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Editors' Picks: The Film & TV team round off the year with a selection of 2023's high points

As we enter the final hours of 2023, relive some of the year's best moments on screen.

Arron Kennon, Film & TV Editor

In her feature film debut, Past Lives, Celine Song struck cinematic gold. Through a narrative of immigration, the film superbly subverts romantic tropes. Song pits the realist against the romantic, indulging in the advantages of both sides yet ultimately emerging with no clear winner.

The cinematography fluctuates between shots of intimate connection and heartbreaking separation, all handled with a clear deftness of touch and eye for beauty. This effectively supports the film's troubling exploration of the limitations of love in a fast paced, competitive world.

Past Lives (2023) // Courtesy of IMDb

What was perhaps most impressive was the sympathy afforded to all three main characters. The career focused Nora (Greta Lee) provides the focal point of the story. Surrounding her are Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) and Arthur (John Magaro), both hopelessly in love with her yet willing to accept their inability to provide exactly what she needs.

The product of this equally weighted love triangle is a devastating climax where we feel the pain of each party; the solution to their problem no clearer to us as it is to them. One cannot help leaving the cinema feeling that the saying 'love will always find a way' hopelessly falls short of the mark.

A film like this rarely comes around more than once a year and so of course it had to be my highlight of 2023.

Lauren Durose, Co-Deputy Editor

In the entirety of 2023, I went to the cinema twice. The first time adorned in pink alongside my mum and sister to watch Barbie the day before my 21st birthday, and the second on November 17 - the day The Hunger Games prequel, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, was released. I had read the book and was filled with anticipation to see another incredible story by Suzanne Collins transformed onto the silver screen. I was not disappointed.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes (2023) // Courtesy of IMDb

Tom Blyth's performance as Coriolanus Snow was a pure display of talent. His emotional execution and portrayal of the deterioration of sanity in his character was masterful. Blyth's beauty - the combination of a buzzcut and piercing blue eyes - collides with Snow's seemingly sociopathic nature as Collins has audiences questioning their biases. Blyth is partnered alongside Rachel Zegler (a woman who's faced an onslaught of unnecessary opinions this year) who perfectly encapsulated Lucy Gray Baird. Her indisputably incredible voice helped to elevate the movie, allowing the musical element to be harnessed without becoming an irritation for those who are not enthusiastic towards the intrusion of song. With
Josh Andreas-Rivera, Hunter Schafer, and the infallible Viola Davis, each and every performance in this movie was strong, helping to articulate the tone of the tale in a way that seemed effortless.
Director Francis Lewis once again brings Suzanne Collins work to life in a time where current affairs are particularly in parallel with that of her stories.

Sofia Webster, Co-Deputy Editor

2023 has seen the release of so many fantastic films and TV shows, it has been quite hard to pick my favourite. However if forced to pick those which have stood far above their contenders, I would personally say that even though it was near the end of the year, Wonka was a fantastically feel good film that had both myself and my family filled with enjoyment as we left the cinema. Timothee Chalamet plays the ever-charismatic Willy Wonka, who adopts a Gene Wilder style charm, which lends itself really well in this festive family film.

Wonka (2023) // Courtesy of IMDb

Looking at TV shows, I really enjoyed the most recent season of The Morning Show (2019-) starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. It had such a jam-packed plot which made for an excellent show that allows you to escape from your head for an hour. Since it had been two years since the second season, there was a considerably long wait for the third season, which made it all the more enjoyable in 2023.

Victor Bennett, Subeditor

Ridley Scott’s Napoleon was a film which captured the grandeur of the French moment in modern history. Situated at a critical juncture in the political direction of France, Napoleon is introduced as a shrewd and courageous soldier - a man of action who embodies the strength of the Republic.

Scott traces Napoleon’s every step in what Napoleon himself sees as his divine right to rule over Europe. With his moment achieved, Scott does well to depict the inherent corruptive nature of power. Insatiable and obsessed, Napoleon pushes his army to beyond its means resulting in a catastrophic loss of life and an end to his rule over Europe.

Napoleon (2023) // Courtesy of IMDb

The battle scenes are the point of universal interest to cinephiles. Awesome and deeply moving, the dramatization of these military endeavours demonstrates the indispensability of human life. But for those of you who are familiar with Napoleon, the film does little to enrich your perspective of him.

Josephine is employed as the solution to this issue, but to not much interest nor historical accuracy. Rather, Napoleon is depicted as at the mercy of his wife’s affection and weak to her calls. In what could have been an original take on Napoleon, Scott’s film is successful in reaffirming what we already knew about him but does little to add to the dynamics of his character. Nevertheless, the film is a blockbuster. Executed with impressive production value and awe-inspiring battle scenes, this film will not fail to hold your attention nor entertain you.

Sienna Thompson, Digital Editor

Trending just at the end of the year is Saltburn: a scandalous, satirical, and stunning depiction of the ‘eat the rich’ genre. This film gained enormous popularity through its disgustingly shocking scenes which only added to the outrageous and humorous tone conveyed through the plot.

Director Emerald Fennell spared no expenses at ensuring every shot of this film was aesthetically compelling and brimming with concealed implications only to be deciphered upon various viewings.

Saltburn (2023) // Courtesy of IMDb

Barry Keoghan delivers a hauntingly uncomfortable performance as Oliver Quick. His acting skills are impeccable, with his appearance in The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) providing proof of his ability to supply a captivating character to the screens.

For me, my eyes were drawn to Rosamund Pike as Elspeth Catton. Her sly and cruel remarks underneath her remarkably posh British accent added to this dark humour throughout the film, and I felt so entranced by her backstory and mindset.

I beg of anyone who has not yet watched it to go into Saltburn completely oblivious as to the events that will unfold, though you may never see a bathtub or grave in the same way!

Featured Image: Past Lives (2023) // Courtesy of IMDb

What were your favourite films and shows from 2023?