The 10 Best Thriller Movies of 2023

6. Hit Man (dir. Richard Linklater)

Like a bolt of lightning, Glen Powell came out of nowhere with a one-two punch of knock-out turns in 2023 that should immediately catapult the “Top Gun: Maverick” alum into the major leagues of Hollywood movie-stardom.

With no disrespect intended to the diehard “Anyone but You” hive out there (Zoomers in particular can’t seem to get enough of that Sydney Sweeney-led rom-com), take our word for it when we say most of you are still missing out on Powell’s best performance of 2023. In Richard Linklater’s genre-splicing neo-noir romp, the actor hits all the right notes and then some in the role of Gary Johnson, a meek philosophy teacher-turned-stealthy hitman who earns an extra dime posing undercover to help the local police.

All seems fine and dandy for good-old Gary until it becomes evident that he might be enjoying his role-playing part-time gig a bit too much for his own good. To complicate matters even further, our law-abiding vigilante here can’t help but fall in love with one of his prime criminal targets, a shady femme fatale who wants rid of her husband. Despite earning raves at Venice, Toronto and New York, Netflix has kept this critical darling shelved with no streaming date on the horizon yet, though we can expect the film (which landed a spot in our 2023 round-up list) to drop sooner rather than later.


7. John Wick: Chapter 4 (dir. Chad Stahelski)

No major 2023 release provided moviegoers with more bang for their buck than the latest, longest, and likely final installment in the high-octane action saga helmed by former stunt coordinator Chad Stahelski, which kicked off 10 years ago as a self-contained little caper about a retired assassin avenging the death of his puppy before spawning multiple sequels, spin-offs and television series.

Picking up right where its predecessor left off, “John Wick: Chapter 4” drops us in the middle of an ongoing global manhunt, as we watch the titular hitman inch closer and closer to defeating The High Table and regaining his freedom, with first-time newcomers Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, and Hiroyuki Sanada joining in on the action to bring high-wattage stardom to an already stellar cast.

Watching Keanu Reeves’ lethal one-man army survive entire swathes of enemies against all odds never gets old, and the top-level craftsmanship in fight choreography that the legendary actor and Stahelski honed together in “The Matrix” trilogy ensures the series’ grand finale somehow ups the ante without overstaying its welcome. If you’re looking for quality popcorn thrills, look no further.


8. The Beasts (dir. Rodrigo Sorogoyen)

Now here’s a lesser-known international gem in case you’re willing to go beyond the basics: From Goya Award-winning director Rodrigo Sorogoyen comes this steely rural thriller about a French couple who decide to settle down and live a simple, peaceful life on a small mountain village in northern Spain. Simmering tensions escalate to a boiling point after the feisty locals try to twist the foreign couple’s arms and coerce them to sign a lucrative turbine project that will bring truckloads of money, but to no avail. Soon, ominous threats and brutal violence ensues.

Despite premiering out of competition at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, “As Bestas” did not land in U.S. shores until fall of 2023, where it struggled to catch on and flamed out of theaters without even a whimper. Unassuming viewers might find their resolve tested by the film’s slow-paced first half, but once it picks up the tempo and barrels towards its grisly climax, Sorogoyen’s thriller rewards your time and patience with an incisive probing of the psychology of lynch mob mentality as well as the dangers of groupthink and rah-rah patriotism.


9. Saltburn (dir. Emerald Fennell)

Emerald Fennell’s sophomore effort is nowhere near as smart, radical, or transgressive as the director of “Promising Young Woman” fame would perhaps like to think. Be that as it may, few movies, in the thriller genre or otherwise, generated nearly as much online chatter, think pieces and tone-deaf TikTok trends for the past 12 months as “Saltburn”, an instant sensation among Zoomers that hit a mother lode of controversy upon release and has been described in some quarters as a modern spin on “Teorema” and “Talented Mr. Ripley”.

We suggest you go in as blindly as possible and try to keep your expectations at bay for this unnerving story about a meek Oxford University called Oliver who gets a taste of luxury and high society after his college roommate, the popular and impossibly charming ladies’ man Felix, invites him over to spend the summer break together at his family’s wealthy state. Things take a particular grisly turn from that point on.

Strictly as an exercise of class warfare satire, Fennel’s script is as plain and heavy-handed as they go. But led by a stacked ensemble cast that includes top-shelf names like Barry Kheogan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike and Carey Mulligan among others, and with plenty of twists and turns to match, “Saltburn” has more than enough star power and shock value to keep viewers locked in from start to finish.


10. Missing (dir. Nicholas D. Johnson, Will Merrick)

As the internet becomes more closely linked with our identities, not only as a source of information but a digital realm where we exist and live about every day, many thriller offerings in recent memory have tried to capture the infinite (and potentially terrifying) possibilities that come with it. Few if any have portrayed the intricacies of cyberspace as convincingly as the 2018 cyber-thriller “Searching” and its much-anticipated spiritual follow-up, which expanded upon its predecessor’s missing-person set-up to delve even deeper into the queasy world of digital sleuthing.

“Missing” puts us in the shoes of resourceful 18-year-old June (Storm Reid), who leaves no stone unturned looking for clues as to the whereabouts of her elusive mother after she disappears while on vacation in Colombia with her new boyfriend without a trace. Throughout her ongoing investigation — which involves password cracking, reviewing live footage of a police raid, and checking through deleted emails — June must confront hidden truths about her mother’s past once new information comes to light. Certain plot twists make less and less sense the more you think about them, but if you don’t mind suspending your disbelief for a while, this gem is well worth tracking down.