Best films of 2023 – and where to stream them

From Aftersun to The Royal Hotel, here's every movie we rated highly this year, and where to watch them now.

In 2023, we watched a slew of feature films from Australia and abroad, in cinemas and on streaming platforms, to review with a discerning eye and keen typing fingers. From Barbie to Oppenheimer, Talk to Me to Women Talking, The People’s Joker to Poor Things, here is the definitive wrap-up of films we awarded 4 stars or above this year.

All films are classified as 2023 releases according to Australian release dates.


‘Though Tár can appear, on the surface, a little too coolly austere in both its pacing and the greyish palette of Florian Hoffmeister’s clinical cinematography, it’s an intense slow burn set alight by Blanchett’s towering turn. This is Blanchett’s show, and surely the Oscar is hers to lose, but she’s also in great company.’

  • Stephen A Russell

Read the full review: Tár review: Cate Blanchett conducts herself ferociously

  • Stream it on: Binge

Women Talking

‘Instead of exposition, moments of action seep in like fond memories, or intrude like nightmares and traumatic flashbacks. And the themes of the film emerge through jousts of conversation and disagreement, through moments of consolation, rage and recrimination. Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score, and the hymns sung by the key characters, lend a sense of solemn ceremony.’

  • Mel Campbell

Read the full review: Women Talking review: Sarah Polley understands the power of dialogue

  • Stream it on: Prime Video


‘Writer-director Charlotte Wells brings a lightness of touch to just about every element of this film. Nothing here feels forced; the heavy burden of Sophie’s present day searching is presented in brief flashes of a packed dance floor, a dreamlike searching for her father in a crowd. On one level Aftersun is literally ‘what I did on my holidays’ presented with a vivid, almost documentary sense of time and place. It’s enthralling even when it’s rug shopping or losing goggles during a diving expedition.’

  • Anthony Morris

Read the full review: Aftersun review: memories linger as all else fades

  • Stream it on: Binge


‘Mia Goth fully commits every drop of her blood, sweat, tears, AND snot to the role – and rewards our endurance through the gore with one of the most riveting performances of the year. The dance audition is a damn delight, as is Pearl’s unhinged monologue to her sister-in-law, Mitsy. It’s just a shame that Mitsy, played by newcomer Emma Jenkins-Purro, has what I like to call resting iPhone face. That girl desperately wants to Tweet, I know it.’

  • Silvi Vann-Wall

Read the full review: Pearl is a gory and glamorous masterpiece

  • Stream it on: Binge and Netflix

My Old School

My Old School is an equal parts head-scratchingly hilarious and darkly tragic mystery recalling a very tall tale indeed that set Scotland’s nightly news alight in 1995. Unless you were in Glasgow or surrounds at the time and can’t help but recall how the Brandon Lee scandal plays out, it’s best you hit go on this bizarro gem streaming at DocPlay knowing as little as humanly possible.’

  • Stephen A Russell

Read the full review: My Old School review: this head-spinning doco is a must-see

  • Stream it on: DocPlay

The People’s Joker

‘Not content with just gifting the world a beautiful and hilarious trans coming-of-age story, The People’s Joker also tackles mental health stigma (a version of The Scarecrow promises to make Drew ‘Super Sane’), abusive relationships (Drew’s boyfriend Jason Todd, an amalgamation of Robin and Jared Leto’s Joker, intentionally gaslights her – with an actual gas lamp), and the US comedy scene (in Drew’s Gotham, a version of SNL called UCB runs said scene with an iron fist).’

  • Silvi Vann-Wall

Read the full review: The People’s Joker: the wildest superhero movie you probably won’t watch

Stream it on: N/A

Huesera: The Bone Woman

‘The set design is phenomenal, subtly augmenting Valeria’s creeping dread. The bruja who initially treats Valeria’s haunting calls Huesera ‘The spider, a weaver. A mother, but also a predator.’ Once you notice the imagery of cobwebs, you’ll begin seeing them everywhere. Valeria has few maternal instincts, but she’s frequently seen weaving something for her child: a macramé crib, a threaded mobile, and a crocheted blanket. Circles and lattices appear in every corner as the bone woman closes in. The bruja’s warning – ‘it’s a house, but it’s also a prison’ – could spell out the film’s premise too obviously, but Cervera uses it to confront our assumptions about what escape means.’

  • Naja Later

Read the full review: Huesera: The Bone Woman holds the skeleton key to my heart

Stream it on: Shudder

Still: A Michael J Fox Movie

‘I admired how this film draws attention to its own painstaking construction. To dramatise Fox’s history, Guggenheim deploys some of the same tactics Back to the Future used in its own recursive storytelling. The film seamlessly combines repurposed footage from Fox’s film and television work with judicious re-enactment sequences, family photos and videos.

The effect is uncannily vivid and playful, like being in the passenger seat of the time-travelling DeLorean. Effectively, the young Fox stars in a new biopic pieced together from his own oeuvre, narrated with wry lyricism by his older self.’

  • Mel Campbell

Read the full review: Still: A Michael J Fox Movie’ – a beloved star’s unsentimental reckoning

Stream it on: Apple TV+

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Across the Spider-Verse is yet another multiverse movie, which is definitely on trend for mainstream flicks right now, but just like Everything Everywhere All At Once showed us, if you do it right you can make a beautiful, affecting multiverse movie that transcends that trend pigeonhole. Across the Spider-Verse accomplishes such a feat because, as Miles Morales might put it: it does it’s own thing.’

  • Silvi Vann-Wall

Read the full review: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – not all spider-men are created equal

Stream it on: Prime Video and Binge


‘Gerwig proves once again that she understands the modern woman like no other – and her work here is as undoubtedly feminist as Ladybird (2017) and Little Women (2019). In fact there is a monologue around the middle point – and I won’t spoil who performs it or what exactly it is about – that is a perfect accompaniment to Saoirse Ronan’s monologue in Little Women.

It is the kind of feminism that spurs conversation about how tough it is to be a woman – or just not a cis-man – in the world, without asking women to reject culturally feminine things like wearing pink and frills. Barbie says we can have both, and while its politics aren’t super deep, it’s more than enough for its target audience of teens and children to start thinking critically about gender norms.’

  • Silvi Vann-Wall

Read the full review: Barbie review – this Barbie will bust the block

Stream it on: Apple TV+ or Prime Video


‘Nolan’s fondness for non-linear storytelling is less overt here, though more pronounced in the film’s visually and aurally arresting opening act, its strongest. It intriguingly suggests that Oppenheimer is more tortured by the possibilities of the unseen world as a lonely student in Europe, grappling with the world’s minuscule but momentous mechanics, than in his elder days interrogated as a possible Communist traitor by shadowy extra-judicial forces led by a steely-eyed Jason Clarke as Roger Robb.’

  • Stephen A Russell

Read the full review: Oppenheimer review: Nolan approaches the sublime

Stream it on: Apple TV+

Talk to Me

‘But for all the terror, there is also a spunky teen spirit with attendant doofus humour that’s sure to strike a chord with local audiences. The film greatly benefits from the Philippou’s insistence on shooting in Adelaide with age-appropriate Australian actors. Doing it their way is undoubtedly why Talk to Me was such a scene-stealer at this year’s Sundance Film Festival – after debuting at the Adelaide Film Festival last October – landing a North American distribution deal with indie powerhouse A24.

  • Stephen A Russell

Read the full review: Talk to Me review: an Australian horror to possess you

Stream it on: Apple TV+

Killers of the Flower Moon

‘After that amazingly evocative opening sequence with the oil, the visual delights just keep coming. Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, who also worked with Scorsese on Silence (2016), The Irishman (2019), and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), is at the top of his game here, capturing the extraordinary rural American locations, as well as ordinary locations that become stunning through his lens.

I breathed a sigh of relief seeing shot after shot has been correctly lit, with actors placed in interesting positions that make you think about what is and isn’t being said by the mainline narrative. Perhaps this is the run-off effect of having to watch so many uninspired, dimly lit, grey-washed superhero movies in the last decade – but even those personal biases aside, it would be hard not to call Killers of the Flower Moon a masterclass in filmmaking.’

  • Silvi Vann-Wall

Read the full review: Killers of the Flower Moon review: a Scorsese filmmaking masterclass

Stream it on: Apple TV+

Poor Things

‘Lanthimos revels in what these off-kilter worlds can tell us about our mirror universe, and while he and MacNamara have jettisoned the multi-narrator ambiguity of the novel in favour of its more fantastical bent, it does not undermine the feminist core.

Stone’s physically transformative performance is surely Oscar-worthy, swaddled in a swathe of magnificently monstrous costumes by Lady Macbeth designer Holly Waddington, running rampant with overblown Victorian ruffles.’

  • Stephen A Russell

Read the full review: Poor Things review: a fabulous feminist odyssey

Stream it on: Poor Things will soon be in cinemas

Housekeeping for Beginners

Housekeeping for Beginners. Image: Focus Features.

‘With an air of Armistead Maupin’s Barbary Lane in the Tales of the City novels, this bursting-at-the-seams suburban home in Skopje, the capital city of North Macedonia – Melbourne-based Stolevski’s birth country – contains multitudes … Before long, you’ll want to move in too and throwdown to the glorious tune of Balkan pop bangers this happy chosen family intermittently holler along with.’

  • Stephen A Russell

Read the full review: Housekeeping for Beginners review: a luminous tribute to found family

Stream it on: N/A

All of Us Strangers

‘A deeply confronting, cathartic film wrought in the silvery starlight of Living cinematographer Jamie Ramsay’s graceful camera, Haigh has surpassed even Weekend (2011).

Mescal and Scott’s dance will speak to anyone who has never felt able to be held, to those with words left unspoken and others lost in search of answers never coming. I’ll never get to have that conversation with my dad, almost 15 years gone, awkward truths or not. But it plays out in my head still.’

  • Stephen A Russell

Read the full review: All of Us Strangers review: beautiful and cathartic

Stream it on: All of Us Strangers will soon be in cinemas

The Royal Hotel

‘Green, also co-writing alongside Van Diemen’s Land scribe Oscar Redding, keeps a tight hand on our hearts and throats as the sinister undertones spiral like the coils of the snake that invades their living quarters above the pub, but in a smartly unbalancing move, she ensures that nothing quite plays out as you might expect as the locals get rowdier and rowdier.

The tightly wound screenplay and central performances take care not to sneer too much in one direction, with Hanna and Liv more than capable of slightly arsey behaviour on occasion, but our sympathies continually turn to them as the toxic masculinity trap they appear to be caught in inexorably tightens around them, and one has to stand up for the other. But just who is gonna best who is a rapidly shifting hullabaloo.’

  • Stephen A Russell

Read the full review: The Royal Hotel Review: a dead-set Australian classic

Stream it on: N/A

The Boy and The Heron

‘The staples of a Miyazaki fantasy feature are all here: powerful and headstrong young women (including the fire-controlling Lady Himi), mighty natural presences (a stone that fights back!), and waves of undulating creatures, whether it be frogs or pelicans or the spherical Warawara spirits that leave the tower-world to be ‘reborn as humans’.

His passionate environmentalism, pacifist ethos, and belief in children as smart, capable beings of wondrous potential shine through in a way that confirms he’s back in his element; a real return to form for the master.’

  • Silvi Vann-Wall

Read the full review: The Boy and The Heron review: Miyazaki’s masterful return to form

Watch it: The Boy and The Heron is in cinemas from 7 December.

Time Addicts

‘Odlum’s amusingly acerbic feature debut shows oodles of promise, feigning deceptively dumb but landing on a smart-as resolution. Keeping you guessing whether everyone makes it home or not for Christmas (or any other date), this wild ride through time and tide waits for no-one.’

  • Stephen A Russell

Read the full review: Time Addicts review: a wonderful ride on time

Watch it: Time Addicts is in cinemas from 7 December

Master Gardener

‘If you’re expecting fast-paced action, you may be disappointed; but I enjoyed pondering Schrader’s central irony: that gardening seems like a peaceful domestic pursuit but it also contains and even displays violence. After all, the expression ‘hotbed’, meaning a situation that produces something unwelcome and threatening, comes from the practice of raising plants quickly or out of season using the fermentation from a bed of manure.’

  • Mel Campbell

Read the full review: Master Gardener review: strangely sown seeds of optimism

Watch it: Master Gardener is in cinemas from 7 December

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports