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Here are 2023 films that made our cinema experience better


Welcome to the (full-fledged) cinema comeback era. After having no choice but to make the most out of what streaming sites (or other virtual viewing opportunities) have to offer, movies can now be enjoyed in a more IRL experience, as much-awaited titles have graced the theaters again. 

While it can be tempting to completely ditch the cinema experience for the convenience of virtual movie-hopping, there are new titles that make going out of the bedroom and stepping inside the theaters worth it. And before this year ends, we’ve listed the films that we’re glad to have seen in theaters. From thought-provoking tales to “romance” flicks that bravely go beyond the romance, here are some released in 2023 that make us thrilled to catch more premieres in movie houses next year. 

“Past Lives”

Dir. Celine Song

When the trailer of this A24 film was released, “Never let your boyfriend stop you from finding your husband” was the running gag that flocked comment sections. People are so used to—and are mysteriously enamored by—the Never Getting Over The First Love trope, that I wondered what a 2023 film that explores the concept would serve. I would like to say that this directorial debut by Celine Song made a dent to that fantasy, although I think it did more in empowering its viewers. 

While destiny could play a part in how we end up in certain places and get dealt with certain circumstances, we (at some point) can possibly change the course of our lives. Sometimes, it even boils down to a single choice. What do soulmates mean? Should we make space for past lives and past selves that appear in the present? In the end, it became a more existentialist watch than a lair of romance—plus, it dissected the topic of identity and the complexity of love with all the gentleness it could muster; it was difficult to root for just one character. 

– Jelou, associate editor

“About Us But Not About Us”

Dir. Jun Robles Lana

My media consumption habits underwent a few changes this year. I used to see every trending movie there was—regardless of its reviews—but a busy 2023 has made me a more careful consumer. I’ve developed certain criteria when deciding on which films are worth investing my time in: Does it offer a unique aspect I haven’t seen in others? Can it challenge the norms and/or push some boundaries of storytelling? And lastly, will it be able to shake me to my core? “About Us But Not About Us” ticks all of these and more. It is a thought experiment—a confusing labyrinth that would have you questioning your morality. It embraces the messiness of human nature, with characters you’d potentially be uncomfortable watching because you would see a bit of yourself in them. (You can check out the full review here.)

– Kleo, junior content creator

“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”

Dir. Francis Lawrence

Let’s take a hike back to Panem. 

Rachel Zegler was probably a name you would have come across with one too many times in 2023—especially if you were chronically online—from her musings about the upcoming Disney live-action adaptation of “Snow White,” to the stellar reviews of her portrayal as Lucy Gray Baird in “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” that only further cemented her skyrocketing popularity. Apart from Rachel who was a gem in the prequel, Tom Blyth who portrayed the young Coriolanus Snow also showed promise and proved to be yet another talented actor to look out for. 

With most of the original team that worked on the series coming back on board for the prequel, fans were satisfied with how the latest addition to the series did not fail in comparison with its predecessors, and it certainly also showed with the box office success of the film. Watching this movie in the theaters certainly made me feel like it was 10 years ago all over again when I was in high school, obsessing over this franchise that my adult self is definitely not complaining about. 

– Clara, junior content creator

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

Dir. Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson 

Miles is back again in this much-awaited sequel. “Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse” is so well-written, and each character has their own story to tell. Compared to the other Marvel film releases this year, this definitely hit differently, and personally brought back all the reasons why I love the popular cinematic universe. I love how well they unpacked the concept of the multiverse, and how they tackled fate. Watching this film in the cinema was a total experience—I found the ending so good that I screamed. I can’t wait for what’s next. 

 – Mikey, multimedia artist


Dir. Greta Gerwig

July 2023 was a treat for cinema worldwide. With “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” opening in the same weekend, “Barbenheimer” memes surfaced the internet because of the stark difference between the two narratives, which arguably seemed to make patrons want to come back to watching movies in the theaters after the pandemic-prompted era of streaming. 

Not only did Gerwig’s “Barbie” break records, making her the first female director to garner the biggest opening in history, the film also showed an important take on girlhood that bonded families and friends across generations. To note, Margot Robbie’s performance as the beloved (and also hated) plastic doll was incredible and unlike anything the actress had done before, as she also chimed in her “Actors on Actors” interview with Cillian Murphy for Variety. Needless to say, “Barbie” was a campy feminist film that didn’t shove feminism down our throats like some (or many) films in the past have tried to do but failed. It was so good I watched “Barbie” in the cinema twice and each time was like the first time. 

 – Clara, junior content creator

“Third World Romance”

Dir. Dwein Baltazar

Stories that depict the story of the working class can be a challenge as it is a big responsibility. How can you tell a story that doesn’t lean towards poverty porn, and romanticize struggles—especially when the narrative involves romance itself? Enter “Third World Romance,” a story that spotlights two blue-collar workers of Wynn grocery store, and how they try to navigate their realities with the world on their shoulders. Although the movie highlights their limited choices because of an unfair system, it doesn’t take away their agency. 

Meanwhile, the grocery store felt like a character itself; not just a spectator. Somehow, an eerie atmosphere also wraps the film, like when prayers sound a bit inaudible through the speakers, utensils get placed on top of biodata forms, and employees are tasked to say the same lines everyday. Witnessing these details get piled up in front of you will make you feel empowered to act for yourself and the person you love—even if the emotion sometimes feels more of a luxury than a basic need. 

– Jelou, associate editor 


Dir. Peter Sohn

“Elemental” is a Disney Animation release that deserved more attention than it did, which suffered partly due to Disney’s lack of marketing on the film. Although it may not have performed as well as other Disney premieres this year in theaters, upon its Disney+ release, more people appreciated the movie that I believe to be just rightfully so. Using the elements as a metaphor to race, Peter Sohn was successfully able to create a light and heartwarming story that balanced the themes family, self, and love. 

 – Clara, junior content creator

Stills from the trailers of “Past Lives” and “About Us But Not About Us” 



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