Halfway through the year and we can’t deny that Nollywood has taken us through a rollercoaster of emotions with some of their offerings. In case you’re late to the party, these are some of the best Nollywood movies of 2023 that need to be on your binge list.
Best Nollywood Action Movies in 2023
Gangs of Lagos
If you’re looking for an original Nigerian crime and thriller flick, this is the one for you. It belongs in a collection with the likes of Saworoide, King of Boys and others with underlying social commentary. You’re in for a story about family, loyalty and leadership, packed with action. We hope the sight of blood and gang activities won’t scare you away sha?
Inspired by true events, this is a tale of greed and terror set in Lagos. As the story unfolds, we witness the high-stakes game of cat and mouse between a determined law enforcement officer and a cunning kidnapper terrorising the streets. Word on the street is The Trade is inspired by real-life events in 2017. Expect intense suspense, believable Naija violence and a gripping story, as Blossom Chukwujekwu earns himself a top contender spot for best actor of 2023.
If you loved Jade Osiberu’s Gangs of Lagos or Ebonylife’s Oloture, this six-part series will get you hooked from start to finish. Chidi Mokeme makes an epic Nollywood comeback alongside veterans like Sola Sobowale, Nse Ikpe Etim, and played Scar; a scary underworld lord. Shanty Town explores the lives of sex workers who try to escape the grip of a notorious kingpin who answers to powerful politicians.
If you fell in love with Femi Adebayo’s King of Thieves (2022), this is another Yoruba epic that will have you at the edge of your seats. Orìṣà tells the story of a rogue king who loses respect for the gods and his people, and is struck with insanity. This happens at a time when a gang of highly skilled warriors form an alliance, threatening to take over his kingdom. Odunlade Adekola takes on the titular character and stars alongside Femi Adebayo, Shaffy Bello, Jide Kosoko, Dele Odule, among others.
After a successful run with King of Thieves (2022), Femi Adebayo has enlisted the same directors, Adebayo Tijani and Tope Adebayo Salami, for his 2023 offering, Jagun Jagun. The Yoruba epic action tells the story of a young man who joins an elite army in his bid to become a powerful warrior and win the heart of a woman. On his quest, he attracts the wrath of a bloodthirsty warlord who feels threatened by him. Adedimeji Lateef, Bimbo Ademoye, Fathia Balogun and Mr Macaroni feature in this new epic film.
Best Nollywood RomCom Movies in 2023
Love in a Pandemic
In 2020, COVID-19 kept us in our homes, but it didn’t stop some people from finding true love. Bolanle (Nancy Isime), in an attempt to apologise to her boyfriend, dialled a wrong number belonging to Alex (Deyemi Okanlawon). The call to a stranger becomes a routine, and feelings get involved, but the pandemic is in their way. If you need something to convince you that your boyfriend shouldn’t stop you from meeting your true love, Love In A Pandemic is the answer.
Our resident Nollywood bad boy, Timini Egbuson, stars alongside Bimbo Ademoye in this Biodun Stephen-directed romcom. Adil (Timini) falls in love with Adina (Bimbo), an independent woman struggling to make ends meet at a graduate training camp, but a secret threatens to ruin their love. Shaffy Bello, Jaiye Kuti and Seyi Awolowo star in this film too.
A Sunday Affair
Dubbed the Valentine Day’s movie of 2023, A Sunday Affair stars two of Nollywood’s most iconic actresses, Nse Ikpe-Etim and Dakore Akande. The powerhouses cast as best friends, Uche and Toyin, fall in love with the same man, and it’s a downward spiral from there that makes for gripping TV. From the cheesy romance to the dramatic chaos, it has all the ingredients to make you blush.
This movie made me shed a few gangsta tears when I watched it. A single mum zealously fights for her two kids when their deadbeat dad tries to win them over after being absent for years. He does this using his wealth and influence to entice them instead of seeking penance and establishing a connection. Their furious mother swings into action to detach them from a man who never loved them in the first place.
The acting performances of Kehinde Bankole, Deyemi Okanlawon and Bisola Aiyeola. were striking, and many say it’s the best Nigerian film they’ve seen in a while.
Best Nollywood Thriller Movies in 2023
House of Secrets
If you’ve ever been in doubt about the cinematic revolution that’s unfolding in Nollywood right now, this film is all you need to have a change of perspective. Director Niyi Akinmolayan raised the bar in cinematography and production design such that every scene leaves you more intrigued than the last. The story follows Sarah (Najite Dede), who regains her lost memories of a traumatic incident after extreme measures by people seeking to expose a corrupt politician.
Ace director, Biodun Stephen, led a stellar cast for this comedy-thriller that had me sold right from the trailer. Hotel Labamba is Nollywood’s attempt at a murder mystery, and if you’re looking to put on your investigative hat, you should totally binge this. In it, an Instagram influencer is murdered, and every guest at the hotel becomes a suspect, with the pressure on detectives to solve the case before the killer strikes again. Lateef Adedimeji, Bimbo Ademoye and Femi Adebayo among others are featured.
Executive-produced by media entrepreneur Linda Ikeji, Dark October opened old wounds through its near real-life portrayal of the 2012 Aluu Four Lynching. This movie will have you asking why we need to relive this painful memory and nodding in agreement to the wake-up call for jungle justice to be nipped in the bud. There are no Nollywood regulars in this one, but it’ll still have you sat. But brace yourself to cry hard during and after watching.
Nkemakonam has an incredible storyline with captivating themes of motherhood, premarital pregnancy and castigation. A young girl is cast aside by her community after getting pregnant, leading her to deliver her baby herself. This is one of the best Nollywood productions of 2023 so far; the acting, pacing and cinematography are nothing short of amazing.
Best Nollywood horror movies of 2023
In a bid to japa and give herself and her daughter a better life, Omozi falls into the trap of human traffickers who ship her to Malaysia and her little daughter, Joyful, to Libya. Although quite intriguing and sad, Omozi is an important watch.
If you’re up for some ghost stories, especially one where the deceased reincarnates and tries to live a normal life away from his loved ones, this one is for you. Olumide Oworu leads a stellar cast that also features veterans like Sola Sobowale, Yomi Fash-Lanso and Hafiz Oyetoro, among others.
Originally released in 2022, this horror-thriller arrived on streaming platform, Netflix, in May 2023, and it’s one for the books. Directed by Dare Olaitan, the movie transports viewers into the life of Akanni Owo (Jide Oyegbile), a wealthy man who would stop at nothing to attain immortality. Bisola Aiyeola, Tina Mba and Akin Lewis were featured in the film.
Best Christian Nollywood movies of 2023
Recitation follows Blessing, a young girl who has to dodge a lot of “God, abeg” situations in her quest to live a godly life. Faced with temptation from her peers and society, Blessing resolves to stay steadfast in her faith, relying on the Word of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
This film is inspired by the life of Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, the general overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). It reveals the circumstances of his birth and childhood, how he became a genius mathematician, found Christ through his future wife and how God called him to ministry. Enoch was released to mark Pastor Adeboye’s 81st birthday.
The series finale was released in January, but this is one Christian series you should binge-watch if you’re a huge fan of Mount Zion productions. Written by Mike Bamiloye, the series explores the story of an African traditionalist dad who visits his son abroad and soon realises that he and his wife are struggling Christians with their own secrets.