My Top 12 Movies and Series for 2023
While we are all going into our fourth year of Covid, many of us craved new content to watch, and felt like there weren’t as many good movies and series to choose from. Certainly, the screenwriters’ strike contributed to the dearth of content. Well, this year I still have twelve to recommend. Some are less well-known and under-the-radar. Also, there seemed to be more selections from DEI producers and writers, for a welcomed change!
Here are the reviews I wrote this past year with the criteria that they were available online. Of the 48 reviews I posted this year, these are my favorites. Yet another difficult year to make my “listicle”, but not as difficult as last year. As in past years, both television and cinema have continued to produce phenomenal story-telling and intriguing characters. And this year many of the indie/foreign films could have easily fallen into my “Psychological, Political, and Sociological” category. I listed them under Indie/Foreign because of limited circulation and publicity for these films.
The following list is not ranked, only grouped by genre and date of review.
INDIES and FOREIGN CINEMA
1. Emily the Criminal: The Making of a Criminal Mind (February 6, 2023)
Angry and desperate with $70 thousand dollars in student loan debt, Emily is in a physically exhausting, mind-numbing job delivering catered lunches to businesses. Both highly motivated as an artist wanting to have a career and handicapped by her criminal record, Emily sees no way out except an offer first suggested by a coworker: a low-level crime ring dealing in credit card fraud.
2) Holy Spider: A Web of Horror and Mayhem (May 8, 2023)
Sixteen young prostitutes in the religiously conservative Iranian town of Mashhad City have each been dumped into a field. A fanatical psychopath on a religious mission to “cleanse” the streets of sex workers, middle-aged Saeed, is a construction worker and war veteran.
3) The Glory: Forgiveness or Revenge? (May 21, 2023)
The Glory is a sixteen-episode Korean revenge drama about high school bullying and associated trauma. Eighteen years later an elaborate, convoluted plot is conceived by the beautiful, scarred victim, Moon Dong-eun. Her obsession is to destroy the two girls and two guys who brutalized her and caused her to drop out of high school at the age of fourteen. She has been waiting eighteen years to mastermind their annihilation and humiliation.
4) Stranger: Let the Sleuthing Begin (June 5)
Prosecutor Hwang Si-mok (Cho Seung-woo) underwent surgery as a child removing part of his cerebral cortex so that he would not suffer from the excruciating pain of hearing high-frequency sounds. However, the postoperative result was an extreme absence of empathy, a lack of social skills similar to autism spectrum disorder and its associated lack of communication.
5) Bending the Arc– Towards Justice and the Right to Health (October 2)
A Netflix documentary of the renowned public health advocate and physician, Paul Farmer. We see, first hand, Farmer taking on the medical establishment in his fierce and heroic fight to treat poor people suffering from curable but deadly diseases.
6) The Long Song: An Aria of Grief and Strength (November 27, 2023)
Born into slavery on a Jamaican sugarcane plantation, July is yanked from her mother’s arms as a child to be the housemaid/companion to the owner’s sister–the white missus, Caroline (Hayley Atwell)– who thinks July’s a darling little doll.
PSYCHOLOGICAL, POLITICAL and SOCIOLOGICAL
7) The Menu: Prix Fixe Squid Game Anyone? (January 30)
A group of nine wealthy foodies have paid $1250 per person to travel by yacht to a privately-owned island where celebrity chef Julian Slowik will provide a rarified feast at his uber-exclusive restaurant. Is this a riff on the pretensions of American haute cuisine and the 1%? Or is it an absurdist noir film so genuinely inventive that the unexpected is just around the corner?
8) All Quiet On The Western Front: The Ugliness of War (February 6)
Seventeen-year-old Paul Bäumer is excited about enlisting with his classmates Albert Kropp, Franz Müller, and Ludwig Behm. The glimmer and shiny aspect of battle dims as he and his friends receive uniforms of deceased soldiers.
9) Fauda: Crisis after Crisis (October 9)
Produced from 2015 through 2022 as a four season series, each season features a Palestinian terrorist or terrorist cell that the IDF sets out to eliminate . Fauda seems to rip from today’s headlines the bloodshed between Israel and Gaza.
10) The Whale: Moby Dick Revisited (June 26)
The opening scene zooms in on a middle-aged, morbidly obese professor, Charlie sitting in front of a computer in his claustrophobic, dark apartment in a small town in Idaho. He teaches creative writing online to aspiring college students. His face is blocked out by the camera, revealing nothing of his physical condition.
11) LIving: A Life Worth Remembering (July 31)
In a stultifying, paper-shuffling bureaucratic agency, a septuagenarian manages a crowded office crammed with young civil servants. They are terrified of the old geezer, whom they have nicknamed “Zombie” for his lack of apparent emotion and his robotic demand for propriety at all times.How complicated it is to live with other people is a theme throughout the series.
12) Queen Charlotte: A Royal Prequel (December 11)
This royal saga, a prequel to “Bridgerton”, crafts meticulous character arcs for Queen Charlotte spanning several decades, as a story principally of both the younger newlywed queen and also of the royal matriarch she will become. King George III is mainly portrayed as the young smitten royal who is descending gradually into madness, despite his heroic attempts for a cure.