Critic’s notebook: ‘Game of Thrones’ Is Going Out Fighting. So Will Its Audience.

The arguments over HBO’s dark fantasy made it the signature show of an era when no one agrees on anything.
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Heavenly or Hellish? Our Critics Debate the Broadway Season

Adventurous directors and galvanizing performances made for unexpected — and very welcome — departures on what once felt like the Staid White Way.
NYT > Arts

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‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Avengers’: 2 Times Critics on the Power and Pain of Endings

Can fans ever be satisfied when their shows end? Here, James Poniewozik and A.O. Scott discuss two blockbuster series that have held us in thrall.
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Critic’s Notebook: Bikini Kill, Then and Now: A Front-Row View of a Punk Revolution

Twenty-seven years have passed between a critic’s first Bikini Kill show and the band’s return. The songs, and the politics, are still vital and loud.
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Critic’s Notebook: The Broadway Musical Has a Man Problem

From “Kiss Me, Kate” to “Tootsie,” shows old and new are working to reflect today’s gender politics. Women fare better, but what about the mediocre men?
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Critic’s Notebook: #MeToo Is All Too Real. But to Better Understand It, Turn to Fiction.

A recent wave of remarkably various books reminds us of the kind of touchy ethical explorations the novel makes possible.
NYT > Books

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Books News: She Pulled Her Debut Book When Critics Found It Racist. Now She Plans to Publish.

Amélie Wen Zhao canceled the June publication of her young adult novel, “Blood Heir,” after claims that it had insensitive depictions of slavery. Then she decided the critics were wrong.
NYT > Books

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Critic’s Notebook: A Radical Moment in American Theater and Beyond

A cadre of writers making fierce, fearless theater that plays by its own rules.
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Avengers: Endgame ‘satisfying’ and ‘glorious’, say critics

Reviewers say Avengers: Endgame is an “irresistible” and “satisfying” follow-up to 2018’s Infinity War.
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Critic’s Notebook: Toxic Men Get All the Attention. But Not in These Plays.

Theater encourages empathy, yet it sometimes seems women on stage get very little of it. That’s changing.
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Critic’s Notebook: It’s a Crumbling Road to Despair. Can New York Fix the B.Q.E.?

There are a number of promising plans to repair the detested Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. But solving the problem will take an act of collective will.
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Critic’s Pick: Review: A Smashing ‘Oklahoma!’ Is Reborn in the Land of Id

Daniel Fish’s wide-awake revival of an American classic gives us an “Oklahoma!” for our own age of anxiety, without ever betraying its source.
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Critic’s Notebook: Agnès Varda: The Filmmaker as Rigorous Friend

Putting herself onscreen, the director, who died Friday at 90, suggested that making movies could be a communal act of looking and feeling.
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Critic’s Notebook: Nine Concerts in Seven Days at the World’s Most Famous Concert Hall

Carnegie Hall manages to present the vast sprawl of the classical field in the 21st century better than almost anywhere else.
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Critic’s Notebook: On CBS, R. Kelly Was Trapped in the Camera Eye

Gayle King’s explosive interview with the R&B singer, accused of preying on women and girls, pitted fire vs. ice-cool.
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Critic’s Notebook: At New York City Ballet, Progress but Not Equality

Wendy Whelan has been chosen to run City Ballet with Jonathan Stafford, but her professional title is missing a prefix, as in co-artistic director.
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Critic’s Notebook: New York Has a Public Housing Problem. Does London Have an Answer?

After listening to residents, Hackney upgraded its council estates with sleek new apartments, mixing subsidized and market-rate tenants.
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What ‘Green Book’ Says About the Academy. Our Critics on the Oscars.

Manohla Dargis, A.O. Scott and Wesley Morris all note that the night was impressively inclusive, but on the best picture winner, they aren’t in agreement.
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Critic’s Pick: Review: Early Hollywood in Black and White in ‘Vera Stark’

Lynn Nottage’s barbed satire looks at the narrow options offered African-American actresses in a movie industry that can’t shake stereotypes.
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Critic’s Notebook: A Man You Can Bait with a Skit

Wounded by a “Saturday Night Live” spoof, President Trump reacts with part heavy-handed threat, part celebrity ego.
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Andy Cohen Fires Back at "Judgy as F–k" Critics About His Dog

The "Watch What Happens Live" host claps back at haters after his dog Wacha completely destroys his son's stuffed Torah gifted from a rabbi. See what Andy has to say!
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Critic’s Notebook: Trump, Political TV’s Protagonist, Now Has to Share the Spotlight

The State of the Union address suggested that America’s political drama was becoming an ensemble, not a one-man show anymore.
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Critic’s Notebook: The Sundance Film Festival Comes Through (Again!)

With “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” “Clemency” and more, this year’s festival had plenty of good and even great movies if not a consensus favorite.
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Critics’ Choice: Horse heartbreak for Lady Gaga follows award win

Lady Gaga rushed from the Critics’ Choice Awards to be with her dying horse Arabella.
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Critics’ Choice Awards 2019 Red Carpet Fashion: See Every Look as the Stars Arrive

Milo Ventimiglia, 2019 Critics' Choice AwardsKeep that red carpet fresh Hollywood because we already have another award show on our hands.
Just one week after the Golden Globes kicked off a star-studded season, your favorite stars…

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Critic’s Choice Awards Fashion Review: Brighter Times Ahead

Seeing so many all-white fashion looks on the Critic’s Choice Awards blue carpet Sunday night, you might have thought Hollywood was making another political statement, following last year’s all-black fashion action at the Golden Globes to protest gender inequality.
But the trend is just a trend, at least according to Allison Janney. “We’re all just feeling it,” she said, looking a bit like a superhero in a white Alberta Ferretti cape and pants look, piled high with Neil Lane diamonds.
“Perhaps it is a subconscious message of hope. Brighter times ahead,” added her stylist Tara Swennen.
Or perhaps Hollywood stars, like so many others this January, are obsessed with organization guru Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show, “Tidying Up!” Whatever the reason, the fashion news of the night was a clean sweep. Emily Blunt seemed to get the memo, wearing a crystal-embroidered white silk Prada gown that her stylist Jessica Paster described as “fresh and simple.” Constance Wu romanced in Rodarte, and Lady Gaga in billowy blush Calvin Klein (though sadly, without hair colored to match this time).
Women wore the pants—a lot, with Julia Roberts choosing a deconstructed tuxedo by Nicolas Ghesquiere for Louis Vuitton and Claire Foy projecting power in a navy blue asymmetrical

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Critics’ Choice Awards 2019: When and How to Watch

Emma Stone, Taye Diggs, Keri Russell, 2019 Critics Choice AwardsIt’s almost time for the 2019 Critics’ Choice Awards!
That’s right! Television and film’s biggest stars will gather at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. on Jan. 13…

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Critics’ Choice Awards 2019: When and How to Watch

Emma Stone, Taye Diggs, Keri Russell, 2019 Critics Choice AwardsIt’s almost time for the 2019 Critics’ Choice Awards!
That’s right! Television and film’s biggest stars will gather at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. on Jan. 13…

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The Demolition Artist: 3 Critics Debate Ivo van Hove

Visionary stylist or one-trick pony? With “Network” on Broadway and “All About Eve” on the horizon, the multimedia-mad stage director is ready for his close-up.
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As critics pile on Parkey, Bears pick kicker up

While Chicago fans booed Cody Parkey for his failed last-second field goal try against the Eagles, his teammates offered pats on the back and words of encouragement.

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Critic’s Notebook: ‘Game of Thrones’ Does Not Say What Donald Trump Thinks It Does

The president’s appropriation of the show’s tagline and imagery suggests he doesn’t know what happened to the wall — or what it really means.
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: What It’s Like to Be a Female Movie Critic in the #MeToo Era

For Manohla Dargis, who spent a lifetime loving movies, ordinary, unremarkable sexism was so much harder to glide over. And it deserves outrage too.
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: Hail, Dance, and Farewell to the Critic’s Life

Our departing chief dance critic, Alastair Macaulay, looks back on his tenure: the dance he has reviewed, and the scene today.
NYT > Arts

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Baines has no interest in Hall of Fame critics

Harold Baines will not defend the committee’s decision and he will not answer those who suggest this is undeserved. He knows he belongs and that's all that matters.

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Critics’ Choice Awards 2019: The Complete List of Nominations

Mary Poppins ReturnsThe critics have spoken!
Nominations for the 2019 Critics’ Choice Awards were announced live on KTLA this morning, honoring the best achievements in film and television. The winners…

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Critics’ Choice Awards 2019: The Complete List of Nominations

Mary Poppins ReturnsThe critics have spoken!
Nominations for the 2019 Critics’ Choice Awards were announced live on KTLA this morning, honoring the best achievements in film and television. The winners…

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Times Critics Discuss the Year in Books, From Triumphs to Disappointments

The Times’s staff critics talk with each other about the wide variety of reading they did in 2018.
NYT > Books

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Sam Fender revealed as Brits Critics’ Choice winner

Sam Fender has been named the winner of the Brits Critics’ Choice award for 2019 – an achievement which comes after a phenomenal year of sold-out shows, a major label signing, and a little support from Elton John.
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Times Critics’ Top Books of 2018

The Times’s staff critics give their choices of the best fiction and nonfiction works of the year.
NYT > Books

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Times Critics’ Top Books of 2018

The Times’s staff critics give their choices of the best fiction and nonfiction works of the year.
NYT > Books

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Brits Critics’ Choice award nominees revealed

Up-and-coming music stars Mahalia, Lewis Capaldi and Sam Fender have been announced as the shortlisted artists for the Brits Critics’ Choice award for next year.
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Critic’s Pick: ‘The Favourite’ Review: Scheming for Power in a Kinky Palace Triangle

Yorgos Lanthimos’s new film, starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, turns 18th-century royal intrigue into sublime and ridiculous comedy.
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Ralph Breaks the Internet: What the Critics Are Saying

Ralph Breaks the InternetCan Ralph Breaks the Internet break the box office over the Thanksgiving holiday?
In the sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph, best friends Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von…

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Critic’s Notebook: The End of Endings

How endless sequels, boundless TV revivals and self-perpetuating social media feeds are robbing us of closure.
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Pick: Review: A Thrilling ‘Ferryman’ Serves Up a Glorious Harvest Feast

Jez Butterworth’s great, sprawling drama of rural Northern Ireland during the Troubles bares a culture’s contradictions through riveting storytelling.
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: How Chicago Is Changing Theater, One Storefront at a Time

Can tiny companies thrive in the shadow of major institutions? In this theater-mad city, the question may actually run the other way.
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: In ‘A Star Is Born,’ Lady Gaga Pits Pop Against Authenticity

The movie reflects a battle that’s played out in her own career, between the perceived ephemerality of pop and the assumed durability of “real” music.
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: ‘Better Call Saul’ Is Great TV. Well, Part of It Is.

The Season 4 finale reached a long-promised milestone for a “Breaking Bad” prequel that’s part moral investigation, part Easter-egg factory.
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: The Only Hollywood Abuser I Want to Hear From Is a Horse

In a TV season filled with very special #MeToo episodes, a few standout shows like “BoJack Horseman” commit to telling a bigger story.
NYT > Arts

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Hedi Slimane Hits Back at Celine Critics in First Comments on Furor

RIGHT TO REPLY: Hedi Slimane has hit back at critics of his debut show for Celine, saying those who accused him of misogyny for showing women dressed in short skirts were conservative and puritanical, and suggesting there was a homophobic undertone to the outpouring of vitriol on social networks.
Slimane’s designs for women and men have polarized critics. In his program “5 Minutes de Mode by Loïc Prigent” on France’s TMC channel on Wednesday night, journalist Loïc Prigent featured some of the reactions, including the headline of Booth Moore’s review for the Hollywood Reporter: “Is Hedi Slimane the Donald Trump of Fashion?”
He also made public Slimane’s first comments on the brouhaha, in the form of quotes from an e-mailed statement shown on screen.
“It’s always very jarring and I always feel like people are talking about someone else. Besides, the spirit of the show was light and joyful, but lightness and insouciance are being called into question these days. I’ve already been through this at Saint Laurent,” Slimane was quoted as saying.
“You’re dealing with politics, conflicts of interest, cliques, a predictable attitude, but also staggering exaggerations of conservatism and puritanism,” the designer added. “Violence is a reflection of our time – the

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Critic’s Notebook: Finding Common Ground at El Museo del Barrio

Two shows attempt to bridge the rift in a museum’s mission: to honor its Barrio roots — and reach a global audience.
NYT > Arts

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Round Table: The Nobel Prize in Literature Takes This Year Off. Our Critics Don’t.

With the 2018 prize postponed by scandal, The Times’s staff book critics discuss the award’s history and influence — and whom they would give it to this year if they could.
NYT > Books

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Canelo silences critics with defining win over GGG

The middleweight torch may have been passed Saturday in Las Vegas. After 24 rounds with Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez is brimming with confidence.

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Critic’s notebook: The Best New Social Thriller Is a Podcast

“Adventures in New America” and “The Horror of Dolores Roach” take fiction podcasts to new heights with mash-ups of horror, comedy and social commentary.
NYT > Arts

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Russia: Google removes Putin critic’s ads from YouTube

Ads by Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition leader, are removed from YouTube ahead of local elections.
BBC News – Technology

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Google pulls Putin critic’s ads from YouTube

Google has removed YouTube advertisements by Russian anti-Putin campaigner Alexei Navalny ahead of regional elections in the country.
Tech News – Latest Technology and Gadget News | Sky News

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Critic’s Notebook: In a Hometown Send-Off, Aretha Franklin Belongs to Everyone

The gospel church, the pop public, the city of Detroit: The “Queen of Soul” was part of them all, but they didn’t define her singular gifts.
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: One Last Time, McCain Counterprograms Trump

The senator’s memorials laid out his vision of civic life, and said a lot, indirectly, about someone who was conspicuous by his absence.
NYT > Arts

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Great British Bake Off: What the critics thought

Not a soggy bottom in sight for the ninth series of the cosy autumn treat.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: As the Frick Expands, New York City Music Suffers

The Frick Collection’s music room, reminiscent of a 19th-century salon, is an ideal space for chamber music. So why is the museum getting rid of it?
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: A Critic Sells Books Down by the Seashore

A bookstore in the village of Wigtown, Scotland, allows people to run the shop while renting an apartment upstairs. A book critic for The Times recently took his turn at the till.
NYT > Books

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Critic’s Notebook: How to Save ‘The Conners’ From Roseanne

Maybe the troubled “Roseanne” revival should have just ended. But if it won’t, here are some ways it could get better.
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: Oprah Earned This Museum Show. And It’s a Potent Spectacle.

An exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture captures what Oprah Winfrey and her TV show have meant.
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Critic’s Notebook: Images of the Border Crises Speak Louder Than ‘Womp Womp’

On cable TV and social media, the separation of parents from their children provoked empathy and exposed the emptiness of trolling.
NYT > Arts

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Travolta’s new mob film given a beating by critics

John Travolta’s latest film about mob boss John Gotti has been savaged by critics and has been given a rare 0% score rating on movie review website Rotten Tomatoes.
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Critic’s Notebook: At the Louvre, Beyoncé and Jay-Z Are Both Outsiders and Heirs

A critic’s guide to the art in the couple’s new video, from the Mona Lisa to “Raft of the Medusa.”
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How incredible is Incredibles 2? The critics give their verdicts

Pretty darn incredible say the critics, though some feel it lacks the original film’s wow factor.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: The Trouble With Hollywood’s Gender Flips

Hollywood’s female-focused reboots require women to relive men’s stories — and to fix their politics, too.
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Critic’s Notebook: ‘The Americans’ Finale: The Deepest Cuts Don’t Leave a Mark

The finale, like the series, raised questions of who deserved sympathy and why. As always, the answer was complicated.
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Critic’s Notebook: Roseanne Barr Crosses a Line, and ABC Draws One

The network’s decision to cancel “Roseanne” over a racist comment will cost it. But when people decide to let racism slide, it costs the rest of us.
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Deadpool 2: Critics Wade in

The Deadpool sequel is largely well received by film critics but a few are left feeling slightly weary.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: On That ‘Barry’ Finale and Why Some Shows Are So Good, They Need to End

Some fresh TV ideas have an expiration date. That means letting go of the idea that loving a thing always means we should get more of it.
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Critic’s Notebook: ‘Atlanta’ Skips a Grade

In its aggressively ambitious second season, the FX series was like a rapper obsessed with his own brilliance. The show became cinema.
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Kathy Griffin Nails The Hypocrisy Of Critics Calling On Michelle Wolf To Apologize

“So journalists are willing to demand that a comic hired to roast people apologize but they aren’t willing to demand that Trump or his staff apologize to people?” the comedian tweeted.
Comedy
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Critic’s Notebook: Cliff Huxtable Was Bill Cosby’s Sickest Joke

Mr. Cosby’s signature TV character was a patient, wise father figure. In other words, our critic writes, the ideal cover for terrible behavior.
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Critic’s Notebook: Charleston Needs That African American Museum. And Now.

To be built on a wharf where thousands of African slaves once arrived, the International African American Museum needs to secure its final funding.
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Corden slams ‘snobby’ Peter Rabbit film critics

James Corden has hit out at “snobby” critics who claim Beatrix Potter would not have liked the newly released live action Peter Rabbit film.
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Critic’s Notebook: ‘Deception’ and ‘Instinct,’ the Latest Shows Trying to Be ‘Castle’

A pair of new procedurals are based in the subgenre of smug male civilian paired with uptight female cop. Which one gets the formula right?
NYT > Arts

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Trump told to mute Twitter critics, not block them, by New York judge

A judge says the US president should mute, not block, Twitter users at a hearing in New York.
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Critic’s Notebook: The Invisible Man and the Defiant Woman go to the Oscars

Fashion played an anonymous role at the 2018 Academy Awards so that the people, namely the women, could shine.
NYT > Fashion & Style

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Kerr calls out critics after player-coach gambit

Steve Kerr is upset with backlash he has received a day after letting some of his players handle a bit of his coaching duties during a game.
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Critic’s Notebook: Obama Portraits Blend Paint and Politics, and Fact and Fiction

This Barack Obama Is No Mr. Nice Guy. Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of the former president contradicts the impression he often made in office of being detached.
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: ‘Aging Pride’ Challenges the Cult of Youth

An exhibition at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna explores shifting attitudes toward beauty and age as populations grow older.
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: Céline, Hedi Slimane, and the Grown-Up Woman

The most disruptive designer of his generation is back. But what will it mean for the legions of women who once found their power clothing at Céline?
NYT > Fashion & Style

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Critic’s Notebook: ‘Proud Mary’ has a ‘Proud Mary’ Problem

Movies misuse music all the time. The Taraji P. Henson vehicle “Proud Mary” misuses it hilariously.
NYT > Arts

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12 Fashion Moments You Probably Missed at Critics’ Choice Awards 2018

ESC: Fashion Moments You Missed, Yara ShahidiThere are just some things you just can’t catch on an award show red carpet.
There’s so much going on that in the flurry of cameras flashing and interviews happening, we may miss…

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Critic’s Notebook: Half-Measures Won’t Erase the Painful Past of Our Monuments

The city says leave three of four existing monuments. Our critic says that may not heal old wounds.
NYT > Arts

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Critics’ Choice: Franco no-show as women win big

The spotlight remained on women at the 23rd Critics’ Choice Awards with some significant female winners, as James Franco was absent amid sexual misconduct allegations.
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Trump Defends His Mental Stability, Lashes Out at Critics in Early Morning Tweetstorm

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump asserted that he is a “very stable genius” in a series of tweets early Saturday responding to concerns expressed in Michael Wolff’s red-hot new book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” that he has a diminished mental capacity. Trump has been attacking the author and the book for […]

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McMafia: Critics give their verdict on new BBC drama

The BBC’s first big drama of 2018 is generally well received by TV critics.
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Critic’s Notebook: Action Bronson, the Leader of the Most Joyously Disorienting Show on Late Night

“The Untitled Action Bronson Show” is not quite a talk show, not quite a cooking show, not quite a variety show. But it somehow all works.
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Critic’s Notebook: The New Mississippi Civil Rights Museum Refuses to Sugarcoat History

Our critic visits a museum whose story is still unfolding, from 1960s Jackson, to Ferguson and Charlottesville. It leaves us upset —and that’s good.
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: You Know Your History? These Podcasts Aren’t So Sure

It seems every podcast company is starting its own counterintuitive take on history. But how effective are they at actually illuminating our past?
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: With a Little Help From Their Friends (and Agents and Librarians and Fact-Checkers …)

Within the rote exercise of authors’ acknowledgments, truths about family, struggle, pride and terror manage to seep out.
NYT > Books

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Times Critics’ Top Books of 2017

The Times’s critics give their choices of the best fiction and nonfiction works of the year.
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Critic’s Notebook: Who We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Weinstein

After Annabella Sciorra told her story about Harvey Weinstein, I watched her work again — and wondered what might have been.
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: The Void at the Heart of ‘Gurlitt: Status Report’

Cornelius Gurlitt’s trove of inherited art, hidden for decades, is finally on view in two exhibitions. But bringing it into the light can’t dispel his ghost.
NYT > Arts

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Critic’s Notebook: What Christian Artifacts of the Middle East Can Show Us About Tolerance

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Critic’s Notebook: Louis C.K. and Hollywood’s Canon of Creeps

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Critic’s Notebook: President Trump Finds His TV Niche in Softball Interviews

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Critic’s Notebook: How the Myth of the Artistic Genius Excuses the Abuse of Women

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Critic’s Notebook: Why the Obamas’ Portrait Choices Matter

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Critic’s Notebook: Harvey Weinstein Is Gone. But Hollywood Still Has a Problem.

Women helped build the movie industry, but it has long been a male-dominated enterprise that systematically treats women — as a class — as inferior.
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Blade Runner 2049: What are the critics saying?

Critics have had a first peak at the new Blade Runner – and they’ve “seen things you people wouldn’t believe”.
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Critic’s Notebook: A Silent ‘Macbeth’ in Manhattan, a Vodka-Charged One in Brooklyn

“Macbeth Muet” is a frolic through tragedy with puppetry, while “Makbet” is a darkly gregarious production (shots included).
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Critic’s Notebook: Best Pictures, Maybe, but Telluride Is Not About Oscars

The film festival has become a showcase for ambitious mainstream filmmaking, like new work from Guillermo del Toro and Greta Gerwig.
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We Haven’t Seen That Before: A Critics’ Conversation About ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’

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PSNI hired cyber firm to unmask Twitter critics

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Influencers on the platform Live.ly occupy the gap between celebrities and friends, skating between performances and perceived accessibility — and they get paid.
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Critic’s Notebook: No More Gang Rape Scenes in Ballets, Please

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What Critics Said About ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Back In The 1980s

In 2017, Margaret Atwood is ascendant. The New Yorker has dubbed her the “Prophet of Dystopia.” The upcoming Hulu adaptation of her most well-known book, the feminist speculative novel The Handmaid’s Tale, long in the works, has turned out to be almost ludicrously well-timed to the political moment. Atwood, who has also written chilling speculative fiction about other timely issues (such as climate change), seems prescient to rattled liberals in a post-Trump election world. Everyone wants her thoughts on what’s happening and what’s to come.

The media can be fickle, however. The Handmaid’s Tale has become an oft-studied and -cited modern classic, but its initial reception didn’t necessarily foretell its induction into the canon. The New Yorker, per a perusal of its archives from the time, didn’t review it at all; The New York Times published a sniffy takedown by Mary McCarthy. At the time, the Christian Science Monitor described the book as mostly well-received by critics; meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle suggested that reviews had been poor enough as to make Atwood “defensive” during an interview with the publication.

We dug through the archives to remember what critics were saying about The Handmaid’s Tale back in 1986, when it was published in the U.S., and we found everything from tepid reactions to outright pans to glowing odes. The concept of a dystopia premised on the theocratic oppression of women, perhaps unsurprisingly, has always been polarizing.

Below, check out a selection of the original reviews of The Handmaid’s Tale:

The Ecstatic:

“Just as the world of Orwell’s 1984 gripped our imaginations, so will the world of Atwood’s handmaid. She has succeeded in finding a voice for her heroine that is direct, artless, utterly convincing. It is the voice of a woman we might know, of someone very close to us. In fact, it is Offred’s poignant sense of time that gives this novel its peculiar power. The immense changes in her life have come so fast that she is still in a state of shock and disbelief as she relates to us what she sees around her.” 

-Joyce Johnson, The Washington Post

“[A]mong other things, it is a political tract deploring nuclear energy, environmental waste, and antifeminist attitudes.

“But it so much more than that ― a taut thriller, a psychological study, a play on words. It has a sense of humor about itself, as well as an ambivalence toward even its worst villains, who aren’t revealed as such until the very end. Best of all, it holds out the possibility of redemption. After all, the Handmaid is also a writer. She has written this book. She may have survived.”

-Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

“Margaret Atwood’s cautionary tale of postfeminist future shock pictures a nation formed by a backlash against feminism, but also by nuclear accidents, chemical pollution, radiation poisoning, a host of our present problems run amok. Ms. Atwood draws as well on New England Puritan history for her repressive 22[n]d-century society. Her deft sardonic humor makes much of the action and dialogue in the novel funny and ominous at the same time.”

NYT Editor’s Choice pick, 1986 

The Ehhhh:

“Atwood, to her credit, creates a chillingly specific, imaginable night-mare. The book is short on characterization ― this is Atwood, never a warm writer, at her steeliest ― and long on cynicism ― it’s got none of the human credibility of a work such as Walker Percy’s Love In The Ruins. But the scariness is visceral, a world that’s like a dangerous and even fatal grid, an electrified fence. Tinny perhaps, but still a minutely rendered and impressively steady feminist vision of apocalypse.”

Kirkus

“Some details of Atwood’s bizarre anti-Utopia are at least as repellent as those in such forerunners as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in 1932 and George Orwell’s 1984 16 years later. Those two novels have come to be seen as fiercely moral tracts that jarred their readers to awaken them. Will Atwood, as different from Huxley and Orwell as they were from each other, join them in the accepted ranks of those disguised idealists who image the future as a nightmare in order that it may remain just that ― a fantasy? Certainly the early reviews of her book have been mainly positive.”

-Marilyn Gardner, The Christian Science Monitor

“Margaret Atwood’s new novel is being greeted as the long-awaited feminist dystopia and I am afraid that for some time it will be viewed as a test of the imaginative power of feminist paranoia […] As a dystopia, this is a thinly textured one. […] But if Offred is a sappy stand-in for Winston Smith, and Gilead seems at times to be only a coloring book version of Oceania, it may be because Atwood means to do more than scare us about the obvious consequences of a Falwellian coup d’état.”

-Barbara Ehrenreich, The New Republic 

“[Atwood’s] regime is a hodgepodge: a theocracy that’s not recognizably Christian, that most Christians don’t accept; a repressive measure borrowed from South Africa; an atrocity adopted by the Romanians. With no unifying vision, the center doesn’t hold.”

-Alix Madrigal, The San Francisco Chronicle

“As a cautionary tale, Atwood’s novel lacks the direct, chilling plausibility of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World. It warns against too much: heedless sex, excessive morality, chemical and nuclear pollution. All of these may be worthwhile targets, but such a future seems more complicated than dramatic. But Offred’s narrative is fascinating in a way that transcends tense and time: the record of an observant soul struggling against a harsh, mysterious world.”

-Paul Gray, TIME

The Harsh:

The Handmaid’s Tale is watchable, but it’s also paranoid poppycock — just like the book. The actors are imprisoned in Atwood’s grimly inhuman design. […]

“What finally takes the cake for absurdity is a subplot featuring Aidan Quinn as Richardson’s handsome savior. It’s as if Atwood, after all that didactic scrubbing, couldn’t quite wash the princess fantasy out of her story. The Handmaid’s Tale is a tract that strives for sensitivity ― it lacks even the courage of its own misanthropy.”

-Owen Gleiberman, EW (on the 1990 film adaptation)

“The writing of The Handmaid’s Tale is undistinguished in a double sense, ordinary if not glaringly so, but also indistinguishable from what one supposes would be Margaret Atwood’s normal way of expressing herself in the circumstances. This is a serious defect, unpardonable maybe for the genre: a future that has no language invented for it lacks a personality. That must be why, collectively, it is powerless to scare.” 

-Mary McCarthy, The New York Times

“This cri de coeur is certainly impassioned, and Atwood’s adept style renders the grim atmosphere of the future quite palpably. But the didacticism of the novel wears thin; the book is simply too obvious to support its fictional context. Still, Atwood is quite an esteemed fiction writer, the author of such well-received novels as Surfacing (1973) and Life before Man (1980). Demand for her latest effort, therefore, is bound to be high; unfortunately, the number of disappointed readers may be equally high.”

-Brad Hooper, Booklist

“Offred’s monotonous manner of expression just drones and drones.”

-Robert Linkous, San Francisco Review of Books  

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Critic’s Notebook: Sean Spicer Fixed His Suits. What About the Ties?

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Critic’s Notebook: For Migrants Headed North, the Things They Carried to the End

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Yeezy Season 5 Reviews Are in: Why Critics Are Praising Kanye West’s Latest Collection

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How did critics react to Shannon Matthews TV drama?

Sheridan Smith plays Julie Bushby, the mother who led the community search for missing Shannon.
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Critic’s Notebook: Political Fashion Statements at the Men’s Wear Shows

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Critic’s Notebook: Why ‘1984’ Is a 2017 Must-Read

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Trainspotting sequel wins over critics

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Critic’s Notebook: Mr. Reality TV Goes to Washington

On Inauguration Day, news broadcasters seemed unnerved by the prospect President Donald J. Trump would remain as combative as he had been while the host of “The Apprentice.”
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T2 Trainspotting: Critics praise film sequel

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Patchett, Chabon among nominees for book critics prizes

FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2010, file photo, author Michael Chabon poses for a photo in New York. Ann Patchett, Chabon and Zadie Smith were among the nominees announced Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, for the National Book Critics Circle Awards. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)NEW YORK (AP) — Ann Patchett, Michael Chabon and Zadie Smith were among the nominees announced Tuesday for the National Book Critics Circle Awards.



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Critic’s Notebook: How Clothes Defined Michelle Obama

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Critic’s Notebook: Donald Trump and the State of Conflict

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To celebrate inaugural or not? Trump critics are divided

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Critics, Ratings, and Society

Critics, Ratings, and Society


How do we make choices in an information-saturated world? Prior studies often assume that the problem is coping with the volume of information. They rarely ask how people judge the validity of new information. But we are all forced to depend on secondary sources that no one has the time or resources to verify. In Critics, Ratings, and Society Grant Blank confronts these issues through an investigation of independent evaluations and reviews. Reviews are widespread; they rank products ranging from books and films to automobiles and computers. They are important not just because they influence success and failure of products, they also make or break reputations and careers, and often play a critical role in stratification, power, and status. Reviews are shaped by the interaction of media editors, product makers, and consumers into credible cultural objects. These are processed into two types of rating systems: connoisseurial reviews that depend on the unique skills and experience of a single reviewer, a connoisseur; and procedural reviews that are based on the results of tests, well-defined procedures that allow reviewers to rank groups of similar products. Both rating systems construct hierarchies of products. Blank develops a new theory explaining the circumstances where economic concerns like price are overshadowed by review-constructed hierarchies. When this happens, culture constructs markets. He argues that review-constructed hierarchies are widespread as a consequence of inherent structural characteristics of contemporary capitalism and, as a result, reviews will become more important in the future.

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Our Top 3 Favorite Looks At The Critics’ Choice Awards

Ready or not, here comes awards season. 

While you sat on the couch in pajamas fighting off the Sunday scaries (just us?), a slew of well-dressed celebs took the blue carpet by storm at the Critics’ Choice Awards in Santa Monica.

Following in last year’s stylish footsteps, attendees looked more fashionable than ever, notching win after win before even stepping inside the venue. Picking favorites was a daunting task, but there were three dresses in particular that really tugged our red carpet-loving heartstrings.

Behold, our three, hands-down favorite looks of the evening: 

Jessica Biel in Elie Saab

Any Jessica Biel/Justin Timberlake sighting is a treat, but Biel stole the show with her Elie Saab gown. The flowing, low-cut, long-sleeve dress, which was cinched with a belted waist and paired with perfectly tousled locks, is a home run. 

Nicole Kidman in Brandon Maxwell

There’s a reason Brandon Maxwell is beloved by both Lady Gaga and Michelle Obama: His edgy yet elegant designs have best dressed written all over them. Kidman totally knocked it out of the park in this off-the-shoulder cut-out gown that had just the right amount of slit. 

Viola Davis in Michael Kors

Can Viola Davis do no wrong? She cannot, and this custom Michael Kors look is further proof. Not only is that shade of turquoise flawless against her skin, but the fit ― a sleeker cut than we’re used to seeing her wear ― is that of a glove. This is perfection. 

Check out more great looks from the blue carpet below. 

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Musical set for Oscars after critics’ picks

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