The Atlantic's Week in Culture

A roundup of our recent writing on arts and entertainment

The Irish playwright and author Samuel Beckett in 1977 (Roger Pic / Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Don’t Miss

Finding Wisdom in the letters of Aging WritersRobert Fay delves into the epistolary collections of Samuel Beckett, Saul Bellow, and Elizabeth Bishop, which offer comfort and insight into the process of growing older.

Zak Bickel / Katie Martin / Paul Spella / The Atlantic

Best of 2016

The Best Television Episodes of 2016—Atlantic staffers select some of their top highlights in a year of “Peak TV.”

The Best Albums of 2016Spencer Kornhaber chooses his favorite records from a year of excellent music.

Lucasfilm / Disney


Rogue One and the Challenge of the New(ish)Christopher Orr reviews the highly anticipated Star Wars spin-off film, which tries to stand on its own.

La La Land and Moonlight See Golden Globes Love—David Sims unpacks all the biggest contenders for the awards show.

Is Arrival the Best ‘First Contact’ Film Ever Made?—Megan Garber and Ross Anderson trace some of their favorite films and moments in the sci-fi genre.

Of Course Rogue One Is PoliticalDavid Sims points out the problem with Disney’s CEO insisting on the neutrality of the new Star Wars film, which is about fighting a totalitarian government.

The Ugly Manipulations of Collateral BeautySophie Gilbert watches the breathtakingly cynical new film starring Will Smith, which uses the worst kinds of tricks to provoke an emotional response.

With Rogue One, the Star Wars Franchise Gets Even More FeministMegan Garber examines how the new spin-off movie belongs not to a couple, but to Jyn Erso, its central heroine.

Barry Is an Obama Biopic for an Uneasy Moment—David Sims enjoys the surprisingly insightful new film from Vikram Gandhi, which portrays the outgoing president’s confused, uncertain college years in New York.

Teen Vogue


Teen Vogue’s Political Coverage Isn’t SurprisingSophie Gilbert discusses the publication’s recent shift toward social issues, identity, and activism.

Kanye West and Donald Trump’s Celebrity KinshipSpencer Kornhaber tries to make sense of the baffling meeting between the rapper and president-elect.



The OA Is a Bizarre, Totally Absorbing PuzzleSophie Gilbert watches the surprise new series from Netflix, a strange and compelling mystery about a woman who returns after being missing for seven years.

What Is America’s Next Top Model Without Tyra Banks?Megan Garber reveals how the VH1 series, back for its latest season, fares sans its titular host.

Trevor Noah Turns to President Obama for ReassuranceDavid Sims recaps the Daily Show host’s wide-ranging and melancholic interview with the outgoing politician.

The Man in the High Castle: Fake News in Nazi AmericaSophie Gilbert analyzes how the Amazon show, now in its second season, could suddenly have a new contemporary relevance.

Doug McLean


Making Art at the Painful MarginsJoe Fassler talks to the author Laurie Sheck about Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, which taught her to write through illness and torment, as part of The Atlantic’s ongoing “By Heart” series.

Chris Pizzello / AP


Bob Dylan’s Subversively Humble Nobel SpeechSpencer Kornhaber unpacks the songwriter’s speech, read aloud in his absence at the ceremony in Stockholm.

Craig Mitchelldyer / AP


The New Aesthetic of James HardenRobert O’Connell analyzes the Houston Rockets guard’s efficient, divisive style of play.