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.