e made it to 2024! Before we launch into the new year, let’s take a moment to look back at this wild, roller coaster-ride of a year for the film and television industry. This past fall and winter brought some of the year’s best films. Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla featured her signature dreamy, eye-catching aesthetic sensibilities. It also brought another cinematic perspective to Elvis’s iconic career, which was captured with Baz Luhrmann’s raucous flair in 2022’s Elvis. In December, Hayao Miyazaki released his (supposedly) final film, The Boy and the Heron. The instant animated classic was beautiful, imaginative, and one of his most surreal works to date. With the year in film ending on such a high note, I can’t help but feel excited for what’s to come in 2024. Keep reading to check out a few more of my favorites from 2023.
2023, Dir. Paul King – In Theaters Now and Coming Soon to Max – PG
Wonka is a joyous and fantastical origin story for pop culture’s most beloved chocolatier. When young Willy Wonka (Timothée Chalamet) sets out on his own, all he wants to do is share his delectable inventions with the world. He soon discovers that the world of chocolatiering is far more complicated and dubious than he expected. The film captures the classic tale’s exuberant sense of humor, while also keeping the slight darkness underneath the surface in Roald Dahl’s original story. What makes the film is Timothée Chalamet’s rendition of the iconic character. Though he pays homage to Gene Wilder, he manages to give the role his own spin with his signature charm and ability to wear his heart on his sleeve in each performance.
Daisy Jones & the Six
2023, Created by Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber – Amazon Prime – 16+
Based on the 2019 novel, this mini-series is truly fun, entertaining television. Set in 1970s Los Angeles, the story is loosely based on Fleetwood Mac’s recording of their eponymous album Rumors. When Billy Dunne and his band The Six move to California to make it as rock stars, their lives change forever upon meeting the talented, one-of-a-kind Daisy Jones. The series explores each band members’ struggles with fame, addiction, and self-doubt, paying close attention to Billy and Daisy’s volatile yet undeniable chemistry. Though the writing can be a little underwhelming at times (and sometimes downright silly), this show is a must-watch for anyone who misses old episodes of Behind the Music.
2023, Dir. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin – Netflix – PG-13
Nyad is the inspirational true story of athlete Diana Nyad’s record-breaking swim from Cuba to Florida. Having failed to reach her goal at age 28, Nyad (Annette Benning) vows to try again at the age of 64. Even those who may be familiar with Nyad’s career will be drawn into the story, thanks to both Annette Benning’s performance and the film’s unique honesty. Unlike many biopics, the film is willing to reveal the flaws of its protagonist. The result is a biopic with far more humanity and vulnerability than you might expect. While Benning gives a great performance, it’s Jodie Foster that steals the show as Bonnie Stoll, Nyad’s encouraging, down-to-earth coach and longtime friend.
2023, Dir. Emerald Fennell – Amazon Prime – R
Emerald Fennell’s mid-aughts period piece is shocking, visually stunning, and ultimately, a little muddled. The film follows Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) and Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), two unlikely friends who meet at the prestigious Oxford University. After tragedy befalls Oliver’s life, Felix invites him to spend the summer at his wealthy family’s estate. The film is comprised of a stacked cast of character actors, including Richard E. Grant (of the cult classic Withnail & I) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl). The film’s sun-dappled cinematography makes it immersive and beautiful to watch on screen. As pretty as it may be, the story doesn’t shy away from ugliness, from bitter rivalries to the Catton family’s gluttonous wealth. In standalone moments, the film contains some of the most interesting scenes of the year. Altogether, though, it’s difficult to deduce what the filmmaker is really trying to say.