
A Perfect Blend of Emotions
The project was directed by Laurent, who also co-wrote the script, and she manages to facilitate high-octane action sequences, well-timed moments of comedy, and hard-hitting drama throughout the film. Until its final frame, Wingwomen elicits various emotions — it’s a shame that film fans have yet to experience them. Stream on Netflix.
A work of whiplash-inducing action, Ballerina was helmed by Lee Chung-hyeon from his own original script. And sure, he mostly crafted a plot that acts as a canvas for him to paint his visual masterpiece. But Ballerina does feature an intriguing lead character, a female bodyguard named Jang Ok-ju who goes on a revenge tour following the death of her friend.
A Neon-Laced Spectacle
Precise camerawork and a carefully curated color palette render Ballerina a visual masterpiece until the last light of neon fades to black. Its cast also shows up with passion and poise, embedding intrigue into the characters of an otherwise straightforward plot. Beautifully choreographed action makes Ballerina a must-see movie from 2023. Stream on Netflix.
5 Rye Lane
Rye Lane‘s plot is incited by the kind of random spark two people experience, in this case two strangers at a mutual friend’s art show. Dom and Yas are both getting over recent breakups, and over the course of a day, the two share intimate stories and create lasting memories while venturing throughout South London. A simple plot, bolstered by alluring visuals and engaging dialogue, both featured from the film’s first scene until the fireworks of the finale.
A Simple Plot with Perfect Execution
With Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia as the co-writers, Rye Lane stars David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah as Dom and Yas, respectively. It saw perfect direction by Raine Allen-Miller in her feature film debut — and while none of the names among the cast and crew are likely to ring a bell, they’ve all earned a great deal of respect with this wonderful little gem. Stream on Hulu.
4 Outlaw Johnny Black
Written and directed by Michael Jai White, the famous martial artist, filmmaker, and actor also stars in the titular role of Outlaw Johnny Black. It’s perhaps the funniest film of 2023, with witty wordplay that satirizes the western genre like few films have before. After crafting the perfect script, all White needed was a competent cast to see the product into hilarious fruition.
Michael Jai White’s Hilarious Passion Project
The plot follows Johnny Black, an infamous outlaw who poses as the new preacher of a small town as a way to blend in and hide from the authorities while seeking revenge. White plays the outlaw, while talented performers like Anika Noni Rose, Erica Ash, Tommy Davidson, Jill Scott, and Michael Madsen make supporting appearances. They all perform wonderfully in an essential comedy from 2023 that’s bound to resonate with audiences everywhere — if only they’d give it a shot. Rent or buy on digital platforms like Apple TV, Prime Video, and YouTube.
Chronicling Diane Nyad’s attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida without the safety of a shark cage, Nyad stars Annette Bening and Jodie Foster. The former fills the titular role, and she provides the perfect performance — even then, Foster arguably steals the show as her coach, named Bonnie Stoll.
Some World-Class Acting
Among the most respected actresses of their generation, Bening and Foster highlight the product even against an intelligent script and meaningful direction. They share wonderful chemistry, too. But despite the widespread praise doled out to the cast and crew and the film being widely available on Netflix, their efforts came up short with regard to popularity. Nyad deserves far more attention from audiences. Stream on Netflix.
2 Mixed by Erry
Written and directed by Sydney Sibilia, the biographical comedy Mixed by Erry should be cited among the finest films of 2023. It chronicles the story of an aspiring DJ — the eponymous Erry, who’s played by a promising, up-and-coming talent named Luigi D’Oriano. Along with his two brothers, Erry became a powerful record producer who got started by mixing tapes for his friends while working at a record store.
The Witty Dialogue of Mixed by Erry
Mixed by Erry deal with a lot of questions about ethics, both professionally and personally, with the lead character Erry undergoing palpable character development and sharing an endearing dynamic with each member of the supporting cast. As such, Mixed by Erry is a great example of how to write perfect characters who evolve organically, and how to compose witty, meaningful dialogue that’s just as natural. Stream on Netflix.
1 They Cloned Tyrone
They Cloned Tyrone
- Release Date
- July 21, 2023
- Juel Taylor
- 2hr 2min
Directed by Juel Taylor with Tony Rettenmaier as his co-writer, They Cloned Tyrone boasts an ambitious and intriguing premise: a drug dealer named Fontaine is shot dead. But on the following morning, he wakes up unscathed. He then forms an unlikely team with a pair of clients and uncovers a series of eerie happenings beneath the very neighborhood in which they live.
An Ingenious Script for a Talented Cast
Starring John Boyega, Jamie Foxx, and Teyonah Parris, everyone performs to perfection in a project that runs a surprising gamut of emotions. They Cloned Tyrone is both hilarious and affecting in its opening scenes, and the plot flourishes from there as the movie explores themes of conspiracy, racism, and representation. It’s hilarious but also thrilling, but despite the Netflix media push just before the SAG-AFTRA strike, the film seems to have been forgotten by now, which is an absolute shame. It’s one of the most entertaining and original movies of the year. Stream on Netflix. Check out our interview with stars John Boyega and Teyonah Parris below: