Top 15 Films of 2023 (So Far)

The year in film so far has been packed with unconventional, heartfelt stories

Best Films 2023 So Far
Illustration by Steven Fiche

    It’s the mid-point of the year, which means it’s time for our semiannual pop culture check up. Today, we offer up our list of 2023’s best movies so far. Also check out our ranking of the best albums of the year to date, and stay tuned for more rankings throughout the week.

    June is always an intriguing time to check in on the best films of the year so far. It precedes awards season, and so the heavy-hitters we’re expecting to dominate the conversation later in the year — like Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon or Denis Villeneuve’s Dune Part Two — have yet to debut. But throughout spring and early summer, we’ve still been able to see some great films, from genre-bending epics to character-driven dramas to unconventional superhero tales — to the point where we had to expand this list from the original 10 to 15 picks (especially after seeing a certain animated arachnid person return to the big screen).

    There are, as mentioned, big serious films coming this year, but so far 2023 has given us some great stories about people living their lives as best they can, no matter what obstacles they might face. Those obstacles include intergalactic threats, past boyfriends, corrupt business deals, serial killers, systemic racism, bad mothers, the onset of puberty, and killer robots. So, you know, a pretty normal year for film.


    Liz Shannon Miller
    Senior Entertainment Editor

    15. Scream VI

    Best Films 2023 So Far

    Scream 6 (Paramount Pictures)

    Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
    Written by: James Vanderbilt, Guy Busick
    Cast: Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Jack Champion, Henry Czerny, Mason Gooding, Liana Liberato, Dermot Mulroney, Devyn Nekoda, Jenna Ortega, Tony Revolori, Josh Segarra, Samara Weaving, Hayden Panettiere, Courteney Cox

    In this era of remakes and never-ending film franchises, sometimes sequels aren’t necessary — but they can be a lot of fun. Scream VI continues where things left off in 2022’s Scream, with Ghostface coming back to haunt Sam and Tara Carpenter (Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega) in New York City. This time, though, things get a bit weird, as the killer plays by a different set of rules, incorporating past murders from the franchise’s own mythology into the slaying. The film also sees the return of reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Kirby Reed (Hayden Panetierre), who survived the Woodsboro murders in Scream 4. At this point, it’s hard for a Scream movie to avoid feeling a little predictable when it comes to the reveal of Ghostface’s identity, but the franchise’s satirical strengths — as well as some well-executed chase sequences — never get old. – Sun Noor

    14. Chevalier


    Chevalier (Searchlight Pictures)

    Directed by: Stephen Williams
    Written by: Stefani Robinson
    Cast: Kelvin Harrison Jr., Samara Weaving, Lucy Boynton, Marton Csokas, Alex Fitzalan, Minnie Driver

    While it isn’t completely free of biopic tropes, this solid recounting of the life of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) offers up a fascinating lens on a largely forgotten but important figure from the world of classical music. Anchored by Harrison Jr.’s solid performance and a script by Stefani Robinson (Atlanta, What We Do in the Shadows) that ably makes the man’s life relatable to a modern audience, Chevalier is exactly the sort of biopic we should see more of, if only as a corrective for the way history has treated people of color for centuries. — L.S. Miller


    13. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

    Best Films 2023 So Far

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (Disney)

    Directed by: James Gunn
    Written by: James Gunn
    Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Will Poulter, Sean Gunn, Chukwudi Iwuji, Linda Cardellini, Nathan Fillion, Sylvester Stallone

    As his final farewell before going off to spearhead the Distinguished Competition, James Gunn reminds everyone what a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie should be. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is big on heart, creative in action, and tight on character. The nature of the space-faring ensemble piece means not every character is going to feel fully fleshed, but the way Gunn is able to build a profound story of found family off the back of Rocket Raccoon — even with the character unconscious for the majority of the film — brings the whole group’s arc to a satisfying conclusion. Plus, the CGI is way easier on the eyes and the villain far more engaging than the multiverse-burdened baddie from Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, so that doesn’t hurt. — Ben Kaye

    12. Polite Society


    Polite Society (Focus Features)

    Directed by: Nida Manzoor
    Written by: Nida Manzoor
    Cast: Priya Kansara, Ritu Arya

    We Are Lady Parts is the best Peacock show no one is watching (though isn’t that true of most of them?), and show creator Nida Manzoor’s theatrical debut is just as archly funny and stylish. Blending Bollywood with British dramedy and Jane Austin — and more than a few kung-fu kicks — Polite Society sends a teenage stuntwoman wannabe (Priya Kansara, ever so charming) on a quest to stop her big sister’s (Ritu Arya) marriage to a wealthy but suspicious new suitor, with her all-too-game schoolmates (Seraphine Beh and Ella Bruccoleri) by her side. Manzoor’s direction is stylish, the writing whip-smart and witty, and the action surprisingly deft, there’s a lot to latch onto here, no matter where you approach it. – Clint Worthington


    11. A Thousand and One

    Best Films 2023 So Far

    A Thousand and One (Focus Features)

    Directed by: A.V. Rockwell
    Written by: A.V. Rockwell
    Cast: Teyana Taylor, Will Catlett, Josiah Cross, Aven Courtney, Aaron Kingsley Adetola

    Teyana Taylor turns in one of the most potent performances of the year in A.V. Rockwell’s feature debut, which made a splash at Sundance this year. Set against the backdrop of a rapidly-gentrifying Brooklyn in the 1990s, A Thousand and One centers on the struggles of Inez (Taylor), a recently-released ex-con, and her attempts to reignite and maintain a relationship with her son, Terry (played by various actors throughout childhood, though Josiah Cross’s 17-year-old is the standout). More than its characters, its sense of place, or the lushness of Gary Gunn’s strings-laden score, it’s an opus about the ways the political impacts the personal, and the oft-controversial decisions we make just to hold our family together. – C. Worthington

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