The Atlantic’s Week in Culture

A roundup of our recent writing on arts and entertainment

Liam Neeson as Mark Felt
Sony Pictures Classic

Don’t Miss

How This Year’s Oscars Contenders Are Tackling TrumpDavid Sims notes that some of the biggest hits, and one notable flop, at the Toronto International Film Festival played as blunt allegories for the current political moment.

Katie Posner

The Business of Creativity

How My First Novel Became a MovieCaren Lissner explains how it took 14 years of false starts, navigating Hollywood, and a modest payout for her book Carrie Pilby to be adapted into a Netflix film.

Saving One of Western Art’s Most Iconic PaintingsKimberly Chrisman-Campbell goes inside the massive, two-year museum effort to conserve The Blue Boy, Thomas Gainsborough’s famed 18th-century portrait.

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters


Women Won Big at the 2017 EmmysDavid Sims recaps the award show, where top honors went to Big Little Lies, Veep, and The Handmaid’s Tale.

Sean Spicer and the Self-Contradicting Politics of the EmmysSpencer Kornhaber thinks the cameo by the former press secretary put a confusing spin on the many anti-Trump jokes of the night.

Veep’s Showrunner on Clinton, Trump, and Insulting JonahMegan Garber talks to David Mandel about writing political satire for a fractious world ahead of his Emmy acceptance.

How the Emmy Awards Put Hulu on the MapDavid Sims notes that The Handmaid’s Tale became the first streaming-TV show to win Best Drama Series, an honor that surprisingly didn’t go to Netflix.

The State: A Provocative New Drama Considers ISISSophie Gilbert reviews the four-part miniseries by Wolf Hall’s Peter Kosminsky that explores life inside the terrorist group for the Britons who join up.

The Anger of Jimmy KimmelMegan Garber analyzes the late-night host’s Tuesday monologue on the politics of American health care, in which he offered indignation rather than tears.

The Good Place Is Still TV HeavenSophie Gilbert says NBC’s quirky hit returns with more moral philosophy, food puns, and otherworldly humor.

Transparent Tackles Israel-Palestine, and Other Boundary IssuesSpencer Kornhaber writes that the dramedy’s unusually joyful fourth season says that division is agony and reconciliation is a process.

Paramount Pictures


What Is the Meaning of mother!?David Sims delves into the plot, allegories, and shocking ending of one of the most surprising Hollywood releases of the year.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Is More Farce Than SatireChristopher Orr believes that while the sequel shares some of its predecessor’s strengths, this installment of the comic-action franchise is broader and less original.

Battle of the Sexes Is a Breezy Crowd-PleaserDavid Sims offers his opinion on the film about a famed 1973 tennis match with surprising resonance for today.

Lady Gaga’s Illness Is Not a MetaphorSpencer Kornhaber dives into the new film that details the reason the star postponed her recent tour and tests cultural attitudes about gender, pain, and pop.

Stronger Is a Profound, Oscar-Worthy GemDavid Sims watches the surprisingly excellent inspirational drama, in which Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jeff Bauman, who lost his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


There and Back AgainVann R. Newkirk II ponders what J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Hobbit still has to offer, 80 years after its publication.