The 50 Best Movies of 2023, According to 158 Critics from Around the World

2023 was a tumultuous year for the film industry, with lengthy writers and actors strikes bringing Hollywood productions to a grinding halt and forcing fall festivals to proceed without their typical red carpet star power. But amid all the chaos, it slowly emerged as one of the best years for cinema in recent memory. Just take a look at the 50 best movies of 2023, as determined by IndieWire’s annual critics survey.

158 critics voted in our end-of-year poll, and the resulting top 50 films of the year are the closest you’ll find to a truly global critical consensus about the year’s best films. 

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The concept of Barbenheimer — that “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” would release on the same day, July 21 — grew in the minds of cinephiles in the months leading up to both films actually unspooling on screens. How extraordinary is it that these films actually lived up to the hype? They are well represented on our Top 50 list below, with “Oppenheimer” at number two and “Barbie” at number eight respectively.  

Christopher Nolan’s film went on to receive 13 Academy Awards nominations, while “Barbie” scored eight. For those upset at Greta Gerwig not receiving a Best Director nomination, our 2023 Critics Survey may not offer much consolation: Yes, Gerwig appears at number six on our Best Directors list there… but that is outside the Top 5 cutoff for the Academy Awards (where Justine Triet appeared at the Oscars, instead of Todd Haynes as on IndieWire’s list). 

It’s also extraordinary that, for so many, “Killers of the Flower Moon” met expectations as well, after years of anticipation that included a wholesale rethinking of the script and story focus. It topped our Top 50 list as the best film of 2023, as well as the Best Director list for Martin Scorsese. It notched entries on the Best Cinematography and Best Screenplay lists, too, but of particular note is Lily Gladstone, who came in at number two on the Best Performance list, just behind Emma Stone for “Poor Things.” It’s been a race between the two of them for the Best Actress Oscar, with both winning Best Actress in a Drama and Best Actress in a Comedy, respectively, at the Golden Globes, and Stone winning the Critics Choice Award and the BAFTA for Best Actress (where Gladstone wasn’t nominated). Gladstone has picked up momentum near the end of the season with her Best Actress win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, however. 

So, in many ways, IndieWire’s 2023 Critics Survey set the stage for much of the Oscar race to come. Where it’s most exciting, especially in this Top 50 list below, is how it goes beyond Oscar contenders to suggest films that aren’t a part of that race, but are every bit as fulfilling to cinephiles and maybe more so. Take “Pacifiction,” which appeared as the best film of the year on the ballots of five of the critics who voted, as well as in lower positions on many other ballots, and notched a spot at number 18 accordingly. Or “The Settlers,” which was Chile’s submission for Best International Feature, yes, but failed to get a nomination — yet is as engaging and eye-popping as any action film made in Hollywood last year, and with deeper ideas. Or “Eileen,” a particular IndieWire fave that was also overlooked by the Oscars, but gave us the year of Anne Hathaway’s primal scream. 

Keep reading for the 50 films that critics selected as the best of 2023, ranked in ascending order. Each voter had to fill out a ranked top 10 list, where 10 points were assigned for a first-place choice, nine points for a second-place choice, and so on to generate a numeric score for each film that determined the order of the Top 50. Use the resulting list below to catch up on the best in cinema from 2023, and read more about what placed in other categories such as Best Director, Pest Performance, and Best Cinematography here.

This list features editorial contributions from Wilson Chapman, Alison Foreman, and Samantha Bergeson. 

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