Throughout 2023, I’ve logged every film I’ve watched on Letterboxd. It looks like there’s a bit of a gap around May and June, which was probably due to watching Grand Designs in preparations for our home renovations.
Most of the films I watched weren’t from 2023, so here’s some highlights from those:
Banshees of Inisherin
The folly of civil war is a tough subject to tackle with humour, but watching a film with such an Irish cadence to the dialogue was fantastic.
I, Daniel Blake
The state of UK society and welfare state is even worse than in 2016 and that scene in the food bank left me in tears. The dig at Digital By Default also hit me really hard. I worked on that process, and the outcome depicted in the film made me feel awful.
I’m one of those people who doesn’t know their dad, so this film was tough to watch. Brendan put in a beautiful performance but Sadie Sink really brought together all of the emotions and anger I had when I was that age.
For my film of 2023 though, it’s got to be Barbie. I’m still surprised that a film as insane and off the wall ever got greenlit and approved by Mattel.
I played plenty of amazing games this year but by far the best were:
I didn’t bother with it after the disastrous launch, but with patch 2.0 I gave it another start. I’m working my way up to the DLC so it sort of counts as a 2023 game. Night City is gorgeous and fun to explore, but some of the main quest story scenes get very dull in parts that I stopped paying attention.
A beautiful and zen climbing sim set after an unspecified disaster that has removed all the water from the world. After years of dull climbing started by Uncharted, Jusant comes along and makes the climbing fun. Game Maker’s Toolkit conveniently just released a video detailing why the climbing feels so good.
A horror fishing game seems like an unlikely combination, but it uses the sea and a day/night cycle to increase your madness which causes more fucked up things to happen. Cthulu like monsters, horrible looking fish mutations, and rocks that weren’t there during the day, are all pretty standard when going mad at sea.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Being a software engineer in a world of software can sometimes be a boon, but with TOTK, I felt like a caveman using an iPhone for the first time. How they built the physics and machine crafting is beyond anything that most games ever accomplish. There are still Youtubers who are uncovering new and weird ways to build machines. It didn’t have as big an impact for me as Breath of The Wild, but it’s still an outstanding game, and definitely my game of the year.
2023 had plenty of great follow up seasons that I loved - Succession, Top Boy, Time, and Black Mirror, were all great. Black Mirror’s Loch Henry and Joan is Awful were up there with some of the best episodes that I’ve enjoyed.
I’ve got three picks for my top new TV of 2023:
The Last of US
I’m a big fan of the games and some shoddy CGI backdrops not withstanding, I thought the show was basically perfect.
Blue Eye Samurai
A late entry in the year Netflix release and watch for us over Christmas. Great action scenes and an interesting central character made this an instant classic.
An absolutely normal guy is an unwitting participant in a fake trial on jury duty. Think The Truman Show with more improve. Everyone is an actor, except for the central Hero Character. The real life actor James Marsden plays an extreme version of himself. He becomes example of Hollywood big names trying to use their status to get special treatment. Several scenes had me laughing so hard it hurt and the finale includes a heartwarming reveal. The show feels like a study of the hero character’s humanity.