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10 of the best and 10 of the worst movies that came out last year

10 of the best and 10 of the worst movies that came out last year
still from tmnt mutant mayhem and still from pain hustlers
There were hits and misses across genres last year. Paramount Pictures; Netflix
  • There were new releases across all genres in 2023, but not all of them were winners.

  • "John Wick: Chapter 4" and "When Evil Lurks" were praised by critics across the board.

  • But "Five Nights at Freddy's" and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3" didn't fare as well.

From streaming originals to theatrical releases and rom-coms to horror flicks, there were plenty of new releases to watch last year.

Here are the best and worst 2023 movies, according to critics.

Critics called “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” a winning adaptation.

Rachel McAdams and Abby Ryder Fortson in "Are You There, God? It's Me Margaret?"
Rachel McAdams and Abby Ryder Fortson in "Are You There, God? It's Me Margaret?"Dana Hawley/Lionsgate

Rotten Tomatoes: 99%

Summary: Based on the book by Judy Blume, "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret'' follows Margaret Simon (Abby Ryder Fortson) as she grapples with her changing relationship with religion, adolescence, and her mom (Rachel McAdams).

Critics said the Blume adaptation was the sleeper hit of the year.

In a review for Movie Marker, Katie Smith-Wong wrote, "Margaret's life lessons — awkward as they may be — are just as integral to modern audiences and 'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret' boldly addresses them with heart, intelligence and care."

The romantic comedy “Rye Lane” was a hit with critics.

David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah in "Rye Lane."
David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah in "Rye Lane."Chris Harris/Searchlight Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

Summary: British 20-somethings Dom (David Jonsson) and Yas (Vivian Oparah) form a fast bond after they realize they both still carry baggage from their past relationships. But that friendly bond soon turns into something more.

The new-age rom-com charmed critics with its delightful dialogue, sweet characters, and beautiful setting.

"The vibe is so infectious, the colors so happily overripe, and the soundtrack so blissful that it's hard not to fall for the damn thing," Ty Burr wrote for Ty Burr's Watch List.

“When Evil Lurks” was hailed as an immersive horror.

Demián Salomón starring in in When Evil Lurks
Demián Salomón in "When Evil Lurks."IFC Films

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

Summary: As a number of deadly possessions crop up in their town, two brothers, Pedro (Ezequiel Rodríguez) and Jimmy (Demián Salomón), try to outrun a seemingly unstoppable demon.

Full of brutal twists and turns, "When Evil Lurks" kept critics guessing until the very end.

"A possession thriller unlike any that you've likely seen before ... It's one of the boldest, most viscerally intense, and unpredictable horror movies of the year," Alex Welch wrote for Inverse.

“Past Lives” was deemed a debut film brimming with depth.

Past Lives, two people sitting on a boat
Greta Lee and Teo Yoo in "Past Lives."A24

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Summary: After 20 years apart, childhood best friends Nora (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) reconnect for a week in New York City — where they try to dance around the deep love and sense of fate between them.

Critics were blown away by the depth of "Past Lives," which was the impressive debut feature film of director Celine Song.

"It's barely believable that this is Song's very first feature," Linda Marric wrote for the Jewish Chronicle. "Her film is simply sublime from start to finish."

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” was a fresh new look for the franchise.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem"
The four leads of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" were voiced by Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr, Brady Noon, and Nicolas Cantu.Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Summary: After being trained in the art of ninjutsu by Splinter (voiced by Jackie Chan), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (voiced by Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu, and Brady Noon) set out to fight crime above the sewers.

Bursting at the seams with creativity and imagination, "Mutant Mayhem" was a blast for critics from start to end.

"It's the first animated coming-of-age movie that feels authentic to its characters and very funny for adults too," Peter Martin wrote for Everything But Horror.

Critics were dazzled by “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.”

Miles Morales/Spider-Man (voiced by Shameik Moore) in "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse."
Shameik Moore voiced Miles Morales in "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse."Sony Pictures Animation

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Summary: Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) reunites with Gwen Stacy (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) and a plethora of other Spider-Mans across the multiverse to face off against a treacherous villain.

Critics said that the sequel was irresistibly fun and ramped up everything they loved about the original.

"'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse' boldly throws out any restraint and leans full-tilt into the zaniness of its visually and thematically kaleidoscopic world," Wenlei Ma wrote for News.com.au.

“They Cloned Tyrone” kept critics glued to the screen.

screenshot of Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris, and John Boyega in a car in a scene from they cloned tyrone
Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris, and John Boyega in "They Cloned Tyrone."Parrish Lewis/Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Summary: After seemingly dying and coming back to life, Fontaine (John Boyega) joins forces with Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris), and Slick Charles (Jamie Foxx) to get to the bottom of a troubling mystery in their neighborhood.

Critics praised the sci-fi comedy for its incredible acting performances and engaging central twist.

"Thrillingly tackles the uncomfortable idea that outsiders gain more from these institutions than the Black community itself," wrote Whelan Barzey for Time Out.

“You Hurt My Feelings” sat with critics after they left the theater.

Julia-Louis Dreyfus at a bar
Julia-Louis Dreyfus in "You Hurt My Feelings."A24

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Summary: After a successful career writing memoirs, Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) decides to branch out with her first fiction novel. But her confidence is shaken when she overhears her husband Don (Tobias Menzies) admitting he hates it.

Helmed by memorable lead performances by Louis-Dreyfus and Menzies, "You Hurt My Feelings" stuck with critics long after the credits rolled.

"A delightful, hilarious and deeply human film about the innate contradictions we refuse to accept," Iana Murray wrote for Empire magazine.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” was another stunning display of nonstop action for the series.

Keanu Reeves walking in a church
Keanu Reeves in "John Wick: Chapter 4."Lionsgate

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Summary: John Wick's (Keanu Reeves) restless journey of redemption and revenge takes him to Morocco, Osaka, and New York City as blood trails behind him in his wake.

With an unrelenting energy that never stops, "John Wick: Chapter 4" proved to be one of the most action-packed films of the year.

"The latest installment of the 'John Wick' franchise offers a vast canvas for stunt work and action choreography with a sincere and brooding Keanu Reeves as the anchor," Udita Jhunjhunwala wrote for Livemint.

“Talk to Me” sent chills up critics’ spines.

Zoe Terakes in "Talk to Me."
Zoe Terakes in "Talk to Me."Andre Castellucci/A24

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Summary: When an embalmed hand starts making the rounds at local parties, Mia (Sophie Wilde) discovers that she is playing a dangerous game with the dead.

"Talk to Me" took critics on a horrific thrill ride, even if the story was kept simple and sharp.

"An intelligently entertaining chiller that packs a crowd-pleasing wallop without succumbing to quiet, quiet, LOUD jump-scare cliches," Mark Kermode wrote for Observer.

On the other hand, critics said “The Puppetman” needed firmer direction.

characters from the puppetman standing outside in the dark
Alyson Gorske and Kio Cyr in "Th Puppetman."Shudder

Rotten Tomatoes: 43%

Summary: Years after her father brutally murdered her mother, Mical (Alyson Gorske) realizes that her dark past lives on inside of her.

Filled with repetitive scares, "The Puppetman" was written off by critics as a mediocre horror flick.

"By the end, you feel you've been given the run around for a merely serviceable story that's unmemorable," Robert Daniels wrote for Roger Ebert.

Audiences and critics were split over “Five Nights at Freddy’s.”

Five Nights at Freddy's trailer screenshot
Animatronic animals come to life in "Five Nights at Freddy's."Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes: 32%

Summary: When Mike (Josh Hutcherson) takes on a night-shift security job at the defunct Freddy Fazbear's Pizza arcade, he soon realizes that the creepy animatronics might have a life of their own.

The video-game adaptation was a hit with audiences, but most critics said the film failed to keep them entertained.

"'Five Nights at Freddy's' is a decent entry-level horror flick and the animatronics look fantastic, but its story is an overstuffed mess that tries to pack in too much lore at once," Becca Johnson wrote for Film Focus Online.

“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3” failed to carry over the charm of the original.

characters from my big fat greek wedding 3 posing for a selfie in greece
Nia Vardalos returned to star in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3."Focus Features

Rotten Tomatoes: 29%

Summary: A year after the events of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" (2016), Toula (Nia Vardalos), Ian (John Corbett), and the rest of their relatives are invited to Vrisi, Greece, for a family reunion.

Some critics questioned why the third installment in the franchise was made at all.

"Twenty-one years after audiences initially said 'I do,' 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3' compels us to start divorce proceedings," Courtney Howard wrote for Variety.

"Love Again" didn't capture the hearts of reviewers.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas walking down a set of stairs in love again
Priyanka Chopra Jonas in "Love Again."Sony

Rotten Tomatoes: 28%

Summary: While grieving her dead fiancé, Mira (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) starts texting his old number. But she doesn't know there's actually someone on the other end of the line.

The plot didn't entertain most critics, even with Céline Dion's star power backing the film.

Miles Klee wrote for Rolling Stone, "It is of course Dion's overwhelming voice and music that flood your heart, not this flimsy and occasionally morbid story."

Critics said “Old Dads” lost its steam pretty quickly.

Bobby Cannavale as Connor, Bokeem Woodbine as Mike, Bill Burr as Jack in Old Dads
Bobby Cannavale, Bokeem Woodbine, and Bill Burr in "Old Dads."Michael Moriatis/Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes: 25%

Summary: Jack (Bill Burr) and his best friends navigate the world of late fatherhood, changing workplaces, and new-age schools.

After watching "Old Dads," critics said the characters were a little thin and the jokes didn't always land.

"'Old Dads' is funny for a bit but quickly overstays its welcome, resulting in a disjointed movie that never quite pulls itself together," Alex Maidy wrote for JoBlo's Movie Network.

Critics agreed that the inspiration for “Pain Hustlers” was handled better elsewhere.

Chris Evans, Andy Garcia, Emily Blunt raising their hands in an office
Chris Evans, Andy Garcia, and Emily Blunt in "Pain Hustlers."Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes: 23%

Summary: Hungry for work, Liza (Emily Blunt) takes a job at a pharmaceutical start-up, only to realize that it's a lot more than she bargained for.

Critics said that other films and television shows had already told the story of the opioid epidemic in a better way.

"'Pain Hustlers' feels like a retreading of the same ground covered in other recent works, bringing nothing especially new to the table and, in splitting the stylistic difference between slick/breezy and poignant/authentic, succeeding fully at neither," Jocelyn Noveck wrote for the Associated Press.

“The Exorcist: Believer” was written off as an unnecessary horror sequel.

Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom, Jr.) and Angela Fielding (Lidya Jewett, back to camera) in The Exorcist: Believer
Leslie Odom, Jr. in "The Exorcist: Believer."Eli Joshua Adé/Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes: 22%

Summary: After going missing in the woods for three days, best friends Angela (Lidya Jewett) and Katherine (Olivia O'Neill) come back haunted by a dark entity — and Angela's father Victor (Leslie Odom Jr.) scrambles to find answers.

Critics agreed that the talent of the ensemble cast was wasted on this needless "Exorcist" sequel.

"The script is possessed by triteness and the set up is dull," Stephen Romei wrote for The Australian.

Most critics were bored by “In the Fire.”

amber heard playing grace in in the fire
Amber Heard in "In the Fire."Saban Films

Rotten Tomatoes: 15%

Summary: Grace Burnham (Amber Heard), a doctor from New York, travels to a remote plantation in the 1890s to care for a boy with strange abilities.

Critics said "In The Fire" was a thriller that lacked bite or any real sense of tension.

"Despite the title, there's not much heat in this slow-burning horror saga, which is more tedious than suspenseful," Todd Jorgenson wrote for Cinemalogue.

“Expend4bles” failed to win many admirers.

Sylvester Stallone by a rack of guns
Sylvester Stallone in "Expend4bles."Lionsgate

Rotten Tomatoes: 14%

Summary: Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) leads his team of experts on a mission to stop nuclear warheads from getting into the wrong hands.

"Expend4bles" struggled to win critics over with its predictable action and overblown theatrics.

"This is a dumb-as-rocks exercise in violence and stupidity, which represents a low for a franchise that was already scraping the bottom of the barrel," Adam Graham wrote for The Detroit News.

“Black Noise” was unanimously panned by critics.

woman crawling on the ground with a backpack in black noise
Sadie Newman in "Black Noise."Saban Films

Rotten Tomatoes: 0%

Summary: Jordan (Alex Pettyfer) and his elite security team start to lose their minds when they become tortured by a mysterious frequency while performing an extraction on a remote island.

"Black Noise" was a lackluster action film that failed to land on nearly every level.

"'Black Noise' feels like a film where no one involved — with the exception of the cinematographer — cared much to make or to be there for," Emilie Black wrote for Cinema Crazed.

This story was originally published on November 24, 2023, and most recently updated on January 22, 2024. 

Read the original article on Business Insider