I’m sure there will be a thousand of this type of retrospective article published everywhere this month, but if you’re interested in cinema 2023 does feel important. Because, like it or not, this year was a watershed. After over a decade of stagnation (not just in cinema but we’ll stick with that for this article) the film industry has undergone some pretty seismic shifts in the last 12 months.
Whether it’s the combined strikes by SAG-AFTRA / WGA, or the multiple major flops based on ‘sure-thing’ franchises produced by major studios, the industry has had some pretty big waves crashing against its proverbial hull this year. On a purely business level, Hollywood is under a microscope right now and should be drastically rethinking its strategies, because if it isn’t and they double down on their lack of originality and exploitation, this boat’s going to start taking on water (alright, I’ll drop that metaphor now). But this isn’t the only interesting part of cinema in 2023. The biggest changes have been in how this year’s biggest/most prominent movies feel.
I’ve talked before about how important colour is when it comes to filmmaking (specifically re: Edgar Wright) and how so few of the contemporary ‘big-boys’ of cinema pay it much mind. The reason good colour has such an impact on cinema, is that colour is a sensory aspect of film that has been sorely lacking in the homogenisation of digital cinema over the last 13 years. This kind of aesthetic has not been absent, I will stress, but certainly lacking overall.
The 2010s has been a pretty barren landscape for the kind of classic, long-lasting films made in previous decades. This can be largely attributed to the lion’s share of cinema in this era being sequels, remakes, reboots, adaptations or franchise fodder, carefully created to be identical to, if not indistinguishable from, one another. This is not just in the way they are written, with overly convoluted plots and nudge-nudge wink-wink meta humour, but also in the way they look. Despite some absolutely gorgeous looking films coming out in the last decade (pre-pandemic) like…