Better Late Than Never | A Look Back At Films Of 2023 With Spoken Nerd

Why Beau Is Afraid was my favorite movie of the year… 

To be completely transparent, 2023 was a difficult year for me. I am not going to use this as a rouse to deny the craftsmen of cinematic achievement their proper praise; rather, I want my readers to understand my perspective as I reflect on the films that touched my life in 2023. Let’s face it, we all need inspiring films to start a new year and 2023 gave us A Man Called Otto to set things in motion. Tom Hanks is a class act, and it is a joy to see him in this role. The film played out like a more wholesome counterpart to Grand Torino. We started on a high note and ended on a high note with another class act, Nicholas Cage. Nicholas Cage gave us a wonderful performance as Dracula in the comedy horror flick, Renfield, but that is not the high note I am talking about. I am talking about Dream Scenario. While Dream Scenario may not be a feel-good movie, it offers introspective about the world we live in and that feels good enough! I could get lost in the details telling you about the shows that I binged in 2023 or the Shudder selections that I never reviewed, but I am not here to major in the minors; It is 2024 and I am still talking about last year, so I am going to spare you the details and give you my TOP 4! 


Thank you, Obama. Netflix hits hard when it hits and when they announced the cast of this end-of-the-world thriller, I was sold. Even in Black Phone, where he wore a mask throughout the film, Ethan Hawke delivers. Pair this man up with Julia Roberts and throw in Mahershala Ali, you have a hit! The film feels very Hitchcockian but offers modern cinematography with drone shots that make the trees look like heads of kale. There is so much happening in this film, and it has everything going for it. Everyone has Netflix. Watch that shit! Tell me what you think.  


I do not think that a better job could have been done with this movie. I was amazed by the thought-provoking concepts, the well-roundedness on gender perspectives, the positive message of the film, and the self-effacing humor regarding the brand. While Barbie felt like an A24 movie, it had everything in the way of set design that you would expect from a big-budget kid’s flick. The chase scene with Will Ferell will forever be in my head with the Charli XCX song blasting! I love it! 


Directed by Brandon Cronenberg, Infinity Pool is a fresh and unique horror film that takes place in a fictional island country. The story is thrilling and presents a paradox of consequences made void through science. In some ways, this film offers a reflection on justice, grace, and disruption with an approach like  Kurt Vonnegut’s short story, Harrison Bergeron. I was literally on the edge of my seat during the entire film. I cannot wait to see what Brandon Cronenberg does next.


I mentioned in the introductory paragraph that I had a difficult year. I watched this film amid that difficulty, and I related with the protagonist and became one with him in the following days. Beau is Afraid is a story about anxiety. Overwhelming, crippling, life-threatening anxiety that dictates your path. The film follows Beau through a series of events where he not only cannot get ahead, but he cannot seem to grasp what is happening. During this dark comedy where I found myself laughing aloud to the point of tears. I have heard criticism that the movie is too long, but I barely noticed the length. I wanted more.  Beau lives in a universe where Murphy’s law rules everything around him. When he walks on the city streets, he must run to his apartment and lock himself in because there are maniacs running around everywhere trying to stab him. He leaves the key in his apartment door unattended for less than thirty seconds and some take it leaving his home unsecured. The movie is making statements on mental health, anxiety, propaganda, and fear. This reminded me of my own interpretations of the world as a child who was always being warned about the dangers of life. With detailed set designs like Wes Anderson and surrealism like David Lynch, Ari Aster directed my favorite film of 2023!

About Nathan Conrad:

He’s best known as the Nashville-based Hip Hop/Indie Pop emcee Spoken Nerd, but this isn’t your typical rap project. He rhymes playfully at times, singing and/or rapping, juxtaposing his style with real-life situations and subject matter. Occasionally Spoken Nerd will find inspiration in films and will put it into song. With eight full-length albums into his career, the rapper has built a healthy catalog of music, which doesn’t include the number of EPs and singles released. His most recent release is Magical Powers.

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