I found myself at the cinema this year more often than last year. The data suggests that I am not alone.
The number of tickets sold in U.S. movie theaters this year is up 23% compared to 2022, according to The Numbers, which tracks film industry statistics. With one month to go, the domestic box office has already grossed $800 million more than last year, according to Box Office Mojo. And while neither metric has yet rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, it finally feels like movies are, in some sense, back.
It was perhaps the last gasp of widespread Covid precautions. Maybe it was the monotony of streaming at home or just the desire to finally get off the couch. Maybe it was the popcorn. But I suspect that much of the reason Americans flocked to movie theaters this year had to do with the quality and variety of what was on offer there.
A quick look at the New York Times list of the best films of the year bears witness to this. The films, selected by critics Manohla Dargis and Alissa Wilkinson, span a number of genres, including dramas and biopics. They came from both historic studios, technology companies and independent studios. They are the work of veteran directors like Wes Anderson and Steve McQueen, as well as new directors like AV Rockwell and Celine Song.
What electrified our critics this year? On the one hand, they recoiled from the “ordinary evil” – as Alissa puts it – at the center of Martin Scorsese’s film “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which chronicles a series of greed-motivated murders against members of the Osage Nation in 1977. the 1920s. Our reviewers also praised several visually striking and keenly observed documentaries, including one that follows a Chilean journalist’s descent into Alzheimer’s disease and another that explores trans identity and non-binary.
Both Manohla and Alissa point out that originality, freshness, and subverting expectations seem to have won Americans’ wallets this year, and not just critical praise. Instead of an action-adventure blockbuster or franchise sequel, the highest-grossing film of the year was Greta Gerwig’s pink technicolor “Barbie.” The “Barbenheimer” phenomenon — a pop-cultural fusion of Gerwig’s film and the Christopher Nolan film “Oppenheimer,” which also appeared on our critics’ lists — has become a memorable magnet for theater fans, myself included.
Movies have rebounded this year despite strikes that paralyzed Hollywood for months. Yet the resurgence doesn’t settle all the questions about the industry’s future, such as whether theaters can fully return to their pre-Covid glory or whether audiences have definitively turned the corner to super-premium CGI festivals. big budget hero.
But for now, as Manohla concludes, 2023 has been “a great film year.” I can’t wait to see what happens next.
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Research identified Loma Linda as a blue zone, where people are exceeding life expectancy. Pickleball and religion could explain why, reports the Los Angeles Times.
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As funding dwindles, researchers want to show society that the humanities have value. But trying to justify the existence of the discipline has only politicized it, Agnes Callard writing.
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Sunday Question: Was Henry Kissinger a war criminal?
After Kissinger fomented Chile’s 1973 coup and supported the dictatorship that followed, Ariel Dorfman imagined that the former secretary of state would “stand in court and answer for his crimes,” he writes in the Los Angeles Times, adding that it was “a dream that vanished with his death.” But the key to understanding Kissinger is his insistence “that foreign policy was almost always about making choices between evils,” writes Niall Ferguson in Bloomberg.
Earlier this year, I spoke with Colin Koopman, the author of the influential book “How We Became Our Data,” about how our personal data can dictate our lives.
Can you explain more about what it means to say that we have become our data? Because a natural reaction to that might be: well, no, I’m my mind, I’m my body, I’m not numbers in a database.
My contention is that your data has become something more and more unavoidable in the sense that it is obligatory for the average person living their life. It now becomes possible to say: “This data is essential to who I am. » Many people have this connection with their credit score, for example. It is both very important to them and very mysterious.
But what does using our data in this way, in the broadest sense, suggest about our place in society in the first place?
We’re in this position where I’m doing my best to optimize my credit score or, if I own a small business, how to optimize my search engine rankings. At the same time, we are loading more and more of our lives into these systems and feeling like we have little control or understanding over how they work.
Is there not necessarily a need for some collection, flow and formatting of personal information that we will not be fully aware of or understand? How would the world work differently?
Industrialized liberal democracies have a good track record of establishing policies, regulations, and laws that guide the development and use of highly specialized technologies. This basic regulatory approach is valuable, but we have hit the wall of rampant data acquisition by these huge corporations. They set up this model: You don’t understand what we do, but trust us, you need us, and we’ll suck up all your data in the process.
Read the rest of the interview here.
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THE WEEK FROM
What to watch out for
The winner of this year’s Turner Prize, for British artists, will be announced on Tuesday.
Fox News will host a town hall in Iowa with Donald Trump on Tuesday.
The fourth debate of the Republican presidential primary will take place on Wednesday. Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy are expected to attend.
Hanukkah begins Thursday.
EU and Chinese leaders will meet for a two-day summit in Beijing on Thursday.
What to cook this week