11 Movies Like Warhorse One (2023)

Staff & contributors

The Royal Hotel sees Hanna (Julia Garner) and Liv (Jessica Henwick) resorting to take up a dire live-in job behind the bar in a remote desert part of Western Australia. Although they're warned that they'd "have to be okay with a little male attention" in the outcast mining town, their financial precarity overrides the potential fear. Curiously enough, the fiction film is based on a real story, already told in the 2016 documentary Hotel Coolgardie by Pete Gleeson, but The Assistant director Kitty Green pulls no punches when representing how suffocating it must feel to be encircled by such unmediated male aggression. The brawls, the spilled beer, the c-word as a greeting all form the unnerving paraphernalia of life then and there. For Australian independent film devotees, there is actor Toby Wallace, who reprises his bad boy role from Babyteeth, and he's joined by the ranks of Herbert Nordrum (The Worst Person in the World) and an utterly terrifying Hugo Weaving (The Matrix).

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Alex Malone, Barbara Lowing, Baykali Ganambarr, Bree Bain, Bruce R. Carter, Daniel Henshall, Herbert Nordrum, Hugo Weaving, James Frecheville, Jessica Henwick, Julia Garner, Kate Cheel, Patrick Frost, Toby Wallace, Ursula Yovich, Valerie Berry

Director: Kitty Green

Rating: R

Somewhere near the border between Russia and Ukraine lies a shelter for kids coming from unstable homes. Their parents, either alcoholics or abusers, have nine months to prove that they’re fit to look after their children; otherwise, the kids are sent straight to the orphanage, with no chance of a goodbye. A House Made of Splinters is a documentary that quietly and closely follows the shelter’s occupants amid growing joys and pains, not to mention the ever-present danger of war.

Perhaps one of the most striking things about A House Made of Splinters is how attuned it is to the kids. It serves as a reminder of their immense sensitivity and observational skills (more than once, you’ll hear a child assess their home situation in the calmest of manners), as well as their clever ingenuity (there’s a lot of playing going on despite everything, which is heartwarming to watch.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Director: Simon Lereng Wilmont

With Marvel and DC monopolizing the superhero landscape with high budgets, big-name actors, and CGI graphics, Shin Kamen Rider feels like a breath of fresh air. Also known as Shin Masked Rider in other territories, the adaptation recalls the campy costumes and over-the-top action of the original 70s tokusatsu series. It’s fun, if a little bit silly, and slightly unhinged, albeit with a more modern polish. The bizarre action sequences tend to be paired with old 70s rock, blood oversplashing, motorcycle stunts, and exaggerated expressions, especially from the villains. It’s a fitting love letter for the series’ 50th anniversary.

Genre: Action, Drama, Science Fiction

Actor: Kanata Hongo, Ken Yasuda, Masami Nagasawa, Mikako Ichikawa, Minami Hamabe, Mirai Moriyama, Moriyama Mirai, Nanase Nishino, Nao Ōmori, Shinya Tsukamoto, Shuhei Uesugi, Sosuke Ikematsu, Suzuki Matsuo, Takumi Saitoh, Tasuku Emoto, Tori Matsuzaka, Toru Nakamura, Toru Tezuka, Yutaka Takenouchi

Director: Hideaki Anno

Rating: NR

There's an elephant lurking in the room from the outset of Biosphere, in which two men are the last survivors of an apocalypse: how will humanity live on? Best friends Billy (Mark Duplass) and Ray (Sterling K. Brown) have only survived thanks to the ingenuity of Ray, who built the glass dome in which they live, insulated from whatever it is that’s keeping the sky perpetually black outside. But the dome’s protective glass increasingly needs patching up, and their last female fish (responsible for the continuation of their food supplies) has just died, setting their clocks ticking.

What happens next — to the remaining male fish and humans — is an astonishing evolution that speaks to the strangeness of nature, which will break its most rigid laws in pursuit of its ultimate goal: furthering the species. Biosphere undergoes a similar metamorphosis: while its zany twist (which we won’t spoil) seems to direct it towards gross-out bro-comedy territory, it transforms, surprisingly, into something more profoundly philosophical. Like the dome, Biosphere’s structure isn’t as solid as it could be — it often meanders — but, with its thoughtful meditations on gender, sexuality, and evolution in all its forms, it’s easy to forgive this quirky indie gem that flaw.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Actor: Mark Duplass, Sterling K. Brown

Director: Mel Eslyn

The tired stereotype is that in horror films, it’s always the Black characters who are the first to die. The Blackening turns that on its head and gives us an interesting premise by asking, what if all the characters are Black? While it’s not the first film to do this (in fact, a lot of Black creatives are reclaiming horror and dominating the genre), it just might be the first to tackle the issue in a smart and funny way. This is a ridiculous parody filled with outsized performances and observational jokes, but it’s equally meta and socially aware as it literally (and thankfully) beats the stereotype to its final death. 

 

Genre: Comedy, Horror

Actor: Antoinette Robertson, Dewayne Perkins, Diedrich Bader, George Fisher, Grace Byers, James Preston Rogers, Jay Pharoah, Jermaine Fowler, Melvin Gregg, Sinqua Walls, X Mayo, Yvonne Orji

Director: Tim Story

Rating: R

The latest installment in Netflix'S “Unknown” docuseries, Unknown: Killer Robots puts the evolution of artificial intelligence under an ethical microscope. Although the title could be misleading, it does cover the possible dangerous applications of AI as it forces us to question the growing divide between human morality and machine efficiency. With advances in war and medicinal applications, the capabilities of AI to heal, save and destroy are terrifying and awe-inspiring in equal measure. Like the previous films in the series, it is hyper-concentrated to an almost-stifling degree, but it’s also powered by the passionate subjects on either side of these advancements. Forgoing sensationalism, this digestible documentary questions intention over the technology itself. 

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Director: Jesse Sweet

After more than six years in the making, The Little Mermaid should be a spectacle for the ages, but even the magic of Rob Marshall (Chicago) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) cannot save the live-action remake. The film feels at once too stunted for an actual musical and too expansive to be just another movie. There's something uncanny, too, in how the humans look underwater and inland so that the wetness of the characters (of all things!) becomes a weirdly icky factor. Not to mention Scuttle the diving bird who looks more like a demonic creature than a feathery companion, or the flat disappointment that is Flounder. If that's the price we must pay for reality, we don't want it.

Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Music, Romance

Actor: Adrian Christopher, Art Malik, Awkwafina, Christopher Fairbank, Craig Stein, Daveed Diggs, Emily Coates, Halle Bailey, Jacob Tremblay, Javier Bardem, Jessica Alexander, Jodi Benson, John Dagleish, Jon-Scott Clark, Jonah Hauer-King, Jude Akuwudike, Kajsa Mohammar, Karolina Conchet, Leon Cooke, Lorena Andrea, Marcus Hodson, Martina Laird, Melissa McCarthy, Noma Dumezweni, Russell Balogh, Sienna King, Simone Ashley, Sophie Carmen-Jones, Tarik Frimpong, Yasmin Harrison

Director: Rob Marshall

Rating: PG

Dropping on DVD and digital download in America at the end of summer 2023, Mavka: the Forest Song made its Hulu debut this November. Taking the plot of the 1912 poetic play and rewriting the tragic deaths into lighthearted, fantastical adventures, the film is precisely the sort of generic, child-friendly fairy tale that we’ve come to expect from Disney, albeit with a Ukrainian twist. The plot is predictable, and the humor is rife with cliche, but it’s still a fairly entertaining watch for young audiences.

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Family, Fantasy

Actor: Andrii Mostrenko, Artem Pyvovarov, Julia Sanina, Kateryna Kukhar, Mykhailo Khoma, Nataliia Denysenko, Nataliia Sumska, Nazar Zadniprovskyi, Oleh Mykhailiuta, Oleh Skrypka, Olena Kravets, Serhii Prytula

Director: Oleg Malamuzh, Oleksandra Ruban

Rating: PG

There’s little to like in Hidden Strike, a shoddy action thriller riddled with dodgy CGI, melodramatic performances, and ultra-predictable plotlines. You could even play a drinking game spotting all the action cliches present in the film (take a shot every time the patriotic hero dedicates a killing to his countrymen). Mostly, it’s laughable and complex for all the wrong reasons, but there are rare moments when Chan and Cena’s partnership works. They’re pockets of humor that feel like actual breathers, a respite in a film that’s ultimately tiresome to watch. 

Genre: Action, Action & Adventure, Adventure, Comedy, Thriller

Actor: Amadeus Serafini, Diego Dati, Gong Jun, Hani Adel, Jackie Chan, Jiang Wenli, John Cena, Kefas Brand, Laila Ezz El Arab, Lee Huang, Li Ma, Ma Chunrui, Max Huang, Michael Koltes, Neo Hou, Pilou Asbæk, Rachael Holoway, Rima Zeidan, Tazito Garcia, Temur Mamisashvili, Tim Man, Xu Jia

Director: Scott Waugh

Rating: TV-14

Despite a solid premise that should lead to compelling drama—about men scarred by war and the morally grey inner workings of the police—Confidential Informant devolves into a half-baked thriller that's as dull as its title. Flat direction, a lack of connective tissue between scenes, and an unfortunately visible lack of production resources suck the life out of the script and from the actors' performances. There's clearly a foundation to be built upon here, but the film makes a crucial mistake in trying to have its cake and eat it too: it wants to deliver all the (unsatisfying) thrills of an antihero police procedural, but it just doesn't have the money or the creativity to do this, on top of being a character drama. And so any tension that it tries to build up deflates by the end, its characters nothing but hollow shells, stuck in a story that that never gives them a chance to be anything more interesting.

Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Arielle Raycene, Dominic Purcell, Erik Valdez, Jon Lindstrom, Kate Bosworth, Meadow Williams, Mel Gibson, Nick Stahl

Director: Michael Oblowitz

Rating: R

There is a germ of an idea here, and executed well, Sheroes had the potential to be camp and crude and unapologetically fun in the way only films about female friendship can be (see: Girls Trip, Booksmart, Bridesmaids). Instead, with what looks like a negative production budget and zero commitment from the cast, the resulting film is unwatchably bad. The needle drops are excessive, the cinematography is straight out of a stock image site (what a waste of Thailand’s vibrant beauty!), and the acting, if you can call it that, is wholly unbelievable, with perhaps Isabelle Fuhrman and Skai Jackson standing out as the only exceptions. The chemistry of these so-called friends feels canned, making their montages of supposed fun look stiff and stilted. We’re supposed to believe these girls who can’t even hug right are friends? They’re out here dipping in the pool and sipping beers while thinking of ways to save their tied-up-in-the-middle-of-nowhere friend, so again I ask, we’re supposed to believe they're best friends? Let’s be real, because this film surely isn’t.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Crime

Actor: Isabelle Fuhrman, Jack Kesy, Joseph Angelo, Kelly B. Jones, Prinya Intachai, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Sasha Luss, Skai Jackson, Wallis Day

Director: Jordan Gertner

Rating: R