Film critic Justin Chang has joined The New Yorker.
One of the most celebrated critics in the U.S., Chang has worked for several years at the Los Angeles Times where he’s published weekly reviews as well as longer-form essays, such as a deep dive on how “omission does not mean erasure” when it comes “Oppenheimer.” Before the L.A. Times, he worked for some years at Variety.
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Chang is one of the top wordsmiths in film criticism today, devoted to sentence-level beauty in his writing that makes him a perfect fit for the New Yorker. He is also the most glorious and shameless pun-meister of the critical sphere, issuing his bon mots with abandon on Twitter/X. A recent example? “No Greta Gerwig in director or Greta Lee in lead actress, re-Greta-bly.” Though his all-time best may be referring to “Mektoub” director Abdellatif Kechiche as “a gluteus maximalist,” and “Drive My Car” as a movie Oscar voters might love because it’s “a Saab story.”
In late January, a wave of turmoil swept the L.A. Times that saw 115 journalists lose their jobs. The layoffs were announced via an HR Zoom webinar and disproportionately affected younger staff members and employees of color, according to a memo by the Los Angeles Times Guild. Chang has been promoting his laid-off colleagues’ work and singing their praises on his Twitter feed ever since. The L.A. Times, which is owned by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and has one of the largest print circulations in the country, lost 20 percent of its newsroom, per CNN.
Now, with Chang having officially joined The New Yorker (as announced by editor-in-chief David Remnick), he will have an even more prestigious national platform. A memo circulated among New Yorker staffers and shared with IndieWire stated that film critic Anthony Lane will expand his coverage to a “broader range of topics” including critical essays and reported features. Chang will join the magazine as a film critic starting February 12.
“Justin and his family are based in Los Angeles, but he’ll be visiting us in New York from time to time,” Remnick wrote before citing Chang’s resume: “He has been named film critic of the year at the Los Angeles Press Club’s National Arts and Entertainment Awards. His book, ‘FilmCraft: Editing,’ was published in 2011. He serves as chair of the National Society of Film Critics and secretary of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and is a member of the New York Film Festival selection committee. He teaches at the Annenberg School of Journalism at U.S.C. and also reviews movies for NPR’s ‘Fresh Air.'”
See Remnick’s full staff memo below.
After three spectacular decades as film critic, Anthony Lane will be widening his lens at The New Yorker: writing on a much broader range of subjects — all of the arts and whatever else appeals to him — in critical essays and reported pieces. John Updike once rightly described Anthony as “the fizziest” critic around: “Each paragraph tickles the note like a flute of champagne.” Anthony is the wittiest and wisest of essayists. Sentence by sentence, he can razor away a film’s pretentions or describe the resonances and references of a masterpiece. How could one not love a critic who writes of middle-period Mel Gibson thusly: “What is most thrilling about ‘Braveheart’ remains inextricable from all that is most ridiculous. When you hear the battlefield cry of ‘Take out their archers!’ you start to laugh. Then you think, go on guys, take ’em out. Faster, Pussycat! Kilt! Kilt!” And yet Anthony does not live to defenestrate. The only artist he is insistently brutal about is himself. His masterful collection, “Nobody’s Perfect,” begins, “You are holding a hunk of old journalism. The prospect is not immediately appealing.” In this he remains wrong; “Nobody’s Perfect” is a boundless delight. Anthony’s last movie column will be published in the Anniversary Issue but his prose, thank goodness, will continue to be a shining presence in The New Yorker.
On February 12th, Justin Chang, most recently of the Los Angeles Times, will join the magazine as a film critic. Justin and his family are based in Los Angeles, but he’ll be visiting us in New York from time to time. He has been named film critic of the year at the Los Angeles Press Club’s National Arts and Entertainment Awards. His book, “FilmCraft: Editing,” was published in 2011. He serves as chair of the National Society of Film Critics and secretary of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and is a member of the New York Film Festival selection committee. He teaches at the Annenberg School of Journalism at U.S.C. and also reviews movies for NPR’s “Fresh Air.”
And, of course, the inimitable Richard Brody — “the most feared critic in Hollywood,” according to Ava DuVernay, and the author of “Everything Is Cinema,” the definitive biography of Jean-Luc Godard — will continue to cover film for us across all platforms (including on TikTok, where he is our ascendant star).
This is good news all around. Please join me in congratulating Anthony and in welcoming Justin to The New Yorker.
Chang’s new colleague Richard Brody, a longtime New Yorker staffer, also shared his praise on Twitter.
It will be a pleasure, an honor, and a constant education to be working with @JustinCChang whose work I've long read with admiration and whom I consider both a friend and a colleague with whom I've shared many meetings and epic e-mail threads at the NSFC. I've been thrilled…
— Richard Brody (@tnyfrontrow) January 30, 2024
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