Documentary | January 23, 2020
Miss Americana debuted at the opening night of 2020 Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2020 to critical acclaim, with praise directed towards the documentary’s intimacy and vulnerability. It also became the highest-rated Netflix-original biographical documentary by a recording artist in IMDb history. Accompanying the film’s release, “Only The Young“, a song by Taylor featured in the end credits, was released as a promotional single.
The documentary follows Taylor and her life over the course of several years of her career. It is a biographical compilation of interviews, flashbacks, studio footage, home videos, cellphone videos and concert recordings that cover a number of events in Taylor’s life and career, including the making of her sixth and seventh studio albums, reputation (2017) and Lover (2019), her past battle with body dysmorphia and allied eating disorder, her mother’s cancer diagnosis, the toxic internet culture and media scrutiny she faces, her sexual assault trial, and her decision to go public with her political views, including her LGBTQ+ allyship.
Netflix described the film as a “raw and emotionally revealing look” at Taylor “during a transformational period in her life as she learns to embrace her role not only as a songwriter and performer, but as a woman harnessing the full power of her voice. The Sundance Institute outlined: “Director Lana Wilson offers a multifaceted window into Swift, her creative process, and her singular experience of being one of the brightest lights on the world’s global stage. Showcasing Swift’s trademark vulnerability and her fierce intelligence and wit, Wilson captures moments both tender and exhilarating as the superstar embarks on the latest chapter of her already extraordinary career.”
Miss Americana was met with critical acclaim upon release. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a “certified fresh” approval rating of 91% based on 91 reviews, with an average rating of 7.36/10. After premiering at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, the film received critical praise and a standing ovation from the audience. Miss Americana has been described as an “intimate”, “genuine”, “funny” and “empowering” film, that documents “her humble beginnings as a country-music star to her position as an influential figure in pop culture”. Critics complimented the film for Wilson’s direction, and the “emotional heft” that came from Taylor’s vulnerable interviews discussing issues such as eating disorder, self esteem and sexual assault, and also for the portrayal of Taylor’s creative process.
Miss Americana is credited for paving the way for singers to utilize major streaming platforms to assist their career, by eventizing tour footages into intimate, candid films. Critics found Canadian singer Shawn Mendes’ 2020 Netflix documentary, Shawn Mendes: In Wonder, to be heavily inspired by Miss Americana. Excuse Me, I Love You (2020) by American singer Ariana Grande was also compared to Miss Americana, although critics agree that Taylor’s documentary far exceeds these examples in quality and content.