Home Featured TV Shows All TV Shows Movie Reviews Book Reviews Articles Frequently Asked Questions About Us

Josie’s Best of 2023

I’ve kept a book list — specifically, a journal with one page per month listing the books I’ve read — for over two decades. A few years ago, I started adding the TV shows and movies that I watch to the journal. My motivation was these “Best Of” lists that we do each year.

As with last year, I read more than I watched. Some things were absolutely forgettable (Nine Perfect Strangers, anyone? What about The Menu?). Some were good (Bodies) but not great. Only a few deserve a spot on the coveted Josie’s Best Of 2023 list:


Poker Face: Natasha Lyonne channeling Columbo while running from the mob. Why haven’t you watched this yet?

Mrs. Davis: Nuns, AI, whales, cats, and wackadoo mysticism that makes a particular kind of sense, hand-delivered your viewing device by Damon Lindelof. When you sign up for Peacock to watch Poker Face, you can watch this limited series, too.

Midnight Mass, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and The Haunting of Hill House. Horror for Stephen King fans, especially those raised Catholic, with a strong focus on character development, encroaching dread, and (sadly) colors so muted they’re the cinematographic equivalent of Gwenyth Paltrow’s wardrobe. It took me a while to get into Mike Flanagan’s oeuvre, but now I’m officially a Flan. Or a Fanigan. Or whatever we’re called.

Abbott Elementary: Do you work in education? When you change a lightbulb in the hallway, does the power go off for the whole building? Have you accepted that asbestos is a permanent part of your life now? Are you buying your own classroom supplies, crushing on your co-workers, alternating constantly between over-eager and underwhelmed? Abbott Elementary is a lovely sitcom about a public school filled with dedicated teachers, a wacky principal, adorable kids, and comical problems. It’s heart-warming and life-affirming.


Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: I don’t love animated movies, and I certainly haven’t seen all the Shrek spinoffs. But something compelled me to click on this film, and I absolutely loved it. I’ve adored Antonio Banderas in all of his sexy-vigilante roles (Desperado, Zorro, Puss), and this movie grapples with the difficulty of aging, finding one’s place in the world, and (re)discovering love in a beautiful way. I cried.

The Meg 2. Is that even what this film is called? I don’t care. I watched the first Meg and thought it was promising. More Meg is even Meggier: it has all the humor and exaggeration that the first film wanted to include but wasn’t willing to risk. I was completely engrossed during the entire movie, and cannot remember the last time I saw a movie that was so good at being itself.

Oppenheimer and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning probably shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence together, but they both deserve honorable mentions. Oppenheimer was undeniably a great film, but I don’t really feel like I ever need to see it again.

The newest Mission Impossible, on the other hand, will almost certainly fill the “there’s nothing on but this is free on Netflix” spot in the future: like the other MI films directed by the great Christopher McQuarrie, it has a grown-up attitude towards spy nonsense and action scenes. I appreciate the practical stunts and stoic restraint almost as much as I appreciate the inclusion of Hayley Atwell.


Temi Oh’s More Perfect is a New Adult science fiction novel about a near-future dystopian London in a world in which neural implants are mandatory. Sounds derivative, doesn’t it? But there’s more: it’s also a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice story, with dashes of Persephone, Ariadne, and Icarus thrown into the mix. Still not enough? What if I added that there’s even a strong homage to Inception? It may sound like a novel trying to do too much, but I think it’s a novel that succeeds at doing a lot, all with emotional nuance and intellectual thoughtfulness.

Sin Blanché and Helen Macdonald’s Prophet is also a science fiction novel, although one pitched more for the grown-ups. Think of The X-Files, but with a queer slow-burn romance. Think of wacky physics, an ever-adapting pathogen, some childhood trauma, some adult trauma, and—above all—the authors’ willingness to follow a story down a meandering, very fun path.

Percival Everett’s Dr. No came out in 2022, but I didn’t read it until this year. Everett’s style in always hilarious: erudite and sardonic, fast-paced and thoughtful. Dr. No is about a professor who specializes in the study of nothing. Not zero. Nothing. When a wannabe supervillain tries to rope him into his plans for world domination (or is it world destruction), he winds up like the odd man out in a Bond film.

Alejandro Zambra’s Chilean Poet (translated by Megan McDowell) isn’t a science fiction novel. It’s a realistic novel with postmodern flair, focusing on the complex ways that we inhabit and create families, both of the biological and found varieties. The narrator is chatty and informal, which gives the work a very personal vibe. It’s a literary masterpiece that doesn’t feel “literary” at all.

Jeremy Cooper’s novel Brian came to my attention in the weirdest way possible: Cillian Murphy recommended it in an interview with The Guardian. When I saw that it was put out by the remarkable indie publisher Fitzcarraldo Editions, I had to try it. It’s a small story, or a story of a small person: a solitary, quiet, reserved man who carves out a tiny space for himself when he discovers the British Film Institute’s regular screenings of old and recent classics. It’s a haunting book, both joyful and bittersweet, that shows you the complex inner workings of the sort of person you likely wouldn’t notice if you passed them on the street.


Wide-leg pants are back! Early in 2023, the internet informed me — and real-life observation confirmed — that skinny jeans were no longer cool. They are, apparently, “cheugy,” a word that the Young People use to describe... people like me.

Well, I may be cheugy (I am too old to care), but I’m embracing the new, wider style of pants. Straight leg. Wide straight leg. Wide leg. I’ve even got my eyes on a pair of something called “balloon pants.” My knees are liberated. My calves can breathe. I feel like my teenage self again, because that was the last time wide leg pants were really popular. I’m wearing a pair of gigantic cargo pants right now and have never been happier.

Just imagine what 2024 might bring...

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. Wide leg pants! Yay! And more books for my list. I've actually seen Poker Face, Mrs. Davis, and most of the movies for a change. Merry Christmas, Josie!

  2. Of your list, I only saw Oppenheimer (married to a physicist, so I could get husband to go). But now you have me intrigued by Puss in Boots! Thanks so much for the suggestions, Josie.


We love comments! We moderate because of spam and trolls, but don't let that stop you! It’s never too late to comment on an old show, but please don’t spoil future episodes for newbies.