Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
Following a few years of getting spoiled with theater-quality exclusives on streaming platforms, 2023 was somewhat of a return to business as usual, with only a few big-budget movies launching on streaming services instead of having a traditional theater run (or even simultaneously). Regardless, it was a good year for streaming, and there were plenty of unique movies produced this year.
Below, we’ve picked our 10 favorite titles of the year, as determined with input from the entire Android Authority team. We’ve also included a few honorable mentions. We are ordering this in order of our preference, though every movie in the top 10 is so close (and so different) that it’s really hard to go wrong with any of these. While most of these films are true platform exclusives, be aware some of these films had limited releases at film festivals or internationally but are only available in the US through streaming.
The best streaming movies of 2022
The Killer (Netflix)
This movie technically had a limited theatrical release internationally, but it is a streaming exclusive in the US, so we’re going to count it as a streaming-only movie. Similar to movies like John Wick, this film is based on a French graphic novel of the same name and follows the story of a professional assassin on an international mission to eliminate those who have wronged him.
When it comes to film, it seems like critical opinion and audience opinion have significantly diverged in recent years. The Killer is no exception, as it has received mostly positive reviews from critics, despite a more mixed reception among audiences. Nevertheless, it’s a film worth watching if you’re into fast-paced crime thrillers. There are also strong performances from Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, and others.
- Release date: September 23, 2023
- Genre: Action/Thriller
- Rating: R
- Director: David Fincher
- Cast: Michael Fassbender, Sophie Charlotte, Tilda Swinton
Leave the World Behind (Netflix)
Currently holding the second place in Netflix’s USA top 10, Leave the World Behind has received mixed reviews but has generally won over audiences. While it’s not a perfect film, there’s enough action and mystery to keep you engaged. The storyline revolves around a family renting a beach house for a peaceful getaway. Everything seems perfect until strangers arrive, claiming they need to stay due to an emergency. Skepticism sets in from the beginning, and the family becomes increasingly suspicious as the power grid goes out and strange events unfold.
Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke make for an interesting pairing that ultimately works quite well, in my opinion, and the rest of the performances are equally solid. Netflix has had a successful year with its exclusives, and Leave the World Behind is just one of many on the list. However, it’s worth noting that some have mentioned that the movie starts off strong but loses its way a bit. I have to agree that this is somewhat true, though overall, I still found it to be a good flick.
- Release date: November 22, 2023
- Genre: Suspense, Thriller
- Rating: R
- Director: Sam Esmail
- Cast: Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke
There have been quite a few kid films this year that are exclusive to streaming, but only one made it into the main list. Nimona is set in a sci-fi world that also has elements of the medieval era, complete with Elite Knights who protect the realm. Elite Knights are traditionally born for the job, but Ballister stands out as the first Knight to rise to the rank from nothing. When the Queen is murdered, all evidence points to him, and he is forced to flee. Hoping to clear his name and find the killer, he reluctantly teams up with a winged “monster” girl named Nimona.
Without revealing any of the film’s twists, I felt like this was the perfect family movie. It was fast-paced enough to keep my younger boys intrigued, while its humor and darker vibes also appealed to my teen daughter. The movie was also very inclusive, featuring an openly gay main character and a general theme about moving beyond prejudice, hate, and outright ignorance so that you can truly see who people are deep down.
- Release date: June 14, 2023
- Genre: Sci-fi/family
- Rating: PG
- Directors: Troy Quane, Nick Bruno
- Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Riz Ahmed, Eugene Lee Yang
Maestro is based on a dramatized version of composer Leonard Bernstein’s life, with a particular focus on his tumultuous relationship with his wife, the actress Felicia Montealegre. In particular, he strays many times, having affairs with other men throughout the marriage.
While the subject matter is heavy at times, Bradley Cooper does a wonderful job playing the lead, and his directing skills equally help draw you in. There’s plenty of other great talent here, including Jeremy Irons and Justin Theroux. If we were to get technical, this one premiered at the 80th Venice International Film Festival back in September. However, outside of that event, the film is exclusive to Netflix in the United States.
Flamin’ Hot (Hulu)
Finally, something in the top ten that’s not from Netflix, Flamin’ Hot is exclusively streaming on Hulu. As fans of all things spicy, my son and I decided to give this one a go and absolutely loved it. This film tells the tale of Richard Montañez, a Frito-Lay janitor who goes on to invent Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, even if this is reportedly a stretch of the truth. According to interviews with Frito-Lay employees, Montañez has been instrumental in reaching out to underserved Latinx populations but didn’t directly invent the product. Nonetheless, it’s a fun film.
The performances by Jesse Garcia, Annie Gonzalez, and Tony Shalhoub were particularly great, though everyone involved in the film was spot on. Just be aware that it is rated PG-13, so while it won’t be inappropriate for older kids, it’s not quite suitable for younger audiences.
- Release date: March 11, 2023
- Genre: Comedy/drama
- Rating: PG-13
- Director: Eva Longoria
- Cast: Annie Gonzalez, Jesse Garcia, Brice Gonzalez
No One Will Save You (Hulu)
No One Will Save You offers a unique take on alien invasions, focusing primarily on one character as she attempts to fend off aliens attacking her home and eventually hits the road to unravel the mystery.
More of a horror flick than your typical alien movie, this one has received mixed reviews, but we found it to be one of the most intriguing streaming exclusives of the year. If you’re seeking something different, this might just satisfy that craving.
- Release date: September 19, 2023
- Genre: Horror/suspense
- Rating: PG-13
- Director: Brian Duffield
- Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Zack Duhame, Geraldine Singer
Clock centers around a 37-year-old woman who feels pressured to consider having children, despite having no interest in doing so. This leads her to enroll in a clinical trial to fix her broken biological clock, which turns out to be a very dangerous and experimental procedure. After a horrific experience during the procedure, she initially starts to feel better. However, things take a dark turn as she begins to experience strange hallucinations.
This sci-fi horror film offers a violent and mind-twisting ride. If that’s your kind of movie, it will be right up your alley. Be warned that this isn’t going to be a typical happy-ending horror experience, but it will leave you contemplating as the credits roll.
- Release date: March 31, 2023
- Genre: Horror/thriller
- Rating: R
- Director: Alexis Jacknow
- Cast: Melora Hardin, Jay Ali, Alexis Jacknow
Flora and Son (Apple Plus)
As a single, divorced parent, Flora does her best to raise her son, but as he continues to get into more trouble, she struggles to find a way to connect with him. After the police suggest her son find a hobby to keep himself busy before he winds up in jail, Flora comes across an old guitar to fix up and give as a present. Not surprisingly for a teenager, he rejects the gift but inadvertently inspires her to pick up the instrument herself. Her journey to learning music ultimately achieves what she was hoping for by bringing her and her son closer together.
With stunning performances from Eve Hewson and one of my favorites, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this is a heartfelt film that takes a realistic look at raising a teenager while trying your best, despite making numerous mistakes along the way. It delivers a feel-good ending, but it’s not necessarily what you expect, which only adds to its charm.
- Release date: September 22, 2023
- Genre: Drama/Music
- Rating: R
- Director: John Carney
- Cast: Eve Hewson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jack Reynor
They Cloned Tyrone (Netflix)
After witnessing the death of drug dealer Fontaine, Slick is shocked when he shows up the next day somehow still alive and without any knowledge of the events leading to his death. This leads Fontaine and Slick into an investigation that shines a light on a massive government conspiracy. As the movie progresses, the storyline sharply turns to the realm of sci-fi, as hinted at by the very title of the film itself.
This movie has a few hidden messages, though it’s largely about how society can manipulate thoughts and actions in the name of conformity, stripping away free will and autonomy in the process. With great performances and a story that keeps you hooked and guessing, They Cloned Tyrone is a thought-provoking film that masterfully blends many different genres, including dark comedy, satire, drama, and more.
- Release date: July 21, 2023
- Genre: Satire/drama/thriller/suspense
- Rating: R
- Director: Juel Taylor
- Cast: John Boyega, Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris
Reality is a fictionalized look at the arrest of Reality Winner, who was later confirmed to be responsible for leaking classified documents that proved Russia interfered with the 2016 elections. The movie centers around her actual arrest and interrogation. What makes this such a compelling film is that the dialogue is largely based on actual recordings taken during the interview process that led to her arrest.
Sydney Sweeney does an excellent job of portraying Winner, a figure that stands behind the fact she wasn’t interested in undermining the intelligence community or being a famed whistleblower like Snowden. While many Americans are divided on her actions, this film does a great job of portraying the events accurately and is worth a watch.
- Release date: September 2, 2023
- Genre: Biographical drama
- Rating: PG
- Director: Tina Satter
- Cast: Sydney Sweeney, Josh Hamilton, Marchánt Davis
While the movies above are our favorite streaming exclusives, there were plenty of other decent movies available for streaming that just didn’t quite make it into the top step. Here are the rest of the best streaming movies of 2023:
- You are so Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah (Netflix) — Largely considered one of Adam Sandler’s best movies in years, this is a fun movie for the whole family.
- Tetris (Apple Plus) — A dramatized look at the real events behind Tetris, though the root of the story is more true than you might believe at first guess.
- Beanie Bubble (Apple Plus) — This movie takes a unique look at the rise and fall of the Beanie baby empire and the three women largely behind the trend.
- Bruiser (Hulu) — This flick tells the story of a young man trying to find himself, all while learning his way from two very different role models in his life.
- Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget (Netflix) — It’s been decades since the first film, but ever wondered what happened to the chickens after they made their escape? This film takes a closer look.
- Five Nights at Freddy’s (Peacock) — The popular video game gets an adaption that is designed as “horror for beginners,” though the movie has had a mixed reception at best.
- The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (Netflix) — Based on the famous book by Roald Dahl, Henry Sugar tells the story of a gambling addict who gains great powers, only to use the powers to improve his winnings. Soon his addiction turns into charity, as he begins to use his earnings to finance hospitals and orphanages across the United Kingdom.
- Peter Pan and Wendy (Disney Plus) — The latest retelling of the Peter Pan story takes a more modern approach to the formula, which resulted in mixed reception. While I prefer the classic Hook, this is still a solid family film.
- Sharper (Apple TV Plus) —Explaining this movie would take more room than I have, so let’s just say this is a crime thriller with more twists and turns than a rollercoaster.
- Still (Apple TV Plus) — Apple Plus’ Michael J Fox documentary is a must-watch for fans of the beloved actor (like myself.) The movie closely examines Fox’s life as an actor and a man struggling with Parkinson’s disease.