9 best and must-watch Malayalam movies of 2023 (so far) with the most compelling narratives that can't be missed (2024)

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Some of the Malayalam movies this year have taken us on remarkable journeys, stretching the boundaries of artistic expression

By Priyadarshini Patwa

9 best and must-watch Malayalam movies of 2023 (so far) with the most compelling narratives that can't be missed (4)

Some of the Malayalam movies this year have taken us on remarkable journeys, stretching the boundaries of artistic expression

The year 2023 has been a mixed bag for Malayalam movies, offering a blend of brilliance and some box office misses. While the industry churned out some innovative and thought-provoking films, not all had the potential to bring audiences to the theatres. Only a handful of movies have managed to strike gold at the box office, but the one that did indeed claimed the blockbuster status.

The horror-comedy Romancham emerged as the year's unexpected hit, and Tovino Thomas’s survival drama 2018 etched its name as the highest-grossing Malayalam film in history. Some of the Malayalam movies this year have taken us on remarkable journeys, stretching the boundaries of artistic expression. In no particular order, here are the 7 best Malayalam movies for 2023 that have left an indelible mark on critics and viewers and deserve a spot on your must-watch list.

9 Best and must-watch Malayalam movies of 2023 (so far) with the most compelling narratives that can't be missed

1. Thankam - Amazon Prime Video

Director Saheed Arafath once again brings a compelling story with Thankam that can’t be missed. Known for his work in films like Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Kumbalangi Nights, Arafath does a brilliant job and excels in presenting a compelling murder mystery. Set in the Gold Capital of India, Thrissur, the film explores the complexities of the gold trade, its culture, pleasures, and risks. When a massive consignment of gold disappears, a series of mysterious events unfold, including a shocking death. The movie treats us to a captivating police procedural rooted firmly in reality and features Vineeth Sreenivasan, Biju Menon and Girish Kulkarni.

2. B 32 Muthal 44 Vare - YouTube

When conveying a message through a film, one can go out loud and clear or make the story say it all gently. Debut director Shruthi Sharanyam chooses the subtler path, conveying the message gracefully without the film's perspective. In Shruthi Sharanyam's film, the narratives of six finely crafted characters serve as a sensitive exploration of women's challenges regarding body image and a delicate, empathetic portrayal of hom*osexuality.

3. Iratta - Netflix

With a stellar IMDb rating of 7.7, Iratta delves into the bond between two brothers, childhood trauma, and sibling rivalry. Joju George proves his acting talent once again, breathing life into every role. This suspenseful thriller doesn't manipulate your feelings towards the characters, which is a refreshing departure from the ongoing cinema trend. Instead, it's one of those films that embraces every character, immersing you, leaving you breathless, and evoking a deep sense of emotion. Undoubtedly, Iratta is one of the brilliant Malayalam movies of 2023 that pushes boundaries.

4. Ntikkakkakkoru Premandaarnnu - Amazon Prime Video

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5. Romancham - Disney+ Hotstar

A horror film that doubles as a comedy? Romancham is a movie that ingeniously melds these two genres into a delightful concoction. There are no over-the-top antics or nonsensical humour; the film is genuinely and consistently hilarious. What's more intriguing is that its humour draws inspiration from real-life incidents. Director Jithu Madhavan’s movie revolves around seven bachelors who use a spirited game of Ouija. Things take a hilariously unexpected turn when they unwittingly summon a mischievous spirit and decide to roll with the supernatural chaos.

6. Christopher - Amazon Prime Video

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Talk about the best Malayalam movies, and it is impossible not to mention Mammootty’s film in the list. In a world where the system collapses, an upright cop is pushed beyond the boundaries of the law. The plot of the movie intricately weaves a narrative that spans past and present, revealing the motivations driving the protagonist's actions. While the story sounds engaging, the film lacks substance. However, despite the film's shortcomings, Mammoothy’s charisma and style inject moments of excitement and keep you engaged.

7. Pachuvum Athbutha Vilakkum - Amazon Prime Video

Adding to the list of best Malayalam movies of 2023 is my favourite, Pachuvum Athbutha Vilakkum, starring Fahadh Faasil. The actor, who wears chameleon skin, entertains us to the fullest. The film revolves around a young man managing an Ayurveda pharmacy in Mumbai who agrees to escort his landlord's mother from Kerala to Mumbai. Little does he know that a peculiar request will launch him on a voyage of self-discovery and adventure. The movie is a heartwarming crowd-pleaser that elicits smiles and nurtures empathy. If you like Faasil’s performance, this one is a good watch.

8. 2018: Everyone is a Hero - SonyLIV

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This survival drama was expected to be an emotional story of triumph against all odds. But it not only met those expectations but surpassed many others. For those who experienced the 2018 Kerala Floods, this film is more than just a movie—it's their story, their truth, their life saga. With vital technical aspects, a well-paced plot, and a thoughtful screenplay, the film is a cinematic experience that truly belongs to the people of Kerala and gives you all sorts of emotions at once.

9. Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam - Netflix

Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam is a captivating film starring Mammootty as James. After a pilgrimage to Velankanni, James undergoes a mysterious transformation, waking up as Sundaram, a Tamilian man. His family and others watch in amazement and confusion as James navigates the complexities of living someone else's life. The film beautifully explores themes of identity, connection and power of human bonds. Suppose you have watched Lijo Jose Pellissery's movies in the past. In that case, he prioritises characters, intense emotions, and surreal experiences over conventional storytelling. His films are all about creating an atmosphere and setting a mood.

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Priyadarshini Patwa is GQ's Consulting Editor and former Managing & Entertainment Editor. With over nine years of experience as a media professional, she works across multiple beats. At GQ, she writes on celebrities, lifestyle, entertainment, stories on entrepreneurs and also plays an integral role in organising GQ India's IPs and... Read more

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