While we still have one more year in the 2010s this decade has already provided some awesome movie moments worth checking out. Despite being an era filled with franchises, remakes, reboots and tired ideas the 2010s have managed to form their own identity by upping the ante in almost every genre giving us some moments that pay homage to the past and other moments that remind us that even if the property isn’t original the twists, turns and smaller moments can still stand out in the right hands. Even though we have one more year for movies to offer us some memorable scenes and moments today I’ll be concluding my series of cinema’s greatest moments by looking at the best of the current decade. These are my picks for the Top 10 Movie Moments of the 2010s (So Far).
For this list I looked at famous movie moments that premiered on the big screen from the year 2010 through today (September of 2018). This decade further defined the relevance of franchises and even saw the dawn of the extended cinematic universe concept as two specific kinds of movies started to take shape, the cinematic spectacle and the arthouse Oscar bait. Those films and everything in between have given us awesome movie moments that promise to stand the test of time. This is part of a series of lists spanning the decades of film which will all culminate to my picks for the Top Movie Moments of All Time this weekend. The top FOUR moments of every list will be considered for the ultimate list.
For the sake of this series iconic moments are considered any brief or extended moments in a single project that have left a lasting impression on viewers. These can be monologues, one-shots, or several minutes of filming as long as it takes place in succession before changing to a new idea or perspective.
That said let’s look at the most recent collection of memorable moments in film that are likely to be remember years from now. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m not but ten years down the road come back and see just how right I was. This is the most subjective list in this countdown as many of these moments aren’t certified iconic just yet because they’re so new, but I chose those moments that I feel have the best chance of lasting into the decades still to come as relevant scenes from modern soon-to-be classics. That said I’m sure you have your own take on which modern movie moments will last into the future so please feel free to tell me in the comments about your favorite moment in film from the last nine years. This weekend I will present my list of the best movie moments of all time so look out for that and be sure to catch up on all the lists posted this month: Classic Movie Moments, and my Top Movie Moments of the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and the 2000s
10. Rushing and Dragging, “Whiplash”
Damien Chazelle is by far one of the best filmmakers of this decade so it’s no surprise this list starts with a moment from one if his films. Chazelle broke into super stardom as the director of the 2014 award season darling “Whiplash” a film focusing on a young drummer named Andrew who struggles to impress his overenthusiastic teacher Mr. Fletcher. The movie pulls no punches in its depiction of a foul-mouthed perfectionist educator who pushes his students to their limits making for some awesome and tense scenes but the one that earns a spot here today is when Mr. Fletcher is challenging Andrew to keep the tempo of the band properly. He starts off calm, cool and patient until he loses control berating Andrew and questioning his knowledge of the difference between rushing and dragging on the drum kit. In one four-minute scene we learn everything we need to know about Fletcher’s personality helping set up the relationship he and Andrew share throughout the rest of the film. Years from now we’ll be looking at this as one of the most intense and uncomfortable movie moments of the decade which is why today it kicks off this countdown.
9. Baptism (Middle of the World), “Moonlight”
“Moonlight”, released in 2016, may go on to be remembered more for coming out on the winning end of the 2017 Academy Award Best Picture debacle but I’m betting this moment will also stand the test of time on its own as the most iconic scene from the film. Even today, a mere two years after its release, this moment from “Moonlight” is seen in countless highlight reels of notable cinematic scenes. We find main character Chiron, at this point a young boy, bonding with Mahershala Ali’s Juan, a drug dealer who has become a father figure to Chiron. Juan teaches Chiron how to swim helping him grow his confidence and look at the world from a different perspective. The moment is a touching one as Juan, someone many would see as a bad man based on his profession alone, shows his softer side and takes the responsibility of helping this young, black boy try to be something better than Juan ever could be through simply filling a gap in the boy’s life. It’s a touching, inspirational, and well shot moment that helped earn Ali an Oscar and should be remembered for years to come as one of the decade’s finest cinematic moments.
8. Fetal Position, “Gravity”
The 2013 space thriller “Gravity” took the world by storm upon its release with incredible visuals and a captivating tale of an astronaut stranded in the depth of space after an accident damages a space station. The entire film is littered with metaphors for rebirth but one scene in particular defines this theme perfectly. Stranded in space alone Sandra Bullock’s Dr. Ryan Stone successfully makes her way back into a spacecraft. After the ordeal she has witnessed it’s the first real moment where she has to take a breath and gather her thoughts. She does so in the fluidity of zero gravity, removing her suit and eventually curling into a fetal position with certain objects placed strategically to create the literal visual of a fetus. Considering that from this point on Stone makes several efforts to improve her situation, save herself and even come to grips with some of her demons it’s no surprise that this visual is meant to reflect her literally being reborn into a stronger woman than she was before, one willing to fight tooth and nail to survive. Some might call it a bit heavy handed, but no matter what you think it’s a moment that still stands out from a masterpiece of a film and a snapshot that has already become iconic in the 2010s.
7. The Church Massacre, “Kingsman: The Secret Service”
*Warning Foul Language and Racist Terminology*
“Kingsman” was a breakout hit in 2014 following Eggsy, a recruit training to become a secret agent known as a Kingsman. Eggsy teams with his mentor Harry Hart to foil the plan of a tech tycoon named Richmond Valentine that involves Valentine using a new chip in mobile phones to influence people to perform violent acts against each other for a culling of the human race. First the device must be tested and Valentine chooses to perform that test on an extremist religious group similar to the real world Westboro Baptist Church. Harry is unexpectedly caught in the middle and influenced by the devices causing his Kingsman training to take over as he mercilessly kills many members of the church who have engaged in an all-out brawl. It’s by far the best moment in the film with long, continuous shots and creative violence from start to finish. The use of “Free Bird” as the overlying song adds to the energy of the scene and by the time it’s all said and done we’re in awe at what we just saw. Everything comes together perfectly to create one of the most awesomely violent cinema moments in recent memory. Now almost every action movie worth its weight is trying to mimic this scene and it’s making for some awesome action on the big screen.
6. What a Lovely Day, “Mad Max: Fury Road”
In 2015 George Miller returned to the franchise that made him a household name rebooting his “Mad Max” series with “Mad Max: Fury Road”. The film became an instant sleeper classic earning praise for its practical effects and performances which made it a standout during award season. As the name implies a lot of this film involves car chases and one of the most epic occurs when Charlize Theron’s Furiosa attempts to outrun Immortan Joe’s crew. The chase eventually makes its way into a sand storm with Nicholas Hoult’s Nux leading the way in the pursuit. The visuals are astounding and as Nux makes up ground and closes in on Furiosa he spouts the now iconic phrase “What a lovely day”. Nux realizes he has a chance to shine and if he dies he will die with nobility trying to impress Immortan Joe. Hoult is a standout throughout the film and his enthusiastic performance here made “What a lovely day” a modern catchphrase with cinematic origins. The line was meant to be a bit ironic but also plays into the mythology Nux and his people believe in almost like he’s saying “what a lovely day to die” and go to Valhalla.
5. “Let It Go”, “Frozen”
I do not apologize for bringing this ear worm into the picture. Disney created an instant classic with the 2013 animated feature “Frozen” which follows a pair of sisters, including one with magical ice-based powers. Long story short Elsa, who is set to become queen, has attempted to hide her abilities for years and a series of events reveals her powers to the world, including her sister Anna. This causes Elsa to run away and leads to a revelation that she shouldn’t hide who she is. As she creates a new home for herself, a gorgeously animated ice castle, she belts out one of Disney’s most iconic modern musical numbers with “Let It Go”, a tune that tackles the subjects of identity and emotional freedom which are themes of the film and struggles that Elsa has dealt with to that point in the movie. Idina Menzel provides a vocal performance that captured the world and is complimented by beautiful scenery and animation. It will certainly go on to define a generation. It had been a while since Disney had provided a true musical spectacle, but “Let It Go” is a catchy reminder of why Disney is still considered the best in the business.
4. Zero Gravity Hotel Fight, “Inception”
“Inception” was arguably one of the first sure fire future classics of the 2010s with mind-bending visuals, an awesome cast and story and some of the most spectacular practical effects of the entire decade. Christopher Nolan outdid himself with this gem helping bring some great moments to the big screen. There are so many to choose from including Eames grenade launcher, the demonstration to Ariadne and the final moment with Dom’s spinning top. However the moment that makes this list is one of the movie’s best and most memorable action scenes, the zero gravity hotel fight. In the film’s second act Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Arthur has stayed behind in a hotel-based dream to provide a kick to wake up his partners who have dived deeper into a new dream level. Arthur is forced to fight off their targets mental security agents only for the action in the dream above his to eliminate the gravity in the hotel. The entire hallway spins as Arthur fights off his advisory. The scene was accomplished by using a real turning set while the camera remained stationary in place and spun with the room. It’s one of “Inception’s” coolest moments and one that has helped the film become a certified modern must see.
3. Tap Dancing, “La La Land”
The 2016 musical “La La Land”, the second Damien Chazelle product to make this list, has quickly become a modern classic despite its controversial loss to “Moonlight” for the Best Picture Oscar. Many moments from the movie have already become staples of modern Hollywood but the most referenced and well known scene is the tap dancing at night moment accompanied by the song “A Lovely Night” when the film’s two main characters, Emma Stone’s Mia and Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian, are leaving a party trying to find their cars. It’s not the first time the characters interact but it’s a moment that officially solidifies their interest in each other as their interactions eventually lead to a number reminiscent of classic Hollywood musicals where the two tap dance, sometimes in unison and sometimes back and forth. It’s a delightful scene that shows the growing chemistry between the two as they flirt and have a little fun while paying homage to the great films of the old days. It’s not only “La La Land’s” most iconic scene but the movie’s signature scene showing up in promotions and screenshots still used today to represent to best of modern cinema.
2. Thanos Snaps his Fingers, “Avengers: Infinity War”
If you haven’t seen this movie by now this is a major spoiler for you but let’s face it, you’ve either seen the film or you don’t really care. The newest moment on this list is bound to go down in history as one of the most epic cinematic moments in all of cinema during the 2010s. After ten years of building up to a battle with Thanos Marvel Studios finally brought nearly every major character from their cinematic universe to the table as the Mad Titan sought to collect the Infinity Stones and wipe out half of all living things in the process. The movie builds up to the moment spectacularly giving us several scenes where it looks like the Titan will, in fact, fail in his quest to “balance the universe”. Even when Thanos does retrieve the final stone Thor launches his new weapons Stormbreaker into the Titan’s chest. The God of Thunder gets caught monologuing though and to his shock, and the united shock of everyone watching, Thanos snaps his fingers and half of the Marvel Cinematic Universe dissolves into dust. It’s a moment that made many hearts stop and while “Avengers 4” will surely offer a solution it’s hard to think this moment will ever go overlooked as one of the most epic and shocking scenes of the decade.
1. Andy Gives Away His Toys, “Toy Story 3”
From the most recent cinematic moment to the oldest on this list. Disney and Pixar released “Toy Story 3” in June of 2010 and immediately the film became the first sure-fire classic of the decade. The film brought a lot of great scenes like the scorching pit, but nothing can beat the final moments of this film. “Toy Story” defined a generation in the 90s and by the time the third film arrived we had all grown up and so had Andy, the owner of the toys in the film. The filmmakers made the smart choice to age him to a high school graduate heading off the college eventually making him decide on the fate of his beloved toys. The final moments are heart wrenching in all the right ways as Andy decides to give the toys away to a young girl who Woody had bonded with earlier in the movie and could continue to play with them rather than storing them in the attic. Andy spends one final moment playing with the toys that defined his childhood before saying goodbye as we all eventually have to do. Even just writing these words I’m getting goosebumps. This moment alone created a running joke about people crying during the movie, even grown men, and created a moment that I doubt will ever be matched from this decade. It reminds us all of the magic of being a kid and the importance of growing up and passing down those childhood memories to others who can appreciate them as we always did. It’s by far the best moment so far in the 2010s and I doubt anything in 2019 will top it.