10 Big Ways Movies Impacted Us In 2023

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Written By Maya Cantina

As we say farewell to another year, it’s the perfect time to get nostalgic about one’s experiences across twelve months. Here on CinemaBlend, that means remembering the best movies of 2023. While sometimes movies are just a couple of hours to pass the time (or over three if you’re Martin Scorsese’s masterful Killers Of The Flower Moon or Christopher Nolan’s incredible Oppenheimer), and other times their sights, sounds and emotions become an impactful memory that changes the way we go about the world or think about the subject. 

In the spirit of connecting about the different ways in which 2023’s movies have affected our staff (who have collectively watched over 1,500 films), we asked some of our writers to pick one movie that personally affected them this year. Check out what we had to say: 

(Image credit: Focus Features)

Polite Society Made Me Feel More Grateful For Sisterhood

“Nida Manzoor’s Polite Society is not only one of the best comedies of the year, it’s a new unabashed favorite of mine I can’t wait to revisit for years to come. I saw Polite Society when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and I remain one of its most enthusiastic cheerleaders as 2023 comes to a close. Not only is it a super fun action comedy in the vein of two absolute bangers of movies in my book: Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs the World and Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, it also told a super authentic sister story that made me feel like I was watching my and my own older sister’s dynamic (minus the fight choreography of course!) 

I find that experience rare somehow, but I absolutely loved being called out. While me and my sister are opposites and often approach things from completely different angles, there’s an underlying sense of deep love and support underpinning it all that was so evidently conveyed in between the elevated filmmaking. I loved Polite Society for reminding me how precious it is to have a Player 2 in my sister when push comes to shove.” – Sarah El-Mahmoud, Staff Writer 

10 Big Ways Movies Impacted Us In 2023

(Image credit: Focus Features/Warner Bros. )

Barbie And Poor Things’ Liberating Stories Of Women Exploring The World Were Empowering To Me

“From the jump, if you know nothing about these films, you might assume that the only commonality between the bright pink billion-dollar blockbuster Barbie and the wonderfully wild and fantastical Poor Things is the stellar reviews. However, they’re incredibly similar at their cores because they both follow strong women on liberating journeys to find themselves and explore the world. Both of these women go on journeys of self-discovery, and while Barbie’s involves rollerblades and patriarchy, Bella Baxter’s quest sees her embracing her sexuality and dealing with privilege and, well, patriarchy. As a young woman, both of these stories were so empowering and made me feel seen and understood. 

Watching Margot Robbie’s journey in the Real World and Barbie Land mirrored my own experience growing up and dealing with the juxtapositions of womanhood. The same can be said for Emma Stone’s Bella Baxter, as her journey sees her unapologetically experimenting with her sexuality and discovering what she loves and despises about the world around her with admirable confidence. Overall, both Barbie and Poor Things confidently and creatively tell liberating stories of women finding their power and exploring their worlds, and to me, that’s infinitely meaningful and impactful.” Riley Utley, Weekend Editor

10 Big Ways Movies Impacted Us In 2023

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Animation)

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse Inspired Me To Pave My Own Path Like Miles Morales

“There’s a pivotal moment in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (which definitely deserves a Best Picture nomination ) where Miles is being pursued by Spider-Man 2099, who keeps telling him that he needs to follow what he says since he knows better than Miles. But then, once Miles gets pinned down, he comments on how everybody keeps telling him how to write his story, to which Miles finally says, “Nah, I’m doing my own thing.” And let me tell you, this scene made me so proud. 

On a number of occasions, people have spoken to me about what Black people should do in order to be more accepted in this country. Since I’m nice, I don’t tell them how I really feel, but next time, I might have the courage to speak up just like Miles. Cause nah. We’re gonna do our own thing.” Rich Knight, Freelance Writer

10 Big Ways Movies Impacted Us In 2023

(Image credit: Disney)

Haunted Mansion Addressed The Topic Of Grief In A Way I Wasn’t Expecting

“I was prepared for Haunted Mansion to tackle the topics of ghosts and death, with some spooky humor and suspense, but I did not expect to see grief depicted so vividly. Loss and grief may go hand in hand, but they aren’t the same thing. While there are certainly examples in past Disney movies of characters who lost a loved one — particularly characters who have (or are assumed to have) lost one or both parents — I don’t recall seeing many Disney movies growing up that depicted the grief that follows in such a direct way. 

In Haunted Mansion LaKeith Stanfield’s Ben lost his wife, and Chase Dillon’s Travis lost his father – but we don’t just learn that they’ve each experienced a deep loss; the film shows us the face of their grief and the seemingly impossible challenge they have to move forward in life without their loved one. Having experienced grief in my life, including the loss of a parent at a very young age, I connected with Haunted Mansion in a way I really didn’t expect, and I left the theater wondering how I might have been affected by this movie, had I seen it as a child.” Kelly West, Assistant Managing Editor 

10 Big Ways Movies Impacted Us In 2023

(Image credit: Shudder)

Skinamarink Sent Me Head-First Into A Childhood Nightmare

“When I was a child, I was afraid of the dark, but thought I had outgrown it once I reached adulthood. That was until I saw writer and director Kyle Edward Ball’s debut,  Skinamarink — an indie-horror game-changer in which a child wakes up to find his parents missing, the windows and doors disappeared, and his house invaded by an unseen omnipotent being. I have already seen it twice — first in a theater, which had its own lasting effects, and again in my own home, in the dark, and alone, which led to one of the most immersive horror movie experiences of my life.

With a style of cinematography that masterfully resembles a child’s perspective by shooting at low angles and relying on what it hides from you to build tension, the movie immediately put me directly in the shoes of its four-year-old protagonist, Kevin (Lucas Paul), who spends much of the film in the dark alone (save the evil unnamed entity). Watching it under the same conditions brought me back to a time when I crouched in fear of a dark hallway and the feeling has not gone away since. I think the best horror movies continue to haunt you long after the credits roll and Skinamarink is most definitely that kind for me.” Jason Wiese, Content Writer 

10 Big Ways Movies Impacted Us In 2023

(Image credit: A24)

“Danny and Michael Philippou’s horror film Talk To Me was considered the scariest horror film in years. Believe me, I absolutely agree with that as the possession scenes brought the same shock and discomfort as when I first saw The Exorcist. However, it was scary for me for a whole other reason. When a group of teens allow themselves to be possessed by spirits due to an embalmed hand, they don’t see it as a call for help. It becomes a social media sensation! 

The kids may be creeped out the first time they’re face-to-face with a decrypted spirit. But after a while, they actually have fun with this. It’s because of social media that these kids aren’t traumatized by taking part in these possessions. It creeped me out seeing teens have no fear of contacting the undead as long as it gets them social media famous. These spirits are rotting in front of them, yet they’re laughing and having fun! Their smartphones act as cheerleaders to support these insane antics. If kids are willing to mess with their lives all for the sake of going viral, what else are they willing to do? That is true horror for me.” Carly Levy, Freelance Writer

10 Big Ways Movies Impacted Us In 2023

(Image credit: Neon)

How to Blow Up a Pipeline Enhanced My Perspective Of Climate Activism

“How to Blow Up a Pipeline flew under the radar this year, but it’s easily one of the best films of 2023. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Daniel Goldhaber’s environmental thriller but ended up loving it. It’s the tale of eight young people who set out to destroy an oil pipeline in Texas for varying reasons. It has major stakes and frenetic energy, which puts it amongst Uncut Gems and other anxiety-inducing films. However, what really stood out to me was the social commentary, specifically the themes involving environmental activism.

Daniel Goldhaber sheds light on the topic in a very nuanced way, and what I appreciated is that he doesn’t depict his protagonists as heroes or villains. Because he doesn’t judge them, Goldhaber leaves it up to the audience to determine whether their methods were justified. I consider myself someone who wants this planet to be ecologically stable and believe in the fight for environmental justice. Still, even I had to ask myself some questions about the difference between activism and terrorism by the time I finished my viewing. It’s something we all should really be thinking about as we seek to preserve the world we live in.” Erik Swann, Senior Content Producer

10 Big Ways Movies Impacted Us In 2023

(Image credit: Toho)

Godzilla Minus One Gave Me A Better Understanding Of Post-World War II Japan

“Winston Churchill once said that ‘history is written by the victors,’ but only paying attention to such accounts doesn’t give one the proper understanding of how events actually unfolded. So although my main reason for seeing Godzilla Minus One was to see a giant reptilian monster rampaging across Japan, and I wasn’t disappointed on that front, I also appreciated the movie for providing a heartbreaking perspective on Japan post-World War II. 

Not only were its citizens reeling from the devastation of defeat, but they also had to contend with an unreliable government in the immediate years to follow. This historical lens aids tremendously in the lead human characters being so compelling, because in addition to having to contend with the malicious Godzilla himself, they’re also simply trying to survive everyday life and get back on their feet after this globe-spanning conflict. Critics have loved Godzilla Minus One, but in addition to being one of the 2023’s best sci-fi movies, it also succeeds at providing a hook that will hopefully lead moviegoers like myself to think about history differently.”Adam Holmes, Senior Content Producer

10 Big Ways Movies Impacted Us In 2023

(Image credit: A24)

Past Lives Changed How I See My Friendships

“When I first heard about Celine Song’s Past Lives, I was cautiously optimistic. I had heard great things, and saw that it was marketed as a romantic drama, and as someone who tends to only check out the most realistic romantic dramas out there instead of most cliche ones on the market, I decided to watch it. I never expected to walk away from the film rethinking my friendships for my entire life. Past Lives truly changed how I view my friendships, both from the past and the present, because in the end, we never really know what would have happened if we stayed close with that one childhood best friend. Or if we pursued one relationship over another. Or if we never met these people at all. 

And I began to really ponder on that idea that in another life, maybe I was closer with someone that I had fallen away from – or maybe, it was just meant to be, and I let that sit with me for hours. I really didn’t expect to end up loving this film as much as I did, but here I am – and I’ll recommend Past Lives to anyone who is willing to watch.” Alexandra Ramos, Content Producer

10 Big Ways Movies Impacted Us In 2023

(Image credit: Searchlight Pictures)

“All of Us Strangers is a movie that I saw in October at the Chicago International Film Festival and instantly connected with. It’s a movie that tackles grief, loss, love, a search for belonging, closure, and has a thoughtful discussion on depression (amongst other things). However, All of Us Strangers’ conversation on loneliness and isolation impacted me the most. I believe that we have all at least once dealt with loneliness in its many complex forms. But, the feeling itself makes us believe it’s something we suffer through alone. 

All of Us Strangers reminded me that everyone has dealt with their feelings of isolation, in some way, in some form. It made me feel more connected with the universe. These complicated emotions, such as loneliness, unite us. The ways we deal with them and how they manifest are unique to our histories and identities but the feeling is common. All of Us Strangers beautifully tells a personal story that is universal because we can all relate to the emotions on display.” – Jerrica Tisdale, Freelance Writer 

Of course there are so many more we could mention, from a hilarious comedy like Bottoms punching through teen comedy tropes or Killers Of The Flower Moon pushing back against the “white savior” narrative with the retelling of the Osage murders. 2023 was a fantastic year for entertaining, affecting and relatable movies that had us understanding new perspectives, being more inspired and feeling less alone in the world. We look forward to highlighting these types of projects in CinemaBlend’s Voices section and across the site in 2024! 

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