Best of 2023: TV shows, movies & music

Oak Park’s Best of 2023 is back! Our annual librarian-curated selection of titles features some of the titles most requested and checked out by Oak Parkers.

See some of our favorite TV shows, movies, and music on this page or browse more using the links below.

Adult fiction: General | Adult fiction: Romance, lives & relationships | Adult fiction: Mystery, history & sci-fiAdult nonfictionTeen fiction | Teen nonfiction | Kids booksPicture books | TV shows | Movies | Music

TV shows

The Last of Us

Why you should try it: Whether you "loved the game" or "never played the game", many staff agree this was a "tense and emotional ride" that might leave you needing "a box of tissues." "Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsay were the best" in this much-loved series that deserves a "rewatch."—Margita, Adult Services Supervising Librarian; Maya, Materials Handling Supervising Librarian; Nelly, Patron Services Library Assistant

Description: A parasitic fungus ravages the planet, turning humans into violent predators known as "Infected." Twenty years later, hardened survivor Joel is hired by a group of rebellious freedom fighters to smuggle 14-year-old Ellie out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What should have been a quick job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey across a post-apocalyptic United States, where no one can protect Joel or Ellie but each other.

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Poker Face

Why you should try it: "A fun show that feels like a throwback similar to Colombo. Loved seeing how the main character solved each mystery, and always fun to watch Natasha Lyonne and hear that distinctive voice."—Margita, Adult Services Supervising Librarian

Description: Charlie Cale is a down-on-her-luck cocktail waitress with an uncanny ability to sniff out the truth. After crossing a bloodthirsty mobster, Charlie hits the road in her trusty Plymouth Barracuda, encountering new friends, unsolved mysteries, and danger everywhere she turns.

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Why you should try it: "I wasn't sure what to expect from Marvel TV, and I never really cared about Vision. Getting to spend six hours with the characters made all the difference, and I was immediately deeply invested. This is a wonderful look at grief and the power of love, with fantastic nods to TV sitcoms of the 1960s-2010s. And so many catchy songs."—Shelley, Children's Services Librarian

Description: After the Infinity War, Wanda Maximoff and Vision are two super-powered beings living idealized suburban lives, who begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.

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Why you should try it: A certified staff favorite! Everyone says this buzzy summer movie was "worth the hype" and was "as thoughtful as it was pink."—SO MANY STAFF

Description: To live in Barbie Land is to be a perfect being in a perfect place. Unless you have a full-on existential crisis. Or you're a Ken.

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Blue Beetle

Why you should try it: "A fun family superhero film!"—Nora, Latine Language & Culture Librarian

Description: Jaime Reyes suddenly finds himself in possession of an ancient relic of alien biotechnology called the Scarab. When the Scarab chooses Jaime to be its symbiotic host, he's bestowed with an incredible suit of armor that's capable of extraordinary and unpredictable powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the superhero Blue Beetle.

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The Fabelmans

Why you should try it: "The film is a mix of comedy and drama. It was great to get a glimpse at the Spielberg family. Instead of romanticizing the filmmaking profession, the movie depicts what kind of sacrifice and work goes on in making a film. I thoroughly loved this movie."—Rashmi, Adult Services Librarian

Description: Young Sammy Fabelman falls in love with movies after his parents take him to see "The Greatest Show on Earth." Armed with a camera, Sammy starts to make his films at home, much to the delight of his supportive mother, although his practical father has doubts.

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A Haunting in Venice

Why you should try it: "This movie takes full advantage of its spooky, yet atmospheric setting. I liked how the story played with your mind a little, and the performances were really fantastic."—Michelle, Patron Services Supervisor

Description: Now retired and living in self-imposed exile in the world's most glamorous city, Poirot reluctantly attends a séance at a decaying, haunted palazzo. When one of the guests is murdered, the detective is thrust into a sinister world of shadows and secrets.

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Little Richard: I Am Everything

Why you should try it: "A well-done documentary that made me realize how little I actually knew about Little Richard."—Margita, Adult Services Supervisor

Description: Little Richard: I Am Everything tells the story of the Black queer origins of rock n' roll, exploding the whitewashed canon of American pop music to reveal the innovator—the originator—Richard Penniman. Through a wealth of archival footage, performances, and interviews, the film unspools the icon's life story with all its switchbacks and contradictions.

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Why you should try it: Staff also loved the other half of Barbenheimer, calling it "a masterpiece movie that kept me engaged even with its long runtime" and thought, "this is the best work that I've seen from Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt and Robert Downey Jr."—Margita, Adult Services Supervising Library; Michelle, Patron Services Supervisor

Description: The story of American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in the development of the atomic bomb.

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Past Lives

Why you should try it: "I found this emotional and tender film to be so relatable and thought-provoking."—Jenna, Collection Management Librarian

Description: Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are wrested apart after Nora's family emigrates from South Korea. Two decades later, they are reunited in New York for one fateful week as they confront notions of destiny, love, and the choices that make a life, in this heartrending modern romance.

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Polite Society

Why you should try it: "I have already watched this 2023 movie numerous times. I'm always here for girls being messy, extra, and angry; and I love a ridiculous, over-the-top, zany fun plot."—Jenna, Collection Management Librarian

Description: Polite Society follows martial artist-in-training Ria Khan, who believes she must save her older sister Lena from her impending marriage. After enlisting the help of her friends, Ria attempts to pull off the most ambitious of all wedding heists in the name of independence and sisterhood.

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Puss in Boots, the Last Wish

Why you should try it: "This playful movie continues the Spider-verse trend of taking artistic risks and knows the value of serious interpersonal moments away from the comedy. The story takes difficult topics like belonging, mortality, failed relationships, and anxiety; and makes them palatable for a young audience."—Joey, Children's Services Library Assistant

Description: Puss has burned through 8 of his 9 lives, though he lost count along the way. Getting those lives back will send Puss in Boots on his grandest quest yet. The notorious PiB embarks on an epic journey into the Black Forest to find the mythical Wishing Star and restore his lost life. But with only one life left, Puss will have to humble himself and ask for help from his former partner and nemesis: the captivating Kitty Soft Paws.

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Why you should try it: "This movie was like if John Wick was a gold prospector at the end of WWII and is as ridiculous as it sounds. Buy the ticket, take the ride."—Maya, Materials Handling Supervising Librarian

Description: During WWII, a solitary prospector crosses paths with Nazis in northern Finland. When the Nazis steal his gold, they quickly discover he is no ordinary miner. While there is no direct translation for the Finnish word sisu, the legendary ex-commando will embody what it means: a white-knuckled form of courage and unimaginable determination in the face of overwhelming odds.

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Spider-Man, Across the Spider-Verse

Why you should try it: "A visually striking animated film!"—Nora, Latine Language & Culture Librarian

Description: Miles Morales catapults across the Multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence. When the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles must redefine what it means to be a hero.

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Talk to Me

Why you should try it: "This movie was exquisitely terrifying and unsettling."—Maya, Materials Handling Supervising Librarian; Andrea, Collection Management Librarian

Description: When a group of friends discover how to conjure spirits using an embalmed hand, they become hooked on the new thrill, until one of them goes too far and opens the door to the spirit world forcing them to choose who to trust: the dead or the living.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Why you should try it: "This movie just rocked hard. It had new and nostalgic voices and a great plot."—Megha, Youth & Family Outreach Specialist

Description: The Turtle brothers work to earn the love of New York City while facing down an army of mutants.

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Three Wise Men & a Baby

Why you should try it: "I love typical Hallmark holiday romances, but this one is completely different: The love story is actually three estranged brothers coming together again at Christmas (with a baby), and romance is secondary. It's full of funny, sarcastic, emotional, and vulnerable moments. And Paul Campbell is the best."—Shelley, Children's Services Librarian

Description: Three brothers are surprised when they find themselves forced to care for a baby during the holidays, during the journey they begin to rebuild their relationships as brothers while rediscovering their love for Christmas.

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Violent Night

Why you should try it: "Sometimes the season gets a little overwhelming, and you just need to see David Harbour's jaded Santa Claus be exceptionally violent towards some baddies on the naughty list. Be aware: It's very creatively violent and gory."—Shelley, Children's Services Librarian

Description: When a team of mercenaries breaks into a wealthy family compound taking everyone inside hostage, they are not prepared for a surprise combatant: Santa Claus.

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The Woman King

Why you should try it: "I left the movie theatre overcome with emotions I could not describe at the time, which is another way of saying this movie had me going through it. Worth it."—Dontaná, Collection Management Librarian

Description: The remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and ferocity unlike anything the world has ever seen. Inspired by true events, it follows the emotionally epic journey of General Nanisca as she trains the next generation of recruits and prepares them for battle against an enemy determined to obliterate their way of life.

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The Age of Pleasure by Janelle Monáe

Why you should try it: "Everything about this album makes me happy, and honestly, that's enough."—Dontaná, Collection Management Librarian

Description: Janelle Monáe’s fourth album is both a break with the narrative structure of the first three and a personal initiative the artist worked out amid the upheaval of 2020. (Vulture)

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Disco 4: Part II by HEALTH

Why you should try it: "HEALTH is hard to describe in only a sentence. Featuring pummeling and heavy sounds interlaced with soft, almost disaffected vocals and bright electronics, it's easy to say this is a form of industrial rock, but featuring collaborations with everyone from alt-pop wunderkind Poppy to elder machine rock statesman Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails to grimy punk-rap masters ho99o9, this disc defies easy categorization."—Michael, Adult Services Library Assistant

Description: HEALTH are in a unique position to give a fresh take on industrial music take while being embraced by the old guard. While DISCO 4 :: PART II is the second installment of a collaborative series, the sequel drives the point of the project home even further. (Treble)

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Guts by Olivia Rodrigo

Why you should try it: "From start to finish, this album is pure fun and full of solid bops."—Jenna, Collection Management Librarian

Description: The pop star rocks out on her biting, charismatic second album, turning the ritual humiliations of girlhood into dazzling, over-the-top spectacles. (Pitchfork)

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The Land Is Inhospitable & So Are We by Mitski

Why you should try it: "As always, Mitski has lyrics that are so relatable. A must-listen for broody evenings."—Camille, Bibliographic Services Library Assistant

Description: After contemplating retirement, Mitski returns with a new album that’s warmer, quieter, and more organic-sounding. (Pitchfork)

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Red Moon in Venus by Kali Uchis

Why you should try it: "Kali Uchis' music heals my heart."—Andrea, Collection Management Librarian

Description: Burning intensity and divinity guides the genre-defying Colombian-American pop star Kali Uchis through her third studio album, and second sung mostly in English. (Pitchfork)

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So Much (for) Stardust by Fall Out Boy

Why you should try it: "I wasn't expecting Fall Out Boy to come out with a banger but here we are. It's a catchy album."—Andrea, Collection Management Librarian

Description: For their eighth album, Fall Out Boy pinpointed what made them such an enduring standout in the first place (and what they may have lost in their effort to redefine their sound): a type of bold, incisive, emotional theatricality that places them among rock’s most endearing misfits. (Rolling Stone)

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This Is Why by Paramore

Why you should try it: "'In a single year, I've aged one hundred / My social life: a chiropractic appointment,' as a Millennial this album spoke to me."—Andrea, Collection Management Librarian; Camayia, Leadership Team Executive Assistant

Description: Paramore’s sixth album trembles with the paranoid anxieties of a grown woman peering outside her bubble: a bit out of step, a bit pollyanna, but all the more furious at the status quo. (Pitchfork)

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Sweeney Todd: 2023 Broadway Cast Recording by Stephen Sondheim

Why you should try it: "Is it the best adaptation of Sweeney Todd? To someone maybe, but I'm a sucker for Sweeney Todd, so I will take what I can get."—Andrea, Collection Management Librarian

Description: Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award-winning score performed for the first time since the original production, with Jonathan Tunick's original orchestrations and a 26-piece orchestra. This new production has earned 8 Tony Award nominations.

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