Remembering the Year in 10 Movie Clips
From brilliant newcomers to astonishing auteurs, 2023 was quite a year for cinema.
The past year was a remarkable feat for movies. In addition to witnessing the emergence of some remarkable new filmmakers, we welcomed amazing work by some of cinema's most innovative auteurs.
As 2024 dawns, we look back on the year that was in 10 clips.
Of An Age
In February, Goran Stolevski’s achingly tender Of An Age brought a touch of romance to the winter months. When Kol (Elias Anton) sets out to help his ballroom dance partner, Ebony (Hattie Hook), he is joined by her brother, Adam (Thom Green). During the next 24 hours, the two men discover a profound connection that will stay with them for years to come. In the clip, “Good Boy,” Anton and Green capture that magical dance of quick glances, awkward silences, and brief snippets of conversation that so often lead to love. Of An Age, Variety writes, “is a warm-hearted gem, pulsating with lustful tenderness (and tender lust) as it sketches what first love can feel like.” In October, Parade named it one of the best movies of 2023, and it recently received five nominations from the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts, including Best Film and Best Director.
March Madness took a cinematic turn with the release of Champions. Legendary comic filmmaker Bobby Farrelly reunites with Woody Harrelson for an inspiring sports story. Harrelson plays a driven minor-league basketball coach whose aggressive antics get him court-mandated to work with the Friends, a team of players with intellectual disabilities, and Farrelly solely cast actors with disabilities for the team. “What makes Champions a treat is the deftness with which Mark Rizzo’s script sidesteps sentimentality in favor of something more raucously truthful,” writes The Guardian. In the “Skiing” clip, the team demonstrates how they really are champions at enjoying life to its fullest.
Also in March, Willem Dafoe gave a master class in acting in Vasilis Katsoupis’ psychological thriller, Inside. As Nemo, an art thief who gets locked into a luxury New York City penthouse, Dafoe plays against himself, the contemporary masterpieces in the apartment, and, at one point, a pigeon, as he contemplates the nature of life, art, and freedom. For Collider, “Everything is glued together by another Dafoe performance that proves he’s one of the greatest actors of all time, especially when given enough room to tap into the lunacy of his characters.” In the clip, “Us Pigeons,” Dafoe demonstrates his talent, making a city bird his co-star.
A Thousand and One
After winning the Grand Jury Prize at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, A.V. Rockwell’s A Thousand and One opened in theaters in March. Inez (Teyana Taylor) kidnaps her son, Terry, from the foster care system, moving him to Harlem where she raises him until her own life starts to unravel. The Chicago Reader writes, “A.V. Rockwell’s lens captures the beauty and vibrancy of the city of New York, Black life, and motherhood in poverty, making space for expressions of parental love that show up in imperfect ways.” Taylor's interactions with her grown-up son (Josiah Cross) in the clip, “Little Boy,” perfectly captures her character’s complicated love. Rockwell recently won the Gotham Award for Breakthrough Director and her film is already on 38 best-of-year lists, according to Critics Top 10.
In April, Nida Manzoor’s Polite Society opened in theaters. When wannabe stunt woman Ria (Priya Kansara) fears her sister, Leah Khan (Ritu Arya), is being taken away from her by a slick Lothario, Salim (Akshaye Khanna), she assembles her high school pals to launch an all-out assault to rescue her. Part high-adrenaline action film, part Bollywood spectacular, and part high-school comedy, the completely entertaining film introduced a new cinematic talent to the world. The clip, “I am the Fury,” shows off the hilarious mix of slapstick and spunk that bond the sisters. The BBC writes, “Polite Society is a work of many genres and themes: the fact it weaves these together so seamlessly and cohesively is a testament to Manzoor's prowess with the pen, and behind the lens.” Indeed, Manzoor took home the award for Best Debut Screenwriter at the British Independent Film Awards this year.
Book Club: The Next Chapter
Just in time for summer vacations, Bill Holderman’s Book Club: The Next Chapter sends the four women from the hit 2018 comedy Book Club off to Italy. Diane (Diane Keaton), Sharon (Candice Bergen), and Carol (Mary Steenburgen) throw their pal Vivian (Jane Fonda) a bachelorette party in Rome, Venice, and Tuscany. As the “Statues” clip shows, putting four iconic movie stars in this charming old-world locale makes, according to Collider, “a raucously funny movie that will leave audiences ready to grab their gal pals and set off on an adventure to Italy.”
Set in a one-café town in the American southwest in the 1950s, Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City is a sci-fi extravaganza. When the town’s visitors—played by Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jason Schwartzman, Jeffrey Wright, Steve Carell, Hope Davis, and Maya Hawke—witness an extraterrestrial, they are held hostage by the army, and their assumptions about their world, let alone outer space, are thrown into question. The “Are You Married” clip shows how Anderson’s unique vision harmoniously melds a luscious visual palette with entertaining human behavior. New York Magazine writes, “The audacity and beauty of Asteroid City lie in the way it connects the mysteries of the human heart to the secrets of science and the universe.” Indeed, Inverse recently named it “the best sci-fi movie of the year.” Critics and fans agree. Asteroid City is on 120 top ten lists so far according to Critics Top 10.
Released in June, Julie Cohen’s documentary Every Body provided an informative alternative to big-budget summer movies. Anchored by the participation of three amazing individuals—Sean Saifa Wall, Alicia Roth Weigel, and River Gallo—the film provides a profound exploration of the history and lives of intersex people. From Gallo’s work as a performer to Weigel’s activism, the film reveals the real people behind the headlines. The "Alicia's Testimony" clip documents Weigel’s heroic showdown with Texas state representatives over the issue of gender. IndieWire calls the film, “A beautiful and cathartic celebration of intersexuality—and should be mandatory viewing for people of all genders.”
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3
In September, Toula (Nia Vardalos) and her iconic family flew to their homeland in Vardalos’ My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3. The beloved franchise reunites its unforgettable cast of characters—from Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) to Angelo (Joey Fatone) to Ian (John Corbett)—for a fun-filled adventure in Greece’s ancient villages and sunny beaches. From the moment they meet a long-lost relative when they arrive in Athens in the “Cousin” clip, the Portokalos clan makes everyone family. The film’s good vibes, beautiful locations, and heart-felt fun provided reassuring cinematic pleasure for the end of summer. For The Daily Beast, “each one [of the Wedding films] made me feel warmer than the one before, like eating through the layers of an amazing spanakopita.”
In time for the holiday season, director Alexander Payne and writer David Hemingson’s The Holdovers was in theaters. Three different people—a cranky classics teacher (Paul Giamatti), a troublemaking student (Dominic Sessa), and a cook whose son recently died in the Vietnam War (Da’Vine Joy Randolph)—come together as an unexpected family when they get stuck at a New England prep school over the holiday break. In scenes, like “Cherries Jubilee,” the three actors’ unique chemistry shines in the way they bring a spark of hope to a hilariously absurd situation. “When it’s over, the chill it leaves in your spine is destined to last nearly as long as the smile on your face,” writes The Observer. Indeed, the comedy has already been nominated for three Golden Globes, four Spirit Awards, and eight Critics Choice awards.