The Atlantic's Week in Culture

A roundup of our recent writing on arts and entertainment

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Don’t Miss

Hidden Figures and the Appeal of Math in an Age of InequalityMegan Garber pinpoints the significance of numbers as an instrument of meritocracy, as demonstrated by the fantastic new movie.

Universal Studios


M. Night Shyamalan’s Split Is a Creepy, Guilty PleasureChristopher Orr enjoys the latest film from the director, which features a brilliant performance by James McAvoy as a man with 23 personalities.

Will Hollywood Learn From Hidden Figures’s Success?David Sims argues that the new film’s box-office success is yet another reminder that audiences will pay to see diverse stories.

Revisiting Toby Keith’s Beer for My HorsesChristopher Orr looks back at the inauguration headliner’s abysmal 2008 film, which presents an interesting self-portrait of red-state America.

Toni Erdmann Is a Comedy Experience Unlike Any OtherDavid Sims praises the remarkably unique new German film.

The Founder Is the Fast Food of BiopicsDavid Sims watches the forgettable and bland new film starring Michael Keaton as the cut-throat businessman behind the McDonald’s franchise.

Library of Congress


Donald Trump’s Nostalgic, Lulling Inaugural ConcertSpencer Kornhaber recaps a somber night that saw performances from the likes of Toby Keith and 3 Doors Down.  

The Worst Presidential Inaugurations, RankedMegan Garber looks back through history at some of the more disastrous swearing-in ceremonies.

The Tangled Debate Over Art-World ProtestsSpencer Kornhaber unpacks the discussion around the #J20 strike, and the muddied ways people talk about the intersection of arts and politics.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Peaceful Transition of PowerMegan Garber lays out an extremely comprehensive guide to the ceremonies and festivities of the presidential inauguration.

Your Guide to Who’s Performing at Trump’s InaugurationSpencer Kornhaber provides a list of of all the artists taking the stage at the ceremonies this weekend and why.

The Poetry-Free Inauguration Makes a ComebackSpencer Kornhaber indicates that the absence of verse at Donald Trump’s swearing-in is actually a return to tradition rather than a break from it.

Myles Aronowitz / Netflix


The OA and the Dark Side of ScienceSpencer Kornhaber chats with Brit Marling about the research and folklore behind her mind-boggling Netflix series.

The New Celebrity Apprentice and the Scourge of Faux InclusivityMegan Garber weighs in on the NBC show, now helmed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, which manages to celebrate and mock diversity at the same time.

The (Final) Problem With SherlockSophie Gilbert explains how, in turning its protagonist into a superhero, the BBC show may have lost everything that made it special.

The Otherworldly Genius of The Good PlaceLenika Cruz analyzes the season one finale of NBC’s terrific, quirky, and metaphysical show.

Kenishirotie / photomelon / Fotolia / Paul Spella / The Atlantic


On Writing, Smoking, and the Habit of TranscendenceSophie Gilbert reviews Gregor Hens’s book Nicotine, a strange addiction memoir that describes a life spent chasing heightened power.

Why More Writers Should Talk About MoneyJoseph Frankel talks to the author of Scratch, a new collection of essays and interviews about one of the biggest taboos of the literary world.

Finding Meaning in Going NowhereJoe Fassler sits down with the author Ottessa Moshfegh to talk about coping with depression, how writing saved her life, and finding solace in an overlooked song.

Reuters / Jessica Rinaldi


How Iván Rodríguez Captured an Era of BaseballRobert O’Connell explains how the legendary catcher, soon to be inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame, embodies the qualities of his time.