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Falling in Love With Everyone We Saw in 2021

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Looking back at a year of pictures from the Styles Desk.

“After taking this picture, I asked Kim if she could see where she was going, and she said she could only see shapes and shadows, which I thought was just marvelous.”

— Landon Nordeman on photographing Kim Kardashian at this year’s Met Gala

“Healing is a lifelong journey. Healing, real healing, for Black people in this country will take lifetimes, generations. I held that bleak and truthful pessimism deep in my gut as I sat with the work of documenting these families. I’ve held it even tighter since.”

— Gioncarlo Valentine on photographing families for our April series on Black healing

“After 45 playfully combative minutes shooting Cindy Adams, squaring up last shots in the kitchen with her dog, I realized that I didn’t have any film in my camera. Can you imagine? When I confessed, she grabbed a scrap of paper and wrote out my full name with a pencil. ‘This way, if anything else goes wrong,’ she told me, ‘I can ruin your career.’ Despite the outraged twinkle in her eye, she patiently retraced her steps and indulged me in a lightning makeup round.”

— Daniel Arnold on photographing Cindy Adams


Perhaps it was a yearning to reconnect with one another during the second year of a pandemic, but Styles couldn’t stop gawking.

We took readers to a drag festival, a state fair and the Met Gala. We hung out at concerts and went backstage at couture shows. We peeked inside approximately 350 weddings. We watched people dance and cry, and let them introduce us to their babies. We went inside the White House, and dove headlong into the world of emerging TikTok personas. We found common joy in subcultures. We sent photographers all over the country looking for a language of fashion we could identify as “American.” We didn’t find one. But we did pinpoint a shared desire to express our values through self-presentation.

There’s something strangely satisfying about looking at pictures from the very recent past — they haven’t lodged in our long-term memories yet, and the tiny bit of distance helps us make sense of time. Maybe that’s why iPhone programmers have included a feature that pulls an assortment of images into little visual timelines, resurfacing photographs from years past. Like many of you who spend time scrolling through personal camera rolls, reliving just-forgotten moments, so too do we on Styles look back at the work we make each year and recall the snapshots that captivated us.

Look at all these people! These glorious, brave, strange human miracles! Outside, raising their hands to the sun; inside with their vanity, vulnerability and tenderness. With their pants hanging from their hips, in tumbling love with their friends. On horseback and boats, bikes and trucks. Famous and unknown, old and young alike, here they all are, being themselves, being seen by others. To take them in as a collection is to revel in the exuberance and courage required to exist in 2021.

“As Jen Psaki bent over to pick up some papers, I saw a moment that seemed to capture her iconic look in a slightly surreal way.”

— Peter van Agtmael on photographing Jen Psaki

“For many guests I spoke with, the Pyer Moss show marked their first time venturing out to a big, official event again. For me, it was the first event I’d photographed in over a year (after having shot several per week before the pandemic, for over a decade). The day felt like a triumph all around.”

— Rebecca Smeyne on photographing backstage at Pyer Moss

“Without a doubt, my favorite view of New York City is from the water. It’s even better when you’re with actor Matthew Rhys on his 1930s Wheeler Playmate slicing through the East River like a hot knife through butter. Just a step up from the ferry.”

— Peter Fisher on photographing Matthew Rhys and Kelli Farwell

“After spending close to a year in isolation, it felt like such an incredible sigh of relief to be able to go back out into the world and meet people as they are. I really loved how free Craig was, how much they embodied who they wanted to be without any fears.”

— Ricardo Nagaoka on photographing personal style in Portland, Ore.

“Several years ago, I learned of a multigenerational, labor intensive, traditional method of haying called beaverslide hay stacking, and I have journeyed to Montana each summer since to photograph the few families who are committed to this method.

Teams of workers communicate through hand signals and head nods. Their synchronized choreography is passed down from generation to generation. The repetitive, dance-like movements captivate me.”

— Holly Lynton on photographing personal style in Avon, Mont.

“I mean, it takes an incredible talent to go on pointe in sandals.”

— Erik Carter on photographing Sean Bankhead

“When I entered the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, I saw a little cutout on the steps. When I looked closer, I saw little whiskers hanging out. I started shooting in hopes to lure out whatever might be back there.”

— Krista Schlueter on photographing the Public Theater’s gala

“Parking in front of my building is illegal after 7 a.m. and I was up early to move a borrowed car out of the tow zone. Zigzagging down the stairs on two hours sleep, I ran into a rising acrid fire stink and coughed. Worried for my sleeping cat, I hurried up and checked the neighbors’ doors for heat on my way down. All cool but the stink got stronger. My building opens half a flight below the sidewalk, so I heard the big heat humming before I saw the garbage truck alone on fire, 40 feet outside my door. The sky was morning, the street was still night and it ruined someone’s day for sure — but I’ll admit that it made mine.”

— Daniel Arnold on photographing a fire in New York City

“Walking in Bushwick with David Arquette felt familiar. In a bizarre twist of fate, we had accidentally met two days prior in a Crown Fried Chicken when I asked to take his picture without recognizing him.”

— Sinna Nasseri on photographing David Arquette

“Malcolm pulses with sincerity. I witness his experience as a runner — how it encourages an acute awareness of his body — in how he privileges sensation as a means to know anything. He carries a palpable gratitude for feeling.”

— Elliott Jerome Brown Jr. on photographing the artist Malcolm Peacock for our April series on Black healing

“While the rodeo, like all sports, has certain dress code requirements, it was interesting to see how people added flourishes that expressed a sense of individuality, whether it be through a belt buckle won at a previous rodeo or by matching the colors in a shirt to the wraps around their horses’ legs.”

— Eli Durst on photographing personal style in Waco, Texas

“One of the first videos of his I came across from Instagram was Colm ice skating nude on a frozen above ground pool set in the courtyard of an industrial building here in Brooklyn. I thought, ‘I love this guy. He likes to be naked as much as I do.’”

— Isak Tiner on photographing the artist Colm Dillane

“Everyone in New York knows that if you eat a hot dog while doing some kind of physical activity, it doesn’t count. It’s like eating McDonald’s at the airport: In certain emergency situations, junk food, with its complex chemical compositions, has no effect on your body.”

— Chris Maggio on photographing bike style in New York City

“One Sunday, I was passing this group a gas station, and for that brief moment, they were immersed in their prayer. As quickly as that photo was taken, the prayer was over, and the rest of the world continued.”

— Jake Michaels on photographing personal style in Los Angeles

“I was thankful for my seasick patch when Captain Jonathan told us that it was the most windy day of the year. When Ann steered us past the World Trade Center at a 35-degree-angle, I knew I was in good hands.”

— Heather Sten on photographing the actress Ann Dowd

“I like to capture real life, there is where the magic happens.”

— Valerio Mezzanotti on photographing backstage at Dior

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Miscellaneous

Ask Amy: Readers offer their own advice

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Dear Amy: I was troubled by your response to Cathy S., who told her family to leave all their old hurts and issues at home for the holidays.

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20 Best New Year’s Eve Movies of All Time

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The spirit of reflection and resolution is a popular theme when it comes to a lot of Hollywood classics. So it’s no surprise that a holiday marked by such sentiments has been featured across so many films. Perhaps your resolution this New Year’s resembles the hero’s journey: a call to action and commitment to change against all odds. Maybe you’re more of the rom-com type, just focused on securing that midnight kiss with the one that got away.

Either way, if you’re already imagining the trailer of the coming year, or reminiscing on the highlight reel of years past, there’s a perfect New Year’s movie out there for you. Whether you’re looking for some festive film to play post-ball drop during your New Year’s Eve celebrations, or scrolling for some hungover inspiration on New Year’s Day, the possibilities are endless. So, grab your champagne (or Pedialyte) and ring in the new year with these New Year’s movies.

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Phantom Thread

Daniel Day-Lewis stars as an acclaimed London dressmaker who must tailor his lifestyle to fit in his newfound muse. One of the most gorgeous sequences of the film occurs amidst the aftermath of a wild New Year’s Eve party.

Amazon AppleTV+

The Godfather II (1974)

It’s at a New Year’s Eve party in Cuba that Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone plants the kiss of death on Fredo and tells him: “I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart.”

Amazon AppleTV+

Trading Places (1983)

Two brothers who run a commodities brokerage in Philadelphia try some light social engineering when they switch the identities of their employee, Louis Winthorpe III, played by Dan Aykroyd, and a hustler, Billy Ray Valentine, played by Eddie Murphy. Jamie Lee Curtis is there to help them sort it out and get even. Undeniably a classic comedy, this is also a holiday movie, because one of the film’s most crucial scenes takes place at a New Year’s Eve party aboard a train.

Amazon AppleTV+ Hulu

Carol

If its lead lovers meeting during December can make Carol a Christmas movie, then surely their first kiss happening on December 31st can make it a New Year’s Eve film. Adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 romance novel Salt, Carol stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as two women in 1950s New York who become enveloped in a forbidden love affair.

Amazon AppleTV+

Sleepless in Seattle

Few arcs capture the holiday’s spirit of hope quite like Sam Baldwin transitioning from a heartbreaking scene about talking to his deceased wife on New Year’s Eve to seeking new love on Valentine’s Day. This classic rom-com starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan will have you running to the Empire State Building to profess your feelings for the one you love.

Amazon AppleTV+

About Time

When 21-year-old Tim Lake, played by Domhnall Gleeson, learns that he has inherited the ability to time travel and can do anything so long as it doesn’t alter history, his plan is simple: Get the girl. Of course, winning the heart of the love of his life, played by Rachel McAdams, proves to be the last of his worries as time unfolds.

Amazon AppleTV+ Netflix

The Gold Rush

Sure, watching Charlie Chaplin get stood up on New Year’s Eve is one aspect of The Gold Rush, but the slapstick charm of this classic silent film is perfect for reflecting on how times have changed. Not to mention, its silent nature makes for perfect background for a New Year’s Eve gathering.

Amazon AppleTV+ HBO Max

When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

Probably the greatest romantic comedy of all time, When Harry Met Sally… defined the genre for a generation to come. The dialogue is whip smart; New York shines; Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal charm and delight. The New Year’s connection comes at the end during a New Year’s Eve party.

Amazon AppleTV+ Hulu Showtime

The Apartment (1960)

Jack Lemmon is a young man on the make who lets his company’s executives use his apartment for extra-marital affairs. After an office Christmas party, he finds his boss’s mistress, a young woman played by Shirley MacLaine, whom he knows from the office, at his apartment, where she’s tried to overdose on pills. They strike up a complicated relationship with multiple entanglements, both professional and personal. It’s a remarkable movie (and a Best Picture winner) that ends on New Year’s Eve.

Amazon AppleTV+

Snowpiercer (2013)

This isn’t just one of the great New Year’s movies, this is one of the best dystopian thrillers in years. Forced to live on a train that circles the world in an endless loop, the back half of the carts, who live in squalor, decide to rise up under Chris Evans’s leadership and take down the wealthy upperclass who’re toasting to another year of splendor.

Amazon AppleTV+ Netflix

The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

The ’70s were a golden age for disaster films, and not just for the high stakes either. This Gene Hackman-led drama about a luxury cruise liner that capsizes during a New Year’s Eve party is pure adrenaline.

Amazon AppleTV+ HBO Max Hulu

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

In this romantic comedy, Renee Zellweger’s Bridget Jones keeps a diary of a year of romantic misadventures. The movie begins and ends on New Year’s Eve, and it’s delightful as hell.

Amazon AppleTV+ Paramount+

An Affair to Remember (1957)

A weepy romance classic featuring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr begins on New Year’s Eve, where the two main characters, engaged to others, promise to meet up in six months atop the Empire State Building. (If you decide to watch this one, considering following it up with Sleepless in Seattle, which references the movie.)

Amazon AppleTV+

Ghostbusters II (1989)

It’s a far cry from Ghostbusters, but when the movie came out in 1989—five years after the first one—audiences delighted in seeing Peter, Ray, Egon, and Winston back in action. The movie reaches its conclusion on New Year’s Eve, with a chorus of New Yorkers singing “Auld Lang Syne” in an attempt to defeat an evil spirit terrorizing the city.

Amazon AppleTV+

Highball (1997)

The writer and director of this film—in which a group of friends meet at three different parties: on Halloween, a birthday, and New Year’s Eve—is Noah Baumbach, who made Kicking and Screaming, The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding, and others. It’s one of his earliest films and, as such, it’s rough and feels as low budget as it is. But the movie captures the rhythms and dialogue of young adults simply hanging out.

Amazon

Ocean’s 11 (1960)

For a time in the 1960s, the Rat Pack could have released a two-hour film of themselves sleeping and it would’ve made money. Ocean’s 11, which inspired the 2000 remake, is better than that (the team’s 1964 effort, Robin and the 7 Hoods, is not) but it’s not a great film. This is a fun movie, however, with some of the 20th century’s greatest performers clearly having a great time—especially, you can tell, when the cameras aren’t rolling.

AppleTV+ Hulu

Four Rooms (1995)

A bellhop goes into four different rooms on New Year’s Eve, and each room becomes its own short film, with Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez directing. The stories themselves are based loosely on Roald Dahl’s adult fiction.

Amazon AppleTV+

200 Cigarettes (1999)

In this 1999 comedy, a group of people make their way to a New Year’s Eve party in New York in 1981. The best part of the movie—which features an ensemble cast, including Ben Affleck, Paul Rudd, Kate Hudson, Gaby Hoffmann, and Christina Ricci—is the setting: New York in the early ‘80s. That’s worth the price of admission.

This movie is not available to stream.

Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! (1986)

Charlie Brown frets over a book report, a New Year’s Eve party, and a red-headed girl. And unlike A Charlie Brown Christmas, in the end, nothing turns out well for Charlie Brown in this 30-minute special.

AppleTV+

New Year’s Eve (2011)

In the pantheon of Gary Marshall films, it may not be his best, but there’s something about ending the year with a feel good movie that features an ensemble cast.

Amazon AppleTV+ HBO Max

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Miscellaneous

Wallice, an Indie Pop Sensation from Los Angeles

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Name: Wallice

Age: 23

Hometown: Los Angeles

Currently Lives: In a three-bedroom bungalow house in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles with her longtime boyfriend, Callaghan Kevany, and a friend.

Claim to Fame: Wallice (whose full name is Wallice Hana Watanabe) is a singer-songwriter best known for “Punching Bag,” a song about self-deception in toxic relationships; her follow-up hit, “23,” about the perils of living with her mother during the pandemic, has had three million streams on Spotify. Sample lyric: “I’m terrified of the future/ Scared that I’ll still be a loser.”

“I credit the pandemic to be able to find an audience, because I think a lot of people had time to listen to music and find new artists,” Wallice said.

Big Break: In 2020, shortly after Wallice released “Punching Bag,” Spotify decided to feature the song on its Lorem playlist — an influential list that showcases new artists and now has more than 900,000 followers.

“A lot of my friends are indie artists that are coming up in the scene,” she said. “They kept reposting the song, and that’s how I got Spotify’s attention.” The song took off from there and has been streamed more than four million times.

Latest Project: In October, Wallice signed with Dirty Hit, an independent record label in London that’s also home to the 1975, an English boy band. In November she released the single “Wisdom Tooth,” a bubbly pop tune that was written the night before she went to the dentist. “I was so nervous,” she said. “I had a recording session that day and was like, ‘There’s no way I can write about anything else.’”

Next Thing: In the new year, she’ll join the band Still Woozy on tour. “I’m really excited about going on tour, especially since my bandmates are my best friends,” she said. “My boyfriend is our guitar player, and my bass player I’ve known forever.”

What’s in a Name?: Wallice went without a name at birth because her parents thought they were having a boy. A few days later, her father named her after Wallis Simpson, the American socialite who later became the wife of Prince Edward, after he abdicated the British throne to marry her. “I really like my name, and I love how it is unique,” Wallice said.

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