Sunday Reading: The Year in Entertainment

Throughout this second year of the pandemic, we’ve found escape and joy and even wisdom in the worlds of art and entertainment. (May we emerge from this difficult period fully and soon!)

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Today, we’re bringing you a selection of pieces about some of the works, high and low, that have impressed our writers in 2021. In “How ‘Squid Game’ Channels the Anarchic Spirit of the New Korean Cinema,” the novelist Ed Park considers how the dystopian megahit became one of the most watched shows in Netflix history. In “On ‘Succession,’ Jeremy Strong Doesn’t Get the Joke,” Michael Schulman offers a masterly Profile of the eccentric and dedicated actor who plays Kendall Roy on the hit HBO series, providing insight into his headlong approach to his craft and the “monk-like solemnity” of his offscreen personality. “To me, the stakes are life and death,” the actor told Schulman about his character, a pitiful would-be heir and tycoon. “I take him as seriously as I take my own life.” In “How Kristen Stewart Became Her Generation’s Most Interesting Movie Star,” Emily Witt chronicles the career of an intriguing actor as she attempts to transform herself into a character known (possibly) to all: the late Princess Diana. In “The End of ‘Insecure,’ an Art Work and a Phenomenon,” Doreen St. Félix examines how Issa Rae’s series has skillfully explored the highs and lows of modern Black adulthood. Carrie Battan reviews Lil Nas X’s provocative and searching début album, “Montero,” and writes about the astute motivations behind Taylor Swift’s decision to re-record her own music and release “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” Finally, in “ ‘Passing,’ Reviewed: Rebecca Hall’s Anguished Vision of Black Identity,” Richard Brody explores the complexities behind Hall’s stirring adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel.

David Remnick

Still from “Squid Game” showing characters in green tracksuits kneeling, crawling, and standing haphazardly in a room.

How “Squid Game” Channels the Anarchic Spirit of the New Korean Cinema

The Netflix megahit borrows from a provocative filmmaking movement in order to redefine the K-drama format.

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Jeremy Strong's face is reflected in two shards of glass held in his hands.

On “Succession,” Jeremy Strong Doesn’t Get the Joke

“I take him as seriously as I take my own life,” he says of his character, Kendall Roy.

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Kristen Stewart in jeans and a white tank top with messy bleached hair outdoors leaning forward and looking directly at the camera.

How Kristen Stewart Became Her Generation’s Most Interesting Movie Star

The actor’s naturalistic style is captivating to some and inscrutable to others. As Princess Diana in “Spencer,” she takes on the biggest role of her career.

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Issa Dee and Molly Carter from Insecure

The End of “Insecure,” an Art Work and a Phenomenon

Across its five seasons, Issa Rae’s HBO series has given us an ever-changing and imperfect exploration of modern Black adulthood.

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Portrait of Lil Nas X

The Unexpected Introspection of Lil Nas X

Fans may have thought that the artist’s début album, “Montero,” would be a bawdy romp. Instead, it takes a turn toward the morose and the self-searching.

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Black-and-white still from “Passing,” showing Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson walking down a street.

“Passing,” Reviewed: Rebecca Hall’s Anguished Vision of Black Identity

With a remarkable fusion of substance and style, Hall’s adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel unfolds inner lives along with social crises.

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Taylor Swift spins as her hair flows out from her face.

Taylor Swift Wins with “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)”

The pop star’s decision to re-record her 2008 album has allowed her to take control of her musical legacy.

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