Your Monday Briefing
Locking the barrier to a residential area in Shanghai under lockdown in May.Credit…Aly Song/Reuters
2022’s top stories
This was a year where the news cycle sometimes seemed relentless, and the ping of yet another alert typically brought more shocking news.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine devolved into a long and desperate slog that is now estimated to have killed more than 40,000 civilians and displaced up to 30 million more. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion in the U.S. In Pakistan, flooding devastated hundreds of villages, killing around 1,500 people and affecting more than 33 million. Iran is experiencing the deadliest protests in decades.
Economically, these were rough times. The British pound hit a historic low against the U.S. dollar, and central banks yanked hard on interest rates to curb inflation. As the year draws to a close, the cost of heating fuel is biting hard, and a global recession looms. China’s “zero Covid” approach to the pandemic hurt businesses and strangled growth.
In politics, people voted for change in Australia, Brazil, Italy and Sweden, and for familiar faces in France and Denmark. In Israel, Bibi is back. Elon Musk owns Twitter now. And in sports, February brought a deeply strange Olympics in Beijing, with an equally unusual World Cup in Qatar at the end of the year.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom: On the lighter side, 2022 brought us Wordle, Abba’s digital residency in London, the inaugural Tour de France Femmes, even a new Beyoncé album. Next year has moments of levity and ingenuity already on the schedule, including potential changes to daylight saving in the U.S. and a remembrance of Pablo Picasso on the 50th anniversary of his death.
The year in images
Each year, our photo editors sift through months of images in an effort to pick the most startling, most moving, most memorable pictures of the year.
The war in Ukraine was not the year’s only story, but it was visually one of the most powerful. Photographers for The Times filed about 16,000 pictures, often in circumstances that endangered their lives.
Joseph Kahn, The Times’s executive editor, describes how those images captured the shifting dynamics on the ground, as Ukrainians went from terror and disbelief to grim resignation and resilience. “Moments of optimism and joy do arrive,” he writes. “We see what they have lost because of Vladimir Putin’s aggression against their country — but also what they refuse to lose.”
Memorable moments: A bullet-riddled notebook retrieved after a deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The daughter of Ketanji Brown Jackson, gazing in admiration as her mother became the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. And the defiance of elegantly dressed Ukrainian teenagers dancing in Odesa.
Recapping the arts
Concert halls, theaters, galleries: After two years of closures and postponements, audiences this year gradually made a return to experiencing the arts in person.
Our film critics, even as they found themselves pondering the state of cinema, found much to love on the big screen. A.O. Scott’s favorite films of the year, he writes, “seem to question not only the aspects of human experience they represent, but also their own methods and assumptions.” Manohla Dargis found herself heartened by all of the good and great movies that are still being released. There was plenty to enjoy on television.
In the world of visual art, high points in New York City included an adult-feeling Whitney Biennial, contemporary Puerto Rican art and a fabulous Matisse exhibition. Shows in Paris celebrated works by Alice Neel and Ed Ruscha, and in Kassel, Germany, the mega-exhibition Documenta was “remarkable” or “catastrophic,” depending on whom you asked.
Latin music thrived this year by refusing to compromise, as forward-looking stars like Rosalía and Bad Bunny used their distinctive sound to explode onto the global scene. In “Popcast,” our critics debated their year-end lists of the best LPs. Here are their picks for the best songs. We also selected the best classical tracks, including fresh takes on Mozart, Dvorak and Debussy.
The soul of the director Jean-Luc Godard left the world on Sept. 13; his movies will live forever.
The New York Times Book Review chose the year’s standout fiction and nonfiction.
The best theater of 2022 featured a surprising number of musicals. In comedy, stand-up specials like “Rothaniel” pushed boundaries.
Look back at the images that defined the year in art, music, dance and performance.
2022 IN REVIEW
J. Kenji López-Alt’s San Francisco-style Vietnamese American garlic noodles, a dish that uses 20 smashed garlic cloves, was 2022’s most popular recipe on NYT Cooking. Read the full list.
The year’s best cookbooks included a volume on vegan Chinese food, a barbecue collection featuring truly remarkable brisket and a book on south-of-the-Sahara African cuisine.
These were some of our critics’ most memorable restaurant meals from all over the U.S. And in the comments, readers weighed in on what we missed.
Butter boards. An unauthorized Anthony Bourdain biography. Cooking your way through burnout. Revisit our most read Food stories of 2022.
Eric Asimov, The Times’s wine critic, sampled hundreds of bottles this year. These 12 stood out. (And so did these six books, on that theme.)
Science & Technology
After a million-mile journey, the James Webb Space Telescope is now capturing unforgettable images of the cosmos.
At OpenAI, researchers are building technology that lets you create digital images simply by describing what you want to see — and one of the most impressive chat bots publicly available.
After decades of trying, scientists for the first time carried out a nuclear fusion reaction that produced more energy than went into it.
Scientists have made rapid progress in customizing drugs for ultrarare diseases.
Our obituaries section celebrates, honors and revisits the lives of people who shaped the world. Read about the artists we lost in 2022, in their own words, and revisit five obituaries that stood out:
Queen Elizabeth II of England died at 96 after reigning for seven decades. (Her Times obituary was 80 years in the making.)
The rapper Coolio, who charted a distinctive path to hip-hop stardom, died at 59. This is the story behind his biggest hit.
Angela Lansbury, a formidable stage and screen actress who starred in the television series “Murder, She Wrote,” died at 96.
The Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who presided over the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the U.S.S.R., died at 91.
Julie Powell, a little-known blogger whose quest to cook every recipe in a classic Julia Child became a best-selling book and a hit movie, died at 49.
Catch up on four of the most-read stories in The Times this year:
Taken under fascism, Spain’s “stolen babies” are learning the truth.
The dissenters trying to save Evangelicalism from itself.
Vanished in the Pacific.
The judge and the case that came back to haunt him.
A year of writing the briefing
Your briefing zigzags across the world before it lands in your inbox.
It incorporates stories from our correspondents around the globe; is written by me, Natasha, in Melbourne, Australia; gets a first edit from an editor in New York; and then receives its final touches from an editor in our Seoul bureau.
Finally, just before 1 a.m. Eastern time, or 6 a.m. G.M.T., it wings its way to hundreds of thousands of readers from Ireland to Israel, along with more than a few night owls in the U.S.
Since August 2020, when I joined The Times, I’ve written this newsletter well over 500 times. It has sometimes felt like charting history as it happens: vaccines against the coronavirus; the invasion of Ukraine by Russia; a change in the U.S. presidency; three British prime ministers (and two monarchs); once-in-a-generation protests in Iran; the fight for abortion rights in the U.S.; and hundreds of other world-changing stories, besides.
Perhaps my favorite thing about the job is receiving notes from readers: what you liked, as well as what you didn’t. I often can’t help with quibbles over the Spelling Bee or the Crossword (even when I share your pain), but I love to hear about it when you’ve taken up one of our recommendations from Play, Watch, Eat, or when a story particularly resonated.
All this to say: Thank you all for reading, and also for writing in. Here’s to another year together.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
Three words: Turkey. Tikka. Masala.
What to Listen to
The D.J. Mark Ronson, who celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah, shares his perfect holiday playlist.
How to manage holiday stress.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and here is the Spelling Bee.
“Wordle” started with a love story. The game, acquired by The Times this year, was invented by the engineer Josh Wardle as a gift for his word-game-loving partner. Play today’s edition, and then test your strategy with Wordlebot.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me this year, and see you tomorrow. — Natasha
P.S. The Times’s slogan has, since 1896, been “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” In a 1996 contest to choose a new slogan, the original won out.
On “The Ezra Klein Show,” Ezra responds to listeners’ end-of-year questions.
Reach Natasha and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.