We’re just a few weeks out from 2020, and at this point, I think it’s safe to say we’re all suffering from list fatigue. The desire to declare the best cultural relics of the year/decade feels both natural and hubristic, yet even trying to round up “the best” books, movies, TV shows, et cetera, can leave a lot of great stuff on the table.
On that note, in considering the last 10 years on film, I found myself thinking less about obvious hits and more about the sleeper gems that, one way or another, defined some part of the decade for me. One film that resonated with me more than I care to admit was Matt Spicer’s 2017 romp Ingrid Goes West.
I first saw the film on a plane a few months after my 24th birthday, hurtling from my hometown of New York to my adopted city of L.A., and protagonist Ingrid’s desperate striving to fit in among the glitterati of Venice Beach made a discomfiting kind of sense to me. No, I never kidnapped someone’s dog in an effort to become BFFs with the owner, but I could relate to Ingrid’s distinct sense that there was some aspect of the L.A. lifestyle that she was failing to embody.
As I watched Ingrid fight to ingratiate herself with a crowd of flaxen-haired influencers led by Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen), I had to watch through my fingers; Ingrid’s need was so raw, so recognizable, that it practically leapt off the screen. Recently, I rewatched the film with college friends in the New York apartment I returned to a year ago, and improbably enough, I found myself looking back on Ingrid—and my own L.A. misadventures—with some measure of empathy. She was just trying to fit in, after all.
Ingrid Goes West may not have dominated awards discussions or influenced the moviemaking discourse, but it spoke to me in a way that the year’s Oscar winners didn’t. In that spirit, here are other Vogue staffers on the movies that affected them most this decade.
It’s crazy to think that Black Swan came out in 2010, because it’s legendary and iconic in my books—as though it’s been around for decades. I still think it’s one of Natalie Portman’s best performances to date. And I die for Winona Ryder’s role as a jealous, jaded ballerina (performance of the decade). —Christian Allaire, fashion and style writer
For sheer cinematic virtuosity, I don’t think anything in the last 10 years can touch Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)—the ultimate embodiment of Hitchcock’s sentiment that a movie should be intelligible to the audience with the sound turned off. There were times while watching it when I literally couldn’t believe what I was seeing, such was the gleeful intensity of the spectacle—and the fact that director George Miller didn’t gather an armful of Oscars for this totemic achievement only shows the Academy’s raging bias against genre films, even when masterfully executed. —Corey Seymour, senior features editor
The Souvenir (2019), Joanna Hogg’s ruminative and largely autobiographical fourth feature film, tells two distinct, but not unrelated stories. One’s about a young woman in a harrowing on-again, off-again relationship with a dashing heroin addict; the other’s about that same young woman, a film student, discovering her voice as an artist—a journey that I found so deeply and personally moving, I spent the 20-minute walk from the theater to my apartment absolutely dizzy with emotion. This was, for me, a decade rich with discovery—I turned 16 in 2010—and Hogg spoke to that weird/banal, exciting/scary experience of figuring out what matters to you (and what you deserve) with a quiet (but no less powerful) authority. —Marley Marius, features assistant
The German movie Hell (2011). I just love the apocalypse. —Liana Satenstein, senior fashion news writer
For me, almost nine years later, it’s still Nicolas Winding Refn’s style-over-substance Los Angeles noir-romance Drive (2011). Isn’t Drive crazily, gratuitously violent? Isn’t Ryan Gosling as a taciturn stunt driver-hero little more than an emo, alpha-male cliché? Is Carey Mulligan the least convincing working-class-L.A.-mom-with-a-convict-husband you’ve ever seen? Am I still in love with her? And with this ludicrously cool one-last-job-gone-wrong neon-lit thriller? Yes, yes, yes. —Taylor Antrim, executive editor
I’m cheating: I’m picking four. I know that’s not the point, but there are a few vectors of the decade in film that felt significant to me. First of all, Melancholia (2011) reflects the only part of the coming apocalypse I can feel smug about: having known it was coming all along, and submitting wearily to its companions, hedonism and emptiness. Watching Kirsten Dunst clomp around in a wedding dress as everyone else pretends everything is normal is the only fitting parallel to the hectic nature of our current moment. Then, there’s Magic Mike: XXL (2015); much has been made of the current lustful moment, when women are more vocal about desire than they ever have been, and I believe MMXXL was what flipped the switch and permitted us to reveal the lust-addled natures we’ve nursed all along. On a completely different note, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before soothed my eternal teen soul perfectly; as we’ve inched towards chaos, we’ve reached for simpler, lovelier things, like romantic comedies and Noah Centineo. Finally, The Farewell honors the kind of modest, tortuous, but quotidian fables we tell just to get by, and it broke my heart. Oh, wait, one more: Call Me By Your Name. Do I dare to eat a peach? —Estelle Tang, senior culture editor
Originally Appeared on Vogue