From our readers: the best of 2023

 
BY:Communist Party USA| January 9, 2024
From our readers: the best of 2023

 

The editors of CPUSA.org sent out a survey at the end of 2023 encouraging our membership and readers to share their favorite movies, TV shows, books, and music from 2023. We also asked you what movement or movement leaders you thought were the most important last year. Plus, we collected recipes! Here’s what we found out:

Movies

With 23 nominations, Oppenheimer received the most mentions as a movie enjoyed by our members and readers. Here’s what a few people had to say:

“A dense and focused view of the interplay between science and politics during one of the darkest moments in U.S. history.”

“Visually stunning, good acting, and relevant to today.”

“Finally, a decently fair representation of leftist organizations in U.S. media.”

“Notable for its history and retrospection.”

Barbie also received significant praise. Here were some of the comments:

“An introduction to feminism and a fun movie.”

“While the messages against capitalism are significantly more subtle than the overarching theme of anti-patriarchy, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the addressing of both these concepts by one of the biggest blockbusters of recent memory.”

“As a Marxist feminist, I found Barbie to bring a lot to the table in terms of feminism, the patriarchy, and women’s rights as a whole.”

“At times, the film comes close to accurate and concise understandings of the struggle for women’s liberation and empowerment, though it does fail to stick the landing. Not to mention that it was ultimately just an advertisement to sell dolls.”

“Despite being a corporate ad, it was skeptical of elements of capitalism, including a nod against citizens united, and tackled gender in a compelling and widely appealing way.”

“A liberalized critique of capitalism, but still good.”

Killers of the Flower Moon was lauded by many for dealing with the exploitation done to the Osage people for oil exploration and profit.

Set in 1920s Oklahoma, it’s worth recalling here events taking place around the same time near the four corners region of the U.S. Susan Gooding’s 2006 article in Political Affairs Recognizing Indigenous America in Times of War” points out, “It was in the midst of oil frenzy in 1923 that the U.S. first overtly entered the business of regime change, when a democratically recognized Navajo-Dine religious leadership refused to sign a contract with Standard Oil. … [T]he U.S. unilaterally intervened, installed a new Navajo Council (that signed the Standard Oil contract), and established an interim constitutional regime.”

A number of members and supporters said they enjoyed Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, saying it was “beautiful and had a great anti-racist sub plot.” Besides being “fun” and “visually stunning,” it was praised for being “filled to the brim with revolutionary themes and subtext.”

They Cloned Tyrone was mentioned a number of times as well. The film was described as “a fun celebration of the Blaxploitation genre and Black culture that rewards its audience for knowledge of structural racism without enraging them.”

Other movies receiving multiple nominations included Asteroid City, Cocaine Bear, Five Nights at Freddy’s, John Wick: Chapter 4, Blue Beetle, The Boy and the Heron, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, The Equalizer, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Rustin, Beau Is Afraid, Bottoms, Chevalier, Godzilla Minus One, Leave The World Behind, Maestro, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Napoleon, and The Old Oak.


TV shows

Several members and readers appreciated The Last of Us as a “thought provoking and well-made action drama.”

“There are moments that truly are gut-wrenching, tragic, and beautiful all at the same time,” said one. “But there are also moments where we see people banding together to overthrow tyrants, to survive after the end of the world (via zombies), and even moments which shed a positive light on communism.”

Said one party member: “There’s a moment where the main characters come across a commune which is self sufficient, and the first example in the series of people working together solely for the greater good and who are competent and genuine. … These people literally call themselves communists, which comes as a shock to some characters, but which is accepted nonetheless.”

A number of members and friends of the party enjoyed Foundation, saying it had “some revolutionary themes.” Mostly, however, it was loved by devourers of the Isaac Asimov book series of the same name. “Great actors, and good historical allegory mixed with weird sci-fi,” reported one afficianado.

“The show does have some differences from the novels,” admitted one in a review, “but it is still the best sci-fi I’ve seen since The Expanse.”

Also near the top of the list was Invincible, which one described as “a take on the superhero genre, dealing with themes of intergalactic imperialism, fascism, and genocide.”

Also at the top of the list was Boots Riley’s I’m a Virgo, celebrated for its anti-capitalist and socialist themes.

Silo was a favorite for some, who said it is a great mystery, with good characters and revolutionary themes.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off was another favorite among CPUSA members who described it as “subversive … fresh … bridging East and West” and “made by creators at the peak of their craft.” According to one respondant, the show’s creators “managed to turn a remake into an in-depth exploration of character and amp everything we love about the series to 11.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Democracy Now! is also a favorite among our membership and readers as a source of independent media.

Other favorites mentioned by multiple people were: The Diplomat, Fargo, One Piece, Reservation Dogs, Succession, Ahsoka, All The Light We Cannot See, Barry, Beef, The Curse, Gen V, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Lincoln Lawyer, Loki, Sex Education, Slow Horses, Telemarketers, Top Boy, and What We Do in the Shadows. Al Jazeera was also applauded for its coverage of Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza.


Books

International Publishers was recognized by CPUSA readers for its publication of Until Tomorrow, Comrades: An Antifascist Novel in Brilliant English by Manuel Tiago. Manuel Tiago was the pen name of Álvaro Cunhal, a longtime leader of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP). Translated by People’s World Associate Editor Eric Grodon, the book was praised as an “excellent example of resistance to fascism” by the Portuguese people and their Communist Party. “They showed us what we need to do in the face of the growing threat of fascism [here in the U.S.]” another commented.

Although published in 2022, Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, received significant recognition among CPUSA members and friends. The book was the subject of a recent discussion led by the CPUSA Education Department. “Barbara Kingsolver’s brilliant writing beautifully revealed the challenges those in Appalachia face,” wrote in one survey respondant. “Presumably, she will inspire more people to care and support many impoverished people in this region.”

Another relatively recent book receiving multiple nominations, although published in 2020, was The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017 by Rashid Khalidi.

Survey respondants also mentioned the following books from 2023:

A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy by Nathan Thrall
Apoca Lips (from the Xanth Series), by Piers Anthony
Avatar: The Last Airbender by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko
Black Scare / Red Scare: Theorizing Capitalist Racism in the United States by Charisse Burden-Stelly
Eden’s Zero by Hiro Mashima
Falling Upward, Revised and Updated: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr
Latest books from the series Star Wars: The High Republic


Songs

Want to hear what CPUSA readers and supporters are listening to? Check out these playlists on YouTube and Spotify!

Movements and movement leaders

By far the most celebrated struggles from 2023 were those of UAW members in their fight against the Big Three, and the ceasefire movement fighting for peace and liberation for Palestine.

Celebrated leaders of these struggles included UAW President Shawn Fain “for understanding and fighting for the working class, not just the UAW,” bringing class issues to the forefront. Representatives in Congress taking strong stances for peace, including Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were also recognized. Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine were applauded as well, and special recognition was made of the important role young people are playing in the struggle to end the occupation.

Party members and supporters were also inspired by the labor movement more generally, especially SAG-AFTRA and WGA members in Hollywood, as well as the Teamsters, and Starbucks and Amazon workers.

Others noted the importance of the women’s movement and the struggle to defend abortion rights, the Stop Cop City movement, and the Poor People’s Campaign, led by Rev. William Barber, which “grew during the Trump years, but continues to build and hold the Biden Administration accountable.”

Recipes

And finally, here are some of your comrades’ favorite recipes!

Images: Lowkey speaking to a ceasefire rally in the UK (YouTube); Oppenheimer promo image (Universal Pictures); Barbie promo image (Warner Bros promo retrieved from NYTimes); Killers of the Flower Moon promo image (found on 9to5mac); Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse promo image (found at nordic.ign); They Cloned Tyrone promo image (from Netflix YouTube channel); The Last of Us promo image (HBO Max retrieved from ghspawprint); Invincible promo image (retrieved from me.ign); I’m a Virgo promo (from Amazon); Silo promo (from Apple TV); Scott Pilgrim Takes Off promo (from superherohype); Democracy Now logo (from kcbx); Until Tomorrow, Comrades book cover (International Publishers) / Manuel Tiago (International Publishers); Barbara Kingsolver (Facebook) / Demon Copperhead book cover (Facebook); The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance book cover (macmillan) / Rashid Khalidi by Thomas Good (GNU Free Documentation License); UAW calling for a ceasefire with sponsors of Rep. Cori Bush’ ceasefire resolution by Rashida Tlaib (Twitter/X)

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    The Communist Party USA is a working class organization founded in 1919 in Chicago, IL.

    The Communist Party stands for the interests of the American working class and the American people. It stands for our interests in both the present and the future. Solidarity with workers of other countries is also part of our work. We work in coalition with the labor movement, the peace movement, the student movement, organizations fighting for equality and social justice, the environmental movement, immigrants rights groups and the health care for all campaign.

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