Reviving The Silver Screen: A Remarkable Year For Cinema In 2023

Based on the data, I’ve been going to the movies more frequently this year than the previous year, and many others have been doing the same.

According to The Numbers, a source that monitors film industry statistics, ticket sales at U.S. movie theaters have increased by 23 percent compared to 2022. Additionally, as reported by Box Office Mojo, the domestic box office has already generated $800 million more in revenue this year than last year, with a month remaining. Although these figures have not yet returned to the levels seen before the pandemic, there is a growing sense that the movie industry is making a comeback in some way.

Perhaps it was the final phase of widespread COVID precautions, the monotony of constant at-home streaming, or simply the desire to break free from the confines of one’s couch. It might have even been the allure of fresh popcorn. However, a significant portion of why Americans flocked to cinemas this year can be attributed to the quality and diversity of the films offered.

A brief look at The New York Times’ selection of the year’s finest movies reinforces this point. These movies, curated by critics Manohla Dargis and Alissa Wilkinson, cover various genres, including dramas and biopics. They originate from established studios, tech giants, and independent film companies. They represent the artistic endeavors of seasoned directors such as Wes Anderson and Steve McQueen and emerging talents like A.V. Rockwell and Celine Song.

What ignited the enthusiasm of our critics this year? For starters, they strongly reacted to what Alissa aptly dubs “ordinary evil” at the heart of Martin Scorsese’s film “Killers of the Flower Moon.” This movie delves into a series of murders motivated by greed, targeting members of the Osage Nation during the 1920s. Furthermore, our critics praised several visually captivating and keenly observed documentaries. These documentaries include one that traces the journey of a Chilean journalist as they grapple with Alzheimer‘s and another that explores the experiences of those identifying as trans and nonbinary.

Both Manohla and Alissa emphasize that this year, originality, innovation, and defying conventional expectations have resonated with American audiences, not just garnered critical acclaim. Surprisingly, the year’s highest-grossing film was not an action-packed blockbuster or a sequel to a popular franchise; instead, it was Greta Gerwig’s vibrantly colorful “Barbie.” The “Barbenheimer” phenomenon, a playful convergence of Gerwig’s movie and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” (another film featured on our critics’ lists), became an internet sensation and drew theatergoers, including me.

This year, the film industry made a comeback, even in the face of the labor strikes that brought Hollywood to a standstill for several months. However, this revival only provides definitive answers to some of the questions regarding the industry’s future. It remains to be seen if theaters can completely regain their pre-Covid glory or if audiences have permanently shifted their preferences away from big-budget superhero CGI extravaganzas.

Yet, as Manohla aptly concludes, 2023 was “an excellent year for movies.” We eagerly anticipate what the future holds in the cinematic world.