Science Fiction Films

Top Ten Chart - 2023

SF² Concatenation's annual calculation looking at the 52 British Isles (and Malta) weekly film (movie) charts across 2023
that accounts for only fantastic films (SF and fantasy).

Remember, this is the UK public's cinema theatre box office we are talking about, and not fantastic film buffs' views. Consequently below this top ten we have included at the end a few other worthies well worth checking out as well as (in some years) some warnings-to-avoid. Also note that this chart compilation calculation did not include DVD sales or spin-off product earnings, and our chart is also subject to weekly vagaries. (In some weeks most of the entries do not gross much but at other times (for example public holidays) overall box office takings are higher.) This means that the chart reflects on-going cinema attendance throughout the year and it is not a strict annual list of the year's high box office earners. Notwithstanding such small-print caveats, standby with the pop corn, here we go...


1. Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)


Several years after the Na'vi repelled the RDA invasion Jake Sully and his newfound family are living on the extrasolar moon Pandora. Things seem peaceful but the RDA has other plans, invading and capturing Pandora. Jake Sully forms a guerrilla group with Neytiri and the army of the Na'vi race to protect their home and expel the invaders.  Apparently(?) this film had the biggest budget of any film.  Two more sequels to follow.  If you are inclined to watch this then best do it at the cinema. 3D IMAX version available.  This actually came out at the end of 2022 – which explains it appearing in other worthies in last year's chart, but spent 14 weeks in 2023 in the UK box office top ten including four weeks at number one, hence its toping the 2023 chart.  Director: James Cameron.  Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver.    Trailer here.

2. Barbie


Fantasy.  Barbie, the 'real deal' behind the Barbie doll, suffers a crisis that leads her to question her world and her existence. So she enters the real world…  Trailer here.

3. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse


Animation. Miles Morales catapults across the Multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence. When the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles must redefine what it means to be a hero.   Trailer here.

4. Elemental


Animation.  Follows Ember and Wade, in a city where fire-, water-, earth- and air-residents live together.  Trailer here.

5. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania


When Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne, along with Hope's parents, Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne, and Scott's daughter, Cassie, are accidentally sent to the Quantum Realm, they soon find themselves exploring the Realm, interacting with strange new creatures. Together they must find a way to escape, but what secrets is Hope's mother hiding? And who is the mysterious Kang?  Director: Peyton Reed.  Trailer here.

6. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3


Still reeling from the loss of Gamora, Peter Quill rallies his team to defend the universe and one of their own - a mission that could mean the end of the Guardians if not successful.  Director: James Gunn.  Trailer here.

7. Knock at the Cabin


Horror.  A thriller about a tight-knit family who are taken hostage by four armed strangers while vacationing at a remote cabin. The visitors, led by Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), demand that the young girl and her parents make an unthinkable choice: to save their family or save humanity from the apocalypse...  Director: M. Night Shyamalan.  This is based on the 2018 novel The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay Trailer here.

8. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny


Archaeologist Indiana Jones races against time to retrieve a legendary artefact that can change the course of history.  This is not the strongest in the franchise and there are plenty of plot holes but still there's something there. (See also Arthur's article on the film.)  Trailer here.

9. Evil Dead Rise


Moving the action out of the woods and into the city, Evil Dead Rise is a twisted tale of two estranged sisters whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.  Director & writer: Lee Cronin.  Stars: Mirabai Pease, Richard Crouchley and Anna-Maree Thomas.  Trailer here.

10. Shazam! Fury of the Gods


This film continues the story of teenage Billy Batson who, upon reciting the magic word "SHAZAM!" is transformed into his adult Super Hero alter ego, Shazam.  Bestowed with the powers of the gods, Billy Batson and his fellow foster kids are still learning how to juggle teenage life with their adult superhero alter egos. When a vengeful trio of ancient gods arrives on Earth in search of the magic stolen from them long ago, Shazam and his allies get thrust into a battle for their superpowers, their lives, and the fate of the world.  Director: David F. Sandberg.   Trailer here.


And the possible worthies that slipped through the net...

Aporia (15)
Since losing her husband, Sophie has struggled to manage grief, a full-time job, and parenting her devastated daughter, but when a former physicist reveals a secret time-bending machine, Sophie will be faced with an impossible choice: use the time travel or avoid the repercussions of using time travel technology…  OK, so essentially we have been here before with this plot treatment of a fundamental SF trope. However, the film is a poignant reminder of how ordinary moments, if changed, can be completely life altering…  Director: Jared Moshe.  Stars: Judy Greer, Edi Gathegi and Payman Maadi.  Trailer here.

Asteroid City (12A)
Following a writer on his world famous fictional play about a grieving father who travels with his tech-obsessed family to small rural Asteroid City to compete in a junior stargazing event, only to have his world view disrupted forever…  In a retro-futuristic version of the 1950s, a television host introduces a live production of Asteroid City, a play in the film's setting by famed playwright Conrad Earp. In the play, a youth astronomy convention is held in the fictional desert town of Asteroid City. The play's events are depicted in widescreen and stylised colour, while the television special is seen in black-and-white Academy ratio.  Trailer here.

The Creator (12A)
Amid a future war between the human race and the forces of artificial intelligence, Joshua, a hardened ex-special forces agent grieving the disappearance of his wife, is recruited to hunt down and kill the Creator, the elusive architect of advanced AI who has developed a mysterious weapon with the power to end the war-and mankind itself...  This was one of the most visual SFnal films of the year. Best not to look at the plot too closely, however genre tropes abound to provide a romp of an SF thriller.  Director: Gareth Edwards.  Trailer here.

Dream Scenario (15)
A greatly enjoyable new wave-ish offering.  A hapless family man finds his life turned upside down when millions of strangers suddenly start seeing him in their dreams. When his night-time appearances take a nightmarish turn, Paul is forced to navigate his newfound stardom.   Director & writer: Kristoffer Borgli. Stars: Lily Bird, Nicolas Cage and Julianne Nicholson.  Trailer here.

Fingernails (15)
A gentle SFnal romance.  Anna (Jessie Buckley) increasingly suspects that her relationship with her long-time partner may not actually be the real thing. In an attempt to improve things, she secretly embarks on a new assignment working at a mysterious institute designed to incite and test the presence of romantic love in increasingly desperate couples. The institute has a simple diagnostic test can be used to determine whether couples are in love. But the test proves detrimental to many couples who try it.  This originally came out on Apple so you may need to seek out the DVD.  Director: Christos Nikou.  Stars: Jessie Buckley, Riz Ahmed, Jeremy Allen White and Luke Wilson.  Trailer here.

The Flash (12A)
Barry Allen uses his super speed to change the past, but his attempt to save his family creates a world without super heroes, forcing him to race for his life in order to save the future…  Perhaps the most surprising thing about this film is that it did not do better at the box office. We have multiple Supermans (is that a thing?) and Batmans. There is both the Michael Keaton and the Ben Affleck Batman plus – blink and you'll miss it – the Adam West Batman. This is as much a Batman film as it is a Flash film.  Trailer here.

Jules (12)
A feel-good film.  Jules follows Milton (Ben Kingsley) who lives a quiet life of routine in a small western Pennsylvania town, but finds his day upended when a UFO and its extra-terrestrial passenger crash land in his backyard. Before long, Milton develops a close relationship with the extra-terrestrial he calls "Jules." Things become complicated when two neighbours (Harris and Curtin) discover Jules and the government quickly closes in. What follows is a funny, wildly inventive ride as the three neighbours find meaning and connection later in life - thanks to this unlikely stranger.  Director: Marc Turtletaub.  Trailer here.

Landscape with Invisible Hand (R)
Based on the novel.  Years into a benevolent alien occupation of Earth, the human race is still adjusting to the new world order and its quirky coffee table-sized overlords called the Vuvv. Their flashy advanced technology initially held promise for global prosperity, but rendered most human jobs - and steady income - obsolete. When 17-year-old artist Adam Campbell (Asante Blackk) and new girlfriend Chloe Marsh (Kylie Rogers) discover the Vuvv are particularly fascinated with human love and will pay for access to it, they decide to live-stream their budding romance to make extra cash for themselves and their families. Life is good, for a while, until the flame of their teenage love fizzles out and they're forced to make very different, absurdly life-altering sacrifices for their families.  Director: Cory Finley.  Trailer here.

The Last Voyage of the Ditmar (18)
Based on a single chapter, the Captain's Log, from Bram Stoker's classic 1897 novel Dracula, the story is set aboard the Russian schooner Demeter, which was chartered to carry private cargo - 24 unmarked wooden crates - from Carpathia to London. The film details the strange events that befell the doomed crew as they attempt to survive the ocean voyage, stalked each night by a terrifying presence on board the ship. When it finally arrived near Whitby Harbour, it was derelict. There was no trace of the crew….!  Director: André Ovreda.  Trailer here.

Leave the World Behind (R)
Amanda and Clay's aspirational vacation with their teenage children is interrupted by the arrival of a middle aged man and his daughter who own the holiday home and who have fled an unprecedented blackout in the city. When the internet, television and radio stop working, as does the landline, they have no way of finding out what is happening. As sonic booms shatter the peace of the countryside, and animals start to migrate in strange ways, the physical and mental health of the families begins to disintegrate.  What is going on?  Trailer here.

Linoleum (12)
This came out in 2022 fantastic film fest circuit but got a general release 2023.  A heart-warming, realise your dreams film.  Cameron Edwin (Jim Gaffigan), the host of a failing children's science TV show, Above and Beyond, has always had aspirations of being an astronaut. After a mysterious space-race era satellite coincidentally falls from space and lands in his backyard, his midlife crisis manifests in a plan to rebuild the machine into his dream rocket. As his relationship with his wife (Rhea Seehorn) and daughter (Katelyn Nacon) start to strain, surreal events begin unfolding around him – a doppelganger moving into the house next door, a car falling from the sky, and an unusual teenage boy forging a friendship with him.  He slowly starts to piece these events together to ultimately reveal that there's more to his life story than he once thought.  Director: Colin West.  Trailer here.

LOLA (15)
This is a great little SF offering.  It came out in 2022 with a run on the fantastic film fest circuit before having a limited general release some countries in 2023.  In 1938, and two brilliant sisters – Thomasina (Emma Appleton) and Martha (Stefanie Martini) have built a machine, LOLA, that can intercept radio and TV broadcasts from the future. This enables the pair to clean up placing sporting bets. But then WW2 arrives and LOLA. Unknown to them, sharing these broadcasts will bring devastating changes not just to the future of the world, but to them as well...  The film's short run-time may be considered a weakness by some as not all the implications of LOLA can be fully explored. But this offering sees the characters flesh out some of what is otherwise implied.  Director: Andrew Legge.    Trailer here.

The Marvels (12A)
A Marvel super-hero offering.  Carol Danvers gets her powers entangled with those of Kamala Khan and Monica Rambeau, forcing them to work together to save the universe…  The thing with this offering is that not only do you have to buy into a number of the other Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films but also a few of the TV series to get the full sense as to what is going on. Consequently, and understandably, it do not do so well at the box office. Its appeal is mainly to die-hard Marvel extended MCU fans.  Director: Nia DaCosta.  Trailer here.

The Mill
Everyday businessman Joe (Lil Rel Howery) wakes up in a hellish prison run by Amazon-style mega-corporation Mallard. His cell is outdoors in full sun, devoid of a bed or any amenities, and features unscalable cement walls. There is also a dirt floor with discarded human remains just below the surface. In the centre is a large, seemingly ancient grist mill which he is forced to work. With no recollection of how he got there, Joe is forced to piece together the rules and constraints of his new circumstances from the voices of other inmates and his periodic interactions with the advert-heavy AI interface, which communicates in detached, faux-friendly corporate-speak.  Director: Sean King O'Grady.  This originally came out on Hulu so you may need to seek out the DVD.  Trailer here.

No One Will Save You
An unloved and friendless dressmaker has learned to find solace in her intricate everyday routine as she is isolated within her eerily vacant childhood home, Brynn expects no visitors. Then, a blood-chilling noise in the dead of night awakens her. As the sheer terror of a home invasion demands a clear mind to fight back, Brynn must brace herself for a long, unimaginable ordeal. But the eccentric recluse is about to discover that not all housebreakings are the same, especially when the dangerous intruder is something other than human…  This originally came out on Hulu, so you may need to seek out the DVD.  Director Brian Duffield.  Trailer here.

Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire (15)
This is from Zack Snyder, the filmmaker behind 300, Man of Steel and Army of the Dead.  This is an epic film many years in the making.  When a peaceful settlement on the edge of a distant moon finds itself threatened by the armies of a tyrannical ruling force, Kora (Sofia Boutella), a mysterious stranger living among the villagers, becomes their best hope for survival. Tasked with finding trained fighters who will unite with her in making an impossible stand against the Mother World, Kora assembles a small band of warriors - outsiders, insurgents, peasants and orphans of war from different worlds who share a common need for redemption and revenge. As the shadow of an entire realm bears down on the unlikeliest of moons, a battle over the fate of a galaxy is waged, and in the process, a new army of heroes is formed…  This has been liked to a cross between Star Wars and Game of Thrones.  This only had a very limited cinematic release: just four cinemas in the UK! Then it came out on Netflix. So, if you are fan of Star Wars and Game of Thrones, you will need to seek out the DVD.  Trailer here.

Renfield (15)
Comedy horror.  Renfield, Dracula's henchman and inmate at the lunatic asylum for decades, longs for a life away from the Count, his various demands, and all of the bloodshed that comes with them.  In this modern monster tale of Dracula's loyal servant, Renfield, the tortured aide to history's most narcissistic boss, is forced to procure his master's prey and do his every bidding, no matter how debased. But now, after centuries of servitude, Renfield is ready to see if there is a life outside the shadow of The Prince of Darkness. If only he can figure out how to end his co-dependency...  This film doesn't know how seriously to take itself or not and at a couple of places threatens to morph into a musical without actually doing so. Having said that, there are some wonderful set pieces.  Director: Chris McKay. Writers: Ryan Ridley, Robert (The Walking Dead) Kirkman and Ava Tramer.  Stars: Nicholas Hoult, Nicolas Cage and Awkwafina.  Trailer here.

They Cloned Tyrone (15)
A pulpy, sci-fi mystery caper in which an unlikely trio investigates a series of eerie events, alerting them to a nefarious conspiracy lurking directly beneath their hood. Fontaine, a neighbourhood drug dealer, is shot dead by rival Isaac and then is very shocked to wake up in his bed the next morning unharmed. He and Slick Charles and Yo-Yo begin looking into the incident, and their search eventually leads them to a vast underground complex where a government backed lab is performing experiments on the local Black population. Realising that he is an artificial clone, Fontaine initially feels despair, but decides he needs to stand up to these white institutional overlords for the sake of his neighbourhood…  This came out on Netflix so you may need to seek out the DVD.  Director: Juel Taylor.  Stars: Kiefer Sutherland and Jamie Foxx. Trailer here.

Totally Killer (15)
Comedy SF / comedy horror / whodunit.  Remember those comedy SF films such as Back to the Future of the 1980s and well as the comedy horror offerings of that decade?  Well, if you do and you liked them then Totally Killer could well be for you.  When the infamous "Sweet Sixteen Killer" returns 35 years after his first murder spree to claim another victim, 17-year-old Jamie accidentally travels back in time to 1987, determined to stop the killer before he can start.  A fun ride.  Director: Nahnatchka Khan.  This came out on Amazon Prime so you may have to seek out the DVD.  Trailer here.

UFO Sweden
A Swedish offering that came out on the Fantastic Film Fest circuit in 2022 with just a limited cinematic release in a few countries in 2023.  A rebellious teen, Denise, placed in foster care suspects her father is not dead but has been abducted. She is determined to find out the truth with help from a UFO association that her father founded before he went missing…  One could easily imagine this being a sort of homage to The X-Files.  Director: Victor Danell.  Trailer here.

Wonka (PG)
Prequel to the Roald Dahl story.  With dreams of opening a shop in a city renowned for its chocolate, a young and poor Willy Wonka discovers that the industry is run by a cartel of greedy chocolatiers.  Trailer here.


See also our selection of best films of 2023 (January - December) as opposed to the year UK box office chart above. This personal selection is in our Spring 2024 news.

For forthcoming SF film premieres then see the Concat' Science Fiction diary.

For forthcoming SF film news then see our seasonal Science Fiction news page and its film section.

If you really are into Science Fiction then check out this site's What's new page for our full list of recent postings of news, reviews, diary articles and loads of other stuff.



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