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See The Best 10 Nollywood Movies of 2023

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This year, Nollywood filmmakers have been audacious with their craft, we have been blessed with many daring and game-changing movies and it will be quite tough to rank. 

For this list, we are looking at the most outstanding films released in cinemas and on streaming platforms, in the year 2023, focusing on the story, role interpretation, production, and critical acclaim. Are you ready? Let’s go! 

Number 10: ‘Ijogbon‘ 

We begin with chaos. Kunle Afolayan’s coming-of-age rural/urban adventure is about four teenagers who stumble upon a pile of uncut diamonds, chaos comes knocking when the owners come looking. While most of Kunle Afolayan’s movies are largely rooted within the Yoruba culture, his admiration for multiculturalism is always evident in his films.

Dialogue in the film is rendered in English, and Yoruba, with a bit of Igbo, Mandarin, Igbira, French, and local Beninois language, all tailored to meet the linguistic needs of the characters and the eclectic taste of viewers. The film skillfully weaves a captivating contrast between its cast and the picturesque backdrop, resulting in a cinematic masterpiece. Ijogbon boasts of a familiar story and good production, but it is flawed by some role interpretation and its narrative imperfections.

Ijogbon is far from Kunle Afolayan’s best work. Regardless, it is a good watch and that is why it sits comfortably in our number 10 position. 

Number 9:  ‘Jagun Jagun

If Femi Adebayo sets the standard for Yoruba epic with King of Thieves,  Jagun Jagun takes it to another level. Gbotija, a skilled woodsman who possesses spiritual command over all trees joins the ranks of the formidable warrior Ogundiji, but not without confronting a series of trials that demand his triumph. Amid these challenges, he finds himself entwined in a forbidden romance, compelling him to fight for love.

Jagun Jagun is an excellent portrayal of Yoruba culture, and its ability to blend mythology, folklore, and fiction is magical. We might be expecting a sequel, why not?

Number 8: ‘Sista‘ 

Biodun Stephen, at this point, should be the queen of the Nollywood drama genre, and Sista does not disappoint. A struggling single mother faces her worst nightmare when the father of her children returns accidentally into their lives and completely steals their attention all for himself whilst trying to make amends for past sins.

Sista is a perfect example of a simple story told beautifully. And Kehinde Bankole is exemplary in her performance as the eponymous character. Sista is Biodun Stephen at her best. A good watch. 

Number 7: ‘The House of Secrets‘ 

Niyi Akinmolayan’s ambitious noir psychological thriller is next on our list. The House of Secrets follows the efforts to retrieve the past of Sarah played by veteran actor Najite Dede and how a secret she holds might prevent the country from electing a dangerous president. The film’s aesthetic appeal is spawned from its cinematography and production design, its effective use of suspense and role interpretation is part of what makes it one of our standout films of 2023.

House of Secrets is a unique Nollywood story and genre, a successful exploration by Niyi Akinmolayan. 

Number 6: ‘Blood Vessel‘ 

Play Network may find it hard to reach the heights of its maiden film, Living in Bondage: Breaking Free but it is safe to say Blood Vessel is the closest so far. Brought together by chance, six people fleeing a town devastated by oil pollution stow away on a mysterious ship -not realizing the dangers that await. There are so many positives in this film but the efforts that went into production are the most outstanding this year.

In terms of execution, it is Moses Inwang’s best film. The cultural and social influences on the story give it originality, its only flaw is perhaps, the plot. This thriller is a must-watch. 

Number 5: ‘Gangs of Lagos‘ 

One of the year’s biggest films, this film single-handedly made a statement for Prime Video in the Nigerian market space. Jade Osiberu owned 2023 and Gangs of Lagos is one of the reasons. This crime thriller follows a group of friends who must each navigate their destiny, growing up on the bustling streets and neighborhood of Isale Eko, Lagos. Gangs of Lagos draws its viewers into the gritty underworld of Lagos, with jaw-dropping performances from its lead characters this well-made film is not just one of 2023’s best movies but one of Nollywood’s finest.

Gangs of Lagos makes a gritty and slightly compelling watch, not only for its striking and hard-hitting visuals but also for its social relevance. 

Number 4: ‘The Trade‘ 

Despite being one of the first Nollywood movies to be released in 2023, The Trade is a memorable watch- a wonderful way to begin the year. This action thriller is about a notoriously cunning kidnapper who has ravaged the southern part of Nigeria for over a decade. Eric undertakes a job that brings the law closer than ever before. All the characters delivered solid performances; we see Blossom Chukwujekwu at his finest. The Trade is the second reason why Jade Osiberu owned 2023, this crime drama will stand the test of time.

The Trade must be the most underrated Nollywood film we have seen this year; the number 4 spot is befitting. 

Number 3: ‘Breath of Life‘ 

BB Sasore’s Breath of Life is yet another ambitious and unique story we saw this year. This genre-defying film about faith and purpose is a beautiful watch, From the script to the score, it is a touching heart-wrenching story. Breath of Life gracefully balances humor, love, and tragedy, delivered through spectacular performances that breathe life into the narrative. Genoveva Umeh is particularly brilliant in this film.

Amazon Prime has done so many things right in Nollywood this year and Breath of Life is one of them. 

Number 2: ‘The Black Book‘ 

Perhaps the most successful Nollywood movie released this year. Since its release on Netflix on September 22nd, the movie has become one of the top five films in various countries, such as Nigeria, Brazil, the United States, South Korea, France, Argentina, and more.

This is an intense if highly stylized Nollywood action-thriller about a bereaved deacon whose son is framed for a kidnapping, and his efforts to absolve him. Its unique storyline, captivating action scenes, innovative camera angles, and engaging dialogue are some of the many things that make it stand out. We are not entirely surprised by RMD’s performance as Edema, especially as he has shown a glimpse of his ability in Tosin Igho’s Seven.

A beautiful directorial debut from Editi Effiong, we look forward to more projects from him. 

Before we move on to our number one spot, Here are some very good 2023 movies that didn’t make our list:

‘A Tribe Called Judah’

‘Big Love’ 


‘Madam Koi Koi: The Origin’

Number 1: ‘Mami Wata‘ 

Beautiful, bold, and charismatic are some of the few adjectives critics worldwide have used to describe CJ Obasi’s Mami Wata. A stylized and elaborate drama, the visual brilliance is impeccable. Mami Wata tells the story of two sisters fighting to save their people and restore the glory of a mermaid goddess to the land when outside elements threaten the peace in their village.

CJ Obasi created a work of art, Mami Wata might not be the film an average Nigerian will pay to see but is a film every film lover would want to see, and a film Nollywood should be proud of. It is no wonder that it is Nigeria’s official Oscar selection. A great sign that Nollywood is headed in the right direction. 

How many of these movies have you seen? Did you feel we missed any other Nollywood films? Let us know in the comment section. Don’t forget to like and share!

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