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The Best of Canada in 2023

Near the end of every year, The Times publishes lists of recommendations of the best movies, books, performances, music and other cultural highlights that impressed critics.

I’ve sifted through all of those best-of lists to distill the Canadian mentions.

Wishing you, from all of us, a happy holiday.

Celine Song, the South Korean-Canadian director of the film “Past Lives.”Credit…Matt Licari/Invision, via Associated Press

10 Best Books of 2023

Canada Letter readers will be familiar with “Fire Weather” by the Vancouver author John Vaillant, mentioned in our newsletter last month. Mr. Vaillant appears alongside another Canadian author, Naomi Klein, in a broader list of 100 notable books of the year, and his book also earned the distinction of being in the top 10.

Read: The 10 Best Books of 2023

Best TV Shows

Nathan Fielder, the Canadian actor known for his deadpan delivery, is back with a dark comedy called “The Curse.” Here’s a trailer. It’s streaming on Paramount+ Canada. (Mr. Fielder was an executive producer on “How To With John Wilson,” another show that critics say is worth your time.)

Read: Best TV Shows of 2023

Best Movies

“Past Lives,” the debut film by the South Korean-Canadian director Celine Song, is “an examination of destiny, chance, love and the invisible thread that binds one soul to the next,” writes Alissa Wilkinson, a movie critic at The Times. (I enjoyed watching this film at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, which has made it available for rent. You can also catch it on streaming platforms in Canada.)

An honorable mention on the list goes to “BlackBerry,” by the Toronto-born director Matt Johnson. The movie is adapted from the 2015 book by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, two Canadian business writers, and tells the story of the rise and fall of the Waterloo, Ontario, company behind the wildly popular smartphone. If you’re interested in an extended cut of the film, you can check out the three-part miniseries of “BlackBerry” on CBC Gem.

Read: Best Movies of 2023

Best Songs

Three pop music critics at The Times offer their picks of best songs of the year. A few Canadians made the list of 77.

Allison Russell, “Eve Was Black”

Mustafa, “Name of God”

Ken (Ryan Gosling), “I’m Just Ken”

Drake featuring Sexyy Red and SZA, “Rich Baby Daddy”

Read: Best Songs of 2023

Best Classical Music Performances

“Treemonisha,” an opera by the American composer Scott Joplin, widely known for his ragtime piano tunes, premiered more than half a century after his death. The opera’s unfinished aspects have made it “ripe for creative reimagining,” writes Zachary Woolfe, The Times’s classical music critic. A Toronto performance company developed one such revival, revising the opera to strengthen the plot and add African instruments. (Here is a short video by the CBC on the making of “Treemonisha.”)

Read: Best Classical Music Performances of 2023

Best Comedy

Sophie Buddle, a comedian from Ottawa, delivers fresh spins on familiar subjects in a chirpy style and “her sneaky jokes are full of sharp elbows,” writes Jason Zinoman, a critic at large at The Times. In his 2023 roundup, he called Ms. Buddle the “Best Canadian Newcomer.”

Read: Best Comedy of 2023

The Year in Pictures

Striker, a fluffy white Samoyed, fell short of winning the Westminster Kennel Dog Club Show in 2022 but became a fan favorite and is enjoying retirement in Toronto. His is one of the cheerier pictures chosen by photo editors at The Times in an annual compilation.

Read: 2023: The Year in Pictures

This image of the Christmas Tree Galaxy Cluster was made with data from the James Webb Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope.Credit…NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, J. Diego (Instituto de Física de Cantabria, Spain), J. D’Silva (U. Western Australia), A. Koekemoer (STScI), J. Summers & R. Windhorst (ASU), and H. Yan (U. Missouri).

And a Gift

Astronomers recently released an image of the Christmas Tree Galaxy Cluster, a group of galaxies 4.3 billion light-years from Earth. The image drew from data collected by the James Webb Space Telescope, a collaboration between countries including Canada. It’s part of a tradition by astronomers to connect the season of light with the stars.

Click below for a gift link to the article, featuring stunning images of outer space.

Read: It’s Christmastime in the Cosmos


Vjosa Isai is a reporter and researcher for The New York Times in Toronto.


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