Every year, hundreds of movies compete for attention and awards like the Oscars. The Oscars even release a Reminder List of all eligible films. 2023’s list includes more than 200 movies. Of those, handfuls will be nominated, and one of those will win Best Picture.
The vast majority of movies go unnoticed for good causes, but seeing the year’s best can be overwhelming and time-consuming. At the same time, given that two is almost always better than one, the right double feature can turn an average evening into a fantastic movie night.
Hence, this list of double features. Dive into these 10+ double bills to get a taste of the best, most interesting, and weirdest offerings of the Oscar season. Most of the films here are Oscar contenders and likely nominees, but in some cases, we’ve also suggested a movie that didn’t qualify for Oscar glory in case two films aren’t enough.
1. Oppenheimer & Godzilla Minus One
Christopher Nolan’s biopic started its march to the Oscars in Summer 2023 with much fanfare. While Oppenheimer was a blast with critics, it did draw some ire for not showing the actual dropping of the bombs or the effect they had on Japan.
Enter Godzilla Minus One, Takashi Yamazaki’s surprise crossover hit, which reinterprets the classic movie monster – itself an allegory for postwar nuclear anxiety – to take on even more resonance for our time. Both films revolve around WWII and the postwar era as characters reckon with the past and grapple with new, unforeseen challenges. While Godzilla might not pick up right where Oppenheimer ends, it fills in some of the gaps in Nolan’s magnum opus in surprising and unexpected ways.
Off list: Pacification, the Tahiti-set drama that may be the best film of either 2022 or 2023, depending on who you ask, picks up the anxiety decades later.
2. Barbie & M3gan
The more financially successful member of Barbenheimer, Barbie was a smash hit and 2023’s top-grossing film in the US. Feminist debate notwithstanding, Barbie joined the Transformers and Lego in making the jump from toy chest to successful silver screen intellectual property. It also was a cinematic event that broke records and inspired conversation across the internet.
No other American film from 2023 matches Barbie’s energy more than M3gan, which tells the story of a doll navigating the patriarchy with much less anxiety than Barbie. Like Barbie, it went viral and centered around a doll coming to terms with its place in a world dominated by men only concerned with making money. The two title characters certainly have their differences. However, they both ask deep questions about how life in plastic can often be less than fantastic, and this double bill will have viewers debating which life in plastic is the bigger feminist.
3. Leave the World Behind & Knock at the Cabin
Barack Obama and M. Night Shyamalan don’t invite many comparisons. Still, in 2023, they both released movies (albeit working in different capacities) that essentially had the same launching point: a loving family arrives at their vacation home only to be interrupted by visitors with claims of impending chaos. Both films go off the rails to the tunes of “Boogie Shoes” and the Friends theme.
Unlike some of the other doubles on this list, these two films share similar tones even as they envision very different world-shaking events for their characters to weather. Both movies were based on novels, but viewers can decide which vision better nailed the (possible) apocalypse.
Off list: Reality, HBO’s in-real-time drama, also revolves around a person dealing with unexpected visitors and the horrifying implications of their visit, although the stakes are much higher (since it actually happened).
4. Maestro & Priscilla
Music biopics tend to be an Academy favorite, but they can easily go ignored. Maestro was more or less bound for awards before it started filming, whereas Priscilla had an uphill battle. Despite that, here are two fascinating approaches in the well-trod genre that try something different.
While Maestro tells the story of composer Leonard Bernstein by focusing on his relationship with his long-suffering wife Felicia Montealegre, Priscilla focuses on the wife of rock n’ roll star Elvis Presley, revealing a great deal about the icon, Priscilla herself, and what America found wholesome. Both women struggle to carve out space amongst the unchecked egos and desires of the men who are geniuses to the public but often inconsiderate or even outright cruel to their loved ones. Both films investigate American music icons by exploring their partners and the unfair double standards put on them as the world marvels at the genius men around them.
5. Monster & The Teacher’s Lounge
The Teacher’s Lounge is Germany’s submission for the International Film Award, and Monster is the latest from Japanese auteur Kore-eda Hirokazu. Both films take place in schools and find great tension in their settings as suspicion threatens to tear apart communities and destroy reputations.
In the US, it’s never easy for foreign (i.e., non-English films) films with breakout potential to be noticed. Monster was lost in the shuffle of a year with multiple high-profile Japanese-language films (Boy and the Heron, Godzilla Minus One, Perfect Days). The Teacher’s Lounge was similarly overshadowed by another German-language film, The Zone of Interest. Campaigning aside, this double bill offers two of the year’s tensest, best-written, and most surprising films.
Off list: The social thriller The Strays (not the one where Will Ferrell is a talking dog) also takes place at an educational institution and mines themes of social prejudices.
Also related to Double Bills 2023: 10 Must-See Double Feature Films That You Need To Binge
6. Poor Things & El Conde
Elevated horror is a phrase thrown around too much, but elevated horror comedy satire is something new for the Oscars. Both Poor Things and El Conde premiered in Venice to acclaim (Poor Things took the top prize while El Conde won best screenplay), and few films are as suited to a double bill as these two.
Poor Things adapts Frankenstein into a steampunk feminist fable. El Conde mixes the story of Dracula with Chilean history, imagining real-life dictator Pinochet as an eternal, blood-sucking parasite feeding on human misery throughout history. They’re both chock full of graphic sex, violence, and political commentary, but they use humor and stunning visuals to tell stories that would otherwise be serious and even miserable.
Off list: Birth/Rebirth, a modern queer take on Frankenstein, got some love from the Independent Spirit Awards and stands out from the recent deluge of riffs on Shelley’s masterwork.
7. Past Lives & The Persian Version
Past Lives, Celine Song’s Korean-American romance drama, was a hit out of Sundance, whereas Maryam Keshavarz’s The Persian Version won the Audience Award and the Screenwriting Award. Both are time and globe-hopping stories that focus on relationships—a decades-spanning romance in Past Lives and the tumultuous relationship between mother and daughter in The Persian Version. Past, present, east, west, love, fury, joy, and anguish smatter against each other as these characters wrestle with love and acceptance.
Past Lives will have legs come Oscar season, but The Persian Version deserves love, too, for the way it manages to be bombastic, profoundly moving, sad, joyful, and defiant—often all at the same time. More than that, both films brilliantly convey the multiracial identity that comes from living between cultures, and both manage to reinterpret the styles of their respective cultures (in this case, Korean and Iranian) for the Western gaze in order to tell evocative stories.
8. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse & De Humani Corporis Fabrica
The Spider-Verse succeeded where so many franchises failed, becoming one of the few superhero and animated movies to actually be in the best-picture conversation despite not getting the nomination. It brought audiences back to the vast multi-verse, opening eyes with its scope, humor, and sheer kinetic energy. Even being a sequel culminating with a cliffhanger ending didn’t affect the wonder of seeing the Spider-w orld writ large.
Strangely enough, the best bedfellow for this film takes a drastically different approach. De Humani Corporis Fabrica is a Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab documentary that provides a deep view of the human body, exploring the landscape of human flesh as recorded in five Parisian hospitals. Criminally ignored when it came to voting time, De Humani offers a decidedly different perspective on what it means to exist. This double bill will take you from the heights of the multi-verse to the subterranean secrets of your own body.
9. How to Blow Up a Pipeline & How to Have Sex
Though it looks a little obvious, this double feature is genuinely different. How to Have Sex isn’t Oscar-eligible, making it one of 2023’s best films beyond honors. While How to Blow Up a Pipeline appeared on the reminder list, strong critic notices couldn’t help it stick out in a crowded field. Consider this the Academy’s loss, not yours. Both films are urgent, tense stories that speak to the issues of our time without being shameless Oscar bait. How to Blow Up A Pipeline is an environmental drama told like a heist film. How to Have Sex explores issues around consent when a group of teenagers go on holiday. These films may be less well-known, but they have more to say than almost everything else released this year.
Off list: For a different hang-out sesh, Please Do Not Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain will let you chill with a decidedly less intense clique.
10. Zone of Interest & The Green Border
Unless you live in Poland, this is one for 2024. A truly intense double feature, one film has been described as “challenging,” and the other was condemned by its own far-right government and won’t be released stateside until 2024.
The Zone of Interest is a WWII-tone poem about the commandant of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland and the banality of evil that defined the Nazi regime. The Green Border is a fictional account of an actual event: in 2021, the Belarussian government flew refugees to its “green border” with Poland, promising easy passage to the EU but used them as pawns to be brutalized by border patrols in both countries. The Green Border is urgent and devastating, featuring some of the most propulsive scenes since Saving Private Ryan’s D-Day landing.
Both are named for a location, one once the site of immense suffering and crimes against humanity, the other the site of ongoing suffering and crimes against humanity, and use this as a vehicle to explore complicity, the nature of evil, and how we are defined by what we choose to ignore. One movie is a terrifying slow-burn drama; the other is an incendiary call to action. It shows how far we’ve come and how little we’ve changed.