15 Movies Like Ballerina (2023)

Staff & contributors

Chasing the feel of watching Ballerina ? Here are the movies we recommend you watch right after.

Stoic, unflinching, and almost near silent, Ballerina takes a fitting approach to enact its protagonist’s revenge. Within its lean 90 minute runtime, ex-bodyguard Ok-ju single-mindedly searches for answers, through following the lead from her friend’s suicide note. The film shares nothing personal, no doubts, worries, or fears from Ok-ju – except for her affection for best friend Min-hee. Instead of capitalizing on Ok-ju’s tears, or on the violence inflicted on Min-hee, writer-director Lee Chung-hyun relies on action, on stunning cinematography, and on Jeon Jong-seo’s performance to create a spectacle that doesn’t hold back from the gruesomeness, but somehow still incredibly restrained. Jeon Jong-seo delivers Ok-ju’s bloody revenge, a fitting retribution to all perpetrators of sexual violence.

Aptly for a film partly set in a fortune cookie factory, Fremont deals with luck — specifically, the other side of good luck: survivor’s guilt. Donya (played by real-life Afghan refugee Anaita Wali Zada) is a former translator for the US Army who fled her home city of Kabul on an emergency evacuation flight when the Taliban took over in 2021. Now living a safe, if drab, existence in the titular Californian town, insomniac Donya struggles to embrace her freedom, tormented by the knowledge that she lost some of her old colleagues to reprisal attacks and that her loved ones are still living under repressive rule in Afghanistan.

As Donya shuttles between her little apartment in Fremont, her job writing cryptic one-liners for a fortune cookie factory in San Francisco, and appointments with her eccentric psychiatrist (Gregg Turkington), Fremont balances a moving study of her melancholy with deadpan humor. Despite its black-and-white cinematography and tight Academy ratio, this is no austere drama, but an endlessly warm and understated portrait of someone rediscovering themselves and all of life’s unexpected moments of connection, like chance romantic encounters and sudden tears at karaoke.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Anaita Wali Zada, Boots Riley, Gregg Turkington, Hilda Schmelling, Jeremy Allen White, Siddique Ahmed

Director: Babak Jalali

Rating: NR

While not its only cause, the increase of conflict and civil wars has spurred a global refugee crisis. Millions of refugees have been displaced from their homes, taking dangerous journeys to a hopefully safer place. Nowhere, now on Netflix, showcases one possible journey. Escaping a future totalitarian Spain, the film is centered on leading lady Anna Castillo, whose excellent performance pulls most of the tears here. With her character Mia’s ingenuity, she maximizes her shipping container’s resources and takes steps to ensure her survival. While some of the backstory can feel thin, after all, for most of the runtime Mia has only herself to talk to, this new one-location survival film is a thrilling addition to the genre. It’s a chilling reminder of what could be happening to the millions of refugees seeking safe haven around the globe.

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Actor: Anna Castillo, Antonio Buíl, Emma Sánchez, Irina Bravo, Kaabil Sekali, Lucia Soria, Mariam Torres, Said El Mouden, Tamar Novas, Tony Corvillo, Victoria Teijeiro

Director: Albert Pintó

Rating: R

After two adaptations, with the 1982 version considered a Christmastime classic for Polish families, Forgotten Love can seem like a redundant take on the iconic Polish novel. With twenty more minutes, it seems like the new Netflix adaptation could only improve its take through better production design, and sure, it certainly delivers that pre-war aesthetic through period-accurate costumes, props, and sets. However, Forgotten Love takes a more streamlined approach to the novel’s plot, through changing certain character choices. Without spoiling too much, some choices paint certain characters in a better light, while other changes prove to add an entertaining twist, such as the humorous way the villagers defend Kosiba. Znachor takes the 1937 story into the present, bringing a new generation through the emotional journey of the cherished Polish tale.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Adam Nawojczyk, Agata Łabno, Alicja Jachiewicz, Anna Szymańczyk, Artur Barciś, Dawid Ściupidro, Ewa Kolasińska-Szramel, Ewa Szykulska, Henryk Niebudek, Ignacy Liss, Izabela Kuna, Jarosław Gruda, Joachim Lamża, Kamil Pardo, Karolina Piechota, Krzysztof Dracz, Leszek Lichota, Maciej Damięcki, Małgorzata Mikołajczak, Maria Kowalska, Mikołaj Grabowski, Mirosław Haniszewski, Patryk Szwichtenberg, Paweł Janyst, Paweł Tomaszewski, Piotr Rogucki, Robert Gonera, Sławomir Holland, Stanisław Brudny, Waleria Gorobets

Director: Michał Gazda

Rating: PG-13

Making a good erotic thriller out on Wall Street is no easy feat, but Fair Play has just the right ratio of wit, sex, and sleaze to spice up a Friday night viewing. There's also undeniable pleasure in watching a fairytale love story corrode, especially under the influence of money and power—here's one for the romantic capitalists! And even if the script feels a bit uneven and Emily's character a bit too silent until the film's third act, it's a heightened yet realistic depiction of exactly how solidified heteronormative standards still are: in bed, at home, at the workplace. Who would have guessed that's where the true horror lies? 

Genre: Drama, Romance, Thriller

Actor: Alden Ehrenreich, Brandon Bassir, Buck Braithwaite, Eddie Marsan, Filip Todorovic, Geraldine Somerville, Greg De Cuir, Ivona Kustudić, Jamie Wilkes, Jelena Stupljanin, Jim Sturgeon, Katarina Gojković, Laurel Lefkow, Leopold Hughes, Linda Ljoka, Patrick Fischler, Phoebe Dynevor, Rich Sommer, Sebastian de Souza, Sia Alipour

Director: Chloe Domont

Familiarity breeds contempt, and Swedish Netflix’s new horror-comedy takes this idea to the extreme. Based on the novel by Mats Strandberg, who’s known as the Swedish Stephen King, The Conference is centered around a group of employees on their company retreat. With its ensemble, the film crafts a relatable dynamic, with the exact petty back-and-forth and the same exact corporate politics many adults have to deal with. It’s no wonder one of them snaps, and takes them out one by one. The film isn’t exactly new, with the decades’ collection of slashers all over the world, but this Swedish thriller is a fun take on it, with match cut transitions, quick paced sequences, and the gruesome murders of the group most adults spend time with - their colleagues. It’s an interesting watch as the world gets back to the office.

Genre: Comedy, Horror, Thriller

Actor: Adam Lundgren, Amed Bozan, Bahar Pars, Cecilia Nilsson, Christoffer Nordenrot, Claes Hartelius, Eva Melander, Jimmy Lindström, Katia Winter, Lola Zackow, Maria Sid, Marie Agerhäll, Martin Lagos, Robert Follin

Director: Patrik Eklund

In the vein of classic 80s films, Totally Killer is an homage to the genres that got its heyday in the decade. This film happens to be a serial killer mystery, a time-travel sci-fi adventure, and a teen comedy all at once. With mentions of Back to the Future and Molly Ringwald, the new addition to the Prime Video’s current horror roster makes a throwback to when these genres were at its peak. But these throwbacks aren’t just for style – like how true crime rehashes old cases for content, the small town of Vernon still rehashes the serial murders for entertainment, as if stuck and unable to move on from its glory days. Admittedly, this film does the same sin. Plenty of the twists and turns can feel predictable to those familiar with 80s movies. But the multi-genre mix still feels like a fun ride, even when it contradicts the point it’s making.

Genre: Comedy, Horror, Science Fiction

Actor: Alex Pychtin, Amy Goodmurphy, Andy Thompson, Anna Diaz, Brendan O'Brien, Charlie Gillespie, Conrad Coates, Eliza Norbury, Ella Choi, Fred Henderson, Jeremy Monn-Djasgnar, Jonathan Potts, Julie Bowen, Kelcey Mawema, Kiernan Shipka, Kimberly Huie, Liana Liberato, Lochlyn Munro, Olivia Holt, Pam Kearns, Patti Kim, Randall Park, Shahrokh Ferdowsi, Stephi Chin-Salvo, Tate Chernen, Tommy Europe, Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson, Valin Shinyei, Zachary Gibson

Director: Nahnatchka Khan

Rating: R

When the system messes with you personally, it’s such a powerful fantasy to be able to settle things with your own hands. To be strong enough to retaliate, and once things are settled, to be strong enough to be left alone, not to be messed with. The Black Book depicts this revenge fantasy, reminiscent of Liam Neeson’s Taken, albeit with corrupt police. The Nigerian action thriller isn’t afraid to go hard, with threats of splitting a person in half by a table saw, dramatic shoot-outs, and fight sequences. However, what makes the thriller work is that all these action sequences are intended to be the reckoning of corrupt institutions. There are some messy parts, certain shots that included some bad takes. Despite this, The Black Book still proves to be entertaining enough to forgive these mishaps.

Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Ade Laoye, Alex Usifo Omiagbo, Bimbo Akintola, Bimbo Manuel, Femi Branch, Iretiola Doyle, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Sam Dede, Shaffy Bello

Director: Editi Effiong

Rating: R

, 2023

If there are parts to Rookie's story that seem too easily resolved—for the sake of making this more of a feel-good movie—these shortcuts still serve a genuinely romantic central relationship that develops in the most organic way possible. Besides the school's stifling conservatism, there's nothing that really stands in the way of Ace and Jana's blossoming connection. By immediately advancing its depiction of queer love beyond the self-acceptance stage (where so many other films get stuck), Rookie is allowed to show us two girls in love and supporting each other, as the normal and beautiful thing it should be. It doesn't hurt either that the movie is pretty entertaining as a sports film, with just enough flash in its editing and sound design to sell the frantic energy of a game wherein you want to impress the person you have a crush on.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Agot Isidro, Aya Fernandez, Che Ramos, Mikoy Morales, Pat Tingjuy, Simon Ibarra

Director: Samantha Lee

You could take away a lot of parts in Reptile, and it would still make sense. It’s the kind of film that leans on sound and style to justify overlong takes and teeth-grittingly predictable scenes. But all is forgiven when del Toro, who also co-writes and co-produces the film, appears on screen. He has a simmering, captivating presence that demands you keep your eyes on him even when little, if anything at all, happens. Silverstone, Eric Bogosian, and Ato Essandoh are likewise enthralling, but Justin Timberlake unfortunately does not hold the same staying power. The film is at its weakest when it tries to convince us that he plays a complex, layered man when, in fact, Timberlake relays nothing but surface-level thrills. But Reptile is at its strongest when it gives us del Toro in all his forceful glory. 

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Africa Miranda, Alicia Silverstone, Allison Smith, Amy Parrish, Ato Essandoh, Benicio Del Toro, Catherine Dyer, Dani Deetté, Deena Beasley, Domenick Lombardozzi, Elena Varela, Eric Bogosian, Frances Fisher, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Gregory Albrecht, James Devoti, Jesse C. Boyd, Jp Lambert, Justin Timberlake, Karl Glusman, Kurt Yue, Lee Perkins, Matilda Lutz, Matt Medrano, Matthew Cornwell, Michael Beasley, Michael Pitt, Michael Rene Walton, Mike Pniewski, Monique Yvette Grant, Owen Teague, Sky Ferreira, Thad Luckinbill, Tiffany Fallon, Victor Rasuk

Director: Grant Singer

Rating: R

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

Just in time for Halloween, Netflix has shelled out for a new, high production value doc about demonic possession. It has all the right ingredients: a true story (that of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, also known as the "Devil Made Me Do It" case of 1981), some convincing re-enactments, the air of exclusivity (use of real archives), but it still feels like a let-down to the true horror buffs who'd tune in expecting something fresh. After all, Netflix has been in the game for a while and it's not a good look to settle for something as mediocre. For The Devil on Trial, it seems like the execs have just upped the budget on a regular cable-TV-haunted-house after hours special and then patted themselves on the back. Even the interviews featured are full of cliches, which strips down the horrifying potential of authenticity.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Arne Cheyenne Johnson, Tony Spera, Victor Serfaty

Director: Chris Holt

Rating: R

Beat for beat, word for word, Love is in the Air moves just like any other romantic comedy. Within that genre, it slots easily into the category of romcoms that follow a city guy who falls in love with a country girl, eventually learning and preferring the ways of small-town living. But Love in Air is even more improbable than usual because of how eerily perfect the two leads are. Goodrem, in particular, is always manicured to perfection, which makes her role as a down-to-earth no-nonsense go-getter very hard to believe. Still, the movie isn’t entirely unwatchable. There are pockets of humor to be found, and the stunning visuals almost make it worth the watch. Almost.  

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Craig Walker, Delta Goodrem, Hugh Parker, Joshua Sasse, Mia Grunwald, Roy Billing, Simon McLachlan, Steph Tisdell

Director: Adrian Powers

Rating: PG-13

Horror likes to take a human fear and personify it. It's a winning move, materializing our worst nightmares, but what does a woman's self-doubt look like? In this case, extremely ugly and somewhat laughable, but surely not scary. The special effects team dropped the ball on this one, and the appendage's physical presence is more distracting than anything. Its concept and its aura, though, go a long way, and there are a few admirable twists and turns that make a curious point about female psychology and social expectations. Their interdependency then translates into the film's sparse backstory, tracing a journey of trauma that's surprisingly relatable. Interestingly enough, director Anna Zlokovic made a short of the same name in 2021 which teased the idea of a monster sucking your confidence in secret, but her latest feature film lacks that punch. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Annie Pisapia, Brandon Mychal Smith, Daniel Chioco, Deborah Rennard, Desmin Borges, Emily Hampshire, Hadley Robinson, Kausar Mohammed

Director: Anna Zlokovic

Rating: R

, 2023

Sayen is the kind of film that ultimately feels like it was written by a focus group: ample representation for a worthy cause funneled into the sort of escapism that should theoretically hit the widest demographic possible. But even with its solid production values and a determined performance by Rallen Montenegro, the film lacks the emotional bite that a less corporate-driven project likely would've had. It's not that Sayen comes off insincere about the plight of Indigenous peoples in Chile; it's that its desire to appear sincere stops most of its good ideas halfway. The action isn't particularly thrilling, the story doesn't develop so much as it stretches itself thin, and its supposed representation begins and ends with some terribly obvious—borderline tokenistic—scenes and character types.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller

Actor: Alejandro Trejo, Álvaro Espinoza, Aron Piper, David Gaete, Eduardo Paxeco, Enrique Arce, Loreto Aravena, Rallén Montenegro, Ramón González, Roberto García Ruiz, Serge Santana, Teresa Ramos

Director: Alexander Witt

Between Overhaul's frequently nonsensical blend of truck racing and vehicular heists, and its focus on found families, the comparisons to the Fast & Furious series are undeniable. This also means that this Brazilian blockbuster is also much less engaging than it thinks it is; the stakes don't feel particularly urgent, and the near indifference of the rest of the world to all this criminal activity means these characters may as well be fantasy heroes. It does, however, have more significantly more color to it than its Hollywood role model, thanks to the gorgeous vistas of Brazil and the unique physical attributes of the big rigs the main characters drive. All things considered, it's pretty novel to have these high-speed chases through more cumbersome vehicles—less flashiness, more brute power.

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Evandro Mesquita, Fumassa Alves, Gillray Coutinho, Leandro Tadeu Gonçalves, Milhem Cortaz, Paulo Vilhena, Raphael Logam, Sheron Menezes, Thiago Martins, Vitória Valentin

Director: Tomás Portella

Rating: R