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james debate

Sunday, 12 March 2023


oscars 86th academy awards 2014
Welcome back to The Ephemeric. It is Oscar season again, and once again March is the month in which I know not the light of day. I could make the same joke as last year by copy pasting the intro blurb, but instead I'll just get straight to some predictions so we can all go on with our day.

This was actually a pretty tricky year to call. I am very torn between The Banshees of Inisherin and Everything Everywhere All at Once for the bulk of awards. Both are love it or hate it kind of movies that could really go either way depending on who's voting. Meanwhile many of the technical awards are being contested by an array of sumptuously produced but otherwise aggressively "just ok" films like Elvis, Avatar 2 and The Fabelans. I'm usually pretty accurate with these predictions, but who knows, this year could spring a few surprises!

Best Picture

  • All Quiet on the Western Front – Malte Grunert, producer
  • Avatar: The Way of Water – James Cameron and Jon Landau, producers
  • The Banshees of Inisherin – Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin, and Martin McDonagh, producers
  • Elvis – Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Gail Berman, Patrick McCormick, and Schuyler Weiss, producers
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once – Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, and Jonathan Wang, producers
  • The Fabelmans – Kristie Macosko Krieger, Steven Spielberg, and Tony Kushner, producers
  • Tár – Todd Field, Alexandra Milchan, and Scott Lambert, producers
  • Top Gun: Maverick – Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, David Ellison, and Jerry Bruckheimer, producers
  • Triangle of Sadness – Erik Hemmendorff and Philippe Bober, producers
  • Women Talking – Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, and Frances McDormand, producers
And the winner: Everything Everywhere All at Once
Who should really win: Everything Everywhere All at Once
Explanation: I am torn this year between EEAaO and Banshees of Inisherin. Banshees is a brilliantly made movie, one of McDonagh's best, but EEAaO is one of those once in a generation slices of insanity that will enthrall some and repulse others. My initial impression was that Banshees was the superior film, but EEAaO has grown on me since I saw it, for its ambition, its imagination. I think it will win the big prize today.

Best Director

  • Martin McDonagh – The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – Everything Everywhere All at Once
  • Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans
  • Todd Field – Tár
  • Ruben Östlund – Triangle of Sadness
And the winner: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert - Everything Everywhere All at Once
Who should really win: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert - Everything Everywhere All at Once
Explanation: As best picture goes, so also does best director often go. Hard to argue with a director who is able to make audiences weep over a scene of two rocks arguing.

Best Actor

  • Austin Butler – Elvis as Elvis Presley
  • Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin as Pádraic Súilleabháin
  • Brendan Fraser – The Whale as Charlie
  • Paul Mescal – Aftersun as Calum Paterson
  • Bill Nighy – Living as Mr. Rodney Williams
And the winner: Brendan Fraser – The Whale as Charlie
Who should really win: Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin as Pádraic Súilleabháin
Explanation: Another tricky one to call. Everyone is falling over themselves with praise for Brendan Fraser this year. But one suspects that a significant part of it is the story behind his career, his abuse and the shameful treatment he received. People like the story of the Brendan Fraser comeback. On the merits of performance, my pick goes to Colin Farrell for delivering a career best performance in Banshees.

Best Actress

  • Cate Blanchett – Tár as Lydia Tár
  • Ana de Armas – Blonde as Norma Jeane
  • Andrea Riseborough – To Leslie as Leslie Rowlands
  • Michelle Williams – The Fabelmans as Mitzi Schildkraut-Fabelman
  • Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All at Once as Evelyn Quan Wang
And the winner: Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All at Once as Evelyn Quan Wang
Who should really win: Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All at Once as Evelyn Quan Wang
Explanation: No argument here, Michelle Yeoh is queen.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Brendan Gleeson – The Banshees of Inisherin as Colm Doherty
  • Brian Tyree Henry – Causeway as James Aucoin
  • Judd Hirsch – The Fabelmans as Boris Schildkraut
  • Barry Keoghan – The Banshees of Inisherin as Dominic Kearney
  • Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All at Once as Waymond Wang
And the winnerKe Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All at Once as Waymond Wang
Who should really win: Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All at Once as Waymond Wang
Explanation: None here either, Ke Huy Quan's performance in EEAaO was astonishing, especially considering Quan has been out of acting for such a long time. That rare example of feel good hype that is actually justified by the work. What a story, what a performance.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Angela Bassett – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever as Queen Ramonda
  • Hong Chau – The Whale as Liz
  • Kerry Condon – The Banshees of Inisherin as Siobhán Súilleabháin
  • Jamie Lee Curtis – Everything Everywhere All at Once as Deirdre Beaubeirdre
  • Stephanie Hsu – Everything Everywhere All at Once as Joy Wang / Jobu Tupaki
And the winnerJamie Lee Curtis – Everything Everywhere All at Once as Deirdre Beaubeirdre
Who should really win: Stephanie Hsu – Everything Everywhere All at Once as Joy Wang / Jobu Tupaki
Explanation: I have a feeling the Academy will choose to recognise Curtis, as much for her performance as for her body of work over the years (as the Academy tends to do). I would actually have awarded this to her EEAaO co-star Stephanie Hsu, whose performance was simply spellbinding.

Best Original Screenplay

  • The Banshees of Inisherin – Martin McDonagh
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once – Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
  • The Fabelmans – Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner
  • Tár – Todd Field
  • Triangle of Sadness – Ruben Östlund
And the winnerEverything Everywhere All at Once – Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Who should really win: The Banshees of Inisherin – Martin McDonagh
Explanation: Let me just say, EEAaO and Banshees would both deserve this prize should they emerge victorious, and with the way the hype train is going I expect they will go for the former. Banshee's masterful character study and wit makes for a marginally more deserving winner, in my opinion.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • All Quiet on the Western Front – Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson, and Ian Stokell; based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque
  • Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Rian Johnson; based on characters created by Johnson and the film Knives Out
  • Living – Kazuo Ishiguro; based on the original motion picture screenplay Ikiru by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, and Hideo Oguni
  • Top Gun: Maverick – Screenplay by Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie; Story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks; based on the film Top Gun written by Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr.
  • Women Talking – Sarah Polley; based on the novel by Miriam Toews
And the winner: Women Talking – Sarah Polley; based on the novel by Miriam Toews
Who should really win: Living – Kazuo Ishiguro; based on the original motion picture screenplay Ikiru by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, and Hideo Oguni
Explanation: For my money, there is one standout film from this list, Kazuo Ishiguro's beautiful Living. A film that has flown surprisingly under the radars of the American awards bodies. Subtlety is a British trait, after all.

So there you have it, The Ephemeric's picks for the year. Enjoy the Oscars tonight, and when the results go as predicted, remember that you heard it here first! 

Saturday, 11 March 2023

Created by Craig Mazin, Neil Druckmann
Network HBO
Starring Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey
Genre Post-apocalyptic Drama
Running Time 45-80 minutes

last of us part i ii game playstation ps5 pedro pascal bella ramsey hbo best new show 2023
It is the TV series of 2023, so far, that everyone is talking about. But it's a smash hit that few saw coming. After all, The Last of Us is a videogame adaptation, one based on that most tired of genres, the zombie survival horror. By all accounts, it's not a concept that should have yielded anything of value. But HBO didn't see it that way and they were willing to invest the considerable talents of Craig Mazin, creator of the award winning Chernobyl into bringing this project to life. It's a gamble that seems to have paid off.

So how have HBO managed to pull this sleight of hand and succeed beyond all expectation? I think it is important to preface this discussion by stating that I have played the original game, although I was never a particularly big fan of it. I think The Last of Us, the videogame, is a perfectly decent title that has been hyped beyond all reason, lavished with praise for its storytelling which, in truth, is no more impressive that any number of other titles in gaming. I mention this in order to provide context when I say that, while I find the original source material to be slightly overrated, the TV series is absolutely brilliant.

Conceptually, The Last of Us sounds just like any number of post-apocalyptic zombie stories. A parasitic disease sweeps the world, turning people into zombies, resulting in the collapse of civilisation. The survivors struggle through a post-apocalyptic world where they must contend both with the overt horrors of the infected, as well as the hidden horrors of humanity's own greed and cruelty. Our free-spirited livewire of a main character Ellie makes a road trip across the post-apocalyptic United States with her gruff, emotionally repressed surrogate father figure, Joel, in the hopes of finding a cure and, well, saving the world.

There's a few things that elevate The Last of Us beyond the typical, beginning with the backstory and depiction of the crisis itself. There is nothing supernatural behind this zombie apocalypse, nor is it some lazy macguffin cooked up in a lab. Rather it is a cautionary tale based on a plausible, if highly unlikely extrapolation of real science, one that arises as a direct consequence of man-driven climate change. Second, and most important, is the focus on complex character-driven stories rather than gore and action. This world is full of deeply human stories. A young man who compromises his own integrity in order to protect his younger brother, an unlikely romance forged in the fire of apocalypse, a grieving father given a second chance to redeem himself for the child he was not able to save.

In many ways, the zombies themselves exist in the background of this story. The Last of Us is really about how we treat one another and how different people cope with extreme circumstances. It is these moments in particular, the attempts to find little pockets of humanity and hope in an utterly dystopian setting, that are most effective. In a genre where the character arcs are usually skin-deep contrivances to bridge the gap between zombie splatter and chainsaws, this is not really something we have seen before, at least not to this great an extent. These elements are all present in the games already, which is why they have been so well received, but the TV series takes it so much further, expanding and fleshing out nearly everything.

Then there is the execution. The Last of Us begins with a masterclass in world building, filling in hours' worth of detailed lore and alternative history through news headlines, talk show clips and flashbacks. It's an extremely elegant method for filling in the audience in a way that doesn't feel like soulless exposition and doesn't take too long to arrive at the dramatic story beats. These moments also do a fantastic job of fleshing out the world into something that feels lived in and real, showing us the societal and cultural impact of these moments, beyond just the action of the central narrative.

HBO also deserve great credit for taking such a bold and experimental format. This is a series so confident in its world building that it frequently has the bravery to break away from its main characters entirely to show alternate perspectives and stories set in this world. This is most notable in the third episode, essentially a self-contained film centred around two characters only briefly mentioned in the games. This is one of the finest episodes of television I have seen in years and has been widely acclaimed in particular. I would be stunned if it did not garner recognition come awards season.

I have already spoken about the depth of the characters, but crucially this is matched in the casting. If he wasn't already after The Mandalorian, Pedro Pascal is now a bona fide star, but in particular this series will surely serves as a launching point for the bright career of co-star Bella Ramsey. Even the smaller roles and guest parts are performed with aplomb, with that third episode's starring duo of Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett both being tipped for awards.

It goes without saying that The Last of Us stands as one of the best videogame adaptations of all time, admittedly not the highest of bars. But this an excellent series by any standard, one that stands out in a crowded genre and delivers a sublime example of to blend horror with character-driven storytelling.

Sunday, 5 March 2023

Hello and welcome back to 2023's final post from the Hot List. This week we will be looking at the most exciting new movies set to hit the big screen in 2023 from March onwards, after the cutoff point for this year's awards season.

ephemeric hot list most best hottest anticipated new movies films 2023 exciting

2023 is so far shaping up to be a strange year for film. Usually, even at this early stage, you can get a pretty good idea of what films are coming out when, and which are likely to be the big contenders come awards season the following year. I don't know if it's from the disruption to film scheduling that has come about from all these online streaming production companies, but there seems to be a lot more ambiguity this year. A lot of films that are supposed to come out, but not set in stone, a lot of films supposedly close to completion, but without even a film trailer or poster to look at. It's odd this year. 

That said, there is still a lot of exciting stuff on offer, including a few tantalising debut filmmakers, as well as several of the old favourites like Fincher and Scorsese. If I have one observation from this year's selection, it's that there are a lot of biographical films and films based on real events. There's space there for something to come out of left field and really take the industry by surprise, much in the same way that Everything Everywhere All At Once did this year.

So without further delay, the key films to keep an eye on in the coming year (trailers linked in the title where available), starting with number 15:

15. You Hurt My Feelings

you hurt my feelings julia louise dreyfus holofcener best most anticipated film movie 2023Julia Louis Dreyfus became a household name in the 1990s for Seinfeld, and more recently established herself as an awards calibre actress in Armando Iannucci's Veep. 2023 will see Dreyfus in her most significant starring role to date in a Hollywood film, with You Hurt My Feelings.

This is the latest film from writer/director Nicole Holfcener, herself a previous Academy Award nominee for Can You Ever Forgive Me?. This latest, which co-stars Tobias Menzies, sees Dreyfus play a struggling novelist, whose marriage is suddenly upended when she overhears her husband giving his honest reaction to her latest book.

You Hurt My Feelings had its world premiere at Sundance this past January to strong critical acclaim, and is expected to be a fixture when it releases later in 2023, perhaps even with a 2024 Oscar nod for Dreyfus?

Release Date: TBA 2023

14. Dune: Part Two

dune part two timothee chalamet best movies films 2023
The sprawling literary series of Dune has long held a reputation as unfilmable, at least over the duration of a film (a miniseries came pretty close). So when Legendary Studios committed the cash for a big budget, multi-part epic adaptation that may never have even seen completion had the first installment not been a success, it was one heck of a gamble.

Yet, against the odds and under the expert stewardship of Denis Villeneuve, Dune: Part One was a critical and commercial success. Its success means that we will get that second half to the story, with Dune: Part Two

Dune: Part Two will feature the same creative team and cast of the first film, following Timothée Chalamet's Atreides' thirst for revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family, and a greater focus on Zendaya's Chani, seen only briefly in the first film, as her group of Fremen collaborate with Atreides in this quest

The first film was an epic adventure that I can't wait to see concluded. Who knows where the series will go from there. There have been rumours of a third film and Legendary is said to be working on a TV spin off.

Release Date: November 2023

13. Asteroid City

asteroid city wes anderson best films movies 2023
Depending on your tastes, the occasion of a new Wes Anderson film may evoke excitement or tedium. Since striking gold with his award winning The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson's last few films have been met with decidedly more muted response. His next project, Asteroid City is said to hold loftier ambitions.

Co-written with Roman Coppola, Asteroid City is a period film set at a 1950s junior stargazing convention in the American midwest. The cast will, once again, feature a lengthy ensemble of big names, including many frequent Anderson collaborators such as Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman, as well as big name newcomers Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, Liev Schreiber, Rupert Friend and many, many others.

Will Asteroid City break the Wes Anderson mould, or prove to be another exercise in cinematic excess? We will see when it releases this summer.

Release Date: June 2023

12. A Good Person

a good person zach braff best films movies 2023 scrubs garden state elizabeth pugh
Twenty years ago, then TV star Zach Braff released his directorial debut, Garden State. This was met with critical acclaim, with Braff being dubbed a filmmaker to watch, compared favourably by many with a young Woody Allen. It didn't quite pan out that way and his work since has been sporadic, but solid, if unable to evoke the same response.

His latest film, A Good Person, sees Braff step behind the camera completely. The rising Florence Pugh starts alongside Morgan Freeman in a tale about a young woman bonding with her would-be father in law, after a fatal accident. 

It's a drama rather than Braff's usual blend of dramedy, borne out of personal grief in the wake of the pandemic, but one which will strive to find optimism and meaning in strife. A Good Person releases in March.

Release Date: March 2023

11. The Holdovers

the holdovers paul giamatti best films movies 2023 alexander payne
The Holdovers marks a reunion for Sideways collaborators Alexander Payne and Paul Giamatti. Payne has built an award winning career on satirical depictions of Americana, while Giamatti may well be one of the most celebrated actors not to have won an Oscar to date, although he was nominated in 2006 for Cinderella Man.

The Holdovers marks a return to smaller scale films after a few disappointing big budget turns from Payne. Giamatti plays a curmudgeonly teacher at an elite New England academy, forced to stay over the Christmas break to babysit the handful of troubled students with nowhere to go.

The film tested to enthusiastic review at the end of 2022, with a cinema release now slated for November of 2023 and potential 2024 Oscar nods in mind.

Release Date: November 2023

10. Dumb Money

dumb money gamestop game stop reddit wallstreetbets short squeeze craig gillespie paul dano best films movies 2023
Based on the book The Antisocial Network by Ben Mezrich, Dumb Money is a dramatization of the real life GameStop short squeeze of 2021, instigated by a ragtag band of Reddit trolls, that managed to stun Wall Street.

Hollywood does these absurd finance and current events stories well (see The Big Short, Too Big To Fail) and the man bringing this one to screen is Craig Gillespie, a man with a steadily growing body of fine work. Gillespie started in the indie scene with quirky films like Lars and the Real Girl, but has more recently moved into bigger projects, most notably the Academy Award winning duo of I, Tonya and Cruella

Dumb Money features an ensemble cast including Paul Dano, Sebastian Stan, Seth Rogen, Vincent D'Onofrio, America Ferrera and Anthony Ramos. Gillespie's reputation for stylish, high-flair, high-energy productions would seem a perfect fit for this story. This could well be the film that takes his career in another big step towards stardom.

Release Date: TBA 2023
An adaptation of the French graphic novel of the same name, The Killer follows the life of an initially unnamed assassin.

This adaptation comes from screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, best known for writing Seven, while directorial duties lie with the great David Fincher, with whom Walker collaborated on Seven. Fincher has a penchant for dark, heavily stylised filmmaking in the noir genre, The Killer would seem to be a perfect match for his style.

The title role will be filled by the always excellent Michael Fassbender, with a supporting cast that includes Charles Parnell and Tilda Swinton. The Killer will release on Netflix in November.

Release Date: November 2023

8. Rustin

bayard rustin obama george wolfe best films movies 2023
The first feature film to come out of Barack and Michelle Obama's production company, Rustin is a biopic about the life of gay civil rights icon Bayard Rustin. 

Fittingly penned by Dustin Lance Black, screenwriter of Milk. Rustin is notable as a rare film credit for director George C. Wolfe, better known as the Tony Award winning theatre director of various productions, including Angels in America.

The title role goes to Colman Domingo, another highly decorated theatre and TV actor with Tony, Olivier and Emmy awards to his name. The supporting cast includes Jeffrey Wright, Chris Rock and the up and comer Da'Vine Joy Randolph.

Rustin releases late in 2023 on Netflix.

Release Date: TBA 2023

7. Past Lives

past lives best films movies 2023
Past Lives marks the directorial debut of Korean-Canadian writer/director Celine Song, and may be one of the most exciting debuts in years.

A deeply personal character study of two friends reuniting after many years, told across three distinct periods of their lives. The cast is led by Greta Lee, an actress many will recognise from her TV work on Russian Doll and The Morning Show, and Teo Yoo, an actor well known in Korean cinema making his western debut.

Past Lives premiered at Sundance in January, receiving high acclaim as one of the best debut features in recent memory, as well as a likely contender for film of the year, even at this early stage. A wider release will come later in the year, but based on the buzz this could well be one of the surprise packages of 2023.

Release Date: TBA 2023

6. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

spiderman spiderverse sequel 2 spidergwen across part one spider-verse spider-man best films movies 2023 miles moralesPixar have typically been considered the animation kings in recent years, and to a lesser extent Disney. So you can imagine the surprise when this unassuming Spider-Man animation from Sony managed to beat both (and Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs to boot) to win the Best Animated Feature Oscar back in 2019. It was deserved, Into the Spider-Verse was an outstanding film. 

In 2022 2023, we will see the sequel: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. The first in a planned duo of sequels, to be followed by Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, along with an apparent Spider-Gwen spinoff that has been in development since the first film. 

This sequel will see Mile Morales traveling across the Spider-Verse, teaming up with an array of alternate Spider-Men to take on a new enemy. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller return as writers. The main cast of the original returns, Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, and Hailee Steinfeld. They will be joined by Oscar Isaac, who made a brief appearance in a post-credits scene in the first movie.

Spider-Verse 2 releases in June. 

Release Date: June 2023

5. Next Goal Wins

next goal wins taika waititi best films movies 2023 michael fassbender elisabeth mossThis one has been on my list for a few years now, but in 2023 it looks to be finally heading for a release, with a September premiere currently planned. 

Taika Waititi is having something of a moment, the New Zealand filmmaker and actor has come a long way from indie comedy hits like Flight of the Conchords and What We Do in the Shadows to running the Thor franchise for Disney and, of course, his Oscar winning success with Jojo Rabbit.

His next film, Next Goal Wins, is based on the true story of Dutch football coach Thomas Rongen and his efforts to take the American-Samoa national team, then considered the worst in the world, to the 2014 World Cup.

Michael Fassbender stars as Rongen, and he will be joined by Elisabeth MossArmie Hammer, and long-time Waititi collaborator Rhys Darby.

Release Date: September 2023

4. Maestro

maestro leonard bernstein bradley cooper best films movies 2023Making the jump from actor to director is a challenge for anyone. But when Bradley Cooper made his debut as a director in 2018 with his remake of A Star is Born, it's fair to say he made a pretty good go of it. His follow up, Maestro, releases in 2023.

An interesting choice for a second film. Maestro is a biographical drama about the life of legendary composer Leonard Bernstein, with a focus on his marriage to Felicia Montealegre.

Cooper will play Bernstein himself, with a strong supporting cast that includes Carey Mulligan, Jeremy Strong, and Maya Hawke. Maestro will release in late 2023.

Release Date: TBA 2023

3. Napoleon

napoleon ridley scott joaquin phoenix best film movie 2023
The idea of adapting the story of Napoleon into a historical epic has been bouncing around Hollywood for decades. Stanley Kubrick wanted to do it back in the day, then for years Spielberg was linking with adapting Kubrick's concept into a miniseries. But it was always just talk. Now, in 2023, Ridley Scott is finally bringing the story of Napoleon to the big screen.

The choice of casting is pretty much perfect. The diminutive demagogue himself will be played by Joaquin Phoenix, with Vanessa Kirby co-starring as Empress Joséphine.

Simply put, this is going to be one of the major players in 2023 cinema. Napoleon is expected to release through AppleTV+ by the end of the year.

Release Date: TBA 2023

2. Killers of the Flower Moon

killers of the flower moon scorsese dicaprio best films movies 2023
Martin Scorsese's long-gestating adaptation of Killers of the Flower Moon will finally see release in 2023. 

Based on the non-fiction book of David Grann, this is the story of a series of murders in 1920s Oklahoma following the discovery of oil on local tribal lands. A core cast of Leonardo DiCaprioRobert De Niro and Jesse Plemons, with smaller roles for Brendan Fraser and John Lithgow

This film has been delayed time and time again, but the quality of the creative team behind it demands attention. It's an event whenever Scorsese releases a new film, and this will be no different.

Killers of the Flower Moon is targeting a summer release date through AppleTV+.

Release Date: TBA 2023

1. Oppenheimer

best films movies 2023 oppenheimer chris christopher nolanBut my number one pick for the year sees the return of the great Christopher Nolan with his latest project, Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer, as the name suggests, is a biographical film about scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, better known as the father of the atom bomb. Cillian Murphy stars in the title role, alongside an all star cast that includes Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr, Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, Kenneth Branagh, Gary Oldman and many others.

Intriguingly (if you're a film geek like me) Nolan will be partnering again with cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, one of the best in the business despite never having won an Academy Award. Perhaps this will be their year.

Oppenheimer releases in July and will be one of the year's biggest films.

Release Date: July 2023

So there you have it folks: The 2023 Hot List. I will be back with many more articles in due course, but for now let's make 2023 a great year together.

Sunday, 12 February 2023

Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2023 Hot List. This week we will be having a look at the most exciting new music due for release in the coming year.

best anticipated new music 2023 albums hot list

If variety is the spice of life, then there has never been a finer time to be into music. Democratisation of music streaming and a departure from the traditional "album" has left us with an overabundance of new artists and releases each year. The sheer volume can be difficult to manage, which is why the act of curation is more vital than ever. With this year's Hot List, The Ephemeric aims to provide a concise and thorough list of the most exciting music coming from debut artists as well as returning favourites. Tastes may differ, but if you start your 2023 musical adventure off here, you won't go far wrong.

So without further ado, here is our list of the top albums to keep an eye on in 2023, starting with number 15:

15. MGMT

mgmt kids time to pretend new album 2023 best most anticipated music
MGMT are still best known for their trailblazing debut, Oracular Spectacular, released some 15 years ago. The singles from their first album, Time to Pretend, Kids, and Electric Feel, proved to be generational hits with longevity to this day.

It would not be accurate to say they have struggled since this strong beginning, so much as they have eschewed the familiar pop stylings that made them such an instant success. Their work since then has veered more into the experimental and genre-defying, to rather more divisive reception. 

This all seems to have changed with their most recent album, 2018's Little Dark Age, marking a return to the radio-friendly electronic pop that worked well on the debut. That album was a critical and commercial success, considered by many to be some of their best work to date. 

In 2023, the band is set to release a new, as yet untitled album. We have no idea what it will look or sound like; if it is to continue the formula of OS and LDA, or dive into something new entirely. Whatever comes of it, it's sure to be worth checking out.

Release Date: Summer 2023

14. "Bubblegum" by Biig Piig (New band)

bubblegum biig piig 2023 debut album best most anticipated new music
Next we have Irish performer Biig Piig, a consistent fixture on the music industry's one-to-watch lists for 2023. 

A series of EPs released over the last few years have generated considerable hype for the West London-based rapper and songwriter, including tracks such as Sunny and Feels Right. In 2023, her debut album Bubblegum will release and it has industry watchers very excited.

Biig Piig stands out for her unique, genre-hopping blend of pop and rap, with lead singles as disparate as the tender and delicate In the Dark and the more acerbic Kerosene (which I don't care for as much). There's considerable talent here and Biig Piig are likely to be a name we hear more going forward.

Release Date: January 2023

13. "Angels & Queens: Part II" by Gabriels

gabriels debut new album 2023 angels and queens part 2 ii best most anticipated musicLast year's winner of the Debbie for best debut album, along with a host of other lesser awards, 2023 will see an immediate follow up from Gabriels. 2022's debut album was intended to be released in two parts and in 2023 we will get Angels & Queens: Part II.

This soul-singing trio has been hotly tipped for success by many pundits in the industry and attracted glowing endorsements from heavy hitters like Elton John, who described last year's release as one of the most seminal releases of the past 10 years.

Gabriels' sound builds on the entire history of Black American music, with influences in gospel, soul and blues. Their debut release last year earned hype reviews and awards.  At the time of writing, no tracks have been released from the upcoming Part II, aside from the fact that it will feature the lead track from their 2021 EP, and still the best song they have written, Love and Hate in a Different Time.

Release Date: March 2023

12. "Continue as a Guest" by The New Pornographers

continue as guest new pornographers new album best most anticipated new music 2023While they may not be the flashiest name in the music industry, few things are as dependable as Vancouver rock band The New Pornographers putting out an album of catchy, crowd-pleasing tracks every couple of years.

Considered a supergroup, comprised of musicians who have succeeded either as solo artists or as part of other notable bands in the Canadian indie scene. I could spend all day listing out some of their memorable tracks, so here's just a sample: On the Table, Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile, and Challengers.

The band's latest album, Continue as a Guest is set to release in March and promises more of the same quality, with lead single Really Really Light boding well for what is to come.

Release Date: March 2023

11. Crawlers (New band)

crawlers best new most anticipated debut album 2023
While I am inherently skeptical of bands that go viral online, I will make an exception for Liverpudlian rock band Crawlers, who are set to cap two years of building hype with a full LP release in 2023.

The track that originally launched the group to fame, Come Over (Again) is just pure gold, but there is plenty else to admire with tracks like I Can't Drive released last year to similar praise.

This has all resulted in Crawlers being one of the more hyped bands of 2023, included in many of the industry's one-to-watch lists. That debut album should hit sometime later in 2023 and it is one to be excited for.

Release Date: TBD 2023

10. Tseba (New band)

tseba debut new album 2023 best most anticipated musicAnother new artist for 2023, Tseba have been making waves in the electronic music scene for their collaborations with genre artists such as JAM and Electric Fields.

Billed as a project to blend the old and new in electronic music, hearkening back to the roots of house with with a modern pop twist. Tseba's work manages to tap into nostalgia without sounding tired.

If tracks such as Must Be Love and Smile are anything to go by, then Tseba's reputation as one of the more exciting new songwriters in the dance genre appears to be well-founded. Their debut LP is going to be one ot keep an eye on.

Release Date: TBD 2023

9. Lemon Twigs

lemon twigs new album best new anticipated music 2023
Long Island art rock maestros Lemon Twigs have been going strong since their hype 2016 debut Do Hollywood

A smattering of EPs, tours with major acts like Arctic Monkeys, and experimentations in various nostalgia-tinted projects had been met with mixed success until their most recent album, 2020's Songs for the General Public nailed the formula. The result was some of their finest work to date, most notably hit single The One.

In 2023, Lemon Twigs are returning with a new, as yet untitled album that will build upon the band's niche in retro, harmony-rich rock and roll. Starting with recently released single Corner of My Eye.

Release Date: TBD 2023

8. Tommy Lefroy 
(New band)

tommy lefroy debut album best new anticipated music 2023
Next up, another exciting new artist in Tommy Lefroy, a London-based folk duo inspired by Jane Austen and musicians such as First Aid Kit and Phoebe Bridgers. 

Tommy Lefroy followed up their well received 2021 EP with a series of tours through Europe and America in 2022. Now they are hard at work at putting out their debut album, which is expected to release in 2023.

Folk duos are a dime a dozen, but Tommy Lefroy stand out for their lush instrumentals and impeccable production, with some superb tracks released with their EP, notably The Cause and Shoot. They have just put out the first track from their upcoming debut, Worst Case, and it is a gem of a track. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

Release Date: TBD 2023

7. Jamie xx

jamie xx 2023 avalanches new album best most anticipated new music
The 2010s were a good time to be in the "xx" business. This was the decade where London rock band The xx took the world by storm with their trio of albums, and at the same time saw the launch of founding member Jamie xx's own highly successful solo career, in particular his platinum single Loud Places.

Now several years since either act has released a new album, both have been teasing an imminent release. Of the two, Jamie xx's as yet untitled third album appears to be the farthest along, allegedly in the final stages of editing before release. 

Little is known of this new album, other than that it will feature a collaboration with Melbourne's legendary plunderphonics duo The Avalanches, and is said to have been highly influenced by their sampling work with old records. We're expecting this to release sooner rather than later and when it does it will be one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year.

Release Date: Spring 2023

6. Fleet Foxes

fleet foxes new album 2023 best most anticipated music
Few bands evoke as much anticipation as Seattle's Fleet Foxes, one of the modern day masters of folk rock. 

Of their four albums to date, at least two have been bona fide masterpieces, including The Ephemeric's album of the decade, Helplessness Blues. Their most recent album, Shore marked a strong return to form and was one of the finest records of 2020, earning runner up position in the 2020 Debbies. 

In 2023, the band will release an as yet untitled fifth album. No tracks have yet been released, but the existence of the new record was confirmed during interviews following the recent release of new single A Sky Like I've Never Seen. This track itself is not expected to be part of the new record, written instead as the soundtrack to a new Amazon documentary, but if it is any indication Fleet Foxes are in fine form.

Release Date: Summer 2023

5. Braxe + Falcon (New band)

braxe falcon new debut album best most anticipated music 2023
One of the most exciting new projects in music. Braxe + Falcon is a new collaboration of legendary French producers Alan Braxe and DJ Falcon

2022 saw the release of the duo's first EP, Step By Step, a fantastic track featuring the unmistakable vocals of Panda Bear, lead vocalist of Animal Collective and highly successful solo artist in his own right.

The EP was well received, generating hype for what was to come next. A smattering of additional singles and remixes have followed to similar praise, but we're all really just waiting now for the inevitable full blown LP, confirmed recently to exist in a Reddit AMA. If, as expected, this sees the light of day in 2023, it will be one of the biggest releases in electronic music for the year.

Release Date: TBD 2023

4. "Urban Hermit" by Aloboi (New band)

aloboi urban hermit new debut album 2023 best new anticipated musicIt's finally here. A perennial item on The Ephemeric's Hot List, Aloboi has been building hype for years with a series of excellent EPs and singles. From the retro chill out vibes of A Pleasing Smile, to the more danceable electronic stylings of Want To Love, the classical remix of Night Train (Claire de Lune), or the dazzling genre mash up of Somebody Feel.

2023 will, at long last, see the release of a debut LP Urban Hermit. My first impression is that it is a shame for the LP not to include the hit singles that we have heard so far. While I am excited for entirely new music, I can't help but feel like they're leaving their star players on the bench. But make no mistake, this is still excellent music from one of the freshest composers in the industry today. Remember the name, because Aloboi looks set to become a mainstay in the electronic music scene.

Urban Hermit will release in February 2023.

Release Date: February 2023

3. "Cracker Island" by Gorillaz

cracker island gorillaz 2023 new album best new anticipated music
It feels like a long time since we have had a truly great release from Gorillaz. The Damon Albarn-led virtual band has been a core fixture in pop music for 20 years now, producing some of the world's biggest hits with tracks like Feel Good Inc19-2000, and On Melancholy Hill.

2010's Plastic Beach was a masterpiece and arguably the last great album from the group, with their more recent work, Humanz, The Now Now, and Song Machine: Season One, being met with more lukewarm reactions, despite the occasional nugget of gold. 

Their latest album, Cracker Island, looks like a return to the style of their older work, with excellent early singles Baby Queen and Skinny Ape boding very well indeed for what's to come. This could be a genuine return to form and is one of the most exciting albums to keep an eye on in 2023.

Release Date: February 2023

2. The Killers

the killers new album 2023 best new anticipated music
Next we have a band that requires absolutely no introduction. You all know their hits. The Killers are one of the world's biggest bands, now with decades of seminal work under their belt.

The band have been on something of a creative hot streak since the pandemic, with albums released in 2020 and 2021. 2023's as yet untitled album is set to make it three in four years, an impressive output in just a few years. Even more impressive is that these albums have represented some of their best work to date, with Imploding the Mirage, and Pressure Machine both releasing to immense critical acclaim.

So far just the one track has been released from the upcoming album, Boy, and it is a good one, with a danceable, electronic style that hints at a throwback to the pop stylings of Day & Age. I don't know how long the band can keep this up, but they are absolutely in the midst of a creative renaissance and long may it continue.

Release Date: Summer 2023

1. "Fantasy" by M83

fantasy m83 midnight city new album best most anticipated music 2023
But this year's number one most hotly anticipated album is Fantasy, the latest from French electronic music group M83.

This is not a group that releases music often. 2011's Hurry Up We're Dreaming was a masterpiece, ultimately finishing as runner up in The Ephemeric's top albums of the decade. But that was over a decade ago. The years since have seen a brief foray into 1990s kitsch and an experimental instrumental record released, but there has been no proper follow up.

That looks set to change with Fantasy, with the early singles indicating a return to the nostalgic 1980s pop with a modern twist that worked so brilliantly in HUWD and Saturdays = Youth. The tracks revealed so far are not just good, they're great. Oceans Niagra and Earth to Sea compare favourably with the band's best work and the rest of the tracks ooze quality. This could well be the successor to HUWD that we've been waiting on all these years, as well as an early album of the year contender when it releases in March.

Release Date: March 2023

So there you have it folks: 2023 in music. Tune in next week for this year's final Hot List, where we look at the most exciting new movies in 2023.

Sunday, 5 February 2023

Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2023 Hot List. This week we will be having a look at the most exciting theatrical productions coming to the stage in the coming year.

best anticipated new theatre theatrical production 2023 hot list

Theatre is in vogue again. We talk about it around the proverbial watercooler. The biggest names in the dramatic arts, all around the world, flock to the London stage. 2023 is set to feature household names, on and off the stage, working their craft. We have world premieres, West End transfers, Broadway hits making their way across the Atlantic for the first time and, believe it or not, still some postponed 2020 shows due to make their long-awaited debuts. 

2023 is an exciting year for theatre in and around London. So without further ado here's our list of the top 10 theatrical productions to keep an eye on in 2023, starting with number 10:

10. "Next to Normal" by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt, at the Donmar Warehouse

london best theatre 2023 next to normal musical brian yorkey tom kitt donmar
We start off with Next To Normal, the London debut of the acclaimed Broadway musical about a bipolar woman coming to terms with her family's history.

With book and music by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt respectively, Next to Normal was a Tony and Pulitzer prize winning phenomenon during its time on Broadway, and a move to the London stage was always an inevitability. 

That this long awaited debut will come at the Donmar, rather than one of London's bigger stages, might come as a bit of a surprise. But this will ensure the ideal intimate experience for those who manage to get tickets when its run begins in August of this year.

9. "Best of Enemies" by James Graham, at the Noel Coward Theatre

london best theatre 2023 james graham best enemies noel coward zachary quinto david harewood
James Graham is one those playwrights that demands attention. His recent work reads like a guide to some of the finest work in topical or political theatre, with This House, Ink, and Quiz to his name, among others.

His latest, Best of Enemies, is a fictionalised depiction of the 1968 debates between intellectuals William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal during the Democratic National Convention, the ensuing fallout and litigation, and the legacy that its coverage left on political discourse in America. 

This latest West End transfer stars two major film actors in Zachary Quinto and David Harewood and has been met with widespread critical acclaim. The current run only extends until the end of February (although another extension or transfer seems likely), so see it while you can.

8. "Free Your Mind" by Sabrina Mahfouz & Danny Boyle, at Factory International

best theatre 2023 manchester danny boyle free your mind matrix
Now for something a little bit different, in many ways. 

Free Your Mind is an immersive theatrical dance adaptation of The Matrix featuring hundreds of dancers, debuting at Factory International in Manchester, taking place over multiple "flexible spaces".

Sound weird, wild and ambitious? Sure. But it's also being directed by none other than Danny Boyle, the legendary film, stage and Olympics director who has won just about every accolade under the sun and produced work tantamount to genius over the past thirty years. It doesn't really matter what Free Your Mind is, with Boyle attached you're going to want to see it.

"Oklahoma!" by Rodgers and Hammerstein, at Wyndham's Theatre

london 2023 best theatre oklahoma rodgers hammerstein wyndhamI know what you're thinking. Really? That Oklahoma!? The cheesy, schmaltzy aw shucks musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein? Yes, is my answer. But this is Oklahoma! like you have never seen it before.

The original musical is primarily about love triangles, awkward romances and drama, but in an innocent, high school kind of way. This new interpretation, revived for Broadway in 2021 and the subject o widespread acclaim, is a much more provocative piece of work. Darker, more sexually charged, more real.

It's the same play, but reinterpreted in an entirely new light and energy. It should be an exciting watch for any musical fans, but particularly for those acquainted with the original.

6. "The Secret Life of Bees" by Lynn Nottage, Duncan Sheik and Susan Birkenhead, at the Almeida

best theatre london 2023 secret life of bees nottage sheik birkenhead almeida Another musical, but this time a brand new world premiere. This one looks to be something quite special.

The Secret Life of Bees is a musical adaptation of the award winning novel of the same name. A coming of age story set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. 

The adaptation has a huge amount of theatrical pedigree behind it, including Lynn Nottage, writer of the incredible award winning Sweat, as well as the musical minds behind the Tony Award winning Spring Awakening. This is going to be a big one when it hits the Almeida this April.

5. "Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead" by Olga Tokarczuk and Simon McBurney, at the Barbican

best theatre 2023 london drive your plow over bones dead simon mcburney complicite barbicanA new production from Simon McBurney's legendary Complicité theatre company is always an event to be savoured. Complicité are renowned for their creativity and invention, often making groundbreaking use of technology, minimalism and visual ingenuity.

This latest work adapts a violent, genre defying Nobel Prize winning novel of the same name by Olga TokarczukSet in remote rural Poland, men from the local hunting club are dying in mysterious circumstances and Janina Duszejko – an eccentric older local woman, ex-engineer, environmentalist, devoted astrologer and enthusiastic translator of William Blake – has her suspicions. 

DYPOTBOTD is touring the country through 2023. For those in London, it will be at the Barbican in March.

4. "Trouble in Butetown" by Diana Nneka Atuona, at the Donmar Warehouse

london best theatre 2023 trouble in butetown donmar diana nneka atuonaBack to the Donmar with Trouble in Butetown

A world premiere play by highly regarded playwright Diana Nneka Atuona, Trouble in Butetown is the story of a black GI gone AWOL during wartime, seeking refuge in an illegal boarding house set in the port town of Butetown, Cardiff. 

It's part war story, part social commentary, but ultimately just a fascinating and personal story of a man trying to leave his old life behind and escape prejudice. Butetown is set to be the spring tentpole in the Donmar's theatre lineup when it launches at the end of February.

3. "The Pillowman" by Martin McDonagh, at Duke of York's Theatre

london best theatre 2023 pillowman martin mcdonagh duke of yorkOne of the most celebrated works of the multi award winning playwright, screenwriter and director Martin McDonagh, best known for his work in Hollywood that includes In Bruges, Seven Psycopaths, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. The Pillowman made its debut at the National Theatre back in 2003. Now, some 19 years later, it returns to the stage at Duke of York's Theatre.

The Pillowman is the story of Katurian, an author living in a police state whose work comes under scrutiny when it becomes apparent that the violence depicted in his writing bears striking similarities to a series of gruesome child murders that take place. This West-End revival comes with a fairly prominent star in Aaron Taylor Johnson, and a dark turn for comedian Steve Pemberton

This was one of those productions originally slated for 2020 before the pandemic hit. The Pillowman is finally going to hit the stage in summer of 2023.

2. "The Motive and the Cue" by Jack Thorne, at the National Theatre

motive cue jack thorne national hamlet gielgud richard burton elizabeth taylor sam mendes johnny flynn mark gatiss london best theatre 2023
Some productions just have everything on paper. The Motive and the Cue is an exciting new play fictionalising the making of the 1964 production of Hamlet by Richard Burton and John Gielgud and the creative tensions that nearly tore the team apart.

Written by highly prominent film, TV and theatre writer Jack Thorne, whose body of work is too numerous to itemise, but includes films like The Aeronauts and The Swimmers, TV series including This is England, His Dark Materials and The Eddy, and best known in theatre for his Olivier Award winning work with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It will be directed by a legendary director of the film and stage who needs no introduction, Sam Mendes, and feature a big name cast that includes Johnny Flynn, Mark Gatiss and Tuppence Middleton

The Motive and the Cue will be the National's big summer production on the Lyttleton Stage.

1. "Patriots" by Peter Morgan, at the Noel Coward Theatre

london best theatre 2023 patriots peter morgan almeida noel coward ruper goold tom hollander
We end our theatre preview with the new play from legendary playwright Peter Morgan, known for Frost/Nixon, The Queen, The Crown, and many, many others brilliant works. 

His latest, Patriots, looks at the scramble for power between Russia's oligarchs following the collapse of the Soviet Union, focusing particularly on Boris Berezovsky, played by the award winning Tom Hollander. The presence of Rupert Goold, a man with an enviable track record in theatre, in the director's chair is the final ingredient to what should be an electric piece of theatre.

Patriots will play at the Noel Coward Theatre from May, transfering from The Almeida.

So there you have it folks: 2023 in theatre. Tune in soon for our next instalment of the Hot List, covering the essential new music coming this year!

Sunday, 22 January 2023

Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2023 Hot List. This week we will have a look at the most exciting new literature and novels you'll be reading in the coming year.

best anticipated new novels literature 2023 hot list
I'll be honest, compiling this list was more difficult this year than it has been recently. Some years are abundant with exciting new work, new voices, the latest from established legends of literature. 2023, at first blush, looks to be a year slightly bereft of originality. Far too many of the year's biggest releases fall into predictable niches. Most are topical fare or biographies exploring political and social issues, which is fine, but does every single book need to be about that these days? It makes me worried for the past-time of reading that so much of the industry seems to be about catering to outrage and grievance at the moment, at the expense of actual storytelling and creative new voices.

But if you look for it, there is interesting work out there. After a little more digging and some concerted exploration, I found them. So, for all my concerns, what follows is a list of 10 very exciting books that I will be looking out for in the year ahead. 

So here it is: your reading list for 2023, our list of the top 10 upcoming releases from the world of literature to keep an eye on this year, starting, as always, with number 10:

10. "Really Good, Actually" by Monica Heisey

best literature 2023 novel book really good actually monica heisey schitt creek
We start with something on the light and relatable side. Really Good, Actually is the debut novel by Monica Heisey, known for her work as a writer on the hit comedy series Schitt's Creek

Break ups are messy, everyone knows what that feels like and can relate. This is the premise behind Really Good, Actually, a story of break up filled with wit and humorous observations of the absurdities of social norms and our own flawed psyches.

There's nothing here that will break unprecedented ground or expand your greater understanding of the world, but Heisey's comedy bona fides as a writer make this a worthwhile proposition. 

9. "Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World" by Malcolm Harris

best literature 2023 novel book palo alto malcolm harris
Malcolm Harris is a journalist of some prominence. Editor of The New Inquiry, heavily involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement and considered a leading voice in millennial literature. 

His latest work, Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World, is a work of non-fiction that aims to be nothing less than the definitive treatise on the region, its transformation during the digital revolution, and the consequences for the wider world at large.

It's radical, ambitious stuff and a must read for anyone with an interest in the subject matter or the industry as a whole.

8. "The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece" by Tom Hanks

best literature 2023 novel book tom hanks making another major motion picture masterpiece debut
It turns out that in addition to being a pretty good actor, Tom Hanks is a pretty good writer as well. His recent foray into short story writing was critically and commercially well received. He returns now with his debut novel.

The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece sounds like something that should fit perfectly with Hanks' experience. A novel set across three decades about the making of a major superhero film and the comic books that inspired it.

This generational tale runs side by side with a tie-in comic strip, also created by Hanks, woven in with the novel's prose. For a first time author, Hanks is showing some impressive ambition in his use of the form here.

7. "Ascension" by Nicholas Binge

best literature 2023 novel book ascension nicholas binge
For this next one we break away from depictions of the real world for something a little bit different. 

Ascension is a speculative thriller, with events set into motion by the sudden appearance of a new mountain in the Pacific Ocean. Framed through the discovery of a series of letters depicting a team of scientists ascending its peak, hoping to uncover its mysteries. 

Binge has a track record when it comes to tales of the fascinating and strange. His latest will challenge the limitations of science and faith, and consider what it means to be human.

6.  "Biography of X" by Catherine Lacey

best literature 2023 novel book biography of x catherine lacey
Catherine Lacey's new novel Biography of X is a unique blending of fiction and biography depicting the life and times of X, recently deceased artist and iconoclast, one of the great creative forces of her time.

What follows is a tale that covers decades in an alternate America following X and their rise to prominence, from Europe to the ruins of America's divided territories, and through her collaborations and feuds with everyone from Bowie and Waits to Sontag and Acker. Written in the style of a biographical work composed by a grieving widow seeking to understand her deceased spouse, their work and the numerous mysteries and betrayals they carried.

The scope of this work is staggering. An alternative history that explores every part of this new world from the politics and social issues, to the cultural zeitgeists across decades of history. From a conceptual perspective, it's one of the more interesting pieces I've seen in recent years and is being tipped as one of the most hotly anticipated novels of 2023.

5. "Cuddy" by Benjamin Myers

best literature 2023 novel book cuddy benjamin myers
Benjamin Myers' last novel, Perfect Golden Circle, was one of the better reads of 2022, a true-to-form blend of wit, Britannic folklore and bucolic charm. 

Myers has shown himself to be adept at tracing the arc of history, how point A leads to point B, and weaving that into his immediate narrative. His latest, Cuddy, draws on similar themes and influences, but laid over a far more ambitious framework. A story that unfolds across centuries, consisting of multiple interwoven tales with an array of characters. Incorporating poetry, prose and real historical accounts in an ambitious retelling of the story of St. Cuthbert, unofficial patron saint of Northern England. 

It's a more experimental piece of work than what we have come to expect from his recent writing, typically noted for its simplicity and pared back form. I look forward to seeing how his style works with this more unusual narrative structure.

4. "The Ferryman" by Justin Cronin

best literature 2023 novel book ferryman justin cronin
The Ferryman sounds like a classic bit of Nolan or Bradbury-esque science fiction. Set in a seemingly idyllic island utopia where denizens have their health monitored at all time, "retiring" to a location known as the nursery when their vitals fall below a certain threshold, where they are renewed and restored to a fresh body with their memories wiped. 

You can probably see where this is going. All is not as it seems in this island paradise. What ensues is a suspenseful slice of dystopian fiction as our protagonist seeks to uncover the truth behind this mysterious society.

Best known for his acclaimed 2010 novel, The Passage, author Justin Cronin has been compared to the likes of Stephen King and Michael Crichton. It's easy to see their influence in what is sure to be one of the biggest novels of the summer.

3. "The Deep Sky" by Yume Kitasei

best literature 2023 novel book deep sky yume kitasei
This next pick takes us on a murder mystery adventure in deep space. The Deep Sky is a debut novel from author Yume Kitasei.

With Earth on the verge of environmental collapse, the planet's nations pool their resources to send a ship containing the best and brightest to a distant liveable planet. A last hope for the future of humanity. Part way through their journey, a bomb goes off. There is one prime suspect, and she must race against the clock to uncover the true culprit.

Whether you enjoy detective novels, space exploration, or the obvious parallels to videogame Among Us, this novel has a lot to be excited about and is being tipped as one of the most promising debuts of 2023.

2. "In Ascension" by Martin MacInnes

best literature 2023 novel book in ascension martin macinnesIt is unfortunate that we have two such similarly named books on this list, but the inclusion of In Ascension is more than justified. In his third novel, Martin MacInnes has crafted an irresistible mystery that has been likened to the movies Arrival and The Abyss, as well as the writings of Emily St. John Mandel.

In Ascension starts with a young researcher in the Netherlands with a fascination for the sea and the organisms that live there. What follows is a global adventure investigating a series of unexplained phenomena across the natural world that will confront the greatest questions of our existence.

It's a big step up in scope for MacInnes, whose previous work has clocked in around the 250 page mark, roughly half of In Ascension. It's certainly his most ambitious work to date, and if it works then it could be one of the most exciting reads of the year.

1. "Victory City" by Salman Rushdie

best literature 2023 novel book victory city salman rushdie
A new epic from Salman Rushdie is always going to be a major event in literature, more so this year given that this is the first work published since Rushdie suffered life changing injuries in last year's attack, which took place after this work was completed.

Victory City is an epic tale of a young girl in 14th Century India who, grief stricken by the death of her mother, is given the power to breathe an entire empire into existence, only to be consumed by it over the centuries. 

As with Rushdie's other novels, Victory City is an ambitious tale of magical realism, with allegories on religion and history woven throughout his work.

So there you have it folks: 2023 in literature. Tune in soon for our next instalment of the Hot List, covering the essential new theatre coming up in 2023!

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