Skip to main content

FunTimes Magazine

Reel Black Joy: Must-See Films of 2023 Before the Credits Roll

Dec 14, 2023 10:00AM ● By Anand Subramanian
Photo by Andres Ayrton

As 2023 gracefully twirls towards its finale, it's time to reflect on the cinematic gems that
graced the silver screen. And let me tell you, this year, Black filmmakers and actors have brought their A-game, crafting stories that resonated, challenged, and entertained in equal measure. So, grab your popcorn, dim the lights, and get ready to revisit some of the
best movies of 2023 before the clock strikes twelve!

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse 

Image: Still from Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Trailer. Source: Youtube | Sony Pictures Entertainment

Forget your generic, played-out superhero films. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the vibrant, multiversal injection of adrenaline the genre desperately needed. Building upon the animation mash-up that made its predecessor so ridiculously captivating, this sequel throws in even more mind-bending styles. Shameik Moore returns with infectious wonderment and real soul as Miles Morales, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, zooms across dimensions and encounters a multitude of parallel Spider-people. His quest becomes intertwined with the fate of the multiverse, raising the stakes to a cosmic level. This is more than just a superhero film; it's a celebration of animation, pushing the boundaries of the medium with audacious creativity. Each frame is a visual feast, a kaleidoscope of styles and textures that keeps you glued to the screen. The action sequences are breathtaking, defying expectations and leaving you breathless with their sheer inventiveness.

Rye Lane

Image: Promotional poster for Rye Lane. Source: Fair Use


Rye Lane isn't your typical rom-com. Ditch the predictable meet-cutes and formulaic narratives because this 2023 gem from Raine Allen-Miller is a vibrant tapestry of chance encounters, soulful conversations, and the pulsating energy of South London. And what a journey it is! Rye Lane is more than just a rom-com; it's a love letter to friendship, self-discovery, and the transformative power of human connection. It's about finding yourself amid chaos, learning to laugh again after heartbreak, and embracing life's unexpected detours.

American Fiction 

Image: Promotional poster for American Fiction Source: Fair Use

It's a razor-sharp, hilariously scathing satire that skewers the publishing industry, race relations, and the very notion of "Black fiction" in America. Based on Percival Everett's 2001 novel "Erasure," the film throws you headfirst into the world of Adrian Monk (Jeffrey Wright), a frustrated novelist and professor tired of being pigeonholed into writing "safe" stories about Black trauma. In a fit of anger, Monk writes an absurdly stereotypical "Black" novel under a pen name, filled with every cliché and trope imaginable. To his utter shock, the book becomes a runaway success, lauded by critics and embraced by the publishing world as a groundbreaking voice in Black literature. This is where the film truly shines. Monk's internal conflict between his artistic integrity and the allure of fame is palpable. Wright delivers a masterful performance, capturing Monk's cynicism, desperation, and, ultimately, his growing self-loathing as he navigates the treacherous waters of literary success built on a foundation of falsehood. But American Fiction is more than just Monk's story. It's a scathing indictment of the publishing industry's obsession with marketability and its tendency to exploit and stereotype Black narratives. Tracee Ellis Ross, Issa Rae, and Sterling K. Brown each deliver stellar performances as characters caught up in the whirlwind of Monk's success, adding complexity and humor to the film's satirical core.

Read also:

Black Actors Directors and Screenwriters Who Made TV History

Black Actors, Directors, and Screenwriters Who Made TV History

Take a look at some of the talented Black actors, directors, and screenwriters who have made TV history throughout the decades. Read More » 


All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt 

Image: Still from All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt Trailer. Source: Youtube | A24

All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt, the 2023 directorial debut of Raven Jackson, is not just a movie; it's a cinematic poem. It washes over you like the warm Mississippi sun, leaving a bittersweet taste of longing and love on your tongue. The film's beauty lies in its sensory richness. Lush landscapes bathed in golden sunlight, the rhythmic hum of cicadas, and the earthy aroma of freshly turned soil create a tangible connection to Mack's world. Jackson's camera lingers on the textures of skin, the crinkles of laughter lines, and the tears that glisten like dewdrops on a blade of grass. These intimate details become windows into Mack's soul, revealing a deep emotion that words alone cannot express. But All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt is not merely a sentimental ode to the past. It's also a powerful exploration of Black womanhood and the complex relationship tapestry that weaves through Mack's life. The film celebrates the fierce love between mothers and daughters, the unwavering support of sisters and friends, and the bittersweet ache of lost love.

The League  

Image: Still from The League. Source:

It's a lively tapestry woven from archival footage, oral histories, and a profound understanding of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Pollard doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of segregation that kept black players out of the Major Leagues for far too long. He delves into the systemic racism and discriminatory practices that fueled this injustice. However, he doesn't focus on the negativity; instead, he highlights the exceptional resilience and talent that thrived within the Negro leagues. What makes The League unique is the celebration of the distinct culture and community that flourished within these segregated teams. Pollard captures the thrilling energy of Negro league games with their daring style of play and the passionate support of the black communities that rallied behind them. He showcases the camaraderie and brotherhood that bound these players together as teammates and as a family forged in the crucible of discrimination.

Read also:

18 Black History Movies to Watch Even After Black History Month

18 Black History Movies to Watch Even After Black History Month

While BHM is a great time to brush up on our history and our ongoing journey to overcome, any month in the year is a good time to look at our varying stories, perspectives, and messages c... Read More » 


Must-See Black Movies in 2023

Must-See Black Movies in 2023

When it comes to Black films we’re definitely supporting one-hundred percent! Read More » 


Upcoming Black Movies To Watch in 2024

Upcoming Black Movies To Watch in 2024

Get ready to be captivated, moved, and enlightened by this cinematic celebration of Black excellence. Read More » 


 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

Read more from Anand Subramanian:

Celebrating Diversity Top Movies by African American Filmmakers in the Criterion Collection

Celebrating Diversity: Top Movies by African American Filmmakers in the Criterion Collection

These filmmakers have crafted exceptional movies and left an indelible mark on the world of cinema. Read More » 


African Cinema Spotlight on Film Festivals

African Cinema: Spotlight on Film Festivals

African cinema, a tapestry of cultures, narratives, and artistic expressions, has long been an underrepresented gem in the global cinematic landscape. Read More » 


The Power of Black Excellence Highlighting African and African American Achievements in Various Fields - Part 1

The Power of Black Excellence: Highlighting African and African American Achievements in Various Fields - Part 1

Black Americans have imprinted on the globe in multiple fields, including politics, entertainment, athletics, and science. Read More »