Each year, we ask Rabbit Room friends and contributors to share their favorite movies, music, and books of the year. It is a unique opportunity to see what cultural fare these painters, poets, musicians, and writers have enjoyed most. This week, we'll be sharing their responses with you, starting with movies. Here we go.
2023 was the Year of BarbenHeimer—what else can you say? But two other movies I recommend that I watched in 2023 are The Banshees of Inisherin (not a happy film but a powerful one) and Jesus Revolution, a good reminder of messy movements in the history of the Church.
My girls and I also found some twisted sense of comfort on hard days of hospitals and hospice in watching cult documentaries. My favorites were Shiny Happy People, The Way Down, The Vow , Heaven’s Gate, and Wild Wild Country.
The Holdovers is a true "they don't make 'em like this anymore" movie. It's crafted to look and feel like a good old-fashioned Breakfast Club-inspired comedy from the 1970s, and it might be the most I've felt like the characters onscreen are real people with real relationships all year.
Godzilla: Minus One is straight from Japan and it was the biggest surprise of 2023 for me; it's the most you'll ever care about human characters in a kaiju movie, with a culturally poignant thematic center and some remarkable Spielbergian action to boot!
The Boy and the Heron. Hayao Miyazaki's newest film is one of his best. With amazing visual majesty, a razor-sharp wit, and incisive societal commentary, The Boy and the Heron belongs next to Spirited Away in the conversation of the best Miyazaki films.
Past Lives. Celine Song's cinematic directorial debut is a quiet film about people reconciling with each other, navigating relational minefields, and loving each other well. It's a powerful film.
Film: Swallows and Amazons. “Swallows” is based on a British series of children’s adventure novels from the 1930s; this adaptation feels like a mashup of Narnia, Where the Wild Things Are, and a 1950s Cold War thriller.
TV show: the final season of Endeavour. And as hard as it was to say goodbye to Morse and Thursday after all these years, that last episode was beautiful (as a somewhat melancholy murder series can be, that is).
The Creator, directed by Gareth Edwards.
Air was a lot of dialogue with little action, but it had me as riveted as a fade-away MJ buzzer beater!
My favorite TV series of the year was The Bear (S2) - the best S1 to S2 improvement since The Office.
So many good movies this year! Killers of the Flower Moon, The Holdovers, RRR! Barbenheimer!! The Hiding Place!!! It’s hard to pick one, but I think Women Talking (although it technically came out at the end of 2022) takes the cake for me. It’s the first movie I’ve seen to depict righteous anger in women who have sincere faith—like watching an imprecatory psalm come to life.
I loved the Mario movie. The nostalgia and hidden nods to the old games helped me remember the simplicity and joy I had when playing on my Nintendo back in elementary school.
I also thoroughly enjoyed Barbie. I felt it was a fun upbeat story and appreciated the silliness that partnered with both difficult and complex problems.
I’m late to the party on both my favs from the year, but they were too good not to mention:
Marcel the Shell. Who knew this small little shell named Marcel and his shell grandma, Nana Connie, would wreck me? Hitting on the themes of friendship, family, grief, adventure, and connection- I mean I truly couldn’t get enough of this story. The clever bits about the shell community and how they go about life made it even more special...I mean, Marcel’s bed is a little piece of bread….bed….bread…that’s just a small taste of brilliance.
Severance. I don’t know if I’ve ever audibly GASPED watching a show more than with Severance. If you love a dark comedy with mystery and thriller elements throughout, get this on your screen! This show will keep you on your toes until the very end.
Slow Horses. How drama-storytelling should be done! It assumes the audience doesn't need everything explained 10 times. It has witty dialogue, gripping drama, and not everything is neatly sewn up.
I Heard the Bells. The story behind Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's famous poem/song. Beautifully done! But not for young/sensitive viewers.
The Man Who Invented Christmas. This is the story of how Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol. Engaging and delightful. His characters follow him around, and the story has to do its work on him before he can write it for anyone else.
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