2023 has been a big movie year — the likes of Barbie, Oppenheimer, and The Super Mario Bros. Movies have all been a lynchpin in keeping the box office alive. But what about the lesser-known movies? What about the movies that will set your year-end list apart from the average film going crowd and make you look like a well-versed, high-brow participant in cinema? Then we have got some underrated movies for you!
Here are the 10 most underrated movies of 2023 that are sure to add some film diversity to your year-end list!
10. ‘Kokomo City’
Originally premiering at Sundance at the beginning of the year, Kokomo City offers a bold and absorbing look at four Black transgender sex workers in New York and Georgia. Shot through arresting black and white, the film presents sharp social commentary while opening the viewfinder a little bit wider to a generally hidden world. Clocking in at 73 minutes, it’s entirely worth its runtime with the unwavering transparency and raw emotions it presents, solidifying it as one of the year’s most underrated flicks.
It’s rare that an A24 movie goes under the radar. It’s even more rare that a movie with a cast comprised of Julianne Moore, Sebastian Stan, Justice Smith, and John Lithgow goes relatively unnoticed. But, here we are. When a small, wealthy family in New York City gets torn apart by secrets and lies, they attempt to outcon a conman and things get, well, interesting. Sexy, curious, and full of twists and turns — it’s the whole package. And it deserves to be noticed! It isn’t one of the best movies of the year but it is damn entertaining and that makes it underrated in my book.
Another smaller film out of Sundance, Scrapper is, as one Letterboxd user notes, basically if Aftersun and The Florida Project had a baby. An endearing, heartfelt, emotional journey that features Harris Dickinson as an absent father who shows up out of the blue in his 12-year-old daughter’s (Lola Campbell) life after her mom passes away. A delightful journey through grief, acceptance, and love — this movie also comes as a directorial debut from Charlotte Regan which is wildly cool.
Yes, Blackberry did get made into a 3-part series on AMC because it was so popular and people wanted to see it. Does that disqualify it from being underrated? Not at all. In part because that is a silly way to get people to see a movie. It’s worth going as far as saying that Glenn Howerton — who plays Jim in the story of the meteoric rise and rapid descent of the company Blackberry — deserves some Oscars love for his performance; unhinged, transformative, and a driving force, his charge sets the bar high for what smaller biopics can be.
Sanctuary pits two of our most interesting and attractive actors working today, Margaret Qualley and Christopher Abbott, against each other for a razor-sharp 96-minute psychological/erotic thriller and it is good stuff. A provocative score leads the film to greater depths about the connection between sex and power, generational expectations, and individual identity. This was the year in which the soft comeback of erotic thrillers began and this one is at the head of the charge.
5. ‘Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie’
Documentaries really require something special these days if they want to be set apart from the rest, and Still has it. Earnest, enlightening, and entertaining, the film dives not into the pity or tragedy of Michael J. Fox‘s story, but his resilience and perseverance that made him one of the biggest names in Hollywood. Filled with reenactments along with archival footage, the true heart of this movie lies in Michael J. Fox’s ability to truthfully and sincerely talk about the difficult aspects of his life, all while having fun with it.
It’s been a big year for movies about brands and corporations (see Blackberry, Barbie, and Tetris). While Air absolutely falls under that umbrella — being a movie about the rise of Nike after signing Michael Jordan to their basketball division — it also possesses components that allow it to soar above that competition. Ben Affleck is behind the camera, working once again with Matt Damon (the ultimate movie duo) alongside a star-studded cast, witty script, and relentless ’80s needle drops. It’s fun, hilarious, and features the best on-screen sunglasses maybe ever. The ultimate underrated dad movie.
3. ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’
Adapted from the famous Judy Bloom novel of the same name, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is the ultimate feel-good movie of the year. A story for all ages about growing up and the relentlessly evolving nature of life itself, the movie is just purely delightful. Benny Safdie (yes, the same guy that made Uncut Gems) turns in the perfect dad performance while Rachel McAdams delivers countless moments to make us wonder why she hasn’t won an Academy Award yet. This movie does have its dedicated fan base but that fan base needs to be bigger! And louder! This movie is wonderful.
2. ‘Infinity Pool’
A premium juxtaposition to the above pick, Infinity Pool features a final sequence that has haunted me since I first saw it all the way back in January. It hasn’t left my brain. With the strange premise of a society that allows you to clone yourself and then permit that clone to receive the punishment for your unlawful actions, an off-the-rails Mia Goth, and the sexy weirdo that is Alexander Skarsgård, this movie remains the wildest feature film of the year. A horrific and violent affair that just has to be seen to be believed.
The number one underrated movie on a list like this should always make you want to shout “More people need to see this movie!” and for me, this number one pick does exactly that in the biggest, boldest way. A French film from filmmaker Ira Sachs, Passages traverses the heartbreaking intricacies that define what a relationship is and more importantly isn’t. Tomas (Franz Rogowski) begins a torrid love affair with a young woman (Adèle Exarchopoulos) while his husband (Ben Whishaw) simultaneously engages in an extramarital affair of his own. A horny, jealousy-filled narrative that is engrossing from start to finish. This is the movie more people need to see!
The 2023 Underrated Movies Flew Under the Radar
In a year that was dominated by blockbuster features from Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania to Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One, it’s easy to let a few gems slip by your grasp. Every year, plenty of underrated movies fly under the radar of cinephiles everywhere. This time, impress all your Film Twitter friends by mentioning any of the above films in our guide.
Did any of your favorite films make the list? Comment below and follow the Agents of Fandom socials to stay in the conversation surrounding the latest entertainment news.