2023 was the year Barbie busted out of her box and Taylor triumphed again (and again). Actors abandoned red carpets and grabbed picket signs even as, around the world, the entertainment industry shook off the last remnants of the pandemic.
Fashion houses resumed large-scale, eye-popping shows. The Oscars returned to full capacity and moved past The Slap. “Everything Everywhere All At Once” took the top prize, bringing Oscar glory to Michelle Yeoh and reviving the once-dormant career of the infectiously optimistic Ke Huy Quan.
Fun was back.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge and newcomer Ethann Isidore playfully posed in Cannes at the premiere of “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” Bryan Cranston, Tom Hanks and other “Asteroid City” stars looked overjoyed to be together at the glitzy French Riviera festival, which feted Michael Douglas and gave Johnny Depp his biggest comeback platform yet.
Jared Leto left Met Gala guests puzzled with a realistic full cat costume based on late designer Karl Lagerfeld’s cat, Choupette. Doja Cat also donned a feline look for the gala.
Days later, some real animals got in on the act, wearing looks inspired by outfits worn by Cardi B, Salma Hayek and other stars for the Pet Gala.
By then, it was clear that Hollywood was headed for rough times. Screenwriters went on strike in early May and actors joined them two months later, grinding all film and television production to a halt. Leading the actors’ charge was “The Nanny” star Fran Drescher, whose fiery speech announcing the strike galvanized the union.
There was still fun to be had. The Barbenheimer matchup between “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” produced box-office gold — two bona fide blockbusters.
Live music — once silenced by the pandemic — roared on. Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Coldplay and others led to a blockbuster year for concerts.
There were stories of loss and heartbreak. Striking actors and writers spoke about the pain they were experiencing, and why their struggle to win protections from artificial intelligence and a share of streaming profits was so important. Stars lost their moments while filmmakers tried to give them their due, as “Blue Beetle” director Angel Manuel Soto did when he attended the film’s premiere holding a photo of absent star Xolo Maridueña over his face.
The deaths of stars like Paul Reubens, who as Pee-wee Herman delighted a generation, and Matthew Perry, whose role as Chandler Bing on “Friends” has delighted audiences around the globe across three decades, stunned fans.
Other stories dominated headlines. Gwyneth Paltrow spent two weeks in a Utah courtroom in a trial over a ski slope collision that ended with a jury siding with her, awarding her a symbolic $1 verdict.
Jonathan Majors, whose year started on a high note of praise for his film “Magazine Dreams” at Sundance, was accused of his assaulting his ex-girlfriend and went on a trial.
The year will perhaps be best remembered for the everlasting dominance of Swift, who delighted fans with her record-breaking Eras tour.
But her superstardom reached new heights through her relationship with NFL player Travis Kelce and the blockbuster release of a film version of her Eras show — a pair of unpredictable events in a year that went off script in more ways than one.