21 Movies Like Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)

Staff & contributors
The story of the Von Erich family is excruciatingly sad, but Iron Claw doesn’t dive right into the tragedy. Instead, it takes care to paint a picture of a close-knit family that’s filled with just as much warmth, jealousy, affection, and resentment as the next bunch. Durkin masterfully draws you into their circle so that everything that happens next is sure to cut deep. The choreography, chemistry, color—everything is carefully and beautifully set up, but the casting is what stands out the most. This wouldn’t have worked as well if it weren’t for the inspired move to pair Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, and Stanley Simons as brothers and partners. On the internet, people have been dubbing The Iron Claw as “Little Women and The Virgin Suicides for men” and it’s not hard to see why. Apart from the sibling bond over glory and growing pains, all these films are also powerful explorations of gender. Iron Claw is a vicious takedown of toxic masculinity, while also being a searing family drama and an incredible showcase for Efron and company.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Aaron Dean Eisenberg, Brian Hite, Cazzey Louis Cereghino, Chad Governale, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Chelsea Edmundson, Christina Michelle Williams, Garrett Hammond, Harris Dickinson, Holt McCallany, Jeremy Allen White, Jim Gleason, Jullian Dulce Vida, Kevin Anton, Kristina Kingston, Lily James, Maura Tierney, Maxwell Friedman, Michael Harney, Michael Papajohn, Mike Dell, Ryan Nemeth, Scott Innes, Stanley Simons, Zac Efron

Director: Sean Durkin

Rating: R

Oscar-winner Emerald Fennell got a lot of free reign with her debut, Promising Young Woman, which was a slightly modest ordeal even with a lead of Carrey Mulligan's calibre. But now, with her sophomore film, she go to have some fun. Assembling a devout cast of particularly skilled actors—Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, and Mulligan again—seems like an obvious decision, but the mix of them all is unlike anything we've seen before. A class satire, a psychological thriller, and a psychosexual drama, Saltburn is high class entertainment, with a snappy script, and many tricks up its sleeve. Brace yourselves for some bath-action, grave-action, and full-moon-menstrual-action and many other scenes you may have not ever pictured shown on the screen. Actually, it's impossible to prepare for a film like this one, but being open certainly helps digest the shock and provocations that are there for you to behold.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Alison Oliver, Andy Brady, Archie Madekwe, Barry Keoghan, Carey Mulligan, Dorothy Atkinson, Ewan Mitchell, Glyn Grimstead, Jacob Elordi, Joshua McGuire, Lolly Adefope, Matthew Carver, Paul Rhys, Reece Shearsmith, Richard E. Grant, Rosamund Pike, Sadie Soverall, Seth MacFarlane, Shaun Dooley

Director: Emerald Fennell

Rating: R

Real life tragedies, especially one that's as sensationalized as the Miracle in the Andes, can be tough to depict on screen. On one hand, the film has to keep true to the story but also maintain some form of spectacle to keep people watching. Past depictions of the 1972 crash are preoccupied with the cannibalism portrayed by big name actors, but Society of the Snow takes a different route. The actors are newcomers, the threats to their lives don't require daring action stunts, and the cannibalism is limited to small chunks indistinguishable from animal meat. Instead, the spectacle of Society of the Snow is the human spirit– the vulnerability, the respect, and the generosity they've given each other in order to survive. It’s still an uncomfortable watch, especially since we get to know some of the survivors before the crash, but it’s definitely a transcendent addition to the genre dedicated to the miracle of existence.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Agustín Berruti, Agustín Della Corte, Agustín Lain, Agustín Pardella, Alfonsina Carrocio, Andy Pruss, Benjamín Segura, Blas Polidori, Carlos Miguel Páez Rodríguez, Daniel Patricio Antivilio Acuña, Diego Vegezzi, Emanuel Parga, Emanuel Sobré, Enzo Vogrincic, Esteban Bigliardi, Esteban Kukuriczka, Esteban Pico, Facundo Roure, Fede Aznárez, Felipe González Otaño, Felipe Otaño, Felipe Ramusio, Felipe Ramusio Mora, Fernando Contigiani García, Francisco Bereny, Francisco Burghi, Francisco Romero, Gustavo Zerbino Stajano, Jerónimo Bosia, Juan Caruso, Julian Bedino, Lautaro Bakir, Louta, Lucas Mascarena, Luciano Chattón, Mariano Rochman, Matías Recalt, Pablo Tate, Paula Baldini, Rafael Federman, Roberto Suárez, Rocco Posca, Santiago Vaca Narvaja, Simon Hempe, Sofía Lara, Tea Alberti, Tomas Wolf, Toto Rovito, Valentino Alonso, Virgínia Kauffmann

Director: J.A. Bayona

Rating: R

There’s a lot to think about in Dream Scenario, which posits the possibility of collectively seeing the same real man in your dreams. Norwegian filmmaker Kristoffer Borgli drops the painfully ordinary Paul (Cage) in an extraordinary reality to show us how easily one can spiral into insanity, how dangerous groupthink can be, how fickle cancel culture is, and how anything can happen to anyone, even to someone as unsuspecting as Paul. But Borgli doesn’t just experiment with ideas here, he also expertly plays with sounds and transitions, sometimes even cutting a scene before someone is done talking, to capture the skittish and unreliable language of dreams. More impressively, he takes into account how this phenomenon would play in our real, profit-oriented world. The capitalistic urge to make Paul an advertising tool, for instance, or to create tech that makes it possible for others to appear in dreams too, is both uncanny and depressingly realistic. Some might feel that Borgli is biting off more than he can chew but there’s a balance and ease to Dream Scenario that makes it feel inevitable. That’s thanks to Borgli’s brilliant direction but also, in no small part, to Cage’s inspired performance as a pathetic but harmless loser.

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction

Actor: Agape Mngomezulu, Al Warren, Amber Midthunder, Ben Caldwell, Conrad Coates, David Klein, Domenic Di Rosa, Dylan Baker, Dylan Gelula, James Collins, Jennifer Wigmore, Jeremy Levick, Jessica Clement, Jim Armstrong, Jordan Raf, Josh Richards, Julianne Nicholson, Kaleb Horn, Kate Berlant, Krista Bridges, Lily Bird, Lily Gao, Liz Adjei, Maev Beaty, Marc Coppola, Marnie McPhail, Michael Cera, Nicholas Braun, Nicolas Cage, Nicole Leroux, Nneka Elliott, Noah Centineo, Noah Lamanna, Philip van Martin, Ramona Gilmour-Darling, Richard Jutras, Sofia Banzhaf, Star Slade, Stephen R. Hart, Tim Meadows, Will Corno

Director: Kristoffer Borgli

Rating: R

The title of this small-scale comedy drama alludes to an aspect of creativity that isn’t inherently cinematic but which is necessary if you’re going to make anything: just showing up and doing the work. Kelly Reichardt’s filmmaking is in keeping with that focus: this is a gentle movie, full of the patience the art-making process requires and which has always characterized her contributions to “slow cinema.” 

The film is set in a small creative community where the prickly Lizzy (Michelle Williams) works in administration at an arts center and perfects her sculptures for her upcoming solo show. Her efforts are hampered by small daily dramas, though, like the pigeon whose wing her naughty kitty has broken or the friends of her father who lightly exploit his hospitality. And then there’s her neighbor and landlord Jo (Hong Chau), a rising star of an artist who inspires thorny feelings of inadequacy in the only moderately successful Lizzy. Reichardt and Williams deftly explore these insecurities, subtly suggesting that one-sided resentments like Lizzy’s are easily dissolved with a bit of human connection. These gentle moments of insight are rewarding, but it should be noted that your mileage may vary with Showing Up’s insular art world focus and Reichardt’s more unhurried-than-ever pace.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Amanda Plummer, André 3000, Bahni Turpin, Heather Lawless, Hong Chau, Izabel Mar, James Le Gros, Jean-Luc Boucherot, John Magaro, Judd Hirsch, Kevin-Michael Moore, Kristina Haddad, Lauren Lakis, Maryann Plunkett, Matt Malloy, Michelle Williams, Orianna Milne, Sam Kamerman, Teal Sherer, Ted Rooney, Theo Taplitz

Director: Kelly Reichardt

Unlike plenty of time torn films, Maboroshi is the kind of film that doesn’t have a straightforward explanation for the town of Mifuse standing still in time. But even when it doesn’t have a logical reason, the way the film unfolds has a distinct feeling as it explores the illusions the town either could cling to, or release to grow. This kind of storytelling would be familiar to fans of the prolific screenwriter Mari Okada, who just started directing in 2018 with Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms, but even those new to her work would appreciate the pure emotion driving Maboroshi, if they can let go of reality and enjoy MAPPA’s exquisite art for a moment.

Genre: Animation, Drama, Fantasy, Romance

Actor: Ayaka Saito, Daiki Kobayashi, Junya Enoki, Kento Hayashi, Koji Seto, Maki Kawase, Misaki Kuno, Reina Ueda, Setsuji Sato, Taku Yashiro, Tasuku Hatanaka, Yukiyo Fujii

Director: Mari Okada, Seimei Kidokoro

Rating: PG-13

, 2023

Director Garth Davis (who worked with Jane Campion on Top of the Lake) adapts Iain Reid's novel Foe with little concern about realism and veracity. The psychologically dense event at the film's centre—an impending separation of husband and wife—renders the whole world around them meaningless. Saoirse Ronan stars as the self-assured Henrietta (Hen) and Paul Mescal, as the belligerent Junior, two of the last remaining people in rural and farm areas. The year is 2065 and Earth is unrecognizable (peak Anthropocene) and life can be reduced to the impossibility of letting go. One fine day, a stranger comes to visit (Aaron Pierre), informing the couple that Junior has been drafted not to the military, but to a space colonization mission. A most curious triangle forms when Pierre's character decides to stay in the family guest room: there is no telling where Foe will take you, but it will be a long, hard fall; either to the pits of despair or desire, ambivalence galore. 

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller

Actor: Aaron Pierre, David Woods, Jordan Chodziesner, Paul Mescal, Saoirse Ronan, William Freeman, Yesse Spence

Director: Garth Davis

Rating: R

, 2023

Time travelling movies tend to be flashy with its sci-fi wonder, but Aporia takes a more grounded approach to the time altering genre. Instead of time travelling, the protagonists have a mundane, almost lo-fi machine, that almost seems disappointing, but is no less life-altering. Of course, to the grieving Sophie, who lost her husband, it’s easy to understand why she would take the chance to get her husband back again. But the film takes a grounded and realistic approach as Sophie spirals into an unrelenting series of regret and trolley problems, each time she chooses to use the machine. While the pacing may be a tad slow, and the events can feel a bit mundane, Aporia is a startlingly poignant reminder of how each ordinary moment, if changed, can be completely life altering.

Genre: Drama, Science Fiction

Actor: Edi Gathegi, Faithe Herman, Judy Greer, Payman Maadi, Whitney Morgan Cox

Director: Jared Moshé

Rating: R

While not having world-ending stakes or large-scale operations, Sixty Minutes just works as an action movie. Sure, the plot is familiar and a little far fetched, but the film maximizes the potential of its premise, with excellently choreographed fight sequences working in tandem with the cinematography to reflect the MMA fighter leading the movie. Each moment isn’t wasted, with the action escalating each time Octa finds out about the hidden information kept from him about the match he’s planned to skip, and the film easily keeps track of his journey through neon-lit stopwatch faces and maps. And when we (and Octa) feel tired from all the fighting, the film ends right on time after sixty (and twenty nine) minutes.

Genre: Action, Drama

Actor: Alain Blazevic, Aristo Luis, Balázs Megyeri, Bettina Hoppe, Bruno Salgueiro, Dennis Mojen, Emilio Sakraya, Eniko Fulop, Florian Schmidtke, Georg Blumreiter, Harry Szovik, Janna Striebeck, José Barros, Laurent Winkler, Livia Matthes, Ludger Bökelmann, Marie Mouroum, Mehmet Ateşçi, Morik Heydo, Nyamandi Adrian, Paul Wollin, Philipp Droste, Steffen Jung, Tatjana Šojić, Tayssir Khalfallah, Vassilis Koukalani

Director: Oliver Kienle

Rating: R

Rewind picks up rather quickly with a marriage montage, invoking the infamous first 10 minutes of Up. But this is no classic Pixar tearjerker. This is a good old-fashioned Pinoy telenovela romance, featuring a life-changing car accident, a saint-like child, and an emotionally dead relationship. It explores a premise anyone can instantly connect with, which challenges the comforting notion that a quick burst of reparations makes up for a lifetime of errors. This touching story leaves little room for downtime, but every minute coasts on cheesy writing and a religious slant to deliver a didactic message straight out of a mildly entertaining homily.

Genre: Drama, Romance, Science Fiction

Actor: Ariel Ureta, Chamyto Aguedan, Coney Reyes, Dingdong Dantes, Ina Feleo, JC Alcantara, Jordan Lim, Joross Gamboa, Lito Pimentel, Marian Rivera, Mary Joy Apostol, Neil Coleta, Pamu Pamorada, Pepe Herrera, Sue Ramirez

Director: Mae Cruz-Alviar

Besides the futuristic tech that pops in and out, there’s not a lot about The Kitchen that signals it as a sci-fi film. Neglected housing projects and violent raids have become too common to count as dystopian, so it often feels like The Kitchen could’ve gone without labeling itself as part of the genre (the real world is bad enough). But underneath those layers is a subtle but sublimely tender story about father and son finding each other amid the rubble of real life. First-time directors Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, The Black Panther) and Kibwe Tavares delicately balance the personal and the political, never undermining the former as many socially aware films do. If Kaluuya and Tavares had fleshed the world it built a little more and removed the parts, such as the sci-fi elements, that did not work out, then Izi and Benji’s story would have been memorably devastating, instead of just affecting.

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction, Thriller

Actor: BACKROAD GEE, Demmy Ladipo, Ewart James Walters, Fiona Marr, Henry Lawfull, Hope Ikpoku Jnr, Ian Wright, Jedaiah Bannerman, Kane Robinson, Karen Williams, Lola-Rose Maxwell, Neville Watson, Rasaq Kukoyi, Rhys Yates

Director: Daniel Kaluuya, Kibwe Tavares

Rating: R

Champions is as formulaic as it gets, but it’s impossible not to smile watching it. It’s based on a 2018 Spanish movie of the same name, but it feels a lot like the 2023 Korean movie Dream too. In both (and indeed a lot of other) films, we follow a sad sack antihero who, by virtue of being exposed to less fortunate people, is magically transformed into a good guy who gets all the glory he wished for by the end of the story. You know where it’s headed and you even know how it gets there, so it’s devoid of genuine twists and thrills. But the ways in which it gets there, however familiar, are sometimes funny and heartwarming. If you can stomach the cheesiness and predictability of it all, then Champions comes as an effectively hopeful and feel-good film that’s worth tuning into if you want a light laugh. Otherwise, it's all familiar fluff you can skip for better fare.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Aaron Hughes, Alexandra Castillo, Alicia Johnston, Ashton Gunning, Barbara Pollard, Champ Pederson, Cheech Marin, Clint Allen, Ernie Hudson, Heath Vermette, Jacob Blair, Jalen Rose, Jean-Jacques Javier, Kaitlin Olson, Kevin Iannucci, Lauren Cochrane, Lois Brothers, Matt Cook, Mike Smith, Scott Van Pelt, Seán Cullen, Stephanie Sy, Woody Harrelson

Director: Bobby Farrelly

Rating: PG-13

After the critical and commercial success of Concrete Utopia, it makes sense for Lotte Entertainment to turn it into a franchise. Badland Hunters is a more action-focused spinoff, with that dystopian world looking like a wild, wild Seoul and Ma Dong-seok as its lone ranger. Compared to its predecessor, the commentary is scant, the plot is thin, and the only thing that connects it is the apartment. But even with the B-movie mad scientist plot, long-time stunt coordinator Heo Myung-haeng makes his directorial debut wildly entertaining, with solid action that doesn’t depend too much on CGI. Human reptiles aside, Badland Hunters is just so fun to watch.

Genre: Action, Drama, Science Fiction

Actor: Ahn Ji-hye, Ahn Seong-bong, Hong Yi-joo, Jang Young-nam, Jeong Gi-seop, Jung Young-ju, Kim Young-sun, Lee Han-joo, Lee Hee-jun, Lee Jun-young, Ma Dong-seok, Park Hyo-joon, Park Ji-hoon, Roh Jeong-eui, Seong Byeong-suk

Director: Heo Myeong-haeng

Rating: R

With phone scams becoming more elaborate, it’s easy to understand and empathize with the wrath Jason Statham as The Beekeeper has when his elderly friend gets drained out of her entire life savings. It’s thrilling to see him punch his way into the scammers’ headquarters and burn the whole place to the ground. And when director David Ayer uses his extra hour to dial up the low stakes tech scheme into a nationwide scandal that implicates the entire U.S. government, it’s ludicrous, sure, but it’s somehow wildly entertaining. That being said, your mileage of the film highly depends on your tolerance for randomly dropped bee facts and silly bee puns, but The Beekeeper isn’t a terrible choice to watch.

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Adam Basil, Arian Nik, Bharat Mistri, Bobby Naderi, Dan Li, David Witts, Derek Siow, Don Gilet, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Enzo Cilenti, Georgia Goodman, Jason Statham, Jay Rincon, Jemma Redgrave, Jeremy Irons, Jonathan Cohen, Josh Hutcherson, Kevin Golding, Kojo Attah, Martin Gordon, Megan Le, Michael Epp, Minnie Driver, Peter Brooke, Phil Hodges, Phylicia Rashād, Rebecca Hazlewood, Reza Diako, Rocci Williams, Sophia Feliciano, Sunny Dhillon, Taylor James, Valentina Novakovic

Director: David Ayer

Rating: R

Pain Hustlers is based on a 2018 New York Times article of the same name exposing a drug company that marketed a fentanyl-based drug. Zanna, the on-screen pharmaceutical start-up, is modelled after Insys: the actual company who pushed a fentanyl-based spray for pain management with the help of sales reps who particularly appeal to a certain male gaze. A DIY scheme of bribing doctors through "speaker programs"—or recurring, debaucherous parties—gets Zanna off the ground, catapulting stripper-turned-manager Liza Drake (Emily Blunt) to a much-yearned financial stability. Together with the coked-up COO (magnificently played by Chris Evans), Liza puts her street smart potential to work; she goes all in, until it all crashes and burns. It's cynical how predictable the plot of such a film can be, mainly because the only character development we see is in Liza's sudden moral spark at the sight of drug abuses and overdoses. Pain Hustlers tries really hard to build a hero, tear her down, and then rehabilitate her status, but to what end? The film ends up using the fentanyl crisis as a narrative drive, a highly dubious move when you're supposed to be spreading awareness. 

 

Genre: Crime, Drama

Actor: Adrian Eppley, Alex Klein, Amit Shah, Andy Garcia, Aubrey Dollar, Avis-Marie Barnes, Becca Breitfeller, Brian d'Arcy James, Britt Rentschler, Catherine O'Hara, Chloe Coleman, Chris Evans, Emily Blunt, Erin Ownbey, Greyson Chadwick, Jay Duplass, Josh Ventura, Mandi Christine Kerr, Mary Ann Hagan, Michael Kosta, Michael Lowry, Nicholas Christopher McNeil, Omer Mughal, Pat Dortch, Quinn Bozza, Rowan Joseph, Samantha Kacho, Selena Anduze, Sharon Conley, Tris Marie, Valerie LeBlanc, Willie Raysor

Director: David Yates

Rating: R