The Year’s Best Movies, TV Shows, and Books

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Written By Pinang Driod

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This was the year of the sold-out stadium tour, double-feature mania, celebrity memoirs (and documentaries), and superhero fatigue. It was also the year of the Hollywood strike, controversy over book bans, and the rise of AI music. The Atlantic’s Culture team looked back on 2023 and compiled lists of the year’s best movies, TV shows, albums, books, and podcasts. Spend some time with their picks this weekend.

First, here are three new stories from The Atlantic:

  • Taylor Swift at Harvard
  • It’s time to take another look at parole.
  • The bizarre tragedy of children’s movies

Best of 2023

Dusty Deen for The Atlantic

The 10 Best Films of 2023

By David Sims

“I opted for a mix of old and new, small and giant … from a modest YouTube documentary to a near-billion-dollar-grossing dramatic extravaganza. The business is still figuring itself out, perhaps, but the medium is as vibrant as ever.”

Television set flipping among channels depicting vintage scenes
Dusty Deen for The Atlantic

The 15 Best TV Shows of 2023

By Megan Garber, Sophie Gilbert, Hannah Giorgis, and Shirley Li

“The dual actors’ and writers’ strikes in Hollywood shut down productions while exposing the problems diminishing the quality of the shows being made. Still, the list below exemplifies the small screen’s creative breadth this year.”

A woman wearing headphones and dancing
Dusty Deen for The Atlantic

The 10 Best Albums of 2023

By Spencer Kornhaber

“The music industry has been beset by concerns about market saturation, caused by an ever-rising flood of new songs onto streaming services … But looking back over a year of great albums offers a reminder that more really can be more: more melodies, more breakthroughs, more art.”

Hands flipping book pages
Dusty Deen for The Atlantic

The 10 Best Books of 2023

By The Atlantic Culture Desk

“We were drawn to ambitious projects, and looked for writing that was clear and beautiful. Most important, we searched for books that you won’t be able to put down.”

Woman speaking into a microphone
Dusty Deen for The Atlantic

The 25 Best Podcasts of 2023

By Laura Jane Standley

“These shows premiered fresh frameworks, experimented with sound design, and elevated underrepresented voices and stories … We offer them as a compass for unpredictable times, a pick-me-up for winter blues, and, we hope, a hint of clarity in times to come.”


Dispatches

  • The Weekly Planet: The most important technology of 2023 wasn’t AI, Saahil Desai writes.
  • The Books Briefing: Authors have found themselves blindsided by the realization that their own books have been used to train AI, Gal Beckerman wrote in a September edition we’re revisiting today.
  • Atlantic Intelligence: What will next year hold for AI? Damon Beres explores our writers’ analysis of the technology’s trajectory from here.

    Explore all of our newsletters here.


    Evening Read

    A man in a grocery store in the early morning
    Max Mikulecky

    The Nocturnals

    By Faith Hill

    While most people are fast asleep, there’s a whole world of people who are wide awake. They go to work, drive around, run errands at 24-hour stores. In this parallel universe, there are rarely crowds, nor traffic, nor lines; no awkward shuffling around other shoppers in the grocery aisle, no run-ins with neighbors or cacophony of email notifications. As the sun rises, these nocturnal people settle down to sleep.

    They don’t all want to live this way. Some of them have to; they have sleep disorders, or night-shift jobs. But some of them want this very much—enough to seek out those night shifts, to train themselves to wake in the dark. They do this because of the isolation, not in spite of it. I talked to people who painted me a magical picture of their nighttime world: of exquisite, profound solitude; of relief; of escape.

    Read the full article.


    Culture Break

    Still from Julie and Julia
    Jonathan Wenk / Columbia Pictures / Everett Collection

    Read. “Valentine,” a new poem by Rachel Coye:

    “The deer in the snow turned away / from my flashlight and kettle / to let me fight with the ice alone. / I was thinking of you then, / of your sleeping head, / of your maskless mouth.”

    Watch. You’ll want to revisit these 25 feel-good movies, compiled by our critic in 2020, again and again.

    Play our daily crossword.


    When you buy a book using a link in this newsletter, we receive a commission. Thank you for supporting The Atlantic.

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