2023 saw the film industry face its biggest crisis since the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. No sooner had the movie industry begun recovering from a turbulent few years, SAG AFTRA and WGA announced a historic writers and actors strike that would have the major studios see its movies and talent out of commission for months at a time. Yet, against all odds, it’s been a great year for movies. The strikes resulted in a game-changing win for film workers in Hollywood (minimum wage has increased for both writers and actors, and more importantly, their work, likenesses and livelihoods will now be protected from the looming threat of AI.) It’s also been a year of refreshing dynamism in film: Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer accidentally collided to form the super-blockbuster known as ‘Barbenheimer’; we saw great filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Hayao Miyazaki, and Michael Mann return to the big screen with late-career masterpieces; arthouse favourites Sofia Coppola and Yorgos Lanthimos finally release their uber-anticipated Priscilla and Poor Things and new voices like Celine Song, Emma Seligman and Molly Manning Walker made waves  with Past Lives, Bottoms and How To Have Sex. But the devil, as always, remains in the details, and the year ultimately belongs to those specific movie moments or trivia that made us think and feel the deepest. Here are some of our favourites, curated by the editors and writers here at A RABBIT’S FOOT.

Chris Cotonou – Deputy Editor

Credit: Warner Bros

Hearing Bloc Party’s ‘This Modern Love’ in Saltburn 

When I was a Y2K teenager, romance sounded a lot like Bloc Party’s song ‘This Modern Love,’ which is why I experienced hair-raising Ratatouille flashbacks once it started playing in Emerald Fennell’s comedy-thriller Saltburn. After Barry Keoghan’s Ollie Quick falls smitten with Jacob Elordi’s Felix, he steps out of the university pub into the wintry streets with a tipsy grin on his face. Then the jingly guitar starts, and frontman Kele Okerere sings: “Don’t get offended if I seem absent minded… I get tongue tied.” As Ollie looks down the street, Fennell’s camera blurs into a drunken reverie, and the refrain begins, and…woosh – I’m a teenager at the local pub, giggling with my school sweetheart while Bloc Party plays on the speakers. 

Saltburn got the mood of the early noughties to a tee, and for a number of subtle reasons. I could’ve picked Jacob Elordi’s eyebrow piercing (you’ll find about five or six analyses about it online, anyway,) but really, it’s the use of Bloc Party, after a segment where Fennell establishes the characters’ connection, that sets the scene, and reminds those of us now in our late-twenties and thirties what it was like to be lovesick youth. 

Read our interview with Emerald Fennell here.

Credit: Warner Bros

Peep Show’s Johnson Stealing the Show in Wonka 

Of course Johnson from Peep Show was going to be one of the best things about Wonka. Even in a universe where Timothée Chalamet, Hugh Grant, and Olivia Coleman are his co-stars, fans of the ‘Funniest Comedy Show of All Time’ knew that Paterson Joseph would be stealing every scene, with his hilarious facial expressions and his smooth, but menacing, baritone voice. As Arthur Slugworth, he leads the criminal ‘Chocolate Cartel’ who have it in for Chalamet’s Wonka, and he actually gets a surprisingly large chunk of screen-time to flex his chops; particularly when gorging on his rival’s creations – his sanctimonious stare suddenly turning into wide-eyed pleasure; or while plotting his crimes with dastardly sleaze and relish. It’s all very Peter Sellers-Pythonesque. Joseph displays so much confidence in his portrayal that it’s surprising how little we get to see him on the big screen; surely there’s a Wes Anderson role out there for his kind of off-beat performance comedy. Whatever the case, I’m certain that Joseph’s excellent work in Wonka means we’ll be seeing more of him in other big Hollywood productions. He’s earned it.

Read our review of Wonka here.

Credit: Warner Bros

That Godfather Joke in Barbie 

 “Oh my God! You’ve never seen The Godfather?” Kingsley Ben Adir’s Ken gushes to Issa Rae’s President Barbie: “It is a rich blend of Coppola’s aesthetic genius combined with Robert Evans and the architecture of the ‘70s studio system.” … Greta Gerwig’s Barbie overstates some of its points about gender in society. At no point has someone offered me a high-salary bank job I’m unqualified for because I’m a guy (perhaps this is an American thing?) But the aforementioned joke, where the Kens obsess over The Godfather after transforming into moronic, generic Alphas? Now that is something we’ve all experienced. The Godfather isn’t a blokey fighter film, per say, but it’s certainly adopted as a favourite by blokey types, the same way Goodfellas or The Shawshank Redemption are – perceived as admirable filmic embodiments of masculine culture. This segment is a biting satire of the type of man who likes to film-splain these movies non stop, espousing their elevated movie knowledge and taste on an unwilling audience. 

Read our run-down of Barbenheimer here.

Luke Georgiades – Features Writer

Credit: A24

The long walk-home in Past Lives

In the autobiographic Past Lives, there’s emotion everywhere, but it’s deeply considered, and often embedded in the spaces between characters, in the silences between words. This applies most to the Korean-Canadian Nora (Greta Lee—a sort of stand-in for Song herself), who finds herself caught between her past and present lives in the form of childhood sweetheart Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) and American Arthur (John Magaro). We see her reckoning with her identity for most of the movie. But no emotion stays buried forever, and it’s only at the film’s climax, in which Nora and Hae Sung say their bittersweet goodbyes, that Song allows Nora and the audience the catharsis of an emotional release. “There were so many moments when Greta as Nora wanted to cry” Song tells A Rabbit’s Foot. “And I wouldn’t let her, because we needed to save it for that moment.” Song weans the moment out via a long pan across a New York City street, as Nora walks from Hae Sung back to her apartment, and it’s when she finally breaks down about three quarters of the way home that you realise that you’ve been holding in your emotions right along with her, perhaps even reckoning with your own identity and past experiences like she has—it’s here you realise that Song has allowed you your own moment of release. If the audience is an orchestra, then Celine, at this moment, is cinema’s most graceful conductor. It’s probably the scene I’ve revisited the most in 2023—and it’s no doubt the one I’ll be carrying with me long into 2024.

Read our full interview with Celine Song here.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise doing the most in Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One

After bringing the old school blockbuster back to the box office last year with Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise capped off 2023 with the action-packed seventh instalment of the Mission: Impossible series. In an industry dominated by caped crusaders and multiverse stories, it seems a miracle that the Mission: Impossible franchise has remained the most consistently bulletproof in Hollywood.The promise of Cruise performing his own stunts certainly hasn’t hurt, and each instalment since the Brian De Palma original has seen the daredevil put his life on the line for the audience, with increasing stakes. In Rogue Nation, a suit-clad Cruise clung to an Airbus A400M plane as it took to the skies; in Ghost Protocol, he scaled the side of the Burj Khalifa; in Fallout, he engages in a helicopter chase through the New Zealand mountains, bobbing and weaving between narrow canyons (director Chris McQuarrie described the stunt as “like flying through a broom closet.”) And somehow, the actor continues to outdo himself, as Dead Reckoning sees the 61 year-old , returning as highly skilled IMF agent Ethan Hunt, riding a motorcycle off a 4000 m high cliff in England’s Salisbury Plain. It’s already become known as the biggest stunt ever to be put to the big screen, but still, you get the feeling that Cruise could have done it five more times with his eyes closed (he reportedly insisted to McQuarrie that they give the stunt a few more goes). Is he in the same league as Buster Keaton, Jackie Chan, or Maggie Cheung? Not quite yet. But with Dead Reckoning part two on the cards for 2024, one can only imagine how far Hollywood’s last action hero will push himself next.

Read our article on Tom Cruise, Hollywood’s last action hero here.

Credit: Paramount

Meeting the Ancestors in Killers of The Flower Moon

Martin Scorsese’s Killers of The Flower Moon is filled with some of the most heart-wrenching brutality you’ll see on screen this year. This isn’t Goodfellas or Casino, where a violent act is dressed up with style and a perfectly placed needledrop. No, this is more like Silence, where every drop of blood spilled is punctuated with the blackest intentions of humanity. s hard as it is to watch the American indigenous Osage nation fall victim to the violence and greed of the white man, its inclusion is ultimately of necessity. Scorsese knows that, and doesn’t dare offer his audience any elongated respite from the horrors faced by the Osage in the movie. 

But there is one moment where evil fades out of frame in favour of tranquillity, as Lizzie—the elderly matriarch of the Osage family at the centre of Killers—is greeted warmly in the afterlife by her ancestors. It’s a beautiful moment that pays moving tribute to the Osage way of life while highlighting that the same culture will be lost later down the line.. The audience nor Scorsese himself are permitted to follow her into paradise, and as she begins walking into the shimmering grasslands we are pulled back into the desaturated world of the living, where her daughters huddle around her, howling with grief, and William Hale (Robert DeNiro playing the Devil incarnate) stands nefariously over her corpse. There’s violence still to come. 

Read our review of Killers of The Flower Moon here.

Credit: Miramax

Paul Giamatti insulting high-schoolers in The Holdovers

Anyone who has seen Paul Giamatti’s turn as movie mogul Marty Wolf in the Frankie Muniz flick Big Fat Liar will be no stranger to the actor’s comedy prowess. It’s true, not only is Giamatti one of the most reliable dramatic actors in Hollywood right now, but he’s one of the funniest. In Alexander Payne’s new Christmas classic The Holdovers, Giamatti’s timing is sharper than ever, and his tongue is hilariously barbed as the curmudgeonly Paul Hunham, a gruff but quick-witted ancient history professor at a rich-boy private school who despises his students almost as much as they despise him. Each back and forth between Hunham and his pupils is comically one-sided, Giamatti’s character trading insults with the teens like a master swordsman spars effortlessly with a clumsy group of amateurs in an old Shaw Brothers movie. “Snarling visigoths” he mutters, as the class try and appeal their failing grades; “Hormonal vulgarians” he growls, after one particularly snobby student makes a mind-numbingly ignorant remark about another member of staff. They’re the kind of one-liners that are so cartoonishly over-intellectual that they risk making a character unlikeable, but with Giamatti at the helm, each insult dished out feels like a victory for the audience too. The kids never stood a chance. 

Read our interview with Alexander Payne here.

Kitty Grady – Digital Editor

Credit: SBS Distribution

Franz Rogowski’s crop top in Passages

Ira Sachs is often referred to as a director for grown-ups (no, not in that way). But in Passages, his 2023 feature about a ménage-à-trois set in contemporary Paris, one the most memorable moments is when a character behaves like a complete child. Franz Rogowski plays the German filmmaker Tomas, whose cosmopolitan relationship with his English husband Martin (Ben Wishaw) is existentially threatened when he starts sleeping with schoolteacher Agathe (Adèle Exarchopoulos). After its steamy, erotic beginnings, the affair quickly gets serious: Tomas moves in and Agathe gets pregnant. Tomas – whose temperament and lifestyle is decisively artistic – is unready for the seriousness of the situation, typified by his inappropriate wardrobe choices. Arriving extremely late, he seems to have come straight from a nightclub, wearing a sheer, dragon-print crop top, that he also uses elsewhere to seduce Martin again. Agathe’s petit bourgeois parents don’t seem too impressed by his lateness or his crop top – her father’s comic eye roll almost steals the scene away from Rogowski’s midriff. But this succinct sartorial choice (the film’s brilliant costumes are by Khadija Zeggaï) speaks to the poetic deftness of Sach’s filmmaking. “The costumes were a prop,” Sachs told BAFTA. “It could be used to seduce his boyfriend, Martin and in the next scene it’s with [Agathe’s] parents… It really makes the storytelling more efficient.” 

Read our full interview with Ira Sachs on Passages here.

Credit: Les Films Pelléas

The 50 Cent steel drum cover in Anatomy of a Fall

Alpine courtroom thriller Anatomy of a Fall, Justine Triet’s Palme d’Or-winning feature is a masterpiece, largely due to Sandra Hüller’s phenomenal performance as novelist Sandra Voyter, who is accused of foul play in her husband’s suicide. However, the film’s intense, menacing psychological atmosphere is set up from the beginning by a song. Namely, the German funk band Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band’s cover of ‘P.I.M.P’ by 50 Cent. As Sandra is interviewed by a student, her husband plays the song on a loop upstairs, the steel pans echoing loud enough to render their conversation impossible to continue. The song is even discussed in the courtroom. Did it prevent their son from hearing them argue? Was it a demonstration of jealousy? Does “I don’t know what you heard about me/ But a bitch can’t get a dollar out of me” act as evidence of misogyny? Or is the lyric-free cover only incidental? Prior to using this Bacao Rhythm cover, Triet and her team had hoped to use Dolly Parton’s country song ‘Jolene,’ however they couldn’t secure the rights. ‘Please don’t take my man…. Even though you can,’ might have been more direct as a message, but 50 Cent’s German Funk adds a layer of ambiguity, whilst feeling aptly out of place in the French Alps. 

Josh O’Connor in ‘La Chimera’

Josh O’Connor speaking Italian in La Chimera

Italian auteur Alice Rohrwacher’s latest film La Chimera is an elemental tale of love, loss and magic. Josh O’Connor – known vicarious roles as English aristocrats (The Crown, Emma) and more earthy types (such as a sheep farmer in God’s Own Country), did some further shape-shifting in his lead role as Arthur. Aka ‘The Englishman,’ Arthur is an archaeologist with a sixth sense for hunting Etruscan treasures, his biggest party trick, however, is arguably his ability to speak Italian. O’Connor had in fact got in touch with Rohrwacher after seeing Happy as Lazzaro. Having initially intended ‘The Englishman’ to be for an older actor, Rohrwacher rewrote the part with O’Connor in mind and he duly learned Italian to do the role, enrolling in an immersive language course. As well as Italian, French, English and Portuguese also appear in the film. O’Connor also learned sign language for the film, which is the way he once communicated with his long lost lover. 

Read our review of La Chimera here.